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July 30, 2007

Denver to Vail Monorail

A reader sent me a link to a site asking the question--would you favor a Denver to Vail monorail:

This is what we need from Denver to Vail (With a stop in Summit of course). I just drove down from another mountain excursion this morning and while I was blown away as always by the view, I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to have been sitting and reading my paper while making the journey.

And this was a beautiful uncrowded day. But when I went up on Sunday I-70 was PACKED with cars heading down. Nothing compared to the ski season but certainly another reason to get on a train.

Just picture this. You head over to Union Station and grab a nice warm cup of coffee, a newspaper or book, and some of your best buds. You load all of your stuff onto your train car and grab a wonderful cabin with benches and curl up. The snow outside is dumping and the weather is freezing. The roads are going to be icy, if open at all. But you will make the trip to Vail in bliss surrounded by laughter, warmth and friends.

When you are hungry or thirsty you eat and drink. When you have to use the bathroom you do (but leave your cabin for this). When you are tired you sleep. You are safe.

Two things. It would have to start in West Kansas (as in the Denver Airport). Second, how viable would it be?

I believe that it would be an absolute boon for Denver's tourism industry and for the entire Colorado ski industry. Direct flight to a train to Vail. Luxury all the way. Fewer private jets into snowy airports.

The downside (and the above are a huge upside) is cost. Given the track record of Denver implementing large scale transportation projects, I would really hessitate to propose something truly innovative that the government can royally screw up as opposed to something relatively simple like building more auto lanes on I-70 that the government has a proven track record of doing for the last 100 years. (Imagine Boston voters asked retroactively to approve the Big Dig when shown the actual cost as opposed to the projected cost):

Delays caused by poor planning and repeated design changes due to changing requirements from United Airlines caused Mayor Webb to push opening day back, first to December 1993, then to March 1994. By September 1993, delays due to a millwright strike and other events meant opening day was pushed back again, to May 15, 1994. This earned the airport the tongue-in-cheek nicknames "Done In April," "Done In August," "Delayed Indefinitely Airport" or "Denver's Imaginary Airport" using the DIA initials.

In April 1994, the city invited reporters to observe the first test of the new automated baggage system. Reporters were treated to scenes of clothing and other personal effects scattered beneath the system's tracks, while the actuators that moved luggage from belt to belt would often toss the luggage right off the system instead. The mayor cancelled the planned May 15 opening. The baggage system continued to be a maintenance hassle and was finally terminated in September 2005 [7], with traditional baggage handlers manually handling cargo and passenger luggage.

On September 25, 1994, the airport hosted a fly-in that drew several hundred general aviation aircraft, providing pilots with a unique opportunity to operate in and out of the new airport, and to wander around on foot looking at the ground-side facilities—including the baggage system, which was still under testing. FAA controllers also took advantage of the event to test procedures, and to check for holes in radio coverage as planes taxied around and among the buildings.

DIA finally replaced Stapleton on February 28, 1995, 16 months behind schedule and at a cost of $5.2 billion, nearly $2 billion over budget.

If the project were privately funded and for profit and someone could make a business case that it would pay for itself or be worth the investment, I would be all for it. I would use it. But how much of a tax burden would the entire state be saddled with to pay for a project that just benefits skiers?

Posted by Justin at 03:47 PM | Comments (1)

New Car - VW Passat

Live Earth didn't impact my decision to by a car that gets 32 MPG. Global Warming didn't factor in trying to cut the use on the big SUV down. But gas prices sure did.

That my friends is the free market. Gas prices rise and people have economic incentive to cut back on their fuel usage. Problem is that this means we have three cars instead of two.

So what does that mean for America? More folks like me in the suburbs making a solid upper middle class income are choosing to instead of downsize their big SUV's, to buy third vehicles.

DETROIT, May 25 — With gas prices well over $3 a gallon nationwide, many drivers are lining up to buy small cars.

But hundreds of thousands of consumers aren’t giving up anything to downsize. Instead, they are simply adding pint-size transportation to their driveways, parked alongside their S.U.V. or pickup.

In households that own a small car, the family fleet is close to an average of three vehicles, according to CNW Marketing Research, which tracks industry trends (the national average is just over two cars per household; America was a one-car-per-family nation a generation ago).

