Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Avalanches and New Year's Challenges

This is a photo of a restaurant here at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort that was roughed up 3 days ago by an avalance. Its also a photo of the same table I was sitting at 2 weeks ago! We've been getting a lot of snow here, 193 inches so far. While that's been great for snowboarding in fresh pow, it also means that avalanches have been wreaking havoc on the area. I've been stranded overnight at work several times already because Teton Pass has been closed due to avalanches or scheduled avie control.

But its a great time to be here! While I've enjoyed the last 6 months here, I've also decided that Jackson Hole isn't the place for me. So at the end of the winter season I'm going to pack up and once again head for parts unknown. I know, REAL shocker!!

I hope this New Year's Eve finds you healthy and happy and surrounded by loved ones. My New Year's challenge to each of you is to try something new this year, do something out of the ordinary. You don't have to climb Mt. Everest, but you could try something out of your comfort level. Remember, as Mark Twain once said:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.




– Mark Twain

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stumbling through Spain

As a last hurrah before the off season ended, I had the opportunity to go to Spain for ten days with one of my buddies from seminary, Ryan. We took no guidebooks. We made no plans beforehand. We rolled dice to make our decisions: odd meant we drove north, even meant we drove south. Odd we stay at this hotel. Even we press on to see what's around the next bend. And for the most part it worked out great! We rented a car and basically did one big loop around the country: Madrid to Sevilla to Gibraltar to Barcelona back to Madrid. We toured old cathedrals and bull fighting museums, sat outside in sidewalk cafes drinking coffee, saw a flamenco dance, explored caves and tunnels on Gibraltar as well as posed with wild monkeys for photo opps, and came within an inch of our lives while trying to navigate city traffic (which is a cross between bumper cars and Tetris). But most of all it was just a great time to hang out with my buddy Ryan and talk and laugh and see the sights.

I also had the opportunity to see some friends in Denver and attend church with them. Flatirons Community Church was amazing. Such a breath of fresh air since being here in Jackson Hole doesn't really afford one with many dynamic church opportunities!

So now I'm back here at home and working again. Ho hum! But one of the resorts near my house opens on Sunday and guess who's got the day off and a free lift ticket. Let the winter season of free snowboarding commence!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


So last week we all had the week off so we headed to Moab, Utah for a week of random adventures. It was an amazing trip. A couple days of hiking and scrambling in Arches National Park. A couple days of mountain biking. And a couple days of canyoneering (which basically means climbing, scrambling, hiking, squeezing through slot canyons, and rappelling).

The stars at night were astounding. I lost track of how many shooting stars we saw. Thanks to Kaity we feasted like kings every night. Even with all the physical activity, I think I may have actually gained weight on this trip!

Every day was the best day we had. But two specific highlights were: 1) scrambling in Arches National Park with my brother and finding ourselves unable to downclimb off the huge monolith we'd scaled. Upon further exploration and downclimbing we came across anchors in the rock. What does that mean? Basically that we were free climbing above where people climb up to while being tied into a harness. We weren't so much unnerved as amused by this experience. 2) doing a 140 foot rappel off Corona Arch. This particular arch is so big that back in the 80s some guy fly his plane through it.

I'm also reading a great book called Trails of a Wilderness Wanderer by Andy Russell, a true story about a guy who grew up in Alberta, Canada many years ago. I came across two quotes that seemed to fit our trip perfectly:

"For we know that happiness is being healthy, with enough to eat, a warm bed, and a scrap of canvas to keep out the weather. It is good books to read, a camera and a pen with which to record interesting things. It is telling stories around the evening fires, with maybe an owl hooting somewhere in the background under the purple canopy of stars. It is watching campfire smoke lift in a twisting ribbon between sentinel spruces. It is meeting and knowing people from all corners of the world in such a setting, where all the frills and gingerbread fall away, revealing men not as gods, but as truly a part of nature's pattern. Happiness is growing up in wild country where there are fish to catch, horses to ride, dogs to hunt with, and butterflies to watch. It is, above all things, laughter and love."

"He who has not walked alone amidst peaks beneath a sky adrift with clouds has not really had a look at his beginning or come to fully understand himself. For it is in such unscarred country beyond the marks of wheels that a man really finds himself - knowing the warm feeling in his soul that only fear is the enemy and that true values are not measured in bank accounts cached away in artificial edifices of stone, but in depths of serenity and peace found where air is clean and water flows cold and pure."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Summer Wrap Up

Wow, I have achieved new levels of suckage when it comes to keeping up with this blog thing. The summer here in Jackson Hole has flown by too fast! Let's see, first the negative: my ipod crashed, my beloved camera was stolen, my car bit the dust (permanently), my phone is held together with duct tape, and I lost my wallet with my credit cards and ID. If I didn't think kharma was a load of crap, I'd be seriously reconsidering my most recent move out West :-)

But those are all insignificant details in the grand scheme of things!! The positives? My brother and I rocketing down a narrow strip of single track on mountain bikes with the Teton Range as a backdrop. A 4th of July hike to the Darby Wind Cave where we almost froze our feet off. An 18+ mile hike up to the Alaska Bowl and snow fields. Climbing the Grand (13,700 ft) with Scott, Kaity and some new friends. Kaity's birthday float trip that started out well enough but turned into a frenzied flee from massive swarms of mosquitos. All the random days of climbing, hiking, laughing/standing around our kitchen because there wasn't a stick of furniture in the place...

