January 29, 2005

Crested Butte

Crested Butte is a fantastic little town. We rolled in around 4pm on Thursday which was a full hour and a half before our scheduled date. I have been suffering painful and cold snowboard boots for far too long, so with our new found wealth we decide that I have earned new boots. We visited Colorado Border at the base of Crested Butte and had what I would call a perfect buying experience.

A few days before we had tried to buy boots in Aspen and had what I would call a “Pretty Woman” shopping experience. We were flat out ignored by the sales people, I am guessing because of how we looked, we entered their store in Carharts and t-shirts. The couple who entered after us in their Diesel Jeans and Prada shoes were immediately greeted and assisted. Now a $300 purchase in Aspen may be just a drop in the bucket to the local retail economy, but in my world (even with our amended budget) this amounts to six days on the road. This is a major purchase, and I refuse to make it at an establishment that will not acknowledge me.

Back to Crested Butte, after my fully satisfying retail therapy experience we ventured down to The Eldo, to meet our friend Eddy. You may remember Eddy from our time in Sayulita. From there we went next door to Baccanale for our first really schmancy meal out in seven months. Eddy had a yet unused gift certificate and we took full advantage. Then we settled in for a long winter’s nap before an even longer day of riding.

We powered up at Camp Four Coffee before heading up to the mountain.

There is a free bus system in C.B. so you never need to drive.

Prior to this trip I had never been to Crested Butte before. The mountain is legendary for steeps and craggy shoots. The past few years have been rough on the mountain though and less and less snow was falling here. This year however, while we were skiing 44” at Wolf Creek and 18+ at Telluride, Crested Butte was receiving eight feet of snow. This made for a fantastic day, as did the company. Eddy, his brother Elliot, Dan and myself all boarded the entire mountain. We even got to ride in the Teocalli bowl which had just opened for the first time in eleven years and the first time ever to the general public. The coverage was great, the mountain challenging and the views are stunningly beautiful.

Remenents of the 8' dump.

For some silly reason I chose not to take my camera to the Mountain. While it was nice to not have a pack on while riding, I kicked myself all day because the scenery was so stunning. From the main lift you can see the town laid out on the valley floor and yesterday there were clouds inverted framing the town, with Mt. Gothic just peaking out behind. It was a truly great day.

We rode until 3:30 absolutely unable to coax our legs into cooperating for another run. Eddy and Elliot were fabulous hosts and mountain guides. Everyone we met here was charming and down to earth. This is a truly great mountain town.

Everyone in town rides bikes even in the winter.

One of the more eclectic buildings here.

From here we are returning to Aspen for a few days. Then we have some decisions to make...

Deer that joined us for lunch along the drive from Aspen to C.B.

January 27, 2005

Aspen to Crusty Butt

We finished up our work week in Vail on Monday. The event went well as far as us lackeys could tell. On the last day of competition, I handed out the award check to Tanner Hall. The show airs on NBC, February 19th at 2pm, look for me during the Men’s half-pipe awards ceremony, that will be the back of my head in front of the check.

While parked here, we estimate the value of our camper went from about 10 grand to 2.5 million.

After we got off of work Monday night we found ourselves at the entrance to I-70 wondering which way to go. A quick check of www.onthesnow.com showed that Red Mountain, B.C. had lost snow!!! It seems the “Pineapple Express”, which hit the Northwest last week, hit there too. This did not inspire a “hurry up and go” attitude in us. A couple phone calls later and we opted to turn left on the freeway and head for Aspen (pronounced ahhhhhspen, by the beautiful people). Aspen is home to our dear friends Brook, Bjorn, Kip and Blades, all of Grand Canyon fame.

The gate to the Aspen Ranch where our friends live.

Once we’d arrived at the most expensive zip code in Colorado, we settled in for a few days of laughs, laundry and snow sliding. Tuesday Dan, Bjorn and I were delightfully lazy, although we did manage to leave the house to run an errand and to meet up with Blades at their favorite watering hole the Endeavor. While at the Endeavor we drank a pint for our dear friend Sarah who would have been there too, had she not chosen to spend the winter at the South Pole (thanks for the use of your mug Swiller). Wednesday Blades played scenic tour guide and showed us all over Aspen Highlands. It hasn’t snowed in a while, but the runs were surprisingly soft and were well groomed, we had a blast.

