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August 31, 2006

A Word About Pictures in the Banners

I was flipping through the banners at the top looking at the shots that are in them. I want to summarize what we have pictures of. Notice that there are about four different pictures of snowboarders on a skiing blog. What is up with that? And we are short on pictures of me which makes little sense either.

Well, here is what the header pics consist of now. First, there is one mountain shot that is not mine. The rest are all pictures of me, Dan, Erich, Jeremy, and my family. Jarrett's first day in ski school is one of the banners. A pic of me and the family. One of Jake skiing. And the snowboarders are all friends or Jeremy.

I have been swapping out the images the last couple of days and trying to make the site and the images more personal. A lot of the content is about how my friends and family enjoy the sport and the lifestyle. But a huge part of why we enjoy it is that it provides us a chance to just hang out and do something together.

You should be seeing a mix of content at the site. Industry information. Resort conditions at the resorts we ski. Reviews of resorts, products, gear, etc. Personal experiences of me and my friends and family on the mountains. And "filler" of stuff about Phoenix sports, jeeping, and the other activities that we fill our offseasons with. I have not gone to Australia, New Zealand, or South America, so by May, June, July, August, etc., I gotta keep posting about something. But the good news is that the content is gradually shifting back to skiing and I am excited about the site changes and the new information we are adding.

Posted by Justin at 02:34 PM

August 30, 2006

Snowbird Upgrades for 2006-07

First Tracks reports the latest in improvements in Utah at the resorts. Perhaps the biggest change is happening at Snowbird:

Snowbird's Peruvian double chairlift was removed this summer to be replaced with a new high-speed quad. While the base will stay near the original base shack, the top station will be located below the steepest Chip's Run pitch, an approximately 2,600-vertical-foot rise. This 8,000 linear-foot lift transports 1,800 people per hour, providing an eight-minute ride. Should wind conditions prevent Tram operation, this lift will allow for continued skier access to Peruvian Gulch and Mineral Basin.

At the top of the new lift, a 595-foot tunnel with a conveyor lift will provide access to Mineral Basin. This lift makes Snowbird’s intermediate terrain more accessible to skiers and snowboarders by eliminating many switchbacks and the steepest pitch of Chip’s Run. The 12-foot high, 10-foot wide tunnel provides a four-minute ride, and allows quick access to Hidden Peak via the Mineral Basin Express chairlift.

Snowbird's flagship property, the Cliff Lodge just completed a $5.6 million renovation. Features include upgraded lodging rooms with new furnishings, flat screen televisions, bedding, bathroom tile, fixtures and artwork. In addition, the spa level rooms now offer Tempur-Pedic beds.

I am certainly planning a trip to Snowbird this winter. Mostly since Jeremy and my other snowboarder buddies can't go to Alta. Sorry guys...

Posted by Justin at 10:04 PM

Site Rebuild Done--Finally

Joni must have gotten really busy lately because I have not heard from her in the last couple of weeks. She did a great job cutting my banners down to size and redoing the top graphics as well as setting up the site originally for customization.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and finish the redesign today so that I can get started with some new content and new work. Movable Type is a great platform to customize and offers tons of options. I found a couple great sites out there that teach how to customize templates and site layout.

You will notice that there are a couple of personal banners of Jeremy and Erich, Jarrett in ski school, and Jeremy on a powder day at Brian Head. I am working on adding more and going through the collection of pictures we have.

The margins have been widened so that the posts fit better and don't seem to linger on and on.

Enjoy the changes.

Posted by Justin at 01:26 PM

August 28, 2006

Final Blog Entry About Arrested Development

Tonight at Midnight the moment comes. The very last time I get to buy an Arrested Development DVD. Season 3 is here and I can finally erase it from the TiVo and move it into my DVD collection.

I promised I wouldn't cry, but reading the reviews, I am all choked up about ending the weekly viewing of my favorite TV family, the Bluths. I will never see airport stairs the same way again. I believe that I will be watching my AD Season III DVD's as a giant marathon despite watching the over and over again off the TiVo.

Everytime it gets near the end of a Suns game or in overtime, they play Europe's "The Final Countdown". I smile and nod and usually nudge Jeremy in tribute to GOB. I can almost see him and Buster and Tony Wonder at the Gothic Castle. Or better yet, in perhaps my favorite TV Episode of all times, Pier Pressure.

For those that just didn't get it, you missed out. For those that did, get the DVD's for all three seasons and be thankful that we got 51 episodes to enjoy. That is almost 20 hours of pure viewing pleasure. Enough for the round trip to Brian Head and something to do when I get back from the hot tube at night.

