W-W-W-Wyoming is closed? W-W-W-What?!?

Saturday February 25, 2012

Wow, what an eventfully uneventful day. My day started extremely productive. First thing in the morning I kicked JO out of my hotel room and told him to get a shuttle to the airport, I was too sleepy to drive him at 4:30 in the morning. Later I visited my new best friends at Safelite. They supposedly fixed my windshield. The marks are still there but now full of epoxy. After that it was a car wash and a delicious plate of biscuits and sausage gravy followed by a homemade cinnamon bun. By 10 am I had all that done as well as mostly caught up on work. I loaded up the fully repaired and newly cleaned Cruiser and set the GPS for Salt Lake City. That was the beginning of another adventure.

The drive out of Colorado was uneventful, I was lured into a false sense of security when I hit Wyoming. There were really high winds and snow blowing to and fro. Is Wyoming always this windy? I couldn’t even drive the speed limit because of the wind. Let me explain what I mean, I was driving into the wind with the pedal to the metal (yes, I was West Bound and Down), and I was UNABLE to achieve the posted speed limit. The view from the cockpit was only 2 colors. It was an expanse of white with 2 jet-black strips running parallel to each other called I-80. It was quite the site to see. Regardless of the weather, I was not letting that thwart the Carnival. I made it to the half way point of Wyoming. Near Rawlings, WY I started to see a lot of flashing signs and lights, I-80 was closed ahead. Shortly after the signs there were highway patrol and barriers forcing everyone off the next exit. This was around 1pm. I got off the exit and luckily there was a truck stop right there. As soon as I pulled in I immediately felt like I was in a Stephen King novel.

I filled up with gas and asked around inside what happens now. I got 2 different answers to my question…nothing and wait. I sat in my car listening to the radio and watching traffic be forced off the interstate and feeling my car rock back and forth because of the wind. I actually thought I was going to tip over at some points. One guy told me that this was most likely going to last overnight. I had come to grips with the fact that I might be spending the night in the car. No big deal, I had a full tank and was sitting next to a gas pump in case I needed more gas. What I didn’t have was food, so I dashed into the truck stop and got myself a super nutritious truck stop dinner. I must have been part of the first vehicles that were completely diverted of the interstate. When I parked at the truck stop there were not many people or vehicles there. The whole place filled up quickly and there were semis and cars parked everywhere, lining all the on and off ramps, and the shoulders of the highway in front of me. Apparently this is fairly common around here and tonight was not even that bad. I ended up just sitting in my car, listening to the radio, playing scrabble, smoking cigars, and flicking my ashes toward the gas pumps and propane tanks.

I sat there for about 5 or 6 hours. The time actually went by pretty quickly, there were plenty of sights and sounds to stay entertained. I think the craziest thing I saw were birds trying to fly. These birds looked like they were flying backwards. They were flapping their wings and facing west, but their bodies were moving east. It was nutty. I tried to get a video of it a few times, but no luck. I did get this video, but it’s crap and doesn’t really show the dominance of the winds like I hoped it would. The funniest thing I saw was a trucker get out of his truck to take a leak. First it was obvious that the wind had him fooled and he ended up pissing all over himself. Then he tried to get back in his truck and he could barely walk to the cab door. When he got up on the steps and got the door open he got blown back off. Valiantly he climbed up again, made it into the seat and then struggled for about a minute before he could get the door closed. I was constantly checking the Wyoming DOT website for updates, but as this screenshot of my phone shows the entire state was shut down.

I finally gave up the idea that I might be able to get back on the road tonight. I also heard rumors that truckers get horny around 1am, and there is no doubt that I would be an appealing out-of-towner to them. I’m probably the equivalent of a southern girl getting off the bus at Penn Station in New York City looking for an acting gig. There was the town of Rawlings an exit east of where I was sitting. I looked into getting a hotel room as soon as I got off the exit 6 hours earlier. Apparently I wasn’t the only person with the idea of getting a room. When I checked again online the hotels were booked. I made a couple phone calls and found a room pretty easily. This is where I sit now comfortably and safely(?). The wind is howling outside louder than I can describe. The room is kind of irregular. The only thing the main room is missing is a toilet, and the bathroom shower and toilet are just one giant room like some kind of prison inmate cleansing station.

