Breckenridge, Colorado ... March 5-7, 1993
Last September, on the occasion of Buffalo Fest's tenth anniversary, I dusted the cobwebs from a photo album I'd received from Alf and I dusted the cobwebs from my memory. The result was my Buffalo Restrospective. (Every time I see that title, I think of an old Buffalo Springfield album I once owned, which was called "Retrospective." What was the deal with those guys? Were some of them from Buffalo and some from Springfield? Something's happening here; what it is ain't exactly clear.)
Anyway, Alf has dug through his old photos and discovered a batch from another one of our big "Fests": Skifest 1993!
You might want to refer to my Buffalo preface, which tells the story of how this particular collection of people congealed into a group. No need to repeat all that here.
Return with us now ....
We came from all directions; we came to Denver. This was a repeat Fest for many of us: In March 1992, we had our first-ever big Lawsig Fest in Breckenridge, and so this was now becoming a tradition for us. Patty once again organized it, this time with assistance from her friend and colleague, Claire Dick-Rider.
We converged on Patty's house. I think I was the last to arrive, probably because I put in a hard day's work in New York before leaving. Anyway, by the time my plane landed, everybody was pretty tired of going out to Stapleton to pick people up, so I took a cab to Patty's. On the ride through Denver, the cab driver talked about ongoing developments in the current hot news story: the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco (or, as he called it, "Wacko"). A bunch of people down in Texas were holed up in an isolated compound, doing strange things that the outside world could not understand, and they weren't venturing outside for anything. Hmmm.
Reconstructing the events of this weekend ten years ago will be difficult. In Buffalo, we went to all sorts of places, did all sorts of things, and Alf recorded it all on film. This time, though, we really didn't go anywhere or do anything, and so there wasn't much stuff at which one would want to point a camera. Thus, sheer powers of memory must be summoned without the assistance of Kodak hints. It's also difficult to reconstruct things because there really isn't a lot to reconstruct. We pretty much sat around all weekend without doing anything. The final recollection-defying arrow in the sling is that most of our minds were in altered states for pretty much the entire weekend. As quickly as brain cells had events imprinted on them, they were effectively hauled off, lined up against a wall, and executed. Perhaps it would be more accurate to use a liquid simile, and to say the poor little cells were drowned like helpless kittens in a burlap sack.
It is possible to remember some of the people who were there, although there could be some confusion between the different Skifests and even other gatherings. I was there. I'm sure of that. Patty and Claire were also there, since they organized it. Alf was there; he's sent me his photos to demonstrate this. Also in attendence were Judy and Laurie: Like Patty and me, they were veterans of Skifest '92. Ruth Leistensnider of Albany made a rare Fest appearance. (While Ruth was a regular at New York Lawsig lunches, she skipped the conveniently located Buffalo Fest in September 1992.) Jill the California Girl, Warren With the Nice Butt, Larry the Smokin' Skier, and Judy's sister Kacy had all been at Breckenridge with us in 1992, but they were not able to join us in 1993.
Late Friday night, we headed up into the mountains to our little ski condo in Breckenridge. Judy had rented a car, and Alf, Laurie and I rode with her. Alf was in front, watching the headlights of the oncoming tanker trucks as we sped along on the slippery, twisting mountain roads in the dead of night. Halfway to Breckenridge, we stopped at a convenience store for some beer and beef jerky.
As we rode, we reminisced about our other fest experiences. We were all sad that Kacy wasn't with us this time, as she had been a real live wire at Skifest 92. One of our activities that year involved sliding down a huge hill on inner tubes. Attendants with snowmobiles zipped us back up to the top of the hill for each subsequent slide down ... except Kacy eschewed this easy route and ran back up the hill every time. In fact, I think she got to the top faster than we did. Kacy had also been at the Buffalo Lawsig fest, which was where Alf first met her. Remembering that event, Alf thought Laurie might want to talk with Kacy, and so he pulled out his cell phone and called her up. Most of the ensuing telephone conversation was too lewd to report here.
We arrived in Breckenridge late, and after several nightcaps, we retired.
When we visited Breckenridge in 1992, Larry and Laurie were the only ones who actually hit the ski slopes. The rest of us did manage to spend some time tube-sliding, however, and we had a horse-drawn sleigh ride to a lovely tent dinner where we dined and listed to Laurie sing about somebody's beautiful brown eyes. Yes, it was an action-packed weekend, to be sure.