Posted by Justin at 09:25 PM | Comments (1)

An Excellent Point About Skis

Check the comments on the previous post and I want to discuss them in some more detail. Not the literal one about me having a money tree, but a hypothetical conversation to have:

"I already own my gear, boots, skis, etc., so why would I want to demo or buy new gear?"

Well, let's assume that you are not in hotpants from the 80's and skiing straight as an arrow 210's from back in the day. Generally, most ski shops are going to sell an average weekender skier a nice set of carvers. I personally bought my first set of Atomics that were a Beta Carve 8.18 and had a very nice sidecut and are like glue on packed powder, ice, groomed, and crud. They are 190's, so a little on the big side, but great skis. I still use them in early and late season and since my dad is roughly my height and wears the same size shoe, he gets my old boots and uses my groomers when we go out. BTW, he actually has bright red hotpants and a powder blue 80's ski jacket. We almost ditched him over it. Chicks hanging all over him all day made it hard. They thought he was a rock star.

Let's compare a good all around ski with lots of sidecut to a powder ski. First thing you will notice is the width, especially in the middle, but also in the tips and tails. The powder ski is just plain wider. Of course it is. That is for float. But you will also notice less sidecut. It makes the ski a little less stable on packed runs. The skis perform radically different, and the honest truth is that unless there is some major fresh out there, a pure powder ski sucks. A carving ski is a much better choice.

What you have to ask yourself is what do you ski most. And for almost everyone, it is packed slopes. I mean, how many powder days with more than say a foot of pow do you get to ski? So it does not make sense to own a powder ski unless you live close to the slopes or have the freedom to chase powder. Basically, you either have no job (Jeremy) or have a job that let's you blow off work whenever you want, yet provides you enough money to pay your rent (me). Rent demo skis on the deep dumps. Just make sure you get to the rental shop early or they will be gone on the days that you really need them.

So let me answer Jake's question... what do you need a third pair of skis for. I don't have a really good answer. First, everyone should own groomers. Those should always be your first ski. Then, if you are a jibber, own a set of park skis. Or maybe a set of powder skis if you can get in enough days to make it worth it for your second set. I have a hybrid fat twin-tip that works for powder and is OK for the park. But they are a little heavy and so I am looking at park skis that will be somewhat narrower and definitely shorter than my current ones. They will never see powder since I have a powder ski, but will be purely for hitting the park. Biggest reason I am interested is so that I can learn some tricks and hang with Jake and Jackson. They are both riding a more park ski since they are pre-teens and jibbing is where it is at.

OK, so that is ski buying 101. Now, the next step is getting enough time on your skis that you can honestly feel the difference and know how to make your different skis perform under your feet. Truth is that skis are like a hammer. You gotta know how to swing it or all you do is smash your thumb. But as you progress, you honestly will see the pluses and minuses of different equipment. Each ski has its own strong and weak points.

So let me sum this up by saying, when you get up to the mountain, demo two or three sets of skis. Even if you already own gear. Spend at least a day or two a year on new Demo skis. Technology is not progressing super rapidly, so there are no massive changes, but this will let you try out new stuff. And if you have straight as an arrow 210's, once you ski shaped skis, you will take the old ones to Play it Again Sports or throw them away. Most shops on the mountain will let you demo multiple skis during the day if you ask really nicely and know or sweet talk the guys behind the counter. Then you will have a feel for what suits your style and your body.

Posted by Justin at 11:52 AM

August 27, 2006

New Skis and Ski Sizing Advice

Went down to the local shop and was talking gear with one of the guys there. I am debating about getting some new sticks and wondering how big I want to go. I am riding 186's now in a twin tip which work out to 183's approximately. But they are a mid-fat and run 118-88-110 and are more of an off-piste ski than a park ski.

Here is the problem. I am 6'2" and 250 on a light day. It is really tough to figure out what to ski. If I step down to a narrower twin tip, then I need the length for stability since I am fat. I really want something that I can use in the park, but don't want to give up the performance on pow and on groomers.

It is so tough. I have my groomers and I have my mid-fat twins. I am trying to decide on what to go with for my third ski. I figure I am set for powder days with my Atomic Stomp 186's. Early season, I have some older Atomic Beta Carves in a 190. I am thinking more of a pure park ski and am leaning towards the Salomon 1080's, but still debating model and length.

I will get back to you on what I decide. I am going to try demo skis if I can find anyone that has these in demos just to get a feel for length and model. We shall see what I go with.

BTW, isn't it a little early for me to be worrying about what to buy as my third set of skis?

