Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Long Overdue Update

Man, it's been quite a while since I've written anything here. I guess I pretty much lost interest. That, and I haven't been up to too much that's particularly exciting. Not that that stopped me in the past, but I sort of fell out of the habit and have had a hard time getting interested again. Maybe part of the problem is that I've gotten very little feedback about this blog. I haven't done much of anything to bring in readers, other than sending out what I wrote about the Rainier climb along with pictures to a bunch of people. I haven't even set up a feed from here to Facebook, which is where I do pretty much all of my sharing these days. Other than the Rainier article, pretty much the only feedback I've gotten about this blog is in real life, which is just kind of weird. Enough with the excuses, I'll get to a brief overview of what I've been up to.

In February, I went skiing for the first time in at least a decade in Taos. I went the week of Presidents Day, just after the project I had been slaving over for a few months at work wrapped up. I made the arrangements only about a week or so beforehand, when it finally looked like we were going to make it. I made all the arrangements (including lift ticket and ski rental) through the hotel I stayed at in Taos Ski Valley. Staying there was definitely more expensive than staying in town would have been, but I wanted to be close, especially in case there was overnight snow and my little car would have getting trouble getting to the mountain. After parking Monday morning, I didn't move my car until I left Thursday morning. I ate breakfast and dinner pretty much every day in a little bar/restaurant in the same clump of buildings as my hotel and the ski rental shop. It was good and reasonably priced, probably only a little more expensive than town, but it was full of skiers and people who work on the mountain, which made for easy conversation. It was also really nice that the Olympics were on TV the entire time, there was always something to discuss with strangers.

I raced slalom in high school, so I used to be a pretty good skier, but only skied a couple of times during college, and not at all after moving to Texas. Having once been relatively good and my legs being in good shape helped significantly, I think, in my return. I started on green runs (the easiest), quickly moved to blues (medium), and even a couple of black runs (difficult) by the end of the first day. I didn't even come close to attempting any double black diamonds (expert only). Taos Ski Valley has pretty advanced terrain, and most of their black runs, in addition to being fairly steep, are ungroomed and therefore covered in moguls. One run I spent a while on was half groomed, so I could take the moguls one or two at a time to relearn how to ski them, and then ski on the groomed portion for fun. I certainly didn't get to the point that I would call good on the moguls, but I did really enjoy myself. One other reason I liked the black runs is that I spent a lot more time than on the blues- I mostly sped down the blues faster than the lifts were going up. At the start of the third day my legs were pretty tired. It took about an hour for them to really warm up, and they about gave up well before the end of the day.

On my way back home, I stopped and spent the night with some old family friends in Santa Fe. They showed me around the town, which I really liked. I had actually stopped for a little while on my way up and toured the Capitol. My parents actually just visited them as well.

A short time after I got home from the Taos trip, my grandmother passed away. I went up to Dallas for the memorial service in March. My parents, sister and niece all came down, so it was good to see them. My aunt and uncle and cousin and her family all live up there, so of course we saw them as well. There was a funny moment- my niece and I had gone over to my cousin's house where she and my cousin's daughter worked on a coloring project; my cousin and I were helping them and they ran off to watch TV, leaving two adults coloring with crayons.

Once again this year I went up to Pittsburgh in April for Spring Carnival. I took an absurdly early flight on Thursday in order to get to the buggy display before it ended. I took a bus from the airport to my hotel, dropped my bag and walked at top speed to campus, and made it with enough time to wander around and chat with old friends. However, most of the people I saw throughout the weekend who I knew from when I was in school lived in the area- there weren't nearly as many of my friends from out of town as the first few times after I graduated. The buggy races were pretty spectacular- there were a lot of crashes on Friday and on Saturday there was a shocking major disqualification of an entire team that would likely have won in both the men's and women's divisions. The weather changed dramatically between Friday and Saturday- whereas Thursday and Friday were warm to where I wished I was wearing shorts instead of jeans, Saturday (especially the morning for races) was very cold, to where I had to go inside to warm up a few times. There was some sort of 10-year reunion gathering at some point that sounded pretty lame, and that I skipped to hang out with my fraternity brothers and other old friends.

I have been cycling quite a bit, just over 700 miles since I got a computer for the Secteur. Since the end of March I've been riding to work at least once a week, and it's become my main means of transportation on the weekends. After mulling it over for quite a while, in April I swapped my toe clip pedals for clipless pedals. I went with ones really meant for mountain bikes, mainly because those kind work with cycling shoes that actually look like shoes. Since I still mostly ride to places and stay for a little while, I wanted shoes that didn't look totally bizarre out of context and also were easy to walk in. I also picked up a pair of "commuter sandals," which also accept cleats compatible with the pedals. I haven't had much trouble with them, mainly in clipping in from a stop- sometimes it takes a couple tries before they click in. I've found the sandals are harder to unclip than the shoes, possibly because there's extra play between when the foot moves and the sandal moves. Only one time it caused me to fall over when there were some bicycles in my way and I couldn't unclip in time to keep myself from falling over. I bruised my hand and butt slightly in the fall, nothing too serious. This past Monday (Memorial Day) I went downtown to watch the CapTexTri for the first time. Seeing all of the "less than elite" competitors kind of made me want to try one some day. We'll see if that interest lasts and if I can swim a half to three quarters of a mile without drowning.

I haven't been inline skating much. I have been hiking in Barton Creek Greenbelt every now and then. I haven't been riding the motorcycles too much other than to and from work every once in a while. I haven't been camping and it seems I missed the weather window for this area- it may hit 100 degrees this weekend.

That's probably about it for now. Maybe now that I've gotten that stuff down, I'll write about my next adventure without feeling a burden of all this other stuff I hadn't mentioned.