Hopefully whatever is shutting down the roads will ease up soon and I can get back on the road tomorrow. I have about 300 miles to where I need to be, and don’t need to be there until 7pm tomorrow. I was planning to make it to SLC today and get to a new mountain tomorrow. Looks like those plans are out the window like a bag of trucker’s doodie in a windstorm.

While I was waiting around in Wyoming I decided to give back to this beautiful state. Here’s proof.

JO’s leaving, I’m alone again. There must be a JO’ing alone joke in here somewhere…

Friday February 24, 2012

Today was the last day of what I like to call the I-70 voyage featuring JO. We did one last day at Breckenridge Mountain. The skies were beautiful blue all day, and the wind was howling about half the time. We had a blast, ran ourselves ragged from peak to peak. I found myself having to chase him through the trees today. Apparently he found his calling amongst the trees of the Rockies. The other day he wasn’t too into trees, today he dove in, unprovoked. We finished up around 3:30 and headed over for the best tacos I’ve ever had. After the tacos we headed back to the Cruiser in preparation for the drive to Denver. Thanks to the amazing tacos, JO cut a gasser that ended up stinking up the entire mountain village, what a shame. We made the drive to the Denver airport and checked into the Holiday Inn. I’m pretty sure I can do heart surgery tomorrow.

Had another Carnival Cruiser incident. The other day a rock flew up and put a nice ding in the windshield. It’s probably one that could be ignored, but also something that could turn into a problem. Luckily the newest Carnival sponsor, Safelite, will be repairing it at 8am tomorrow morning, courtesy of Liberty Mutual Auto Insurance. Thank you Easter Bunny, quack quack.

JO gets on a plane tomorrow at 7am to return to his regularly scheduled life. I have Saturday to kill visiting my new friends at Safelite and catching up on work. Sunday at 7pm I have to pick up Bradford at the Salt Lake City airplane depot. We will have to see if he/she signs the consent forms to have his/her identity and likeness represented on the internets. Probably not, nobody else so far has wanted to.

Whole bunch of pictures added from this week. I hope to get some video editing done soon.

A-Basin brought us to our heterosexual knees

Thursday February 23, 2012

Dear diary-today was blistery cold. We went to Arapahoe Basin Mountain. It was about a half an hour drive from our place. It was some of the worst driving conditions yet this winter. It snowed again all last night. A-Basin got about 9-10 inches of fresh snow overnight. Many of the mountain passes in this area were closed for road conditions or avalanches. I-70 was closed in big sections, so there were no travelers making their way to these mountains unless they were already in the area, like smart people.

I am glad we made it to A-Basin for several reasons. I was able to see that my GPS uses fun little icons for ski resorts. We were able to play in some fresh, soft snow for a couple hours, making our own tracks wherever we went. Added a new sticker to the collection. And I was reminded at how humbling Mother Nature can be. Today was most likely some of the most severe weather conditions I have been outside in this winter…scratch that, my entire life. The wind gusts were almost too much to stay upright. The snow was blowing at a pace that I would call sandblaster-esque. There were times that I couldn’t see the ground below my feet, let alone which way the mountain was zigzagging. The wind chill had to be close to a million below zero. We made it until about noon. We were both beaten up pretty bad and the weather was not getting any better. It was without a question worth the experience, but not one of the funnest days so far. It was excitingly exhausting. This picture speaks a million words.

One last day here in Breckenridge. We will hit the mountain tomorrow and then head to Denver (hopefully) for an early morning flight on Saturday. I think it’s time to go, I’m starting to get embarrassed. JO has been here 4 days and has a bigger beard than me. It’s not fair. What else isn’t fair is that JO spent 4 hours shopping and all I got was this. It barely fits.

Vail old friend, nice to see you again

Wednesday February 22, 2012

Today we made the adventurous drive to Vail Mountain. It was a good thing we did. We just heard that the conditions here at Breck were treacherous. Bitter cold and 85 MPH wind gusts, some lifts didn’t open until 1pm. Vail was gorgeous. Sunny in the morning, some snow flurries midday and hardly any wind. It’s amazing that we were only about 30 miles away.

