Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall Outings, and My Sarah Palin Connection

A week ago there was barely a hint of color in the hills around Driggs, but now Fall is in full swing. This photo was taken last Sunday on the singletrack trails of Rick's Basin, by Grand Targhee. It was an epic day, and there are more on the way. It feels like this could be one of those fast and furious seasons...similar to the summer we just had. Or, was that just a dream?

Fall has it all, and what's not to like. Perfect temperatures, colorful scenery, that lingering glow of summer, anticipation of winter fun, and of course football. If that's not enough, this year we have the added excitement of local and national elections.

Here in Teton County, Idaho, we'll be getting two new commissioners to go with one incumbent. Regardless of your preferences, here's hoping this election remains a little more polite than the last one. We continue to experience a lot of changes around Driggs, but with the development slowdown maybe people on both sides won't be quite as riled up this year as they were two years ago. At least we have the right to voice our opinions and vote.

Speaking of which, I became very personally interested in the Presidential election the morning of August 29, when McCain announced Sarah Palin as his V.P. running mate. I have been friends with Sarah and Todd Palin since 1995, when R.U. Outside began sponsoring Todd with winter clothing for his Iron Dog snowmobile racing. I've spent time at their home in Wasilla, AK, enjoyed phone calls, lunch, and laughs. Todd even built the booth that R.U. Outside used at the Alaska State Fair for several years.

It's been crazy to suddenly see Todd and Sarah on the national scene like this, but they're handling it great. Just two weeks ago, two days after the Republican National Convention, Todd stopped by our booth to say "hello" during our Hay Days trade show in cool is that? They are the real deal, and a refreshing change from the good-old-boy network. Whatever your political leanings may be, I just have to say this: Todd and Sarah Palin are two of the finest people I have ever known.

In the end, watching everything Sarah is going through makes me realize why more good people don't run for public office. It's a grind, to say the least, and my hat goes off to all candidates, everywhere. You people are heroic.

Finishing on a lighter note, here's a post-Logan to Jackson bike race photo of me with my cousins Brent (center) and Wade (right). Brent has done the whole 206 miles solo three times now, and Wade was my teammate in the two-person relay this year. Our finishing time of 10 hrs. and 8 min. was good for 6th place out of 54 in our division, and about 200th out of 1,500 overall. It was a huge event, great experience, and maybe the best day I've ever had on a bike. Climbing big mountain passes, riding in a high-speed paceline, and emptying the tank (er, legs) was a complete blast. More details to come once Wade forwards me all the pics.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Summer to Fall

The long, hot, dusty days of mid-summer have given way to cool nights, crisp days and the approach of that universally beloved season: Fall. We had our first snow in the highcountry over Labor Day weekend, and now (thankfully) we're back to sunshine.

My big recent adventure was the Logan-to-Jackson (LoToJa) bike race. It was a fantastic event, but I'm still awaiting digital pictures (c'mon Wade!). So, in the meantime, here's a recap of other recent outings around the home base of Driggs and Teton Valley, Idaho.

Our Aunt Cecile, Uncle John and a couple of never-before-met second cousins from Pennsylvania paid us a quick visit two weeks ago. We took them up to Grand Targhee for dinner, and enjoyed a balmy evening sunset overlooking the ski hill. They continued on to Yellowstone the next day, but it was great getting to know them. John keeps me laughing, they're great people.

I oversaw a huge work project here in Teton Valley a few weeks ago. The main part was repairing and sealcoating the Victor-to-Driggs bike path, which went very well. Many thanks to my man Garth for coming up from Salt Lake with the equipment, and the hard work. That pathway is a priceless asset for this community, and hopefully it'll hold together for a few more years now until we seal it again. Winters around here are not easy on pavements.

Before we got so into mountain biking, Joanne and I hiked a lot. The hiking outings have decreased over the years, but the Darby Canyon Wind Cave hike is still something we try to do every summer. It offers great scenic variety, enough of a climb to be a workout (about 2,000 feet), a perfect distance (about 4 miles in), and of course the unique Wind Cave payoff at the end. The only drawback with this hike anymore is that it has become more popular each year, particularly on Saturdays...which, of course, is when we happened to go.

Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day and very worthwhile. We continued up beyond the cave for another mile or so, taking in the high country views.

It's harvest time around here, and we are now officially farmers. With Hay prices going through the roof, we went ahead and cut and baled our pasture ground for the first time. It's 20+ tons of hay we don't have to buy this it validates the moving of sprinkler pipe we did all summer. Bridger can't figure out where all the nice tall grass went.