The snow was, quite mysteriously, very cold on our feet for some reason.
We had nice big snow boots on. And snow pants that made us (ok just me) look fat. It’s the pant’s fault entirely, not at all my body’s fault. A really good gig would be to invent snow pants that make slightly out of shape, middle-aged people look skinny.
We also had had multiple-pound producing, puffy, snow-worthy coats on. And hats that made our (ok fine, “my”) hair look bad.
But our feet were still universally cold.
Sledding off a side road in the Olympic Mountains is not for the faint of heart. It’s not the wilderness component or hypothermia potential or roving packs of wild deer that makes it dangerous. It’s the people you meet.
For example, this 7-foot tall unshaven man in quite a hurry appeared out of the woods with his wolf dog. I couldn’t possibly imagine why he was in a hurry other than my concern he had just buried a body or maybe he just didn’t like fat-looking people. He appeared to be quite comfortable in the woods though, so I kind of kept an eye on where he was going in case the deer attacked.
I guess we didn’t technically meet this wilderness man though. We did meet an interesting blonde-only family consisting of a husband, wife and 900 little blonde kids. Like all blonde families they arrived on-site in a shiny new SUV. The kids piled out screaming and covered in chocolate like a 21st Century version of the Von Trapps, minus the penchant for bursting into song and cavorting around in Bavarian dance.
As the happy, hyper-glycemic elves began sledding with our children, the Patriarch kind of ambled up to us, playfully stirring the snow with his $877.00 Land’s End All Weather Boots, like a farmer taking a break from building a fence and talking to his buddies about the weather…or possibly a baseball player calling time out to seemingly adjust his cup but in reality he’s just messing with the pitcher which I think should be illegal because baseball games just take too long and all of these antics make me groan at the prospect of sitting through yet another 5-hour defensive struggle/pitchers’ duel.
Anyway, The Leader eventually starts talking about the local area and how they moved here from California to be with “like-minded people.” At first I thought he simply meant “Also really good looking people,” so I was both pleased and kind of surprised that our attractiveness was so evident despite our protuberant snow suits.
But eventually, after gauging my encouraged, possibly beaming expression, he read my physiological response to what I thought was gross, cheap, completely self-involved flattery as some kind of signal that I also, and therefor we also, only preferred the company of white people to the degree that we sought to surround ourselves only with white people and bathe in the glory of being white people while speaking disparagingly of non-white people.
Indeed, the rest of the conversation involved kind of standing there with my mouth open, then averting my eyes and toying with the snow with my boot tip to buy time like those frustrating baseball players, while this fellow proceeded to describe a hero’s journey from the depths of Mexican-filled California to the idyllic landscape of the Olympic Peninsula with it’s incredible vistas, affordable property and acres of whites.
It turns out there is kind of a surreal, out of body experience that transpires when one meets a fairly avid racist on an idyllic, albeit unsanctioned sledding hill in the Olympic Mountains. I sort of floated above the pine trees for a while as a Yanni cassette played in my head to drown out his voice. Then everything crashed back down to snow-covered Mother Earth and I vaguely recall mentioning that I had chronic diarrhea and that me and my white family and friends (one of whom actually hails from South America, not sure if he caught that) definitely had to get going very quickly right now post haste. Stop crying kids, we’re leaving.
To be fair, this gentleman was far cagier than I’m implying here. He was subtle and suggestive, like a career politician hyper adept at making claims in such a way they could never be used in rebuttal or for an opponent’s campaign purposes. But the whole thing was super weird and tragic and interesting and you just don’t know what is going to happen anywhere at any time. Especially in the mountains.