Tuesday, January 27, 2009

winter dolphins

Last weekend I was in Florida surfing with the dolphins. This weekend Sarah and I went to Canaan and joined Mike and Christi in search of some winter dolphins.

WINTER DOLPHINS????? What the hell ..........? Well to make a long story short; several weeks ago Mike's son Cole overheard Mike and Christi talking about the endorphins you get playing in the snow and especially x/c skiing uphill. Young Cole thought they said "winter dolphins" and figured out that they must live somewhere up the hill! Yeah Cole!!!!

Saturday, we met Mike and Christi at Whitegrass. WG is a fun, funky backcountry cross country ski area and cafe located between Canaan Ski area and Timberline. Definitely a great "let's play then eat " place, and one of my favorite places in the world.

It was windy and cold down at the lodge, so we headed into the woods and uphill in search of dolphins. We skied up to Bald Knob and then back down to the lodge via Powderline Trail and 3-Mile. It has been awhile since Sarah and I had been on our X/C skis, and to be honest I felt very uncoordinated and somewhat like Michael Jackson doing the moon walk with my skis shuffling back and forth. I never really found the dolphins, (they were probably hiding in the trees and laughing at my ineptitude on the skis) but we still had fun and then went back to Mike and Christi's and ate brie and lasagna.

At the Hatteras house in the fall, there is sort of an unspoken rule that after windsurfing and surfing all day, that it is OK to go to sleep anytime after 9pm. It is barely after 8 and we are full of food and everyone is sort of just nodding in and out in front the fire, and Christi informs us that 8 is the new nine. Awesome, good night! In addition to the "play and then eat" theme, we now add SLEEP! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZsnore ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZsnoreZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

When you go to bed early, it is easy to get up and play early. We all headed over to Timberline at 8am, where Sarah and I signed up for an all day Telemark clinic. Unfortunately Sarah and I didn't get to spend any time skiing with Mike and Christi, but we both had fun in the clinic and learned some things that I hope will help up us become better telemark skiers. Mike and Christi headed back home to Annapolis, and Sarah and I hung out at their cabin and ate leftovers. Somehow we both managed to stay awake til 9 before turning in.

We awoke Monday and spent the day snowboarding at Canaan. There were very few people there when we first arrived and we pretty much had the mountain to ourselves. I broke out my race board and hard boots for the first time in a couple of years and cut some big fat grooves in the corduroy. After a couple hours and many leg burning runs later, I switched to my Arbor A-Frame (which still lays down nice turns) and soft boots for a more mellow rest of the day. Sarah and I snowboarded until almost 4pm, and then drove over to Whitegrass to catch another session on the X/C gear.

We skied out across the valley (no wind) and then climbed up Springer Orchard and then up an even steeper climb on a trail named Cathedral. I'm not sure why "Cathedral" but I think it might have something to do with "Oh God please help get me up this hill". Once we made it up Cathedral we had a short ski over to the warming hut, where we found the dolphins hanging out. It was getting late, and the dolphins followed us back down hill to the lodge just before dark. We spent a few minutes hanging out with Chip before starting our trip home.

Quick stop to close up the house, phone in a carryout order from Sirrianni's and we were on the way. It was snowing hard, and it was pretty much a white knuckle drive getting off the mountain, but once down the hill, the trip home was pretty smooth except for a short stop for an accident on I 70. We arrived home way past our 9, oops I mean 8 o:clock bedtime and hit the sack sometime after midnight.

Much to my surprise (and delight) I awoke to see snow on the ground out side of our house this morning. I guess some of the dolphins decided to follow us home...............cool!

Play hard, eat well, sweet dreams, and save the dolphins.


In the words of Chip Chase, "There is snow and it has to be used."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

dolphins & rainbows

I went to Florida last week for the January Surf Expo Show. I usually don't attend that show because of the one I go to in September. The reasons for going were twofold; one to see what I could learn that would help the business, and two I really wanted to go surfing with Tom Price and his family in Melbourne.
The show was cool and I got to see some new gear and old friends, as well as meet some new ones.
Last fall we ordered a new line of sandals for the shop from a company called Olukai. I met the E.V.P of the company, Dan at the show. In addition to giving me a really cool pair of new flip flops, he gave me a Makau. The Makau is a bone fish hook, and is the Polynesian symbol worn for safe passage over the water, strength and good luck. While just a simple token, I believe there is something to its power.

