Monday, March 31, 2014

Sage grousing

A few months ago, a group of people in the greater Park City metropolitan area got together and formed the Summit Photography Group. I did a first cut at their web site and ended up on the advisory board. That has given me a chance to get to know another local photographer, Michael Flaherty. He lives right next to the Swaner Nature Preserve and does a lot of great photography work with them and for them.

He had never been out to the Sage Grouse lek, so we packed up yesterday morning for a visit.  Because it was a Saturday, there were a lot of other photographers and birders there, some of which felt the need to get out of theirs cars, so the birds were further off than I would have liked.
I have talked about this several times on my blog, but a quick recap.  A grouse lek is where the males and females meet each morning during the spring to find mates.  The men do elaborate dancing and displaying in the hopes of catching a female's attention (and lust).
Sometimes I think they get a bit overeager and a little pushy.
This is one of the females leaving the area.  I just liked the snowy mountains in the background.  Tough to get them flying because it is early in the morning and the light is limited.  You can't crank up the shutter speed as much as you would like to.
Hoping to get out and take a number of photo trips with Michael.  Great guy!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy day. Sad day.

We have had a wonderful family renting our condo for the last three and a half years.  Sally, Monty and Hannah are great friends and fantastic tenants. Today they moved out, at least the bulk of things.
 While we won't get to see them in our driveway as often, they only moved about 200 yards down the street, to a house they just finished building.
Now we are going to do some minor remodeling and painting in the condo to make everything spiffy again.

We will miss having them so close, but they are still not much further than a good snowball huck.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The ski rack

This is what it looks like in our garage when we have a lot of skiing company.
OK, not really.  This is what our garage looks when we don't have any company at all. Julie and I demoed a number of skis this winter and with the year end sales, each just bought a pair.  The good news is that two old pairs will get sold at next year's ski swap. In Julie's defense, I am the worst offender.  Doesn't everyone need a pair of normal all mountain skis, some race skis, and some powder pigs?

Canyons Pond Skimming - 2014

This weekend it was time for one of our favorite Park City events, the Canyons Spring Gruv Pond Skimming.  If you haven't seen this in previous years of my blog, pond skimming involves trying to ski or board across an ice cold, 2-3 foot deep "pond".  Everyone is in costume and as you will see, some are quite elaborate.
The concept is simple.  You start about two hundred yards up the ski hill, run down carefully managing your speed, and then hit the water.  You lean back, but not too far back.  With coordination and balance, some make it all the way across the pond.  In reality, most don't.
While some people do very simple "10 minutes of thought" costumes, lots of them are very creative.  For anyone who has seen the TV show Breaking Bad, you will recognize this character and his tray full of blue meth.
Not sure what this guy was dressed as, but he is showing what happens when you start leaning forward.
... and it doesn't end well.
This guy didn't get all the way across, but his balance was so good that he was able to drink whiskey from a bottle as he skied across.  The RIP Shane probably refers to Shane McConkey, a famous extreme skier who died.

You can either go off a one foot drop or take the little jump.  Of course, the more exciting ones come from the jump.  Most doing the jump strive for big air, which is always followed by a big splash.  This guy had a much more athletic approach.
 Even with such a small jump, he managed to turn a 360 in the air.
 Coming back around.
 and landing it smoothly.
 Smoothly, but unfortunately with just a bit too much forward lean.
I said that big air from the jump means a big splash.  Here is the one clear exception. She got a good jump and some good, but not great air.
She lands it smoothly.
 And rides it right on out.  For grace, I don't think anyone matched her efforts.
I am not sure why this Panda has a cape and blue smoke coming from his poles.  Perhaps something from kid's TV?   Perhaps just really weird?
Now this is how a lot of people came off the jump.  Big and with little regard for their bodies.
 Notice the ski flying through the air. I'm not sure this was what ski binding makers had in mind.
I am not sure how this guy successfully skied down to the jump.  As soon as he went off the jump, both skis dropped off and he did his best Superman impersonation.
If you look closely, you'll see that this guy is built like Superman, making him one of the female crowd favorites.
We've seen what leaning forward can do to you.  Here's what happens when you go a bit too far back.
 You start with a forceful enema.
And then you get smacked on your butt with your own skis.  Not many style points awarded for this one.
I would have to give this guy the prize for the smoothest pond crossing.  Dressed in lederhosen, he's carrying a beer.
He made it look easy and didn't spill a drop. He popped up onto the far bank and chugged his beer.
A group came down, one after another.  The guy in the air clearly has no hope of landing in a way that can keep him upright.
I included his picture because this was probably the biggest splash of the day. I'm guessing 25-30 feet.
This one started looking ok.
 But he was rolling backwards too slowly for a back flip and too quickly for a happy landing.
 I was pretty sure he wouldn't recover from this position.
 and that was correct.
Every year there is at least one effort that goes way beyond all others.  This year it was Pinocchio, Geppetto, and a cricket on their boat, being chased by Terrible Dogfish.
 Geppetto took a fall as they got close to the water.  Not a good idea with Dogfish right behind.

