Wednesday, December 30, 2009


This is more like it. Sick day today, Bluegrass concert/dance party tonight, sick day tomorrow, New Years, in that order. Should be awesome.

Photographer: Jon Tran

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Catching up

So, it has been quite some time since I have updated this, but life has been pretty busy and really, really fun.

Ill begin with Christmas.
This Christmas was my first Christmas away from my family, which turned out to be harder for me than I expected it to be. For those of you that know, there is a lot going on on that aspect back home, and I think that this year was a great learning and growing experience. It would have been nice to be home, but hard just the same. I feel that getting away this year was exactly what I needed to help clear my head and focus on figuring out who I am. I sure missed the magical feeling of Christmas, as here it felt like just another day, just with some gifts and some tree with lights on it. Going to the bar we frequent on Christmas was nice, as thats where most of the friends I have made were, and it made it feel more like Christmas. Next year, I will definitely be back east with my family, where that actually occurs, who knows.

We have not received snow in quite some time, so on Monday, Porter, his brother Dwyer, Jon, and I hiked up out of bounds to the Summit of Wolverine Cirque, and skied some nice out of bounds lines. Being in the Backcountry was an awesome experience out here, escaping the crowds, having amazing views, and being able to get the hiking legs in shape.

Besides that, I am currently shopping for a new digital camera, and hoping that the snow that began today really does deliver 20ish inches by Thursday that is predicted.

Work is going well, the dishwashing shifts get a little hectic when we have 35+guests, but I feel that once the season really kicks in and we have 50, it will all come together.

Hope everything is going well for everybody!
Tips up,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

18-30 by monday AM

Will be most epic. Gave one ski a mega core shot today, hoping tomorrow will be as sick. Many faceshots had on North Facing slopes. Pictures and long write up to come when the storm is over.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Full Steam Ahead

This is a quick little video I edited today, after getting out and playing in the snow. Today was a nice, bluebird day, with some deep turns to be had on the lower shoulder and graveyard areas of Alta. We had a snowstorm that started producing some snow Sunday, with the biggest day being Tuesday, which ended up providing 8-10 inches of fluff, more depending on elevation and aspect. So far, I have been skiing 22 days straight, and am getting antsy for another storm to help build this low base we still are working with. 8-10 inches of fluff is fun until you still hit the rocks underneath. We should be expecting a decent storm coming through this weekend to help build the base up.

Now, on to other parts of life.
So, here at the Snowpine, I have 5 days on, 2 days off, Friday and Saturday. Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I wait tables, and Monday and Tuesday I do the dish/laundry shifts. It is a pretty sweet gig, as my shifts start around 7 am, and are done by 9, and in the evenings, begin around 5 and are done by 830-9 as well. This leaves me with an almost full ski day every day of the week, not too shabby.

The meals we have been serving have been getting rave reviews, and include Bison Osso Bucco and Mahi Mahi. Pretty good considering the cheapest rate right now is 65 bucks a night, and that includes food!

Our other two employees showed up recently, and are pretty cool guys. I have a feeling that our crew will be a good one.

Right now, I am looking forward to seeing some old friends that have recently arrived in SLC, as well as those coming out for New Years, and then my quick trip up to Jackson Hole to meet up with UVMSSC!

-Until something else pops into my head that I want to talk about,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Life at 8,530'

That is the base elevation of Alta. I have settled in quite well, and have been skiing every day since I've been out here, a total of 15 days as of today.

My front yard

Alta opened up on Wednesday the 25th, and Jon and I met up with our buddy Porter and his younger brother. As opposed to the one groomer we had been skiing at Snowbird, Alta was fairly ballsy in opening up a good amount of terrain, including Ballroom, Fred's Tree's, Race Course, and some groomers. We traversed fairly far out on the Ballroom traverse and got in some awesome 10 inch deep turns from the storm from a few days prior. We skied fairly hard all morning due to the good snow. Since then, we have been skiing Ballroom and some other sketchy, very rocky (we have roughly a 20 inch base, no more) traverses out to the Rustler area. The skiing has been very good since then, the groomers have been fun, and tomorrow we are heading up to ski Main Chute if it is open like it was today.

Night life here is fairly minimal, but we usually head down to the Peruvian Bar, or the P-Dog, where most of the employees from the other lodges go and have some beers at night. I have met some cool people so far, and am excited for the winter to get underway and for some serious deep skiing to get here.

So far, I have been doing pretty minimal work, as we work 2 hours a day for our room and board, usually skiing from 9 to 1 and working 2-4. So far I have painted doors, cleaned rooms, lots of vacuuming, and setting up for the guests that will arrive Friday. That will be nice, as I will finally get paid on the 15th. We unfortunately will have even less of an internet connection, no more tv, and no use of the common room, as it will be full of guests and we wont really want to have to deal with them when we aren't working.

