Friday, January 6, 2012

In the thick of it

All cleaned up and time to hit the town.  I can already feel the vibe of the awesomeness envelop us before we even make it to Main.  FiL wants some Italian, so the search is on.  I pull up Google Maps and somehow can't spell Italian, is it I before A except after L? Google pulls up a few restaurants.  Turn left here, and it is right on our right.  Parking lot?  Was that 12th?  Oh, no not again Google!  Next.  Get back on Main and look for a left turn on 7th.  Alright, 1 for 3 ain't bad.

Hoity toity super expensive hostess girl asks if we have a reservation.  Otherwise it's going to be 45min.  I'm thinking I can rack up a GDP sized bar tab in this place in 45min.  Must have been my shoes, Fox Racing...not Prada.  Thanks but, No thanks.  Time to pound some pavement in search of sustenance.  FiL spies a familiar place on the corner and we proceed to our destination.  Upon opening of the door, first look says Bar and not so much Grill.  It is all of 40' across and packed with a mixture of locals and tourists, we fit somewhere right in between.  We find the table that is open right next to a tiny stage and a speaker.  People at the bar have been there for a while, or at least for a few shots.  Maybe they had been there for a long while, or a lot of shots.  I'm starving and the body is shutting down starting with it's ability to make conversation.  I'm in full on tool mode and FiL is looking at me like this is going to hurt a little.

I need carbs.  Beer me!  Now!  Stat!  Where is that 1800's clad dancing girl waitress?  Oh, great the "talent" is taking the stage.  Well at least we don't have to worry about conversation.  Pizza, and could I get another beer in this century?  So this C&W singer cranks it up.  I'm not into Country or Western music.  It's somehow a sing-a-long and I don't know the words.  Dude stops and says "sir, you are not participating"!  I gave him my best I'm not from your country and don't understand your strange customs.  "Sorry I don't listen to Country"  After my second beer and half a pizza down the hatch, I tried my hand at heckling.  I, being fluent in music and somewhat of a smart arse, I yell out Don Mclean!  C&W guy seems to be more fluent than I and busts out into American Pie.  Touche!  

And a good time was had by all.  It was a rocky take-off but a smooth landing.  Next morning up early, body still set to central time.  Time to hit the road and find Durango Nordic Skiing Club.  I'm going to try XC Skiing, for the first time in my life.  I am excited, and a little apprehensive.  I have knowledge of XC and know that it is 90% technique and 120% cardio.  I am going to hurt tomorrow, hurt in places that are new and interesting.  First I need to learn how to clip into these stupid skinny nothing of a ski.  It took me so long that the rental guy came out of the club house to help out the "challenged" kid -me.  I'm feeling so cool at this point.  Can I get a padded helmet and a safety vest?  And, can you have the short bus come by to pick me up?

Learning new things, one sometimes has to set aside ego and embrace ones inner self deprecating loser.  I love me.  The club has 20k of trails.  We dabbled in a few of the k's and I found that I can't turn when going downhill.  I did learn that gravity is most certainly real and not just a myth cooked up years ago.  The earth is flat, at least the parts that I hit with my arse are flat.  The views were some of the best of the trip. (up to this point) 

That's all for today...Coming up...More Pizza...and a trip to the Durango Brewery

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Albino Polar Bear pt. 2

Traffic is slow go with us running a gantlet of single lane road girded by cars on either side.  Those are not parking spaces, just for your information -a PSA that falls on deaf ears.  Just 15mins ago we were feeling like the smartest people in the 505 area code for getting up here so early and done already.  Now it is looking like we just got caught up in the I-just-woke-up-from-my-hangover-to-take-the-kids-sledding crowd.  Crowd is not the word for it, Sea is more like it and I feel my life-vest is not rated for this mayhem. 