These growing fleets suggest an approach to conservation that is more addition than subtraction.

What environmental statement does this testiment to our wealth send? Did I really do the environment a favor to cut gas consumption without cutting the miles that I drive and by having an automaker produce another vehicle that undoubtedly requires far more greenhouse gases to mine the metal, produce the electricity to build, transport across the Atlantic, and eventually save a few miles to the gallon?

I am gonna say that this is a net negative to the environment. Every single SUV that is traded in for a Prius is gobbled up by some family in the suburbs. They aren't retired and recycled. My Avy has 150k miles on it and I have no intention of selling it (but then again, I couldn't if I wanted to with 150k miles).

But all that said, the thing is pimped. Way better than our Jetta. More HP, bigger interior, and surprisingly even better mileage than the smaller Jetta. I will post pics shortly.

Posted by Justin at 01:29 PM | Comments (1)

July 28, 2007

Brian Head and Market Share

I have been on a little bit of a tangent about Brian Head the last couple days because of their interconnect project. Started looking at the statistics on Utah Skier Visits that I have posted on my site.

Some numbers for you:

  • 4.7
  • 4.9
  • 4.7
  • 4.6
  • 4.5
  • 4.6
  • 7.2
  • 4.5
  • 3.8
  • 3.7
  • 3.3

That in my book constitutes a trend. That happens to be Brian Head's market share of total Utah Ski Visits for the last decade.

The amazing part is that Brian Head is a pretty good place to ski. It is close to Vegas. It is closer from Vegas than Sunrise is from my house and it is twice as close as Sundance that is the southern most SLC area resort. But for the closest resort to the fastest growing city in the nation, one would think that Brian Head would be gaining market share, not losing it. Brian Head has a 400" annual snowfall. Never has a lift line.

I have met several of the folks in the marketing dept at the resort and many/most of the other staff at one time or another. They are good people. The resort is a good resort and is friendly and clean. Good kids program. Good learn to ski. But something is missing. I am just not sure it is a high speed quad (due next year) and a little more blue-green terrain. The MDP has a ton of new terrain approved in the Pioneer Cabin area that can be developed. I think the combination of that terrain and the current expansion might make a difference, but then, the resort is tapped out.

Lots of potential there. Let's hope the results start coming.

Posted by Justin at 10:33 PM

July 27, 2007

Brian Head Condo Projects and the Interconnect

I keep waiting for the stange voice that says "If you build it, they will come" to be listed as the motivating factor in Brian Head's expansion. But who will come? The new Lofts at Brian Head, the Black Diamond at Brian Head, the White Bear Condos, and Sojorn at Brian Head are already building. The lofts is almost a year behind schedule on phase one. The story gets worse for phase two. Do the new improvements enhance the resort enough to generate additional interest in owning condos at Brian Head? Maybe some. I don't see buyers tripping over themselves to rush to Brian Head. Vegas, LA, and Phoenix as well as the new housing market are just dead right now. Because of the housing market slump, many of the condo projects will not begin their phase two's of their projects and some may struggle to sell their phase one's. At least until the housing slump reverses. Current owners of smaller, cheaper condos will still have a market, but that is decidedly slower than it has been.

Does the resort gain some additional daytrip visits from Vegas? Probably. It really helps that market. It may help the rental market. But Demographic growth in Riverside, CA, Clark County, NV, and Maricopa County, AZ, will do that anyway. Does it allow the resort to charge $55 or $60 for a lift ticket? Yep. Expect that for certain.

Long lines have never been an issue. There is plenty of uphill capacity so in that sense the new lifts aren't needed for uphill. Does an interconnect improve things that much? I don't think so. Navajo is a kids and beginner's mountain anyway. It has longer lift lines but that is because it really only has one lift. Maybe this improves that piece, but for me who skis off of Dunes, Roulette, and the top of Giant Steps, this is just a mid-mountain lift and has no impact. And to enthusiasts who actually enjoy skiing and are not casual occasional skiers, they won't notice it either. The lack of vertical and lack of advanced terrain hurts because the major ski publications have no interest in a family resort with 1400 feet of lift served vertical, under 1000 acres, and no real challenging runs.