The fact that the giant fish was going off the jump was just too much to watch.
 Not a lot of air, but at least the cricket got clear.
 Because Geppetto was dragging the ground, the boat never even made it all the way into the water.  That's kind of ironic.
The "spout" was created by a large fire extinguisher, routed up to the blowhole.   Now he looks like Sad Crazy Dogfish.
Fortunately, this guy was right near the end.  You can tell he has a lot more speed than most of the competitors.
 Then he cut hard.
One of the downsides of having a camera to your eye is that you don't see the water coming until it is too late. Glad I always have a cleaning cloth in my pocket.
Also glad it was a beautiful sunny day.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Glad this didn't happen in summer

We are very paranoid about fire out here in our high altitude desert.  The Gamble Oaks that grow in this area are always half-dead and can spread a fire in a heartbeat.  Fortunately, in winter the snow keeps that from happening.

Julie took this yesterday as she drove up Deer Valley Dr.  The police had arrived but the firetrucks hadn't yet, which is surprising since they have a station about a mile from the fire.
This house is down at the base of our hill, so given a dry summer and a good breeze, we could see the fire march up the hill in our direction.  Always a worry.

Fortunately, the fire was put out quickly and it never got much worse than this.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fireside Dining

Park City has a lot of good restaurants but one of the most delicious and unusual is Deer Valley's Fireside Dining. Several nights a week, they serve a three course meal up at the Empire Lodge. Because Julie is a DV employee, she gets a buy one - get one coupon at each of DV's restaurants.  Last night we did Fireside.

The first course is raclette, or as our old ski group knew it, melty cheesy. Big rounds of cheese are put near a roaring fire.  The cheese melts down onto a plate, to which you add meats, potatoes, breads and spices.  Yumm!
The next course is the entrees. Below you can see the leg of lamb roasting next to another fireplace. The also have salads, soups, fish, and my favorite a veal mushroom stew that's to die for.
I didn't take a shot of the third course, dessert.  There you gather your things to dip (strawberries, pineapple, biscotti, DV cookies, ...) and any or all of three sauces (dark chocolate, white chocolate with Gran Marnier, or carmel).

I describe this as three courses, but you can just keep looping around and when you get full, head to the restroom and purge.  It's the Roman way!

Julie and I had a wonderful dinner, didn't overeat (which is rare) and didn't have to purge.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making the NCAA tournament

When Mark Gottfried, NC State's new men's basketball coach, arrived three years ago everyone was astounded when he got us to the NCAA tourney his first year.  The second year, based on the talent on the team, it was expected.  This year we were always just off the "bubble" somewhere.  Never in, but never so far out as to loose hope.

Miraculously, NC State was the very last team selected into the tourney this year.  Well, sort of.  I don't know what drunken bet someone lost to increase the field of teams from a nice clean power of 2, 64, to a painful 68.  Before the tournament really starts, 8 teams have to play for 4 spots, to get it down to the 64 teams it always should have been.  State was number 68. I guess this year I should shut up and embrace the decision to go to 68.

They played in the pre-first-sortof round last night and whooped up on Xavier, which all the wisdom in Vegas had as a favorite. Now we play again Thursday night against St Louis.  They are #5 seed (1 is best, 16 is worst), so they should also be favored to beat us.  If State can play again like they did last night, I have a lot of faith we will walk away with the win.


If you are interested, the game is at 7:20pm eastern, on TNT.