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2012/02/27 4 days of Powder in South Lake Tahoe
π 2012-02-27 01:01 in Snow
My group had a yearly offsite in South Lake Tahoe. I thought the snow was going to suck, but we got lucky, it just started snowing before we got there.

First, I wanted to thank Caltrans for stopping everyone and forcing them to put chains on to crest 50 when there was virtually no snow at all (barely traces). By forcing people to put chains when they are clearly not needed, in a misguided attempt to prevent accidents by forcing people to drive on asphalt with unneeded chains, you are teaching us that we shouldn't believe you when you say chains are needed. and find ways to bypass/cheat chain control.
Really, not cool guys.


Despite Caltrans' attempts to slow us enough so that we would really be in the middle of the storm, we eventually got to South Lake Tahoe, late for our party (yeah 7H bus ride for a 3H trip).


The next morning, heavenly claimed up to 17 inches (yeah, really?), and even if that was a "slight" exaggeration, they did have a good amount of fresh powder on top of tree trunks and rocks.


very 'small' line of locals
very 'small' line of locals


Obviously, the groomers aren't quite my thing, and I'm otherwise not a huge heavenly fan, but I do enjoy the Skyway Glades between sky express and Pinnacles. This was all closed due to lack of snow, even Ellie's was closed still, but I went powder hunting anyway, even if it cost me a bunch of grooves in my board :)




pinacles was still a bit bare
pinacles was still a bit bare

but if you knew where to get your snow...
but if you knew where to get your snow...

Milky Way Bowl was better if you hiked to the top of it



Mott and Killbrew were still closed for business...


That evening Maciej and I figured that it would be smart to be in Kirkwood before the next wave of the upcoming storm came, adn he got us to his condo just before the snow started falling harder. This allowed us to enjoy fresh powder with a usable base at kirkwood on Wed morning.
While only cornice was running to the top, they did a good job running it most of the day despite the winds and blizzard like conditions at times. More pow for me, yeah! The best part was that snow on wed, and self filling tracks were quite good and there was virtually no line:





Thursday, everyone, their brother, sister and dog came to kirkwood. By 09:00 when cornice opened, there actually was a bit of a line for first tracks, but nothing too bad. Fantastic snow and self filling tracks all day :)


my coworker Marcin also had transportation trouble that stopped him from getting to work.
my coworker Marcin also had transportation trouble that stopped him from getting to work.


but yeah, we got a bit of a line
but yeah, we got a bit of a line


Then the wall eventually opened. That also led to a long line :)



but it was worth it :)
but it was worth it :)

Thursday truly was a great snow day, except for the miserable weather :)
On Friday, it was a bluebird with still some powder to be had if you went a bit farther for it. The ski boundary was open towards Emigrant lake, so I took Arturo and Karl there for nice powder that was left over.


Palisades
Palisades

More Palisades
More Palisades



getting to the ski boundary
getting to the ski boundary

and there we were. Plenty of freshies
and there we were. Plenty of freshies


back for more :)
back for more :)


The 3rd day (yellow) is the only day I was able to go off both ski boundaries on both sides, or for that matter, not ride Cornice almost all day :) but turns out the other 2 days were still the best :)


And that was it. 4 days of the best contiguous snow you could have gotten this year. I got lucky to have a company outing at the right time by sheer luck, and cool coworkers to get me around and host me. Thanks all!

2012/02/19 Very Late Season Start at Kirkwood
π 2012-02-19 01:01 in Snow
As sad as it is, by Feb 19th, I had not gone to Tahoe once this season yet. The conditions just didn't warrant the trip since their base coverage was so low.

So kirkwood had a bit ore than other folks, but they were still suffering. I got cliffed out in places I otherwise knew, and Eagle Bowl was very bare with grass everywhere still, it looked like early december.

Anyway, I made the best of it :)

the wall, not looking good, can't even traverse
the wall, not looking good, can't even traverse

eagle bowl looks way too green...
eagle bowl looks way too green...

did I mention way too much vegetation that didn't belong?
did I mention way too much vegetation that didn't belong?

doh, cliffed out
doh, cliffed out

crap, cliffed out again
crap, cliffed out again

seriously, how do I get down?
seriously, how do I get down?