Pat, Snake, and Eggroll are the other employees so far, and we are getting two more this weekend. So our crew will be a total of 7 plus Greg and Meredith, the bosses. It is a pretty sweet gig, and am really excited for the upcoming winter! Hope to see some of you soon, and to the others, come visit!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New places

So we are all moved in, getting used to the new digs, and getting used to living in the shadow of some of the best skiing in the world. The Snowpine is an awesome little lodge, with some really nice people who manage it. The rooms range from a traditional hotel room to dorm style, and if your interested in staying, we do have friends and family discounts. We open December 4th, and until then we have to work 2 hours a day then can ski. For now, Snowbird is open, and Alta should be opening this coming week. Once the season comes around, I will be waiting tables, which will be a really sweet gig, as we only serve breakfast and dinner, so what that means is that I will be out of work by 915 or so at the latest every day, and back on around 5 pm. Now, we are just waiting for more snow to fall so we can really ski!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The End of the Line

Well, after a brief stop in SLC at Porters, some good partying, and some better skiing, Jon and I decided to finally achieve our last goal of stopping at Bryce Canyon National Park Monday and Tuesday. We left SLC Monday AM, paid entry to the park in spare change (the ranger was not amused), and drove around Bryce Canyon checking out the views all afternoon. We proceeded to catch sunset at sunset point, and after dinner, went back and saw some of the most amazing stars I have ever seen.
After a very cold (10 degree) night of sleeping in the car, we woke up at 5:45 and caught the sunrise, which was beyond words. We proceeded to do a small 3 mile hike down into the canyon which allowed for some amazing views of the hoodoo's from below.
Bryce is simply beautiful.

Now I sit with Adam M. and C. Boyd from Burlington, in Cottonwood Heights, where they are living for the winter. Tomorrow, Jon and I start our employment at The Snowpine. Back to the real world? Not really. Bring on the blower!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Has begun. Skied yesterday at Solitude with a crew of Porter's friends, and skinned up to the top of the Wildcat lift at Alta. Met Greg and Meredith and two of the other Snowpine employee's, and moved our skis in. Jon and I are heading down to Bryce Canyon National Park for the one we missed due to poor weather.

Here is one pic from today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Days 10-13

After making the plan to stay in Tucson till Wednesday due to the U of A having a holiday and parties were bound to happen, we decided to go grocery shopping to prepare for our national parks journey. After loading upon the necessities of Hummus, Pasta, and Ramen, we headed back to Nolan’s and decided to walk up to campus to get a tour with him. See, Nolan has a special position at the U of A. He drives a golf cart around for people who injure themselves or are permanently disabled so that they can easily and safely get to class. This was awesome for us, because during his 3.5-hour shift, we got free rides around the whole of campus and got to check out the amazing “scenery” that southern Arizona has to offer.

We then relaxed a little more, and prepared to go out, which turned out to be fairly uneventful. We woke up at the crack of 8 and were on the road to the Grand Canyon by 10. This marked another milestone in our journey, the 4000-mile mark, and neither one of us wanted to strangle the other yet (at least that we know of). The Canyon is simply staggering. It is hard to describe or talk about if you have not been there to witness its magnitude. So, for those of you that have been there, you know what I am talking about. For those of you who have not, I will let these pictures do the talking.

We camped at the Mather Campground, caught the sunset from Hopi Point, sunrise from Yavapai Point, then drove the Desert Rim Road and stopped at every overlook before heading up to Zion Canyon!

At this point it is the 12th of November, and I am sitting in the shadow of the mighty Watchman Peak in Zion National Park. We explored much of the scenic drive and short hikes this afternoon, and are planning to do the Angel’s Landing hike tomorrow before heading up to Bryce Canyon National Park for our last two nights before Salt Lake City. Word is there should be some skiing to be had Monday!!!!!!!!!

This guy was hanging out 30 yards away from the tent at dusk last night.

After turning in early to arise to hike Angels Landing, I was awoken at 1 am by a steady rain, and had a hard time sleeping thinking of other plans to make, if we will stay dry, etc. We finally wake up at around 7 am, pack the car fast, and high-tail it to Salt Lake. We gave up on Bryce because the weather looked pretty nasty until monday at the earliest. We hopefully will be making an overnight down to Bryce before the season begins.

We are done! Made it to Salt Lake City, and after many many hours of good music and 4700 miles, we are so close to our home for the season!