In 2005-06, the last year stats were available, I have a table of skier visits for Brian Head and the rest of Utah. Brian Head had 135k skier visits. The best year in the last decade was 2001-02 with 212k visits. A 155k visit year is a good year. A very good year as in would be the best year in the last decade that didn't involve the Olympics being held in Utah. And we might see that this year. There is some serious buzz and that would be a 15-20% improvement over last season. Heck, we could see it spike to say 170k visits. That would be monumental.

Net is that local businesses will see some tangible benefit because a bunch more daytrippers will come up and there will probably be a spike in condo renters. Condo owners and new condo projects will still see a slow market and have a tough time moving their places because of a nationwide housing slump. It allows higher lift ticket prices (and it better yield either more skier visits or more revenue from existing ones in order to pay for an $8M expansion). But I still don't see how this benefits the resort enough to repay their $8M off of new business. Maybe, MAYBE, it increases the value of the resort's real estate holdings (1700 acres) but that increase is only realized as they sell the holdings and there have to be buyers. And future condo complexes or homes are not going to immediately flock to Brian Head and start a bidding war over the resort's land.

So what is the real business motivation to make an $8M improvement to a resort that gets 140k visits per year and has had stagnant growth despite the fact that Utah as a whole is growing as a ski destination? How do you get return on investment? I think the real question is does it finally allow the current owner of the resort to sell Brian Head to a ski corporation (ala Intrawest or someone of that nature)? That has to be what they are banking on. There is no other explanation. Either that or the resort manager needs shot for convincing the owners to invest $8M.

Posted by Justin at 08:20 PM

July 22, 2007

Brian Head Expansion Updates

Brian Head has new updates on the Interconnect Project complete with pictures:

After years of careful planning, the resort is poised for dramatic expansion...

This summer Brian Head Resort is installing a new interconnect lift and ski trail system that will join the two mountains. Skiers and snowboarders of all abilities will now be able to enjoy both mountains by skiing/riding instead of driving. The Interconnect System consists of two new lifts and a ski-over bridge. Chair Lift #1 will cross over State Highway 143 to Navajo Mountain replacing the historic Chair Lift #1 that was removed from service in 1993. A new second chair lift, Lift #8 will start near the bottom of the new Lift #1, and will transport skiers to mid-mountain of Giant Steps. Skiers will cross over Highway 143 via the skier bridge under Chair Lift #1. The Interconnect System will expand the Resort’s existing trail capacity by nearly 35% and will allow skiers and snowboarders to circulate freely between Navajo and Giant Steps Mountains. The Interconnect System will also dramatically increase accessibility by creating expanded lift access to the entire Resort.

The entire interconnect project, including expanded snowmaking on many of the new runs, is on schedule to be completed by the start of the 2007/2008 ski season.

Interconnect Bridge and New Runs

I was at the resort two weeks ago and dirt is moving. Not sure about schedules and so forth, but my concern would be the bridge more than anything.

This is going to create a lot more green and blue terrain, which BH is not in need of. They need more steeps. And some more trees to cut down on the wind. In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as a bark beetle and Brian Head would have 3000 ft of lift served vertical. But I will take what I can get and this should create some new buzz for the resort.

Posted by Justin at 09:16 PM | Comments (2)

Global Warming Attacks Artificial Snowmaking

The Times of London offers up this commentary on artificial snowmaking and global warming as well as the need for environmental activism.

As an example of chronic and pig-headed frivolity, the snow machine has a lot to answer for. It is wasteful, energy-inefficient and environmentally indefensible. A single ski resort needs as much electricity as a small village just to keep its snowmaking systems going, and they are insatiable consumers of water. To cover one hectare (or 2.5 acres) of a snow slope, which may last less than a day, a snowmaking system needs 880 gallons of water; to cover all of the slopes in the Alps that have artificial snowmaking facilities, the annual demand has been estimated at 20 billion gallons of water, or enough to satisfy the needs of a city of 1.5 million inhabitants. Because alpine resorts are, despite their icy surroundings, often short of water, these precious supplies must either be stored on site or ferried up by helicopter. The Swiss, veteran users of airborne travel, favour the latter. The French dig reservoirs. The Austrians do both.

