Skiing and Snowboarding – Winter 2012

A collection of stills from my GoPro HD Hero camera from this winter’s trips to Stevens Pass. This is my second season of snowboarding and it’s really starting to gel for me, but some days I’m just in the mood to ski (or the snow isn’t soft enough that I’m willing to fall off my snowboard into it) so I strap on the sticks for a bit instead. The GoPro constantly amazes me with the results it turns out running on automatic. If I end up with any video footage I’m happy with I might add it into this gallery, too.

Gallery is here – slideshow button is at the top-right corner.

Ski in, ski out

It’s my second day back to work after a long weekend in Whistler, BC, and this short four-day work week is becoming the longest ever. So many things to do, double-booked every night, Danielle’s car breaking down… I even managed to accidentally

Is it ski season yet?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the summer. But let’s not kid ourselves: it’s over. Kids are back in school, it’s foggy in the morning, jackets are still needed at lunch. I, for one, am ready for it. I’m tired of sunscreen, tired of wearing the same 8 polo shirts all week, tired of sleeping under only a sheet. I’m ready to break out the sweaters, to turn up the heat in the car and get toasted to the bone during my morning commute, to shop for Christmas gifts, to wander the downtown market sipping hot spiced wine… oh, wait, that’s only legal in Europe. What a stupid law.

My first Powder magazine of the season showed up this week, getting my mind racing for ski season, and then Eric emailed me an exciting tidbit today: it’s snowing at Whistler already:

Opening day is scheduled for November 23rd!! 🙂

I know how ugly hookers feel.

A quiet evening at home listening to Christmas music, wrapping gifts that i bought yesterday (and one that was waiting on the doorstep when i returned), and doing some light reading by the glow of a twinkling plastic tree. I did very little actual work at work today, between meetings down the hall, meetings in the corporate building several blocks away, walking to said meetings, and kicking into party mode at about 3.30 with the rest of the building for the second day of “slush week”, the official unofficial Christmas party. Each day is themed – today was gin and tonics. Monday was beer – several of the crew actually make their own, so it was a very involved affair to start the week, tomorrow is scotch, i think, unless scotch is thursday and tomorrow is vodka, leaving friday for wines. As my department is lazy and not actually sponsoring a day (which is too bad, since i have an iPod full of great Christmas music and party provisions just begging to be shared), i’m really not sure of the schedule until the last hints of daylight depart the conference room windows and the merriment begins appearing from desk drawers and mailroom cupboards. Unlike for real life modern pirates, there is no shortage of free booty at the office this time of year.

My whole world seems a bit upside down this week. After several years of alternating between admitting i’m broke and living accordingly, or denying my lack of funds in temporary (and usually oft-regretted) splurges, i’m finally looking down the barrel of a comfortable salary after the new year begins and that combined with prodigous Christmas money stockpiling has me purchasing gifts based on other criteria besides sale price this year. It’s a great feeling, and the festive – and larger than usual – pile of paper-wrapped good intentions accumulating around the concrete-filled terra cotta pot under my plastic evergreen has me in a perpetual Christmas mood.

My garage is empty. I tromped in there this evening in search of empty boxes to contain my purchased expressions of merriment and, like i always do, took a large step straight in and then turned quickly on my heels to avoid hitting my car that – ack! – was not there this time. I stood silently aghast in the empty concrete space, momentarily concerned that i had misplaced something large and automobile-shaped, then concerned for my own sanity, and finally prodded with a twinge of guilt for forgetting already, as my poor Z – out of sight and apparently all too quickly out of mind – sleeps in a strange, lonely bed tonight. I delivered it to the body shop monday morning, where it’s panels will be exorcised of the ghost of garage doors past. The logistics of the hand-off involved reviewing my two-page typed list of quirks, repair guidelines and operating requirements with both the service manager and the lot attendant – including a copy for each of them and another in the car – and then walking a few blocks to alderwood mall to catch a bus home, to fetch my pathfinder and expend a half tank of gas driving downtown to work, alone, so that i would have transportation to the doc in bellevue after work and then back home again, in order to complete the most inefficient commute cycle possible. Apparently community transit did not receive that memo, however, and felt it would instead be an opportune monday morning to test the “random chaos” theory of bus scheduling and completely disregard any printed timetables in favor of buses driving haphazardly around snohomish county wherever their drivers felt would be scenic for the passengers, or wherever discounted breakfast specials could be combined with unfiltered tobacco. After waiting 30 minutes on north hwy 99, feeling what ugly hookers must feel when they stand on hwy 99 waiting for a ride that never comes, i finally gave up and walked the last two miles home in disgust. I kept my unused transfer ticket, though… so i can staple it to the flaming bag of canine excrement that community transit will be receiving for Christmas this year.

