From what I understand of the Northwest, it’s populated primarily by outdoorsy white women, brewery employees, and members of various militia. Despite that, the few times I’ve visited have been nothing short of magical, and I never turn down an opportunity to leave the city and taste oxygen again.
Bend, Oregon, in particular, has the kind of beauty that’s straight out of a horror film. The countryside is covered by acre upon acre upon acre of fat-leaved trees, rivers with beaver dams (like from a cartoon), and the occasional washed up carcass of an elk that drowned days earlier. Immediately every basic, Spartan, faux-survivalist desire arose within me. I read Hatchet in third grade, I know I can fight a wolf. Everyone has doubted me, and now the people at Visit Bend and Visit Central Oregon were allowing me the chance.
At the time, it was lost on me that I was thinking all this in a rented luxury SUV, on the way to a suburban golf resort in southeast Bend. Awaiting me in my suite was a gift bag stuffed with stroopwafels, beer, and an expensive looking backpack with a concealed carry compartment. An odd and alarming assortment to receive in one of the whitest places I’ve ever been, (note: I am a black person) but a gift is a gift, and I crave adventure. I’m like a Jack London protagonist.
Our first activity of the three-day trip I went on was skiing. Being the only one in our group of five who had never skied before, I was required to take lessons. I was told I’d be coached by a private instructor and thus wouldn’t have children in my class. This really excited me, because no matter how at peace you are with yourself, it’s embarrassing to be classmates with a six-year-old. What was less exciting was being told that all the children that I would’ve started with had already advanced to the next level because it took me forever to grasp how to get on the ski boots.
Having now skied, here is my personal take: Skiing is an awful, terrible sport that only the rich have the money and soullessness to truly pursue. It takes hours to put on gear, the snow is absolutely blinding, and all the children in level two laugh at you for being bad.
My instructor Linda and I went at it for almost three hours, and she did her best, really… but fuck skiing forever. I told everyone on the trip I loved it and had a great time, because they seemed really invested in my happiness, and I have a hard time letting people down. But really, if you take nothing else from this piece, let it be this: I am not going to ski ever again.
(For what it’s worth, Mt. Bachelor is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been; I bought a beanie and everything.)