Sunday, January 12, 2003

Grab a pal, head for the hill

And after a few icy runs, our writer recommends a pick-me-up

Tubers go down the inner tube hill now open at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
When I asked a couple of my buddies to help me in Week 2 of my winter recreation series by testing the new snow tubing area at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind., their reactions came quickly and enthusiastically.

"Oh, yeah, that sounds fun. We can bring beer, right?"

Two separate instances. Two identical responses.

Although we decided to leave the alcohol at home, Chris and Jimmy agreed to hit the hill with me anyway. But when we arrived, it was obvious we were all having second thoughts.

We were the only adults - and I'm using the word adults loosely here - at the snow tubing area, besides those with little kids and one couple on a date. Even worse, all the workers manning the lift and hill were very hip high school and college kids. It was like TRL in the snow. And it's not that we're no longer young or hip, but it's hard to convince anyone of that when you're sitting in an innertube and asking a high school girl to give you a push.

Despite my reservations, I knew I'd brought the right guys halfway up the lift when Chris asked a female worker if this was going to be fun. After she just kind of shrugged as if to say, "I just work here for the free ski pass; now leave me alone, creepy older guys," Jimmy responded with gusto.

"Well, c'mon, how do we make it fun? This is gonna be fun."

After checking his pockets for beers, which are prohibited, we set the over-under for Jimmy getting us kicked out of the place at eight runs down the hill.

Our first ride down the hill was like hearing a joke or going to a Bengals game. It was fun, but doing it over and over wasn't going to make it any better. Until ...

"Hey, guys," I said at the bottom of the run. "Care to make it interesting?"

Now, asking my friends to gamble is like asking Sebastian Janikowski if you can buy him a drink. You don't have to twist any arms.

We decided to make each trip down the hill a different kind of race, with one point going to each winner. Because we were going out afterward, we planned to make the aforementioned point worth a drink on the losers. It was kind of like the scoring system used on American Gladiators. It was all very sophisticated and we weren't sure how it was going to work out. We figured it just would.

The first few races were pretty simple: a running start with the tube; run, then jump onto the tube; head-first; feet-first; kneeling.

Chris, the fastest, dominated anything involving a running start. Jimmy, the biggest, dominated anything involving a sitting or reclining - his favorite positions - start.

Being the smallest and slowest of the bunch, I dominated at complaining about how big the tab was getting.

After Jimmy and Chris threw a race to let me get on the scoreboard, the workers persuaded us to go down the same lane hooked together.

It looked like we were taking a race off. And we were, kind of, until jockeying for position became shoving, and shoving became punching, and punching became me with my hat over my face at the bottom of a heap at the finish line. Jimmy won. The big kid always does.

I got back on the board, however, with a competition to see who could come to a stop closest to the finish line. Not a win to brag about, but bravado is for those without bar bills.

Before we knew it, we were creeping up on our two-hour limit for innertubing but had enough time for one more race. Jimmy beat Chris to take a one-point win.

And thus, to the victor went the spoils, and to the writer went the bar tab. I should have just let them bring the beer.

Tubing an alternative for skiing-impaired

When Perfect North Slopes opened in December for its 23rd year, a new option was introduced to those without the time, patience or pocketbook for skiing and snowboarding.

The slopes, located in Lawrenceburg, Ind., now feature a tubing area.

"It really opens up the snow to a whole new group of people, people who wouldn't normally ski," marketing director Ellen Perfect said. "The whole family can get out and enjoy it, because it's a cheaper activity and you can just come for a couple hours."

Although it was built with the time-conscious in mind, construction of the new 750-foot hill was anything but speedy.

A year ago, the Perfects, who own the slopes, scouted other resorts that offer snow tubing.

After gathering additional information and weighing its options, the family decided to add the tubing area. Work on the hill began in June with tree clearing and land development. Adding new snow guns and an innovative lift called the Magic Carpet completed the facility.

Perfect said the results are worth the effort.

"So far it's been extremely popular," she said. "We'rereally happy with the turnout. It's turned into a night-time activity for people, kind of an alternative for people instead of going to the movies again."

The facility, which features a smaller hill for children under 45 inches who are accompanied by an adult, is open from 5-9 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. weekends.

Two hours on the hill costs $18; a one-hour pass is $15.


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Grab a pal, head for the hill