Wednesday, March 3

Paoli Peaks or Bust

Always ready for something new, I accepted an offer to try downhill skiing at Paoli Peaks. Since it would take care of No. 2 on my Gotta Go Do list for 2010 (try a new sport), I packed up some hot chocolate and drove south.
Situated approximately two hours from Indy, the ski resort was easy to locate and quite busy, breaking attendance records this season. Snowboarding, skiing, snowtubing and hanging out by the gigantic fireplace in the lodge are popular, it seems.
I was left in the capable hands of Mark Jones. Being the ski school director makes him the Top Gun of skiers, right?
For fellow first-timers, I’ve got a few tips.
First, don’t put your skis on while standing backward on the bunny slope. The gentle slope is just that…a slope. Heading backward on a hill is not a great beginning. On the plus side, you do learn the art of falling right away.
Next, when you lean forward like the Olympic skiers do, don’t plant your poles hard into the ground in front of you. It causes a harsh stop; trust me.
And last, never, ever direct your skis toward your very nice instructor before you’ve learned how to properly stop. See where I’m going with this?
Slamming into him is not great for a new friendship. He ends up on the ground, which is bad for one very good reason. Who is going to help you up if he is next to you in the snow? After getting hauled back up on my thin, waxed slivers, I peeked over and he was still smiling. Oh wait; that was a grimace.
Why do you think he was shaking his head?
The chair lift seemed safe, so I agreed. Then Ski Boy told me that I would have to finish going to the bottom of the very long slope to get on the safe looking lift to get back to the top of the mountain.
All the way to the bottom?
Remember, when you get on the chair to go up, you eventually have to get off. It’s not like a carousel where you can just keeping go round and round. Nope, you’ve got one chance and you’d better land correctly, or guess what?
That’s right, the head-shaking and getting hauled up to your feet again. The sky looked pretty good from where I was laying, but I had to get vertical again.
I opted to leave the outdoors to grab some dinner at 33 Brick Street, a local sports pub and display haven for all things Larry Bird: trophies, jerseys, including his No. 33, and signed basketballs. Their signature appetizer is Philly Chips. Handmade potato chips topped with all the goodies off a Philly sandwich is a great way to finish a day of skiing. You work up an appetite falling down all day.
Arriving at my deluxe cabin at Patoka 4 Seasons, I decided to slip into something a little more comfortable. A Jacuzzi.
Hey, snow bunnies need pampering.
The wood-burning fireplace made the cabin even cozier, even though it was roomy enough for eight people.
The Spa at French Lick proved simple to locate on the town’s main street the next morning. The beautiful resort also has a casino, but my mind was on my aromatherapy massage. The spa offers a variety of services, including hair, nails, massages and baths, tempting me to stay all day.
Aah, maybe next time. The masseuse worked his magic on my muscles, and, revitalized, my thoughts turned to lunch.
Arriving at French Lick Winery, I was pleased to find they had not only wine, but excellent food. Pasta with fresh-made Alfredo sauce, pizza with, you guessed it, fresh-made crust and pan
bigio, Italian country bread. Nick Doty, winemaker, took me on a private tour of the family-run facilities, recently expanded due to high demand for their affordable wines. Tasting-room guru Adrian shared wine samples. My favorite white was Traminette, which Doty feels could take top awards at this year’s competitions.
My last stop was Big Splash Adventure hotel and indoor water playground. The immense size of the water park makes it a destination hotel. With bunk beds in the rooms and a tropical paradise down the hall, it’s easy to understand why this would be a kid’s dream come true.
Driving home, I contemplated where I should venture next. Hmm, snow melts when warm weather comes, making it into water and…oh yeah, water-skiing. Maybe the lake won’t be as hard as a mountain when I fall.
If you have a travel location or event you would like reviewed, e-mail elizabeth Me, I’ll be right here, looking for my swimsuit and flippers.

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This post was originally published under "Gotta Go!" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

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