Monday, November 16, 2009

SKI SEASON HAS ARRIVED: PARTY ON THE PASS

The weekend before I joined some friends to see the new Powder Whore movie Flakes at the Oriental Theater. While driving down Speer Boulevard on the way to the theater a truck pulled up next to me giving the thumbs up and pointing down the road ahead. It turns out it was the guys from Powder Whore, pulling their trailer, going to the theater as well. They spotted the PW sticker on the back window of the camper shell. I made it to the Oriental first to buy a ticket for the movie and I cheered them as they pulled into the parking space in front of the theater. Dinner with friends at Swing Tai was excellent, the movie even better, watching the skiers make sweet telemark turns in that Utah powder!

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This past Friday was spent with friends, Warren Miller's new ski movie, Dynasty, being the occasion for us to get together. Dinner and beers at Lucky Strike, followed by another beer at the Paramount Cafe. The Paramount Theater was filled with enthusiastic skiers who had gathered for this annual event. We are a rowdy bunch, the chatter going on throughout the movie. Time was spent together at Earl's afterwards, eyeing the fine young ladies and enjoying a few more beers and celebratory shots of whisky.

These occasions are not about the movies, but simply being in the company of like minded friends. I wish we didn't have to wait a whole year to get together and have so much fun. We made commitments to get together on the slopes this season.




Saturday was spent hand printing this years Christmas block card/print, a shadowed scene of a Colorado winter landscape. Instead of spending a second day performing the mind-numbing task of inking and printing multiple blocks just to create a single print, I decided Sunday would be spent skiing. I had to go after hearing the news on the radio all afternoon about a winter storm advisory scheduled to go into effect beginning late that afternoon. To some that means hazardous driving, to me it means powder! Kids, want to go skiing? No? Adios!

It was snowing by the time I loaded the truck and headed out onto the highway. The roads were becoming treacherously slick by 7 PM. A pair of State Patrol cars blocked I-70 at the Morrison exit. They told me that access to the highway could be gained farther up the canyon by following highway 40. The eastbound lanes were jammed with stationary vehicles, probably the result of a crash or jack knifed truck while coming down the mountain on icy pavement. I got onto a nearly empty snow covered (unplowed) highway somewhere just beyond Lookout Mountain. I had it in 4-wheel drive the whole way. Another jam of vehicles in the eastbound lanes on the west side of Floyd Hill, vehicles unable to climb the steep, icy roadway. I pulled into an empty parking lot at Loveland ski area, covered in 6 to 8 inches of fresh snow. I would have preferred sleeping on a turn out just below the pass but a snow plow operator warned me that they would be gating off the road down below sometime that evening.

Party on the Pass! I scraped out a patch of ground outside the truck, opening the door to crank up the stereo. The flask and excellent music made it an unreal experience under the darkened, snowy sky. The new ski season begins tomorrow!

The lumbering snowcats plowing the parking lot did not wake me. I had breakfast in the lodge, savoring that cup of coffee, clearing the tequila from my head. This year I decided to buy a season pass to Loveland, committing to do most of my front side mountain skiing at one of the closest and one of my favorite ski areas. Light snow fell all day, the sun coming out occasionally to lend a bit of warmth to an otherwise cold day. Three lifts running with essentially a similar number of top to bottom runs open. After a few hours I had done it all several times over. The day was simply to get a feel for the ski legs and see how much I may have lost since last season. A new gouge in the ski means I've got to do a repair and tune up by next weekend. I departed early to avoid any traffic that jams the highway later in the afternoon, flying down to Denver and back home by mid afternoon where I resumed the dull task of printing out a few more block prints.



My first Party on the Pass got started on the drive up, popping Chickenfoot's first release into the stereo, their hard rocking sound booming in the truck cabs interior. Once I was parked and had uncorked the flask, my music of choice was a collection of singles released by Echo & The Bunnymen between 1992 (while Ian was performing solo) and 2001 (shortly after Flowers was released with Will). These "singles" are a collection of 3 or 4 songs released under separate cover in between their full length albums. They include some songs off the albums, but also include some live performances and unusual "mixes" that can't be found anywhere else. That's what I liked about this particular collection of songs: familiar songs played in unfamiliar ways. It was a special surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed, with Ian sounding so heavenly. I could not help but listen to some of the songs repeatedly, relishing the moment of such good music in such a beautiful environment. I crawled into my sleeping bag by 2AM. When I awoke at 7 the next morning I looked at my watch and simply rolled over for another hour of sleep.


Crossed over the line
Dreams become his reality
Sleepwalks to the beat

Find the downloads here:

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