Posted by Justin at 06:56 PM | Comments (2)

August 25, 2006

Football Season Starts Tonight

I am a football addict. There is little doubt. Last year, my wife hears back from her brother who heard from her cousin who sat two sections over from me a high school game what a loud idiot I was. But come on, it was the State Semi-Finals and we were tied 20-20 with the number one team in the state. The first play from scrimmage after we tied the game in the fourth quarter, their quarterback reeled off a 75 yard run for six and we lost 27-20.

I work the chains part time at Wickenburg High School's ball games and tonight, I get to hold up the down marker and watch some football from the visitor's sideline at Wrangler Stadium. My son Jake has gotten to see people like Terrell Suggs, Todd Heap, John Beck, and Bobby Wade play high school football here in the Valley during his short life. While we never saw Zach Miller play, we have seen him play plenty at ASU. Tim Rattay played for one of our biggest rivals, Phoenix Christian.

I write way too much about pro and college sports to focus too much time on stuff other than skiing. But today, you get to hear aboutthe start of the season for the 3A's number 2 ranked Wickenburg Wranglers:

1. Coolidge. Carlo Hernandez, maybe the hottest young football coach in Arizona, had offers from other schools in the off-season, but he was committed to this senior class, which features fourth-year varsity starter Jesse Wheeler, one of the state's best passing and running threats at quarterback.

Add in 1,000-yard rusher T.J. White, an experienced defense, led by Josh Thornton, and there is no reason to believe the Bears won't continue their success after winning their final 10 games to cap off a state championship season in '05.

"If anything, we have good team speed," Hernandez said.

2. Wickenburg. The Wranglers pushed Coolidge in last year's semifinal, before losing 27-20, and return RB Scott McKeever, who ran for 1,200 yards, and West Region Defensive Player of the Year Jeff Alder, a senior linebacker.

3. Lakeside Blue Ridge: Once again, the Yellowjackets lack depth, but they have enough skill to contend for another title.

Let's kick the season off and hope that my travel plans for early November to ski have to work around state playoff and hopefully a state championship game. In 2001, Wickenburg made the state semifinals and lost to Show Low and prior to that, my Senior year in 1993 we made the state semis and lost to Morenci.

But Wickenburg has made major upgrades to the coaching staff and is a step away from a title.

Posted by Justin at 04:20 PM

El Nino May be Coming

The National Weather Services is reporting a possibly weak el Nino this year.

he statistical and coupled model forecasts range from ENSO-neutral to weak warm (El Niño) episode conditions for the remainder of 2006 and into early 2007 (Fig. 4). The forecasts are consistent with the recent build up in upper-ocean heat content along the equator (Fig. 3), indicating a trend toward warm-episode conditions. In the absence of any strong intraseasonal (Madden-Julian Oscillation – MJO) activity, a continued slow trend toward warm-episode conditions is expected. Therefore, ENSO-neutral conditions are expected to continue for the next one to three months, with a 50% chance that weak El Niño conditions will develop by the end of 2006.

So what does that mean for me? These folks can tell you:

With El Nino conditions, precipitation and temperature effects combine to accentuate the effect on snowfall. In the Southwest, there is a slight tendency toward cooler winters, and a strong tendency toward wet winters, which makes higher elevation snowpack deeper. In the Pacific Northwest, El Nino winters are warmer and drier than usual, so that at a given elevation 1) less precipitation occurs, and 2) the freezing level is higher, so the type of precipitation is more likely to be rain, and 3) the accumulation season is shorter. All three conspire to produce a smaller snowpack accumulation by the end of winter in the Pacific Northwest.

This bodes well for places like Wolf Creek, Brian Head, Snowbowl, Sunrise, etc., that lie in the Southern Rockies. Now mind you that climatologists never say "this is the case" but rather "there is a xxx% chance of blah blah blah." So take it for what it is worth. But regardless, it still is encouraging if this turns out to be the case. We are experiencing an extremely wet monsoon in Arizona which also bodes well for skiing down south.

Posted by Justin at 01:38 PM | Comments (1)

August 24, 2006

Stupid Ideas and Misguided Ride Pimping

OK, so I bought my new jeep a month or so ago. Love the thing and took it out on the trail this last weekend. Well, couple of issues. First, when you go jeeping, everyone has a CB. I mean sure, the antennas look so "Truck Stop"ish and you feel like you should be wearing a wife beater and drinking beer on the porch of the trailer when Cops comes around, but you really want to be able to talk to the other folks out there. CB's are almost mandatory on a jeep if you go offroad. So the solution to issue one is that I bought a CB and a nice firestick antenna. Quadratec did not have a 3' Firestick, so I got a 4'.