It would be hard to conjure up a more potent symbol of environmental perversity than the use of carbon-spewing fossil fuels to help to dispose of millions of gallons of carefully extracted water in order that a few thousand tourists can slide down a slope for an extra week...

For some reason, sport, leisure, wildlife and the general pursuit of happiness remain impenetrable barriers to perfectly sensible attempts to introduce alternative sources of energy and stem the ravages of climate change. In Scotland, the expansion of the wind farm industry has been slowed and often halted by objections that range from complaints that too many pylons spoil the view to suggestions that the occasional absent-minded hawk might collide with a propeller. In Perthshire, where the inhabitants of Dunkeld are proposing an energy-efficient and well-landscaped hydroelectric scheme on the River Braan, the plans have been thrown out by the National Environment Agency because the river is used by a few dozen canoeists every year.

Yet if we take the warnings about climate change with any degree of seriousness, we have to change our terms of reference. Instead of hailing the inventiveness of the ski resort that makes its own snow, we should accept the harsh reality that nature has terminally curtailed the skiing season. Much as we cherish our birds of prey, we should remember that their prospects of survival are threatened not so much by a freak collision as by the three-degree rise in global temperatures that will occur in the next 50 years if we do not manage to wean ourselves off a reliance on oil and gas. Stuff the skiers, sink the canoeists, gag the bird-lovers; this is a battle for survival, not an exercise in self-indulgence.

So let me get this straight... it is environmentally friendly to build hydroelectric dams to create electricity because that replaces the need for a fossil fueled coal plant. I like it. Makes sense. Then why does the Sierra Club want to drain Lake Powell?

There aren’t many silver linings to drought, but severe conditions in the Southwest are doing what the mighty U.S. Bureau of Reclamation won’t do. Since 1996, the Sierra Club and other groups have led a campaign to drain Lake Powell, which (when full) holds 7.8 trillion gallons of Colorado River water behind the agency’s 710-foot-tall Glen Canyon Dam near the Arizona-Utah border. Until recently, environmentalists could only rely on aging photos and lyrical accounts by the likes of Ed Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and explorer John Wesley Powell to convey a sense of the breathtaking arches and alcoves, labyrinthine side canyons, and sheer walls that were relegated to a watery tomb in 1966.

Let me use the article's own words--For some reason, sport, leisure, wildlife and the general pursuit of happiness remain impenetrable barriers to perfectly sensible attempts to introduce alternative sources of energy and stem the ravages of climate change.

Either we are in a war against Climate Change or we aren't. Either we all must make sacrifices for the common good or we shouldn't. So if we destroy a few species of almost extinct animals so that we can develop industries with a smaller carbon footprint, surely the end justifies the means. Concerts with no call to action and no tangible actions that could come from them and where people use plastic cups and create piles of trash while using tons of electricity and jet fuel for private flights don't answer these questions. The Sierra Club against all development so as to say we need to stop eating, decrease the human population and live in the dark so the world can be more natural. The Sierra Club says switching from Coal Power to Nuclear Power is:

Switching from dirty coal plants to dangerous nuclear power is like giving up smoking cigarettes and taking up crack.

Too many decisions. And most developing nations simply ignore all of it and focus on growing their economies. Nuclear is taking off in China because it is cheap and doesn't displace millions like 3 gorges. Plus it doesn't pollute their cities that are already so polluted you cannot breathe. No one can agree on how to combat things. Some say ski resorts need to make snow in order to stay viable. Others say snowmaking is exactly the kind of luxury excess that has led us to global warming. Maybe the nutjobs that defaced the H2 should start busting up snowmaking machines next.

Posted by Justin at 11:40 AM

July 20, 2007

American Ski Co. Is No More

This from the SLC Tribune:

The Canyons Resort, final vestige of the American Skiing Co. empire, will be sold for $100 million to the company that bought United Park City Mines and is converting its property along Deer Valley's fringes into a posh ski and golf development.

Talisker Canyons Finance Co. LLC, a subsidiary of the Toronto-based real estate development and investment company Talisker Corp., will buy the resort outside of Park City and all stock in American Skiing Co. Resort Properties, Inc., which has contractual rights and obligations involving The Canyons.

Talisker also is assuming responsibility for pending litigation in which the resort's former owner, Wolf Mountain, contends it should regain the property because American Skiing defaulted on a lease...

