Monday, October 14, 2013

A field trip to Stateside

Why most people go to Vermont in the fall.

The Jonny Jay Ski Club had a little off-season get-together last week, with the goal of celebrating a significant birthday for one of our members. That part of the trip is altogether another story. What is relevant to this blog is that we all knew that a pilgrimage "up to the mountain" had to take place, to see what was going on in Construction Junction.

We go to Jay for other reasons but, of course, try to maintain a low profile.
I rode with Pudd and his brother J, who hadn't been to Jay in a while. After getting over our shock at the smooth ride up the freshly paved 242 from Montgomery, we came around the corner and saw the The Hill. Needless to say for this crew, there were a few f-bombs of amazement at our first view of the construction going on at the new Stateside Lodge. Since the Stateside lot is still closed to the public, we parked at the new Mountain Kids Learning Center. The windows we could peer into revealed evidence of an active day-care operation. That was one end of the building. The other - who knows?

We found this in the parking lot of the Mtn Kids Learning Center. Very odd.
The star of the show, of course, was the new Stateside Lodge and Hotel. It is huge. And kind of barn-like, to be honest. And it has fake sugar-shack vents on the roof. Which is of course, appropriate in Vermont, as there are lots of barns and sugar shacks. But for whatever reason, it made me think of a monastery. Sorry, architects, but you have designed a very practical, not ugly, but decidedly monastical structure for the base of this hill. I am sure we will get used to it, though I am am not looking forward to figuring out the new plan of attack. What door do I go in? What table do I stash my stuff under? Are there hooks for my jacket? Will there be cubbies? And wait, what, there are three flights of stairs between the parking lot and where I put on my skis? Sheesh, where is the effing elevator? We are not getting any younger.

The new lodge pretty much dominates the the Stateside landscape.
The biggest discussion started when we hiked uphill of the new lodge, to the base of the previously new Taxi Chair. We imagined ourselves cruising down Queen's Highway, heading to the Bonaventure Chair (now painted green, no longer The Red Chair), or perhaps, with a little more speed, the Jet. The available terrain between the lodge and the lifts is vastly reduced from the old layout, and the downhill skier will be faced with uphill hikers to the Taxi Chair, sidehill sliders to the Bonnie, and downhill traffic from the runs above. On a slow day, probably no big deal. On a busy day, well, we all concluded that there is a cluster-f-bomb waiting to happen.  We shall see.

Surely, some snow will even this out. But it does look a little tight.
If you have read this blog with any regularity, you may have noticed that our little group is a bit reluctant to accept change. When it suits our tastes, we embrace it. When we have it forced upon us, we scope it out, we adapt and we seek out the best in the new situation. There are a lot of Jay skiers like us, and most of them hang out at Stateside. The old Stateside Lodge was the last holdout of The Past at Jay Peak. Now that it is gone, and a new space has been introduced, we have to adapt. Lockers have been booked and passes purchased. Fueled by stoke and history, the spirit of Stateside skiers will prevail and, after some growing pains, find its place in the new layout. Because really, a lodge is just a place to put your boots on, and the real reason we go to Jay is up on the hill.

There is hope, let's just trust that it is not discounted like a t-shirt.