Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Utah Skiing

I have always wanted to go skiing somewhere west where you have long downhill runs.  It was on my Bucket List.  My friend, Robb, called and invited me on a ski trip to the Salt Lake City area for a 5 day trip.  There would be 5 guys in the 30's  and old, retired me.  One person was from VT, 3 of us from MI and 2 from IN.  We all flew into Salt lake City and Scott and Robb got the cars.

We had a Chevy SUV and a Ford  Taurus and they were loaded with gear.  It was amazing to be in t-shirts at the airport and look up to see the snow mountains surrounding SLC.

The mountains all had snow but the east facing side had the skiing!  We drove about one hour up to Eden, UT and the narrow canyon road had lots of snow.

We stayed at the Wolf Lodge Condos. The unit only had two Queen beds but the couch had a pull-out bed and the futon couch/bed in the loft. Nothing fancy but well equipped for us. The guys complained about the beds but we were usually tired so we got by.

After we unpacked, we went down to the grocery store for food.  We got food for breakfast, things for sandwiches on the slope, and some good beer.  We decided to eat at the local Shooting Star bar that served anything you wanted as long as it was hambuger!  They had nice, juicy bugers with chips and a beer for $6!  We talked to a few guys at the bar about snow conditions and decided to hit Powder Mountain for the first day of skiing.

Next morning we were up and out by 9:00 am as it was only 20 minutes to this resort.  We had a great egg breakfast and packed our lunches so we could stay until closing.  Everyone got out their hydration pacs and I realized that I didn't have mine along.  I found a 16 oz. water bottle that would fit in my jacket.  I was warned that you have to drink lots of water as the high elevation and exertion will get you dehydrated fast.


Pow Mow has 7000 skiable acres with 2500 vertical height and 134 runs.  This was my first big mountain and it was high!  We got our lift tickets - around $56 for the day.  We took the quad chair lift to the top and it was 8,900 ft. elevation.  A warm-up run down a 3 mile run started out easy and then turned into rough ice from the frozen grooming. It was fast and rough to ski.  The afternoon sun would soften things up....we hoped! 

If you have never been out west to ski, it is breath-taking  It is so beautiful up high and very scary.  The runs that have close to 3000 vertical feet demand good skiing.  I was soon to realize that I was adrift in a group of really good skiers!  I should have picked up on the fact that they all had had lots of surgery and broken bones!  Nothing scared these guys.  As for me, I carefully picked my routes down the mountain.  It was so exciting to be on a big hill.  The guys always led the way and stopped and waited for me to catch up.  It was nice to take short breaks on the long runs.  You had to do so much turning that your thigh muscles started to scream after a few runs.  It really does take strong legs to ski from opening to closing! Robb had been running for several weeks, I climbed the stairs twice!

The next run was to go down 3 mile run and the group was looking for some softer snow. We started down and then we came to a spot.

Here are Robb, Jeff, Ryan, Scott W, and Scott waiting for me to head down.  They got down the run and suddenly went off trail to some moguls in deeper snow.  Just like in the Olympics.....I watched and then said ..."Why not?"    A few seconds later, I fell and struggled to get up.  I started again and fell.  It looks so easy on TV!  After the third fall in a very short distance, I tried to walk over to the run.  The snow was very deep and I struggled to get to the guys.  They decided to ski over to the run...I tried to walk.  I was at 8000+ feet and breathing heavy.  I couldn't get my breath.  I waited for 15 minutes and started down the run only to stop for another breather.  My heart was racing.  Two guys stayed with me and the other three skiied to the lift to call the Ski Patrol.  In 15 minutes  a guy from the ski patrol came over and checked on me.  I was feeling better and ready to ski down to the lift when the snowmobile arrived.  It was decided that I should ride up to the 1st Aid Hut and get oxygen.  I climbed on the snowmobile and had to carry my skis and poles across my lap as the snowmobile shot off across the hill on a diagonal.  This was my first snowmobile ride.  And it was going fast across the mountain and slightly uphill.  I couldn't hang on to anything with the skis in my hands so I clamped my legs tight to the seat and prayed.  When we arrived at the 1st Aid Hut they checked my vitals.  My heart rate was up and my blood pressure was high. I drank water and had about a half an hour rest with oxygen.

This is in the hut.  They checked each other's blood pressure and decided the gauge wasn't working right.  I also got several chocolate covered cookies.  Mountain Sickness or High Elevation Sickness, they said was probably the problem.

