47andfearless











{March 20, 2013}   Thrills and Chills

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like being cold, so I tend to shy away from outdoor winter activities. But this year, I’ve made an effort to warm up to them. I went kite-flying in January and did the Polar Plunge in February. A few weekends ago, our family went snow tubing with families from Dylan’s Cub Scout Pack at Sunburst Ski Area in West Bend, Wis. It was a blast!

The day was sunny but cold with temps in the low 20s when we arrived. After purchasing our tickets, we grabbed inner tubes from the supply at the base of the hill and joined the line for a ride on the “Magic Carpet,” a 540-foot conveyor belt that carries passengers and their tubes to the top of the hill.

We got in line with Dylan’s friend Liam and his family. While we waited, we watched skiers and snowboarders perform some impressive maneuvers on a nearby hill. The line moved quickly, so we were on the lift in a few minutes. The conveyor ride takes just a minute or two. Folks who don’t want to wait in line can simply walk up the hill alongside the conveyor, pulling their tubes behind them.

The main tubing area has 12 tubing chutes, each 900 feet long with a 10-story drop.  Dylan and Liam chose chutes next to each other so they could race each other down the hill. Not to be outdone, Liam’s mom, Marci, and I did the same. My tube spun as it picked up speed, so I had no control of the direction I was facing, sliding backward part of the time. Our race ended in a dead heat, but what an exhilarating ride! We couldn’t wait to do it again.

According to Sunburst’s website, snow tubers can reach speeds of more than 40 mph. I have no idea how fast we went, but with the frigid wind whipping in our faces, it felt mighty quick and mighty cold.

After a few times down the main runs, we moved to an area that has chutes that allow tubes or mini luges. Instead of a conveyor belt to move people up the hill, it has a tow rope with tubes fastened to it. To use it, a passenger must sit in a moving tube while holding on to the rope of a free tube. It takes some coordination to get in and out of the tube, but I managed to do it without incident, though not gracefully.

Unfortunately, Dylan was not so lucky and had trouble at the top of the hill. His boot got stuck in the tube when he tried to get out, and he lost a glove. The tow rope had to be stopped for a few minutes while his items were retrieved and returned to him. (A mishap like that is one reason I’m reluctant to down-hill ski; it’s unlikely I’ll be able to get on and off the ski lift without embarrassing myself.)

The incident didn’t deter him in the least. He and his friends first used tubes to slide down the chutes, then tried the mini luges. Those little contraptions looked much harder to control, and riders rarely seemed to complete a run without falling. Jamie, in particular, had a spectacular crash halfway down. But he popped right up and got in line to go again.

Despite being bundled up, Jamie had enough of the cold weather a short time later. Since my fingers and toes had been frozen for awhile, I was happy to head to the Tubing Cafe with him to warm up with some hot chocolate while Doug and Dylan continued tubing. They joined us half an hour later, tired and red-cheeked from the frosty fun.

The boys say they’d love to go back. I would, too. But maybe not until next winter.

Want to know more about my 47 and fearless project? Check out my first post.

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