The forecast is calling for some snow in the next few days, but the storm looks to be going a bit south of Aspen. We have decided to visit friends in Crested Butte for a couple days in the hope of catching some powder down there. This is a bit out of the norm for us since it is much further than our 100 miles or less detour rule allows for. Since Independence Pass is closed for the winter the drive will take us about five hours. A long drive when you consider that CB is about 20 miles from Aspen Mountain as the crow flies.

After a few days in the Butte we plan to return to Ahhhspen for a couple more days with the Canyon Folk before heading north, or west, or wherever we think there may be snow.

Foot notes: You may have noticed that I have not been posting our expenses for some time now. Basically this is what our financial situation boils down to…. We had budgeted for $40/ day. Realistically we have spent more like $50/day. However, never fear, our recent spate of employment has put us ahead of the game and we feel that there is still plenty of money to carry us through June, and perhaps a bit longer.

If you are planning a similar trip, I still believe you can travel for a year on $40/ day, just not as much as we have. Choosing fewer places to go, and driving less would have allowed us to stick to our budget. Additionally if gas prices reverted back to say… 75 cents a gallon and you never spent a dime on alcohol, you could do it ;)

Concerning the question that EVERYONE asks us…
We are fairly confident that we will end out trip next summer and settle down somewhere other than Durango. The place and length of time we will remain there are still to be determined. That is as much as I can tell you for now.

January 20, 2005

US Open Free Skiing/ Vail, Colorado

So far this week has been a lot of fun. The guys we are working with are great, the weather has been fantastic and the skiers are amazing. Most of the time we have been hanging ski fence, erecting scaffolding and placing sponsor signage wherever we think it might get some air time. Dan says we are pilots, "we pick it up here and pile it (pilot) it over there". That about sums it up.

One of our piles and the sun setting behind it.

Basically we get to "work" at 7-ish in the morning and call it a day around 6pm. Then we head out for dinner and a glass of relaxation before pouring ourselves into bed. It feels really good to put in a full day of manual labor, while being outside and hanging out with all of the great people we have met. I almost wish I had a job again, ALMOST.

Here is the start gate, which likes to deflate onto the course and skiers from time to time, and the sponsor signs.

Scaffolding and if you look closely there is a skier up in the air there somewhere.

This is the corral, where the Slope Style and Big Air competitions will end, as well as the base of operations for the event.

We are here through the weekend. The real competition starts tomorrow and someday this will be airing on NBC.

Here are some shots of the skiers who competed in the qualifying rounds Wednesday and Thursday.


January 16, 2005

Telluride Part Two

The snow finally subsided and the snow got a bit harder and bumpier, but it was still a fantastic week. Lizard Head Pass opened Friday night and we were able to go over to Rico for a night in a warm house.

Our camper is nice and toasty, we have recently put some time and money into further insulating it, and Dan carpeted it while we were in Durango. Sometimes however, it gets a bit brisk outside and the windows freeze over no matter how much insulation you put on them. On these nights our bodies are nice and warm but our heads, which are right up against the front window, get cold. Jamie and Eric’s house was a nice break from the hot/ cold, hot/ cold trend of the previous nights’ boondocking in Mountain Village.

Saturday we ventured out of the warmth of their house to enjoy Rico’s “Hippy Dip”. This is a ramshackle hot tub/ hot spring that the locals keep up. There was a vague path out to the dip, we stumbled the half mile or so, in very deep snow to enjoy a few hours of soaking. We lingered a very long time because we were all dreading the exit, it was no more than 5 degrees outside and our clothes were strewn about on various trees and in the snow, burrrrrrrrrrrr!

Our favorite watering hole. The Ranch on Mountain at Telluride.

Inside the bar.

Our buddy Travis pulling of his signature move the Air McKrakin, kids don't try this at home!

While in Telluride we got to see lots of friends. It is hard to leave because it is so familiar but, like I said last time, we have to get up to Vail. I am writing this from the truck as we speed along I-70. For the next week we are grunt laborers for the US Freeskiing Championships. This should prove to be a busy, fun and interesting week. I doubt we will get much freeskiing in ourselves, but even we have to work every once in a while.

Dan, Colin and Travis bashing the bumps.

January 13, 2005


Note: "A little help from our friends". As I elude to at the end of this post, we will be in Vail next week. If any of you know of a good winter camping spot in Vail or Avon would you email(underagedrvers@yahoo.com) us please.

After Pagosa we retreated back to Durango. We spent the weekend with Dan’s parents and his sister Tracy who is visiting from her home in Thailand. We are so very thankful that Tracy is safe at home and that her Boyfriend Mot is safe in Thailand.

Dan and I enjoyed an absolutely non-productive weekend. Once we had plopped ourselves in front of the Goddard’s 60” jumbo-tron there was no moving us. We do not have television in our rig, this was a conscious decision, but as a result we are unable to tear ourselves away from the boob-tube whenever there is one around. I am happy to report that nothing has changed in the almost seven months we have been without a TV.

Monday morning we hit the road for Telluride. It had been dumping in Southwestern Colorado for almost a week and we were a bit worried about being able to access our friend’s driveway in Rico, outside of Telluride. When we got to Rico we realized there was no way we would be able to get to anyone’s house, the entire town was snowed in. The main road had snow piles 7’ high down the center lane. We pressed on to Mountain Village/ Telluride because we were sure we could get there.

Our friend Jason is building a house in Mountain Village and he bravely disobeyed the myriad of covenants that address overnight camping, to allow us to park at his unfinished house. The snow just kept falling and by Tuesday all of the passes out of here were closed. Our friends Jamie and Eric (see Grand Post) had invited us to stay with them in Rico, as it turned out they got snowed into T-ride and ended up staying with us.

Three days later and the pass is still closed!! Last night we learned that we got out of Wolf Creek in the nick of time, since that pass was closed for five days! All of our friends up there got snowed-in at the mountain with no clean clothes or toothbrushes. We fared much better. As a result of the pass to Rico being closed some of our friends managed to procure some pretty fancy accommodations. One such friend got a room at The Peaks and Golden Door Spa, which is where I spent this morning. I am soaked and steamed to perfection and boy did I need a day of pampering.

The view, or lack there of, from our camper.

Along with the pass closures and power outages this storm brought with it, came the snow. Blessed, light, powdery snow and feet of it. I have skied Telluride many times, I even had a pass here last year, but never before had I had a powder day worthy of this mountain. Telluride is known for its steeps and bumps. It can handle a ton of snow, because it is steep enough. Yesterday was an epic Telluride powder day, the kind of day I will be talking about for years to come.

Actually Tuesday was such a day as well. So here we are yet again wondering how we continue to dumb-luck our way into the greatest situations. We are having a hard time moving on. We have T-ride passes, a result of that ski-swap we did back in September, and there is so much snow here, that leaving seems silly. A guy we met in Sayulita told us his motto was “never leave fun to have fun.” This is resonating with us right now.

But fear not dear reader we will be moving on this Sunday. Yet again we have proven to be ever employable and we are heading up to Vail for a week’s work. This too should make for enjoyable reading because we are working a ….well you’ll just have to wait and see.

January 07, 2005

My Perfect Day

I do not profess to know how one goes about writing horoscopes, but here's what mine must have been for today.


Today the cosmos will align for your benefit. Go outside and reap your rewards.

And so it was, the moon, stars, and sun we all perfectly aligned and I was rewarded. In this case the elements in order included:

Our waking up at 10,000' less than a football field's length away from the lift.
A cloudless bluebird sky.
And this snow report:
Summit Base Depth : 110 inches
Last 24 Hours : 5 inches
Last 48 Hours : 34 inches
Last 72 Hours : 43 inches

This is what the view from the first chair looks like.