The sale of The Canyons means American Skiing has disposed of all eight resorts under its control at the start of last ski season, raising $599 million used to pay off creditors. Those creditors included Oak Hill Capital Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity firm that was American Skiing's majority shareholder.

On June 21, when American Skiing filed papers to dissolve with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, company officials said The Canyons would continue to operate under Oak Hill as it has in the past.

Well, that is everything. Gone are 9 resorts in a little under a year. The folks at Steamboat seem pretty happy about the changes and no one wuite knows what to make of what is going to happen to the smaller resorts.

Posted by Justin at 10:17 AM

July 19, 2007

Wackos on the Attack

This article from the WAPO paints a side of the Green Movement that may be Earth Friendly, but is far from friendly about other people's choices:

On a narrow, leafy street in Northwest Washington, where Prius hybrid cars and Volvos are the norm, one man bought a flashy gray Hummer that was too massive to fit in his garage.

So he parked the seven-foot-tall behemoth on the street in front of his house and smiled politely when his eco-friendly neighbors looked on in disapproval at his "dream car."

It lasted five days on the street before two masked men took a bat to every window, a knife to each 38-inch tire and scratched into the body: "FOR THE ENVIRON."

Vandalism for the Environment. Perhaps they should simply have spent their time in the middle of the night watching Live Earth reruns.

It is probably not real Earth friendly to drive an H2. But jamming knives into tires and scratching paint isn't too earth friendly either. Now, he gets to simply repaint it and replace the tires. Or maybe he gets the message and sells it to someone else in some other neighborhood.

But what is the message? Is the message that college aged Eco-nut kids know no bounds in making decisions about the property that others are allowed to own? Why not blow up a GM Plant or kill a few executives? Why not send letter bombs to "Industrialists"? Why stop at vandalism instead of taking it to the next level?

This is collectivism and communism in action. The "people" make decisions on what other people can own and not own. There is no respect for property rights. And for whatever reasons that the "people" can justify, they feel it is their responsibility to make decisions for other people.

And now the reasoning is "to save the Earth". What better reason could there be than that? The Earth is too important to sit by and not witch hunt people that aren't friendly enough to it and destroy their property. If you believe strongly enough in your cause, you can justify almost anything.

Posted by Justin at 08:50 AM | Comments (2)

July 16, 2007

Are You Serious?

From the Entertainment section of the AZ Republic:

Bikini mud wrestling isn't as sexy as you might think.

Saturday night at All Starz Sports Bar & Grill in Chandler, watching half-naked women writhe around in a kiddie pool of mud proved more akin to watching Animal Planet than the Playboy channel.

To raise money for the post-production of their independent horror film the Virgin Murders, producers organized a mud wrestling competition between the movie's stars and any Valley women who signed a waiver.

I wanted to post the pictures, but you can head there for yourself at:

http://www.azcentral.com/ent/nightlife/pics/mudwrestle.jpg

Good stuff.

Posted by Justin at 12:18 PM

July 14, 2007

Hacking the RAZR

I have a Motorola V3C RAZR that is pretty cool (though it is kinda 2005 old school now). But Verizon Wireless are a bunch of punks with disabling most of the cool stuff it can do. Can you hear me now?

My buddy Chris at Brian Head turned me on to this site that has all the hacks that are necessary to enable you to create and load your own ringtones from mp3's and to use your PC to sync data files, pictures, music, etc. with your phone.

You gotta get Motorola Phone Tools and do what is called a seem edit which is kinda like what Tera had to do to my favorite Levis last week when they got snagged in the dryer door and ripped. I trust her to edit those seams, but messing with the firmwear on my phone is probably out of her league. But the walk through is pretty simple and well documented on the site.

So now I have created two ringtones, synced up my Outlook calender with all my football games (Wick, ASU, Cardinals) in the phone, and in general played around with it. Ringtones loaded are Judith by A Perfect Circle and Beer by Reel Big Fish. I am still playing, but at $2.00 per pop or more from Verizon, I see why they lock down their phones. I am glad that there are folks out there smarter than me that hack things like that. You can even change the animations when it starts as well as the backgrounds, text, etc., of the main screens.