It was marvelous to see Vail in all its glory today. The last time I was there it had hardly snowed. Large parts of the mountain were not even open. Everything was open today, and they had 10-12 inches of snow overnight last night! Today was JO’s first time actually riding through fresh, soft, untouched, cloudlike powder. He loved it and agrees with me that it is a completely different and better activity. Today was also his first time really getting into some tree skiing. He used the phrase “crushing it”, but I don’t necessarily approve of that vernacular.

For some reason today after being almost 2 months in, I had some terrible pains in my feet. It almost felt like blisters in both feet. You know, that annoyingly painful blistery feeling like when you were a kid and went to the roller rink and used rental skates. Ouchies. I think I must have had my boots laced up wrong, or had them on the wrong feet, because they feel much better now.

I must be getting soft in my old age. I saw a group of knee-high squirts on skis called the Mogul Mice. I didn’t even have the urge to push them down. Can photographic evidence get you arrested?

OWOOOOOO, Terry Wolf Creek Mountain is scary

Saturday February 18, 2012

Sometimes big surprises come in small packages. I went out to Wolf Creek Mountain today. I honestly wasn’t expecting a lot after some of the massive mountains I have been to this winter. I had a blast! They really do have the most snow in Colorado. I saw the most soft, fresh, untouched snow today than anywhere else, except after days that had big snow dumps. There hasn’t been any snowfall here for a while, but there were still untouched and really deep areas all over the mountain, especially in the trees. That is astonishing considering that the mountain is not all that big.

It was a different kind of snow here, much heavier it seems. I had gotten arrogant recently. After the first few weeks I was saying how I wasn’t getting soar legs or tired by the end of the day anymore. Working through all the heavy powder today made my legs burn a bit. Still not as bad as the first few weeks. I’m glad all my preparations are paying off in dividends.

The whole mountain had such a different ‘feel’ to it than other bigger resort type mountains. The closest accommodations are 25 miles away. The people were super nice. They had the old school style lift tickets. Still just a sticker on a metal hanger that a human being had to look at each time. All mountains I have been to lately have bar scanners or RF credit card style cards. This place even had what appeared to be a pavilion at the base where they held birthday parties! I felt like I was at the local ice rink and they were herding groups of birthday parties through. You’ll never see that type of hometown, intimate features at the giant mountains.

I walked into breakfast this morning and the first thing I see is a bright orange Flyers tee shirt staring me right in the face. It was a couple of brothers from Bucks County. Really nice fellas. They let me sit with them for breakfast and have nice conversation. The one had a Flyers tee shirt on and the other had a scuba tee shirt on. Can’t be anything wrong with these two guys.

Apparently even the mountain was expecting The Carnival and set up a special WIFI connection for me. It would stand for Wolf Creek, but I highly doubt it. I also saw a sticker for the Darkside Snowboard Shop in Killington today. Seemed like an odd place, middle of nowhere Colorado and I see a sticker from back home. I got confused for a minute.

I forgot to mention that the stellar Hillside Inn is pet friendly. That is great, I could have brought my entire family. All 3 of them don’t shower, like a bunch of animals ;-).

Snakes on a Plane? Sissies

Thursday February 16, 2012

Well, today is my last day in Telluride, for now. I’ll be back in a few weeks. For a last day here it was really an embarrassing day for The Carnival, a blemish on our record. I hit the mountain just after first thing this morning. It was another beautiful blue skies day. There is a trail here called See Forever, you really can see forever from the top. I came back to my place at noon to finish off last night’s leftover delicious pasta. After consumption I fell asleep on the couch until 4pm. Yikes. It was both a complete waste of time and the absolute best way to spend some days.

