Monday, January 12, 2015

Backcountry ski report for the Coquihalla Summit region

Recent lack-of-snow conditions have resulted in persistent frustration for skiers and isolated irrational events of size 1 to 2. Observations from the Coquihalla Summit region on Sunday 11th of January showed it to be mid-spring at an elevation of 1200m. Beneath a loud surface layer, at a depth of surprisingly little, lay an Earth layer approximately 12,700 km thick. This layer was not reactive in shovel tests. Backcountry travel is only advised if you are well prepared with sandwiches, and maybe a thermos of tea.

That is all.

Friday, January 9, 2015

It would be, it would be so nice.

And so finally, I made it to the end of my holiday blog post. This one is positively busting with photographs, so brace yourself.

Having fled the arctic wasteland of Sedona (it was actually quite pleasant - but that ruins the drama), we arrived in the land of Elvis, ridiculous hotels, and a thing made out of 2.5 million cubic meters of concrete. Seriously, that is a lot of concrete. It turns out that two things happen when you make something out of 2.5 million cubic meters of concrete. The first one is that the concrete artisans get thirsty and as you'd be doing this in the prohibition era (obviously), an elaborate network of trails to deliver illicit booze from desert stills must be set up. It's this kind of detail that people often overlook in construction projects. Then, 40 years later a bunch of hippies in California start riding old bikes down gravel roads and before you know where you are you end up with...

So there's that.

There's also all that pesky water that backs up behind your nice new concrete wall. Then, 20 years after the bike thing, some pro-surfing legend decides to re-discover surfing on a really big board with a paddle so he doesn't have to deal with all that getting up and down nonsense. The people see this and think "hey, cool... now I don't even need a wave to go surfing", and before you know where you are, you end up with...

So there's that too.

And then, as if we hadn't had enough already, some Canadian in a pink onesie and a British-import Canadian come to visit and... (you get the picture).

Haha, "picture" - can you see what I did there?

Enough with the sponsor-pleasing photographs already. That last one's pretty good though, right?

Three things were particularly memorable to me from our couple of days in Boulder City and Vegas. 1) Breakfast at the "World Famous Coffee Cup", which certainly deserved to be world famous, because it's great. 2) Riding in Bootleg Canyon - whilst all the trails were close variations on a theme, the theme was a catchy one so no complaints there. And 3) walking around "The Strip" for hours whilst being assaulted by endless bizarre (and often illuminated) things. Here's what I'm talking about:

Predictably, there are more photos here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Just one day out of life

Part two of my holiday reminiscence is here. Hooray!

Having enjoyed the delights of southern California, it was time to move on. The weather had taken a turn for the Canadian and there were reports of snow in the desert. Being unafraid of snow, we went to Sedona (Arizona) anyway... which didn't work out quite as we expected.

It turns out is does snow in the desert. Maybe not very often, but this was not the skiff of white stuff we imagined. I had left the winter tires on the Elephant, so we were the most mobile (and least terrifying) vehicle on the road, but biking on any of that photogenic red dirt was going to be out of the question. Fortunately we found the Olde Sedona Pub which featured a crowd of fun locals, "DJ Pedro", a pool table, and so we ushered the new year in one hour earlier than expected as we had left PST. Semi-success!

Fun, but not ideal for mountain biking

Red, white, and blue.

It's not supposed to look like this

Frosted cactus

The White Stripes
Having exhausted the taking-pictures-of-snow-on-rocks opportunities, we decided to go in search of mountain biking and slot machines in the City of Sin. More of that in the the third and final (phew) installment.

Have Elephant, will travel.

Pictures of more of that, but mostly just the same are here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Holiday, celebrate.

Happy New Year!

Before we get into into my festive reportage, here's a picture of Pippa and I going mountain biking in Squamish. I forget what we were discussing. That happened last year, but not so long ago.

Now, let the holiday rehash begin. To make this an authentic hash, I have uploaded the pictures in a random order. Ok, that was not really on purpose. To kick things off for this trip, we drove pretty much the entire length of the United States down to southern California. We spent Christmas Eve in a rest Area outside of Los Angeles, sleeping the the back of the Elephant. How's that for Scrooge?

Once we were there, an assortment of sunshine-fueled activities too place. Here's a Christmas-stocking full of such things:

In this carefully posed diorama, we see Lina expressing wonder at a majestic palm tree, whilst clinging to one of the pillars of the casino on Catalina Island.

Now we are transported by the Ghost of Christmas Past to San Onofre beach, where SUP surfers are allowed to huddle together next to the nuclear power station so they won't bother all the real surfers too much. Except when one of the real surfers comes over to the SUP ghetto to be weird. I don't know why they do that.

No, no, no.

Collective noun for young SUP paddlers?

When you have a paddle, you can surf a ripple.

Apparently we rode bikes at some point. This was probably Wood Canyon, behind the Howsen's house, where we stayed. Most excellent people in a most excellent place.

The Elephant, holding steady in a foreign land.

Some kind of fool enjoying Wood Canyon.

Apparently this was cold weather for Laguna Beach. I think I might need to become a snowbird.

Visiting Crystal Cove on one of Robert's scenic mountain bike tour of the Laguna environs. I need to do more of those some day...
Even more photos, as if that was even necessary, can be found here. After some truly A++ times with the Howsens in Laguna, we headed east for Arizona, where it failed to be arid at all. You're going to need to stay fascinated for that part of this thrilling saga. And also part three! Now I've promised it, I will have to deliver.