Saturday, January 30, 2016

Yeti: The Best Laid Plans

The plan was for January to be a big skiing month. It started out fine, but the last two Saturdays were a bust.

Last November I had my annual skin cancer screening. A biopsy on a slightly suspicious mole on my left calf showed it was "pre-cancerous." I opted not to have it removed during the last week of December because Sarah had scheduled medical appointments on two of the days and we were planning a trip to ski at southern resorts the other two days. I scheduled the procedure for Thursday (a non-teaching day) the 21st of January (after the busy first few weeks of the semester) thinking the in-and-out procedure would involve just a few stitches and not be a problem. I thought wrong. It turned out to be a three inch cut that required six stitches. The location, right where the top of my ski boot hits, plus the pulling and tugging of getting boots on and off, made skiing not an option for the 23rd.

Last Tuesday Joel was training with his soccer team at the Peaks Arena when a big, rough playing team mate plowed into Joel knocking him to the ground. He bonked his head pretty hard, but kept on playing. There were conflicting reports gathered the next day from team mates about how long Joel was down and whether or not he blacked out. By Thursday he still had a neck and head ache so after a visit to his pediatrician with Marie and then a visit to radiology at Orem Community hospital with me for a CT scan of his head and x-ray of his neck it was confirmed that Joel had a mild concussion. Luckily there was no internal bleeding. A visit on Friday morning to the Concussion Clinic involved various tests that further confirmed that it was a concussion and that Joel needed to take it easy for the next little while. He has been going crazy not being able to watch TV, play x-box, read, or go to school. Skiing and soccer are also out for a while. Our best laid plans are being thwarted.

Concussion Joel. (One year for Christmas G & G Emmett gave everyone a University of Nairobi sweat shirt in celebration of a favorite family song that I learned in second grade and taught to the family. Joel was not yet born, but part of our inheritance were several of these sweatshirts).

After his visit to radiology we made a medicinal stop at Sodalilcious. A therapist had mentioned that a little caffeine might not be a bad thing for his head ache. Joel eschews soda during soccer season and the only other time he has had a caffeinated drink was in Yangon when he needed a Coke to settled his stomach (it worked miracles). This time he ordered a Coke with cherry, vanilla and cream mixed in. He loved it.

Relieving Saturday boredom.

On the bright side, Will (actually not too bright for him) has been able to attend two straight Saturday morning practices for a children's choir set to sing in Stake Conference in two weeks. And I was able to do lots of yard, house and school work.

Today, Sarah was able to get caught up on scholarship applications, a little homework and getting ready for her supporting role as an escort during the formal wear portion of the Mr. Springville pageant. She was one of twelve senior girls selected for their service (president of the History Club for Sarah) in various clubs and organizations. Sarah also spent several early mornings at school during the week helping her contestant prepare for each day's lunch time competition (game making, cape making). It has been a nice opportunity to meet fellow seniors that run in different circles. Last night Marie and Sarah journeyed to Salt Lake to find an appropriate "formal dress" for her to wear. They lucked out finding a beautiful teal green dress from the Shabby Apple and a jeweled belt from Francesca's. Thanks to Aunt Rachel for the shopping suggestions.

The pageant is a tongue-in-cheek evening of talent, swim suits, formal wear and finalist interviews. Marie and I were entertained by the whole affair. The best part was watching a beautiful Sarah walk down the aisle and then smile and talk with her partner/escortee while waiting on the stage for other couples to enter.

One of the few serious talents came from Moroni Burrows who played his own very nice medley arrangement of  the primary baptismal song "I Love to Look for Rainbows" and the uniquely Mormon hymn "If You Could High to Kolob." Only in Utah.

The swim suit contest was very non-traditional and not very revealing.

Hopefully by next Saturday we will all be healthy and healed enough to continue our skiing quest. If not, later in the ski season we may just have to play hooky from work and school a few days,

Monday, January 18, 2016

Yeti Seven: Park City

BIG, that is the one word I would use to describe the new Park City. Biggest ski mountain in the USA (41 lifts, 315 runs, 7300 acres) with its merger this year with The Canyons (formerly know as Park City West--opened in 1968, Park West, and Wolf Mountain). The merger means the Yeti pass in now for 14 resorts instead of 15--last year the Canyons was a separate pass. Big base--which involves lots of walking and climbing, particularly if you don't know for sure where the ticket office and rest rooms are. Big lifts--including six-seaters which we learned are called Six Packs (why not hexs, after all there are quads?). Big lodges. Big prices ($13.25 for a burger and $107 for a day pass).

