Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Send in the congregation.

Now, let’s see. Where were we? Oh yeah, the ski season was unraveling.



Actually, I know that no matter how much I complain about it, it won’t do much good, because in reality Montana has it better than almost anywhere else this year. Still, to see it happen in real time is painful. Paired with the loss of after-work skiing in Pattee Canyon (no snow) and Marshall (users are now tresspassers), it’s dire.

So what to do? The weather is good and gas is $1.94 a gallon. Sorta speaks for itself.

Fireworks at the fish:


Slaying the lift line at Blacktail; he even got a few hoots:


Friday night at the bar. They put the babies upstairs:


About 230 came out to our hosting of the Backcountry Film Festival at the Roxy. Between the shows in Bozeman and Missoula we raised a year’s worth of operating expenses. High-fives all around.


I've been working hard and feeling good. Climbed to Snyder Lakes in 2 hours 15 minutes and Bacon Rind in less than 2 hours. Recovery day above Hebgen Lake in the southern Madisons:


Yellowstone National Park:


Earning his turns:


Awful conditions on Running Rabbit. I had heard from two people that this basin was skiable, but all I found was ice, mini-cliffs, and horrendous bushwacking. I gave up after three hours.


Consolation prize on Marias Pass:


More slayage at Blacktail. Just a few days after we skied there I saw an online special offering half-off lift tickets!


Mount Lockhart. The Rocky Mountain Front probably has the worst weather in Montana, so I was super excited to ski this gem with a foot of 5% density snow and zero wind. I missed summiting by about 200 feet – did not like the cornices.


Continental Divide:


And so winter? Well, a -16 degree morning in Dupuyer at least. Pretty, but not so fun camping.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Oppositional defiance.

Good morning Big Sky!



My waffle light is the 3 p.m. forecast update, which has really not been kind to anyone this season. Somehow western Montana has added up a snowpack 120 percent of average, but the skiing this year has not been that good, unfortunately, and the long-range suggests it’s about to get a lot worse.

Took the wife and baby to magical, mystical Turner (and this time did not drive the car off the road and into the creek).


From the top:



He earned himself a $1 hot chocolate.



Someone else is learning to ski. Here’s Laura in good form on day four.


We also had time to ski some loops in South Flower.


After skiing, everyone drinks beer and eats pizza at the Red Dog. This was fun until we realized it was after 6 p.m. and we still had a four-hour drive ahead of us.


Back to an old favorite – Stonewall.


Made it to the summit this time to look into the great beyond (i.e., the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat).


Got a Samsung Galaxy 5 smart phone – all I’ve had before were dumb ones. It’s both mind-blowing and overwhelming. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I can’t do this with my old LG phone.

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Or this:

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Some new yard art courtesy of Back Alley Metals in Red Lodge.

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Like those skis in the picture above? I did too until I tried to use them. They were former rentals I got for $40 from Outdoor Supply, which is down the street from us. I started using them in November and was immediately impressed with how difficult cross-country skiing had become after a few months of off-season down time. I chalked this up snow conditions, being out of shape, and Cooper’s added weight – until I finally turned them over and realized that Outdoor Supply had some me a pair of skis practically devoid of scales. I took them back to Outdoor Supply last week, and the manager told me it was my fault – I should have given them a better inspection when I bought them. I asked him if it was too much to assume a local ski shop is not going to sell garbage?

In addition to confirming that I need never waste another moment going into Outdoor Supply (there are a lot of places to buy skis in this town), this escapade allowed me to answer a question which occasionally arises among Nordic skiers – can you scale your own skis?

Turns out, yes, you can, and the results are not half-bad. I used a hand-held vibrating saw and made alternating cuts into the p-tex to produce a ribbed pattern. The result is decent grip, even on firm snow, but real scales would probably be better (and not result in ruining the ski).

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(Original base at left, hand-scaled base on right. Yeah, base chips from rocks and logs are deeper than the scales on these skis.)

Another view:

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(By the way, that Craftsman saw had not been used since summer and has sat in the garage through multiple below-zero days, but when I turned it on the battery was still nearly full. Nice to see some things around here still work.)

Good experiment though it may be, it’s probably a real waste of time. I went skiing with Scott this weekend, who bought the exact same skis as I did from the exact same place and found the bases to be in the exact same condition. His was, however, actually slightly different -- his sidewalls are totally blowing out, and upon closer inspection I can see mine are too! Here are his sidewalls:

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A great day at Lubrecht. About 10 families came out.

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Back home last week, the temperature went up to 38, the snow started to melt, and everyone went down to the river to run and bike.

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New CrossFit routine?

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Monday, January 12, 2015

I am teaching Cooper to ski because time is a flat circle.

Stoked at Red Lodge.


Stoked at Crystal Theater.


Ought to be enough gear in here to keep us happy for a day or two.


Christmas Day on Lolo Pass.


My grandpa’s 1906 train, out for one day only on Christmas.


Disco: $12 beginner area lift tickets and $4.50 Cold Smokes.


It’s that time of year again.


Lupine Inn in Red Lodge. The manager’s brother walked into the room on our checkout day, pointed to a spot on the dresser next to TV, and told me “You can put tip, four five dollar, right here.” When I left the room he was waiting outside. I had not left a tip. I was loading the truck outside, standing in a snowbank, and he was standing in our room, banging on the window, trying to get my attention.


Sunset run in Pattee.


Dumping in Red Lodge.


The family whose ski tips stay together skis together.


A couple hundred miles of this on either side of the Continental Divide.


Letting it all air out.


More fun on Lolo Pass.


Fun in the fog on Lockwood Point.


Best thing I ever put in the fridge.


Darling angels. Ahem.


The crash of Air Asia 8501 struck more than most airline crashes, in part because I spent a bit of time on Air Asia planes and in part because I spent a morning in the Surabaya airport probably the same way a lot of those same passengers did – killing time and looking for something to eat. With its 40,000 or so islands and crappy roads, air travel is a bit of a given in Southeast Asia. As it happens with most markets in Third World countries, air companies in Indonesia spring up overnight to fill a specific need, and may disappear just as fast. We flew on a number of dubious airlines as we hopped around Southeast Asia, one of which had the unlikely name of “Sriwijaya”. Air Asia, on the other hand, has helped to level the playing field by eliminating some of the idiosyncrasies of Asian flying and keeping fares low. The airline appeared to us as professional, with online booking and clean planes with new interiors. (Contrast that to airlines with difficult booking operations and planes fresh from Craigslist. One we flew in was still partly adorned with Aeromexico livery.) There’s no proper way to end this: I could bore you with my memories of Surabaya, but won’t.

Flashback to 2009: Laura boarding a Batavia flight from Mataram, Lombok, to Surabaya.