So now the second issue. I had to fly to San Francisco again on Monday at 5:00 AM. I just mounted the CB and antenna this weekend and got to the airport. Went into the parking garage and kept hearing thunk, thunk, thunk as I drove in, but it was at 5:00 AM so I was only half awake. Well, my antenna is about 6" too long and was hitting the support beams then snapping back and hitting my roof. I was driving out of the garage last night and realized what was going on. Some days, I feel like an idiot.

So let's discuss this weekend's trip the back way to Crown King. Well, I have a $30,000 brand new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited that is about as loaded as can be. And I put in about $2000 worth of armor plating on the gas tank, differentials, steering box, sides, etc., to protect critical components, as well as a new $400 exhaust package. Every single skid plate is dinged and the exhaust is partially mangled. Had it not been for the armor plating, I would be in some seriously bad shape. Especially the back side of the rear diff.

There is no fluid on the garage floor at night so either I didn't puncture anything or all of the fluid is already drained onto the trail. I know this much, some rocks on the trail have some of my paint on them. My diffs and body armor are like some teenage tagger, spreading paint all over the place.

Posted by Justin at 12:18 PM

August 21, 2006

Speaking of Deals--Frequency at Big Sky Rocks

Speaking of deals, the Frequency Pass at Big Sky is perhaps the best deal out there. (Especially if they get good early season snow)

You pay $69 and for that you get a $21 discount every ski day at regular prices, plus you get two weeks of free skiing. Admittedly these are opening week and closing week, but like I said, it is a crap shoot as to whether they will get good early season snow. But it is free, so even bad skiing that is "free skiing" is a good thing. And I have never had a bad experience at Big Sky. There are other good deals too like lodging discounts and ski shop discounts, so check out the link.

I won't go into my love affair with my home state of Montana and how wonderful it is to ski there where a big crowd means a person or two in front of you in the lift line. Big Sky is as good as any luxury resort in the country and fewer people go there because it is not as easy to get to. But it keeps getting easier with direct flights into Bozeman.

If you have never been, Big Sky is probably my favorite resort. It is just too far from Arizona to ski there very often for me since I drive most places and take the family. I try to make it once or twice a year though. Lone Peak has some of the sickest lift served Extreme Terrain in the Country and just about every Warren Miller film has Big Sky featured.

Posted by Justin at 12:24 PM

New Link from Ski Coupons.com

I added a new link and am working with a couple of other folks to check on additional links. I hate the idea of a cluttered sidebar that contains a bunch of ads and junk, but at the same time want to link to the stuff that make sense and offers a benefit to the readers.

But first and foremost, I ski on the cheap. Always have because my entertainment and "sports" budget is stretched incredibly thin. Between my Suns tickets, Cardinals tickets, and Season passes, I am pushing $3,000 in sporting events. Add in parking, travel, equipment, etc., and I don't have a lot of extra money laying around for entertainment.

The condo is an investment property that just happens to be at a ski resort... at least that is the excuse I give my wife. Plus it was a fixer-upper, so it has so far paid for itself in appreciation. I have season passes at Brian Head which cuts the cost down to next to nothing when you use them enough. But I head other places and when you roll somewhere anymore, a lift ticket runs $75 at many (most major) resorts. So you learn to ski on the cheap.

I am in the process of trading links from a company called ski-coupons.com. A link here or there, especially a free one through a trade, isn't going to pay my bills or my bandwidth, but if my site is generating traffic from the links and/or ads, that helps support my winter habit. And these guys fit my mode of "deal shopping". Take a look at their site and in addition, I will be posting about other specials with a possible local gear shop or two and some other businesses that will be of interest.

In the interest of disclosure, I remain completely unbiased. If something sucks, I won't post links and I certainly won't go back. So if it is on my site, it is the real deal.

Posted by Justin at 12:08 PM

August 20, 2006

Goals for 2006-07

I am one of the most anal people alive. I plan everything. Make lists. Make goals. Track every expense down to the penny. Plan months in advance. All of these things add up to driving the folks around me crazy. And I happen to be just a little crazy myself from it. I mean come on, when you script out your ski trips in August, it is kinda stressful.

But I am writing the script for 2006-07. Honestly, most of the trip will be at Brian Head because A. It is Free and B. I have a home there. So my plans there are not really about how or what or where, but about when and who go with me. Jackson, Jake, Jarrett, Jeremy and I have season passes. Tera has a season pass, but it is a little tougher because Lindsey is still not 2 yet, so Tera will probably only be able to have her mom watch her a couple of times. Dad should make a couple of trips too and usually if Tera and Dad go, even with Lindsey, either her or Dad will not ski that day. So for the most part, the family will be there several times. We have Brian Head and the Family covered.

