X-Country at Mount Van Hoevenburg, New York

Trip Start Jan 28, 2008
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Trip End Mar 12, 2008


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Flag of United States  , New York
Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Jackrabbit Inn and Hostel, the place where I stayed, is a few miles east of Lake Placid and seemed to be a homey enough place.  When I arrived the place was deserted, an envelope with my name on it containing a key was one of several on the front desk.  "Bingo, I have the place to myself," I thought.  My room in the basement contained four empty bunks and seemed clean and adequate enough.  I strategically picked a lower one near the window, and then went upstairs to read a book and have a beer in the pleasant silence. 
It wasn't long until other guests began arriving, the first of which were a nice couple of medical students from Ottawa.  The next bunch of four, a trio of men perhaps ten years my senior and a sowish-looking woman I'd place in her mid thirties, was another story.  It turned out the three men were former pro skiers who were by their own admission "never good enough to win cars or anything" and there for some kind of ski races at Whiteface Mountain.  These guys were loud, somewhat drunk already, and found themselves and the blond chick they were with to be terribly funny
When they found out the couple was from Canada, Ms. Piggy and the overgrown party boys immediately began making fun of Canadian accents, "Awww, you're sittin' abooot the hooose, eh!" while laughing themselves silly.  They then turned on me.  Ms. Piggy said I had a funny accent too and asked me if I was from Canada too.  When I told her I was from New Jersey, she blurted out, "Joysey, which exit?"  By the nature of their laughter, this was clearly the funniest thing any of them has heard in years. 
I despised them instantly and quickly fled to the basement to sequester myself in my room, one which turned out to be a private for my entire stay, despite the three other bunks.  Ironically, Ms. Piggy and the Party Boys, apparently Upstate New York natives, didn't exactly have the most neutral of accents themselves, talking with the nasal, slightly high-pitched tones I sometimes find British and other non-American native English speakers make fun of.  Such as:
"Aaayny waay, aaayny kaaynd of noiyze baaathers me!"
"Is thaaat aaan Aaylaaaphaant?"
"Are you wearing your taaaayn paaaynts agaaaiyn?"
"Rice Crispies:  Snaaayp, Craaayckle, Paaaap!"
"Go, taaaayke a naaayp!"
"Haaayve a snaaayck." 
My room was hardly sound proof, and there was quite a lot of commotion in the hostel over the weekend as other young people arrived.  However, all I kept hearing was Ms. Piggy and the Elder Party Boys' bad jokes and constant laughter. 
Saturday turned out to be a wasted day.  The weather forecast was not promising, but somehow I expected that Lake Placid's roughly 1,800 foot elevation would result in a beautiful blizzard of deep snow rather than that stuff TV weathermen refer to as "wintry mix".  I was wrong and all day the weather alternated between heavy freezing rain, sleet, and snow that eventually turned to all snow during the night.  The miserable conditions made any outdoor activity too unpleasant to consider, and I spent much of the day at McDonalds sipping coffee and reading a book. 
The typical pattern of northeastern weather continued into Sunday, the big storm taking place with relatively warm temperatures that resulted in miserable freezing rain instead of useful snow was then followed by blustery and frigid conditions as the skies gradually cleared. 
I tried to make the best of it and headed out around noon to Mount Van Hoevenburg for some cross-country skiing as the snow tapered off to flurries and the sun began popping through.  Mount Van Hoevenburg is a short distance east of Lake Placid and was the venue of numerous events in the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, including biathlon, bobsled, luge, and cross country skiing.  It now strikes me as amazing that a town as small as Lake Placid could hold a Winter Olympics as recently as 1980 now that the games seem to always be awarded to larger cities like Salt Lake City, Torino, and Vancouver.
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