So far 2013 has been pretty great!
I started a new job (teaching wilderness medicine courses) which is working out great! My first course was in Berkeley and I had the privilege of teaching with a friend from college!
My students were an interesting mix and even wrote a limerick about me on the last day of class!
After Berkeley, it was on to Utah to (hopefully) get in a few days of skiing, see my family and meet up with Woody who gave a talk at the U!
The weather did its best to keep us from skiing…freezing rain storm, weird inversion, crazy fog, horrible air quality…so while woody was busy, I did my best to keep busy!
Liam and Rory and their partner Andrew are deep in the midst of recipe testing, construction, beer brewing, contractor and architect meetings in preparation of opening their gastropub in the Aves – they’re hoping to open in April! Check them out on facebook, there has been quite a bit of buzz about them already, as evidenced here.
Work got crazy for Woody and he had to head back to Pasadena a couple of days early, but my last day in town, Wynne, Liam and I headed up to Alta for my first day of skiing in a couple of years. (which, by the way, is a totally depressing fact!)
I’ve got to admit…I surprised myself. I pretty much thought my legs would crumble to pieces after a couple runs…but they held up well. Although it was INCREDIBLY windy, it was snowing and it just kept snowing more and more…so much that it was hard to finally decide to call it a day. Great snow…great skiing…and I only really crashed hard once. We expected a bit of a slog down canyon (Sunday evening, the OR show ended, Sundance Film Festival ended, Alt Summit ended, roads were bad, everyone stayed later since the skiing was soooo good). However…none of us expected this…
We left the parking lot at 3:45 pm.
We arrived home at 7:35 pm.
The drive is just about 20 miles.
We averaged 5 miles an hour.
It was AWFUL!
For me the next morning meant a 5:00 am wake up so I could get to the airport for a 7:30 am flight back to Pasadena. It continued snowing all night long, and while I made the (silly) assumption that the roads might be vaguely plowed…and by roads I mean Interstate 80…by 5:30 in the morning…I was proved wrong.
Between snowy slick roads, dragging luggage through piles of slush, overheated airports and the general unpleasantness of travelers before the crack of dawn…my morning was less than stellar! Let’s just say I was pleased to be returning to mid-70 degree weather!
Back in Pasadena, Cleo and I got into a fairly regular schedule.
We’ve spotted some unusual things…
This is about a 10 inch long lizard tale artfully placed on our front stoop. I have yet to see the tail-less lizard lurking around.
A few of our mornings have been quite cold! (I can hear the laughter of those in places like Minnesota, Utah and the east coast!) Yes, that is ice on the top of the car.
And frost on the grass!
But…it’s still California!
Woody took off on a field trip to Death Valley with students for the weekend and I had a whirlwind Saturday that involved about 140 miles of driving. Carrie happened to be in town for a conference the whole week and had a bit of time Saturday morning before she flew out of Orange County. I drove down to Irvine and met up with her for some breakfast and exploring at this place…which we stumbled upon. It was very non-orange county and was a bit of a gem!
I think it is where hipsters go to recharge their flannel-clothed-beard-wearing-yoga-loving-craft-inspired-woodgrain-addicted-batteries. The photos on yelp explain it all. Old Vine Cafe provided a delicious (if not huge) breakfast! And as usual, Carrie and I never remember to get a photo of the two of us. After dropping her at the airport, I headed towards San Pedro to explore this place and partake in a blogger crafting event in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.
Fun to make some new crafts, meet some bloggers in person whom I know through their online photos and writing. After I finished my crafting…it was time to drive to the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area to pick up two bottles of wine Woody and I bought for some friends at a wine event the week before.
LA has so much to explore…it’s nice to get out and see some new places!
And of course, get stuck in some traffic as well.
Sunday brought another storm, and since I hauled all of my ski stuff back to SoCal from Utah, it was time to attempt skiing in Southern California. I had high hopes…
You can spot the snowy peaks after about 35 minutes heading west on the freeway.