I am leaving here tomorrow. I’ve been staying in this same place for 2 weeks so I am pretty spread out and moved in. Not looking forward to packing. When I leave I’ll be driving to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. It should be about a half-day drive from here. Since there are still really no snowstorms to chase I picked this semi out of the way place that I have never heard of. There is a mountain nearby called Wolf Creek. I have never heard of it, but locals rave about it. The mountain claims to get the most snow in Colorado every year. They aren’t getting any right now, but hopefully it’s a nice place to visit and a new sticker to buy. I’ll be there until Monday when I leave for Denver to pick up JO.

Speaking of running away to join The Carnival, I received a weird email today. It was from Orbitz. I was so excited that I might have been chosen to be a part of some new experimental flavors gun focus group. Not the case. It was apparently a flight itinerary for Bradford. It claimed that he was flying into Salt Lake City in a couple weeks. I sure hope that is the case. I also hope he spent the money to buy the insurance…wink, wink.

Starting on Monday I’ll have company for the next 3 weeks straight. JO, Bradford, and Wifey. Without a question three of my favorite people on the planet. Actually, now that I think about it, they probably compose the majority of people I can even stand.

I got an email today from Father-in-Law. I had no idea he was keeping track, hopefully I have been writing on my best behavior. He informed me of an enormous snowstorm blowing through Texas. The photos he sent were fairly impressive, for Texas.

I saw something rare today that made me laugh and enjoy other human beings for a change. It can only be described as Sharks on a Mountain. Someone built a scene from Jaws right below your feet at the top of a lift where you get off. I tried to get some pics and vid, hopefully they translate the scene and the creativity.

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Picture 1 of 5

I also put together another tree riding video. It’s as boring as the others, unless you are me. This one does contain some pretty nice crashes.

Let’s go Miners, let’s go!

Wednesday February 15, 2012

Today was one of those amazing, nothing but blue skies atop Telluride Mountain. Weather was beautiful and the wind was calm at its strongest. They got the same snowstorm here that I was in Crested Butte for. So there was still a lot of soft snow to be found. The very end of the day it started snowing, but I don’t think it is going to accumulate to anything.

I spent my entire day either in the trees, on a lift, or eating chili. I set out today to do something different, try to get to areas that I either have not been to, or not spent a lot of time. It worked out great. I found a couple great tree spots that I hadn’t found before. BT would have loved it! I got onto a trail today that he and I rode the other day. It was a narrow one leading to the very bottom and ending in the town. There was a turn off that I missed the other day and I remember saying to BT, “I wish we had stayed on this trail.” Well, I stayed on it today. I got completely lost within the mountain. I ended up getting dumped at the base of the mountain almost outside of the town. I had to walk about a half a mile back to the town and the main gondola. It was quite an experience.

I rode a lift today with a nice old man from Switzerland. He lives in Arizona now and also has a house here. He said a few very important things to me today. One was that the school systems here are great. Gathering this type of information is part of my reconnaissance mission during The Carnival. The other fun fact was that the European Alps have incredible skiing and he was all in favor of the Chevy Chase formula, which would equate to European Winter Carnival 2013.

Since I’m talking about the school system here, I also road a lift today with the local high school lacrosse coach. When I told him I was from Maryland he immediately brought up lacrosse. I told him I played in high school and filled him in on my unbreakable LAX record (first ever goal for the Caravel LAX team). He was telling me how the team was new, I think this was going to be their second year. Now that I have gotten in front of a computer and looked the team up, checked out their stats, and seen that they went 0-14 and got shut out several times, I now understand why this coach was trying to recruit my unborn child.

I also met this cute guy today.

The best of both worlds

Monday February 13, 2012

What a unique day today was. It was both a mountain and a travel day. I intended for my reconnaissance mission to Crested Butte to be a simple overnight adventure. My plan was to wake up this morning and drive back to Telluride after having made a successful assessment of the trip to Crested Butte. There was no way I could get up and leave this morning after the POW CAM showed 8 to 10 inches of fresh snow overnight. I kept waking up last night and looking out the window. It was snowing hard every time. I knew that my plans to leave early in the morning were in jeopardy. I bought a half-day pass this morning at Crested Butte so I was able to enjoy the freshest of fresh powder before I left. It was some of the best powder riding to date. I wish I took my camera out today. There were a couple times that I was absolutely the first human on some runs. The 10 inches of powder was untouched, just waiting for me to come barreling down through and ruin it. These are just terrible phone pictures:

