LA

January 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

lasunrise

The sun is barely rising and, it being LA, the sky is swathed in pink and red – muted for now, but soon enough it’ll be enumerating all the colors of a sunrise I’d imagine a sunrise should have.  I walk my bike down the short flight of stairs from the apartment into the alley behind a kosher bakery and Chinese restaurant where little kids with yarmulkes are playing and the wait staff of the restaurant are washing trash cans.  The usual cohort of seagulls are cruising, navigating around the crisscross of telephone wires, waiting for breakfast.  I launch west down the alley.  The pavement is busted as all hell, potholes and little streams of muddy water from the sprinkling of rain from the night before, but the sidewalks are worse and the roads are packed with morning commuters in SUVs at this hour.

I put on the album Brothers by the Black Keys and dip and dodge cars, silt, and imagined landmines.

When I was young and moving fast
Nothing slowed me down,
Oh slowed me down

My route to the office takes me south of Beverly Hills and that means dozens of stop signs to blow through.  There’s a car or two trying to avoid the traffic in the residential neighborhood, but I think I’ll probably be fine.  Moms are packing their kids up in vans, men in tracksuits are walking their toy dogs, and the sun is burning hot in earnest now, so I stop to take off my NorthFace as I belt…

A sinister kid, is a kid who
runs to meet his maker
drop dead sprint from the day he’s born
strait into his makers arms

Nobody seems to notice, or at least they don’t show it.


There’s a long sprint now on Santa Monica and then Westwood with what feels like eight lanes of cars and a wide cushy bike boulevard all for me and just me.  It’s smoggy with long undulating hills that all annoyingly have stop lights at the bottom.  Zoom, zoom, zoom – I’m blown north in waves and waves and waves.

There are students now, wandering towards campus, headphones in, baby blue and gold brazen.  I put on my game face, pull down my sunglasses.

Mountain High

January 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Went to the snow in California for the first time last week at Mountain High in the San Bernadino Mountains. Overall a good day, but doubt I’d do it again there.

Left San Diego at 6AM after a bender in the OC that took till five in the morning. Traffic was clear until we got up in the mountain where the last 6 miles took half an hour. At around 9AM we get to the west resort and are met by a nice parking attendant, a mass of cars rows deep, and drive by a throng of probably 200 people in line for lift tickets. Oh yeah, I forgot, I live in southern California and it’s the holiday season.

For a day up it rounds off to about a hundred bucks for rentals and a pass. We get through the lift ticket and rental line in about an hour. The staff were efficient, friendly, and just chatty enough given the back-up.

I take my sister and Dad up the conveyor belt only to be met by about 25 people sliding into each other down a tiny bunny slope – all on snowboards. We manage a couple of shaky toe and heel turns without running into anyone before I decide to take them up a green before somebody got clocked by a 12 year old flailing wildly down the bunnies.

ImageThe lift (Snowflake) had a line the size of Kansas – a random agglomeration of people in some semblance of a line, a good third who haven’t figured out how to stop yet as they attempt to queue up. I’d say the average wait time for 3/4 of the lifts was 20 minutes. It being SoCal, you’re standing around in all your ski gear baking in the sun with all your zippers down from your armpits to your ankles.

The mountain itself is pretty small – the longest runs are maybe a fifth of the longest in Aspen. 80% of the folks there are on snowboards and the day we went a good half of those looked like fish out of water.

Going up the green lifts (Snowflake, Roadrunner, Coyote) are like looking down on a wasteland during a zombie apocalypse – a ton of folks sitting or lying down, looking down the mountain trying to figure out why they went up and how the hell they’re going down, the rest wobbling around alternating from going way too fast for comfort to a sloppy heel break trying to miss all the sitting people spotted down the mountain.

The top is the bowl of the mountain and the hardest stuff – steep blacks and one long blue that ends in the mess of a green and some easy jumps. This was the longest and least busy lift (Conquest) – we waited no more than 5 minutes to get up.

The south lift (Blue Ridge Express) is mostly blues and a few blacks – a mixture of slightly better folks who can make it down something steeper without crying who are trying to get away from the mess so they can actually learn something, and your locals and pro-boarders doing tricks on the various rails and jumps littered down the runs.

This is probably a more fun mountain when less crowded, but I gotta say that three years of Aspen has spoiled me completely. Short runs, blues that may as well be greens, a boat load of people, and not a shred of powder in sight. On the plus side, on my last run I got down to the greens and tried an easy jump AND landed it – my first! Maybe I’ll try Big Bear before the season’s over …

Image

Sea of snowboards and not a ski in sight.

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