On the March 1st, Faye Zheng, Sveinn Ólafsson, Menglong Hao, Menglong's buddy - Bill, Karthik Chalamala, and I drove up to Madison, WI and met with Julie Meyerson and Julie's friend from work - Merry Wang.
The six of us who drove up made a mistake of trusting me for directions, as I was following my Garmin, it took us through a detour outside downtown Chicago, with a bunch of lights and more traffic, we ended up spending 2 hours in the Chicago area. We stayed a night at HI Hostel Madison - it's a hostel located at downtown Madison, for $25 per bed a night, it was worth it.
Despite the smell of feet at the front door because it is required to take off shoes upon entering, the interior was clean and homely. We arrived at the hostel at 9:45 pm Wisconsin time, which was 15 mins before the front desk closes and were able to check in on time, or else we'd have to sleep on the streets at the temperature of 2 degrees without wind chill.
Most of us went out and toured around to see the night views of downtown Madison but some of us went to bed since it was way past most's bedtime. I personally was amazed at the piles of snow on the street since I've never been to this part of the Midwest at this time off the year. We then went to a bar and had some sodas, talked about our past skiing experiences, our personal lives, and Iceland.
The morning of March 2nd, it was 5 degrees at 8 am and we had a warm whole breakfast at Marigold Kitchen in downtown Madison before heading off to Cascade Mountain in Portage. It was sunny the whole day and the snow was good for skiing. I was the only snowboarder in the entire group. Faye took a two hour lesson for skiing and concluded that it wasn't worth it because she knows more than what the instructor taught before taking the lesson.
The mountain had a black diamond trail called Mogul Monster, it was a sloppy trail with a bunch of bumps and no flat way down. A couple of us went down that trail, everyone almost had a heart attack but we all survived. I lost count of how many times fell and it took me 15 mins to get to the end of this 800 feet trail. Halfway through I realized, I was the only snowboarder on this trail. Sveinn was working on his jumps in the large terrain park for half if the day, by the end of the day, he became a pro at it.
Karthik was ahead of us the most time and explored the entire hill in the first hour, and he spent most of the afternoon working on his carves. Julie and Merry had lots of fun. While all these times, Menglong and Bill were dominating all the black diamonds. We left the mountain at around 6:30 pm when the trails started becoming icy, and had a hearty dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Madison. While having dinner, we shared our stories of our runs on the slopes, talked about various things including food, fruit, durian, people getting fired for sexual harassment at work, teacher-student affairs, people who got fired suing their employers for discrimination, table settings, waiting tables, Iceland, etc. etc.
Most of us drove back to campus after dinner except Julie and Merry decided to stay another night at the hostel and explore Madison the next day. In conclusion, unanimously, we had a ton of fun. Some are hoping to go on another ski trip before this season ends, so I might plan another one after spring break depending on the weather. Look out for emails as I'll be sending them out if there is any.