Now for the "other" trips:

  • Roadie with Erich, Tim, Taufiq, Dan, etc. from work.
  • Roadie with certain old friends from the Navy and Montana.
  • Roadie with Nat, Jeff, and Zach, plus the kids.
  • Roadie with Keith and Kaylee.
  • Sunlight in Colorado to meet up with John and talk some shop.
  • Alta at least a couple of times. Maybe just day trips from Brian Head, but probably on the way to Montana to see my extended family.
  • Big Sky on the way to Montana and on the way back. Gotta meet up with Dax who writes Big Sky's "blog" on the ski report.
  • Snowbowl if there is snow. And to every single skier in Arizona, please support the snowmaking effort there. Snowbowl is certainly not Alta, but it is close and offers some great views and great terrain.
  • Rock Dodge. I know, the name says it all, but it is close to Billings and I can ski there with the family. I want to take Jesse and Jeremy to Big Sky again and may take Jackson north to meet his older brother Jesse for the first time.
  • The Wolf. I want to put Jarrett in Wolf Pups which is the biggest bargain and one of the most fun programs in youth skiing. Jake spent two days there and loved it.

Those are the almost certain. These are the "it would be nice":

  • Tahoe.
  • Loveland, A-basin, basically Summit County when there is decent snow.
  • Jackson Hole.
  • Mammoth.
  • Teach Jeremy's boys to ski if they can work out their divorce.

Understand that if I simply spend the entire season at Brian Head skiing 30+ days with just my family, it is still an awesome season. Any time you ski more than a week in a year, that beats what most city folks do. Plus the season passes and the condo make it almost free.

The biggest upgrade I want for the condo is Direct TV with the Sunday Ticket and a DVR. That way I don't miss all of the November and December NFL Games while I am skiing or have to go to a bar to watch them. But that probably won't happen because my condo does not face South. I need to finish the bathroom downstairs and chill the rest of the winter.

Anyway you cut it, I am ready for 2006-07 to kick off. Just waiting on the site redesign and to get the year moving.

Posted by Justin at 12:15 PM

Getting All Nostalgic

So I was writing my one year anniversary post and started getting nostalgic. Wanted to write about my best memories of skiing (or at least some of my best memories).

  • My first time with my cousin Zach. Not that first time... my first time skiing (but he is kinda cute).
  • Josh and [name removed until we ski together again] going to Rock Dodge over Thanksgiving in 1993. Me walking down a black, postholing. Bear Paw, I believe.
  • [To Be Named] and me heading to Sunrise in 2002 for the first time back on skis in almost a decade. Skiing runs like "Evergreen" and "Side Winder" and "Justin is a whiny little b@#$%"... wait, that was not a run, but a quote.
  • Jacob's first ski day and taking him up to the top after a half day lesson.
  • Four Foot Powder dump at Sunrise that same year and Jake and me postholing down Phoenician in chest deep powder. Ski Patrol carrying Jake down.
  • Jake's first blue run--"No name" and then "NASTAR".
  • Following Tim down Suicide when I was still a groomer on blues skill level. Him lapping me twice as I walked uphill to shop at the yardsale.
  • Skipping work for a mid-week powder dump at Sunrise, burning quads on fresh untracked laps of Lupe, and then getting snowed in. Having to lie to my boss about having a morning dentist appointment so I had time to drive home the next morning when the roads were plowed. Watching the USC-Oklahoma Championship from a bar in Show Low. (Ashlee Simpson anyone?)
  • More yardsale days with Tim and Erich. They all are a blur.
  • Roadie to Brian Head with [TBN] and Dee.
  • Skiing with Jeremy, Jesse (little bro), Jake, [TBN] at Big Sky.
  • Jarrett's first day at Brian Head.
  • Taking my brother Jackson skiing for the first time.
  • Skiing with Jeremy, Jake, Dad, and Jackson.
  • Wolf Creek trip with Erich and [TBN].
  • Near fistfight in the car on way to Wolf Creek. That was the best part... well, that and the 2' of pow.
  • Jake throwing a 180.
  • Jeremy, Tim, and me attempting tricks at the top of Giant Steps.
  • Erich getting arrested. Really, kinda not funny until just lately. Worst day EVER, but now, it is memorable which is what makes it awesome.
  • Tera getting lapped on the bunny hill by Jake and Kye and Kye saying, "Aunt Tera, why are you crying? You aren't very good at skiing are you?" The voice of a four year old on full display.
  • Last day of this season and riding the rail and throwing a 180 and watching Jake and Jacko eat it all day. I get 8 months of one-up-manship on the little punks.
  • Skipping work at a customer in Denver and hitting Loveland.
  • Jer and I heading to A-basin and the Wolf.
  • Hot-tubbing and sauna-ing on a weekday after skiing at Brian Head and chilling in the condo at night.
  • Dan and his iPod, plus Taufiq and Tim and Erich just chilling and hitting Cyclone together.
  • Skipping work with Jacob and poaching runs on Quakie at Sunrise with off duty ski patrol mid-week.

