People always ask to hear the story when Sweetie and I met. This is a long one but has all the elements of a good tale, action, danger, romance and a happy ending. I was single, in my 20’s and I really wanted to go skiing. Problem was, none of my friends wanted to go or could not. I found a local ski club that organized long weekend ski trips. They took groups on a sleeper bus and set you up in ski in-ski out condo. If you were traveling solo as I was, they paired you with other singles or couples to share a condo.
Everyone met in a parking lot of a mall to board the bus on a late Friday afternoon. I arrived very apprehensive not knowing anyone and because I would be sharing a condo with 2 gals I’d never met. My fears were soon put to rest when I met my roommates, Liz and Meg. They were my age and were really nice and not psychos like my active imagination was picturing.
We boarded the sleeper bus and were assigned a booth towards the front. The sleeper busses are really cool, instead of just benches all facing forward, they are like booths, with 2 benches that face each other with a table in between to allow a place for eating and playing cards. At night they fold down to a bed and can sleep 2. Pretty cool. Me, Liz and Meg settle in as other passengers began to board when 4 guys come in….carrying a 6 foot submarine sandwich. The leader of the pack would be my future Sweetie for the last 27 years. They placed the monstrous sandwich along the windows. I wish I would have taken a picture of that… it was hilarious. Me and the gals looked at each other with amusement.
Sweetie and the guys consuming 2 feet of the 6 foot sandwich
We all settled in and began to get to know each other. They guys, Sweetie, RobBob, Chuck and John all worked together and were pretty cute, but I was NOT looking for love. In fact, it was the last thing on my mind. A few hours passed and everyone took out their dinners…. The 6 foot submarine sandwich emerged with a bottle of Dewar’s Scotch. I pulled out a pitiful peanut butter sandwich as I longingly looked at the guy’s mammoth of a sandwich. I had spent a good portion of my hard earned cash on my ski outfit. You gals can understand when you’re in your 20’s it is much more important to spend your money to look cute than to eat!
After driving all night, we arrive at a small Ski Resort in Southern Colorado called Cuchara Valley. Cuchara has since closed, it was simply not profitable to remain open (shame). When I say this place is small, it was really small, but beautiful and very quaint. We met 2 other single gals that evidently were sitting at the back of the bus, Pam and Karen. Pam did not want to ski and opted to just go snowmobiling. Karen, however, joined me, Meg, Liz and the guys and we all spent the day skiing together.
The whole gang. I’m in the pink parka and black pants and my future Sweetie behind me in the black jacket
That evening the 9 of us met for dinner. It started to become evident that Sweetie had eyes for me and was insisting to pay for my dinner… only a bowl of soup… remember my cute outfit. Over dinner, we discussed the big news of the day in Cuchara Valley, a moose was in the area. Moose are not supposed to be in this area so it was quite the excitement for the locals and made the front page of the news. Dinner was wonderful, everyone connected and we instantly became great friends. Two local brothers that ran the snowmobiling tours came by and asked if were interested in taking a 2 hour moonlit snowmobile ride when we finished dinner. I am not making this up… their last name was Lemon, hence the Lemon brothers. We discussed it and everyone except my 2 roommates wanted to go.
It was dark by now and the Lemon brothers took 6 of us and another small group of 4 to a shed where they kept all the equipment. It began snowing as we drove through the mountains… a beautiful gentle snow. They outfitted us in black snowsuits and helmets that made us all look like the Michelin Man. The 2 Lemon Bros had real snowmobiles, the rest of us had these 1 person mini snowmobiles, half of them did not have headlights. There were not enough snowmobiles for our entire group so Pam rode with Lemon Bro 1. They gave us brief instructions and lined us up, every other snow mobile having a headlight…..that would work…right? We lined up, Lemon Bro 1 with Pam leading us and Lemon Bro 2 at the rear. Never having ridden a snowmobile, much less in the dark, I was lucky to have one with no headlight and was following Chuck. We took off on a trail and it was a lot of fun… for awhile.
Me and the guys
I don’t know exactly how this happened, but I was following Chuck and somehow I think he swerved at the last minute, I didn’t see this in time (no headlight) and proceeded to go up and over a boulder. I went airborne, flew off my snowmobile, landed in deep powder, with the snowmobile coming down almost on top of me. Amazingly I was not hurt but really shook up and did not want to continue. Pam ended up taking my snowmobile and I rode with the Lemon Bro 2 at the rear of the group.
It was glorious… it began snowing again, the moon would peek out from behind the clouds illuminating the meadow we were in. We snowmobiled for about an hour then stopped in a clearing. The Lemon Bros lit a bonfire. Pam and the Lemon Bro 1 decided to snowmobile for a bit more. The rest of us hung out by the fire laughing and telling stories. An hour passed, Pam and Lemon Bro 1 haven’t come back. Her friend, Karen is getting concerned and asks Lemon Bro 2 if they should have been back by now. This was supposed to be a 2 hour tour… it’s been about 2 1/2 hours already.
Lemon Bro 2 takes off to search for them, we stay close to the fire as we watch the lights of his snowmobile disappear into the forest. It is snowing quite heavily now and Sweetie rounds up the guys to start bringing more wood to the fire. We wait for another half hour or so and Lemon Bro 2 returns alone. We are all very concerned now. Lemon Bro 2 doesn’t know what to do, so we wait some more, the guys keeping the fire going. Finally, Lemon Bro 2 decides we ought to go back to the truck. Everyone lines up and one of the guys said he knew the way back to the truck and would take the lead. Me and Lemon Bro 2 would take the rear.
We were riding along when Lemon Bro 2 stops and tells me that the lead snowmobile should have turned and they were going the wrong way. He tells me he can’t catch up to them with me on the back of his snowmobile and that I would have to get off. He must be joking I thought, evidently not and I climb off and I sank in thigh high snow. Lemon Bro 2 then hands me a flashlight… He speeds off as I watch the light from the snowmobile disappear in the forest leaving me alone. I am standing thigh deep in snow, in the middle of the mountains, in the dark, it is snowing heavily now, my family has no idea where I am and all I have is a flashlight to guard against some deranged moose that is on the loose.
I stood there for what seemed like an eternity with no fire to keep me warm, for about 20 minutes. In the distance I finally see lights coming in my direction. Halleluiah the group came back for me! Sweetie pulls up and says ‘what are you doing?’ He had no idea Lemon Bro 2 left me. We are about to take off again towards the truck and we hear a faint shouting, Lemon Bro 1 and Pam were on foot heading towards us, walking not an easy task since the snow is thigh high. Evidently, they had been riding along and hit a snow bank, their snowmobile was stuck. We all finally made it back to the truck. We should have been back from our 2 hour trip around 9 and it was now after midnight. The state police and the Lemon Bro’s wives were at the truck about to launch a search party. The wives were not happy and I believe they may have had frying pans underneath their parkas.
Sweetie walked me back to my condo and kissed me at the front door, my roommates were frantic with worry. The following day we spent skiing together, boarded the bus for home arriving about 6:00 the next morning which happened to be Valentine’s Day. I went to work with a smile on my face, later, I received a stuffed Garfield the Cat with flowers, the note read ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, Adventures in Snowmobiling’. It’s been 25 years of adventure ever since! Happy Valentine’s Day to my Sweetie!