Just imagine me in the jacket with the oxygen attached.  In 30-45 minutes, my friends checked in on me and I was ready to go back skiing.  I had to leave the oxygen tank behind......darn!  There weren't many people and we had most of the runs to our selves.

The guys are making fun of my skiing...I'm taking the picture!

After a great day of skiing we headed back about 5:00 pm for our condo.  The guys got their swim suits on and headed out for the hot tub.  Nobody told me to pack mine!   I needed to relax and rest anyway!   Robb and Ryan cooked up steaks, garlic potatoes, grilled vegetables for supper.  Then the plans for the next day were discussed.  They all wanted a bigger mountain and powder!  The next day was to be Snowbasin.

Snowbasin has 2,959 vertical feet of elevation, 3,300 acres and over 400" of snow per year. Lift tickets were $65.  I, of course, got the Senior Discount at each place and saved $15-20 at each place.  I didn't even have to ask for it!!


If you check on the Trail Maps you can see where we skied.     This was the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics!!!

Wow!  The mountains were getting taller.  Snowbasin has peaks at 9570 ft.  Off to the right  was the Men's and Women's Super G start. When they say Double Black Diamond, they mean it!!

This hill had a gondola ride up that just kept going....up....up....up!  Just as we would crest a hill, another larger hill was behind it.  Excuse me...I mean another mountain, not a hill!

So many new experiences.  It was nice to ski with great skiers.  They all took turns keeping an eye on the old man.  We took the Needles Express Gondola up and skied down Strawberry Traverse to Dan's Run to Bear's Run and then School Hill to the bottom.  This was my best day.  I didn't fall once and skied nice long runs all day.

The guys were doing great and found interesting runs to do.

Here I am standing right in front of a cliff that they ski.  I think you can see that there is a sharp edge or downhill right behing me.  Notice that I am not facing the downhill but pointed towards the edge where a gentler slope awaits me.  I pride myself in my selection of runs that I think I can manage.  Actually, I just try to decide if a fall will only hurt me as opposed to breaking bones if I fall.  This keeps the decision  making much easier!

This is Snowbasin Trail Map.  If you click on it, you can see an enlarged picture.  Off to the right side is the Black Diamond Runs.  Yes, the boys did those...while I took a break.

After another great day, we headed back to the condo.  Time to watch some basketball games.

It was decided that we would hit our last resort on Saturday.  I guess they were saving the best for last. 

Snowbird Resort is a very popular place.

The World Freeskiing Tour was going on.

We got here about 8:30 am on Saturday and got our tickets.  Snowbird is about one and a half hours south of where we were staying.  It has 11,000+ ft high peaks.  3240 vertical feet in 2500 skiable acres.   Snowbird has 85 runs and Chip's Run is 2.5 miles long.  They also have a 125 person Tram and 4 quads and 6 doubles.

When we got on the Tram and headed up I wondered what the day would be like.   We went up to Hidden Peak.

That is 11,000 feet elevation.  You can see SLC down in the distance.

We skiied across the top and went down the other side of the mountain to Mineral Basin.  Beautiful snow and lots of choices.

Here is the bottom of Mineral Basin.  This was nice because the guys could ski Black Diamond runs and chutes and I could go down easier Blue and Green Runs and meet at the same ending place.  The snow was finally softening up and the skiing was great.

I like these big, wide runs!  I felt comfortable skiing down by myself on these runs.  My thighs and calves were getting tighter.

The guys had to do the Mogul Chute down a Black Diamond Route.  Here is Scottie W coming down with Jeff and Robb right behind him.  I would love to be able to ski like those guys.  No Fear.

Later Scott and Jeff did a  backcountry traverse to ski a very steep ridge. They had to climb up s narrow stepped trail to get over to where they wanted to start.  Fresh tracks down the mountain looks so nice.  Jeff hadn't skied in 5 years but it came back quickly as he did everything!

You had to stop and take in the views that were great in every direction.  What an amazing place.  The best snow in the world they advertize.

This picture shows some of the traverse routes to take you to a less steep part of the run for some of us slower skiers.  This was great but I hated the narrow trails with steep edges and sharp switchbacks.  Of course my legs were about gone at this point.

I am coming down and the guys are going up.  I would rest every other run the last day. 