I used points off the shop credit card to pay for my airfare and hotel. Since I was on a budget, I booked an inexpensive hotel at the north end of I -Drive. When I arrived at the hotel I was told I had been given an "upgrade", and that I would be staying in the Rosen Shingle Creek. For those that don't know, the Shingle Creek is one of the newest, and nicest hotels in Orlando. Two hot tubs, multiple pools, beautiful rooms, and a killer dinner and breakfast buffet. Score one for the power of the Makau.
I spent some time on Friday hanging out in the Naish booth. In addition to seeing Charlie and Nick from the US distributor(I missed seeing my buddy M.J), I finally got to meet Naish product manager Michi and was also able to spend some time with Robby, and former Annapolis boy Andy (Birdman) Church. It is hard not to be in awe of somebody like Robby, but he is a really nice guy, and I appreciate him taking the time to chat. Robby, you still da man!

After visiting with the Naish crew, I went to the Surftech booth to get the lowdown frow Drew on the new boards. The first thing I saw was this very cool looking yellow board called the the "Greek Shorty". It is sort of like a 9'6 longboard except that it is only 8' long. Love at first sight. Yeah baby! Now it is mine, and it is now living in Melbourne Florida with Tom.
Between appointments, I cruised around the show and ran into Robert August (of Endless Summer fame) and talked to him for a few minutes. He had just returned from surfing in Costa Rica, and he is still as stoked to surf today as he was more than forty years ago. Thanks for sharing that stoke with me.

It is fun see all the people, the gear, the swimsuit models, and visit with friends.

Saturday morning, I stopped by the show for a bit, grabbed my new board and drove over to Cocoa to meet up with Tom and his son Dane. We waxed up the new board and headed into the water. It was cool by Florida standards, but we were all comfortable in 3/2 wetsuits. I actually managed to catch the very first wave I went for on the new board! Talk about stoked!! I missed a whole bunch of others, but I did get a few more rides and had a great time watching Tom and Dane show me how it is supposed to be done.

On the way down to Melbourne, we stopped at Balsa Bill's Surf Shop. Bill still makes boards the old fashioned way out of balsa, and if you are ever down that way you should check his shop out.

Tom and Janet fixed up an excellent dinner and then we went over to the beach to see the night launch of a satellite from the Kennedy Space Flight Center. Unfortunately the launch didn't happen, but seeing the stars from the beach was still pretty cool.

Sunday morning, we ate breakfast and headed to the beach for another surf session. Tom got more rides than anyone in the water and looked good doing it. Dane was one of just a few people on a shortboard, but he was getting his fair share of waves too. While waiting for a set to roll in, I had a dolphin swim close by, and I took that as a good sign. Moments later a perfect wave pitched up, I paddled hard and I just missed it, but as the spray blew back off the lip it created a rainbow over my head. Dolphins and Rainbows, how cool is that? Mostly I just tried to stay out of everybody's way, but I did get a couple of rides on the new board. I paddled until my arms pooped and went in and watched from the beach for a while.

After the surf session we picked up the rest of the Price crew and went to Da Kine Diego's for lunch. Thanks to Tom and Dane, There is now an East of Maui sticker joining many hundreds of others on the wall.

We left Da Kines and went to the Cocoa Beach Surf Company to see their Classic Surfboard Collection. Bing Copeland was on hand for a book signing and Balsa Bill was strumming away on the ukulele. It was a good time and there were some pretty sweet old boards on display.

My time with Tom and the family was too short, but I had to get back to Orlando for my flight home. I can't wait to get back to see them, and you know what....... I have a really sweet surf board down there just waiting for me! Cool.

The flight home was uneventful, I even got on an earlier flight ( I think the Makau was at work again).

Monday morning, I got up and loaded my snowboard gear and went to Whitetail. The snow was awesome. To be able to play in the unfrozen snow on Sunday and then on the frozen snow on Monday was a dream come true.



Saturday, January 3, 2009

happy new year!

Aloha & Happy New Year.
Yesterday the East of Maui Crew celebrated the New Year at Ski Roundtop with the "Annual New Years Day Chili Party" . It is sort of like the Labor Day Luau, only colder. The shop is closed and it is one of the few days that we all get to play together at the same time.
The conditions were awesome and everything on the mountain was open except for Gunbarrel.
(Almost) Everyone got there early and spent all morning riding hard.
I made a huge pot of Chili ( Whitegrass Veggie Style) for lunch and we all chowed down before hitting the slopes for the rest of the afternoon.

Most of the crew headed home around dark, but Sarah, Mike Logston, and I rode until almost 7pm.
We had a great time and hope it is just one of many great days in 2009.
see you on the snow
Mark B