Monday, August 30, 2010

Beachin' it

I've been down on the "Delmarva" Peninsula for the past few days getting some beach time in. We started on Assateague Island for a couple of days of car camping, then we moved on through Ocean City and Bethany Beach to a hotel in Rehoboth Beach, DE (which is a really nice area). Selected Pictures:

All in all, it was a great trip.  Highlights included the Assateague Crab House (where we sort of learned how to eat crab), Camping with some really interesting people (although the mosquitoes were no fun), body boarding in the crazy rip currents, and hanging out with friends in Rehoboth (Fish tacos in Dewey Beach were tasty).

It was our first beach trip in a while (a really long while - in fact I don't really remember when we went last).  And I think I'm pretty good for the next couple of years as far as Beach Trips go.  I'd much rather spend my money on a sweet ski vacation, or even a new pair of skis.  It's not that I dislike the beach (like I said, we had a great time), but I like the mountains more.

Also, I said a couple of times over the course of the trip that I don't like going to the same place over and over again.  And beaches all seem pretty similar to me.  There's some sand, some waves, some cheap beachwear stores, some salt water taffy stores, and some pizza places.  Assateague was different (although we learned that it might have been the exact same, if not for random events), but every other place we went seemed like a repeat of the last place we were.  I don't know why, but every trip to the mountains seems different to me - especially if I'm exploring a new area.  It just seems like there are so many more options.  For example, there are a bunch of different ski areas in the east.  Each of those areas has a bunch of different trails.  And each of those trails has a bunch of different lines.  Even if I'm skiing the same hill over and over again, there's more than enough variety to keep me entertained for season after season.  This works for mountain biking and hiking too (there are a lot of ways to climb Mount Marcy).  At the beach, I just didn't get that feeling.

I'm not trying to say that if you've seen one beach, you've seen them all.  There are a lot of beaches that I've never been to that I'd like to go to (these seem like a good start), and I'm sure I'll take another beach trip eventually.  I just want to state once again, for the record, that if you're looking for an exciting, varied vacation, the mountains are the place to be.  And if you're looking for an exciting, varied life, the beach house might not be the best way to go.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


There's something to be said for creating something. That's really why I started this blog. I mean, I have a lot of thoughts that I could just keep to myself (and sometimes, I probably should), but I kind of like the idea of putting it down in print. It's sort of like taking a snapshot of where I am in my life, and it provides a loose road map for where I want to go (sometimes, it literally is a snapshot of my life). But sometimes a snapshot isn't enough. . .

I was listening to Howard Stern this morning (as per usual), and he had Sylvester Stallone on. I found the most interesting parts of the interview were the times that Sly talked about how his movies are made. Most of his films were all him - directing, writing, acting, etc. He wrote all of the Rocky movies, all of the Rambo movies, Over The Top, Cliffhanger, The Expendables (his new movie), and a bunch of others. He said that he didn't even make any money with the last Rocky movie, and he doesn't expect to make any money with The Expendables. Here's a guy who makes movies just because he wants to create. He gets an idea, he writes the script, and he does what is necessary to get the movie made, even if none of his movies quite match up to Citizen Kane. Was there a market for Rocky 4? I don't know, but the scene with Rocky training in Siberia while Drago getting juiced up in his state-of-the-art gym is cinematic gold. I feel like if Stallone didn't push so hard to get his movies made, they never would've seen the light of day.

Before today, I was thinking about this while watching Hunting Yeti, the Nimbus film series done for the Ski Channel. These guys don't really have much in the way of film equipment. In fact, I read a profile in some ski magazine (I forget which and I can't find it online), that showed pretty much their entire operation: A really nice digital video camera, 7 One Terabyte Hard Drives (two of which he travels with), A really nice Mac, and a couple of still cameras. Toss in a guy that they got to do all of their music (no licensing fees = key), and all of a sudden, they had a film company. In fact, it was even easier than that. According to this article:
At the top of one of these runs, holding the camera in my hands and planning a shot with Eric Pollard, i had an epiphany. i realized i had total control of what we were doing. Nobody was telling us what we should do or how we should do it, and we were having tons of fun. I told Pollard, “This is what I want to be doing,” and he instantly agreed.

And their film company was born. Keep in mind, I don't even like some of the stuff they do in their films. They do a lot of stuff without their poles (which always looked weird to me), and I will never understand skiing powder backwards (I thought that one of the best things about powder was the face shot). But I'm sure there are a lot of people who don't like Rocky 4 too.

Either way, like Hansel, you've got to respect that they're out there making it happen. To create something that lasts forever - that's like a Jay Z song. I love making ski movies, I love the editing, I love fitting stuff to music, and I love the skiing. I love sitting around my house in September or October rewatching all of the movies that I made in previous years. I've been getting some hints that there's a call for me to do it again.

I'm definitely in, but when I made the previous films, I was usually the one behind the camera (I never got good results when other people tried to shoot). This time, though, I want to be like Sly. I want to be the Talent too.

Friday, August 13, 2010


One more note on that New York Times article. I remembered this paragraph when someone on the Harvey Road Forum said that their Powder Magazine was delivered:

In fact, scholars have found that anticipation increases happiness. Considering buying an iPad? You might want to think about it as long as possible before taking one home. Likewise about a Caribbean escape: you’ll get more pleasure if you book a flight in advance than if you book it at the last minute.