This is the large Tram that goes up the main hill.  I was thankful that Scott took me down the mountain in a gentle traverse route.  I had to pass right between the spectators and the finish line for the World Freeski Tour.  Then I came to a narrow chute with steep sides to lead down. Ug!  A couple of falls and my legs were gone.  I headed down to the main lodge.

This is my thumb.  The photo shows some of the large outdoor patio right in front of the slopes.

I am done and it is only 1:00 pm and the guys are going to ski for 3 more hours.  I think I'll have a cold beer and watch the fun in front of me.

The Freeskiing World Tour was handing out prizes for answering questions. Scott won an aluminum water bottle and compass!

This is back at the car and the last look at the mountain, at least  the front lower third you can see.

We decided to head to Park City, UT to see the resort town.  It was up-scale and quaint.  The ski area didn't look too impressive compared to Snowbird.  We walked around town and found a great Pizza place for our final dinner of the trip in Utah.  Then It was back to the condo.  We left at 7:30 am and returned by 9:30 pm! A long , great day.  We totaled up the expenses for the condo, cars, gas, food and beer.  It came to $300 per person plus about $150 for lift tickets.  A six way split helped make the 5 day trip affordable for all.

Sunday morning we were up and packing.  We finished off the eggs and toast, steak, sausage, cheese and anything else in the refrigerator.   Some left at 11:00 and the rest of us were out at 12:00pm. 

This was our farewell shot of SLC.  But we were flying American to Chicago and then on to GRR!

We got in to GRR at 10:20 pm tired but with great memories.  Wait, Snowbird has snow until mid - May!!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

First River Fishing Day for 2010

I decided that ice fishing was getty iffy with the warm weather.  I had a great day (for me) and caught 29 smelt last Wednesday but packed the ice fishing gear away.

The weather was in the 50s and it was cloudy so off to the river I went.  The South side parking lot of Manistee River at Tippy Dam is only 2 miles north of my house.  When I arrived I saw about 8 cars and wondered if I could find a fishing spot I liked.  I had my waders on and just grabbed my fishing pole and headed to the steps of Cardiac Hill.

The snow was still around and a little slippery.  This is just before the dreaded steps down to the river.  See how the right side gets warm afternoon sun and the left side only gets morning sun. I am facing north.

The  top of the 140+ steps were fairly clear of snow and ice.  Down I go wondering if I didn't need the ice creepers I had on my waders.

As I got to the bottom of the steps the ice was covering the steps and slippery.  This is where you better be holding on to the railing.  Now I was glad for those ice creepers!  I had heard that the steehead are now moving in the river and from the number of cars in the parking lot, it must be true.

The scene from the lower steps shows only about 4-5 guys below the the dam.  I always enjoy this picture of the river.  It is just as I remembered from my last trip in November.  I noticed a few fish on a stringer by the larger rock in the foreground.  I'll be these guys were here early,like 7:00 am!

I moved down stream below the last guy and waded out to my knees.  The water isn't too bad and the flow is ok.  I tried to drift some wax worms on bottom but the Zebra mussels are so thick that they cut off the wax worms so I tie on a Manistee Wiggler fly and bounce it along on bottom.  After about 20-30 minutes I had a hit.  Wow, first fish of the year.  I hope I can land it.  I decide to try to get a picture while I am fighting the fish.  I may not be successful.

It is a 16" rainbow, not a steelhead, but is giving me a nice fight.  Come to Poppa!  I get out my forceps and take the hook out without touching the fish and he lives to fight another day.  I have plenty of fish in the freezer and I want to catch him some other day.  He gave me a nice fight so I released him to give someone else a good day.    Ah, fishing on the Manistee River....priceless!

It was then that I remembered that I have to go up Cardiac Hill again! 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Slimy Pebble Trip!

Ok, it has been one month since my first grandson, Roan, had arrived.  I waited for things to calm down and being 500+ miles away, it was time for a Road Trip.  I left last Monday around 6:30 am and headed across Highway 10 towards Bay City.  Then it was down I-75 to 23 towards the Ohio Turnpike.  I was making good time and the roads were dry.  Suddenly before me was a sign beckoning me in.... the little town of Dundee!  This is a great place to stretch my legs and unbend my back.  I love Dundee....Gee, what is this? ... a store by the highway?  Cabela's!  I'll just stop in for a short visit.  A half-hour later, I had to leave, it was too tempting and I had miles to go.  Finally, signs for the Turnpike.  I filled up with gas and started heading East.  I arrived in PA around 2:00 pm and decided top stop at Slippery Rock University to get a Visitor's Pass for three days, knowing I would stop in to see friends.  I'm still in the computer so they printed me a Parking Pass and I stopped over to the Special Education Department.  I only saw the secretary and two other professors but found out they would be having a Faculty Meeting on Tuesday.  I was going to be staying with friends in Grove City but decided to head over to Duffy Road to see the grandson for the first time.  Leslie's mom and dad from Colorado had been visiting for the past few days so I could say hi to them also.

