Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Aaron "helicopter" Hartz's Going Away Party

My good buddy Aaron Hartz, who has been down on his luck for the past couple years, finally was handed down a dream job by the snow gods this month... a seasonal job with a heli-skiing company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Yes, I now have a best buddy who is working for a heli-ski business - hooray!  I think the first year he'll be the rookie and mostly refueling the choppers but I'm sure he'll be going up with them plenty and hopefully later this season or next season he'll be able to use all the guide skills he has acquired over the past couple years to earn a good living as a professional ski guide.  Back in the day when I was single this would have been my dream job as well but now with a steady job and great lady I can only sit back and send my buddy off to his new job with a big party and ski movie night at our place.  

I emailed a ton of people and made Hartz promise not to leave town tonight.  The initial plan was to bbq and pre-game at our place before heading out to Suds or downtown but with Ski movies playing and a warm apartment full of cases of beer and a fire in the stove the party just kept raging on here late into the night.  Mo Davies showed up who was here visiting from Australia, Kelly, Betsy, Jon, Anna, Mark, Sarah, Nate, Mel, Chris, Mo, Maxine, Paul, Dennis, Matt, Kevin, Emily, I and a few others all showed up to say goodbye to a legend.  I think Hartz had a great time and I know that I will really miss shredding the Cascades with him this season.  Hopefully I'll be able to find some time and money to go visit him and perhaps see him over the holidays.   

So glad you are taking this leap in life buddy, I'm glad to have taken a few leaps with you in the past - Cheers, Jon

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tim's Birthday Potluck at Danielle's

Tonight we had a nice potluck dinner at Danielle and Scotts for Timmy's birthday (28 I believe).  Danielle made veggie Chile and Kevin made meat chile while Emily and I baked some rolls and brought over the leftover death by chocolate from Thanksgiving.  Tim brought over a pork loin he had made and there was plenty of booze, wine and other snacks.   We ended up chilling out downstairs with the dogs watching football and then, believe it or not, Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer Claymation movie, which I hadn't seen for over 20 years!  It was a pretty chill night for everyone, too bad Lindsay couldn't be there for it... :(

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

This Thanksgiving for the first time in 5 years Emily and I didn't have any out-of-town plans for the holiday.  Instead we were invited, along with Scott and Danielle, over to our good friends the Cooper's for what turned out to be an incredible holiday feast.  I had a pretty crappy day at work on Wednesday trying to finish up some work so I wouldn't have to go into the office over the long holiday weekend.  By the time I got home it was almost 8pm so Emily and I spent the rest of night baking some things (my first easy harvard beats, death by chocolate, sweet potatoes, etc) and relaxing before the big next day. 

On Thursday we got up early so that we could get over to Colins to start drinking and watching football.  Yes, football on the West Coast starts at 10am on holidays.  We brought over a bottle of Wild Turkey American Honey but I decided to hit the bottle of Bailey's we brought first.  Before I knew it I had nearly polished off the bottle just a few hours later.  Colin and Amanda were wonderful hosts and Colin did a spectacular job with the friggin' huge 20lb turkey he had bought knowing that left-overs are always amazing.  The girls spent a good part of the early afternoon on Amanda's computer looking at shoes and boots and other upcoming Black Friday deals.

Danielle felt suddenly sick in the afternoon while Scott found himself dozing in and out of sleep in the warm house throughout the afternoon.  I enjoyed the massage chair as usual and by the time 5 or 6 rolled around for dinner we were all pretty lit from an afternoon of great beverages.  Danielle had come down from upstairs after resting and seemed to feel better as well.  When we had put out all the food onto the table for dinner it quickly became apparent that we had all really overdone ourselves.  There was enough food for an army!  We all stuffed ourselves and by the time we were done the Turkey looked ravished and no more than 10% of each dish had been eaten (yes, we had that much food!).  

We all went into the living room, clearly suffering from instant turkey food coma, and settled in for the movie "Super 8" on blu-ray that I had brought over to test Colin's new PS3 and surround sound system in the living room.  Both the movie and Colin's stereo definitely lived up to the hype.  I thought a plane was landing on me during one loud scene in the movie of a train crash.  Scott and Emily dozed in and out of sleep but the rest of us caught the whole film and really enjoyed it.  During the movie we also finally found some room to snack on deserts as well.  By the time the movie was over it was midnight, 14 hours after we started drinking and time to go home.  We helped clean up as much as possible but Emily suddenly felt really sick (wine on top of milky foods and stuff I think) so we hastily left and felt bad about it.  Although we had stayed in town it was really a great holiday with some of our closest friends here.

