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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Full Suburban: Skiing remains far from an uplifting experience

The Ditto family, along with some cousins, endures a chilly lunch in the parking lot of the White Pass ski resort last week.  (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
The Ditto family, along with some cousins, endures a chilly lunch in the parking lot of the White Pass ski resort last week. (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

According to various definitions found on the internet, a glutton for punishment is “someone who habitually takes on burdensome or unpleasant tasks;” “a person who continues to do things whose consequences they find difficult or unpleasant;” and “a masochist.”

Yes. I am most definitely all of the above. You see, I have been lured yet again up to a ski mountain this winter. Not once, not twice, but a whopping four times, with more on the horizon. That is an unthinkable amount of skiing for someone who doesn’t enjoy it, like, at all.

For years, I avoided going skiing with Logan and our older kids because I was always tending to a baby or toddler, and thank goodness for that. But now that our youngest is 6 years old, I have no more excuses as to why I should stay home while the rest of the family enjoys a whole day’s worth of fun and freezing togetherness.

Our most recent trip was to the White Pass ski resort near Yakima. My brother- and sister-in-law live nearby, so we made a whole weekend plan of it (or, rather, a whole weekend plan was made of it against my will). Being ever the good sport (please note the sarcasm), I went along with it, dreading it more and more as the actual day of the ski trip drew near.

A few days before we were to leave, Logan realized that, while he and the kids had automatic passes that he’d bought at the beginning of the season, he hadn’t yet purchased a separate ski pass for me.

“Uh oh,” he said as he scrolled through the White Pass website. “Ski passes are completely sold out for this weekend.” He looked sick. I turned to him in slow motion, hardly able to contain my joy.

Was this some kind of reward from the heavens for not yelling at my son last week when he allowed our robot vacuum to drive over a wad of used toilet paper that he’d thrown onto the bathroom floor? I couldn’t believe my luck, but I tried hard to look stricken.

I basked in my deliverance for a full 24 hours before my sister-in-law somehow secured a pass for me to use. I immediately removed her from my will and started the process of gathering everyone’s snow gear. “We ride at dawn,” I said grimly to absolutely no one.

It was 5 degrees at the base of the ski hill when our packed Suburban came to a stop in the parking lot at White Pass. Wind chill brought it down to -17. The blast of freezing air that hit me as I got out of the car was enough to make me want to turn around right then and never come back.

But when you’re a Ditto and you’ve committed to do something reckless and fun, there is no turning back. So, forward we went. Blowing snow. Fog. Wind chill that makes you want to cry. Children who are actually crying. Goggles that have frozen over. Fingertips that are rendered useless. Actual, low-grade frostbite on rosy cheeks. It was rough, my friends.

Minutes into our first run of the day, I was plotting how I could get off the mountain as soon as possible. A broken leg seemed like a plausible scenario. Hypothermia, perhaps?

I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but I’m guessing that if my pioneer ancestors – who pushed hand carts across the frozen Wyoming plains in the dead of winter – could choose between their predicament or a day of skiing at White Pass with the Dittos, they would have gripped their hand carts ever more tightly and turned their faces to the West.

In the end, I played the freezing-children card and offered to take a carload of miserable kids home after lunch. Everyone else decided to stick it out, insisting that “it wasn’t that bad,” and “they were having fun.” Liars.

I felt exultant as I turned the car heater on full blast and watched the ski lift disappear in my rear-view mirror. I may be a glutton for punishment, but even I know when to call it.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at dittojulia@gmail.com.

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