And by "jet off," I really meant a 4-hour TER ride from Dijon to Grenoble, a 2-hour TER from Grenoble to Gap and then a 1-hour bus ride from Gap up to the mountains of the Orcières-Merlette ski station, all for the low cost of 28.60 Euros in train fare and 10 Euros for the shuttle.
But it was all worth it! Just look at this sky!
I was about to embark on spending four, fabulous days with my French BFF Mimi, a mutual work colleague named Marie and her very well-educated 7-year-old son name Pierre. French kids are just so cute, but I'm so out of touch with what is popular with them that I honestly have never heard of Ben 10.
And, wait. Did my eyes deceive me? Were the French really wearing...color? After swimming in a sea of somber shades for weeks in Dijon, I was amicably greeted by an inviting blue sky and extravagant multi-colored ski suits! Amid the crowd of hot pinks and flashes of each shade of the rainbow, I felt undeniably sexy wearing a giant black marshmallow on my torso. For the first time in months, I actually saw people with suntans and sunburns. This was just on their faces and very often, I saw people with a pale imprint of a pair of sunglasses etched on their skin.
As much as I love being in the sun, I wanted to avoid this dorky trend at all costs. A sunburn like this is the mark of a tourist and that would just be the ultimate shame to my Miami nature.
I didn't do much the first of the trip because I was just dead tired. I would just wait to see what the next day would bring.
I had some idea of what was going to happen, though. Mimi excitedly announced that she had reserved a slot for all of us to go on a dog sled ride. This just blew my mind.
I have heard of horse-drawn buggies and even got the chance to explore my mother's Cartagena, Colombia on a rather romantic evening stroll by carriage...but a dog-sled ride? Now this I just had to see!
I awaited the evening to fall so I could jave a good night's rest after being awake since 3:30 a.m. Little did all four of us know that none would get much sleep. After a couple of apéro drinks followed by a hearty mountain dinner, Mimi and Pierre engaged in a vigorous tickle fight in which Pierre unfortunately hurt his left hand. He spent the night crying in pain, Marie spent it being wide awake next to his bedside, Mimi remained alert out of anxiety and guilt for had happened to poor Pierre...and I just kept tossing and turning.
The following morning, it was decided that Pierre would visit the doctor to see whether or not his hand had been sprained. The four of us headed up to the Roche Rousse in a tired stupor. I got a sudden jolt of energy when I gazed upon a ski-lift for the first time in my life. We all had our charge cards that would allow us to use the contraption once we swiped them past a sensor.
Going up the ski lift...
Me being all Happy-Happy, Joy-Joy in my unscathed mountain glory
I was unanimously appointed the job of Main Picture-Taker and it was my responsibility to document the Husky Sled Ride experience. I heeded to this task with much enthusiasm.
You can tell that this husky is estatic to be going back to work.
This is Alaska, the husky that led Marie's sled.
Mid-ride, our amiable Bourguignon guide offered me a little proposition: "How would like to to ride alongside me standing up?" Something in the deepest pit of my stomach meekly squeaked out "no," but that voice was silenced by a booming "HELL YES!" It wasn't until I was actually in the activity of darting through the mountains that the dubious meek voice took control of my body and caused me to stiffen up on the sled. My hands gripped the handles with a forceful clamp. I was scared. "You need to relax," the guide advised. "Don't worry, you are a natural musheuse!"
I'm a natural dog-sled leader, eh? Okay. I'll believe it.
Oh, and another reason why I'll never be a ski instructor? I have a poor sense of balance. During my stint as a musheuse, I tumbled off the sled. Twice.
I didn't just fall off, either.
Oh, no: I zipped off in a violent horizontal motion and hurtled in the air. I even out-flew the second dog sled team led by Marie. My momentary experiment with flight came to a sudden end when I crashed into a flurry of powdery snow.
This vivid moment made me the guaranteed laughing post for the rest of the day and I am certain that, for the small crowd who were there, I will not live this down.
I dejectedly gave up on my musheuse job and went back to my original job as Main Picture-Taker.
I truly loved this experience.
(I obviously didn't take this one.)
I thought myself to be the pilot in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince, only this time the sheep drawings were replaced by a flurry of requests for a parasitic blood-sucker.
In order to get to the peak, I needed to take two ski lifts. I managed to score a cabine all for myself! Floating ski lift rides are peaceful and you get to have expansive views of the horizon as you are gently imported to a higher plane.
Or at least that what the experience feels like when the cable car is in motion. If it suddenly comes to a jerky stop, then the ski lift is no longer a floating device of joy if not a Doom Death Trap of Doom and Death.
How many solitary rides in a ski lift does it take a Miami girl to totally lose it and question her impending mortality? The answer is one.
There really was no need to panic. The cable car remained suspended for what seemed five days 2 minutes. I eventually made my way to the second part of the ski lift with my sanity intact.
Great. Why couldn't someone have told me this vital piece of information before I made it to the second ski lift? Since I had already passed my card a second time, it would just be pointless if I didn't proceed to see what was all the way on top of the mountain chain. This is what I saw:
I explained my case that I had used up all my rides on the card and therefore couldn't do anything about it. I had even left my wallet behind because I did not want to be weighed down by extra items, so I could not possibly charge more money onto the card.
"Ah. Well, at this point...it's up to you to see what you are going to do. Let me see what I can do."
The attendant at this point called over one of the most handsome men I had ever seen. Tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed, chiseled cheekbones and a rusty skin tone that suggested that he spent most of his time outdoors teaching clumsy five-year olds the art of not falling flat-faced into the snow while learning a new sport; his red École du Ski Français uniform also helped clue me in as to what he did as a job.
"Madame made a mistake about the ski lifts. She wants to go on a snowshoe hike. What should she do?"
"Well," said the hot ski instructor, "she needs to go to the other one called Roche Rousse. That one is specifically for hiking."
Uh. Yeah, hot stuff. There is a slight problem with that...namely how I don't have any more rides left on my card.
"Ah. Well, I'll just ask my boss to see what can be done! Hé, Chef! We've got a Madame who needs to go to Roche Rousse!"
"She needs to take the other ski lift to go there."
Going to the beach to lie on the sand is definitely less complicated than being told the same thing three times over.
Another reason why I'll never be a ski instructor? When faced with hot athletic males, my brain undergoes a sensory overload which short-circuits it and renders my communication skills useless. turning into a nonsensical babbling contraption. I decided to call it quits on my failed quest and to try again the following day.
How awesome is this mini-snowman?
In the end, I fulfilled a silly dream of mine of having a cup of hot chocolate up in the mountains. The waiter was even nice enough to provide me with a heaping caloric serving of artery-clogging whipped cream. It's just like I always wanted...
Okay. I have to remember to take everything with me. I'll place the most important things in my purse: my contact lenses, my MP3, my cellphone and my wristwatch.
Will I need make-up for tomorrow? Meh. I guess I can skip putting on everything for the drive back to Dijon. I could just wear some eyeliner and mascara, but I'll just put on my glasses. I want to be a little bit comfortable.
Now, as for tomorrow's clothes, I should probably prepare myself for the cold Dijonnais weather. Socks, layers, gloves, scarf, sunglasses.