Thursday, March 29, 2007

All things are relative

Even powder days. Although today's five inches (and eight inches total in the past 48 hours) of heavy powder doesn't meet the strict standard for a powder day, relative to the past two weeks it was so good that I'm going to count it! It gave me one last chance for the season to visit my favourite tree runs - Closet, Shadows and Twilight - so I'll take it.

The weather certainly has been extraordinary with the temperature in the 60's (F) only two days ago. I think this is Winter's last encore, its way of saying "I'll be back before you know it with more powder"!

Here's the map of today's runs for a total of 16,578 vertical ft and a season total of 476,411 vertical ft.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Where's the snow?

It's been over three weeks since any decent snow fall and the weather remains unseasonably warm. Fortunately we have a good base so the cover is still not too bad and there's a period of about an hour or two a day that the snow is soft but not slushy.

Here's the map of today's runs for a total of 10,232 vertical ft and a season total of 459,833 vertical ft (or 46% of my season goal of skiing one million vertical ft - I'm going to be lucky to make half of my goal).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Road trip - day 6

Today was the final day of our road trip. You can see our route from Durango back to Steamboat on the map below.

I don't have any photos, but Colorado Highway 550 from Silverton to Ouray is probably the most spectacular drive I've ever taken. In this part of the State they refer to Colorado as "the Switzerland of America." Well actually no. The true locals refer to Switzerland as "the Colorado of Europe"!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Road trip - day 5

The highlight of our road trip so far was today's visit to Mesa Verde National Park located in southwest Colorado.

It's amazing to look at these places and wonder what on earth drove the inhabitants to build them in the first place (they'd lived for the previous 600 years on top of the mesa) and then abandon them completely within two or three generations?

We only spent a few hours today but we loved it so much that we are planning to come back for two or three days some time to really see it properly.

The only part open to visit at this time of year is "Spruce Tree House". I'd read about Mesa Verde and even seen pictures, but this view that greets you as you begin the walk down to the site just blew me away.

It's even better as you get closer.

And just awesome right up close.

While you can't visit the other sites at the moment, you can see them from the road. This is the Cliff Palace which is the largest and most famous of them.

I included that distant shot so you could see where it is in relation to the mesa top and the canyon. Here's a close up.

We started the day in Santa Fe and are spending the night in Durango. You can see our route for today on the map below.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Road trip - day 4

We arrived in Santa Fe last night and spent today seeing the sites.

Santa Fe (La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís to use the full name which translates as Royal City of the Holy Faith of St Francis of Assisi) was established by the Spanish in 1610 and the locals have done a wonderful job of preserving its unique architecture. But I have to admit that I was a little disappointed.

The uniformity of the architecture, while superficially appealing, is so obviously imposed (through a strict enforcement of what is known as the Spanish Pueblo Revival style), and the city is so focused on tourism (personally, I can only look at so many art galleries), that there's a certain lack of authenticity that makes the place feel a little too much like a theme park. Although the stuff that was built when this style was original, like the San Miguel Mission, is beautiful.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Road trip - day 3

If you ever needed convincing of the enormous diversity of Colorado, I can think of no better example than the Great Sand Dunes National Park which we visited today.

Here are several square miles of 750 ft high sand dunes sitting in an alpine valley at the base of snow capped peaks.

After the dunes we also visited San Juan, the oldest town in Colorado and stopped for lunch in Taos. We also visited Santuario de Chimayo which is a major pilgrimmage site, especially around Easter.

You can see our route for today on the map below.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Road trip - day 2

Our route today took us out to Boulder for a quick visit (and morning tea at the Dushanbe tea house) before heading back up into the Rockies on highway 285.

We stopped for lunch at Buena Vista which is aptly named since it sits at the base of the Collegiate Peaks, a group of 14,000+ ft mountains named after famous universities (e.g. Mt Harvard and Mt Oxford).

You can see our route for today on the map below.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Road trip - day 1

I started a six day road trip today with my wife and parents who are visiting from Australia. Today we travelled as far as Denver and plan to continue south to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, continuing on to Santa Fe in New Mexico, then heading north again to Mesa Verde National Park in south west Colorado before heading home to Steamboat. You can see our planned route on the map below.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Melting fast

There's not much to add to the previous posts from this week - just more spring skiing.

Here's the map of today's runs for a total of 13,156 vertical ft and a season total of 449,601 vertical ft (or 45% of my season goal of skiing one million vertical ft).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mississippi skiing

Today I skied with a bunch of guys from Mississippi, including one guy who played professional (American) football with O.J. Simpson at the San Francisco 49ers and reckons he's innocent!

I went out today with the fewest layers of clothing I've ever skied in - basically the shell of my suit and a t-shirt underneath - and I was still a little too warm in the sun.

Here's the map of today's runs for a total of 9,438 vertical ft and a season total of 436,445 vertical ft (or 43.6% of my season goal of skiing one million vertical ft).

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring return

Between a trip to Paris and a bad chest cold it's been two weeks since I was on skis. In those two weeks I've gone from skiing in chest deep powder to weather that is typical of late spring. The maximum today was above 50F when it should be about 40F this time of year. It's a really pleasant way to ski, but if this keeps up the snow will run out before the season is meant to be over!

Here's the map of today's runs for a total of 11,542 vertical ft and a season total of 427,007 vertical ft (or 42.7% of my season goal of skiing one million vertical ft which with only a month left in the season I've accepted I'm not going to get close to).

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Today we visited Chartres which is about 90km (55 miles) outside Paris or one hour by train to see the famous cathedral there.

I find medieval cathedrals quite fascinating since they provide a window into not only the religious life of the time but also the political, economic and social systems. It always amazes me how much could be achieved in stone, and what people living often on the brink of starvation would sacrifice to build churches that would generally not be finished in their lifetime (or even their children's or grandchildren's).

At the same time they provide evidence for the limits of medieval scientific and engineering knowledge and show how slowly knowledge grew before the industrial revolution.

Take for example the towers on the cathedral. The south tower (on the right) was built along with most of the rest of the cathedral in the early 13th century whilst the north tower (on the left) was built 300 years later in the 16th century, and while the style is quite different the engineering limits are fundamentally the same. Yet another 300 years later Eiffel was able to build a tower of steel nearly three times as tall as a temporary structure.

Friday, March 02, 2007


It doesn't get much better that skiing chest deep snow and visiting Paris in the same week.* I'm here for some meetings Thursday, Friday and Monday (meaning I get to stay over the weekend!)

Of course I couldn't do that without bringing my lovely wife who has been out visiting some of the sites that she missed on our last visit in 2001 (well actually visiting all the galleries and art museums that I refused to go to). Yesterday it was the Musée D'Orsay and today the Rodin Museum.

She also snapped this impressive shot of Les Invalides. A bit fancier than any veterans hospital I've seen in the US or Australia!

We've also been spending plenty of time enjoying the wonderful food and atmosphere of the ubiquitous French cafes, bistros and restaurants, so I'll have to ski extra hard when I get home.

* Actually it does get better because I also found out this week that I'd received a nice bonus as a reward for a successful 2006.