When I was a girl — which doesn’t seem so very long ago — I had a nifty Flexible Flyer sled. I never named it Rosebud, in case you were wondering, but I have fond memories of racing down hills on snow-covered lawns and steep streets in my neighborhood, which look far less steep to me today.
When I was a girl — which doesn’t seem so very long ago — I had a nifty Flexible Flyer sled.
I never named it Rosebud, in case you were wondering, but I have fond memories of racing down hills on snow-covered lawns and steep streets in my neighborhood, which look far less steep to me today.
For those too young to remember Flexible Flyers, they were long sleek wooden sleds, with metal runners beneath, that amazingly enough never sliced through any of my 10 fingers. My Flyer was long enough to fit two kids sitting upright with the passenger in front able to steer the sled (perhaps the “flexible” feature) with their feet, and avoid slamming into trees and parked or moving cars. The sleds were particularly good for use on snowfalls in the 3-6 inch range, and on snow-packed and ice-covered roadways. Big blizzards bringing a foot or more of snow rendered the Flexible Flyer useless, as its runners got stuck in deep drifts and you simply weren’t going anywhere fast.
I’m sure my old Flexible Flyer is still around somewhere at my parents’ house, in the basement or the shed, but it really has no place in our world of plastic discs and snow tubes. I thought about digging it out when my son, Christopher, was old enough to head for the hills on a snow day, but quickly realized that ship had sailed. No one sliding down the hill at Siever Field in Plymouth was doing so on a Flexible Flyer or anything constructed of metal or wood. They were instead blissfully spinning round and round on discs and tubes, with no concern for steering as they raced down to the bottom of the slope where fortunately no trees or rocks stood in their way.
My son has two plastic sleds – a bright orange one that he has outgrown, and a longer, bright blue model that he got for Christmas this year. He also has a snow tube, which since its purchase two years ago has never been pumped up. Still, he has been snow tubing several times in the past few years most of them with us, including last weekend in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains where my family has a cabin.
The snow tubing park at the ski resort offers a family tube ride or you can go solo or on a double tube, speeding down a smooth luge-like track at rates that blow your hat off and pull the skin on your face back – forget Botox ladies!
It’s fun in a terrifying, heart-pounding sort of way. The fact that you have to fill out a waiver acknowledging you recognize the dangers inherent in the activity prior to taking part is disconcerting, but it does give you something to do while you wait in the very long ticket line. That line is followed by many others including the one you wait in for the human conveyer belt to convey you to the top of snow tubing trails, where you get to stand in another line waiting with mounting trepidation for your fast slide down.
It’s a slippery slope – literally – and keeping my footing in the line proved the most challenging part of the day. During the wait in the family tube ride line, the youngsters occupied themselves by sliding around on their bellies – Christopher had a perfect penguin slide going – or throwing snowballs at each other, missing and hitting the grown ups, who were no doubt wondering how they got roped into this foolish activity.
After falling on my butt a half-dozen times to the great amusement of my family, it was finally our turn to take a seat in the big round tube. Sensing the danger-loving duo my husband and son are, the snow tube attendant gave us an extra hard shove at the top of the run and we were off.
I fumbled for the straps on the side of the tube and clutched them tightly. We were picking up speed exponentially and then the spinning began. Round and round we went at a dizzying rate while whizzing down, and I longed to find some means of steering, or slowing our descent. But this was no Flexible Flyer.
“Too many kinds of motion!” I managed to yell out, before we flew over some sort of mogul and made a rough landing in the hay piled up at the end of the tubing trail.
“That was awesome!” Christopher declared on his way to the line for the single and double tube rides.
At the top of the slope again the lines moved more quickly for solitary riders who waited for the tuber before them to clear the trail, and the attendant to give the go ahead before taking a running start and flopping down chest-first on the snow tube to launch themselves.
I decided to sit. It seemed safer.
With no one to give me a push, luckily, I inched my way to the top of the trail and began to slide down at an alarming rate.
And then the spinning began, again. I closed my eyes for a moment and it was over.
I was back in the hay pile, grinning from ear to ear in spite of myself.
Christopher and my husband were going on a double tube and I had little doubt their mission was to set a new record for reaching the bottom at a velocity akin to warp speed. I gazed up to the top of the hill to witness their reckless ride.
Christopher was sitting up front, and my husband was planning the run-as-fast-as-you–can-and-flop-on-the-tube takeoff. They were off like a shot, screaming down the slope, going airborne for a moment before making a bumpy landing – my husband spitting hay out of his mouth which had been open yelling and laughing throughout the run.
It occurred to me when our three hours of wild snow tubing was done, I can’t recall ever having that much fun on my Flexible Flyer. Maybe there’s something to this “no concern for steering” thing.
Alice Coyle is the managing editor of Community Newspaper Company’s Raynham office. She can be reached at email@example.com.