I then went to the back side to check out the snow at the boundary there and go all the way to Emigrant Lake:

the wave, still bare
the wave, still bare

thanks to the tow rope, it wasn't too hard to get to the boundary
thanks to the tow rope, it wasn't too hard to get to the boundary

'access today', yeah!
'access today', yeah!

no good way down
no good way down

but I was able to find another way. view from the bottom of the lake
but I was able to find another way. view from the bottom of the lake

in the end I got to the bottom of chair 3 and hiked back up from there.
in the end I got to the bottom of chair 3 and hiked back up from there.

first time I got down that ridge and mostly made it back
first time I got down that ridge and mostly made it back

the snow on that side was just wind blown and crusty
the snow on that side was just wind blown and crusty

Day 2: back from more.


Hi Jim!
Hi Jim!

bottom of sunrise wasn't pretty...
bottom of sunrise wasn't pretty...

and before we knew it, time to go home. Go Jim!



2012/02/18 Quick Bike Ride by Steven's Creek Trail
π 2012-02-18 01:01 in Exercising
We haven't been able to go exercising outside much due to Jennifer's ankle needing extra care until she can have surgery to fix her ligaments. That said, we've still gone biking a bit, which seems ok for her, so we took Steven's Creek trail to the Shoreline LAke to have a little lunch.


those duck birdies were all over
those duck birdies were all over

They have very strange half webbed feet with claws
They have very strange half webbed feet with claws


2012/02/05 Test Driving the Ferrari FF around Aspen, Colorado
π 2012-02-05 01:01 in Cars
Initially I had signed up for a Ferrari drive the FF on snow and ice racetrack course, and was much looking forward to driving the 660HP FF sideways on snow and ice (I mean, how was it possible to say no to that?).
Unfortunately, due to abysmal snowfalls this year, while Colorado had more snow than we did in Tahoe, it wasn't enough for the snow racetrack. At the last minute Ferrari contacted us to let us know that they had to turn the track event into a street rally and also gave us the option of cancelling.
I figured I had already made plans to go and snowboard afterwards, and while it wouldn't quite be what I was hoping for, I figured driving around some new FFs still couldn't be half bad, so I went :)

appealing snow track seen from the plane while landing in Aspen
appealing snow track seen from the plane while landing in Aspen

In the end, we drove to two different nice lunch locations around Aspen. For the most part, no snow, but luckily we found some unmelted snow on the road around our lunch place, and hit a bit of a snowstorm at the top of a pass.

The first morning, we got an introduction to the cars:


the trunk can be quite roomy :)
the trunk can be quite roomy :)


the parking cameras are good
the parking cameras are good



my partners in crime and our instructors
my partners in crime and our instructors

Got a briefing before going:




It was a bit agonizing to drive such fast cars at the legal speed limit on great curvy roads when they were dry, but thankfully it was more interesting to experience how the traction control worked in the few bits of driving we did in the snow.
Let's start with the first day:




driver switch, just in time for me to try driving in the snow
driver switch, just in time for me to try driving in the snow



and we got to our lunch spot
and we got to our lunch spot

lunch with my 2 co-drivers :)
lunch with my 2 co-drivers :)






driver switch again, just in time for me to drive in small snowstorm over the peak. Yeah!
driver switch again, just in time for me to drive in small snowstorm over the peak. Yeah!


we had better traction than this poor truck
we had better traction than this poor truck


the pictures taken from outside were from the event photographer
the pictures taken from outside were from the event photographer


And that was it for day #1.

My verdict: while the car would obviously start to fishtail a bit when 660hp were gunned in the straight line in the snow, when in snow mode, except for understeering if you went too fast into a turn (which is kind of impossible for any car to fix due to physics), it handled superbly. Because we were on public roads, I only dared pushing it so much to see if it would misbehave or not, and all I got was indeed a bit of understeer in a turn, and nothing else. I gave it too much power in some snow turn and the on demand 4WD system kicked in without me knowing and allowed me to make a normal turn at a speed much higher than any rear wheel drive car I know would have. I was almost scary because it pretty much behaved as if the snow wasn't there :)

The next day, we came back for more and a drive towards Vail this time. Weather was sunny, so no snow, but that was ok, the scenery was pretty.




