20140603 – Living The Dream – Part 2

Tuesday – grey weather.

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Up at the crack of sparrows to go to the airport. Stuart, our Home Exchange guest has kindly volunteered to take us. He only arrived at our place yesterday and we had a lovely evening meal with him, Lee and Jill. Always great to meet our guests. Got on really well, as usual it’s surprising how much us Home Exchangers have in common.

Flight was pretty good. Airports were they usual tedious, inconvenience and still never miss an opportunity to inflict as much misery as possible, I’d rather jump barefoot off a 6-foot step ladder into a 5 gallon bucket full of hedgehogs than go through an airport. Must say in mitigation Atlanta immigration was quickest we’ve ever been, despite two wide body flights having landed within 20 minutes of each other. Trust the French to get their first.

They now have a new system of self help screens that scan passport, take your photo and take finger prints. To supposedly speed things up. But you still have the ridiculous situation where you take your slip of paper to a customs officer who proceeds to stamp, stamp, stamp like a 2 year oldIMG 0807 with his first hammer. In Wendy’s case she had to do her finger prints again. But it was quicker.

Lounge at Atlanta International terminal was much better than the usual one. So there I am sat in me hiking boots relaxing, when I suddenly notice the sole of my boots hanging off like some tramp who’s just found them in a dustbin.

Real song and dance getting an isle seat for Wendy. Too long and tedious to relate here. Suffice it to say that Delta now have the “Golden Triangle Award for Sloppy Shoulders 2014”. More jobs worths than TSA employees at their daily lets screw with the passengers. Finally get it sorted at the gate. Done in 20 seconds. No problem.

Hertz screw up. Go to my designated slot, which is much too far for a Presidents Circle Member to walk. Giant SUV in there and not a small economy. Car stink like they’ve just finished milking a cow and the milks gone off. Too weary to change it, will swop it tomorrow in PC. Stopped at the exit. IMG 3885“You’ve got the wrong car”. “No I haven’t it was in my slot with my name lit up alongside it”.

Have to swap cars. By now the boiling blood is spluttering over the pavement. As compensation, to stem the rant, they offer me a car of my choice. End up with a nice new Kia Sorrento SUV.

Sad to say just lately Hertz seem to provide screw ups as a standard enhanced service level.

Arrive “home” about 22:30, nearly 24 hours door to door.

No more airports, TSA or terrahertz scanners for 3 months. Good to be back.

Wednesday – blue skies, sun and warm.

Wake up to blue skies and green mountains. No snow, apart from some very small pocket of champagne powder that has now aged with the sun to a crinkly, murky slush puppy. It’s sad to se a grown man cry!

House is all neat and tidy and welcoming. Just like arriving home. 

Just look at those awesome mountains and views. Meanwhile I can get really excited about the simplicity of this fence. No nails needed.

Lazy morning sorting things out, unpacking etc.

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Have a leisurely lunch round at Carols, on the patio of course. Need to get used to this out door living. Great to see her and Angela again.

After lunch Wendy gets her fix as she does her weekly shop, while I check out Starbucks to make sure they’re still functioning properly. They’re still as dodgy and two faced as Janus, with the brass nerve to expect me to pay taxes though. Never mind the EU’s got them in their bureaucratic sights.

Outside the local supermarket is this piano. It works. It’s in tune. It’s not chained down. People just sit down and bash out the odd tune. 

I pondered how long this would last in Blackburn? How long before the scrots bashed it? Graffitti? Steal it? Trash it? Use it for firewood? Take your pick.

Thursday – blue skies, sun and warm.


Leisurely morning, again. Go and buy some hiking boots to replace my tramps specials.

Then it’s down to Salt Lake city for  Costco and an all American Mall to get some sunglasses.

Early evening I go up to the National Ability Centre for an orientation session and tour of the facilities. I sign up as a volunteer for archery. Would like to do the water skiing one if training and transport can be arranged.

This Aspen tree is on the side of our deck. It’s awesome to just watch the leaves shimmer in the sunlight on a windy day. Sadly the camera doesn’t capture it’s true glory.