That is about it. If you are in the list, good times. If not, good times. Do something memorable like break bones or throw air or get arrested or just show up on a 4' dump or call in sick to work and I'll do the same and we can get marooned somewhere. Writing that list made me remember what I love about the sport. None of those days were by myself. And the best ones were with my best friends or my family.

Posted by Justin at 12:38 AM | Comments (1)

August 19, 2006

Turning One as a Blogger and Ski-Blog's Day in Court

I know I have arrived when my blog is actually used as evidence in a court case. Again, my brother is getting divorced. Sad story and long story and we shall keep it short. His wife, well, it is a divorce, so figure she ain't happy about it. They had a hearing on Thursday and she kept bringing up things to demonstrate how well he was doing finacially and literally her lawyer kept asking him if he goes skiing, goes to Suns and Cardinals games, and is living the good life. Her lawyer started quoting things from my blog asking him direct questions about it.

I explained in an e-mail what a blog is several months ago. I don't have any rules. I write what I feel like. Keep politics and personal issues to a minimum, but it is my journal about my life. I just leave the key to my diary next to the diary itself. And this blog is a diary of my life as a skier. I mix in some stuff about other sports whenever they strike me, especially local Phoenix Sports because it is summer and I gotta blog about something.

So the whole thing got me thinking that I am writing the autobiography of not only my ski life, but the story of my interactions with the people around me and my experiences. Jeremy is caught in my diary because he is a part of it. As are my kids and Tera, Brian Head Resort and my Condo Complex, several other resorts... Dan, Erich, Tim, Taufiq, Jake, Keith and Kaylie, Nat and Jeff, the people that I randomly talk skiing with. If my work or my brother's wife or my family or friends wanted to search my site for how I live my life, they have got most of the story. I have opened up a huge chunk of my life to the world for inspection, review, and ultimately judgment. Maybe not judgment of whether I am a good person or not, but judgment about whether my thoughts and deeds are worth reading about. And if you are here, you are reading it. =)

So guess what, I am just turning one as a blogger. A year of what I did and where I went and who I am and who the people around me are. A year that I can review and remember. Pictures of people and places and days and pow and my friends skiing with me.

I want to thank the people mentioned above as well as my Dad and Jeremy for making our condo happen. My wife and kids for putting up with me being gone for days and weeks remodelling or doing what I love. The people that read the site and leave comments and e-mail me and work with me like John at Sunlight, Dax at Big Sky, Dave at Snowbowl, and Tyler at Alta. It feels so much like some cheesy Oscar speech, but the rest of the folks that I really want to thank are bloggers that have influenced me like Rob Port at Say Anything; Ken and Will at Willisms; Wil and JP at 120 Days and Colorado Backcountry; several other bloggers who I read daily; and most of all my blogfather Bill Roggio. Bill and I became friends through his site in 2004 and he embodies what courage is. He is who encouraged me to start my own site.

So I am in the process of updating the site and waiting for my official kick off to 2006-07 to change the banner at the top. Adding some personal pictures and touches and making the site a meeting place for the guys that I ski with. Constantly some friend of mine who I have not talked to in months goes to the site and sends a comment e-mail. It has been a great year. Maybe the best year of my life so far. But mostly because of the relationships with the people that I ski with.

I had a falling out with one of my best friends about a year ago where we stopped speaking for better than a month. Said some crappy stuff and got pretty nasty to each other. And at the end of it all, we had a heart to heart. He said life isn't just about what you believe or what you do or who you are, but about "relationships". How you influence other people around you. Whether it is being a missionary in Thailand or Nepal, or just being a father or a friend, it is the company that we keep that dictates so much about our life. And I remember walking down Bear Paw at Red Lodge when I was a complete novice in Montana at 18 skiing with my lifelong friend (and my step-brother Josh who just won't leave me, Zach, and Jer alone), and the two of us teaching Jacob how to ski for the first time on the Greens at Sunrise (and me being scared of blues). Powder days when we both skipped work and got stuck in Show Low during the USC-Oklahoma game.

