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
Jennifer and I biked to the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum which is only open a few hours 3 days a week, and it's well worth seeing if you live in the silicon valley: it shows the early history of Silicon Valley and how a lot started in what is still downtown sunnyvale with Murphy street on the rail line that is caltrain now.
The collection and history of the early settlers of this area are definitely worth a couple of hours to peruse through, and you can see the last patch of farmed land in sunnyvale that escaped from urbanization.
The last original fruit trees in sunnyvale
Products of the times:
Moffett and Lockheed:
Traffic on 101 looked reasonable :)
This machine blasted Xray at your feet so that you could see if your shoes fit
well. It's only later that they figured out that this much radiation was not a
great idea, especially for something as mundane as shoe fitting :)
We stopped at the park next door to see the water birds:
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
better shot from the official photographer
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.
Unfortunately, we recently found out that our cat has terminal kidney disease (first he was drinking too much, and then it quickly switched to him mostly stop eating). I had to take him to the vet where he was diagnosed and they put him on fluids for 2 full days.
We took him home with an IV needle in his paw and he had to wear that plastic thing around his head so that he wouldn't try to chew the bandage and needle out.
he wasn't happy with that bandage around his leg
he also had a harder time eating with that
he wasn't too happy
his next trip to the vet, he was a bit better after the injections
He's now back at home and I put 100ml of fluids through his skin with a needle in his back/neck to make up for the job that his kidneys can't do anymore in clearing toxins. According to his blood tests, it has helped a fair amount, but there is no miracle, at this point his life expectancy is less than a year.
Considering he's about 14, I guess it's not great but not too bad/early either, I just hope he gets to go peacefully when the time comes. For now, while he's still not eating too much, but he's at least looking perky and seems to be able to enjoy life still, trying to find any chance he gets to jump on Jennifer's or my lap so I guess that's a good thing :)
now that he doesn't have the IV and bandage, he looks happier on my knees again :)
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: