A BOY, A GIRL AND LOON MOUNTAIN
Gondola rides through the White Mountain National Forest. Upside down ziplining over the snow covered Pemigewasset River. A tricky bottle of Prosecco (that we couldn’t figure out how to open). A screw-top Riesling (that did get drank).
These are the ingredients to a mush-free Valentine’s prelude, free of any saccharine Hallmark sentiments. The accommodations at the Mountain Club on Loon confirmed that this was going to be a schmaltz-free weekend. Visions of corny heart-shaped bathtubs were replaced with slopeside Jacuzzis complete with color-changing lights. We didn’t expect the plushness that awaited. This was a place of refined relaxation (underscored with New Hampshire ruggedness). Ski in-ski out accessibility, a relaxing spa and a deluxe room with mountain-view balconies assuaged all fears of lameness.
When I pulled up to the hotel late Friday night—amidst light snowfall that had been following us up 93—my shorty of only a few weeks (her word choice) made a valid point. “I can’t believe I’m here with you,” she said. A coy grin took shape on her face, which suddenly burst into an all-out smile.
“I only met you three weeks ago.”
Let’s rewind. Before arriving at Loon we had an unlikely meeting. It wasn’t via Howaboutwe.com or a random bar encounter. No, we met at Logan Airport, right before Christmas. We locked eyes after we both saw a fellow traveler performing Tai chi exercises at the gate. We couldn’t help but mutually giggle.
The scene recalled Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the Long Island Railroad and Montauk were replaced with an airport gate and East Boston. A bond was formed. After audaciously chatting her up, I got her number and we became instant BBM buddies (she had the Wu-Tang logo as her icon!).
Once home, my parents would ask me to put the phone down during meals.
Now we were together for a weekend of skiing. I was giddy in anticipation, but admittedly a bit anxious (if the butterflies were any indication) for such compressed time with each other. Luckily, I brought some herbal remedies and said bottles of wine (she also brought some choice Sam Adams pilsners, courtesy of her landlord). These helped to allay some of the nervousness. Earlier in the week, I had also accepted a job offer at a dream ad agency, so it was time to celebrate, and enjoy each other’s company while having alpine fun.
After checking in, we schluffed off our stuff, bounded up to the room and jumped up and down on the bed like schoolchildren. It felt good to be in a hotel room, away from the world, with a person I totally wanted to be with.
We settled into Blazing Saddles, watching it instantly on my computer, and drifted off to sleep.
In the morning we scarfed down some Egg McLoons—the local, addictively delicious breakfast sandwiches in the lodge—and met up with our guide.
She proved to be one of the highlights of the trip. She suggested tasty restaurants like the Gypsy Café, free Reggae shows, trails to ski and insights into the ski resort lifestyle.
We met said guide, Katelyn, in the gondola barn, where she hooked us up with our lift tickets and scooted us up to the front of the lift line. When we skied with her, we didn’t have to wait, which was lovely. I felt like saying, “I’m with the band” and flashing my backstage pass, but I resisted the urge. After lunch, we parted ways but felt like we transitioned from the patricians to the plebs.
As my grandma says, “If you have to rough it.”
We were skiing. It was snowing, not hard to the point where we couldn’t see through our goggles, but to the point where it coats everything majestically. Mt. Washington was barely visible from the summit of the North Peak.
When the ice started to show its wipeout-inducing teeth, we moseyed back to the hotel for some après ski cold-ones and hot tub action. Amidst the psychedelic color changing lights, we enjoyed the company of Jamie (who resembled Jared Diamond, the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel) and two precious preteens (who paradoxically hated Justin Bieber).
“But you’re his target demographic,” I protested. They looked at me nonplussed.
We toweled off and headed to the Gypsy Café. This charming hole in the wall proved to be another high point of the adventure. The décor suggested garden-decoration eclectic (I was surprised there were no gnomes), but the food was delicious. We each had margaritas—her’s was mango, mine had a splash of orange juice and cranberry. We devoured a Mezza plate, then plunged into entries as eclectic as the ambience. I had the special chicken mole, while Casey went with the vegetarian Malai Kofta. Shit-eating grins appeared on both of our faces as we blissed out in food comas.
In the morning, after a second cup of coffee, we went zip lining over a river.
I have never zip-lined before, so the first time was quite intense. The line spans 700 feet across a river, with top speeds reaching 35 mph. It was installed last summer as an addition to the Adventure Center, and is an easy entree to the world of suspension. Unlike a more intimidating course through rain forest canopy or other anxiety-provoking heights, this was relatively tame and perfect for us newbies.
I was so confident after the first time, I went upside down on the return trip, mouth hanging open like MJ.
We got back in the car and headed home, but we weren’t the same. She was now a fan of Kanye’s new album, especially the track “Monster” when Nicki Minaj drops in. She also adopted one of my favorite words, “fonzanoon” (aka someone who farts in the bathtub and bites the bubbles). A perfect example of a “fonz” would be Kid Rock.
We weren’t the same. Three weeks is a short time, but we compressed a lot of familiarity into the narrow window of a snow adventure weekend. It happens when you take a date up, down and across one of New England’s signature mountains and it’s snowy slopes.
I’ll save my gondola tale for a second chapter.
THE MOUNTAIN CLUB
ON LOON MOUNTAIN
90 LOON MOUNTAIN RD.