Monday, February 27, 2012

Chris wins open mic night

Tonight I met up with Chris Holm and Sarah Young at Fireworks in southtown to watch Chris play at open mic night there.  I had been wanting to go for several weeks so tonight I tore myself away from my usual projects at home to go check it out.  It was packed when I walked in and Chris said that it was definitely busier than usual.  I squeezed into a small table in the corner to chat with him and later shared the seat with Sarah when she showed up... which quickly put my left ass check and leg to sleep... 
Chris played a couple songs when he got up that I was familiar with, then put in $5 into pot for the end of the night competition.  I was really impressed by the talent of the other artists that got up to the mic throughout the night as well, especially a dreadlocked Hawaiian dude who was passing through named Paul Isak who had an amazing voice.  When Chris got back up to play his one song in the competition Sarah and I cheered as loud as we could along with the rest of the audience in attendance.  In the end Chris won the night by beating the 2nd place person by just 0.1 decibels in the reader Ocean had held up after performances.  
Chris got up to play his mandatory song upon wining and absolutely blew everyone away with one of my favorite original acoustic songs that he wrote a few years back.  Everyone was so impressed that he was encouraged to play another song... shaking his fingers from exhaustion in between.  By the time we left it was midnight and Chris took home ~$35 which I’m sure covered his spinach-artichoke dip and beers for the night and also put him into a final competition on April 9th which Sarah and I definitely won’t miss!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tom Dick Peak Backcountry Skiing

Emily and I woke up early for a huge breakfast with everyone at the Doug Fir Lounge across from the Jupiter in Portland.  Apparently Shilo had contacted Miwa the night before and was in the area so randomly met up with the guys.  I’m sure with Shilo showing up the Union Jack strip club was the obvious choice for the guys... not to the pleasure of Danielle.  

Emily and I drove up to Government Camp hoping for some sweet powder and boy were we treated by mother nature!  We first stopped at SkiBowl but $50 just seemed steep for arriving there at 11am and probably only having enough energy for a few hours.  Instead we decided to ski down the side of the highway to the Mirror Pond Trail for some backcountry.  I was hoping that we would find a way to make it back over to Tom Dick peak where we could descend back down to the truck without having to skin back up the road from the trailhead.

The Mirror Pond trail was super beautiful with all the fresh snow falling all around us.   I had recently bought new skins for my super fat powder boards and I was thoroughly enjoying how well they were sticking to the trail on the ascent.  There were other snowshoe’ers on the trail as well with us but with our skins we were able to travel a bit faster than them.   When we got to a trail intersection to either a Mirror Pond loop or continuing uphill towards Tom Dick Peak we decided to keep ascending.  

We soon found ourselves in sparse trees following a switchbacking skin track up a steep slope.  We both had beacons on but Em had no experience with using them besides playing with it briefly on Mt. Hood weeks ago.  I dug a quick pit and checked out how well the snow was adhering to the icy layer underneath and it seemed pretty secure taking a lot of effort to get it to break at the ice layer.  So, we continued on with Emily getting a lot of practice learning how to take tight switchbacks on a steep hill with her skins. 

When we reached the ridge we carefully checked out what looked to be the safest route down the possible avalanche terrain where a few other skiers had taken some turns.  I stayed on top and had Em head down the hill first to the tree line below.  I then followed through the glorious powder and we both headed down through some tight trees that led to a narrow chute into an open slope below.  It was steep and the powder was thick so we both ended up setting off some good slough slides that we rode through on the way down.  From there we put our skins back on and slogged our way back up to the ridge via the switchbacks again.
I know that we could have spent $50 and ridden lifts all afternoon at SkiBowl and that the backcountry there was probably open as well, but honestly, being on our own in the backcountry with untracked powder covering everything all around us it was way better in my mind.   

When we reached the ridge top again we simply followed it around some massive cliffs back to the top of Tom Dick Peak.  We were able to follow tracks for the majority of the way back to SkiBowl but occasionally I had to break trail which was easy with my fat skis.  Back at the resort we dropped into the backcountry which had definitely been open and was super tracked out.  We also agreed that the snow was worse and more windblown on the resort side which made us feel even better about our choice for the day.  

When we got back to the truck with our ridiculous painted shopping cart in the back we were greeted with a beautiful sunset on the descent down Hood.  It was really a great day of backcountry skiing and a terrific weekend.  I’m so glad that we went to bed when we did the night before and were able to make it to the mountain for the amazing powder!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Urban Iditarod 2012

This Saturday Emily, Danielle, Jason, Jen and I participated in the Urban Iditarod race in Portland.   Each year (I have no clue when it started) people put on costumes and run amuck through the Streets of Portland pulling shopping carts.  We had no idea what to expect when we got into this!  About a week ago we had “obtained” a shopping cart and decorated it as a Mario Kart complete with turtles and eggs and colorful spray paint.   Jason was Luigi, I was Mario, Jen was Princess Peach, Danielle was Yoshi and Emily was of course Toad.  