BUT BE WARNED--Seem edits violate the warrantee on the phone and can hose it for you. Considering that a RAZR is like $75 on e-Bay now, I can take that change as opposed to buying ringtones.

Posted by Justin at 06:43 PM

South America Info from Unofficial Andes - Las Lenas

New blog on my blogroll - Unofficial Andes.com which has some good stuff on South America including this post about Las Lenas:

Las Lenas was opened in 1982 and has since become the premier Argentinean ski resort. There is no town within an hour of Las Lenas but there are plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Most people who come to ski Las Lenas stay at one of the hotel/apartments that are located right at the base of the mountain. However, if you are looking to stay for the season or are on a budget you can try and land a bed in one of the gringo ski bum apartments.

Terrain
Las Lenas is known for having some of the most extreme lift accessible terrain on the planet. From the top of the Marte chairlift you can access hundreds of chutes descend in all directions that open up into wide-open faces. Below this there are groomed runs which fan out on Las Lenases front side. Grooming here, like most South American resorts, is OK at best. Don’t be surprised if you see a major wipeout on every lift ride. This is largely due to low intermediate skiers skiing on very inconsistent groomed runs. If you don’t mind hiking or are one of the nut jobs who enjoy it, Las Lenas will offer you truly spectacular runs which seem to go on forever. If you dont feel like hiking, Las Lenas also provides heil-skiing and cat-skiing.

Nightlife
The Nightlife in Las Lenas goes on 7 nights a week till around 9 a.m. If you are looking to party as much as ski Las Lenas is the place for you.

I still want to take a trip to South America, but money just ain't there right now. From what I understand, a week trip down there and a stay in the apartments (read hostels like accomodations) is dirt cheap. Transport, lodging (with 20 sweaty dudes in bunks), lift tickets, and food can be had for under a grand. Portillo has bunks for around $80 per night.

Las Lenas offers apartment style accomodations that if you sleep 7 in a huge apartment, the price per day for lift tickets, transport, and lodging runs around $600 per day FOR SEVEN PEOPLE. That is about $85 per person to stay and ski. Food is extra. Not sure if they have other arrangements for individuals to share housing like Portillo's dorms, but Unofficial Andes probably has more info.

Posted by Justin at 12:04 PM

New Link - OuterSports

I added a new link on the sidebar to Outersports.com, a site that sells military grade polypropylene thermals. Got a quick story from another site Deep Fitness.com:

In mid-December of that year, the mountains received quite a dumping of new snow, and my friends and I decided to make the trip to Vail to enjoy the fresh powder. While carving down one of the resort’s legendary bowls, I accidentally caught an edge and ended up sliding face first down the steep incline. By the time I managed to stop myself, a good couple feet of snow had jam-packed my jacket and pants. I was soaked to the bone, freezing cold, and standing in an almost full whiteout blizzard. When I finally reached the lodge, my Wal-Mart thermal underwear was soaked beyond repair, and I had managed to catch quite the nasty cold. Needless to say, I traded the snowboard for a warm bed and a couple gallons of Ny-Quil for the remainder of the weekend.

The following season, I decided that it was time to invest in some quality thermal underwear. Something warm. Something waterproof. At my local sporting goods store, a young salesman recommended the store’s featured product, Under Armour cold gear. I must admit I was a little skeptical at first. I was under the impression that Under Armour was created to keep you dry, not necessarily to keep you warm. However, the young man swore by the new cold gear, and claimed that it was the driest and warmest cold weather protection on the market today. Taking his advice, I purchased a crewneck, pants, socks and an outdoor hood. Although the gear came to over $200, I felt it was worth it to keep my body warm and dry during the next ski season.

The first couple weeks of the season were great! The cold weather gear kept me warm and dry in the mountains, and seemed to be serving its purpose perfectly. Then right around the end of December, we made the trip to Vail. Once I reached about 12,000 feet, I could no longer feel any of my appendages due to the bitter cold. The remainder of the season was miserable. The weather got colder and colder, and my new Under Armour cold gear, although doing a great job to keep me dry, was no match for the cold mountain winds. For the rest of the season, I was forced to wear my old Wal-Mart thermals on top of the Under Armour to keep warm. Once again, my thermal underwear had failed me.

