Friday, May 28, 2010

From WV to WY to WA via NM, NV, NZ, & CA

The twists and turns of life are always fascinating to me. I have been carrying around a North Cascades National Park map with me for the last several years. It you look at the photograph on the front of it you would know why I have been using it as wall art. It has always been a place I have wanted to explore. A couple of weeks ago Clay and I left the Tetons for some new adventures and new jobs in North Cascades National Park.

It was a bit of an abrupt exit from the Tetons for me. I had barely gotten back from South Africa when we had to leave again. The jet lag waking me up at 3:30 am did help me to get jump started on the packing though. But I have learned that leaving the Tetons is best done in a similar fashion as to ripping off a Band-Aid. The faster you do it the less painful it is. But it is going to hurt no matter what. It was not an easy decision that brought us to North Cascades. It was only after much deliberation, drama, and discussion that we accepted the positions here. And by "we" I mean Clay. I was actually hanging out in the Southern Hemisphere with 12 kids, 8 cats, 3 dogs, 1 tortoise, no water, and no electricity, while all the negotiations were going down. But that is a whole other blog entry. But staying true to some vows he made several years ago, Clay did call so we could discuss where we would be for the summer. I am sure there was something in our wedding vows about not making life altering decisions solo, or it was at least alluded to.

Might want to check into that Mo.

Although this place is quite a bit different than what we are used to -there are more than two types of deciduous trees- we are always excited for a new adventure. If any of you would like to share in these adventures our open door/open floor policy is always in effect. And I don't know how they did it, but I am fairly confident that they brought our Park Service couch up from the Tetons! Nothing says home like some unmistakable, distressed looking Park Service furniture.

If you are not familiar with where North Cascades is just get out your British Columbia map, because we are closer to BC than anything else really. Including a cell phone tower apparently. Suck! To find us most of you all will just need to start heading west. And at some point hang a ralphie, or right aka head North. Look for the mountains covered in glaciers. If you get to the Puget Sound or Canada you have just missed us. Hope to see you soon!

North Cascades National Park
***They also have this crazy green stuff hanging off the trees here. It seems familiar to me, but I have never seen it before in this vast amount. They tell me it's called lichen, and has to do with copious amounts of moisture in the air. I'm still researching it, I will get some pics posted soon of this phenomenon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Technological Autonomy

I've never been super techy. Honestly, I've prided myself on being able to solve most technological dilemmas by unplugging things and rebooting them. I've already mentioned that I don't even update my Facebook status, which, honestly, made Twitter seem ridiculous. Who cares what I'm doing? But my desire to not become one of those people who is perfectly content to continue to make mixed tapes instead of playlists has driven me to explore new technologies. Besides, rewinding sucks.

I had a day today where I used some very strange verbs. Verbs they don't teach you in 7th grade English class. I never had to conjugate "tweet". No one ever asked me about the infinitive "to tweet". I really never thought of saying things like, "Oh he facebooked me..." I'm sure that these are not real verbs.

I am sitting at a computer that could perfectly well stream my favorite songs through my internet radio. But instead, I am listening to my internet radio through my BluRay player and playing it on my plasma t.v. I realize that says several things about me, the girl who, until last year, did not even own a television. I think 1. that I am marrying a boy who really likes to research and purchase electronics. And 2. that the day I say that I don't need to learn how to have a video chat with my brother so he can show me the wedding invitations he and his wife designed in real time is the day that I am missing out.

I will still keep my mixed tapes, because the Subie has a tape player that is still holding on... And because they're awesome. Lots of stuff from the '90s is. But I do appreciate a good playlist, and I love reading people's status updates, so I am embracing it as much as I can. Although I swear, I just now learned what a widget is and still have no idea what a wiki is. And just the other day, I put pen to paper, licked a stamp, and dropped it in a mailbox, so there may be hope for maintaining my technological autonomy yet...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How I know it is Spring Break in Mammoth

