While we felt a bit stupid going to Colorado just as Tahoe had been getting 2-3ft of fresh snow, thankfully Colorado also got fresh snow, up to 1.5ft over 3 days in some places, so it didn't suck too badly :)
Nice weather when we arrived thursday night:
The next morning, we drove to A-Basin since it was close and we had had a short night with the trip. It's not a big resort but once we found the right lifts, it was good enough for a day's worth :)
loveland pass in the background
The second day, we drove to Vail and got over the pass while it was snowing and people without chains were sliding sideways or off the road. The rental Arturo got drove very nicely though:
The 3rd day, we went to Beaver creek since they had gotten a bit more of half a foot over night, and more than others:
very nice steep terrain
A big thanks to Suwei and Karl for organizing this with Arturo who drove our sorry asses around expertly
Two years ago, I went to Aspen for the Ferrari FF drive on ice class. Unfortunately, the class got cancelled due to lack of snow on the ice track back then, so we drove around Aspen for a copule of days instead.
This year, I figured I'd try again and signed up for their new ice day on ice, one day driving around Aspen event.
The direct flight to Aspen didn't quite happen as planned. First it left 2.5H late from SFO because SFO sucks and goes to shit as soon as any clouds are on the horizon (parallel runways to close, not enough horizontal separation for parallel landings in IMC conditions causing a ripple effect of delays).
Once we arrived in Aspen, it was too late and the weather had worsened. As a result, we failed to land in Aspen and diverted to our alternate in Grand Junction. We finally got to Aspen via bus, many hours later than planned...
nice view from my room at the Little Mell
After a somewhat short night, the next morning we had enough snow that it was not possible to fly to the ice track in steamboat springs, which unfortunately cancelled our ice driving class, which was a huge bummer since it was my main reason for going back since man last try 2012.
That evening, we had a reception and dinner at the top of Aspen/Ajax Mountain:
The next morning, we went for our scheduled drive around Aspen to Fork Smith Ranch. It was a nice drive with nice weather, and the same drive I had done 2 years prior:
my first co-driver for the morning
going through Aspen
a couple of bald eagles
It was a nice drive with fun people to do it with. Even if it was the 2nd time and I didn't get to do the ice track, the sole reason I had come back, the scenery was still beautiful and it was better than being at work :)
Here is a quick clip if you'd like one:
And it's probaly boring, but if you'd like a longer video to go through, here you go:
I was in Aspen due to the Ferrari on Ice program, which unfortunately didn't have the ice track part like planned due to bad weather that stopped us from going to the track. As a result, I got to go snowboarding in Aspen/Ajax on the first day. It's not my favourite mountain (actually the worst of all 3 in my opinion because it's too narrow and doesn't have enough lifts to ride good terrain at the top).
I got a great room at the Little Nell with view on the lift.
After my Ferrari event, we went to Snowmas to check in our condo by the slopes:
Our first day in Snowmass had great weather and left over powder. Snowmass is big, we didn't cover it all in one day.
they had good side terrain you could get to
The next morning, we got up early to go to Highlands. It took 2 free busses, but got us there. Unfortunately, they actually open at 09:00 and not 08:30 like the other places so we got there early for nothing.
The snowcat takes you higher up the ridge and you can hike the rest
Let's go this way
the ski patrol dog had its tennis ball to play with us
The 3rd day, we went back to snowmass since it was where we slept and where our luggage was:
Snowmass has backcountry you can hike to
The good stuff was closed
I got a bit lost out of bounds and got some nice terrain still :)
you get back on a blue slope going to boring base after a long run
And that was it for 4 days boarding around Aspen. The mountains were almost empty and the terrain in Highlands and Snowmass was quite good.
Steve nicely added me to his private trackday list after my asking for other events I could go to last year, and we got lucky with the weather that Sunday (superbowl sunday apparently, great, I couldn't care less about american football).
