Monthly Archives: March 2013

Spring Break in Colorado.


This is what they are supposed to be – a horde.

Last year (or was it the year before?) I compared the swarms of Texans that arrive here at spring break to a plague of locusts. I reckon that that’s still appropriate, but yesterday I saw them more along the line of Mongols.

See, there’s this huge kingdom to the East, and its ways and culture are inscrutable to outsiders. But every so often, an army bursts out of this kingdom, and heads West across mountains and plains, raping, burning and pillaging, then – as suddenly as they appeared – they are gone.

Okay, Texans don’t rape, burn or pillage. But they do walk down the halls holding their skis like a wife that they are about to carry across the threshold – and they have blinders on; they are looking for others of their tribe, and they can’t even see the hapless locals, so they make sudden turns such that folks get knocked down by the skis, or cut by the edges.

They careen down the hill in an out-of-control snowplow, eyes bulging, a grimace of fear spread across their faces, with their arms spread wide so that they can do maximum damage when they do hit the group of innocents that they are,definitely, going to hit.

They drive vehicles the size of Nova Scotia and park them slightly crooked, so that every Texan vehicle takes up two Coloradan parking spots. They mill – they simply seem to wander about the common areas, with no source or destination; since they aren’t sure where they are or where they are going, they make sudden stops or turns – and, of course, being Texans, they are oblivious to any actual regular people that might be affected by said stops or turns.

They take over the ski beach; they spread all of the chairs out, and lay their skis, snowboards and poles out on the ground in a mathematically-calculated pattern to take up the most possible space. Then they sit and drink and smoke, forming an impenetrable barrier to those attempting to get from the lodge to the chairlift.

When they do meander over to the chairlift, they form clumps – our front-side chairlift is a six-pack, which can carry six passengers in each chair, but the Texans, unaware that their presence is causing us to have longer lift lines than any other time of the year, don’t form up in groups of six to get on the chair (even though the sign right there says to do so) – instead, they form clumps of three or four, and sometimes they miss the chair because they need to reform their clump, so an empty chair heads off for the top of the mountain while Joe Bob gets rearranged so that he can sit by Debbie Sue rather than Betty Jean.

Oh – and while standing in the lift lines, clumping, they are wearing perfumes and colognes. Lots of them. Scents with range and striking power.

Now, most novice skiers have these same traits. And, when it’s a family group, or maybe a girl’s school busload even, it’s sort of cute that they are doing these sort of things – look at the funny flatlanders! Aren’t they CUTE!!?!

But when it’s a horde of them – when the neophytes outnumber the natives by a factor of three or four – it stops being “cute” and becomes, well, a horde of Mongols.

(BTW – the Texans are also alike to the Mongols in that neither group has any idea that there is anything objectionable in their behavior; both groups think that what they are doing is moral and right, due to their assumed superiority over the local yokels.).


I woke up at 4:30 AM, and gave up at 4:45 and got up. Drank my coffee and did my morning stuff.

Then the day went to h*ll.

I didn’t have enough energy to go do my run OR workout at 6:45 AM – in fact, I haven’t generated enough gumption at all today.

Ethel went to ski at lunch, and was gone over an hour for only one run on the front side.

Lift1Those teeming multitudes are Texans. It is Spring Break in Texas, which means it is Texan week in Colorado.

I didn’t run, either. Nor did I work out. I finally got out to ski just after 4 (the six pack is now open ’till 4:30) and got two runs in. That felt better.

My boss gave me a project, and I didn’t find out that I didn’t understand the project until he fixed it (he was in a hurry). My eyes have been grainy all day.

I hope that maybe I can have a more productive day tomorrow. But I’m not making any guarantees – because this is not the day that I was expecting to have today.

Sheesh, I’m tired.


Here was the first course of this morning’s breakfast:


That’s a home-grown grapefruit, grown in our side yard in Arizona, and shipped to us by our house sitter, Jane. (why will my editor condone “babysitter” as one word, but not “housesitter”?)

I suspect that, with shipping, this grapefruit cost us a lot more than one we could buy in the store. But Ethel gets to eat her own grapefruit, so for that – spare no expense!

I had Grapefruit, and then I had my Grape Nuts, so I suppose I had Fruits and Nuts for breakfast. Which fits, because, with some of the laws that Colorado has passed lately, and the fact that CU has joined the PAC, we might as well be in the mountains of California.

