28 February 2007

The El Potrero Chico ... custom car show ?

As we walked towards the canyon, we were passed by a line of VW beetles. We looked at each other and shrugged. We were soon to find out ... about the El Potrero Custom Car Show. Actually, we heard it before we saw it. The music ranged from an elongated boooom to mariachi. Almost every car had it's stereo blasting. Maybe it was a sound contest instead of a car show? There were some pretty wild customizations for a sound contest though, as evidenced by this and this.

Eventually, we made it to mini super wall and did a few easier 1 pitch routes to get a feel for the area. The melange of music didn't take long to drive us back out of the park. It was beer o'clock anyway.

27 February 2007

Welcome to El Potrero Chico, Mexico

The roosters bring in the morning. The wind opens the curtains, pushes the beer cans down the canyon road and makes the palm fronds wave proudly up on the cliff walls. The indigenous are friendly .. very friendly. We are in the land of aftermarket mufflers ... Mexico.

We wake up Sunday morning after a big travel day yesterday. My luggage made it. Mia's and Julia's didn't. We opened the door to see where were were. Lemon and fig trees surrounded our casita. We were staying at the Posado, a ten minute walk from the climbing at El Potrero Chico (wikipedia). There was no snow on the ground. This was a good start .. and very different than Saturday morning in Boulder.

While waiting for our luggage, we explored (pic of the hike in) the canyon's climbing areas and went to town to pick up food. We planned to walk to the store in town but it was not to be. We got about 200 feet before a Ford pickup stopped and asked us for a ride. Nice guys. A bit drunk but nice ... They made it clear that they loved the U.S. They didn't talk to Mia. They talked to me - even though I only know my numbers, in Spanish, to 10. Mia is much better in Spanish but it appears men only talk to men. This was the case in the food store also. They re-appeared after we were almost done shopping to drive us back. By the time we arrived back at the Posada, I was their brother. I mean it! One guy was almost in tears. We thanked them profusely.

Then we found that our luggage had arrived. Time to climb!

15 February 2007

The Beauty of Snow and Trees

This season I've been seeing a lot of snow but I still get slapped on the side of the head almost every day by a chunk of beauty. Here's one chunk. (Click on image for full effect.)

Here's another chunk.

13 February 2007

2007 will be a good year ..

Coming up quick - a climbing trip to El Potrero Chico (wikipedia) in Nuevo León (wikipedia), Mexico. We've been climbing indoors a few days a week for the last 1-1/2 months. Hopefully it'll be enough practice to get our bones off the ground. It's going to be nice to escape the cold for a week. As I'm writing this, it's 11° F here at home.

Last year we burned 3 out of 4 weeks vacation on an east coast trip - part family & family reunion, part climbing & sight seeing + lots of driving. While interesting and fun at times, we won't do it again - unless we're retired. One place I would revisit is the Gunks (blog post).

So we have lots of road trips planned this year. From the weekend warrior version to as many as 3 week long vacations. Also it looks like our Crestone (our rental site) renter may be gone a bit this summer. This will leave us a some time down there before he comes back. I'm hoping .. lot's of potential first ascents in the Sangres .. I think. Looks good from a distance anyway.

Stay tuned ...

07 February 2007

A great ski weekend (part 2) and first bump runs

Mia's been working on tele'ing the bumps lately. I haven't. Not really anyway. Bumps are tough if you're a below knee amputee skiing with free heel gear. (Some would say telemark gear instead of free heel gear but telemark is a friggin' turn not a piece of equipment. Get with the program!) Anyway I've been trying to improve my skiing - bumps were just not on the agenda. I've been watching Mia close though ... and others in the bumps - just in case ...

Well at Mary Jane on Saturday, Mia did her first expert bump run. Yeah, conditions were soft but still ... I started following her on the easier bumps and listening to her advice. (She's been reading the Paul Parker book: Free Heel Skiing, when she sits on the can.) It was frustrating but I was starting to figure out the intermediate bumps. Sometimes it's just scary because I have this big ass board strapped to my wobbly prosthetic / leg connection and I'm going way too fast. I'm worried about blowing something out, like a tendon or knee. It was also just too cold and windy to take off my leg and reset everything in case of a torquey crash.

Back to the Wallace cabin for dinner and great company. Their place looks just like you think it should at a ski area. Lot's of snow encroaching on life. (Click on picture for full effect.) Mare & Tom totally spoiled us, especially with the hot tub. Julia had a great time.

Mare volunteered to sit Julia on Sunday. We know that kid sitting = spoiling Julia rotten but it's worth it so we ski together. (Thanks Mare!)

Sunday, I really worked it with Mia and Tom. Tom showed us many good runs we didn't know about. I tried for the balance of technique, speed and control that would allow me to ski bumps without crashing. It sounds like hocus pocus but it worked, especially when I pretended I had a submachine gun strapped over my shoulder and was sneaking up on the enemy. (yeah - no kidding). I don't know where I get this stuff ..

So I did my first expert bump run, then another. Yeah, conditions were soft but it's a good start. I'm pretty pysched!! What I'm really dreaming of now - is getting up high on the ski mountaineering tours. Tom wants to come too! Did I say I'm pysched?? Now I can put one of those "No Pain, No Jane" stickers on my truck. Hopefully Tom doesn't get into the backcountry thing too much. He'll have to trade in his Acura SUV for a truck or an old Landcruiser or Jeep. You can't be a serious backcountry skier with an nice SUV ;-)

... long before my accident I used to ski bumps. Not with style though. I was just stronger than Zeus back then and could muscle it through. Now I have to ski smart and use technique. We'll see where it leads.

06 February 2007

A great ski weekend (part 1)

We were invited to stay with the Wallaces at their cabin in Winter Park (google map) last weekend - and go skiing. It was not so easy though. We had just received a decent snow and the wind had picked up. The snow was drifting bad - covering the roads and shutting some down. The wind turned a 2 hour drive into a 4 hours. CO-93 was shut down by the drifts, so we took a parallel road to the East, Indiana. Bad choice. We should have went even further East. By the time we reached 72, I was sick of traffic. We drove West on 72 and quickly learned why 93 was closed. Sometimes we drove in a total whiteout. Scar-rey! We reached 93 and continued West. Up and up until we reached 119. Then South towards Rt 6 and Blackhawk. Lot's of whiteouts. Lot's of driving which would be fun if we weren't supposed to be in Winter Park already. Yeah, we were bringing the dinner!

Finally, we reached I-70 and drove 40 towards Berthoud Pass (topozone map). The pass was pretty nasty too. Lot's of whiteouts. Luckily no Californians or N'Yorkers were on the road. They were in the ditch long ago .. ;-)

Finally we found the cabin and life was good. A beer put everything right and we hit the sack.

The whiteouts on the drive up probably ranked in the top 3 worst I've experienced. The other two required head out the window driving - Yikes! (Good fodder for a future post)