Go no further than the grocery store. No one is older than 24. They are all wearing neon and sunglasses from the Tom Cruise classic Risky Business. I don't think any of them have seen that movie. There are snowboards in the shopping carts because none of them could afford to rent a car, so they take the bus right from the mountain. Next to the snowboards in the cart are Fritos, Totinos Pizza Rolls, Seagrams gin, limes, and a 24-pack of Coors Light tall cans. They were on sale. Lines of neon clad college kids wrap around into the aisles. They all walk like penguins because their snowboard pants are too big and don't stay up. I just wanted limes for my own gin. It was not Seagrams. It took 30 minutes. I came home, lit a candle, turned on a Scrubs DVD and poured a gin and tonic for myself and a scotch for Jon. 30 minutes in the neon jungle was totally worth it. Ahhhh... to be an adult. (I can say that now that I'm 30.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Patience truly is a virtue.

Months. Months is the amount of time I have been hinting around that my days of living in sin should probably come to a close. I'm impatient. And I know a good thing when I see it. I have never been one to let something I really want go. So, I hinted and hinted... lately not so subtly.

Yesterday, we skied to an unnamed knob somewhere in the Lakes Basin, supposedly on our way to Duck Lake (which, incidentally, is really too far for us to ski in a day, so we found out), and decided to get married. Right there in front of no one. With views of the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra.

I should have been more patient, because that was perfect.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sierra Cement

I work with skiers. There is no question where the loyalty lies. When the snow falls, the office is empty. And we all like it that way. There is a rare occasion where work does have to come first. I had one of those days this week. All day I sat in my office and watched big, fluffy flakes fly. I hate those days. But I got a tip from a friend that there was a hill in town that was great for a quick apres-work ski.

Jon and I bailed out of work at about 4, ran home, let out the dogs, put on our ski pants and were on the road by 4:15. Yes, there was definite motivation for a powder run. We found the "trailhead" which was really just a spot someone had rammed their truck into and created a parking space. Our friend was nice enough to put the skin track in for us, so we figured we'd make good time and be back at the car by dark. Up, up, up and straight up. Our friend is in really good shape apparently. This skin track was ridiculous. I should have known there was going to be a problem, however, when the snow was sticky enough to ski straight up a hill. That is never a good sign.

But we plugged along, up, up, up, and straight up the hill. At about 5:30, I suggested that rather than tempt fate, we should start our descent. We took off our skins and looked down a lightly treed gully waiting for fresh tracks. Oh, man, were we stoked. At the first drop-kneed turn, however, we both realized that we were in for a long trip down.

Having learned to ski in Colorado, I was used to very light, very fluffy snow. My brief stint in Tahoe introduced me to what is best known as Sierra Cement. Feet upon feet of wet, heavy snow. Usually, this snow settles and isn't bad to ski. When you go out right after a storm, however, you are asking for trouble. And trouble we found. Both of us went over the front of our skis at least 3 times. The cool part was wallowing in 3 feet of wet snow to try to stand up again. At one point I had the pleasure of physically digging out my skis so I could get them on top of the snow.

Our descent took us so long, we were trying to find the road in the dark. Nothing like miscalculating where your car is and having to ski around rolling terrain full of trees in the dark. We finally found the road, but had no idea which way our car was. See, taking vague beta from a friend on a skiing spot you've never even seen in the daylight and starting your ski at 4:45 at night is, in retrospect, not the best idea we've ever had.

After about 10 minutes of erroneously skiing around, we finally decided to go downhill and hope our car was that direction. Mostly because it was easier. Fortunately, shortly after that decision, we found the Volvo.

Aside from the occasional bout with panic, remembering that my phone was in the car, realizing we had no idea where we were, and I could not remember for the life of me if I locked the house, the trip actually turned out to be a beautiful adventure. The moon broke through the clouds that were still spitting out snowflakes here and there and that dreaded Sierra Cement made the whole world silent. The silence was only broken when the trees shed some of that heavy snow.

Had we not miscalculated both our route and our ability to keep our skis afloat, we would have been safely home before dark, watching dogs sleep, and I'm sure, watching the Olympics... again. Instead, we enjoyed some unexpected moonlight skiing and experienced the joys of heavy, wet snow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fighting off the winter blahs...

Some girls combat blahs and boredom with shopping and new clothes, others with shoes... I'd like to present a similar, yet alternate reality...

To combat the occasional winter blahs (and to get off my couch and stop watching the Olympics... We have DVR for a reason) I decided that new ski pants were the way to go. I have decided that bitter chocolate colored ski pants were just the ticket to encourage motivation. I'd like to be able to say I'm the type of person that doesn't get hung up on new clothes, but, really, I'm just not that cool. I love new clothes. And even better, I love them even more when they get me off the couch and outside.

Unfortunately, this has been a bad week for the foot. It has good days and bad days. It's had a few bad ones. But the motivation to try out my new pants was so great, I enjoyed an hour and a half of stylish, although painful, blue sky, skiing. I was so confident in my new pant's ability to make me a better skier (like new shoes when you were 5 made you faster... this will come up later) I even tried telemarking the moguls. This was disastrous. New pants do NOT make you a better skier. Lesson learned.

If new ski pants aren't in the budget this week, I recommend taking your dog shoe shopping for some winter entertainment. After skiing, it was bath day for Bear. As I am sick of trying to squeeze the now svelte 66 pound wonder dog up over the lip of the tub and through the narrow opening in the glass shower door, we went to the dog-wash. The wash was uneventful. The dog is clean. But, some stylish new dog boots caught my eye. Any of you with a furry yeti for a dog in a very snowy climate know that ice balls between the toes suck. You spend half your ski picking them out. And his current boots fall off. A lot. They're poorly designed.

So, with the excitement of a 5 year old getting his first pair of velcro Roos, Bear went shoe shopping after his bath. We tried on three different sets. Who knew there were stores that let your dogs try on shoes? We found out that he is very different sizes in the front and back, thus contributing to the falling off of his previous set. Fortunately, the genius woman who runs the store sells the shoes in pairs not quads. Bear even tried them out. I'm not sure they made him faster, but they did attract a very hot little Samoyed and made him prance like a pony.

And if new ski pants and canine shoe shopping wasn't enough, we then became official California residents. Very few things are more entertaining than a trip to your local DMV. Almost $1000 later after smog tests, expensive California insurance, expensive California registration, and expensive California drivers' licenses, we are Californians.

Honestly, though, the horror of dropping $1000 on the Subie was padded by a short drive down a dirt road in the Owens Valley for a delightful short-sleeved dog walk with the snowy peaks of the Sierra looming overhead.

There are apparently many ways to fight off the winter blahs. I stand by the tried and true. Shopping for new clothes and shoes, not matter what kind of clothes, or who the shoes are for. :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ushering in a new decade

Everyone makes a big deal about your thirties. My 20's were pretty good. A lot happens in your 20's. I lived in at least 7 or 8 states in that decade. And discovered the merits of snow and mountains. I learned to ski. I finally got a permanent job. I managed to keep a three-legged dog alive and happy. I managed to work through several big relationships reasonably successfully. I met many people that changed my life and fortunately continue to do so. That's a pretty good list. I'm sure there's more stuff, but this would be a stupid long blog entry. So I feel that it was fitting to start this decade with the things I loved most about the last one... Mother Nature unleashed on our little mountain town this week leaving in her wake something like 6 feet of new snow. I took some painkillers and went out to ski that snow. I only spent about 1 run relearning how to ski. It's apparently like riding a bike. Thank goodness! So after spending 2 hours cutting through waist deep powder, I went to go be responsible. I feel like my jobs were some of the best things about my twenties. Not because I love working, but because I like to tell myself that what I do is important to someone. Like 4 year olds at a story hour. But more than that, aside from college, it's where I seem to meet the neatest people. So I've decided that in my thirties, I'll keep going. After work, I spent the remainder of my thirtieth much like I spent my twenties. Drinking beer with friends, listening to live music, and wading through a crowded bar. Although things are always changing, I feel like I've at least been able to, in the last 10 years, identify a few core things that make life outstanding, no matter where life happens to be happening at the time. I think my twenties were pretty great. If you're reading this blog, odds are you were part of the reason, so thanks. Here's to hoping that the next 10 is half as good as the last. The winter sun sets in Mammoth Lakes.