Saturday, March 21, 2009

Stolle, A New Version

Two years later. Valentines day. We decided to repeat our first big trip together to Stolle Meadows Cabin, a small forest service cabin isolated in winter by 30 miles of snow covered roads followed by seven miles on skis, snowshoes or snowmobile. Quiet, peaceful. We were looking forward to it for weeks.

After a long drive in we were surprised to find a couple unloading their rig into sleds at the one parking spot. I decided to get out and chat. Turns out they were headed into a cabin too. Wow. There is only one cabin. "You're going into Stolle, huh?" I repeat. Before reacting I decide I better check my reservation. Yes, here it is. Three day weekend, check. January... um. This isn't good. Yep, three day weekend. Martin Luther King weekend. This is President's Day Weekend. This is not good.

Shelly was, to put in mildly, crushed. To her credit she didn't quite cry. But to say we were disappointed would be a gross understatement. I remembered from mapping the area that a few miles up the road was a bar and cabins that just might be open in the winter. Chancing it I drove further in rather than retreating home.

I arrived at North Shore of Warm Lake, humbled. It was good to see some life. The bar lights were lit and children were sledding down the road speaking some sort of Slavic tongue. Inside I was greeted with a warm smile from the bartender. I leaned across the bar, returned her smile and simply said softly, "You gotta help me save this weekend."

Despite my tale of woe, she could only sympathetically return, "Sorry all our rooms are booked."

I was expecting this, but was unrelenting. "Are you sure?" "Is there anything at all?" I was about to ask if they had a tent we could borrow to erect in the snow when a tall fellow sauntered into the scene and offered, "Couldn't we heat up cabin number five?"

It wasn't winterized. In fact we would learn there was places inside where you could look straight through the walls to outdoors. But it had a heater. It was ten degrees outside. We'd traveled nearly four hours to get this far. We took it.

Rob got the heater fired up. Warm it was not the first night, but we did everything we could, piling thermarests against the windows, closing rooms off with mattresses. We almost hit 60 degrees by the last light of the day before night assaulted our progress. But we had sleeping bags, we had each other, we had gourmet dinners we'd brought for one another, and we had a warm bar and new friends to make. By the second day when the cabin temperature stuck 70 we were down to our underwear high-fiving in celebration.

We arrive in a snowstorm
We arrive to dark skies and sideways snow

The sun breaks
The Sun Breaks

Two and Infinity
Two and Infinity

Ice Fishing
On the Ice

I Love Shel's Eyes
Weekend Saved

My Girls
My Girls and Cabin Five

The solitude was reduced to a degree. But I wouldn't call the weekend a failure in the least. We had a blast hanging out with the regulars at the bar, all six of them. At one point we even busted out the karaoke. And the mixed drinks couldn't have been any more inventive without a lab coat.

It was serendipitous for all of us really. When we had first arrived in our dejected stupor, Desi had spotted Stolle, the North Shore resident dog. It took only a hundred yards for her to injure her leg again and leave her on three paws. It'd have been a rough seven mile trek in and out for her, and likely us who would have had to haul her out on one of the sleds.

Helping out my girl
Desi couldn't handle deep snow

Joggin with my girls
Watching her carefully on the hardpack

Desi's new friend Stolle
Desi's and our new friend Stolle.

Be Mine
Rockin' the ladybug slippers and butt heart (I wore this same ensemble up to the bar)

Beware of dragons
Beware of dragons

Creative isulation
Creative insulation

Pecan-crusted tzatziki salmon
Pecan-crusted tzatziki salmon

If it weren't for the strofoam cooler
If it weren't for the styrofoam cooler...



Des and Koot Chillin on the Porch

Bye Warm Lake!
Bye Warm Lake!

For anyone looking for a really great quiet weekend winter getaway, cabin fever as it were, I'd highly recommend North Shore. The people and scenery are fantastic. We'll be back. Maybe even on the same day as our reservation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Isn't in a Syn?

This makes me giggle. has no synonym for synonym.

I'm never sure, but I think this qualifies as irony.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Letter to Life Flight

From: Brent
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 4:35 PM
To: ''
Subject: Is there a service map available?

On your FAQ ( you mention there is more information about the geographic area you serve on the Membership Benefits page ( however I can only find gross generalities there on the location served such as, “With bases in Boise, McCall, and Twin Falls, Saint Alphonsus Life Flight provides critical care to the broadest geographic areas in Idaho and neighboring states.”

In order that I may correctly assess how many risks I should take in a given situation, it would be ideal to have a coverage map similar to a mobile telephone service area map. Do you have any such map? If so I would be delighted to see it and it would be a great addition to the website too.

Before I put my life in jeopardy I am always heartened knowing your gyroscopic bird is on call to pluck my carcass off the mountain.


Not all that Bogus


Took some good turns at Bogus on Sunday. There's still some powder stashes if you're willing to bank off trees on Pine Creek. Hopefully they'll keep getting little dustings to keep it fresh. At least an inch fell while we were hanging out in the parking lot at the end of the day.

This picture of my Snow Angel cracks me up. We were sitting right above the cat track chatting it up and she gets up and turns down to the cat track. Except it wasn't quite that graceful. After landing on her face, I heard my Guapa exclaim knowingly, "Oh, there's a shelf there." Touché.

