One of the driving factors in my decision to move to Colorado, is the proximity to snow and mountains and their beautiful child: skiing. I accepted the job here in December, but I didn't actually manage to move here until February, and now here it is March before I managed to make it out onto the slopes here for the first time.
But it was worth the wait! Today, I drove from Boulder, at 5,430 feet above sea level, west to Nederland, at 8,228 feet, and then a tad further west to Eldora Mountain Resort with a base elevation of 9,200 feet, and a top elevation of 10,800 feet. I was able to climb that mile in elevation over the course of twenty miles and about 45 minutes. Yeah, I'm that close to a ski area. Granted, this is a pretty tiny ski resort, as far as Colorado goes. Only 680 acres. But then, you consider that what I'm used to for "big" ski areas are Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia with 244 acres, and Seven Springs in Pennsylvania with 285 acres. Now granted, the vertical at Eldora is only 1,600 feet — barely more than the 1,500 feet at Snowshoe. But Snowshoe was a four hour drive from the house in Virginia!
So needless to say, I was very excited about the ease of getting there, the vast size of the resort (as small as it is, by Colorado standards — Vail has a 3,450 foot vertical and over 5,000 skiable acres), and the overall quality of the snow. While it was 60 degrees in Boulder, today, up on the mountain, it may have reached 40, and the sun was bright, and the snow powdery.
I arrived at the ski area shortly before their opening time of 9:00, and learned that I probably should have left Boulder a half hour earlier than I had. The traffic getting up the mountain was fairly light, but there was traffic. I was able to park fairly close to the Indian Peaks Lodge, where lift tickets and ski rentals are procured. And as "late" as I was, there really wasn't that long of a line or that big of a crowd to get started for the day. If I had to guess, I'd say most of the skiers in the area own their own equipment and have season passes. By next season, I will probably have those as well. Then you just get there, and head up to the lifts.
Speaking of which, from the lodge where you get the rental equipment, you really only have access to the "family zone" of the resort. I took the Sundance lift to the top of that area, and had a couple of warm-up runs, and found the lone blue square run, which shares the name and path of the lift. The conditions were good, and the crowds light, and I was itching to find my way up to the higher peaks. But it turns out, you basically have to hike up to the Challenge Mountain lifts - it doesn't seem like there is any traverse from the top of the beginner area that will drop you off by the upper mountain lifts. So I hiked up, and caught the Challenge lift to the top of the main part of the mountain.
At the bottom of the Challenge lift and it's parallel, Cannonball, there's a big sign that says "No Beginner Terrain". They aren't kidding. From the top of Challenge, you have your choice of blues and blacks. I had been hoping to take La Belle Dame down the top half, and then catch International back to the Challenge lift. But the pretty lady was otherwise engaged with the ski team's race competition. So instead, I found the other blue, Powderhorn, and picked up Sunset to get back to the Challenge lift. I actually skipped the Challenge lift, and took Cannonball, because it seemed to be running a bit faster, and it was.
Shortly after that, I decided to give the other blue slope a try, Windmill, but I took a wrong turn, and ended up skiing down Klondike, a black diamond, and then apparently catching Corona Road, because at the end of a very long run, I found myself at the Corona lift, which services the expert terrain of the Corona Bowl. So this is only my second time skiing this season, and my first time since early December. I'm really out of shape. So when I saw that my wrong turn had dumped me at the base of the expert bowl, I had a brief panic attack. But no sweat. I can ski.
So I took the Corona lift up to the top. The lift follows the ski run of the same name, which is a black diamond, but aside from being really long, it didn't appear that hard. It was groomed. It was at a 45 degree angle, which isn't particularly steep. And it's really wide. No sweat.
It turns out that Corona actually is a pretty easy run. It's just a very long run that doesn't give you a break anywhere... it's the same steep-but-not-too-steep pitch, the whole way down. So about a third of the way, I started to remember that not only am I out of shape, but that I'd added an extra five thousand feet of elevation. I stopped for a break and drank about half my bottle of water. Then I went and did another third. And stopped for another break.
I was carving the mountain fairly aggressively, and I think I was pretty successful. I didn't attempt any of the glades or the trails with bumps. But I did ski from the top to the bottom on some of the steeper terrain throughout the afternoon. I think once I'm back to my regular level of fitness, I'll be able to really have a good time on the trickier terrain.
Did I mention how glad I am to be here?
—Brian (3/2/2013 11:14 PM)
Well, as I predicted, life got interesting. Two weeks ago, Elaine and I moved to Colorado and I started working for Google. How's that for a bombshell? We are currently living in a sketchy corporate apartment in Boulder, but we think we've found a house, and we're just trying to get the details squared away, and then we can move in to our new permanent home. It's a shame to have to sell the rest of my Wizards season tickets (let me know if you need any tickets!), but when an opportunity like this comes up, it's hard to say no (for like the fifth time).
