Illustration drawn by Reuben Munoz for the Los Angeles Times
Doug loved snow and ice. Soon he would be flying down that beautiful white mountain that you can see from Los Angeles.
He looked cool in his new teal blue parka, and he was about to do something really cool. He was going to snowboard! His community group had sponsored a trip to Mt. Baldy. As they loaded the bus and headed toward the mountains, he boasted, "Watch me be the best! I was born to snowboard! I own these mountains!"
On the mountain they rented snowboards. Teresa, their instructor, showed everyone how to carry the boards and how to balance and carve their way down the mountain.
"To stop, you sit down and fall back into the mountain," she said. "Since this mountain is at a high angle, you'll just have to fall back a foot or so. This is how snowboarders rest as well. Steepness can be a snowboarder's best friend!"
"I'll go first!" Doug told the others as he looked down the snowy mountain. The trees below suddenly looked very small!
Doug led the group down the hill right behind Teresa, who had told them, "One at a time. Stay in a line. Follow me."
"Wow! I'm doing it!" yelled Doug as he bent his knees low and started carving a wide turn in the white layer of snow.
Suddenly he fell back and stopped.
Everyone else stopped too -- almost on top of Doug.
"Are you all right?" asked Teresa, as she made her way back to the others.
But Doug couldn't answer. He was too busy huffing and puffing. "It must be the thin air up here," he explained.
Teresa gave him a good hard look. "When was the last time you exercised?" she asked.
"Ah ... well," Doug stammered.
Helping him up, Teresa asked, "You mean you can't even remember!? That's not good."
Doug realized that it didn't matter how cool he looked or how well he learned how to handle and ride a snowboard. Unless he was physically fit, he couldn't do any of it!
"I guess I'll need to work out more so the next time I come up here I'll be able to snowboard instead of no-board!" he laughed.