We continue to crawl our way down the mountain when we get just a few hundred yards away from the ski area parking lot.  Dead.  Dead standstill.  As in no moving.  Oh, four letter words.  Tire Stop Move Cars Many Time.  People are out of their cars trying to figure why we are not making forward progress down the road, well other than people out of their cars.  I stay firmly at the helm while my first mate takes an observation crew down to the surface of the planet to make contact.  Park and ignition off.  We are going to be here for a while.  Observation done, information gathered.  Police car across the road stopping traffic in both directions.  No other news.

We have not reached Freaked-Out level, but we are currently at Def-Con III.  Tensions are running moderately high.  I see that cars brake lights and reverse lights are coming on.  This means that people are starting their cars and putting them in gear.  There is movement.  We are being freed from our certain-to-come meltdown-name-calling fight.  On the move.  9 more miles and we have to find a hamburger, stat.

All the way through Albuquerque and no burger, and now the car needs a burger.  Bernalillo is just what was needed.  Burgers at Blake's Lotta Burger and petrol for the Rav at Connoco.  We are officially on the Albuquerque to Durango leg of this adventure.  Blake's, not the best place to go when you feel like you have miles to go and a deadline to fill.  I did however score a free burger.  Not sure if it was my fault (as in stealing) or their fault?  I was either handed the two bags or I grabbed the two bags.  Pretty sure I was only supposed to get one bag.  For my penance I had to eat the whole burger.  I was already full, but I suffered for my sins.  Yummy sins.

Uneventful drive, lots of snow everywhere except for the road.  There is always that one driver, or in the case of New Mexico, drivers that do not like to be passed.  I always find them.  I pull alongside, and then they speed off like it's a race or something.  This does not happen once, but several times.  Really? 

We pull into Durango about an hour after sunset, so no beautiful mountain sunset today, maybe tomorrow?  Turns out the Father-in-law is staying at the same hotel.  Must be genetics, booking the same hotel.  How weird/cool is that?  The wife and FiL (Father-in-law) book the same hotel without previous knowledge.  Spooky right?  Anyway FiL is only a few mins behind and we are cleaning up for dinner.

Holly expletive Yeah! We are in Durango.  Going to explore some new snow-sports activities, find an awesome brewery, and get called out by a C&W singer at dinner.  Oh geez look at the time... guess you will have to wait 'til next post.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Albino Polar Bear pt.1

Staying at a Holiday Inn did not make me feel like an expert at anything, but I did wake up with a mild case of altitude induced dehydration.  It's like a hangover with chapped lips, but not all of the preceding fun.  I'm like a normal sized human, I said human not American, and being normal sized you would think that I would be able to walk into a bathroom and close the door without having to be a contortionist.  I felt like I was sneaking into the bathroom, you know to scare the toilet.  I cannot fathom how someone of, let's just say of greater proportion could manage to get into the bathroom and shut the door.  That was my only gripe, and the coffee was bad.  Drinkable, but not good.  

Day after Christmas and the city is sleeping one off, the streets are dead, business closed.  We headed for the hills.  Today would be my foray into snowshoeing without snowboarding.  This was going to feel like peanut butter without chocolate, rock without roll. 

Sandia peak received 18" of snow in the last snowfall just a few days before.  We drove to the top of the Crest Trail and the road was less than clean and dry.  The parking lot was empty, the snow was deep, and the trees were loaded.  Temps were in the 20's, but the sun was out and had no competition from clouds.  Postcard views in every direction.  Sandia is a 10,000' ridge with a drop-off on the Albuquerque side (west) and a gentle slope to the east.  We hiked snowshoed the ridge, with this ginormous drop just a few meters away, but it eventually gave way to some tree covered trail all the way to the tram house.  The wind was whipping, but in the trees we were pretty sheltered. 

We made it to the tram house and decided to have a drink at the High Finance bar, highest establishment of it's kind.  Drank a beer at two miles high.  I tried in vein to find out if there was a two-mile high club.  Guess I should have asked the ladies?  After we finished our beverages we headed back out into the wilderness with a little liquid warmth and a since of head-home-ed-ness.  We backtracked half way back to the car and then decided to take some other trails.  The locals were starting to come out of the wood-work, and I asked some Nordic skiers where we were headed and they said to a different trail-head than what we wanted, so we trudged on and then decided to turn back to the car.

