Wednesday, February 24, 2010

So today, I did nothing. I woke up, rolled around a bit, fell back asleep to finally awaken around 9, and then lounge around the house for another 2 hours before deciding to get out. Where to? Loaded Joes... my morning/early afternoon spot, to enjoy some coffee and read a book or browse the web. It's a nice little place in Avon with some comfy couches, a coffee bar and a full bar. I see locals drop in and meet up with friends for some quiet conversation and usually around 4, the ski or boarder crowd grab a beer to celebrate their day. For me, it's sometimes a place to do work, or just sit for a bit and read.

I spent much of the later afternoon online, trying to figure out my next venture. I can't recall if I had ever mentioned this in a previous entry but I want to do some volunteer work with wildlife. Why? I just have this curiosity with animals. I always find the discover channel programs interesting and would love to just observe a lion or cheetah for hours on end. The cats have a certain quality to them. They walk with purpose... be it a very simple one... to survive. They are constantly fending for their lives, defending their territory, and searching for a meal. Instinctively they survey their land for any signs of a meal.  There's a certain elegance in their stride only shadowed by their pride. They walk tall and proud until they spot some game.
The cheetah chases are among my favorites. They spend time, lying in the grass, observing from a far. Which will be my meal today? Which is the easiest one to catch? Little by little, they sneak a bit closer, pausing multiple times, reassessing the situation, gaining a better position, and marking their target. They stalk their prey, slithering up, their outline broken by their unique coats. Those eyes accented by a dark crying streak, fixated, waiting for their prey to get a bit closer, their prey unknowingly closer to their death.
Then suddenly, it's off and often at 60 - 70 mph at 3 seconds. Each stride reflecting the strength and flexibility of the cheetah. Often targeting a gazelle, the chase begins. It anticipates its preys path, cutting corners, quickly closing. A quick pounce and a paralyzing bite. Within a couple of minutes, it's all over and the cheetah has it's reward. Though this isn't always the case, references have said that 50% of attempts are succesful.
Its amazing! I want to see it with my own eyes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Still don't know what I'm doing here. It's almost a month. Did I ask these same questions while in Hawaii? Living with my uncle has made things easier... though scrambling to figure those things out in Hawaii was part of the fun. Skiing's good, boarding hurts but I'm getting there, mountains are beautiful, snow is perfect... it coats everything and stops everything in it's track. Not quite, we people won't let that happen but it would be nice to see. I imagine trees too burdened and kneeling to nature, cars frozen, immobilized my mounds of snow, making them indistinguishable from a rock... houses just the same... the town, still... failed attempts of people trying to get out are left in the snow... only to be washed away with more snow. Though if it happened, I'd be nowhere to view this grand stasis.

I digress... what's missing here is a real connection to anyone new. Casual and random conversation is fine and entertaining but give me something to work with. Something to delve into... someone to catch my attention... make my mind glisten.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tai Chi

This evening I stopped by the Avon recreation center to explore some Tai Chi.  It seems so random. So how'd it even come to this point?

Last Friday, I went with my uncle to a friend's Chinese New Year dinner. I met a lot of his friends and acquaintances and just chatted here and there. Most of them were/are instructors and know each other via the mountain. All good people... friendly... open... and just enjoying themselves. One of the guys, Terrell, was from Oahu and grew up in Haleiwa. So we start chattin about this and that.... how when he was growing up, there were only 9 houses between Haleiwa and Sunset Beach.... how's it so developed and ruined... commercialized and taken over. He said he never would want to go back to that island. He said, maybe Big Island. I start telling him about my time there and trip to Kauai and we're just having good conversation. I find out later from one of his student's, Briony, who was there, that he's a Tai Chi instructor. So later I talk to him about that a bit and he shows me some interesting stuff.

On another note, Briony is this interesting and cute girl. She's a local girl, who grew up around where I'm now, a bit younger than me, who's studied in China, can speak more than me, and seems to have an interesting outlook on life. Fair skin, light eyes, skinny and a bit shorter than me. We seemed to share a similar desire for adventure. Maybe, I'll have a chance to get to know her after her road trip. One thing that caught my attention is her general expression... bright eyed and open to the world. It was endearing. I wanted to talk with her again, hoping to run into her at the rec center to chat but also hoping not to, fearing it would seem like I'm going there just to run into her. I hope to write about her again.

So back to Tai Chi.  My background of the art is somewhat lacking. I just knew it had some health benefits, increased circulation, increased fine motor control, and ideas of body energy which seemed to be a bit of nonsense. After talking with him, I thought to myself, it's another way to look at your own body, specifically the mechanics of it. In a sense, the philosophy of it was analogous to my current lifestyle in certain respects. My move out to Colorado and Hawaii was a way for me to recapture and re-interrupt what I had always taken for granted. The idea of exploring my own physical movement and balance could possibly be obtained through Tai Chi. He showed me in a few short movements how to rethink my own motions. You never really question it. Once you walk a certain way, you take it as fact and continue to do it that way until it doesn't suit your purpose. Take that thought and it apply it to other minute movements you perform. It seems so basic that it never crossed my mind to question it or explore other options. I hope to find different ways to move.