Emily and I drove separately up to Portland on Saturday morning as we were planning on skiing some powder on Sunday.  We got to the parking lot where the race would begin just north of the Hawthorne Bridge on the East side of the river around 10pm and our other team mates showed up shortly after.  As soon as we got there we saw that we were not the only Mario themed team in the race, but thanks to weeks of growth I was the only Mario all day with a real Mario Moustache!  We climbed into our outfits and inflated our bellies while tons of other teams started rolling up in the most hilarious costumes ever.  A whole choir showed up with a Pope-Mobile cart complete with a generator and massive speakers on each side.  That cart would serve as the speakers for the guy who directed the whole affair and told us when to run or stop and drink.

We met up with Colin and his Spaceballs Team and with Lauren, Bridget and their team just before the race began at 11pm and there was a stampede of costumed hooligans running down SE Main Street.  It didn’t take us long to get to our first stop at the corner of SE Yamhill and SE Grand Ave.  We found ourselves in a large parking lot off the street where we all could check out the debauchery around us and have a few drinks.  There were tables with a local bar selling beers but we had our shopping cart full so I just took from that.  Colin and a few others bought a few beers to help the event promoters out.  I would have but didn’t have any cash on me.  

I’m not going to go into details about all the amazing teams we saw but some of the highlights were the muppets, Top Gun, The Costa Concordia Cruise Ship (by far the most elaborate cart), carts with put-put golf, The Bluth Brothers Banana Stand, fish racing, skier stripper poles, Giant Jenga, hot tub disco, and on and on... There was even a TSA security group with a car that was a security gate people were ushered through and then thoroughly patted down.... We then found out why Amy Simmons was so curious about our team earlier in the week... yup, they were Mario Kart as well but instead of Luigi they had Wario.  Rob Hatfield was Emily’s counterpart, Amy was Yoshi and Matt Schwarzkopf was Mario.

From that stop we rolled onward towards the Plan B bar on the corner of SE Main and SE 8th Ave.  As we raced down the street we followed a group of birds (Put on Bird on it - Portlandia) and saw that the smurf-mobile had lost a wheel on the side of the road.  I think this second place was where the best dance party of the day was.  The skibunny stripper (hasher name: Slutmachine) was encouraged to take off her top with dollar bills but I was hoping she’d actually keep it on!  The Pope-Mobile and speakers started to really jam out here with techno and Dubstep and a serious dance party ensued.  Next thing we know Kelly is rolling up on us with a freakin’ funnel and beers!  I can definitely say that at this point in the race, about noon, I was thoroughly trashed and having a great time with all the shinanigans around us.  

From Plan B we then had a long leg over the Hawthorne Bridge where we were cheered on by random people on the street who were surprised to see such chaos running by them.  A lot of people were actually running pretty fast over the bridge and I saw a couple of pretty drunk people eat it hard on the pavement.  It didn’t make sense for anyone to be running because the “race” wasn’t really a race as it was so much a fast-paced bar crawl.... 

Our third stop was across the street from Paddy’s Bar in downtown Portland.  The race actually lingered here for quite some time while the Bluth Family hung out of windows and on fire escapes dancing (the never-nude guy was one of the funniest things I’d seen in a while).    Dukes of Hazard, Ghostbusters, Goonies, and more seemily showed up out of nowhere.  A fun game of dodgeball broke out in the middle of the street and the Mario’s all seemed to be on one side so I joined in to help my fellow Nintendo characters while Jen was off playing Pinko for drinks.  This was the first point in the day that I actually saw cops who had basically just turned on their lights at both ends of the street to stop traffic from coming through.  They stayed in their cars and largely let chaos reign down in the street with people forced to pee in alleys because the bar was too packed to make it to the bathroom.  

Our last stop was just outside Embers Bar further downtown.  Again a few cops blocked off the street for us but left us completely alone.  Here we hung out with all our Corvallis friends and checked out the inside dance club of Embers that was packed like a busy Saturday night although it was only 2:30pm in the afternoon.  It was here that we polished off the rest of the beer in our Kart while I got to watch a unique scene of a guy dressed as Steve Jobs playing a giant game of Jenga in the middle of the street.  