I'm really not supposed to talk about what I do at Google, so I won't, except to say that it's awesome, and that they threw me right into the deep end of the pool, and I checked in my first bug fix on my second day in the office, and if you look carefully, you'll actually be able to see some of my changes going live this week!
Oh, and there's a lot of snow here, and it's awesome. What's also awesome is that Boulder has a working public transit system, which means that when there's snow on the ground, there's a bus I can take to work, so I don't have to drive in the beautiful snow! But I still haven't got to go skiing. I need to correct that problem soon.
Wish us luck!
—Brian (2/24/2013 10:25 PM)
This morning, my mother called me to let me know that my grandfather, Edward Leitner, has passed away. He was born in New York on July 27, 1911, and lived most of his life in Westbrook, Connecticut, where he will be buried sometime next week. At nearly 102, no one could say he didn't live a full life. I know the last couple of years haven't been much fun for him, with his mind as sharp as ever, but his body being less and less cooperative. In the end, at least he went quickly and quietly, rather than after years of convalescence. There are so many things that I wish I'd been able to learn from him. A vast range of knowledge and experience were lost today, and that is a sad thing.
—Brian (1/30/2013 12:02 PM)
It just occurred to me that I've been missing in action for many months. Happy New Year. And stuff. Anyway, life is about to get really interesting, and once that's official, I will write a much more significant entry. In the meantime, keep checking back, even if it's not very interesting, very often.
—Brian (1/15/2013 01:42 AM)
Every once in a while, I throw some chicken on the grill, and it's pretty good. Once, ages ago, I brined the chicken first and I vaguely recall that it was pretty good. And then I completely forgot about it.
Well, recently I rediscovered the concept of brining chicken, and now that the temperature has dropped back to bearable, I thought I'd give it another shot. I bought a package of organic free range "drummettes" at Wegman's, and had Elaine dunk them in a solution of about four tablespoons of salt in about a quart of water for about three hours, then cooked them on a hot grill for about twenty minutes on each side.
It was quite outstanding — one so rarely tastes chicken that actually has any taste. I am pleased. The meal was accompanied by a cold three-bean salad of red and white kidney beans and garbanzo beans, with a table spoon of olive oil, garlic, onions, herbs, and some black pepper; and of course a side of warm green beans.
All this, of course being an attempt to wean myself off such a high useless carbohydrate diet, and onto something perhaps slightly more healthful. Since I'm obviously never going to exercise enough. Now all I need to do is resist the temptation to have a piece of chocolate cake that Elaine seems to produce from the ether at every whim.
—Brian (7/9/2012 10:13 PM)
I was reviewing my résumé this evening, and I'm starting to feel a bit old. Because now that I think about it, I've been getting paid to write software, professionally, almost continuously for more than fifteen years. Wasn't I supposed to be retired by now? I guess that's the economy for you! I'm really fortunate to have spent most of my career with two great companies — webMethods for the first two thirds, and Metron Aviation for most of the rest. And a few other shorter contracts, internships, and assistantships thrown in for the variety. I spent over nine years at webMethods. I'm not sure I can stand to spend another five years writing software, but if I do, I wouldn't mind spending a full nine years with Metron. I never liked the idea of job hopping — I know that seems to be the most popular way to bump up your pay, but it seems like the best thing is to find a job that's awesome, and just work your way up within that framework. From beginning to end at webMethods, I ended up more than doubling my pay. I'm not sure I can swing that at Metron, but I'm going to give it my best shot! With any luck, my next change in jobs will have me running a company of my own...
—Brian (6/17/2012 12:00 AM)
Yesterday, I had the great fortune of being on hand as the STA carrying Shuttle Discovery arrived in the DC area, and made a couple of passes over Dulles Airport before finally landing. I arrived at Sully Historic Site just minutes before the Shuttle past over the airport the first time, before heading to do its tour of downtown DC, and it was pretty spectacular. You'll have to take my word for it — there was so much traffic, that I didn't have time to get my camera out.
Fortunately, it returned for another fly by, and then the final approach for landing, and I was able to get video of the second two passes. The first pass was longer, but a bit blurry. The final approach was better:
Now I have to find the time to go over to the museum and see it up close.
—Brian (4/18/2012 6:48 PM)
My wife is a genius, and occasionally she goes out of her way to demonstrate that fact. So for her course on the History of Animation, she put together a stop motion animation short, which I would like to share. Introducing Coppelia the Clockwork Dancer!
—Brian (4/8/2012 12:34 AM)