Ducking danger in its many forms

By |  March 26, 2018 0 Comments

I am knocking on wood, thanking my stars, pointing to the heavens while whispering a quiet “thank you.” Because once again, your pal Jonesy got through an adventure unscathed.

I sometimes think about the time I got lost in London, or when I was shouting Spanglish in a Guadalajara bar, and I realize how lucky I am to be upright today. I’m happy to report that I’ve just returned from Killington, Vt. (sounds ominous, right?) and I’m still in one piece.

My good luck started at a dinner at the end of the Golf Industry Show, when a friend asked me where I was going for my next trip. I thought about it, then said, “Somewhere northeast to a ski event where these supers all compete in a downhill race.” My friend looked across the table and said, “Paul, aren’t you doing a ski race here in a few weeks?”

“Paul” was Paul Blodorn, Quali-Pro’s northeast sales manager. Not only was he attending the event — the Nor’easter Cup — he lives in Killington and gave me the full scoop. He explained that the Vermont GCSA and the Northeast GCSA were the two main chapters represented at the event, but that I could expect to run into more than 100 friends from the Met GCSA, the New Jersey GCSA, the Pennsylvania GCSA and more. He even hooked me up with a “friends and family” rate at the local resort.

I’ve said it before: It’s better to be lucky than good.

While I wasn’t worried about getting kidnapped in Killington, I was worried about incurring major damage to a limb. I’m not a skier. I retired from skiing on New Year’s Eve 2000 after I broke my ankle in Angel Fire, N.M. I came out of retirement only once, a few years ago when the CEO convinced me to give it another try while on a business trip to Aspen.

After seeing me on skis for about 10 minutes, he was convinced that I should have stayed retired. He was terrified to hear I was attending an event where skiing was involved. He called me before the meeting and said, “Tell them you’re having back problems so you don’t have to fake a limp to get out of it.”

Good news. I fessed up to being a flatlander but still was able to drive to the site of the race. I hiked a short distance up the mountain and got the photos. My wife, my kids and my CEO were relieved to hear I was able to stay off the skis and still get the story/photos.

That evening I celebrated what turned out to be an amazing event — photos coming soon — with a huge crew from numerous surrounding states. We ended up at a place called the Wobbly Barn, where they awarded a cup-cutter-meets-ski-pole trophy to the fastest skier. I was called up to the stage to say a few words and made a toast that somehow derided the Kansas City Chiefs and celebrated the event at the same time (it made sense in the moment.) Adorably, Frank Wong’s little boy, Calvin, quietly heckled me from the side of the stage.

The plan was to finish the trip ice fishing with my old friend Chris Francis of Turf Products Corp. But then a serious Nor’easter “bomb cyclone” ruined that plan. I headed for the airport.

The drive from Killington to Albany, N.Y., was a white-knuckled trek in a cheap rental car. I saw almost a dozen cars in the ditch. I got lucky and was able to draft a heavy-duty plow truck for the last hour of my drive.

Add another moment to my list of near misses. I somehow not only ducked skiing, but also survived a bomb cyclone and even Calvin Wong.

I fly out to Las Vegas tomorrow. Wish me luck.

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