I won't even get started on how perfect the annual Baird family camping trip was!!

And so I'm just checking in again to say how grateful I am...for all of it, the good, the bad, the random. And after scoring some sweet deals of snowboarding gear this past weekend and snow falling on the higher peaks already, my thoughts turn to what may be the most epic winter I've ever experienced.

I hope each of you are doing well and finding the good stuff in the daily grind.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Just checking in...

Geez, where to begin? The migration westward from New York went well, except for the loss of my tailpipe somewhere in Iowa and the general demise of my ipod. Being homeless in Wyoming proved to be quite a challenge due to constant snow and/or rain for four weeks.

But everything's coming up roses. I'm working full-time as a bellman at a hotel in Teton Village in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And I'm working part-time as a bellman at another hotel here in Teton Village. Its relatively easy work and easy money. Today alone I made $165 in tips, plus my hourly wage. Granted, it was a 16 hour work day.

I'm living in Victor, Idaho which is just over Teton Pass in a brand new house with the guy who built the house. Its got exposed beams and all sorts of rustic charm. And there's a trout pond nearby for swimming and a microbrewery and drive-in just down the street!

I feel like there are countless stories from the past couple weeks. But I guess the most important thing is that I am once again in the middle of the mountains with my brother. Let the pointless, unsafe, ludicrous, exhausting, and all together random adventures continue!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Soundtrack for my life (so far anyway)

A few months ago a friend of mine attended the funeral of her childhood friend. At the funeral everyone received a CD of this individual's favorite music. Being music lovers, my friend and I spent a lot of time talking about what would be on our CD if one was given out at our funeral. Do you include songs that represent different seasons of life? Or do you pick songs that convey a specific message to loved ones? Or songs that spoke deeply to you at some point along the way?

This CD idea has been bugging me for a while now. So last week I sat down and went through my iPod (all 6500 songs) and made a playlist of songs that HAD TO BE on the mix. When I was done there were 110 songs in the playlist! I was actually pleasantly surprised it was that small. A day or two later I revisited the playlist and pared it down again. This is what I came up with:

1. 32 Flavors by Ani DiFranco
2. Time after Time by Cyndi Lauper featuring Sarah McGlaughlin
3. Never There by CAKE
4. Song 2 by Blur
5. Follow You by Death Cab for Cutie
6. Wild Flowers by Dolly Parton
7. Society by Eddie Vedder (from the "Into the Wild" soundtrack)
8. Watch the World Die by Everclear
9. Drunken Lullabies by Flogging Molly
10. Favorite Things ("Sound of Music" cover) by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
11. Penny and Me by Hanson
12. Collide (acoustic version) by Howie Day
13. Romeo and Juliet by Indigo Girls
14. Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez
15. Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
16. Mr Brightside by the Killers
17. Suck My Kiss by Red Hot Chili Peppers
18. I'm Free by the Soup Dragons
19. Let It Ride by Ryan Adams
20. Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (Live version from the Rattle and Hum album) by U2

So...ya, there it is. Its random and weird and represents a wide variety of genres. But I guess you could say the same thing about me. It has songs that resonate with who I am, songs that always remind me of special people and special places, and songs that just make me put the pedal to the metal with the windows rolled down and use my cell phone as a microphone.

Want a copy of the mix? Send me an email and once I get settled in Wyoming I'd be more than happy to send you a copy. Provided that you make a "soundtrack to my life" CD and send it to me in return. What would you put on there anyway?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Throwing in the towel

Well, four months has passed since my last post. I can fill in the blanks pretty quickly. Spent the winter in Buffalo working at Dick's Sporting Goods (so lame), snowboarding for free on Thursday nights with my sister Becky (so great), and lots of good family time. Not necessarily big eventful family stuff. Just the daily life stuff that you don't realize how great it is unless you don't encounter it for a while.

I've also been a busy little bee these past 6 months. I have applied for no less than 135 jobs. While most of these have been in Western NY, some of them have been out West, back up in Alaska, and in various countries like Sweden, Costa Rica, and Korea. And while I don't want to go on record as saying folks who work in Human Resources are inherently evil or without souls, I will say that if I was at a party talking with someone interesting and they mentioned that they worked in HR, I would immediately interrupt with, "Would you excuse me? I cut my foot earlier and my shoe is filling up with blood."

So I'm done. Buffalo and I had a good six month run. I tried to make it work. But I am broke, without the slimmest of job prospects, and itching for some new adventures. So mid-May I'm packing up and heading to Jackson, Wyoming to hang out with my brother for the summer. Oh, and work I suppose. And then quite possibly go to Korea for a year to teach English. But that's 5 months away. I don't want to get ahead of myself. I'll drop a line from the open road...