I want to leave you with a quote from John Muir, one of the foremost preservationists: “Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 7, 8, and 9

Austin, TX

So after a mellow first night in Austin, we woke up and headed to the UT game versus the University of Central Florida. We took a bus from the intramural fields and were dropped off right at the stadium. From there, we basically walked around for the next 2 hours checking out the tailgate scene. It is fairly insane. People set up plasma TV’s under tents and have seating for those to watch it in their party, not to mention the giant trailer BBQ smokers that were in every parking lot we went to. We ran out of beer fairly fast, but went over to the Clear tent, which was providing information regarding the new 4G network they just got up and running around the Austin area, pretty cool, but we were mostly there for the 2 free kegs of beer they had. We managed to get 2 70-dollar tickets for 35, and headed into the game. Pretty decent game, but not as crazy as some, due to the fact it was a non-conference game and not a very fair match up. The marching band has to be one of the most talented I have ever seen.

From there, we headed out to The Salt Lick BBQ and were treated to some Texas style Bar-B-Q. The atmosphere was really cool, and the food was good, but not nearly as good as the stuff back north such as Leonard’s.

After a quick relaxation session at Prateek’s house, our host, we headed back into Austin to scope the 6th street scene. We started at Shakespeare’s Pub, and then made our way over to Maggie May’s where we caught the same band as the night before, who were really good. Check them out here Eric Tessmer. After that set, we headed back to Shakespeare’s to see the scene over there. Never have I seen 3 very different scenes at one bar. First level was college preps listening to classic songs (i.e. oldies and classic rock). Walk to the back where the outdoor stage is, and there was a pretty sick local hardcore band, Bonnie Blue, playing to hipsters and metal heads. In the back bar, there was hip-hop with no one really back there, and upstairs was trendy remixes and other hip hop. Pretty cool scene. We made our way back to Maggie May’s for some dancing to a pretty sick DJ, then headed home.

We got up at around 8 and Prateek brought us out for breakfast tacos, which were really good. We went to one of the headquarters for Whole Foods, which was huge.
We are currently on the road to Las Cruces, NM, where we will try to camp for the night before checking out White Sands National Monument, and heading off to Tucson. Some thoughts about Texas west of Austin: its flat, that’s about it. One other really cool feature that we came to east of Fort Stockton was the large quantity of wind farms out here on the plateaus. It was really cool to finally see some of those in person, and pretty ironic that there were oilrigs working in the foreground from some of them.

We arrived in Las Cruces around 7:30 pm on the 8th, and attempted to get some Mexican food. Needless to say, anywhere that looked really legit was either closed or also looked as if they did not speak any english. Taco Bell it is. After that authentic south west meal, we headed to White Sands to attempt to see the monument by moonlight, however, a gate awaited us, so we kept traveling to a small state park just south of Alamogordo, NM. We drove around trying to find a station, but decided to just post up our tent in a sand pit. It worked fine, and was way better than sleeping in the Wal-Mart parking lot, which was our back up to our back up. We awoke to the view of being in the presence of giant plateaus.

After a short drive, we arrived back at White Sands, which is a pretty cool National Monument. Jon and I thought about making turns on our skis, but settled for running instead.

We proceeded to drive towards Tucson, and stop at The Thing, a pretty popular tourist trap that we fell for due to the recommendations of some TGR'ers. After checking it out, we made it to Nolan's in Tucson, and headed to our first ever visit to In N Out Burger, which, I have to say, is the best fast food burgers I have ever had.

Now, I am relaxing, doing laundry, etc until Nolan gets out of work at 6. We will most likely stay here all day tomorrow and over night again before heading to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce.

Thanks for reading, as always!
Do it for America.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 5 Vicksburg, MS to New Orleans, LA

After a delightful continental breakfast, Jon and I were back on the road to the Battle of Vicksburg National Park. We somehow got in for free, and drove the driving tour and saw the battlefields and where the US held siege over the city for 46 days. The park was pretty boring compared to Gettysburg, etc, but the coolest part was by far the U.S.S. Cairo museum and the remains and reconstruction of the vessel. The Cairo was an Ironclad Gun Boat and the museum holds artifacts that were recovered on the vessel. From there, we pressed on to New Orleans.

Fairly uneventful drive, except for the fact that we reached halfway mileage wise, at 2,000!

Upon arrival in New Orleans, we checked into the Hotel St. Pierre, a small place in the French Quarter, 3 blocks from Bourbon Street. It was a super sweet little hotel, and I will probably stay there again. Once we got situated, we headed down to see what the town was like.

