Every day for nearly three weeks, I got to work in a gondola.
How cool is that?
For someone who has battled two beltways worth of traffic almost every weekday morning for 21 years, going from Silver Spring to Baltimore, this mode of transportation has been a dream.
Walk 15 minutes to the ski lifts. Step on a gondola. Look at the snow-capped mountains. Step off.
Forget about Mag-Lev trains for commuting. (Oh, wait, didn't the General Assembly ban the use of the word? Sorry.)
The magical ride is the highlight of the day -- and night, which is when we leave the mountain, our work done.
Now, all my work is done at these Olympics.
And while I'm relieved and exhausted, I'm a little bit sad.Despite the awful beginning, with the death of a young athlete hours before the opening ceremony, and the embarrassing cauldron lighting thing, the Winter Games worked out. They almost always do. (Sorry, Turin, you stunk.)
Tens of thousands of turquoise-jacketed volunteers--nicknamed, "The Smurfs"--never stop giving directions, digging out information and helping befuddled journalists and spectators.
Bode Miller wins gold, silver and bronze and stops being a big jerk for once. Do you believe in miracles?
For several days, the skies are a brilliant blue, the snow is gleaming white and the air is crisp and clean. Wonderful.
The underdog U.S. hockey team almost steals the gold medal from the home team before thousands of stunned fans. Heh-heh-heh.
Petra Majdic, a Slovenian cross-country skier wins bronze, willing away the agony of broken ribs and a punctured lung suffered in a fall just before race time. You go, girlfriend.
Billy Demong, a son of the Adirondacks, wins the first-ever U.S. gold medal in Nordic combined, proposes to his long-time girlfriend and is selected to carry the American flag in the closing ceremony. Demong, a wonderful guy, has a career year in one day.
Figure skater Joannie Rochette of Canada skates through the pain of a broken heart to win bronze. Just two days before the ladies' short program, her mother, Therese, died of a heart attack in Vancouver.
Steve Holcomb, who nearly lost his sight to a degenerative disease two years ago, pilots USA-1 -- the Night Train -- to the first U.S. gold medal in four-man bobsled in 62 years. The roly-poly athlete makes Olympic competition look deceptively easy. Don't believe it for a second.
In a few hours, I'll have to declare to U.S. Customs all the newly acquired valuables I'm bringing back into the country: pins, T-shirts, hats.
But these memories -- and a ton more -- will be the things I'll treasure most.
Thanks, Canada. I had a blast.