It took a while to get our passes. The nice agent had not yet processed Yeti passes so he needed help from his supervisor. Then he needed to input our names, address and birth-dates and then he needed to print out the plastic passes and write our names on each one. At least this way when the lift attendant scanned our jacket with her reader, she was able to call us by name (a nice touch). I asked if my birth date came up too on her reader and she said if it was my birthday the scanner would start singing  "Happy Birthday." Cute. This is not tiny, folksy Nordic Valley.

Checking out the vast terrain while I waited for tickets. 

Some lifts had maps on the pull down bars. A nice help. We often ended up pulling out the thicker than usual trail map in my pocket to see where we were going. Sometimes we just opted to start skiing down hill and see where it took us. We also asked a mountain guide how to get back to the gondola and we asked a nice hex mate from SLC how was the best way to wend our way back to the base--he skied along with us to show us he favorite back route to a nice double blue that led to the base.

We started out riding the Crescent Express and then traversing over to the McConkey's Express. It was blowing hard and snowing on the summit. We enjoyed our ride down Tycoon.  We next rode Pioneer up and from there we headed down The Hoist to the base of Thaynes Lift. The Hoist was a real black diamond--steep and moguled with some bare patches of grass or rocks in the troughs. We rode Thaynes lift back up and came down Double Jack, another black diamond. We then followed the slow and easy Thaynes Canyon to the Motherload Express. At the recommendation of a skier on the Hoist, we gave Glory Hole a try. It was better groomed and easier on the knees. We then took the second half of Thaynes Canyon down to the base of King Con Express. We had a nice ride down big and wide King Con to the new Miners Camp lodge for lunch. It was a full morning of tough runs. Our legs got a work out.

Crescent Express

McConleys Express. We got to watch a paraplegic in a sit ski board the lift two chairs in front of us. Park City has a center that accommodates (including guides and aids) all kinds of handicapped skiers. 

The Hoist. Steeper than it looks.

Old mining works at the bottom of The Hoist.

Miners Camp from King Con run.

 Biggest ski parking lot I have ever seen.


Pretty fancy fare was served up. The Moroccan stew was tasty. The kids enjoyed burgers. I ate their dill spears. 

Charge while you eat.

After lunch we rode the new Quicksilver Gondola over to the Canyons part of the resort.

Photo taken by a nice man from Dallas.

Park City opened as a ski resort in 1963. Soon there after the John and Norda Emmett family and several other families from Logan (including the Vern and Emma Ray Eyre Family) headed south for a day of skiing. I think Park City may have been my first resort other than Beaver Mountain. Back then a long ride in a four person gondola took skiers (snow boarding didn't exist back then) to the top of the front mountain. I can still remember the long ride down the mountain at the end of the day past the still in place mine entrances.

We knew we would not be able to cover it all so we stuck to the three eastern lifts (left of map): Dreamcatcher, Dreamscape (both of which accessed terrain that was interspersed with cabins, condos and roads--nice for people who like to ski out the door, but I prefer not having to ski along side, over or under roads) and Iron Mountain Express, our favorite. We asked a mountain guide at the top what run he would recommend and he suggested Mercury. It was a hit. Not many moguls, a fresh covering of today's snow, lined with white pine forests and not too many people. We skied it three times in fast GS turns. Nice.

Six Pack Motherload Express.  

We rode the gondola back (there is not a skiable link between the two resorts) and enjoyed two fun runs from the Silverload Express down Prospector. By now the wet snow had picked up. We then headed back to the base via Silver Queen and Homerun. We had time and legs for one more run so we gave Payday Express a try. King's Crown was a fun, easy run. 

If I were an wealthy easterner flying in for a week of Utah skiing and wanted to stay in one place, big new Park City certainly could keep one entertained for days of exploring on varied terrain. For locals, however, it would be frustrating to pay so much for a ticket and then only be able to ski less than 1/2 of the mountain in a full day of skiing.

If I were a local dad, I would hope that my children would not stay up past midnight reading a delightful book on the night before a big day of skiing resulting in a grumpy start to the day, nor that they would start lobbying for an early departure so they could go home and hang out with friends. Just sayin'.

April 2014 photo of Deer Valley (upper left) Park City (center) and part of The Canyons (right). Our favorite run Mercury is the clear cut run down through the trees on the far right.

A broader view of the Park City resorts, olympic park, with the Cottonwood Canyon resorts in the distance (upper right).