We made it back to the car and didn't have to resort to cannibalism al la Donner, this time.  We were still staring down a 4-5hr drive to Durango.  Time to pack up, leave and get some much needed fuel.  At the car we were engulfed with populace, the city was awake and headed for the high country.  This place had become a mad house in just a few hours.  It is most definitely time to leave.  The drive down was crazy.  Cars everywhere headed to nowhere, really there was no place for all of these cars to go.  The parking lots were at capacity.  We were starting to get a little nervous and tense with all the traffic, cars parked on the side of the road reducing it to one lane.  Oh the humanity...

Oh, no...what is going to happen?  Looks like the Duke boys got themselves into a beehive with no smoke...

To be continued...

Look for pt. 2 coming soon to magic screens near you

I captured a Snow Ninja

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot...

Waking up in my parent's house on Christmas morning, the house that I grew up in, was an electric feeling.  Knowing that Santa came and put presents under the tree/trees.  I felt young again, and excited to see what I had in my stocking.  Dang it, forgot to get Santa cookies and milk.  Coal for sure.  I did not hang a stocking so nothing in there for me.  One look outside the bedroom window and I could tell that Santa had been busy.  Very busy, and by the looks of it was still busy covering the ground and everything else with white flocking.  It's a Christmas Miracle!  A White Christmas in the Texas Panhandle.  What the heck?  Forecast said nothing about snow, much less a Winter Weather Advisory brought to us by the lovely people at the NWS.   Awesome, Right?  Yes, and no...we still have to drive to Albuquerque this afternoon.  Not a chance, not in this weather. 

So here I am packing up the car in a snow storm.  I had to get the bikes off the rack and into the car.  Thank you Tetris, for my unbelievable packing skills.  This is stupid, we have about 60miles of crap to drive through to get to good weather and clean roads.  Not smart.  The Boss said go so I jumped as high as I could.  I've put down a fair share of snow and ice miles in my existence on earth, with trips and living in UT.  It was against my better judgment, but Wife-y knows best.  (as it turns out leaving when we did was the smartest thing, probably should have left earlier)  [just don't tell her that she was right!]

Travel was slow and the crazies were out in full force.  On the outskirts of Amarillo I am flying at a whopping 40mph, which felt too fast, and I am getting passed by people of superior intelligence and 4x4 awesomeness.  Something catches my eye in the rear-view mirror.  It looks like a tractor sliding sideways, it is a tractor-trailer sliding sideways about 3-4 car lengths behind us.  Looks just like the movies, all slo-mo with snow roosting into the air and cars hitting the ditch to avoid being smooshed.  Oh yeah, this was a great idea.  I'm about to pull the plug on this excursion, but I already have the bit between the teeth and my destination is calling.  Turning around at this point would be idiocy and failure.  I must fight the good fight and spit in Mother Nature's eye.  Ha Ha I laugh under my breath, as I tell the Wife what a bad idea this was to be out in this weather.  10 years ago I would have been driving too fast and trying to pass every car on the road.  I'm getting soft.

A few miles from the Tex-NewMex border the roads are clean and dry.  Live to fight another day.  The metal of the medallion felt cool on my skin, a feeling I was not accustomed.  My sister had only hours earlier given me La Madonna del Ghisallo.  Even if I was driving a car, somehow the patron Saint of Cycling was already at work.

A few more hours down the road, a closed rest stop, a closed truck stop, and an emergency pit stop at the side of the road.  We were now inside the city limits of Albuquerque.  Google Maps the hotel and we are in bed in a few mins...  Not if Google Maps is WRONG.  Not sure if ghetto is the correct term, I'm thinking barrio is more apropos.  Finally after driving down a (this is so cliche) dark alleyway, I called the hotel and asked for directions.  Yes, I am still a Man, and I asked for directions.  Stupid Google maps.  2500NW and 2500NE are worlds apart, even if they are only 3-5miles away.