There is one other element that made this morning perfect. Wolf Creek Ski Area is situated at the top of Wolf Creek Pass. The pass is avalanche prone. When the mountain receives a lot of snow in a short time (say almost 4' in 3 days) the Colorado Department of Transportation will close the pass to drop bombs and trigger slides thus making the pass safe for travel. As such if one were to have camped in the parking lot of said ski area, and the ski area received enough snow that the pass was closed all morning, then one might be able to ski waste deep, 3% powder virtually alone! This was such a day.

We skied for hours and never crossed another track. It was a hero day, when you feel like you could be a pro and every turn feels like you are floating. There is something absolutely amazing about skiing and snowboarding. Here you are outside in the cold and snow, enjoying the silence and beauty of your surroundings, while most people huddle in their homes during the winter. I don't think I could ever be a snowbird, days like today are too special to me.

Dan skiing The Peak.

Wolf Creek still uses old fashioned tickets, we loved that today's word was DEEP, how appropriate!

Scott "Captain" Kay, Wolf Creek's Ski Patrol Director and Dan's boss.

The view from atop the Treasure Lift.

After a day of riding some fantastic powder my legs were throbbing. But wait the perfect day mustn't include leg cramps, what ever could we do? Well folks Pagosa Springs is a mere 30-ish miles from the ski area and what a Spring Pagosa has.

The Springs is the worlds deepest and largest hot spring. It has 17 pools all situated alongside the San Juan River. We were met at The Springs by Paula Miser who treated us to a tour, and a soak. I have been to many hot springs and The Springs is quite possibly my favorite, at least I can say it is my favorite commercial spring.

The Springs is a full fledged resort, complete with spa, salon and hotel. Unfortunately they do not have RV accommodations but it is worth a splurge to stay here for a night. Guests get unlimited access to the hot springs as well as a nice room which is heated by the great spring itself.

Ever seem a palapa with snow on it before?

After our soak my legs had just enough burn left to remind me how great my day was and I melted back into our rig for the drive to Durango.

My perfect day even included working on our blog, which has become such a treat for me.

Thanks to all of you who replied to the last post and if you haven't already please take a moment and add a comment.

Note: Darn! I return every email we get and so I have been sitting here replying to all of your posts. Finally while replying to Peggy from Ridgecrest, CA, I noticed that the return email was to "anonymous-comment@blogger.com", so I am gonna go out on a limb here and bet that none of you got my replies. This is a shame because they were all fantastically witty, literary, masterpieces!
If you would care for a reply from either myself or Dan please include an email address in your posting. Thanks to all for taking the time to write in, it is appreciated, as are your words of encouragement.

January 04, 2005

First Tracks

Another Note: Darn! I return every email we get and so I have been sitting here replying to all of your posts. Finally while replying to Peggy from Ridgecrest, CA I noticed that the return email was to "anonymous-comment@blogger.com", so I am gonna go out on a limb here and bet that none of you got my replies. This is a shame because they were all fantastically witty, literary, masterpieces!
If you would care for a reply from either myself or Dan please include an email address in your posting. Thanks to all for taking the time to write in, it is appreciated, as are your words of encouragement.

Note: According to our hit counter we have recieved over 20,000 hits. Who are all of you people?
Please take a minute and click the comment button below. Tell us who you are, how you found us and where you are from. It would be greatly appreciated.

January 4, 2005

Our friend Katie, one of Wolf Creek's avalanche dogs.

It is always nice to be home. We spent Sunday and Monday enjoying the fruits of our labor, riding Wolf Creek. I hate to play it up too much for fear that you will all invade our favorite ski hill, but Wolfie has the best snow in Colorado and is a fantastic place to enjoy champagne powder and tree skiing. It is still a family owned resort and it has small area charm. We managed to hit it on two fantastic days. Part of Wolf Creek’s charm is that there is no “resort” there. No condos, no Gucci stores, no spas, just a ski hill and some great people. We were permitted to camp in the parking lot, which was a real treat. Our two best runs were from the top down to our truck, gotta love ski-in/ ski-out camping.

Our camping spot.

In addition to lift access runs, Wolf Creek has great terrain for those who are willing to hike just a little bit from the top of the lift.