I went skiing on saturday. The Summit was a bit crunchy compared to what i’m used to and i worked my body really hard on some tough runs, but it was sunny and fantastic up there and i had an incredible day. Other than a couple of freak days out in Europe in 2003, i hadn’t skied – or physically engaged any snow that wasn’t at the business end of an ice scraper – since i was in college, and never in a west coast climate, so i had no expectations and figured on being a total noob; finding that some semblance of confidence and ability still lingered was a welcome surprise. Driving up by myself and spending the day following my own desires and energies on the hill took me back to MSU, to the days of decade-old gear and “HHD 161 – Alpine Skiing”, except this time my gear is all new (save the sticks) and a season pass hung around my neck. I felt like a king. The king of the mountain.

Draw! You have 30 seconds.

Such an eventful week, i don’t even know where to start. Let’s use pictionary categories to keep things straight.

People: Mom and Dad spent a long weekend, and headed home tues morning. Danielle and i had such a great time with them. We’re very lucky to have such happy, caring, generous parents.

Right as Mom and Dad were headed east across the droning expanse of eastern WA, Ann and Aaron were experiencing the same exciting drive headed westward. They checked into their downtown hotel tuesday nite, and i tried to fit in as much time between work shifts with them as i could, touring around the city to some of my favorite places. They headed home today, but i managed to get Ann excited about Seattle and Aaron addicted to C89. Mission accomplished. 😉

Places: The Summit at Snoqualmie is the r0x0r5 in my 80x0r5. That’s your headline and your 133t-speak dose for the day. In case you missed it in the wireless blog, they’ll be honoring all 04-05 season passes again in the 05-06 season. You’ll recall i have an 04-05 season pass and unless you’ve been living under a rock or on the east coast you’ve probably noticed a decided lack of snow that has prevented me from making much use of it. This is just about the coolest news since, well, the next piece of news. Hang on, i’m getting there…

Things: My Z is back home where it belongs. It’s been almost a month (5 days shy) and way more money than, apparently, i can charge in one 24 hr period on my debit card, but i’m very glad to have it back and excited to log those 1000 miles on it (only 983 to go!) until the engine is broken in and i can see if that extra .06 liters makes a difference. 😉

Looking back at the pics today of the engine build i did last winter, it makes me a little sappy and disappointed that all the work i did (and all the help from everyone) was sort of in vain, and had to be done all over again this year. Don’t get me wrong, i’m very glad it’s turned out so well, and that the means were available to make it happen, but i still feel kind of let down in a small way. I dunno, maybe i’m just melodramatic and need more sleep. 😉

Think happy thoughts about the number 181

I’m feeling all cool cause i just printed off my number for the WWSCC “slush run” autocross next sunday! Yeah, i’m in the novice class, cause i’ve never done it before, but i like it when the expectations aren’t too high. 😉 Plus… i haven’t done it before. Troy told me about it and i just couldn’t pass up a day in a giant parking lot full of cones and fast cars, for the low-low price of 25 smackers! That’s a steal of a deal, btw. It’s up in everett at one of Boeing’s many spare parking lots (now that no one works there they have lots of empty space. 😉 Should be a wild time! I’ll try and take pictures.

It’s all warm and pleasant outside this week, which sucks, cause that prevents it from snowing in the mountains. But hopefully the snow levels are still building, even if it’s very slowly. I watch the Snoqualmie webcams all day at work. I can see the snow from here!

When i’m not staring at my 2″ square pixelated links to the outside world, i do other stuff, too. Today i built this nifty calendar thingy for the team’s site so events people post up to share end up in the forum calendar, and the chronologically closest few appear on the front page. Another nifty PHP/MySQL project that, now that’s it’s built and working, will require very little intervention from me to continue creating and changing site content. I love stuff like that. My next project is going to involve getting these entries to type themselves via a telepathic link. So if you see me sitting at my desk with a tinfoil hat on, that might be what i’m working on…

Ski pass picture day

Haven’t posted much cause it didn’t seem like there was much going on that was newsworthy… and i spend so much time at work surfing and reading that nothing really stands out anymore, so i don’t even have interesting links to share. How boring am i?

