Thursday, March 12, 2009

Big news today! I got my first official copy of "Living the Dream: An Inside Account of the 2008 Cubs season," written by yours truly. That's how the day started, by picking it up at the post office. I now am an officially published author. I must admit, a few tears rolled down my cheeks as I flipped through it. They're shipping me a case and I'm going to begin selling them next week to some of my instructor friends at Heavenly, who seem genuinely interested.
So what else is new? Well, I forgot to include the story in my last blog of sitting in the hot tub in our community center at our place when Scott Aspen and Sky McAlpine were in town. Chip was staring intently off into the dark when he said, "Woof!" I thought he was looking at a dog. When I turned, I saw a coyote about 10 feet way from the deck of our tub, staring right back at Chip, who literally was the boy who cried wolf! There were two of the coyotes, in fact, no doubt hoping to scoop up one of the condominium caretakers three little yappy dogs.
The next day, when Ziggy, Jeff and Chip went on a hike near the shores of Lake Tahoe, Jeff spotted an Alaskan huskie trotting out of the woods. "Wolf!" he exclaimed. So he was the second boy who cried wolf. We also played games of Jenga in which we integrated about a 4-foot wooden door stop into the game. 
OK, so this week has been one of sharpening our skis. No, that's not to say peeing all the time. I worked Monday and skied with Zig and our buddy Eric the other two days. Conditions quickly changed since the big dump and it's not so good off the groomed paths. So we've been working on our form, getting ready for our Level 1 exam, which will be in a couple of weeks, right before I take off for Mesa.
We did a lot of skiing in Milky Way Bowl and I took my first run down Mott's Canyon, a double-black diamond canyon that is about as difficult terrain as there is out here. I did some mogul runs down Waterfall, which used to be the windshield to my bug when I first got here. Now I'm the windshield! Same with West Bowl, a mogul run near the Cal base.
Today we had our Level 1 clinic with Weavin' Steven. We took turns doing teaching drills and worked on our demos (straight run, wedge stop, gliding wedge, wedge turns, wedge christies). He is ready to sign off on us for most everything; then all that's left is to take the test.
We haven't been going out as much, except for last night, when we visited the casinos to try to get tickets for G. Love this weekend and then stopped by Mott Canyon Bar on the Nevada side--I won $9 on the slots! Saw an impressive home pot-growing production by a friend who will remain nameless. (He's got "the card" from California that allows him to grow I think it's 10 plants for medicinal purposes.)
That's about all. Just a quick update. Attached are a couple films of Ziggy and I skiing. You be the judges. How do we look?



video

video

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pow Pow Wow Wow!

Hey gang!
Hope you are all well. It has been an interesting week of skiing, needless to say. I skied in more powder on Wednesday than I've ever skied in my life! Overnight, we got about 2-4 feet of snow, depending where you were on the mountain. There was so much snow that Heavenly didn't open on time (9 a.m.) because they were blasting for avalanche control. So there was a huge line (several hundred people) waiting to go up Gunbarrel lift. I was actually talking to my sister Judy on the phone when they started the lift and everyone started hooting and hollering. "What's going on," she asked. "Gotta go!" I replied. "Powder calling."
While we waited, we watched the first to go up on the lift as they blazed trails down the Face and Gunbarrel, finishing with huge smiles on their faces. Ziggy, our ski school friend Eric and I went straight to Powderbowl and skied the black diamond run right under the lift. (You HAD to ski steeper terrain; otherwise you'd get stuck in the very heavy powder.)
We did that run a couple times. I had a couple nasty spills but c'mon, it's four feet of powder you're landing in. On one, I was trying to follow Eric into a section of trees but couldn't turn in the thick stuff. So I twisted and went down back first between two tree trunks that were about 5 feet apart. Yikes! I had my straps on my poles, so my hands were pinned. I went down back first and sunk way into the snow, trying to blow it off my face so I could take a breath. If this sounds scary, it was. I had a panic moment before I figured out how to free my hands and dig myself out.
You saw a lot of that as you went up the chairlifts...half the folks either skiing or boarding and the other half trying to dig themselves out of a situation, and in some cases searching for skis that had released. Not fun.
So about 11:00 we went over to see if  Sky or Canyon chair were running. They weren't. There were about 150 people waiting at the top of a short run leading to those chairlifts, which access the top of the California side of the mountain. Ziggy and I were ready to leave, go eat lunch and check back when.....the lifts started running! It was like the running of the bulls as all those folks went charging down the run.
Ziggy and I went up Sky and were among the first 25 people to ski down Ellie's, a black diamond run on top. I had another spill there and I think I landed on a tree trunk or a big rock, because this was no soft landing and I was shaken up a bit. The front muscles on my neck still hurt from that one!
We made it till about 2:30, then treated ourselves to a nice lunch at the Gunbarrel grill, skied down the face and called it a day. (Powder wears you out, man!)
The next day we had our clinic for Level 1 certification. Our instructor, Weavin' Steven, played our group like a musical instrument. First he worked on our skiing, then we worked on the demos we will have to perform in a few weeks when we go through our examinations. Then he complimented us on how far we have come this season, and finally, took us down some real challenging "secret" runs in the trees off the side of other runs. There was still lots of unskied powder from the previous day's storm. We all agreed it was perhaps our best day on the mountain. Except for Sherry, the chatty Aussie girl who banged up her shoulder going down the Hogs Back.
So Chip and Jeff (aka Scott Aspen and Sky McAlpine) were out here for a week, leaving the morning of the powder day. Actually, the storm had started on Monday, so we got our best day of skiing on Tuesday. Sky lift was closed so we were limited to the Cal side, but found some great tree runs to the skier's right of Canyon lift in about a foot of fresh powder, taking turns leading the way. There was "Chip's Run," "Jim's Run," "Jeff's Run." You get the idea.
Monday we drove out to Kirkwood but the conditions were so bad that they only had a few lifts open. We decided not to spend the money, and drove back to Heavenly, where Jeff and I did a few hours of afternoon skiing.
The weekend wore us out and we skipped skiing Sunday in favor of movies and pizza at home. The night before we had a big night at the Casinos, checking out the Taj Mahal show at Harrah's and getting into shenanigans at the Cougar Bar and at Cabo Wabo.
Those guys arrived on Wednesday and we partied at home that night. Took them to Blue Angel for dinner on Thursday (dollar slider night) and to the Naked Fish for sushi on Friday. I'd been getting beaten up by the mountain, even before the big "Zeke." First off, I tweaked my famously bad back skiing bumps two weeks ago and took a couple days off to rest it up.
On the first day Chip and Jeff were here, they began closing all the lifts because of high winds. So there we were, skiing down to the Stagecoach base in Nevada with every other yahoo on the mountain. Crowded. Needless to say, what happened was my fault because Rule No. 2 of the "skiiers responsibility code" is that skiers and boarders in front of you have the right of way. Well, my ski intersected with the back side of another guy's ski and wiped us both out. I took the brunt of the impact, slamming hard face forward on the ground. My back pain was back, albeit a little bit higher up on the vertebrae.
That's about all I've got. Long-winded blog, I know. No video this time, sorry! I will try to shoot some more soon....hopefully, not a wipeout!