I haven’t seen anybody walking around smoking a joint yet – but then, maybe I have, and just didn’t know it I do know that the ski hill is Federal land, and we have armed Federal Forest Service agents riding the lifts and skiing the trails, and they say no-no-NO-no to dopesmokers in the National Forest, regardless of what laws Denver might pass.

So it’s really not a problem, although I would have to admit that I would still be more comfortable in Utah. Mormons are my kind of people, even if I’m not their kind of Gentile. When Ethel and I talk about finding somewhere else to live and ski, it bothers me that there aren’t any towns in Utah (other than Park City, where Ethel won’t go because it’s too crowded) that fit the listed requirements:

* A reasonably sized town at the base of the ski hill, so we can live and ski and  work and shop and go to meetings and church and the doctor’s office all in the same place.
* Reliable snow fall
* An Episcopal church
* High-speed (and high capacity) internet.
* Affordable

Come to think of it, Park City might not fit that last requirement, anymore. They are really attached to their real estate, and they don’t want you to have any, thankyouverymuch.

The amusing part of all of this is that possibly the best location that meets all of these points is South Lake Tahoe. Which would mean we’d be living in California. It’s a good thing that my parents have passed away – if I had typed that while they were still living, it would have killed them : )

Back in October or so, I decaffienated.

For a long time, I enjoyed consistent energy levels; I woke up, I went through the day, I sat with Ethel in the evening or went out to meeting and errands. Alles klar. No huhu, cobber.

Then I got a cold, then bronchitiis, then pneumonia (although it really felt like the same old monia).

Then, after the symptoms seemed gone, I started jogging again, and doing core work.

Now, I’m still way below the level of volume and intensity of training that I was doing before I got sick, but I can’t seem to make it through most days without some 5 Hour Energy.


And I’m not completely decaffeinated any more – some days I have to have (I say “have to have” but what I really mean is “seem to have to have”) one of Ethel’s diet cokes to make it through the afternoon.

This is because I am trying to get my body back to the point that it was at the first of January. And my body doesn’t want to do that. My body wants to lay on the couch and eat Cheeze-Its and watch Buffy reruns. (It’s true. Sometimes, like today, I’ll have to take a short nap, and when I wake up, there’s a notepad by the bed, and I have a message: “Dear Jim. Please stop this silliness and get me some Cheeze-Its and we’ll hand out on the couch and watch Buffy. Sincerely, Your Body”).

This is the “Valley of Fatigue” – I once read that phrase in a marathon training book, and it sure seems descriptive. It’s what one’s body goes through while ramping up training – mileage or intensity, or both. It means that most of the rest one gets is used up by the body repairing itself, so not much of the rest goes into refreshing the mind or spirit. At least, that’s the way that it seems to me.

At the end of this process, when one climbs out of the valley of fatigue, then life is wonderful. I turn a corner and have plenty of energy and vim and vigor. (What is ‘vim’? – there it is: energy, enthusiasm. Yep). But down in the valley – valley so low – it’s often hard to remember that that is the end result.

It’s like August in Arizona – yeah, I KNOW that it’s going to cool down. No, really, it will – by early October, life’ll be great again. But, as John Cougar Mellencamp says,

“It’s a sad, sad, sad, sad and lonely feelingWhen you’re living on the in-betweens”

That’s what the Valley of Fatigue is like – living on the in-betweens. In between the rest of illness and the recovery from the climb.



This is Mt Everest.

everestMt Everest is 29,029 feet above sea level.

Yesterday, I crossed 100 miles of vertical for the ski season. That’s the vertical equivalent of skiing Mt Everest, from the top down to sea level, 18.2 times.

I’ve probably skied more vertical than that in a ski season before, but I was never tracking total vertical until this year. I suspect that the year that I skied 67 days at The Canyons in Park City, I skied more than that; I was on patrol that year, so Saturdays and Sundays I was skiing All. Day. Long. One day I went over 50,000 feet for that day. That’s just craziness.

With so much lunchtime skiing, and so much time that I spent weak because of illness, I’m just averaging 7014 vertical feet/day for the last 76 days of skiing. That’s about five runs a day.  And that won’t get me to 150 miles of vertical for the season, even if I make my 100 days.

But First Things First. 24 more days on boards, and maybe I can get a “100DAYS” Colorado license plate : )