This is a phenomenon

Monday January 30, 2012

It got windy at the top of the mountain today so I called it quits around 3pm. I had some things to do/get caught up on, so I took this early day as the opportunity. It was time for the Winter Carnival Cruiser’s first oil change. I found a local joint downtown called Grease Monkey. It went smoothly, I was in and out in a jiffy with a fresh lube. On my way back driving through downtown I realized what a phenomenon this trip really was. I was shocked, I knew they were happy to have me here in Steamboat but I didn’t expect banners and a parade. Luckily I am never one to shy away from the spotlight.

I spent most of the day in the woods again at Steamboat Springs. I took my video camera out again today. Once again to anyone else this is extremely boring. But this time I am personally happy with some of what I captured. Some parts are actually quite good.

Oh yea, look how pretty my wife is 🙂

I think I met the Beastmaster

Welcome to Steamboat Springs. Today could not have started out much better. I was standing in line to purchase my lift ticket and was approached by my new best friend in the whole world, a handsome man named David. He informed me that he had a 2 for 1 coupon for lift tickets and asked if I wanted a half price lift ticket. What a wonderful man and gesture. It must have been some kind of cosmic karma connection David and I had. I hope to be able to return the favor.

It was a beautiful day out today. The sun was shining all day and the temperature got into the mid to high 30’s. Quite warm at the end of the day. They did get some snow here the other day and are expecting some in the next few days. I didn’t see a whole lot of the mountain today, I found what I liked and hung out there all day. I found some really good snow and powder as well as some great tree riding after a little hunting. I went up and down the same area around 20 times. It was delightful. I was feeling as confident and comfortable as ever, and then I got my first flesh wound of the trip. I got a little too close to a busted tree branch and it reached out and grabbed me. Luckily it’s just a flesh wound.

I saw one of the neatest things today. I am pretty sure I met the actual Beastmaster.

That’s right, this chick was feeding birds out of her hand while she was riding on the lift in front of me. Pretty cool. She either rules or is a witch.

Since it was a beautiful sunny day I snapped a few photos.

So long ‘Ride, until we meet again…in a few weeks

Friday January 27, 2012

Last day, for now, in Telluride. What a beautifully perfect day. It snowed all night last night and all through the morning. I think they got 10-12 inches, every little boys dream. As soon as the snow stopped at midday the sun came out in all its glory. Today was as close to a perfect day on the mountain as I could ask for. A true fresh powder day all around. There were fresh tracks to be had all day long. My hours were spent either tumbling through trees or floating on clouds. It was the kind of day you wish you could somehow share with everybody.

I had my second celebrity sighting of the trip today. I road the lift with Mark Miller, he races off road rally cars all over the world. Dakar rally racing is what he does. He claims to be famous in his world, I believed him ;-), really nice guy. He was not quite as recognizable as Avril Lavigne, but way more interesting to talk to.

Once the sun came out I decided to try to make a nice video of whizzing through the trees. I both succeeded and failed all at the same time. I had a blast buzzing through the trees but then somehow ended up where I didn’t belong. I thought I was doing OK, I was following another set of tracks. I ended up at the base of a tree line that stopped going downhill. I knew I was in trouble when the other set of tracks vanished. When I realized I definitely had to unstrap and walk out is when the real trouble began. When I took a step and sunk in up to my knees is when I comprehended this might take a while. Then I took my next step and sunk up to my armpits…yep, my armpits. I ended up having to “body surf” to safety on top of my board. I crawled probably over 100 yards laying on my board using only my knees to skooch. Obviously I made it back to safety. It was definitely a trip. As I sat for a few minutes catching my breath I watched 2 other snowboarders come crawling out of the same tree line. Turns out they were following me through the trees. That’ll teach them, silly New Yorkers. The whole thing is caught on video. I’m not sure if it will be released or not do to The Embarrassment Act of 2012.

I am out of here tomorrow and off to Steamboat Springs. It will be hard to leave these plush accommodations, but I can hope that tomorrow’s location will do its best to compete. I can’t wait to be back in ‘Ride in a few weeks, I love this town!

Today is my “truck tire” moment

Yesterday during my peaceful drive from Jackson Hole to Telluride I was listening to my favorite talk radio show Ron & Fez, featuring my hero, the funniest, smartest genius, Ron Bennington. He is so great that I named this voyage after something I first heard him say, Winter Carnival. They had a detailed conversation about the video below. (More nonsense from me after the video)

The discussion went into the area of how excited these people were to see this giant truck tire roll down hill, hitting jumps, staying on course, and finally splashing in the water. The video itself is fun to watch, but the point of the conversation was the excitement of the people in the video. That is truly a once in a lifetime moment. All it would take was for one rock or one wobble and it would have thrown that tire completely off balance and never finished it’s magnificent decent down the mountain. The topic of childhood excitement was discussed and how we used to be able to find the joy in such nothingness as kids. We all have those moments. For me it was playing in the woods and finding porn mags and an old car. How and why in the world did either of those things end up in the woods?! There is no way the car was driven there because of all the trees, and why would someone dump perfectly good porn tied up in a trash bag in the woods? Simply for some dumb kids to find? Whatever the reason it was magnificent. It was just completely incomprehensible and exciting at the same time. Somewhere along the line we can lose the excitement for those moments.