As soon as I entered I was greeted and handed my Roan.

One month old and he is already taking charge of things in the cabin. It was a special moment to be holding my grandson.

Ok, this is all you are going to see on this blog....pictures of Roan so you can depart now or stay with me for more of the same.  Here is is letting me know that his stomach is upset..boy, those Stauffer's have a lot of gas!  I could feel him tense up and then feel him expell!!!

Right now, he is still sleeping and eating.  He likes to sleep during the day.  You know what that means......long nights for the parents.  He likes to have his right hand up near his face.

It has been awhile since I have had an upset baby in my arms.  I guess he is just developing those bagpipe blowing lungs.  Who does he look like?  I can't tell.

Ryan came in from work and took over.  Of course, there were three grandparents in the room so Leslie had been spelled during the day.  Ryan like to keep the bib on during the day.  He said he has learned that the baby can go through a lot of outfits in one day if the bib isn't on!

Leslie said she was hungry so Ryan cooked her an omelet.  Having been a chef, Ryan is an excellent cook. Now that baby and mother were fed, it was back to the baby.

I am proud of Ryan, he steps right up and takes over the care of Roan.  He wants to learn as much about parenting that he can.   There was a little concern that the baby might have a slight fever and so Ryan gets out the new baby thermometer to practice with.  I think that is a great idea, practice now before you really need to!

I am waiting for the moment when they learn to keep that penis covered but I guess they have already learned that trick.

I think that he has some of Leslie's features and I can see some of Molly here also.  What do you think?

He does have a head of hair.  I took this picture for his Aunt Barb.  I said he had lots of hair and I wasn't kidding.

Leslie's dad, Glen,  gets a fed, changed, and sleeping grandson to hold.  With all the visitors, Roan got held a lot.  Roan is a good baby.  He even sleeps through Ryan's bagpipe practicing.

Leslie and Leslie's mom, Carol, get some down time.  New mothers have to grab a nap when ever and where ever it is possible.  Tuesday night,  Roan did sleep through most of the night so the schedule is developing.

Tuesday night we we all went out to the Brewery for supper.  Ryan got to show off his son to friends and Roan slept through most of the meal.  He awoke hungry so he was fed before we left for home.

Carol is holdhing her grandson on the last day of her visit.  I am over 500 miles away but being from Colorado must really be hard on the other grandparents.  I'll be out the end of April as I promised Aunt Barb a road trip to see her nephew.  The first grandchild of the Middleville Stauffer's on my parent's side of the family.  I was sorry that my parent didn't get to see that the Stauffer name is still going on.

This is a shot of the cabin's new fireplace.  It was re-lined and a new rock face was installed before they moved in late December.  They have a small, cozy cabin.  It is nestled in the woods and it is their's!  They have plans for an addition and extra bedroom but I think that Ryan and Leslie want to get Ryan's workshop in the barn set up first so he can spend more time at home.  I'll be out in the Summer for the next building project.

Wednesday morning I drove to Butler, PA to Heritage School at Butler Community College where Ryan works.  He teaches blacksmithing and is the Environmental Field Trip coordinator.


While there I saw two of his new projects. 

This is one of his many hand-made pattern welded knives. He teaches blacksmithing and knife making and iron works.

This is the old Case tractor that he and his Venture Crew (high school boys and girls scout organization) are restoring.  Last year they restored an old hay wagon this is the tractor that will pull it around the campus.

Every thing that could be taken off was cleaned, repaired, and re-painted.  The engine was over-hauled and it fired up so all that remains is some re-assembly of some of the parts.

This shows a few of the new parts that had to be installed. The students have a light-weight airplane that lightly crashed that was donated to them.  They will re-store that next.  Leslie is worried!!

Realizing that the kids have had non-stop company and needed some family time, I decided to head back home.  As I walked out to the car, I noticed Ryan has marked out his property beside the front walkway.

I think this was to bug his mother-in-law!  She was marking the new grandson with lipstick kisses!!