Trips to the cross-country ski park: 3
Miles of groomed trail: 15
Dogs that love snow: 2
Trips to the Basin: 1
Price in dollars of an adult day pass: 58
Sticker shock: +1
Inches of fresh powder last Tuesday: 12
Sidecut, in mm, of the K2 Super Stinx: 16
Sweet tele turns made: Lots
Days of aching, crippled quadriceps: 4
Inches of snow in Flagstaff: 0
Subtitled: Be prepared.
Alternate subtitle: Getting away from it all.
Alternate alternate subtitle, with much thanks to John: OCD much?
To be entirely truthful, spring break still has another day or so remaining, but now that I’m back in town, it feels pretty much over. Last Friday we made the long drive to northern Utah with the intention of taking a few days off.
Here’s approximately how it went:
- Drive 14 hours one way.
- Release the hounds: Chaos ensues and my parents immediately regret having invited us
- Sleep a bit
- Check voice mail. No offers on house.
- Walk dogs; they love it up there in the Utahoo wilds.
- Check voice mail. No offers on house.
- Go skiing
- Sleep a bit
- Curse the real estate industry
You get the idea. We had a great time and relaxed quite a bit, but anxiety about selling—or not selling—the house remained pretty constant nonetheless. Right up until the middle of the week:
- Curse real estate
- Check voice mail: Got an offer on the house!
- Wildly fax documents back and forth
- Drive 14 hours home
There’s all sorts of anxiety as a consequence of getting an offer, of course, but since the house is in fine condition we’re not too worried about the inspection as much as we’re daunted by the raw logistics of organizing a move while still getting some work done. When I suggest that I have a tendency to fixate, I mean that I have a tendency to fixate on things not the dissertation, so I’m aware that moving could become the perfect excuse to lose another month of my life. But I’m determined to avoid this loss.
Okay, vacation photos:
We skied at Snowbasin (a Sun Valley Resort, you are reminded endlessly), where I learned to ski way back in the day. The resort has changed a great deal: The first photo is the new main area at the bottom of the resort, a location that used to be the lower parking lot—where latecomers were relegated to park on the weekends, and the bathrooms were in a trailer, next to a hot dog stand that was usually closed. Now it’s a plaza ringed by opulent lodges for the ski school and ski patrol, and Earl’s Lodge—named for Earl Holding, owner of Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Sinclair Oil, and Little America. If Earl gets his way, Snowbasin’s base area will eventually be filled out with condos and golf courses. The giant bronze moose in the center of the plaza is really something. It wasn’t until later that we saw the giant bronze moose penis (hi, Google) in our photo. Note that we’re holding our skis vertically; that’s so our sponsors get their money’s worth.
Heated high-speed gondolas take skiers to the top of the mountain in just seven minutes; this used to be a slow ride on multiple chairlifts, numbingly cold some days. Today, a final tram ride takes skiers (or curious visitors) to the saddle just beneath the peak of Mt. Ogden, where they can peer over the precipice that marks the beginning of the Super-G and downhill race course. Some of us old timers remember that there was a time when you had to hike up there; there wasn’t a lodge at the top, either, or a helipad that Earl himself recently used to reach the top to hold court for a while. You know, back in the day. The racecourses built for the Olympics a couple of years ago are still impressive, the downhill in particular. Olympic downhill racers can reach 80 miles an hour on pitches of 35 degrees. Hard-core.
I hadn’t intended to get all nostalgic, but I really did grow up at Snowbasin in a pretty significant way, thanks to the season passes that came from having a family member on the ski patrol. Paying $90 for two half-day lift tickets was sort of shocking, though I know it’s still a bargain when compared to some ski resorts. Though the mountain has changed, going back to Snowbasin was a little like coming home—I could point out to Heather my favorite runs, most of which are still approximately where they used to be, and the Becker chairlift still threatens to give you a kneecapping, just like I remember.
Even in the desert, winter inevitably brings tele ski dreams. And if I can’t buckle on my T2s here in Tucson, I can at least imagine making perfect turns in knee-deep powder (and in my imagination, my quads never get sore). The holiday redesign of schussman.com is a gentle reminder that it’s snowing somewhere, and somebody is carving fresh tracks (It’s also because, now that I have finished my exams and comprehensively re-organized my academic files and related materials to facilitate unobstructed productivity, I have writer’s block). On the subject of the redesign, I have to give some thanks to the good people at blogstyles, who put together the dynamite three-column template and stylesheet on which I built the new site. I made a few modifications to Kristine’s template, which is a slam-dunk drop-in for existing movable type layouts.
Tele ski dreams always come back this time of year. In response to them in earlier years, I made myself a telemark desktop (this was way back on mandrake 6.0). This year, I’m thinking about the last time I went skiing, right here in southern Arizona. Tucson actually has a little ski resort, Ski Valley, at the top of Mt. Lemmon. It has a whopping 950 feet of vertical, and it only opens for a few weeks a year. Two years ago, after two days of mid-January storms in the valley and snow on the mountains, Ski Valley finally opened — for a while. I hit the road and trekked up, and was the 2nd car in the lot that day. There were eighteen inches of fresh powder on the ground. I skiied until my quads rebelled and refused to let me squat any more. By that time, most of the snow was tracked out by snowboarders (a favorite telemark bumper sticker: “Tele: If it were easy, they’d have to call it snowboarding”), but on my last run, as the sun faded, I came across a gully I had missed — and so had everybody else. So I made my last run through untracked gentle powder. When it’s good, tele skiing is like flying — flying while doing aerobics, perhaps. Turns comes in gliding succession, and in the right snow they’re close to silent, so you hear your own breathing more than anything. I puffed my way down the gully, hearing — as always — my dad’s voice, encouraging me to crouch lower, get my arms downhill, get on that ski. The turns were perfect, and I heard him cheering.
At the bottom of the hill, I knocked the snow off my skis and carried myself back to the car for the long drive down the Catalina highway. Here’s hoping for a good winter in the desert.