So upon arriving at his class. I had only intended to catch the last 15 minutes, observe, and chat a bit with Terrell about Hawaii and life here in Avon, I'm thrown right into the class. There were 5 others attending the class. He asks one of the students to move to another spot and directs me to his spot. I wasn't quite sure why he asked him to move (and not sure if I still do). So I begin, awkwardly, observing the people around me and trying to follow their slow motions. Terrell explains the movements but still too fast for me to piece it together. I listen and look and do my best to mimic what I see. The motions are slow yet every piece of your body is moving... well not mine... I'm still trying to piece it together.... breaking down the already broken down steps even further for my understanding. I find myself struggling with certain motions due to lack of flexibility, lack of balance, and/or lack of motor control. I notice my hands seem to have a mind of their own when I'm focusing on where my legs should be and vice versa. They seem to contradict what the rest of the class is doing. Nonetheless, I loosely follow. I realize mid way through, that I'm surrounded by his other students... smack in the middle... and with every movement towards left or right, I have someone in my sight. Ah, that's why he placed me here. I notice that turning my head to follow a single person is more difficult and distracting than transitioning to the next closest person in my line of sight. It seems obvious but my initial instinct was to always look at the instructor. Some odd names of movements are spewed out, "repulse the monkey" and a terms like "empty stance." They are very specific but I don't know the specifics. I get paired up with a guy name Jade, who seems to be the most knowledgeable of the bunch.

We work on a certain movement, starting with your back leg bent and supporting a majority of your weight, front foot on the heel with toes relaxed... transferring all your weight to your back leg and stepping your front foot behind you while retaining your balance on what is now your front leg. Upon stepping back, your heel touches, opening up your hip, rotating your back foot to where it is opposite of your now front leg, which is still supporting most of your weight. Keeping your weight on the back was the most tasking as it seems very unnatural but it has a purpose. The next a final is to rotate your now front foot to match the direction of the other, while transferring a majority of your weight to the other leg (the one you used to originally step back). You're now facing the opposite direction. As he explains the hand movements, to explain the counter and strike, it makes sense why your weight was on that one leg. It's so that you can retain that tension and strike with not just your hands but the rotation of that leg and transfer all your weight and motion into the one strike. It's difficult to understand in just words. Now I also had a better understanding of what is meant by energy... or at least in this instance... it isn't this random force that floats around in you... rather the tension of your muscles and how it can be released in certain ways to utilize it more efficiently in a strike or counter.

It was interesting. I plan on going on Wednesday as well for a full hour and a half session. Will I continue? I'm not quite sure. It's partially contingent on how much he will charge. It didn't come up this time but I can't imagine it's free. It does fit into my schedule and I'm sure it will help out with skiing and boarding as well. More importantly, it just gives me a new perspective on something that I've known for all my life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Tubing Hill Attendent, Beaver Creek, CO

So this past week, I started my new part time job on the mountain. Last Thursday, I got there to meet my supervisor and go over some basic training at 8 a.m. (this is early in comparison to my recent schedule which comprises of doing much of nothing). After 2 hours of learning some stuff, operating one of the carpet lifts, rules, and the day to day, I grab an hour break and start the job.

It's not all that complicated. We need to set up the snow tubing hill with break mats and setup the tubes initially. Then from 1 - 6 p.m. I'm pretty much outside doing various tasks. I'm either at the top of the lanes, pushing people down, or at the bottom, fixing placement of break mats and helping out little kids who need a hand, or at the bottom of the lift, making sure people are getting on properly, or at the top of the lift, making people are exiting properly...... and that's about it.

Being at the top of the lanes is fun! You get to talk to parents and kids, and then spin them down or race down with a neighboring lane or whatever they want to do. The kids love to spin as fast as they can; so a lot of times, I'm digging in for a short start tugging a kid, then whipping around 10 ft later to get them to spin. I would get sick if I were them. They're fun and cute though. I didn't expect this, but after the first day of moving around equipment and launching kids down the hill, I was so sore and tired. Too bad though, still 3 days left before a day off. By Sunday, my shoulders hurt and I think I pulled an ass muscle. Lol. Off all things to be sore.... its fine now.

Also went boarding today with some co-workers. We were all newbies at boarding so it worked out. I must have fallen like 20 times within 4 runs. One of them was a bit timid so ended up leafing down from side to side a lot. Not me though. My philosophy with learning snowboarding is to just go, which causes me to do face plants, and tumble around. Some hurt, some were hard. Definitely gonna be sore. On a catwalk, I was just cruising along, then caught a front edge. Bam! Face in the snow! Another was going down a hill and just gaining too much speed. I wipe out elbows first, board flips over a top of me, and I'm suddenly in a sitting position with a cloud of snow engulfing me. Most were just sliding on my ass 5 - 10 ft. Or kneeing down. I think those hurt the most. I'll get the hang of it. I'm sure there's more to come before I get good at boarding.