The rest of the long weekend was spent pretty much relaxing.  We needed Friday to recoup at home during rainy weather anyway after Thursday's feast and Saturday a bunch of people stopped by our place to watch the Beavers get their asses handed to them by the Ducks at the Civil War game in Eugene.  On Sunday Emily and I joined Chris for a very late season ride at Black Rock in Falls City where we met up with Chris' childhood friend Jake who had moved back to the area.  Despite there being a lot of trees down over the road on the way up and my "money-pit" bike falling apart on the way up it was great riding and felt good to get out for at least one activity over the weekend.  Work tomorrow is going to suck but at least I feel pretty rested and rejuvenated now!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mt. Hoodoo Pre-Season

Today Emily, Chris and I had a truly spectacular day of pre-season skiing at Mt. Hoodoo in Santiam Pass before the resort officially opened.  Snow had been dumping in the pass all week and Sunday had called for bluebird skies so I got Emily and I up at 6am to grab Chris and head up to the Pass for my first time on skis in 10 months (the longest I've ever gone) and try out my new knee.  Because the weather was supposed to be so amazing I also grabbed the DSLR for the hike.  I grabbed my 122mm powder boards as well as my 88mm dynafit boards for options on the skin up the small peak.  

We got there around 10:15 in the morning after leisurely leaving town and stopping at Noah's for some food as well as gas.  I had taken it easy drinking at game night the night before so that I would be ready to tackle whatever today.  We drove up to the pass in clouds the entire way until we got up past about 4,000 feet when we broke into sunny skies.  When we got to Hoodoo there was a thin layer of low clouds stretching over the peak all the way to Black Butte and Sisters.  These clouds stuck around for most of the day but we were above them on Hoodoo and had spectacular views of Three Fingered Jack, Jefferson behind it and the Sisters Wilderness and Washington to the south.  

On our first trip up I chose to try out my fat Black Diamond Megawatts but failed to remember how awful they were with my 88mm skins from my Black Diamond Voodoo skis.  There just wasn't enough surface area of the skin on the snow leaving my freshly waxed skis from yesterday to slide on the skin track we were following up the mountain.  This turned out to be a real struggle for me and by the time I got up to the steeper part of the mountain near the top I had to give up and stop.  I tried hiking with my skis on my pack but I was sinking up to my waist and making no progress.  So, I stopped for some great photos and to take some pics and video of Emily and Chris coming down from the top.  Chris had Kya with him on the first ascent and she did great on the way up.  On the way down she had a little more trouble keeping up.  

Although my first trip down I could feel my knee a little bit when I turned hard it felt solid despite the minor pain which I think was more from my patellar tendon than my new ACL.  When we got to the bottom we put Kya in the truck along with a ton of extra clothing we didn't need under the bright sun of the afternoon.  I happily changed skis and clicked into my uber-light dynafit bindings for the next trip up the mountain which felt like a breeze compared to the heavy Duke Bindings and fat skis I had for the first run. At the top we got some pictures of each other and took a slightly different route down with a few less tracks.  The tracks on the peak were actually from Anna, Jon, Mark and Sarah from the day before.  Today they had decided to trek into Mt. Washington for a change of scenery and apparently despite the incredibly long, flat haul in, had a great time.

We only cruised down to mid-mountain on our 2nd run down and decided that we had the energy to hike back up one more time.  On the way up a guy Chris had met at Kelly Rice's party the night before showed up (it was his birthday too) and we followed him with tired legs to the summit for one last run.  At the top we met some guy and his girlfriend with their dog (also named Kya by chance).  The guy seemed a bit cocky too me as he described a film he was making that "everyone thinks is just amazing".  When he began to tell me how I should use my own gear and I found out he was originally from California I quickly decided it was time to leave and pretty much skied off while he was in mid-sentence wich Chris and Emily happily following me with grins on their faces...

The last run down was just like the ones before it... smooth and silky.  Even though it was only 3pm our legs were tired and I could tell Chris and Emily were ready to leave.  My legs felt pretty good and I may have had another run in me but I didn't want to push it either after my 10 month hiatus.  We cruised back down the hill getting photos and video along the way and headed back to Corvallis before the sun even set.  The weather forecast calls for sunny skies for the next 10 days in the Cascades which means melting and freezing every night and horrible skiing so today was perhaps the last day on the snow for a little while, thankfully it turned out to be amazing!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

OSU vs. Washington & Game Night

On Saturday Emily and I biked over to Doug's tailgate for the last home Beaver football game of the season.  The beavers haven't been doing good this year so nobody really expected another win out of them.  Neither Emily or I had tickets to the game but luckily Kevin and Tim both had extras that got us in.  The food was, as usual, amazing at the tailgate and the washer boards were out.  I had brought the remaining couple bottles of the Colt 45 grape blast to finally drink (a horrible purchase choice) and was promptly laughed at by my friends.... :)

The first half of the game was actually pretty close and we were able to pull slightly ahead of Washington by half time.  We had been able to sneak past the band entrance and down to the front row right behind the goal posts.  Several of us had tickets for that area and the rest just followed as nobody checks tickets by the band entrance apparently.  Benny the Beaver was right in front of us the whole game and Danielle and several others were filmed and appeared up on the jumbotron above the OSU student section.