They started taking calls about what other peoples “truck tire” moments were in their lives. Mr. B talked about how things were so exciting as kids. One of his quotes was to be “a traveler in life, not a tourist”. It was such an appropriate conversation to listen to during my drive and at this time of my life. I try to live by that theory. Life is short, I have never been closer to the end then I am right now.  I am lucky enough to travel a lot and do my best to experience where I am and not just be a tourist. Right now I am going out of my way to drive all over western North America on back roads and through the small towns. My “tire story” is happening right now, today. Every vista, snow covered mountain, valley, and landscape is being seen with the eyes of boyhood wonderment and astonishment.

There’s no place like home

That is a world famous quote from my long lost friend Bob. He came up with it just last week. I understand what he means. Wife sent me the below pictures today. She was showing me what I was missing out on. Seems like everything is status quo at home. I am not surprised that I miss my family, but how much has surprised me. By family I mean my chosen and extended family, but mainly my chosen family. I can never be accused of homesickness. But I sure do miss my peeps more than I thought I would. Wife and my extended family really are the greatest for allowing me to pursue this ridiculous trip. I can’t put into words my gratitude. Seems like I should be posting a cat picture now, since this is the internets and all…

The call me Mr. Butterfingers

Right now there is a guy in my office screaming that is his nickname. Whatever Murray.

Sunday January 22, 2012

Oh, Jackson Hole, how I wish you really had a hole somewhere. What a beautiful place. I keep hearing from the locals how this place is much more of an attraction all seasons outside of winter. That makes no sense to me right now. Many national parks, the Snake River, and tons of outdoor activities are available here year round. I had a great day on the mountain again. I was completely back country today. I was in areas where it looked like no human had been before, or at least not since the most recent snowfall, which was only yesterday. I got completely stuck a few times today. I am assuming that was payback for teasing people with shovels yesterday. They still deserved it.

The day started with what I was told was “avalanche delay”. I wasn’t familiar with those, we really only get a few per year in Maryland. At least that is why I tell people I was late for something…”No, seriously I’d have been here on time but there was an avalanche delay.” There was dynamite steadily going off. The booms could be heard for miles. They have controlled avalanches on these giant mountains. I guess if they control them there is less of a chance for an untimely avalanche. I wasn’t even going to go out today. Somewhere back home on the east coast the prettier half of my family also went skiing today. I didn’t think we should both be on a mountain at the same time. Probably for the same reason that the president and his wife don’t fly on the same airplane. I decided to not wait around on avalanche control and headed to another lift that simply did not go up quite as high. It was a great decision. I ended up finding untouched powder and made completely fresh tracks for 2 runs. Sexy. After that something bad almost happened. I got off the lift and started down a trail. The sun was coming out so I decided it was finally a decent day for some snapshots. I pull out my phone, grabbed the picture, and then fumbled the phone into the snow. At the time I was in waist high power. I didn’t panic because the phone sort of rested on the top layer of snow. I calmly went to grab it and the phone just slowly sank…disappeared like it was in quicksand or when those people from the “left behind while scuba diving” movie finally gave up. I still did not panic. I unstrapped my board and threw it off to the side. Within 10 seconds my mind was whirling. It is sooooo sad, but in 2012 if some people lose their phone it might feel like the end of the world. I was already figuring out how fast I could find a Verizon or Apple store. I started scooping snow away slowly and methodically. Thankfully it only took about 1 or 2 minutes and I had retrieved the phone. It was completely covered in snow and soaked. I assumed it was ruined. Again, thankfully, it never even shut off. I stuck it in my pocket and have yet to have a problem. the entire thing is on video. I really am the luckiest boy alive. I just remembered, Open Water was the name of that terrible movie.

I have been meeting so many nice people and informative locals. The people in the know are giving me the tips on where to and where not to go. It has been helpful, and also nice having the company and conversation. I think I am picking up on some of the local and mountain lingo, but I will refrain from using it here. I still don’t know what most of it means, just when to use it. I keep thanking people for keeping me company when we get off the lifts. I was having a pleasant conversation with a guy from London and another guy from Austin when it almost happened again. I looked around while on the lift and thought what a lovely day it was with the sun out, maybe I should take a few photos. This time I reached for my real camera. In my own head I jokingly noted the pole number where we were at on the ski lift just in case I dropped the camera, ha ha, that’ll never happen. As I was getting the camera out I juggled it. It made it down below my knee, but luckily I grabbed it just in time before it plummeted to the ground. My 2 best friends at the time gasped and then laughed. A lost camera would stink, but it’s no phone.