Leaving Beaver Creek, we saw this reindeer and owner. That's something you don't see everyday. It was really mellow and people were getting photos taken and stuff.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ski pass!!!

Finally!!! Got my ski pass, now unlimited skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and A-Basin. Beats paying like $97 per day lift ticket!!!
Training tomorrow at 7:45 am. After that, work starts at noon til about 7 pm on the mountain, Thursday through Sunday.
I'm stoked!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snowboard and job

So today was eventful for me. My normal schedule on days where I'm not skiing, I wake up at around 8 am, lounge around for an hour, and then head out with computer to a local cafe. Before doing some work, I usually enjoy my coffee and read a bit of Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. On a side note, I'm not much of a reader. It takes too long and it usually doesn't hold my attention. This book is an exception. It's about an ex-criminal who escapes to India and starts his new life there. The author is very illustrious and I'm fascinated by the world he's introduced. Thanks Nicole for the recommendation. Anyway, back to my regular schedule. After reading a bit, do a couple hours of work until early afternoon. I got it pretty good right now! Though that will stop soon since I got a job! I got a call from Beaver Creek Resorts. I've been waiting for this call for a week. I already knew I was hired from our initial conversation as we discussed setting a schedule and he got some info to order a uniform. So finally, my background check is clear and need to head up to HR to fill out paper work. So guess what I'm going to do? SNOW TUBE ATTENDANT!!!! I get a measley $9/hr but get 50% discounts on food on the mountain (which brings it down to somewhat normal prices, a bowl of chili is like $9 normally) and some discounts on equipment. I think it's hilarious that I'm excited to do it. I hope it's fun. I'm really glad not be stuck behind a desk. Although, that will come in time. On top of it, I can get my unrestricted season pass as early as tomorrow afternoon. So now I can ski a half day before starting on work on Thursday!
Next, I went to Breckenridge to check out a snowboard. I had been in that area last week and got some boots of Craigslist. Quite honestly, I don't really care the quality of the gear. I just need something inexpensive and comfortable. I wouldn't know the different between the various subtleties like the amount of pop in a board and whether its a rocker or something. Now I got a board to go with my boots. It's an older 2005 Sims Chaos board with Drake bindings. What that means... you got me.... the internet can only tell you so much about equipment... and I was getting impatient. The board's a bit beat up and I'll need to shell out some extra dough to tune it up, but not bad for $160. Check out the pics below. Now I can go snowboarding tomorrow!!! I think I'll actually stick to skiing. Don't wanna be all beat up for the first day on the job.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowmass, Colorado

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So I went out my way a bit to go to another ski mountain, Snowmass, to go skiing with someone new, Jen. She's originally from Colombia but recently lived in Miami and now here for an extended stay. The drive was a bit long but I passed some interesting areas. Glenwood Canyons along Interstate 70 stood out. When heading West, it's this windy canyon a bit past the Eagle area. The driving was fun and there were some tunneled sections. Didn't stop so I don't have any pics. I was just trying to get through the slight snowfall.

Anyway, Snowmass Village, is just another ski area. Shops and restaurant are slope side and there seems to be plenty of construction. Plenty of amenities at the base, but not quite as nice as Vail or Beaver Creek.

View from one of the bases at Snowmass

I can't really say much about the skiing. Jen's a beginner so we stayed on the easier trails. The conditions were decent and a lite snowfall came to play as the day progressed. It's always refreshing when it snows. Towards the end of the day, the clouds really rolled in and visibility dropped significantly. I could only see a couple dozen yards ahead of me, and the light was so flat, that made even the largest moguls seem groomed. We caught a interesting scene riding the lift up.
At first it seemed like a giant spotlight peering through the clouds.
I've never seen the sun like this. Pretty amazing!

After a short day, we grabbed some drinks. Soon after I parted ways. It was good timing. As I approached the parking lot, the sun had already gone, and a faint luminance remained. On the walk way, sat this cat, or so I thought. I noticed that it had an awkwardly large tail but didn't think much of it. Then it started to approach me, cautiously circumventing my left side on to a snow bank.

A fox! I was so happy to see this guy. This was the highlight of my day! Sorry Jen.
I wonder what it's night vision is like.

After a brief (I use the term very loosely), I'm back at my uncle's place at Avon. I imagine I'll have more days like this, running around Colorado, checking out more ski spots. Since I can't hike, this will by my new topic of discussion for future blogs. I'm going to try to ski all ski mountains in Colorado! There's 27 of them. Let's hope I can afford it.