First off, we stopped in at Yo Mamma’s and got some hamburgers, which were recommended to us. The recommendation did not disappoint. We then walked around down town and saw some of the restaurants and bars we would later find ourselves in. As we passed Pat O’Brien’s, I recalled Joe saying that that is where the Hurricane (insert bad New Orleans Joke here) was invented. So, we tried them. They were good. At this point, its only 2:30 pm, and we decide to get some nice cigars and 2 for 1 frozen drinks to go, and head back to the pool to relax. As it turns out, the water was way too cold for swimming, so after the cigars we proceeded to get ready to go out for dinner. We had a couple drinks in the room and then went down to CafĂ© Mephistos or something along those lines. The food in NO is quite good, and we sampled some calamari, catfish, and jambalaya. This is where it starts to get blurry. Hand grenades, beers, 495 lb man singing the blues, more beers, whiskey, about 3 more hand grenades, and then we discover the dungeon. I love this bar. It is a heavy metal bar (+1), has 2 dollar PBR bottles (+1), and they let the gutter kids bring their puppy inside (+1 so with my math skills from last night, we are at….1+1+1=drunk) We left, and came back, Jon wasn’t a huge fan, the bouncer kind of made fun of him for not liking metal, and the next thing we know its 10 am and we struggle through a breakfast and get on the road to Austin.

After an uneventful drive through Texas, seeing some stuff that makes me feel more American, we go downtown to check out Austin. So far, I think I am going to like this town and could easily see my self here if it was closer to the skiing.

Coming next…University of Texas tailgating starting at 9 am, the Salt Lick BBQ, and partying in Austin.
Until then, keep your tips up.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 4 Nashville, TN to Vicksburg, MS

Day 4 began bright and early with a 730 departure from Mike's house in Nashville, heading to Memphis to get some ribs for lunch.
We went to Leonard's BBQ in Memphis, and split a full rack of ribs for 2. It was quite a delicious lunch, and we got to try half wet and half dry rubbed ribs. I personally am quite a fan of the dry rubbed ribs. We then tried to find Graceland, and were successful, however, we quickly saw the 10 dollar for parking sign and turned around in the driveway. Oh well.

We then began our journey to the south, heading over to the legendary Highway 61 to travel down the Blues highway. Needless to say, we didn't stop for many blues attractions, but the road was a really nice change of scenery from the highway. We first stopped at the first visitors center, where they directed us to the Riverfront center to check out the Mighty Mississippi. The river is mighty impressive, the current was quite strong and noticeable, and was, well, slightly dirty looking. From there, we headed down to the crossroads, the intersection of highway's 61 and 49, where blues musician Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for being a blues guitar master. Lots of the areas on the old highway 61 are very impoverished, and the whole area is largely farmland. We then headed down and proceeded to drive straight through to Vicksburg.

We arrived in Vicksburg at around 530, and the hotel we checked into provided free beer? Um, excuse me? As if that wasn't meant to be. We then headed downtown to try to find something to eat, but apparently it turns into a ghost town after 5 pm and we ended up at Cracker Barrel, not bad. Now, we are relaxing watching the World Series, and getting up early to head to the battlefield, then on to New Orleans!

Oh, and one more thing about the south, you can find 40 oz. bottles of Olde English for 89 cents. That is a full dollar and 80 cents less than in Burlington!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 3 Kingston, TN to Nashville, TN

The day began at around 7:30 when I got up so that I could see my cousins before they went off to school. It was great to see Ben, as he is getting big. He is in 2nd grade and was so excited to show me his deer rifle, a single shot 22 with iron sights, which he shot two, yes 2, deer with last season. His new uncle(spacing on his name Krystal’s husband) took the antlers from his buck (a nice little 2 or 3 pointer) and made him a exceptionally beautiful fixed blade knife. The blade was Damascus looking, the antler was polished and treated, with a very nice colored accents. I was more than impressed, and really hope I can make it back to their farm and hunt with him sometime. Jon and I walked around some of their land near the top of the hill, checked out the foundation to their house, which will have amazing views of the Tennessee River Valley once completed. They have two one-ton army surplus trucks, (potentially a future project for me? Maybe…), and 13 free range horses that are roaming about their awesome plot of land.

The drive to Nashville was uninteresting, and we got into town at around 11 am. We proceeded to walk around Broadway and 2nd ave, Jon bought his elusive cowboy hat, I got a pretty sweet derringer belt buckle. We then settled down for lunch and some beers at Big River Brewing Company, right on Broadway and 2nd. We decided to just get 2 apps, and ate a huge plate of Nacho’s and some wings. We then walked up to the Ryman Auditorium and took a self-guided tour. We paid in quarters (25 dollars!!!) and they got a kick out of it after we explained our situation. For those of you who don’t know, the Ryman is where the Grand Olde Opery began, back in the 1930s. It was home to, and the birthplace of bluegrass and country music, as we know it today. The Ryman is a pretty amazing venue full of history. We then headed back to Broadway and headed into Tootsies and got some Jack Daniels and watched a pretty cool country band that had a beautiful young lass singing classic tunes.