Daniel took my car the previous day and when for a fun drive, evening in Willows where he spent the night. This allowed to spend saturday with Jennifer since I had just come back from a trip in Tahoe friday evening, but I was watching weather a bit anxiously as it predicted possible snow in Palo Alto for my morning flight on sunday.
In the end, while the forecast did worsen to VFR conditions to mostly IFR, we avoided snow and I was able to take off from Palo Alto and get out barely in time with the front right behind me.
Warning to VFR pilots: this visible hole with sun behind the mountains closed up before I could get to it, and I was in grey, and no visible horizon 5 to 10mn later (never got into clouds apparently, which is great because they were likely to be ice bearing):
I was doing tactical flying of finding the right altitude to stay out of clouds and hopefully have view of willows and be able to land there, but 15mn before I arrived, I started being able to see the ground and horizon again, so landing was a no brainer.
Still, weather was very overcast and grey, but we lucked out, the weather front never reached willows.
Daniel picked me up at the airport, just beyond the weather front and took me to TH:
Nico Rondet was available to coach me again that day, so he was able to build up on what he had been trying to get into my head last time, his patented fast in fast out line :) Since I wasn't half sick this day, my learning abilities were better, but thankfully I hadn't forgotten everything from last time.
By the 3rd session, I beat my best ever 2:02 time and replaced it with a 2:00 (it could have been 1:59:xx with a bit value of xx, but video timing shows it was likely in the 2:00:xx range). It's true that I switched from steel to carbon brakes around the same time (I stayed with the same Pirelli Pzero Street Tires), but Nico can get most if not all the credit of getting me down from 2:03 to 2:00. Considering that I wasn't slow to start with, taking 3 seconds off that is a testament to his coaching abilities, finding what I had been doing wrong all these years, and getting me to fix it.
Having a couple of radicals to follow also helped me getting my time down. Here's a 2:00 lap:
One of the participant, Nicole, took a video of me when she was turning 2:03's behind me when I was warming up and trying to go faster. She was damn fast for that car:
By the 4th session, one of my tires was showing clear signs of trouble. I'll have to find out if my alignment is off, or what is causing this. Nico recommended that we swap the tires left/right, and that it wouldn't be so bad if they were turning in the wrong direction. Turned out it was the best thing to do, and while it seemed to have cost me 2sec/lap, it was a whole lot better than ending the day early:
I didn't get the chance to do more 2:00 or maybe a 1:59 after that with the worn rear tires rolling backwards, but I still got to practise a bit more consistency around the turns and more trail braking for the rest of the day.
A few car pictures:
My command center:
Daniel had more time than me to take pictures:
Chatting with my coach, Nico
Gotta love the lemons cars:
Daniel took a few pictures of the track. I like the first two where I'm doing a good job of using the track I paid for :)
I like the exhaust heat visible in this one
After a great day, it was time to figure out how to get back. It was an interesting tradeoff between potentially better weather later, but night, or earlier, clouds, and a bit of light. I opted for light since it's esier to plan tactically where you can see what's ahead.
I got on top of the layer and the weather conveniently opened up around the bay when I got there for a nice VFR landing:
Thanks to a company ski trip, I got to go to North Lake Tahoe at the end of January.
Unfortunately caltrans has been making people put chains even if there is no snow on the road, it took us forever to get there and then because conditions at Squaw were so bad despite the recent snow, I went to Alpine, but that took another 1h+ due to the inefficient shuttle system. In the end, I was at the top of the first lift around noon.
spider boxter with chains, nice...
you could still find some snow if you were willing to risk core shots
rock garden? Well at least they're being honest about it
yeah, I went riding through that, anything for powder
and core shots I got, I had to cut this out with my swiss army knife
mmh, I think I got a bit lost out of bounds, my only way down was in powder.
later in the afternoon, we got some sun
ok, that's better
The next morning, I went back with some coworkers. Thanks to sucky transortation and Squaw sucking, it took us a mere 1h15 to get to Alpine and we missed first chairs and new overnight snow. Grr...