We also spent a lot of time consuming liquids at Skifest 1992. In addition to bringing copious amounts of beer and wine, we had whipped up a batch of homemade "Irish Cream." I have since lost the recipe, but perhaps someone will pass it along. On the other hand, inasmuch as this stuff might well be considered a Weapon of Mass Destruction, it might be best if UN inspectors find all existing copies of the recipe and destroy them.
The primary ingredient in this potion was a bottle (or was it two?) of Scotch. There was also some sort of dairy product, be it cream or milk. A few freeze-dried coffee crystals subtly enhanced the flavor, and I think there were a few additional special ingredients. The combinatorial process, which must be conducted in a turkey roasting pan for the spell to work properly, most closely resembles the creation of a bottle of Scotch out of other materials in "Mister Roberts." Well we already had the Scotch, but from that point on, it was similarly creative.
Back in '92, this stuff was so good (and so strong) that we consumed an entire roasting pan full of it. Skifest '92 thus received an alternative moniker: "Sloshfest." Additional batches of what came to be called "turkey" (since it was made in a turkey roaster, it must be turkey, right?) were whipped up at subsequent events, including Judy's housewarming in New Jersey and Mary Beth's Old Bay Fest in Maryland. Plus, of course, we made another special batch at this Skifest in 1993.
Anyway, while Skifest '92 was "Sloshfest," Skifest '93 wound up being co-named "Slothfest." This time, nobody went skiing. In addition, there was no sliding, no sleigh riding, and no tent dinners in the woods. We just sat in the condo all weekend until it was time for us to leave. We didn't even drink as much, as that would have required too much energy. At Skifest '92, "turkey" consumption was so high that one of us, after spending the entire night in the bathroom, spent the entire next day in bed; we took turns checking every hour or so to make sure breathing was continuing. Even at Buffalo Fest, there was barfing involved. This had become part of our tradition. Well, at Skifest '93, none of us could even muster the energy required to throw up.
Alf actually did get out and about, however, as evidenced by a few photos that he apparently snapped outside the condo. This is my first look at these scenes, however: While he was out breathing fresh air and seeing the sights of Breckenridge, I was back with everyone else, sitting in the condo and posting occasional reports in the online legal forum about what we were doing ... namely, nothing.
As I recall, Brad the Policeman (who had joined us for all of Skifest '92) stopped by and spent a little time with us on Saturday, until he got bored with us and left.
At one point, there was a quick run for more champagne and souvenirs ... plus we actually ate out once ... but that was the full extent of our non-sitting-around activities!
We sat around a little more, and then we left.
I have to revise the entry for Saturday: Laurie has remembered that she and I actually did go skiing, so we join Alf in climbing to a position of lesser shame on the Sloth Pyramid. I vaguely remember (and, as you can see, that's about as good as it gets for this weekend) that Ruth was awarded "Most Slothful" honors at the end of the weekend, although I have no idea what she did to deserve this. Well, actually, I suppose she did absolutely nothing to deserve it!
The recipe for the Turkey Pan Concoction has also bubbled up to the surface like a belch of sewer gas, so here it is. (This is probably several lawsuits just waiting to happen.) The details were contained in a message Patty sent to Ruth on March 18, 1992 ... right after Skifest '92. This must be what convinced Ruth that she absolutely had to come in 1993.
#: 204610 S14/"BAR ROOM"
Sb: #204020-#1 in 80,000
Fm: Patty White
To: Ruth E. Leistensnider (X)
I tell ya, Ruth, we had to tame this recipe down. Supposedly it's 32 ounces of Highland Mist Scotch Whiskey, two cans of Eagle condensed milk, a half a gallon of Neopolitan ice cream, a couple of cups of milk and about 4 teaspoons of instant coffee.
We doubled all the ingredients after about passing out on one glass, except for the whiskey, which, trust me, does NOT need to be doubled.
This is the way I'd do it next time, throw together everything but the whiskey, then add the whiskey until it tastes right. The draw-back is after you start sampling to get it right, you very likely will wind up with too much whiskey since you'll be too drunk to tell the difference. But there's worse things, I'm sure.
Judy designed some lovely commemorative t-shirts. I still have mine.
There was going to be another Skifest in 1994, and Patty valiantly worked on the initial plans, but our sloth had, by that time, grown to the point where we couldn't even make our way out of our own living rooms. Later in the year we did manage to do a Fest in western Washington ... "Slugfest" ... but that's another story.