I was only out just over half the day; it was much colder today and for some reason I wanted to watch the football. Oh I feel so bad for the Raven’s fans. I went hard for the morning, then had a nice smoke break for myself with this amazing view, then did a couple easy groomed runs, and then called it a day.

Since the sun was out there are a few pictures here.

Count on me to make great decisions

Saturday January 21, 2012

Boy did I make the right decision. There probably is nowhere better in the world to be than right her, right now. Today was another entirely brand new experience for me. It was fresh powder riding like I have not know before. It was a completely different activity than what I have been doing. I knew I was in a totally different place than I was accustomed when a bunch of people were carrying their own portable, collapsible shovels. Seemed a bit crazy, but some of these people do crazy things.

The snow is so deep that sometimes when I fell it was hard to get up. There is nothing to grasp on to, my hands and arms just fall straight downward. I went ass over teakettle many times today. It was so much fun, just like tumbling and landing on clouds. I am pretty sure I started a couple avalanches today. Sometimes I could only go a few hundred yards and then have to rest my legs for a second. The snow was so abundant and thick that it was quite a physical workout. There was so much snow and it snowed nonstop all day, but it never was actually that cold. Luckily there was no wind, had there been wind it might have been cold. It was a strange phenomenon to be in that much snow and not be cold. The snow was so steadily falling that I was soaking wet at the end of the day. My pants were so heavy and weighed down from being wet that they wouldn’t stay up. I looked like thug or a plumber most of the day.

I only took the tram up to the highest point once today. It was about a 30-minute wait for the tram. I didn’t see the point when I could get on the gondolala or another lift with no wait at all. The peak of the tram ride was quite a trip. I got off the tram and it was white out conditions. Everything was bright white. There was absolutely no texture or depth perception to anything. It was probably the same feeling or experience that people talk about having when they die and are walking toward the white light. After that all that I could do was walk toward the edge and feel around with my foot for the drop off. If that is what death is going to be like, I can’t wait. The fresh powder creates the golden silence of snowboarding. It is so much different when you never hear ice scraping. That golden silence is hard to find, but I know it when I find it. Like a Zen moment. It’s kind of like white noise, you know there is a noise there, but there really is no noise. Just the silent sound of the board slicing through the snow.

I met a couple of nice guys from Long Island today. I am pretty sure they just took pity on me and were nice to me because I was alone. That was nice of them. That is fine, I’ll take it. Hopefully the get in touch because I’m pretty sure they have some great video of my awesomeness 😉 And this guys name is Linus. 

Today was…I’m at a loss for words

Friday January 20, 2012

Wow. I did a synonym search for different words like awesome, amazing, brilliant, terrific, etc.… I was unable to find one to use in the subject. Today was one of the most unique, interesting, and amazing days of my life. I have been lucky enough to do some fun things and see some beautiful places. I think today takes the cake. The drive I had today from Vail to Jackson Hole ran the gamut of emotions. Today’s drive was the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the dull and boring cross-country drive. Today was what I had envisioned and hoped for when I imagined driving around the Wild Wild West. Today I officially felt like I was driving through the west.

It started leaving out of Vail as scary and treacherous road conditions. For some reason the possibility of poor driving conditions in the winter mountains slipped my mind. This lasted for the first couple hours, until I got north of Steamboat. I originally got on the road just before sunup. My first experience of this trip that encompasses mountain driving was Colorado route 131. The scenery was beautiful and the setting perfect. I felt like I was driving back to the 1800’s. I passed through small towns and for a while road parallel with a mile-long locomotive carrying nothing but coal. It was moving along on the ridge above me. It felt just right. The strangest things I saw were the horse farms. It was just above 20 degrees outside and none of the horses were wearing blankets. This goes against everything I have ever been taught.

The scary driving passed. I was helped by an insightful quote from the thoughtful Jimmy B, “Raise your right foot and repeat after me, I will take my time and get there when I get there.” That fit the situation perfectly. Before I knew it the sun had come up and I was driving in the most glorious, sunny, beautiful day. I was in areas where there was not a snowflake to be seen on the ground. It felt like the horizon and sky went on forever. I swear I could see 3 states over at one point. There was a point somewhere in Wyoming I followed a school bus with kids on it for about 100 miles. It was around 11am, and this bus was on a mission heading directly north. We passed no schools or bus stops. I finally got around the bus and have no idea what happened. All I could think of was a school bus driver went mental and there was an abduction underway.