Many years ago, I happened to be in Paris during the Bourget Air Show, and at the end of it, I had a quick 90mn tour of the museum (just before it closed). I was able to get a very quick overview, but a real visit requires at least 1 days, and to read the displays carefully, it's closer to 1.5 days (open to close).
So during my yearly Xmas visit in Paris, I had planned one day to visit everything. Unfortunately, due to very bad weather, they were scared to let us cross the tarmac even 60 sec to go to the hangars that house very cool stuff, including the concordes. As a result, we did a careful visit the first day 'till close, and came back another day to see the rest, including the planes in the hangars.
rainy day, good day for museum visits, except if they stop us from going outside
We started by the air and space room:
France isn't the US, but still pretty involved in rockets and space
I didn't even know the Russians had a space shuttle that went to space once
Next, we went to see to the next hangar to see some unusual planes:
the first plane that crossed the atlantic westbound was French
France also did a lot of work on early helicopters and autogiros:
I didn't even know this existed
The next room were early French jets:
This was it for the first day. We had to go back a second day to see planes in the hangars, including the concorde. It was cool to see the first concorde and the prototype:
They also had a 747 you could visit, including the cargo hold:
older planes had a salon on the 2nd floor, omg...
the first class seats in the 747 have gotten a bit better since then :)
Another hangar with more planes, plus planes outside:
The last part of the museum are the very old french planes (early 1900's).
The French actually pioneered a lot of things, like the first heavier than air flight with a glider in 1856, almost 50 years before the Wright brothers.
Barque Ailée de Jean-Marie le Bris in 1856, which flew as a glider
Ader built and flew a steam engine plane in 1890, way before the right brothers. It didn't have control surfaces like the Wright Brothers plane more than 10 years later, but it still flew under its own power, and with a steam engine no less....
a steam engine plane
The eole, based on the wings from a bat
It flew 50m under its own power in 1890.
One of many early french planes:
Le Bleriot, the first plane to cross the channel
The 14bis from Santos Dumont with Canard
this is the original aviation hall at Le Bourget
Also some interesting planes from WWI and WWII:
german attack plane
An interesting way to shoot with a propeller: metal on the propeller to deflect bullets
The next nice day, we went to Jardin des Plantes to see the multiple museums there, but first I wanted to stop by les Arènes de Lutéce, which I found out about after watching a documentary on how Paris came to be what it is today over the last 800 years or so.
As the name implies, they are left over Roman Arenas, which weren't destroyed by urbanization. There are also thermes that can be seen by special appointment (by orangerie) which I hope to see another time. To be honest, it doesn't look like much, but it's a cool part of history left in Paris:
We also had a quick look at the Mosque next door which is more visitable than the one in Jakarta we weren't able to enter. They had a few displays to try and fix the very bad PR their religion has been getting due to their extremist followers:
Next, we went to Jardin des Plantes which was of course a bit devoid of plants outside during the winter season. The indoor plants were nice to see though:
these were actually artificial art
Then, we saw displays on plants, animals, and evolution:
they have an impressive compact collection
[rigimg:1024:266*|"No, I didn't come from monkeys" always amuses me]
There was much to see, it was a packed visit. The last nice day of sun in the forecast, I planned a boat ride on the seine leaving by the Effeil Tower:
this put a lock on the bridge fad is getting out of hand...
Paris is running out of bridges to put locks on now...
locks, locks, and more locks...
Musée d'Orsay is one place I yet have to go to
Next, we went to see the little houses selling overpriced Xmas stuff:
very very overpriced foie gras
after which, we walked towards the small copy of the statue of liberty on a very small island in the middle of the seine:
this one is in French :)
From there, we took a cab to Arc the Triomphe and went to the top:
can't beat the view
winters are cold, but have cleaner and clearer air, that's a win for pictures
We then proceeded towards place de l'Etoile while looking at things on the way
Car manufacturers had new cars on display which I like to see each year:
The last outing we did was a half day to see the Chateau de Vincennes which had been totally renovated after years of me going to the school next door. The visit was quite nice what seems to be one of the oldest castles in that shape you can visit in France today.