So I spent the morning enjoying the earthly delights and got on the road around noon. This morning was a success even though I was sure something bad would happen. I was up in the air about staying or leaving so I flipped a coin. The coin said to leave, I chose to stay. I don’t usually go against what the fate of the coin tells me to do. I did take a pretty bad tumble through the trees. I went head over heals and the only thing that stopped me was the back of my head and neck hitting a tree trunk. It hit right where my helmet ends, so most of the thump was taken on the helmet, but I did get a nice big brush burn on the back of my head. If that is the worst that happens for ignoring the fate coin, then I say bring it!

On my drive back into town today I saw a rare site. I saw a guy riding a giant unicycle while walking his dog. The tire to the unicycle had to be as big as a man. It was amazing! I was not in a position to get any video or pictures, unfortunately. However a quick search of the googlenet turned up plenty of pics and videos, including this one, which is not quite what I saw, but a great video nonetheless.

It’s hip to be square

Sunday February 12, 2012

I had quite the enjoyable day on MT Crested Butte. It started snowing here last night and continued all through today. The mountain in Crested Butte is much smaller than many of the other mountains out here. Luckily size doesn’t matter when you’re having fun, that’s what she said.  I didn’t see anywhere on the mountain website that for $90 you were able to rent out the entire mountain to yourself on a Sunday. The only lift line I waited in was the one I chose to wait in, the first one up in the morning after opening time. I probably didn’t see 100 people by lunchtime.

I tried everything I could today short of believing in god and praying, but I was unable to get it to stop snowing. Something miraculous did happen today though. There was a point in time where the snow was coming down as plentiful as I have ever seen snow fall. At the same time the sun came out and shone with a ferocity that could only be described as sun-like in brightness. This lasted for probably about a half an hour. It was quite a climate marvel to witness, the perfect storm of goodness. It was a vicious battle that the snow ultimately won in the end. I assume that is only the kind of phenomenon that could happen here, in this square shaped piece of paradise known as Colorado.

I continued my constant polling of the locals, mind out of the gutter please. Everyone I speak to that lives in these towns is not originally from them. Almost all came west, or moved because of their love of the winters, snow, skiing, and mountains. 4 out of 5 that moved here for the snow say that summer is now their favorite time of the year. I guess I know where we are going this summer.

I saw this sign today. Chairlift speed dating…that is completely new to me. I never heard of anything quite like this. What a town this is. No, I was nowhere near the Twister lift at noon.

Too bad I had a job at 18

Saturday February 11, 2012

Not really. I have the greatest life I know. Made the drive today from Telluride to Crested Butte, Colorado. It was a very nice leisurely 4-hour drive, almost nothing in comparison. I say leisurely because I stopped for a visit to a post office, take a bunch of pictures, and was stuck behind a big truck going 20 for a long time. It was another lovely white Colorado drive. BT called to let me know he made it home alive. Apparently the snow followed him home. That’s not all that followed him. He told me a story about almost getting mugged by 5 guys today trying to sell him music. It’s the kind of story I have heard about, but not in North East or Rising Sun. Rising Sun used to have “organizations” to handle those type of situations. Poor BT.

I already went down to visit the town and have some lunch. What a picturesque little mountain town! So mountainy and colorful. Definitely feels like someplace I could settle down and raise dogs and miniature humans. It is now really easy for me to understand why and how half of my teenage friends dropped out of life and moved here. Wife told me that this town was great, I had no reason not to believe her, but it is different to see it with my own eyes. I was only planning to stay here 1 night, hit the mountain tomorrow, and then head back to Telluride. Since this was only a ‘scouting ahead’ mission one night was all that was needed. I think I might stay here a couple nights now. UPDATE: definitely staying here for at least 2 nights.

There is some kind of hippie yoga convention going on in this hotel right now. The sights and smells are bringing me back to another lifetime. Probably 2 or 3 lifetimes ago. I just saw this while I was down in the lobby, only in Colorado, and another fantastic reason to become a resident.

Some new photos from the drive and Crested Butte uploaded.