Aaaah, tunnels. THOSE were fun :)
Aaaah, tunnels. THOSE were fun :)



We then had lunch not too far from Vail:

Our lunch break spot
Our lunch break spot




And then back on the road:



from the event photographer, taking me in action
from the event photographer, taking me in action

We had a bit more road room to try the car acceleration and of the best part was going through some beautiful tunnels. Tombo captured better sound than me on his cell phone (first video) and I put a few bits together from the GoPro videos. Nothing really spectactular, and that's actually part of the point: the car works really hard to go fast without going sideways and generally to keep you out of trouble :)

If you want a better video, Tiff did a slightly better job than me :)

And before we knew it, it was over. While in the end it wasn't the hella fun drive sideways in the snow event that I was hoping for, considering that the weather did not allow for it, Ferrari did a great job coming up with alternate plans and plotting two fun drives for us to try the cars out and explore the beautiful scenery around Aspen.

This also gave me an excuse to go snowboarding around the Aspen Mountains, which is never a bad thing :)

Thanks to the organizers, the instructors, and my partners in crime for the good time we all had.

2012/02/05 Quick Trip to Aspen, Colorado
π 2012-02-05 01:01 in Snow, Trips
Since I was signed up for the Ferrari FF driving experience, that was a good excuse to visit Aspen and go snowboarding there.

Aspen is a nice little town, albeit expensive. Two of its main ski resorts were actually much better than had expected (Snowmass and Highland), so it was time well spent.

Aspen airport is 'fun', it's a super dangerous airport when it's IFR and most planes can only land one way with no chance of go around (for bigger planes, you land, or else) since the other side of the runway quickly takes you into tall pointy peaks :)

beautiful during nice weather though
beautiful during nice weather though

Aspen Ajax goes right into town
Aspen Ajax goes right into town



we got a nice little dusting
we got a nice little dusting



Aspen has a fantastic public transport system. They had bus going to all their ski resorts every 10 to 20mn. The first morning, I went so snowmass, the farthest resort (30mn) and also the biggest mountain.




their top terrain was open, but still a bit bare in spots.
their top terrain was open, but still a bit bare in spots.

EX terrain was available though :)
EX terrain was available though :)


Snowmass was definitely a nice place, and the dusting of fresh snow definitely helped.
The next day, I went to the more nearby Aspen Highlands which thankfully had received a few extra inches of freshies:

the nice busses provided by the city
the nice busses provided by the city





the cat that gives you a lift to the hiking terrain and pseudo-back country
the cat that gives you a lift to the hiking terrain and pseudo-back country

the ride sure beat walking :)
the ride sure beat walking :)

the rest was on foot though, and that was almost 45mn to get to the top :)
the rest was on foot though, and that was almost 45mn to get to the top :)

I was mostly in shape, but my body sure didn't do as well at 12,000ft
I was mostly in shape, but my body sure didn't do as well at 12,000ft

Finally got to the top
Finally got to the top

which got me to nice open terrain with fresh powder.
which got me to nice open terrain with fresh powder.







Aspen Highlands was great, I really loved it. Of course the fresh snow didn't hurt, but the terrain was interesting, and the back country experience is kind of unique for a resort.

The last day, I finished with Aspen Ajax, the local mountain you can walk to. Well, it was there so I kind of had to go, but honestly it wasn't nearly as nice as the two others mountains. However, the view on Aspen was quite nice, and snowboarding one extra day still beat a kick in the balls :)










nice view on Aspen Airport
nice view on Aspen Airport

very nice ungroomed terrain
very nice ungroomed terrain


And that was it, 3 days of fun snowboarding and a nice visit of Aspen.

See more images for Quick Trip to Aspen, Colorado
2012/02/04 Dinner at Baume
π 2012-02-04 01:01 in Dining
For our early Valentine's day, I took Jennifer to Baume. Baume was founded by the ex-chef from chez TJ (which explains why chez TJ now went way down).

Baume wasn't cheap of course, but it was very interesting food. Molecular dining as they say, stuff that comes from liquid nitrogen, interesting different consistencies mixed together, and so forth.

All in all, it was quite enjoyable.







See more images for Dinner at Baume
2012/02/01 Our new Xmas Picture
π 2012-02-01 01:01 in Cats
I was too late for last year, but since everyone sends pictures of their kids and all, I nailed the picture we'll use for next year :)

Happy everything! :)


See more images for Our new Xmas Picture

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