Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sledding, Skiing and Sunshine

Usually when I say "sleddin'," I really mean snowmobiling. Last week Joanne reminded me that the term can mean something be precise, sleigh riding. She used ski poles for propulsion and Bridger was a natural braking device. Not a bad little adrenaline rush within a few minutes of the house.

Sunday was one of the most enjoyable backcountry ski tours I've ever done. Snow conditions were unbeatable (deep, with powder on top of a great base); temperatures were perfect (low 20's); we found some new areas to explore, and had it all to ourselves.

It never ceases to amaze me how you can go just a little off the beaten path, and no one is there. One area is overrun with people, and just a hop away is complete solitude. Lots of folks seem to prefer crowds, but when given the chance I'll always choose solitude...and I'm fortunate there is still plenty of it to be had around Driggs. You just have to know where to look.

Thankfully, we've enjoyed copious amounts of sunshine this week. The long-awaited blue skies came just as everyone was reaching their winter "breaking points" and threatening to move south. These sunny Teton Valley days and full moon nights are tough to beat.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Driggs Snow and Chicago

Snowstorm after snowstorm continues to hit Driggs, and we're all getting used to "digging out" this winter. We're also getting more opportunistic when the skies finally clear, and pouncing on chances to go enjoy the snow rather than fight it. This was a great ski up a nearby canyon last week. Snow conditions are absolutely choice.

The iconic Spud drive-in theater just south of Driggs is looking a little lonely this time of year, but still provides local flavor to a scenic Teton Valley backdrop. It would be a bit cold for the drive-in now.

By February - in the midst of a big winter even by Driggs standards - there are many places I would choose to visit, most of them far to the south. So, naturally, I had a business trip to Chicago last week, where it's even colder.

Incredibly, there are non-stop flights from Jackson Hole to O'Hare during ski season. A blizzard in Chicago delayed my departure a day, and a blizzard was hitting Jackson the morning I finally left. I was barely able to drive to the airport (we're talking snowing and blowing, icy roads, no visibility), yet somehow our plane departed. Kudos to the Jackson airport for working a small miracle that day.

The occasion in Chicago was the International Motorcycle Show, focusing mainly on street bikes. Harley Davidson had the biggest display on site, and the show's energy was impressive. The people in Chicago are the real deal, and you get the feeling that this is America in the flesh. I was there with R.U. Outside, selling our base layer clothing, winter headwear, gloves, jackets, socks and such. With zero-degree temperatures outside, our sales were good.

What would a trip to Chicago be without Mike Ditka? Here I am, hanging out with him in front of the R.U. Outside booth. O.K., it's just a look-alike and the photo is kinda blurry, but you gotta admit he's good. I love the classic Bears sweater.

It's always great to be back home. Days are getting noticeably longer, temperatures aren't quite so brutal...can spring be far away?? Yes, I know better.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Winter

Snowmobiles have been the preferred mode of transportation in Teton Valley, Idaho these past few weeks. They get you where you're going, they're fun, you don't end up stuck in a ditch, and you don't need to plug 'em in at night. Looks like someone just ran out of gas in this case. Or, the Super Bowl was starting so they suddenly had to quit riding (wouldn't want to miss any of those $2.7 million commercials). O.K., I'll admit the game was pretty darn good this year. It was kinda nice to finally see Super Tom lose a game.

In a nutshell, conditions around Driggs have been downright nasty again this week. Roads in and out of the valley were closed parts of four out of seven days, and we only received mail delivery twice during that time. I've decided the Post Office's new mantra should be "We Deliver...unless it snows or blows a little."
It all serves to make a person feel a bit cut-off from the world, which isn't all bad these days. We've been in a quasi-survival mode a lot this winter.

These were the snowbanks in the Driggs supermarket parking lot today. It's getting to be impressive, the most snow we've seen here in ten years. Our reservoirs need the water this summer, plus the skiers and snowmobilers are absolutely loving it. Grand Targhee now has a base over 100", and the challenge has been finding a break between storms to go enjoy it. Epic conditions, all the way around.

Bridger has been getting out regularly, and grows more and more fond of the high snowbanks. He's impervious to the cold and wind, too, and now pants if the house is warmer than 60-degrees. I think he'll go into mourning when the snow eventually melts off this spring (which probably won't be until May this year).

This rare sunny moment shows the drifting in our yard, plus the beauty that makes it all worthwhile. I know I'll be visualizing this stunning scene when I'm working a big trade show in a big city next week...but more on that next time. For now, enjoy the snow!