Snow Angel
Makin' Snow Angels

Like Hot Apple Pie

I had a great Birthdayweek this year. Skiing at Tamarack on Wednesday (complete with wake); presents, steak dinner and hot apple pie Thursday, Brundage powder on Friday, Jaker's prime rib and ice hockey on Saturday and some more turns at Bogus on Sunday.

Totally spoiled. It's hard to get back into the swing of working long hours and being stressed. I'll get there, but I'm in no rush. Thanks everyone for an awesome birthweek!

Thanks Mom & Dad! Hot Apple Pie

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Skier's Paradox

When you get up before 5AM you've left the area of recreation behind and entered into the realm of passion. Only hunters and anglers get up at that hour. I was on a hunt of my own for powder. The week previous I worked 65 hours in five days. This week was my birthday. I celebrated with the bittersweetness of the last day of Tamarack on Wednesday. Today would be pure skiing.

It had snowed all night. The forecast was perfect. For skiing. Driving not so much. Enter stage left the skier's paradox. When conditions are perfect for skiing, rarely is the driving optimal.

As a kid I loved roller coasters. I mean I was obsessed. Learning to drive changed that because suddenly roller coasters seemed tame in comparison to the drive to the amusement park. Skiing follows almost similar logic. I'm never sure if Life Flight is a better idea for the roads or the runs. But so far, at least, skiing has held its luster for me. Especially on powder days.

Skiing on days like today is as close to truly flying as I think I'll ever get. Well, unless I get one of those squirrel suits. They look like by far the most creative way to go black.

Last of the pavement for today
6AM. Last of the pavement.

Do you want frosting with that?

We don't need no stinkin' guardrails
First light

It's gonna be good

I'd complain, but I'm going skiing
The skier's paradox

They'll let anyone on the lifts these days
They'll let anyone on the lifts these days


Subsurface tree limb-induced carnage
The snow was so incredible in the morning there was only time for photos of the lift and the carnage. It was the kind of snow that made you believe that there wasn't a slope you couldn't carve.

Video link:
The afternoon chop sobered us up a bit, but we still couldn't stop whooping and hollering like we were 10 year olds emulating the Bo and Luke.

Bootie - Money Shot
This "run" was by far the best decision of the day. I told Michael to pick left or right. He chose center through the alder thicket. It was open just enough to force money shots between the stems. We relived it for the last run of the day to find the only remaining untracked powder on the hill. The mountain got skied out early, but even choppy it was loveliness. My collarbone gives me a splitting pain when my move my arm a certain direction, by thighs ache and there's a heck of a bruise on my butt, but I can't find a reason to complain.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Go Brazilian

Brazil or America?

This combination appeared in the North End a few weeks back. There are so many ways to read this and few of them are palatable. I wonder, does the sign juxtaposition help or hurt the individual business/cause?

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Wake for Tammy

The drive home from Tamarack was clouded by a sense of loss that coffee in Cascade couldn't kick. It had been overcast all day, but as we drove south the sky darkened, finally breaking into a downpour souring the mood further.

In the winter, coming back into Boise from the hills so often is like dropping into Mexico City or Los Angeles. An inversion hangs over the city, and in it is trapped all the funk of the city, a pea soup of automobile exhaust, wood smoke and foul of half a million valley denizens. You taste it. Before you hit the valley floor you'd swear you smoked half a pack of cigarettes.

But not this afternoon. This afternoon we crested the hill and sun broke through the clouds with a God ray. Behind us alpenglow ignited the hillside. I may be grasping at straws here, but I'll take it for a good omen.

Godsmack and snowplows
Godsmack and snowplows

Hoarfrosted sage

Alpenglow looking north toward Horseshoe Bend

Back in the valley some good friends organized a wake for Tamarack and seeing as I was the only one of the group to make the trip up for closing day, they did me the dubious honor of asking me to lead the toast. I bungled it horribly, but at least everyone laughed (well almost everyone... I was only kidding D and A&R, I'm jealous truth be told).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Last Rites

We consecrated Tamarack one last time. The last run ended after the chairs had stopped for good. The powder was soft and forgiving, not champagne, but nothing to complain about except the bittersweetness of it all.

Last day, first run
Last day, First run

I always like boot shots
I always like boot shots

For those outside the Great State of Idaho, Tamarack is a ski resort that opened a few years back. It's opening was contentious and it is the first new resort to open in thirty years in America. I banned it initially, thinking it didn't fit Idaho (it appears a bit hoity for the landscape) I patronized Brundage to the north in McCall, Bogus and Anthony Lakes instead. When a friend of mine started ski patrolling up there, I was enticed to go and with 78" of fresh snow for my virgin Tamarack experience, it was love at first turn. Since then I've met some wonderful friends who frequent the hill and I have had one outstanding day after another. The staff was professional and amazingly friendly right to the end (to the point of running over to patch my binding that broke only hours before the lifts stopped).

The fate of Tamarack is in the courts now. The bank that financed Tamarack went bankrupt, and in the post housing bubble (a big part of what was to make Tamarack a success) they have been unable to secure new financing. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf delt another below the belt punch when they pulled out of what looked like a deal to save the resort last year. So, at 4PM yesterday the lifts stopped for what could be months, years or possibly forever.

Last supper
The view from the Last Supper (ok, lunch actually)

Construction stopped

Tyvek Village
It may remain a Tyvek Village for a while now

Last chairride up
Last lift of the ______?

Bye Tamarack!
Bye for now Tamarack!