But then, in the last few days, all sorts of interesting stuff! So let’s just tear right into it, starting with the most recent and working backwards, because i know you like a challenge at 8am on a tuesday morning. 🙂

And speaking of that, what am i doing up so early on a day when i don’t have to work? Well, joke’s on you, cause this isn’t early for me – i *let* myself sleep in until 7 today! I usually get up at 5.30 for work, so 7 is a huge luxury… very nice. Plus i needed to be up and ready to go meet Ron for coffee this morning on the eastside – probably in an hour or so. I might have time to run up to Steph’s and get the Z before then, which would be super cause, well, it’s really fun to drive. 🙂

Another thing that’s really fun happened last nite – i bought my ski pass on the internet! (The exciting part is that i bought the pass – not that i bought it on the internet. I buy lots of stuff on the internet, which i think we all know…) It’s the first time i’ve ever had a season pass, i’m very stoked about it. I had only budgeted $200 for a midweek pass (mon-fri only), and the price goes up oct 31 so i had to get in there and buy it this week, but then i started thinking about it and splurged on the $250 one that includes sundays, too – basically, it’s anytime but 9a-4p saturday – because although it’s great that i have monday and tuesday off to ski, most of my friends aren’t going to, so if i ever want to go with someone, it might be nice to have sunday as an option, too. It should pay for itself no problem, cause a regular lift ticket is 42 bucks! So if i go six times all season, i’m totally ahead. And i’d like to go a lot more than six times! It’s just a “Big S” pass – the Summit and Snoqualmie and Alpental – but that’s perfect for me because 1) it’s cheap, 2) it’s close and 3) i have low expectations and haven’t skiied (outside of europe) since i left MSU so any hill time is good hill time!

Earlier in the day yesterday, i spent some time looking at apartments with Danielle, because i’ve told Kim and Jason that i’m moving out by the end of november. So hopefully i’ll be able to find a place i can afford with a private garage. I’m sure the Z will be very happy to hear that she’ll get to come home soon to a nice cozy garage… and the Pathfinder’s probably rather unamused that he’s going to be lugging all my junk halfway across the city and commuting further to work. But he might get a tow hitch out of the deal, so… Anyway, that’s both exciting and a lot of work. Have a lot of things to clear out before i move, too (i really need to move *less* stuff each time, not more) – if anyone’s interested in the big green couch i’ll make you a screamin’ deal. 🙂

While i was leaning back in my desk chair sunday night pondering all of this, Chad called me and we griped for awhile about corporate america and the lack of desireable candidates for public office. Always good to hear from him; hopefully we can catch up for a beer when i’m in MT in december.

Previous to that, i spent late sunday afternoon up at Steph’s installing my new short shifter in the Z and garnishing it with a fresh-out-of-the-plastic JDM red-stiched shift knob! Whole thing looks excellent and is very fun to drive. First non-maintenance money i’ve spent on the Z since april – i’m sure she’s been feeling left out seeing the Pathy’s awesome new tires and functional new cupholders. And we all know what a high-maintenance princess she is… so you can imagine what sort of attitude i’ve been dealing with. But this shiny bauble should smooth things over… 😉

I didn’t get started on that project until late in the day, because i spent the morning at Eric’s, helping him tear apart the motor in his new Pathfinder. Wait… didn’t i buy my Pathy from him in july? Yes, that’s correct. And he missed it so much he went out and bought another one just like it, only red, with a shiny new paint job and a blown head gasket. It was a great price, even considering the engine trouble, and is going to be a nice project for us for the next few weeks. We tore the top end off sunday (top end of the motor, that is… haha… that’s a funny mental picture, us tearing the top of the truck off) and found lots of icky, sticky goo under the valve covers (neat!) from the coolant intermingling with the oil (yuck!). We had to use my Pathy to tow his back out of the garage and on to the street when we were done, and we took a moment to get a picture of them together which i would post right now but my Powerbook’s all busy burning a dvd full of Space Ghost episodes so i can’t suck the pix off the digicam right now. Forthcoming, i assure you.

And that pretty much brings us back to saturday, which i spent entirely at work, playing Sims and watching Cartoon Network. And friday, which was similar, only i played flash games on and watched the news (ugh) cause Ian always insists we pretend to care about current events during business hours (as if!).

And now, ladies and jellyspoons… i’m going to head east to pick up my shiny red 300zx for some quality highway time! Heading up to Snoqualmie summit today to get my picture taken for my ski pass… yee ha!

My first 4WD.

Just made it home after a long – but good – day. House is empty – Kim must be at the gym, Christian out somewhere having a social life. I’m ready for a weekend for sure… although i guess i can’t think of a friday when i haven’t felt that way – after all, the best kind of workday is the one where you don’t have to. Anyway, i very tired, cause Gabe kept me up until 3.30am talking about skiing and whatnot last nite (and then had the gall to oversleep past 11am and miss a lunch date with Kim and I, whereas I set my alarm to 6am so i could catch the bus to work this morning!). Now, why was i riding the bus to work today, you ask? Well, it’s a complicated story about logistics and minimizing trips, but the gist of it is that i bought a truck and needed to drive it home from bellevue tonite. Yup yup, i’m now the very proud owner of an 88 Pathfinder (yes, a Nissan, what do you expect? i’m not gonna buy a ford or anything!!). My friend Eric needed to sell it, and it was a perfect chance for me to have a better vehicle to drive all over for work, carrying computers and whatnot, as well as all those other projects i’m always dreaming up that require carrying big stuff around. As an added bonus, it would make it home to MT for the holidays without trouble, and could probably tow the Z on a trailer in a pinch (although maybe not up a steep hill). Eric took great care of it, and has already outfitted it with a ski rack and a cd player, so there’s really not anything i need to fix or do before i can start using it like crazy. It even uses the same oil filters as both the Z and the Sentra (it has basically the same engine block as the Z, a VG30) – how lucky is that! Speaking of the Sentra, i’m selling it to Christian, as he needs something to get him to Ikea and whatnot that wouldn’t cost him much, so it was a perfect deal for him, too. So, yeah, i’m super excited to have the extra flexibility of an SUV, and even more the option to keep the Z at home safely under its cover on crummy, slippery, dreary days, or when I’m going somewhere messy (home depot, the beach, work) or sketchy (tacoma, pretty much home depot, also work). Now i just need to invest in bolt cutters so i can get into that bloody garage and the Z will have a nice place to spend those days, waiting for a sunny afternoon when it needs to be driven!

The other fun thing I did today was spent lunchtime in bellevue… now, wait, I know that sounds thrilling, but my story gets better. Kim came along with me to Sturtevants to pick out new ski boots! Since Gabe was a stand-up guy and gave me a pair of Head twin-tips he scored at a ski swap, i’m that much closer to having all the gear I need to see some powder days next season. I ended up with extra money after paying the taxes on the truck – it was less than i had budgeted for – and the Nordica boots i found were on super-sale, so i’m two steps closer to ski season! And, my new 4wd SUV will get me to the hill. Sweet!

Transportation stars in the moon and rising

A charmed day for sure, the moon must be in the third quarter of neptune, or whatever…

Had excellent bus karma today – walked right up to be met at stops by the one i wanted. Didn’t sleep through any stops. No large smelly people sat on the aisle seat next to me and smothered/suffocated/trapped me. Nobody mugged me for the ipod on the route through white center.

Good transportation day in general. Erica W gave me a ride home from downtown on her way to join us for dinner. Ron was at the dentist a few blocks from the Burien office and gave me a ride back to Bellevue. I rented a flexcar and drove from downtown to Lynnwood, leaving at five an arriving in only 40 minutes (it’s about 30 miles) – a rush-hour record for sure. Icing on cake: Travis found me a daily driver, a 500-dollar ’89 Nissan Sentra, a cheap-to-own 4-door that will get me back and forth to the garage for the next month until the Z is running again. After that, it will possibly be my work vehicle, to spare the Z from any chance of utility truck duties – at least on days when there is a chance of such travesty or when it’s not undeniably nice top-off weather. And certainly when the weather is hideous or i need more than two seats… and am not looking to impress anyone. 😉 It’s not an impressive car by any means – i’ve never been a big fan of brown interior – but all the mechanical stuff is solid and lots of parts replaced recently (axles, tires, alternator – good stuff). I mean, my mechanic found it, a diamond in the rough (okay, a semi-precious not-remarkably-sparkly piece of limestone in the rough) and i trust Travis wouldn’t have called me without being confident that it will run for a while with very little attention (the phrase “generic parts” passed his lips) and i’m determined not to be picky about things as silly as color. Am i picky about the color of the bus? Well, sometimes, the yellow and brown ones are really uncomfortable. Not enough leg room for tall people, and the seat backs dig into your knees. Well, maybe not your knees… mine tho. But no, i board anyway. And this will be substantially smaller and more mine than the bus. 😉 I’ll find out for sure friday afternoon, but by the weekend i might be a two-car family…! Uh… American over-indulgence rears it’s ugly head! LOL!