From there, we headed back to our auto and headed to our destination that night. As we were driving, we noticed a Parthenon marked on the map, and thought that would be kind of interesting. It turns out there is a life size replica of the famous Parthenon of Athens, Greece in the park, and it is to represent the fact that Nashville is the Athens of the south. We walked around the park a little more, and saw a Saber Jet and a large train engine, more tributes to Nashville, and Tennessee’s rich history.
Now, we sit on Mike aka D-Block’s front porch waiting for him to get out of coaching basketball. From here on, we will make some dinner, have some drinks, and then head back to Nashville to see the scene at night.


Day 2 Philly to Kingston, TN by way of Blacksburg, VA and Bluff City, TN

Day 2 started out bright and early at 7:20 AM, departing from Philly, trying to make it to Kingston, TN before 10 PM with a couple of stops. Mission: Accomplished.

All there really is to say about today comes later, but the most important things that happened up until 3 pm were the music we continued to check off our checklist, and that I-81 is long, really long, like Harrisburg PA to Knoxville long.

At around 2 PM we had arrived in Blacksburg, and walked around Virginia Tech, where Jon attended school his freshmen year of college. It is a really beautiful campus, with lots of nice buildings and other things to look at. We had a picnic lunch outside the football stadium and were back on the road about 3.

From there, we met up with Ken, from Bristol, TN, another poster on the TGR forums, who showed us the gem of The Ridgewood BBQ in booming Bluff City, TN.
The place was awesome and the sweet tea was amazing. So good. We left with full stomachs and began the next 2 hour leg of our journey to Kingston, TN to my aunt Penny’s house, where we arrived, talked for a bit, then proceeded to get a semi-early start to catching some ZZZZZZZZ’s. See you shortly, (relatively) same time, same channel.


Day 1 Burlington, VT to Philadelphia, PA

After a really mellow night of Halloween Parties and seeing some more old friends, Jon and I ate a hearty French Toast breakfast and proceeded to head out on what is going to be one mighty road trip. We proceed to stop in Medfield, where we see my father, potentially say goodbye to the house I grew up in, and drop off my car. From there, we make decidedly good time and arrive in Philadelphia around 6:30 pm. There were few highlights from the drive, but Jon and I did begin to listen to our nearly 700 song playlist with a majority of the 100 albums Phish had listed to cover as their Halloween set. We made solid progress, listening to 71 songs, including albums like Pet Sounds, London Calling, and Electric Ladyland. Upon arrival in Philly, we met up with a friend Blake and headed downtown to get some traditional steaks.

Now, Getting a Philly Cheese Steak is fairly easy in Philly, but it was time to visit what is known as one of the largest rivalries in the cheese steak business. Annie and Blake decided to go with Pat’s, while Jon and I each got a Geno’s and then split a Pat’s so that we could compare and draw our own conclusions as to which proved to be a superior steak. Both steaks were quite good, and both were ordered in the traditional style, or Wiz Wit, as in Cheese Wiz with onions. Now, I am having a hard time deciding what steak I enjoyed more. Geno’s was the first I tried, and then we split the Pats. Jon enjoys the Geno’s steak, and I think I am going to have to make the same vote. (Joe B, if your reading this, sorry). It may be a decision based on which one I tasted first, and I feel as though one more visit to Philly and then I will really know, but as of now, Geno’s is the winner for me.

We then proceeded to head back to (Mannyyunk) to watch the World Series and drink a little beer. We headed down to the Bayou and watched a couple innings, from there, we decided to save some coin and head back and finish off Blake’s beer. We proceeded to head up to the roof deck, listen to a live stream of the final set of Phish’s festival 8, and smoke some nice cigars, a great way to end night one of our road trip.

I write this as I sit shotgun as we head west, the first day of actually heading west, and it feels good. Now, we will be heading south in a couple days, but knowing that west is the goal makes me excited. We are heading to Blacksburg, VA, to see Virginia Tech, where Jon went his first year of college, then to Bluff City to the Ridgewood BBQ, somewhere we were told is a must stop, from there, on to Kingston to visit Penny and see the family, and on to Nashville tomorrow.

We are just around 500 miles into our journey, only 3500ish to go.

Some quick points from day 1: New Jersey still sucks; 2. Cheese Steaks are better in Philly; 3. I need to polish my cowboy boots for Nashville

-Until tomorrow