Friday – blue skies, sun and warm.

Up to the Mountain Plaza for our uniforms and Mountain Host training. Todd get’s us kitted out and gives us some basic training ready for our debut as rookie mountain hosts. Takes most of the day. 

We both have to do one day a week as volunteers. Working together on Saturday, “thats nice”! WeIMG 3890 get a free season pass which cover summer and winter – hooray. Also get to go on all the rides for free and discounts in all the PCMR shops and restaurants.

Saturday – blue skies, sun and hot.

Day 1 as a  Mountain Host. Up early, don our new uniforms. Not forgetting our all important name badges and a great forage cap. Then the two rookies are let loose on an unsuspecting public.  No one warned me that I had to smile and be nice to people. Wendy’s quite comfortable with all this meeting and greeting, smiling and being nice to people. I’m sure that readers that know me, will be amazed to learn, that this is bit of a culture shock for Victor. Will I survive? Will I enjoy it? Will the customers cope? 7 hours of it.

A culture shock for me, I feel as if my lips have been stapled back to expose a permanent smile, like a braying donkey – painful, terrifying prospect. 

I survived. Even the poor unsuspecting public survived and so far not a single complaint.

But it does have it’s compensations for just 1 day a week. Annual ski pass. Summer pass for mountain biking, hiking and zip lines etc. Plenty of sunshine. Live Bob Dylan music from a guy who was more personable that the real thing. And of course a free uniform.

Have a nice day!

Start on the plaza at 10:00 after morning briefing and work through to 16:30 with an hour for lunch. It’s quite busy all day. I actually enjoy it. None of it’s rocket science and we’re both soon into the swing of it. By 16:30 my smile been riveted in place and my jaw aches.

Overall a good day and nice to chat to so many friendly Americans. Yes, I think I can cope with this.

Sunday – blue skies, sun and hot.

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After 5 hectic days; travelling; lunch and dinner with friends; shopping; training; mountain host volunteering; we’re finally car less.

Finally get out early to try some mountain biking. Park City was the first area to win an International Mountain Biking Association Gold Level award. Stick to the green / easy trails. Hard work. Think a better idea is up on lift, ride down. Skiing is so much easier and you don’t have greasy chains to contend with.

Blue skies; awesome mountain scenery; topped off with 8 different species of birds, including the magnificent, ginormous, vociferous Sandhill Crane; squirrels; chipmunks; but alas no sign of the coyotes. What a great start to the day.

Sunday afternoon at the Silly Market in Park City. Got off lightly just a coffe and drink. The credit card lives to hide in the dark, cobwebbed, depths of my wallet yet another day. We bump into Sylvia and Tomoku, Wendy’s fellow volunteers at the hospital.

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Well it looks like we’re almost certain to qualify for American citizenship as we’ve just barbecued burgers on our all American gas barbecue on the deck and dined out in the sun.

What can be more American than that. Not forgetting that we had Apple pie last Monday and enough calories in the form of cheesecake and death by chocolate to ensure we waddled home from Hal and Carols.

No doubt the Green Cards will be winging their way through our letter box as we speak.

Monday – blue skies, sun and hot..

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Decide to spend a day on the mountain trying out all the rides so that we’re better informed when talking to guests.

Catch the lift up for the Zip line. Wendy’s very nervous, but goes through with it. The longest in Utah. All over with after a 50MPH, 1 minute ride over the tree tops. Great. Then we try the Mountain coaster. A thrilling roller coaster toboggan ride down the mountain. Really enjoyable. Try the Flying Eagle where we sit side by side and do a short zip line ride up and then down. OK but wouldn’t want to pay for it. Finally Catch the lift up and try the mountain slide down. Enjoyable, I think Wendy must have worn her brakes out as she finally arrives minutes later, nearly had a whip lash case with the traffic jam she created.

An epic day, just being kids. All free to volunteer mountain hosts, including pictures. 

Sorry no time for rants. Victors just too busy. Perhaps normal service and comments on the religion of peace and all the craziness in the World will be resumed next time.


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