About 14 miles from the exit up a very windy road…you reach Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts. This is about as far as I got…actually, I parked, had time to put on all of my gear and as I was reaching for my skis from the top of the car, one of the parking attendants drove by in a truck mentioning that the winds were blowing so hard up top…they were closing for the day.
All was not lost…as I was just about out of the foothills, I kid you not…a BOBCAT ran across the road in front of my car about 30 feet away! My jaw dropped and I actually said it out loud in the car…”I just saw a bobcat run across the road!” It looked just like this…except running!
Thanks to Mr. Bobcat – all was not lost!
Since I have chunks of time in between the courses I teach, I have been trying to get out as much as possible and explore new areas of LA county. Jennie and I both had a Wednesday afternoon free…so we took Cleo for a hike in Eaton Canyon. It’s a beautiful area…very popular…and on the weekends very crowded. It’s a quick 3 mile round trip hike up to the waterfalls and much of it is shaded. The afternoon was made even better when we topped it off with a stop for some frozen yogurt!
Valentine’s Day came and went. Woody and I made Gruyere Fondue and started watching season 1 of The Wire…again.
Cleo has been enjoying the sun…Her tongue sticking out is too much in this pic!
With our chilly nights, she has also made it a habit (Woody has been a bad influence) to snuggle under the covers early in the morning until we can’t hit snooze on our alarm clocks anymore.
Fast forward to yesterday, it was time for Mt. Baldy: Round Two!
There are a couple of things to note about the image above.
1. There is not a lot of snow on the ground – therefore, you have to take Chair #1 up to “The Notch” in order to even get to any terrain that would be mildly ski-able.
2. I count approximately 15 cars visible – another area is out of view…so on the high-end, let’s estimate that there are 70 cars in the parking lot. Total! And not all of those are cars of skiers and snowboarders. Mt. Baldy is very popular for scenic rides to the Notch, and there is a tubing area as well.
3. It was cold – about 25 degrees.
4. Those are some rickety chairs…also chair #1 takes approximately 25 minutes.
At this point I still wasn’t quite sure what I had gotten myself into.
At the top of the lift, it was more than a little unclear as to where the other lifts were. Not a whole lot of signage and no obvious flow of skiers. Only two lifts with actual ski-able runs were running, and 1 is really a short connector chair to get you back up to the notch from the gully where chair #3 is.
This little place is a lot like Alta, in that, everything is open…runs are not defined by trees…only defined by the amount of snow. If they had a 3 foot base, you could ski anywhere and it would be amazing. I headed off to skier’s left to catch what was left of the 10 inches of new snow from the storm that is now plowing towards the east coast. I’m glad I did, although I skied over my fair share of willows trying to poke through the snow and at least a few rocks…and there were definitely some icy patches.
Apparently, the ski patrol (most of which is volunteer) all have crampons and ice axes in their lockers as there is a good chance that somebody gets themselves into a place that they can’t get out of…and just skiing out to them to assist is not really an option.
It was a lot like skiing at Alta is like in early November. Thin is a bit of an understatement. The views are incredible, the two groomed runs were really pleasant, and the complete lack of yahoos is unheard of for Southern California! The view above is looking back towards the LA basin and the view below is looking out towards Victorville…basically you can see a good third of the way to Vegas.
I skied more than I thought I would…answered a lot of questions about “why I was cross-country skiing down the mountain?”…and decided to call it a day, knowing that it would be about an hour and a half before I got home with the 30 minute lift ride and traffic back to Pasadena.
So when I came up, I had to put my skis on right before getting on the lift…and coming down, you have to take your skis off…then they load them on to the chair behind you and hope the chair doesn’t swing so much that your skis slide right off. The liftee was flummoxed by my tele skis…they don’t lock together and the center bar of the chair makes it difficult to hold your own skis. Finally a sunbeaten older patroller came to the rescue and taught the liftee how to do it. Riding down a chairlift with no skis on was a new experience as well!
All in all, it was a good day. I’m glad I went and I might even look into getting onto their volunteer patrol. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the next storm and see if I can get more than 2 days of skiing in this winter!
Now you are up to date!
Phew…that was a long one!