Thursday, June 14, 2001

Summer Toboggan

We live very close to some sort of national forest/park system. I don't know if it belongs to Bratislava or Slovakia. But just a five minute drive from our front door are hiking trails. The Sunday before Andrew came, we decided to go for a walk before dinner. We figured we'd walk for 30 minutes on the paths and then turn around. We could eat dinner at the Mexican restaurant which is on the edge of the forest (at a best Western).

We parked the car, stuffed the girls into our new All-Terrain Double Stroller and headed out. It was UP hill for about 15 minutes, but then we came out of an open meadow that was FULL of people picnicking, playing Frisbee, romping with children and dogs, and lounging in the fading sun. We sat in a rustic, camp-type shelter and took it all in. Then we noticed the Chinese woman scratching on the side of a tree with a sharp rock while her male companion looked on. The Spouse went postal.

"WHAT are you doing?!" he shouted. First in Slovak. Then in Mandarin. Then he began yelling "STOP! STOP!" She dropped the rock and the two of them fled, but the damage was done. He was exercised and stayed worked up for the rest of the afternoon.

The area was pristine for a Sunday afternoon. All the trash was in trash bins. There were no initials carved on trees. There were initials on the shelter, but not on any of the trees. He continued to seethe until I saw some horses and a little snack kiosk and dragged him over there.

That was when we realized we had found the toboggan run. I don't know how it works in the winter, but in the summer there is a run and you buy a ticket and get in a little sled that has a hand-operated break. There are signs to show how much head start you need to give the sled in front before you start.

Tickets were 40 crowns a run (at the time 50 crowns = $1). The Spouse bought three and he and Baboo got in line to go for a ride. A swarm of children and an English-speaking woman somehow got in between him and the sleds. He reports he made snide remarks to Baboo until the woman apologized and made nice and tried to get her two girls to get going. The girls just sort of sat in their respective sleds and waited for the surly teenage attendant to give them the sign it was okay to go. The surly teenage attendant was not interested in when they wanted to begin their rides. He was busy retrieving sleds as they returned back up the hill (there was a tow line that brought the sleds and riders back).

Long story short, the girls go. The Spouse and Baboo go. The Spouse and Baboo round the first corner at a high rate of speed and discover the two girls in their sleds at a dead stop in the middle of the hill. The Spouse reports that Baboo now knows how to say just awful things. He tells me he screamed "GOGOGO" at them, but I suspect it was a little more colorful than that.
Imagine, then, his horror when he and Baboo came back up the hill and found me chatting amiably with the mom. He says he practically had to mow the girls down to get to us before they did so he could give us his version of the story before they did. I don't know why he didn't just go again. He seems to be scarred by the experience.


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