This was the first year in several that we didn't ski together. Not over being angry because we have had close to fist-fights over pick-up basketball games. Even if we hated each other, I like to think he would tolerate an 8 hour drive for a good powder day with me. But because of the hectic stuff in his life, his work, and his other commitments. A huge regret about last year is that a friend of 15 years and my first real ski buddy as well as one of my closest and best friends missed an entire season with me when I owned a slopeside condo in Utah and put in 30+ days. His name (technically it is not just his name as he shares it with my son) is not in the blog and I ain't mentioning it until it is in a sentence involving the words--pow, epic, sick, deep, quad-burning, yard-sale, and possibly the phrase "idiodic, testosterone driven insanity".

I am going to be putting together my "goals" for the year shortly, but note that this is number one. I know you have a nice set of Atomics cause I bought 'em on E-bay for you, so wax them up and get ready.

Posted by Justin at 11:28 PM

Bay Area Visit--I Wish it Wasn't Work Related

This last week I had a major customer project in Northern California. Spent the week working with some very cool guys including Francesco from Italy who was in town to assist with some software issues since he was one of the writers of said software. I got the opportunity to show him around San Francisco.

Well, we were in the East Bay and decided to come across the Bay Bridge, head down Market, by the Embarcadero, head out the Golden Gate and come back across from Marin. I got lost on all of the major parts of this, including a very scary trip through downtown Oakland that reminded me of the opening scene of Office Space, as Michael Bolton acts all hardcore singing to rap music until he pulls up next to a black man in his car, rolling up the windows and locking the doors. (BTW, possibly my favorite movie ever) But I had our guest in the car and didn't want to freak him out, so I played it cool. You know, like Fonzy. What's Fonzy like? Well, the fog was coming in and I got disoriented and ended up finally realizing that I was on the south side of SF when I was trying to get to the Golden Gate. Finally, I proceeded to get lost in Marin.

Franceso kept suggesting we ask for directions. How decidedly un-American, and one better, how decidedly un-American Male. That is admitting weakness. I use Texas Diplomacy in these parts. As long as we don't run out of gas or get killed, it is "an adventure".

Well, long story short, I am heading back to the Bay on Monday to do some more work. I have been crazy busy the last week, hence the lack of postings. But I am working with several companies to provide more information on the site as well as do the site upgrades at the same time as doing my day job. Plus I have other things going on, and on top of it all, it is football season and I have a monthly jeep trip to take. And all of it is just to fill time until ski season when I can start blogging full time again about you know, skiing?!?!?! I am counting the days.

Posted by Justin at 10:49 PM

August 13, 2006

Buying Gear--Now is the Time

Alright, the time to buy was really in April, but if you didn't already stock up on the stuff you need, now is a good time. The 2006-07 shipments are just arriving, so most places are liquidating any remaining 2005 stock before the new stuff arrives. It is a good time to look for deals.

Wait another month and the deals on last year's stuff will be gone. Now if you love the latest-greatest, well, first go to Aspen and show it off with all the other rich folk. An '05 set of skis ain't any different from the '06, and usually you can buy a model or two up the ladder in last year's models for the same price as an entry model for '06. Hence why I paid less for my Nordica Beasts that were turning a year old than the next year's Beast 10's cost.

Spend your money on lift tickets and ski days, not on overpriced gear when you have a limited budget. And two years from now, I will have a well used set of three year old equipment while your gear will not get nearly the number of days, but only be two years old. E-bay is a skier's best friend.

Posted by Justin at 08:14 PM | Comments (2)

Site Updates

Joni and I have gone through my photos from 2005-06 and created several new banners for the top of the site, including several that are personal photos from trips with Erich, Jeremy, Dan, and my sons to Brian Head.

I was talking to Jeremy last night and showing off the site to him and he mentioned how our best laid plans to take tons of photos and photoblog did not happen. We were wondering out loud why. Well, the reality is that most days that we went out skiing had such low light and were overcast. We barely went out when it wasn't snowing and any conditions other than fresh weren't worth skiing. Honestly, that is kinda sad. But for the most part it was because we were doing the condo remodel and had so much work to do.

Well, now we are making plans for 2006-07. Jeremy is staying in Montana until at least the late fall so it looks like I will start the season doing the Montana Run--Brian Head to Alta to Big Sky to Billings and back the same way. Probably just after Thanksgiving so that I get to my Mom's after the Fall Semester's Finals are over. (Mom is a teacher and so is my Step-dad)

Jackson's skis are getting bindings mounted as we speak and I am finishing up the final touches on the condo. I will be posting shortly on the site changes and on the prep for the season that we put in. Just taking care of the little stuff for the season and buying things early to save money. If you wait much longer the prices start going up.

