The Novice Branches Out

12:56 PM

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It's okay--nothing's wrong with the screen on your computer/phone/tablet/whatever you use to surf the Internet. That really is a picture of Brad and me on snowboards. And we really used them. Yep, me included.

I can hear my sister laughing all the way from Virginia.

I don't exactly know what got into me, but a few weeks ago, I kept getting invitations to all these cool places to do cool things that I had never tried before. One of them, obviously, was snowboarding, and instead of shying away with my normal, "Yeah, I think anything requiring athletic ability might kill me" tendencies, I said yes. Totally optimistic. Sounds like me.

I would like to preface this story by saying that overall, I had a good experience. I had fun hanging out with friends, and I was proud of myself for trying something so foreign to me.

But . . . I think it's safe to say that I won't be turning pro any time soon. 

Have any of you ever been snowboarding? It's difficult. Well, some parts are. The whole flying-down-the-larger-than-life-bunny-hill-faster-than-I-want-to thing is pretty easy, granted you can make yourself slide down the hill in the first place. It's the steering part that's hard. And the stopping part.

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Brad, adjusting his board/boots.
That's me in the background, pretending that standing up while having no control over your ankles is empowering.

Also, for those of you who are snow sport novices like me, let me explain the way a "bunny hill" works. See, in my mind, I imagine . . . well, basically, a bunny hill. Something about two feet off the ground with nothing but flat all around. In reality, a bunny hill is a really tall hill (not too steep, I suppose, but it looks like it from the top) with nowhere to stop or level off until you get allllll the way to the bottom. By the time you level off, though, you're out of room and there's nothing but icy ditches that will knock you down and tear up your backside when you purposely fall over to stop the uncontrollable speed. I like to think of it as a scary, upright sledding experience.

When you want to go back to the top of the bunny hill, you don't take off your board and walk back up. No, that would be crazy (and tiring). Instead, there's a constantly-moving, pulley/rope contraption that you hold onto while still standing on your snowboard. Just hop over from wherever you last fell, say a quick prayer, and grab on.

Kids, the rope was my least favorite part.

The first few times I tried to hold onto the rope, I fell over. Okay, no big. Stand up and try it again. Eventually, I made it about halfway up. Then, I fell and couldn't figure out how to stand up. Fortunately, a slightly grumpy lady (understandably so, since I was in her way) with her kid in tow shouted out how to push myself up. I succeeded, then tried some more. More falling than progress, of course. Lots of lying in the snow and pitifully accepting assistance from our friend, Lynn, who somehow pulled me to my feet (I thanked him by landing my board right on his feet).

Miraculously, I made it about five feet from the top of the hill a couple of times--but at that point, the hill had leveled off and no matter how tightly I gripped, the rope just swished through my hands and I stood there, immobile and useless. The solution? let go of the rope, turn around, and just snow board down from there. And from that point on, I took the cheater's way out and carried my un-attached snowboard up the hill. Of course, this just winded me even more and made everything take three or four times as long. But I didn't have to use the rope.

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Yeah, guys . . . I'll meet you at the top . . . eventually . . . 

And, side note: snowboarding will make you ache for days. As lame as it sounds, I honestly yelped a little for the rest of the weekend any time I had to extend my arm more than a few inches. Pain can make you feel like a champ, though, even if 98% of it is just caused by being a fraidy-cat who carries her board up tall hills.


So, yeah. On to less-dangerous new experiences.

That same weekend, Brad and I went out to dinner with some friends for Ann Arbor's Restaurant Week. Basically, Restaurant Week is an event where local, upscale restaurants offer special, multi-course dinner menus at a flat rate of $28 per person. We chose The Earle, a classy, downtown restaurant that was packed to the brim with the weekend dining crowd. Being the newly-adventurous person that I am, I decided to go for something that I had never eaten before: duck.

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Quack, quack.

Duck is interesting . . . it almost has the consistency of beef, yet tastes like dark meat chicken. Brad liked it more than I did, but I was glad to try it nonetheless. Next time, I might go for a chicken dish or the amazing salmon puff that my friend, Laura, ordered.

I think there's one thing that's difficult to argue, though, and that's the fact that chocolate is always good. Here's a little shot of the mousse I ordered for dessert:

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Yeah, man. I probably could have just eaten a huge bowl of this and walked away satisfied.

I'm grateful for random bursts of courageous energy, but sometimes, you just need an old favorite at the end of the day. And that, my friends, is why God made chocolate.

How adventurous have you been lately? Are you fearless by nature, or do you have to give yourself a little kick to try things that are out of your comfort zone? I'd love to hear what crazy/amazing things you've been up to!

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