Our first days of riding were remarkably painless. Surfing is a fantastic upper body work-out, but cardio or legs, not so much. Then throw in 10,000 feet and 20 degrees, and we didn’t have very high expectations for our riding ability. Somehow though, everything fell right into place. We were able to breath, even with the altitude, and our legs managed to hold us up and carry us down the slopes.

Me, barely holding on, maybe my legs are a bit out of shape???

Dan enjoying our ride home.

Currently we are in Durango waiting for the truck to be repaired. Our major fears, that the transmission was dying and that the 4 wheel drive was caput, were for not. Seems only a bushing of some sort is out of kilter, no big deal. The only really bad part is that we have been dry docked here in Durango while huge flakes fall all around us. Fortunately we should be up and running tomorrow and on the slopes Thursday morning.

Coming home makes me homesick for my friends. The ONLY downside to our trip is the time I am missing with those I love. If you ever decide to do a trip like this you should know that this is the hard part. We are eternally blessed to have the most amazing group of friends, darn you all for being so cool, and making us miss you. We have made some fantastic new friends along the way, but nothing, and no one, can replace the people you have known all along. We are pretty sure that wherever we land come June, it won’t be Durango. This is a hard realization for us, but fear not, we assume that we will land some place so great that you will all want to visit us there.

Our winter sports require a bit more indoor storage. Our bathroom has been transformed into our ski gear closet.

You may notice that I had some free time to dedicate to the site today. I hope the new format is a bit easier to read. Also I did “sell out” and add an advertisement link in the middle. If you are so inclined you can click on the link and by doing so you will be making a contribution to "the fund". I think we get a half a cent per click, only payable after we have had $100 worth of clicks, so don’t think we are trying to turn this into a money making venture or anything. Perhaps if everyone clicks a link, everytime they visit, someday we'll earn enough for a tank of deisel, click away! If any of you are bothered by this, and are friends with publishers, pass our site along, once we get a book deal I promise to remove the link :)

January 01, 2005

Chapter Three

January 1, 2005

Durango, Colorado.

We spent Christmas in Austin, Texas with Dan’s entire family. There are 16 Goddards now and we all convened on Brother Mike’s place for 3 days. After we had eaten all of Mike’s food, drank all of Tricia’s wine and generally outstayed our welcome we headed north. Dan and I managed to spend too much money in México, so we decided to pick up a few days of work.

En route we stopped by to visit Rachel's Godfather Rick and his wonderful wife Edith.

We made a pit stop in Durango to swap surfboards for snowboards and board shorts for polypropylene, and then made our way over to Wolf Creek Ski Area. Dan worked on Ski Patrol at Wolf Creek for eight years. Davey and Scott were nice enough to let him walk back into his old job for four days; they even let me teach some snowboard lessons. Flush with cash again we went back over to Durango to attend a party at Melissa and Jim Youseff’s home. Melissa is the daughter of Rose Marie, one of the Sayulita locals who terrorized us during our stay there. We decided to return the favor by classing down Jim and Melissa’s party, unfortunately we forgot that everyone in Durango goes to formal gatherings in Carharts so we just fit right in.

Last night for the New Year we attended the annual Mapel New Year’s Bash. Meredith and her family throw a heck of a party every year. Brother Pat came down from Utah to appall Meredith’s family and friends. Not to worry though, around midnight someone hid the gasoline and banned him from getting near the bonfire. Everyone escaped unscathed.

The Mapel's "cabin".

I have titled this post Chapter three. As I see it, our journey has four parts. The first was scouting and the Grand Canyon trip. Then part two was in Mexico, surfing and soaking up the sun and culture. Part three will be our winter sports chapter. Our plans are remaining fairly flexible; we intend to keep a close eye on the snow reports before committing to any one place. But for today the plan is to spend a few weeks skiing Colorado and visiting friends before heading up to British Columbia for the winter.

Happy New Year to all. If you are inspired to follow a similar path, then we hope that 2005 is the year you hit the road.

This is our niece Bridget opening one of her birthday presents. This photo was taken by our nephew Nate.