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Joey Ryan

Six degrees at the base of Fred's Mountain. Seven inches of fresh powdered sugar snow. The crowds that swarmed in the parking lot, General Store, and ski lifts have gone back across the pass by car, and across the country by plane. Back east to warm coffee in plastic cups from bustling city cafes with daily papers tucked under arm. Work will resume tommorrow morning in those places with talk of holiday football, Christmas credit card bills looming and the time spent in the mountain resort vacation reality that is my winter home.
As a member of the team that creates and sustains that vacation experience for guest that have now gone, I feel like an actor playing a very minor role in a play thats still on days after the last curtain call.
I don't question why this business operates, the money made during peak vacation season, plus the steady pace of local skiiers seems to justify the cost of payroll, road maintenance, and daily resort maintenance. I, on the other hand, earn just enough to break even come Spring, excluding further damage to my sorely out of place Toyota Carolla.
I moved here chasing ideas of new experience. A long winter in the Rocky Mountains, cold air, blizzards, time to read and write and experience life so different from the humid thick salt air of the Atlantic coast. Flip flops, sunscreen and little else started my morning in the year before. Fleece socks, boots, all weather gloves, and pre-dawn hikes post holing through waist high drifts making my way across wind scoured open valley fields to my reluctant frozen compact car a third of a mile from my cabin and five miles to the one stop light in a town of eleven hundred.

This comes from another journal entry.

Today is Tuesday, I think its December 16th. The other day was December 14th. I left Charleston June 14th.
Yesterday I was scheduled to work an early shift, my second in a row. The day before, I got to work easy enough, and was the only one on time. It was still dark when I got there, but pretty clear. Riding on the back of the snowmobile in the dark, winding up the mountain holding my snowboard was nice.
When I got outside yesterday with backpack on my back, coffee thermos in one hand, coffee mug in the other, I found a note from Bob and Stacey offering her car for the day that was parked at the end of the road. After trying twice to drive through the snowdrifts, I abandoned my Corolla for the morning and reconsidered the offer of Stacey's car.
As I made it through the drifts on foot in the dark, I though about the possibility that her car was not automatic, the option of running the five miles in the dark in mid December in Idaho seemed remotely plausible. I opened the car, saw the stick shift and gave it a try anyway. First gear avoided my shivering stabs like a mouse avoiding the hand of a cartoon cat gripping blindly into his refuge on the other side of the cartoon wall. I decided my best chance of getting to the late bus was on foot, so, I reluctantly poured out my coffee, tightened the velcro straps of my shoes, zipped up my coat, tied the ends of my shoulder straps around my chest to eliminate my bag from slapping me with each step and began to run.
It wasn't so bad, clear, not snowing, not too cold, then I noticed my back was warm, and wet. I recognized a sweet mocha smell. My thermos was leaking onto my gloves and goggles inside my bag. After dumping out my last ration of warm caffeine rich goodness, I realized the treachery involved in my pre-dawn assault. In full winter gear, thoughts of military training came to mind. I established a good pace and whinnied at two horses as I stomped past. One moved to a quick step running across his land, not exactly in my direction. I made a quick glance at the ragged fence that seperated us, and back at his Clidesdalish silhouette. I immediately felt like a naive tourist foolishly fraternizing with a street tough in a seedy urban ally.
Tracks of what I assume to be deer dotted the snow covered shoulder, and I remembered the three I almost hit while driving this stretch in the warm car the day before. I was getting close, about half way, I estimated, but also sweaty. The bus wouldn't get to my stop until 7:45, even with nine minute miles, I'd get there before 7:00, and I 'd be wet and soon cold. I reached the stoplight in a town of eleven hundred and was releived to see two them in the upstairs window of the grocery store. I got to the automatic doors, but they didn't swing open. Not even seven o'clock yet. No coffee, food or bathrooms to dry off in. I looked down the street, the gas station was open.
After drying off, I made my way to the bus stop and shivered as the sun rose on Driggs, Idaho. Soon my co-worker Todd crept into the parking lot in his conversion van, warmth. We waited for the bus and laughed about my morning.

Joey Ryan

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