Thursday, March 31, 2016

A thousand points of light.

Still trying to get things right-side up.


Hitting the road.


Haven't seen this guy since he called a collectivo to get us to Terminal Los Héroes.


Back then, he was into big terrain and epic spaces. Still is.


Pause for a moment to appreciate the enormity of this space. A lot of suburban neighborhoods could fit into it.


Smaller spaces, deeper snow.


Back home.


The scenery changes, but the road remains the same.


Or is that the other way around?


Pow day on Lookout. Found out the kid needs 95 underfoot just like the rest of us.


This deep.


St. Regis.


3.5 is the new 2.25.


Well, folks, it's beer o'clock!


Thursday, March 10, 2016

And saved some part / of a day I had rued


Kevin, storm skiing on Lolo Pass.


Patrick, storm skiing on Gash Point on probably the best day of the year.


Cooper, at Bridger, on a warm Saturday.


We knew when settling in Missoula that if one of us ever lost our jobs it would be shitty.


It is, but with the unexpected benefit of suddenly getting a lot of time to self-introspect, work on the bench press routine at the Y, and ski.


Unfortunately, joblessness has coincided with probably the worst ski season since 2009.


Even so, travel conditions have been good, the avalanche conditions are low, and gas is still $1.72 a gallon.


I took some time off the job hunt to show some New Yorkistanis around. Of course, after a day on Lolo Pass we went to the Jack.


Back in Missoula, we sold out two showings of the Backcountry Film Fest at the Roxy -- a benefit for the Montana Backcountry Alliance. (Note that the dude in the center of the photo is taking a swig from a hip flask. I guess we hold it at the Roxy for a reason.) (click to enlarge)



Snowless in Missoula.


The Elkhorns in Oregon. A place I've wondered about for a while, and probably would have never visited if it were not for unemployment.


Spout Springs Ski Area, a Monday-afternoon find.


I went on a chuting spree in Northeast Oregon.


Kevin again, a fellow unemployee, this time in Hyalite.


And Cooper and Jude, killing it in Bozeman.


I just need to work out of this hole!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Plan B Lifestyle

Whatever you do, don't lean against the truck.


And don't assume the ski conditions will get much better than this (although they will).


Don't count on long days.


Or bluebird skies.


"You chose the Plan B Lifestyle," Adam said.

It's true.


"You will always sleep in the back of your truck," he said. "It's not something you'll grow out of. If you suddenly earn more money, you won't move into a hotel, you'll just spend more nights in the back of your truck."


The Plan B Lifestyle means I'll always be pulled aside for secondary questioning at the Roosville border post, but that I can walk through some remote border crossing in Southeast Asia with only a backpack and a tattered Lonely Planet and not even earn a raised eyebrow. The Plan B Lifestyle means dinner will be prepped on the truck tailgate, and that I made things like Third World travel a priority over things like career advancement.



Plan B Lifestyle wake-up scene: steps from my bed in the back of the Nissan.


Plan B Exercise Plan: who has money for fancy things like lift tickets?


Or groomed cross-country trails?


Alaska is just two and a half hours away?


When you must buy lift tickets, the Plan B Lifestyle ski area is not Verbier, but Shames.


Plan B road trip: a Wednesday morning in the Canadian Rockies.


And Thursday.


And Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, too. At some point I'll have to turn around and head home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Que bueno!

Already at the departure gate in Houston, the preferred language has become Spanish, as though we have already left America. It's too crowded, people have too many bags, and everyone is talking too loudly. It feels like we are there already, except of course until the moment I cross the threshold into the 737 I can still turn around and back out. But I'm no longer nervous about arrivals the way I used to be. My early travel experiences were all in Africa, when deplaning into a foreign customs could be a big, scary deal. Not so any more.


(And here we are, on the Corredor Sur, the city looming.)


I know this flight pattern pretty well now. The plane flies over Galveston Island -- sometimes right over the house my parents used to have on Indian Beach -- and then makes away across the Gulf of Mexico -- sparkling blue from 33,000. We cross the Yucatan near Merida, and cross it again south of Cancun. More ocean, then the Rio Segovia marking the junction of Honduras and Nicaragua, and spilling a huge amount of sediment into the sea. Then ocean again, until I see thunderheads on the horizon and we descend, quickly crossing Colon, the canal, the wing dipping over Puente de las Americas, ocean again, and Panama City, wide and impossibly dense and skyscraper filled. Immigration is a smile and three stamps, customs is cursory, and suddenly we are on the curb, wondering which taxi to take.


(Yes, that is a freeway which now encircles Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage site. They killed it.)


(Here's a lesson for everyone: learn a few words so you can, uh, chat with the locals.)

Laura and I went to Panama about 10 years ago. Man, has it changed. High end hotels shadow the lumpy streets, and cars are newer and fancier than what you see in most of the U.S. The buses are new and air conditioned and much more more boring than before, and the squares of even small towns have free wi-fi.


(Los Santos)


(Los Santos)


(So we decided to get Cooper's hair cut. The barber used clippers and then told me "Tell him not to move." It's a blurry picture, but yeah, that's a razor.)

Anyway, Panama remains attractive today for many of the same reasons we found it attractive before: it's fun, loose, simple, safe, easy to get around, and the Spanish is spoken with a flat, slow accent.


(Wild beaches on the Azuero Peninsula.)


(Black Friday in Playa Venao.)


(We found these things all over. Boy, is he going to be pissed when he learns that for a simple quarter they shake up and down.)


(Playa Venao)



(Pit stop after hiking near El Valle. This was the next-to-last full day and I was already nostalgic for the trip.)


(I can work the system pretty well. We payed $58 for a four-star hotel in Panama City.)

When you just have a week, and you already live at the end of the line (life in Missoula), where you go on vacation depends to a large extent on where you can get easily. El Salvador is easy, but too dangerous. Same for Honduras. I have mixed feelings about Guatemala after a semi-traumatic trip there years ago, and Belize and Costa Rica are simply too boring. What's next? Colombia?)