At halftime we decided to go back to the tailgate and never ended up returning to the game, which the Beavers ran away with for the win.  Instead we all headed home near the end of the game anyway and had a really fun board game night on our side of the apartment.  About 10-12 of our friends showed up and we played games for the rest of the night (Cranium, Catch Phrase and finally Scene It over our TV).  It was a fun and different way to spend the night which was cheaper and in my opinion better than going out to the bars anyway.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chris Holm Turns 31

Tonight we had a fun party for Chris' birthday at the bowling alley on 9th street.  I called everyone I could think of that was friends with Chris and a good number people showed up including Sarah and Nicole from the Rogue River trip with some special drinks just for Chris!  We all met up at our place before heading to the bowling alley and had a few birthday shots before we left.  

Bowling was a lot of fun and we got multiple pitchers of beer there.  I was worried Hartz wasn't going to show up but he and Jon Stevenson showed up around 9 after their CMRU meeting.  Emily had bought an ice cream cake at the store so we all enjoyed that as we wrapped up two full games on 3 different bowling lanes between all of us.  From the bowling alley we headed back home and then down the street to Suds and Suds to cap the night off with another couple pitchers of beer there.  I'm pretty sure Chris ended up having a great time which made the truly rough morning I had the following day completely worth it :)  

And yes, this is the most embarrassing photo of Chris I could find as I didn't take any tonight.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mary's Peak North Ridge with Dromi Dog

Today Emily and decided to go on a hike up Mary's Peak to get outdoors and took Dromi along with us to get her some fresh air.  It wasn't a particularly nice day but at least it wasn't raining for a change.  Emily had a soccer game at 4pm so we got up early and were at the trailhead by 11pm to start the 10 mile hike.  

As usual the woods of Mary's Peak were beautiful with the fog lingering in the canopy and the green, lush moss covering everything.  Switchbacking up the ridge it is always cool to see the tall douglas fir trees leaning agains the slope of the mountain and with a 16mm wide angle lens they make a pretty cool photo.  

Near the top of the mountain we heard what either sounded like gunshots or construction.  For a while I thought perhaps it was construction at the parking area near the top but as we got closer I quickly realized that some idiots were shooting off guns off the summit road which we were about to parallel through the woods.  I decided to put Dromi on leash (she had been doing wonderful off-leash staying with us btw) and when we got really close I yelled loudly that we were coming through and to "please don't shoot us".  At the parking area we saw a young guy picking up trash that worked for the forest service I think.  We asked if it was legal to shoot up here and he replied "definitely not".  We told him where they approximately where and he turned to walk down the trail to tell them to leave.  From there we quickly walked to the top (which Emily had never been to) but with no views, a frigid wind, and time running out we quickly ate a couple sandwiches, gave Dromi some more water and some snacks and headed back down.  Back at the parking lot the worker told us he had told them to leave and they were all gone which made us feel better.  We kept Dromi on leash until past where we had heard them just in case but never heard another shot.  

On the way down Dromi had a fraction of the energy she had going up (this was possibly the longest hike she'd been on yet) and pretty much stuck to the trail in front of us the whole way down, occasionally getting confused by switchbacks though... :).   Although we had no views, it was refreshing to be outdoors for a while and my knee seems to be fully recovered.  Emily made her soccer game with time to spare and Dromi spent the rest of the day and night napping on a couch.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Laynes Housewarming Party

Emily, Cathy, Alexa, Kevin and I all headed to Albany tonight for a house warming party for Layne and Jeff.  They have a great new place with a big garage and plenty of room for gear.  Their house is pretty big and they only got it for $105k I believe so their mortgage is something like $750 a month!  That's just $100 more than what Em and I pay for rent.  Granted it is in Albany, and a similar sized house here would be double that but damn, that's a great deal!  There were snacks and Layne had made a great pot of hot cider which I put some bourbon in.