It’s not that i hate riding the bus… it’s actually kind of a nice way to get downtown, and i can listen to music and read a book, or fall asleep and miss my stop. Er… but anyway, i don’t mind it, but this job makes it miserable, cause i’m going to different places every day and always struggling to get there and get home. Last week my trip to Kent was 2.5 hours down and 3 hours home. Shoreline is just over 2 hours away on the bus – it’s 20 minutes by car. And often my transfers are in neighborhoods i don’t know, so rather than relaxing on the ride i’m peering nervously out the window reading every street sign and stressing about if it’s string-pull time yet. The freedom of jumping in with a friend after work, or not being tied down to a parking spot – and not paying for parking! – is pretty great… until i want to run to Costco after work or need to be in Everett to shop for tools, or want to work on my car in Woodinville for the weekend… ugh. That’s when it starts to suck. And yes, i’m a big spoiled fatty lazy capitalist pig American who can’t live without a gas-guzzling car. Well now i’m gonna have two… somebody call Captain Planet on me!

Stopped at Helly Hansen again today, but the goggle lenses i ordered haven’t arrived yet. Oh, well, guess i’ll just have to flirt with the cute sales girl… Thanx to her, tho, i spent a bit more than my gift certificate – on top of the new blue mirrored lenses from Smith, i came home with lightweight fleece gloves and a cool beanie, both by Dakine. Actually, i wore them both home, tried them out keeping warm as a walked through downtown… pretty good! I’m a big dork and i do stuff like that. The sales clerk assured me that about one third of her customers wear their new stuff home… i think that was just her flirting back. 😉

I achieved an improved balance of adequate sleep, reasonable diet, exercise and caffeine this week and have been getting a lot done, around the house, at work, on my resume, on a contract design job, on my Z. I’m not perfectly healthy by any means, but at least i’m not developing gout on the Atkins diet or getting fat by eating compusively in my sleep. Can you say the same? 😉

Okay, the furnace has turned off for the night and my office is starting to approach absolute zero… i’d carry the PBook to the couch or bedroom where it’s warmer but i brought the wireless antenna to Steph’s house and my battery sucks lately anyway, guess it’s time for a new one. $igh. Guess that’s coming out of the Christmas bonus… oh, wait, all i got from john l scott for Christmas was an empty card. Ok, new plan – guess i’ll get tarted up and take the bus back to White Center…

I could ski for a living

This week has taken forever! Augh! I’m all excited to head south this weekend and look at a really promising Z, and it’s been like 40 days since monday when i decided to go! Thankfully, some other good stuff this week to keep me busy. Danielle and i have been spending a lot of time just hanging out, as she’s moving north to Victoria the end of the month, so we’re trying to squeeze in some last quality time. I wish we had more!

Tonight i met Kim, Dawn and Julia for sushi and cocktails, and then we caught up with Gabe at the ski swap expo thingy downtown. Another big room full of equipment i can’t afford to buy, but still a good time – came home with a big handful of stickers and a couple sweet posters – one of Big Mountain in Whitefish, MT, a gorgeous sunset shot of the mountain, very cool. Coolest part was chatting with Eric Pollard, a killer pro skier with his own model of Line skiis and a starring role in several of my favorite ski movies. A very down-to-earth guy, we talked about some equipment and some of the great places he’s skied this year. He mentioned how lucky he felt to be traveling and skiing like he does – what he modestly omitted are his immense talent and extreme determination to raise the bar on himself. Either way, i’m sure impressed by Eric’s accomplishments, and i’d hope if i was ever in that position i’d be as unpretentious and laid back as he is about it. If i had it to do over, i think i’d skip college and just ski for a living. 🙂