After I sped away from the school bus kidnapping I am pretty sure the GPS had me get off an incorrect exit. I just looked at the map and it definitely did. But I got to know a road called Superior Cutoff Road very intimately. This road was 20 miles of nothing but dirt and gravel with ruts a Volkswagen could get lost in. Taking the wronglong…scenic route is just part of the adventure. At least that is what my travel guide Bradford said. I agree completely. At different points of my gallivant down Superior Cutoff Road I almost fell off a cliff, thought I was going to get shot by a rancher, had to yield to giant flocks of sheep crossing the road, chased by the sheep herding dogs, almost got Deliveranced, and pretty sure I stumbled across a moonshine still. A few pictures here, but even better is a collage of videos here. I was in no hurry and enjoyed seeing everything I saw including signs for different towns that read, “Elevation 6893 Population 220”. I allotted 2 days for the drive, even though I knew it would not take nearly that long. I planned to get to Jackson Hole sometime Saturday. The drive went so smoothly that I was here and checked in by 5pm. There were a couple times that an hour passed without seeing another vehicle.

The last hour of my drive up through Jackson and into Teton Village was without a question a snow-covered thing of beauty. Around every corner was another picturesque mountain peak, valley, or meadow of pure white, untouched goodness. The Tetons seemed to jut out of the earth as if they were left there by accident. There was no gradual incline. It looks like a right angle on the surface of the Earth.

I truly have never seen so much beauty as I did on today’s drive. This was what I hoped for. For every one of the amazing things I remembered about today I am sure I forgot 2 more.

Thank you and goodbye Vail!

Thursday January 19, 2012

Well, today wraps up this leg of the Carnival. Thank you Vail Mountain for a fantastic last day and memorable week. The conditions today were as good as they were going to get. I finally got into some tree skiing in one of the bowls. I made it out alive. It was wonderful, beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerizing, and serene all at the same time. Since I thought today might be my last day I tried to get to all the lifts and parts of the mountain that I had yet to see this week. I thought I did a pretty good job of seeing most of the mountain. Just as I thought I grasped how gigantic this mountain was, I rode the lift with one of the Information people. He told me that the back bowls (which are still not open) are twice as big as the entire front side of the mountain that I had explored. That idea almost made my brain melt. Another final day ritual is to get a new sticker for my board. A little secret, this entire trip is just a ruse to collect stickers for my snowboard. I stayed out there today from almost open to close, assuming it was my last day here. I rode the entire time minus one cigar break (thank you again Hillbilly, he really does know me better than anybody). One of the great things about tree skiing is you can go an hour without seeing another human. There are times I felt like I had my own mountain. I say human because I did have one chipmunk visitor during my cigar break. I tried to get him to pose for a picture but he was wayyyyyyyy to busy. In the middle of the mountain woods, unstrap the board, prop it up as a backstop and sit against a tree having a nice cigar for myself like a gentleman…nothing more relaxing and peaceful.

GMB is officially gone. He left on an airport shuttle a couple hours ago. Now would be a great time if anyone else wants to jump on the Carnival bandwagon. He says he had a good time, which I think he did. This afternoon he and I went out for his special treat for being a trooper yesterday. Our travel agent blew it on the Vail Cookie Company, but we found him some sweets.

I just made the decision that tomorrow will start the first detour of the itinerary. I had scheduled to head to Telluride tomorrow or Saturday. Jackson Hole, Wyoming is getting pulverized with snow recently and this coming week. Part of this journey was the ability to revamp and go where the snow is. That is exactly what I am going to do. I flipped a coin, honestly, and 2 out of 3 tails told me to go to Wyoming. I just reserved a room in Jackson Hole starting Saturday for a few nights. I will play it day to day after that. The cheapest room they had came with my new favorite thing in the world, a Murphy bed. I was excited to go from one MB to another. Then I accidentally saw that a regular room with a regular-persons-non-fold-out-of-the-wall bed was only $35 more. I splurged. Now that it is too late I think I made a bad decision on the non-Murphy bed room. I may still end up in Telluride before next week ends, but who cares, that feels like a lifetime away.

I saw two other really unusual things today. I saw a bunch of the snowcats lined up first thing this morning. You don’t usually see them out in the day. They work like Santa. I know they exist and what they do, but they do it in the middle of the night while everyone sleeps. Then when you wake up in the morning and run downstairs their handiwork is obvious. I think they were going to stage a runaway snowcat marathon. Oh yea, and look at this guy! Adorable! Miniature Australian Shepherd.

Thanks again Vail. Sometimes the idiotic drivel goes over at The Daily.