This year, I was determined to solve my problem and enjoy what was predicted to be the coldest and snowiest season yet. After running some Internet searches, I found a product known as military thermal polypropylene underwear. Apparently, the military uses unique cold weather technology to develop a special kind of clothing, known as polypropylene, to keep their troops dry and warm in combat situations. According to my research, polypropylene thermal underwear was only recently approved for use outside the military, so I decided to see what the stuff was all about. Again, I purchased a polypropylene crewneck, pants, socks and neck warmer. To my astonishment, my total price was under $70, less than one third what I had paid for my Under Armour cold gear. At this price, I honestly didn’t expect it to work very well, but decided to give it a try anyway.

Over Christmas weekend, my friends and I once again decided to make the trip to Vail to enjoy some of the best snow Colorado has received in years. Again, we dropped back into their legendary back bowls, and again I took a nosedive right down the steep incline. Once again jam-packed with snow, I sadly stood up, waiting for the cold wetness to sink into my skin. I waited. And waited. All day long, I took falls in pile after pile of fluffy powder. And all day long I remained dry and warm.

Seriously, this stuff is dirt cheap. I have some Hot Chillies that are getting ratty and the boys have UnderArmor thermal pants that cost a fortune. I am probably going to load up on new thermals this winter. Cotton is getting old. Outersports explains it this way:

Polypropylene is hydrophobic meaning it is water hating or does not absorb water. So unlike cotton, the polypro fabric repells the water spreading it evenly across the fabric. This allows it to dry very quickly. When I say quickly, I mean within minutes. It also allows the fabric to stay dry next to your skin keeping you dry and comfortable.

Polypropylene also has the lowest thermal transfer rate of any other fabric. This means that it retains the warmth your body produces keeping you warmer than other thermal underwear material. Polypropylene's ability to retain heat works even when it's wet. So the bottom line: Even if your polypro thermals get wet, they will still keep you warm and dry making them the ideal thermal for skiing and other mountain sports. As a side note, the US Navy and Coast Guard are required to wear polypro under their wetsuits to keep their body temperature up in the cold ocean water.

Posted by Justin at 11:55 AM

July 13, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Sabotage

Some old school stuff for you. (H/T Rob at Say Anything for the FNV idea)

Posted by Justin at 08:22 PM

July 11, 2007

Condo Remodel Pics

The latest pics of the condo are posted in the photo gallery.

Here is the closet organizers inside.

These are the new closet organizers from IKEA.

Posted by Justin at 07:21 PM | Comments (1)

License Plates

I thought that I would share two license plates that I saw recently in Phoenix. Enjoy.

Tig 'O Bitties

Welcome to U of A

Posted by Justin at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)

July 10, 2007

Skiing in Iraq

Some just plain crazy stuff:

Despite all the negative news coming out Iraq, there is a glimmer of hope. It’s early days, but an investment and construction boom underway in the largely unreported, relatively peaceful northern part of Iraq, has led to a wave of development proposals, including the country’s first modern ski area.

Neighbouring Iran contains about 20 ski areas and has a long history of winter sports dating back to the era of the Shahs and the first half of the 20th century. Despite the image of both nations as desert countries, Iran actually has several entries in the list of the world’s 20 highest ski areas.

The many ranges of the Zagros mountains extend along southern and western Iran and into northern Iraq. Many peaks exceed 3000m (9,000ft), with the highest point being Zard Kuh at 4548m (14,921 ft).

The rumors of a ski resort for Iraq come on a wave of development projects in the relatively peaceful Kurdistan sector in the north of the country, which has been protected by a no-fly zone since 1991. Although this “nation within a country” still has many deprivations for most of the population, foreign investment and money from wealthy Iraquis is going in to new malls, housing developments, casinos and mosques at levels measured in the billions of dollars.

A New York Times article “Pointing to Stability, Kurds in Iraq Lure Investors,” on 27th June 2007 notes that The Kurdistan Regional Government is investing $325 million in a modern terminal at the Erbil International Airport to handle, officials hope, millions of passengers a year, and a three-mile runway that will be big enough for the new double-decker Airbus A380.

“We’re not saying Kurdistan is heaven,” Herish Muharam, chairman of the Kurdish government’s Board of Investment told the NYT. “But we’re telling investors that Kurdistan can be that heaven.”