The night before a bunch of us from work as well as Aaron and Chris Holm all met up at McMenamin's to see Layne now that she has started bartending there again just once a week.  We of course had a great time (I love that back bar with the fireplace!) and of course walked out pretty hooked up by Layne.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize that her co-worker was with her at the party and opened my big mouth.  When I say "co-worker" I mean MANAGER... whoops.  She ended up covering herself pretty good but her brother said I almost stuck my foot in my mouth pretty good on that one.  We all watched some football as the Ducks actually lost a game and played "Catch Phrase" until it got late and we all drove home.  Definitely super happy for both Layne and Jeff with their new house.  Now I just need to get some ski videos for Jeff to watch in his new living room.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jeff & Ally's Wedding

This weekend Emily and I made a very brief visit home to the East Coast for my cousin Jeff and his fiance Ally's wedding in Uxbridge, MA.  We left on a redeye Thursday night from PDX and got into Bradley Airport at 10am on Friday.  My mom picked us up and we had a really nice lunch with Em's mom and her brother Nick and wife Jen at a Red Robin nearby.  We would have gone to a different, non-chain, restaurant but the Granby area had been devastated by an early fall snowstorm that snapped branches on nearly every tree that still had it's full foliage due to the weight of the snow.  Her parents had been without power since the previous Saturday and by the time we got back to Oregon late Sunday night were still without power!  After lunch we drove to our hotel, took naps to catch up on the sleep we missed on the flight and then had a nice dinner at a local Olive Garden before returning to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

Unusually, the wedding was at 11am in the morning at the Arrowhead resort in Uxbridge.  The wedding and the reception were both held in the same building.  It was a short ceremony and reception but the food was fantastic.  I think that Jeff and Ally really enjoyed the photo frame that we had got them and the photos I had taken with the DSLR during the ceremony that I put on it at the reception.  There was the usual cake smashing in the face and everyone signed a plate for them to keep from the wedding with best wishes.

Em and I sat at a table with my mom and Aunt Catherine and Uncle Roger.  I really, really enjoyed catching up with them as they are two of my favorite people with very similar interests to mine.  Emily really loves them too.  Hopefully, when they move to Boulder, Colorado Emily and I will be able to visit them sometime soon.  I've still yet to meet Asia and I haven't seen Cherie in many years.  It was a cash bar so we didn't end up drinking like we usually do at weddings which of course prevented me from any embarrassing dancing in the light of the afternoon coming in through the windows.  It wasn't really my kind of music either.

After the wedding we all went back to the hotel to change and then headed to a fancy restaurant up the street that Ann had suggested I guess.  The place was packed and I almost fell over when I ordered two Double Chocolate Stout cans that cost $3 a piece in Corvallis only to have the bartender ask for $20 from me!!!  It was at that point that I decided I was either not going to drink or the family was going to have to move to a different, less crowded and cheaper location.  Thankfully, a few other family members agreed and we all moved down the street to a nearly empty sports bar which the Wilcox family pretty much took over for the night.  

Emily and I spent much of the night chatting with the Brockport contingent of the family that I never really had time to get to know before.  My lawyer/judge cousin Chris turned out to be nothing like anything I expected.  Instead of being nervous to talk to him because of his position in life as a judge and owning his own law firm I found us to have a lot in common and was super easy to talk to.  He and I would have a lot of fun together if we lived close by I'm sure.  Sean and Sheryl were wondeful to chat with and Mischy and Paul were hilarious all night.  Chris and Howard definitely got the drunk cards for the night!  Chris even called a buddy of his in Vegas to get tickets for my mom and Aunt sue for their upcoming trip.  It seemed like he had connections in many high places from all the stories he was telling us.  At around 11pm my mom told me she was tired and needed to leave so the three of us took off in her car with her driving.  She pulled into the wrong lane immediately which gave me a little worry but I corrected her fast.

Back at the hotel I wolfed down the leftover Olive Garden that was smelling up my mom's car before bed.  I had drank quite a bit with the family and ended up with a slight hangover on Sunday morning.  Emily and I watched some TV and then fell asleep knowing we had to be up earlier than the rest of the family to make our flight out of Bradley.

We woke up to my mom calling us to get up (I wish she would someday realize I am a responsible adult and can figure out these things on my own).  We met the family downstairs briefly before heading out of town and said our goodbyes.  I felt bad that I hadn't had much time to catch up with Eric and Erin but Emily and I are determined to go visit them in Seattle over this winter so I figured we could catch up with them then.  We ate a wonderful breakfast at a great place called the Whistle Stop Cafe in Windsor, CT before my mom dropped us off at the airport.  The flight back was uneventful and actually on time so we got back to Corvallis around 10pm with plenty of time for a good nights rest.  It was a super fast trip with a kind of unusual wedding but I'm super happy for Jeff and Ally and even more happy that I got to finally really get to know members of my family that I had rarely talked to before.