I go back and forth on this all the time. Sometimes I think that the amount of time that I spend anticipating something (ski season, vacation, the weekend) would be better spent elsewhere. I feel like I build things up so much, when they actually occur, I feel let down that they weren’t as awesome as I anticipated. If I decide, 4 months in advance, that the upcoming ski season will be the best ever, I will inevitably be disappointed when the snowfall amounts are down, my favorite runs aren’t open, and work obligations are preventing me from skiing anywhere new. You hear this all the time around Late December/Early January. People ask why the mountain isn’t opening quicker. Why does Okemo have so many more trails open? Why hasn’t there been any natural snow? I don’t know if it’s the fast food culture, internet shopping, or just the hectic pace of daily life, but everything has to be perfect, and it has to be perfect now.

But there’s also another side, the one that loves to plan. Sometimes the best part of a vacation is the time I spend before the vacation finding out about where I’m going. I search the internet for trip reports, talk to people who’ve gone, and develop all sorts of options in my head. And travel isn’t the only time I do this. Earlier this year, it wasn’t enough for me to walk into a bike store and buy a mountain bike. I poured over I talked with anyone remotely connected to mountain bikes. I read all sorts of buyer’s guides. In fact, I buy lottery tickets not because I think I’ll win the lottery, but because I like to spend the days before the drawing planning what I would do if I won. The happiness I get from planning is easily equal to the $1 that the ticket cost me.

So, really, I’m in agreement with the article, and I’m not going to feel bad about getting my hopes up. So what if there might be disappointment along the way? A little bump in the trail never forced me to give up skiing (in fact, eventually, it made skiing more fun). This ski season is going to be the best ever. We’re going to get a ton of snow, everything will be open by early January, and we’ll be loving life in the Tannery, raising beers to sick lines, deep pow, and good friends.

And I’m going to win the lottery.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happiness is . . .

Because I am a snobby elitist, I was reading the New York Times and I stumbled across this article. The same theme always repeats itself in articles about happiness. Basically, instead of spending money on material possessions, we should be spending money on experiences. However, I also noticed this section:

Thomas DeLeire, an associate professor of public affairs, population, health and economics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, recently published research examining nine major categories of consumption. He discovered that the only category to be positively related to happiness was leisure: vacations, entertainment, sports and equipment like golf clubs and fishing poles.

Ah-ha!!! I can use this to justify my purchase of the mountain bike. I was just making an investment in my future happiness. And really, the investment has paid out substantially. I've been riding twice a week (or so) and every weekend. We're getting better and better too (despite the horrific fall that I suffered last Thursday). I don't think this quote applies to my 6th pair of skis, though. At some point, I'd imagine that the law of diminishing returns supersedes the happiness rule.

In all seriousness, though, intuitively, this seems to be the case. I always seem to remember trips that I took, events that I experienced, and adventures that I had. Were they all great times? No, but according to the article, that doesn't even matter:

One reason that paying for experiences gives us longer-lasting happiness is that we can reminisce about them, researchers say. That’s true for even the most middling of experiences. That trip to Rome during which you waited in endless lines, broke your camera and argued with your spouse will typically be airbrushed with “rosy recollection,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside.

Professor Lyubomirsky has a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct research on the possibility of permanently increasing happiness. “Trips aren’t all perfect,” she notes, “but we remember them as perfect.”

NICE!!! And I've had that theory for a long time. In fact, some of the best stories come from trips that didn't go according to plan.

Think about it. How many of your best stories start out like this: "Well, I was sitting at home on my couch and . . ." I'd imagine pretty much none of them. Most of my stories start out like this "So there I was in [insert crazy place/crazy situation/crazy predicament] and then . . .". Stuff never happens at home. Cool stuff always happens out there. And "there" is a different place for each individual. Some people do all their cool stuff at the nightclub. Some people love the beach. Me? All my cool shit happens in the mountains.

Which leads me to my greatest epiphany ever. When we were mountain biking up at the Stables the other day (Carriage/Powerline/Pilgrim/Dam/There to Here/Dam/Rock Garden/Unkown Trail out), Ace had a message on her phone when we got out of the woods. We threw some high fives, changed into flip flops, and cracked open some beers. She called the guy back in the parking area, and she got great news from a job interview that she went on the previous day. She got an awesome new job, in the ski industry, making more than she's making now, and she gets July and August off.

It was such a great moment to celebrate. Hanging out with a bunch of friends, drinking cold beer on a hot day, trading stories and barbs. Everyone there was psyched for her new job, and she was loving it. Later, when we were talking about how great that day was, I had this epic quote:

"When you're doing cool shit, and cool shit happens to you, that's just more cool shit!"

Basically, what I was trying to say was that, when you're living your life the way you want to live it, and things fall into place for you that makes your life even better, it's the cherry on the sundae. It was already good. Now it's just better (and really, there's nothing to stop it from continuing to get better - how about some rainbow sprinkles on that bad boy?).

I kind of liked the way I put it originally, though.

I should write for the New York Times.