Posted by Justin at 08:01 PM

August 08, 2006

Cardinals Kick Off New Stadium Saturday

It is fast approaching. Cardinals Season. I have a Matt Leinart Jersey and he might actually sign sometime before the season is over.

So Saturday, I am rolling with Clay and Jake and probably Clay's dad to Glendale to see the opening of the new Cardinals Stadium and check out the digs. On the 31st, I am going to see the Broncos with my cousin Zach.

I have my calender all synced up for Cardinals, ASU, and the Suns home games and am ready to roll for the upcoming season. Marked the Suns games I can afford to miss while skiing. Like some kind of master plan. Tera keeps track of doctors appts, while I keep track of ballgames and skiing.

Yeah, she pretty much hates me. I am trying to get her to go to a Cardinals game with me. She doesn't seem too thrilled, but she will jump on the bandwagon when she gets to see some wins from them.

Posted by Justin at 01:29 AM

More Offseason Purchases

So my little brothers and my sons are my most frequent guests at Brian Head. My brother Jeremy is 29 and my brother Jackson is 11. Last year Jacko was riding a set of Atomic SL:9's that I had left over for Jake as a groomer and race ski, while Jake was throwing 180's on the twin tip Salomon 1080 Fish Jr.'s that I hooked him up with.

It took a couple illfated 180 attempts by Jacko trying to keep pace with Jake to realize the value of twin tips. And mind you that Jeremy and I were talking trash to get Jacko to pull 180's on non-twin tips.

Well, it came down to this from big brother Justin. I would buy Jackson twin tips if he did two things. 1. Never take up snowboarding. Don't even ask to try it. Go the Tanner Hall route. The kid has bleached blonde locks. Plus twin tips are a statement since everyone snowboards. Be a rebel and do something different. 2. Make fun of Jeremy.

I didn't even have to ask on either. He said he planned on that already. I am gonna have to get him a subscription to Freeskier and his twin tips just arrived and are getting bindings mounted as we speak. Salomon 1080 Thrusters in a 151. Probably a bit long for the dude right now, but he is growing like crazy, so they should last until he is 14-15ish. Jake is gonna be jibbing on them before I know it. I bought the little dude a pass for the season since he is becoming a regular at the condo.

I am just hoping that he doesn't end up as worthless as the other little brother that wastes time on my couch. I get the feeling that he is going to turn into the ski bum that offers to "take care of my place" during the winter at Brian Head. Probably for room and board plus a season pass.

Nah, if he did it would take away the feeling of superiority and the ability to make fun of Jeremy. Plus he and Jeremy would have to fight over the spot on the couch anyway in 8 years. I think I just busted on both of them in one post. I guess it don't matter since they can't read anyway. I will tell them the post was about the awesome 540's they will be throwing this year.

Is it November yet?

Posted by Justin at 01:13 AM

August 06, 2006

Filling the Arrested Development Void

Alright, AD is not coming back. Maybe in some kind of Fox "Oops, we killed the best show on TV moment" like when they brought back Family Guy and Futurama, it is possible, but not any time soon. However, I am willing to cut Fox some slack. Seems that FX has two of the best shows on TV--Rescue Me and my new favorite It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

I downloaded Seasons 1 and 2 on iTunes last night and did the marathon of the ones I have not seen. The Gang Goes Jihad may be some of the funniest stuff I have ever seen. My wife and I were almost doubled over laughing.

Start watching Sunny. It gives me something to put on the iPod and take for the road trips to Brian Head. BTW, iPods rock so much. I have a 30 GB Video and load it up with movies, TV shows, etc., and have an interface for the DVD head unit in the truck. Haul any TV show with you without even using DVD's and download your favorites from iTunes. Love BattleStar Gallactica, It's Always Sunny, and The Office.

Posted by Justin at 12:19 AM

August 03, 2006

200 Entries, Time for a Site Redesign from Joni

Today is entry 201 and about time for the one year updates to the sites. Joni at Pixelita (formerly Web Jones) who did the original site is doing the updates.

Shortly, you should see a new look. I fell in love with the rotating banners, the color scheme, the feel of the site, etc. We are changing some of the margins and reworking things to tweak the content, but minor issues.

So if you need some design work, Joni is awesome. But, I will let you see that for yourselves when she is done.

Posted by Justin at 10:08 AM