I don’t remember anything being announced about heading back to the start of the race but people started exiting the area slowly and we followed.  The whole mass of the Iditarod made the long trek over the North Steel Bridge back to the Eastbank Esplanade and then along the river back to the starting area where the party bus was rockin’.  There we watched the Pope-mobile win the best Kart of the race before Jason drove my truck and Emily drove Jens car back to the Jupiter where we would stay for the night.  

After changing and cleaning up a bit we headed over to the Doug Fir Lounge for some food, drinks and to hang out with all our friends from Corvallis that were also staying there.   Miwa headed off with others to go bowling and we eventually decided to walk down the street in search of some activity, ending up at a great pizza joint where I stuffed myself silly with awesome NY-style pizza.  On the way back to the hotel after Danielle chased me around a bit we parted ways with Colin and Scott to head back to the room to chill because Emily and I were skiing early the next morning.  Believe it or not, Jason, Jen, Danielle, Emily and I were all passed out asleep by 9pm!  What a fantastically fun day! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Potato Hill Backcountry Skiing

Today Chris, Dan Miller and I drove up to Santiam Pass to look for some backcountry skiing.  We had been going up to Hood for the past few weeks but decided we wanted a shorter drive this time, which would also allow me to sleep in a bit longer on Sunday after a night of drinking next door....  

After a few stops we got to the pass around 10am, geared up with our avy gear and headed up the snow-covered forest service road.  It didn’t take us long to gain the ridge of Potato Hill with views over Santiam Pass.  Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson could be seen peeking through the clouds and I hoped that later in the day they would clear for some photos.  When we got within shouting distance we yelled over to the top of Potato Hill where Anna, Mark, Sarah and John were all skiing.  

By the time we caught up with them they had dug a snow pit to test the avy conditions and concluded that things looked pretty safe.  Potato Hill is basically a burned out hillside from an old forest fire that only left charred tree trunks sporadically across the steep hillside.  It’s common knowledge to skiers that although forest fires do a lot of damage they sure make terrific ski slopes because all the underbrush and limbs are often burned away, opening up sweet lines that would otherwise be impossible to ski.  

All day I had been feeling the effects of a mild hangover from the gin and PBR of the previous night but I was able to manage a couple runs down the slope with everyone.  Both times I dropped in first with my camera to practice taking action shots of everyone skiing down.  The pass had received a few inches of powder on top of a icy crust so it wasn’t exactly ski movie quality face shots but a few of them came out pretty good.  

It definitely felt good to be on skis after the hellish couple of weeks I’d had at work with looming deadlines.  The last time I was on skis was when Chris and I climbed Hood a few weeks back in the worst conditions I’d ever seen.  Even the few inches of powder we were on felt amazing compared to that.  I was supposed to be at Jason and Jen’s helping to decorate our cart for the upcoming Urban Iditarod in Portland but thankfully had talked my way out of it expressing my need to go skiing to maintain my sanity.  

After a few runs Chris decided it was time to give Dan and I some practice with our new avy beacons and probes.  It took us a little while to traverse across the ridge back towards the car and I was amazed at how thin the snow cover was under the trees that hadn’t burned in the fire.  The record rainfalls in January while we were in Disney apparently had apparently struck at this elevation as well because there certainly wasn’t much on the ground and we found ourselves stepping over more than a few logs to get back to the parking lot.  

Just above the parking lot Chris skied down ahead of us and buried his pack so we could get used to using our beacons to find the “buried skier” Both Dan’s Tracker 2 and my Pieps DSP worked well bringing us to within a foot or so of Chris’ bag.  We both pulled out our avy probes and Dan immediately ended up bending his!  Thankfully mine was carbon and a bit stronger so it held up well as I probed the snow for the backpack and quickly found it.  We practiced once more back at the lot after bending Dan’s probe straight again before leaving.  It wasn’t an exhausting day, but it certainly was nice being up in the mountains again and on the way out the clouds had cleared as I had hoped allowing me some great shots of Three Fingered Jack, Jefferson and even glimpses of Mt. Washington.  To top it off we even saw two big bald eagles outside of Lebanon on the drive back to town!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Antelope Sausage Dinner

Tonight we went over to Kevin and Alexa’s to have dinner with them and Tim and Lindsay.  I had spent all day at work trying to get a project out on Monday so I was ready to have a few drinks.  To my surprise Lindsay had brought antelope sausage that she got from a co-worker.  I’d never had antelope before and it was delicious!  We then spent the rest of the night drinking and friendly arguing with Kevin about the importance/necessity of a college education for everyone... we may have ganged up on Kev a little... whoops.  As always, great people to hang out with for the night.