Day two done, a hotel bathroom that I have trouble getting in without shin-ing myself on the toilet.  Sleepy time and a day after Christmas to remember.  Look for part three coming to an internet near you.  There will be beer, I've been driving all this time so no drinking for me yet...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sick - Bad

It's day one of my Christmas Vacation and I was awakened this morning by the age old sound of vomiting coming from the bathroom.  I'm thinking this ain't good.  I will have to say that this was not bottle induced, this is good old fashioned stomach virus.  That's what the PA at the minor ER said.  Awesome, thanks for shaking my hand.  I'm already freaked out by being in a waiting room full of sick people, and the Dr. has the audacity to shake my hand.  Really?  Don't you know about the spread of germs?  I might be a little on the germ-o-phobia side of things.  I know, I know, but I see it as job security.  Dr. gets me sick by spreading some little bug to me, and viola...I'm in the office in two days complaining of what the kid in the next room had.  Very sneaky, very sneaky, too bad I washed my hands as soon as she left the room.  Bam! Take that!

Stomach virus confirmed and a mild case of dehydration calls for some anti-nausea medicine and an IV.  Half way through the bag and little miss sick-o is feeling better.  On the way home we get to stop at Sonic.  Bacon is awesome.  Back home and we start loading the car for the assault on the West.  Bikes, snowshoes, too many bags, snacks, Christmas gifts, and the doggies to drop of at Grandma's house.  This trip is a Go and we are only a few hours behind schedule.  Two to be exact.

We stop at the Mom-in-laws/Grandma's house to multitask...drop the kids doggies and exchange gifts. Done and Done.  On the road.  Not much to talk about between here and Texas.  Lot of road and not much to look at.  Traffic was not bad, weather was good, and we were T minus one state away from vacation.  Stopped off at El Reno, or someplace Garth Brooks is from, or they claim.  Taco Bueno.  10mins to close on Christmas Eve night.  I'm pretty sure I ate spit, and the food was a lovely room temperature. Tasted good though.

We made it to my parents house without incident, fighting, vomiting, or speeding tickets.  Pretty lame, no real story here, oh well maybe next time.  Right?  Mom and Dad start in on me as soon as we get there.  "You want anything to eat?"  "yes I do" I said as my Mom pulled some brisket out of the fridge.  One does not go hungry at my parents house.  Oh yeah, and my sister brought me a beer from NM.  Merry Christmas Eve, to me!  It's good to be with family, especially when they all take such good care of me.  No, I'm not spoiled.  Well, you be the judge...

Stay tuned for day two of the magically awesome trip out West.  Is it magic or an act of a Saint?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hang Over...Hung Over?

It's January 1st and I have a massive hang over.  No, you silly little monkey, I did not drink too much last night.  I'm hung over from my wonderful trip out West.  It's a mixed bag.  I'm happy to be home, but I also feel that part of me belongs on the high desert dusty single-track, or up in the thin air of the snow covered mountains.  That part is sad to have left.  There is a little part of me that is happy to be back.  Today affirms that it is good to come home.  I did miss my friends and family -family that is not related to me.  The family that puts up with me because I put up with them. 

I have so much to share, but not a lot of time to write right now, but bare with me and I will crank out some good lies, stories and a few jokes along the way.  Just a little teaser right now and more to follow.  Sorry it has been so long since I put something down.

Julie got sick the day we were supposed to leave.  White Christmas miracle in Amarillo.  Winter driving 101.  Snowshoeing in Albuquerque.  Country singer showdown in Durango.  Nordic skiing is not as easy as it looks.  Snowshoeing with the in-law in Durango.  Arches National Park.  Grand Canyon like views -super afraid of heights.  Super awesome mtb, and not so super mtb in Moab.  Long drives with a lot to see, and not a lot to see.  Dirty towns and scary drivers. 

There you have it.  I hope I did not give too much away.  Oh, yeah...I forgot to mention my favorite part...Breweries!!!!! I love a good beer.  Stay tuned and look for new posts.  They will be a coming.