Get them Hummers uparmored for the trip to Northern Iraq. This is gonna be a slightly difficult sell for the Kurdistan Tourist Bureau. I am booking my trip now.

UPDATE:Jeremy sends this update:

I am thinking that the avalanche would probably need a few aftermarket upgrades to make that trip possible. Does chevy offer a "gun turret" option for that year, or is that only available on the 07' and up Avalanches?

I think the other major problem would be all of the hoodlum Iraqi snowboarders smoking hash and blowing sh*t up. Nobody wants to share the slopes with snowboarders carrying a-k's, grenades, and RPG's. Bad part is if the resort takes the alta approach and bans snowboarders from the mountain, it's jihad time buddy!!!!!! Waiting in long lift lines sucks. Waiting in long lift lines with suicide bombers..... probably sucks a little more. On the bright side, I am thinking that the Iraqi national team will probably win that olympic event where the skiers shoot at targets, hands down every time...

Jer hits the nail on the head. I am adding the gun turret and up-armor on the Avy now and buying Kevlar body armor.

Posted by Justin at 11:40 PM | Comments (1)

July 07, 2007

Shell Lake, Wyoming

OK, we took the avalanche to Wyoming instead of the Jeep so this does not go under "jeeping".

Outside of Greybull, Wyoming, you can head into the Big Horn Mountains via Shell Creek Canyon. Right as the creek leaves the roadside and the road curves at the top of the canyon, there is a road to the right side that winds out and around 10 or so miles up to Shell Lake.

Jake and Jackson spent two days decimating the brook trout population with worms. We took out our limit both days and that does not count those 30-40 that we lost back into the lake for various reasons, i.e. came off the hook, flopped away while taking them off the hook, etc. After fishing the lake for about 4 hours today, we were preparing to leave and decided to fish the creek below the spillway for about 15 minutes. Just my dad fishing and us exploring. One cast, one fish. Two and two. And so on. In a matter of 20 minutes, he caught another 20 fish. It was insane.

But then our fun ended. It became Friday PM and the entire world had the same idea we did--to beat the heat and head to the mountains. We passed truck after truck of campers headed to where we had just been.

It is interesting to head up on the Big Horns. I spent most of my childhood up here until I moved to Arizona in high school. I still remember most of the places I went as a 10-12 year old. And now Jake and Jackson are that age.

My grandparents had their ashes spread right by where we camped after they died 10 years ago. My uncle Lynn had his spread at the other end of the mountains near our old cabins. Lynnie died two weeks before Jake was born. He was a mountain man deluxe. Beard. Dirty hair and clothes. And camped constantly. He had no use for the city or most of the comforts of life. Just the mountains. He would camp just about anywhere. But these mountains were his and my grandparents' home.

So we have close to 100 brookies, a filthy Avalanche, some horrible sunburns, about a million mesquito bites, probably malaria and West Nile Virus, and some new memories. Plus a ton of pictures that are forthcoming when I get time to upload them. Jake isn't much of a fisherman and I am about worthless so my dad got to teach his baby boy (who is 32) how to fish again. Well, not quite that bad, but fishing has never been my thing. I spent about three hours doing it with Jake and Jarrett though and most of that was trying to get knots out of Jake's line and trying to keep him from making a mess of things. Not a bad way to spend some time with the kids that doesn't involve skiing.

Posted by Justin at 01:00 AM | Comments (1)

July 01, 2007

Jeep Trip to Brian Head, Beaver Canyon, and Cody, Wyoming

I am packing up the boys, Jackson, and my dad and heading north for the fourth. We are planning some fishing in the Tushar Mountains (the range just north of Brian Head).

I bought a new Garvin Wilderness Expedition rack for the Wrangler and am packing the goods for the trip.

And then as I am driving to the Suns Draft Party in Scottsdale on Thursday the dreaded "Check Engine" light comes on. Looks like something is wrong with the transmission.

This started on a trip to Crown King about a month after I bought the Jeep. The tranny started slipping near the top of the mountain and I assumed it was just that it had gotten the fluid and tranny too hot.

Updates when I get it back from the shop.

Posted by Justin at 11:45 AM | Comments (4)