Snow Skiing

Mandy and I went snow skiing to Crystal Mountain this past weekend. Our friends from Columbus met up with us in Findlay just in time (on Thursday evening) for the snow to be accumulating in full force. The Audi did well in the snow given its aggressive performance tires, which were only track-ish in deep snow with big ruts). However, the 1.5 hour drive to Pontiac turned into almost 4.5 hours.

The trip from Pontiac to Thompsonville was easy since I slept well and the roads were clear on Friday. We arrived in time for ~5 hours of skiing on Friday with almost no lift lines and fresh powder. Several runs I skied were empty and I enjoyed the beauty of gliding silently through nature. I taught Mandy how to snow plow and perform s-turns. She was a brilliant student and was quickly tearing up the green hills.

We stayed in Frankfort on the shores of Lake Michigan in a sweet resort (~20 miles NW of Crystal Mountain). Saturday we skied almost 10 hrs. I tackled every hill except the rough one called Nose Dive to the left of Thor. The Gorge Bowl didn’t chew me up and spit me out this trip. I skied it several times without incident. Mandy continued to improve and successfully navigated several of the blue hills. Woo hoo! (I still remember when the blue hills at Crystal Mountain were a challenge.)

A girl in front of me dropped her ski pole when sitting down on the chair lift. The lift operator appeared to signal to the ski pole and I reached for it. The lift operator didn’t stop the lift like I thought, so I could hand him the pole to hand to the girl. I realized I was late moving forward into position for the chair lift which was quickly coming up behind me. I threw the pole at the operator and scrambled forward. My friend Rusty was prepared early to be received into the chair lift and was already up at the entrance line. My helpfulness caused me to be out of position causing Ben to be over in Nathan’s seat and Nathan to be in Rusty’s seat. When the chair lift met up with Rusty, Nathan was already in the seat and Rusty wound up on his lap. The lift operator didn’t notice and up we went. Rusty started yelling to stop the lift and once it did, jumped down about 6 feet, and road up with the people behind us. They told him this was the funniest thing they had ever seen. I wonder if Rusty could have made it to the top…

Once again the hot tub at the resort felt great after a long day of skiing. On Sunday we went further north to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We climbed the dunes which were covered in snow where the wind didn’t blow it away. It was cold and extremely windy. We climbed the dunes in the large area surrounded by orange poles. Two thirds of the way up signs noted this area should be avoided since it was susceptible to avalanches. We thought what the hell and continued climbing to the top.

Can’t pull rabbit out of hat

I went to the BG / Toledo football game last night. It was an exciting game and it took two over-time periods to decide it. Both BG and Toledo had no defensive skills and I probably don’t need to point this out since it was reflected in the score.

During the game, there was a rabbit that ran all over the field during the first half. At half time I saw that the concession stand was selling limited edition rabbit stew for $6. I had to pass since I thought it was over-priced, but given the cold weather the stew would have hit the spot.

BG lost and obviously it took its toll on us. But OSU’s victory over Michigan is enough to make it a very happy year. Go Buckeyes! Anyway, I have already received plenty of pay back for all my smack talk.

Trap and Waterskiing

Last week, I achieved a personal best trap score of 18 (which means I destroyed 18 of 25 birds, which look like miniature orange Frisbees).

I waterskied on Saturday and had a very enjoyable time. With my recently altered dry suit I stayed nice and warm, despite the mid-40 degree water temperature. I will be able to continue waterskiing.

When an F350 is *not* enough… due to operator error

We decided to pull our 10,000 lb water-ski jump out last night. Jason brought an F350 dually (6×4) powered by a mammoth diesel engine. We took the trailer hitch receiver off of Terry’s truck and discovered that it was a bit lacking in size, so much so, that the corresponding pin wouldn’t work. We determined that we would have to make due with a carriage bolt hooking the ill-sized hitch receiver in place. The Y-shaped towing tongue was installed on the front of the jump and it was time to get everything hooked up.

Even with the slight lowering of the ball via the trailer hitch receiver it sat really high. We pushed the jump out into the river a bit to clear a path for the F350, which would have to go deep into the water in order to slide the hitch over the ball. When we successfully hitched it up I asked if we should install a pin in place to lock it together. Mike noted that this wasn’t needed in the past so we continued on. (The F350’s back wheels were half under water and the front wheels were just clear of the end of the ramp and the nasty super slick green moss.)

I was ready to see the big F350 rock and roll. A bunch of us jumped in the bed of the F350 to weight down the rear tires. We told Jason to hit it and we moved ahead but were quickly stopped when the jump tires collided with the ledge that forms the edge of the launching ramp. The back tires spun, rubber burned, and we went nowhere. A running start was needed. We backed up and kicked off round two. The running start helped but the F350 was still stopped dead in its tracks. Jason got out of the truck to investigate, but quickly returned to the truck since it started rolling ominously toward the river. We decided to try one more running start with plenty of Ford power.

The truck lunged forward resembling a fit of rage and the jump tires hit the end of the ramp hard, the ramp bounced, and the large 16″ thick foam floatation pieces broke off the ramp frame. However, the effort was futile since the jump once again stopped us dead. We pulled all the large foam pieces that had broken off out of the way (which weighed quite a bit given their waterlogged state). It became clear that we were fully committed to removing the jump now; otherwise it would now sink faster than the Titanic.
We had another problem. All along we suspected that the front wheels were doing nothing and that is why the big Ford struggled so much. On the last attempt, it was confirmed that the 4×6 mode was *not* powering the front tires. (Four wheel drive is critical given the loose stones and wet concrete present on a boat launching ramp.) We determined that the F350 needed some Chevy help. Terry’s Chevy was connected to the front of the F350 (making a train) and two more attempts were made. This didn’t really help since Terry had to pull both the huge F350 and the jump.

It was time for another approach and it should be noted that daylight was quickly expiring. We kept the F350 in the middle and had Terry’s pickup tied to one corner of the jump and Mike’s minivan to the other corner of the jump. Frank and I weighed down the F350’s back tires. Hit it! All three vehicles battled forward and the ski jump bounced over the ledge and started up the launching ramp. The trailer hitch tongue broke loose of the F350 and slammed down onto the ground. Terry’s rope broke and only Mike’s rope (no stronger than a ski line) kept the jump from roaring down the ramp into the river. Terry quickly crawled behind the jump and blocked the jump tires earning a medal of bravery.

After a discussion of the options a determination was made to not jack up the tongue for reattachment to the F350. The F350 was tied to the tongue and Terry’s pickup was also reconnected. This approach was successful and the ski jump was now free of the incline of the launching ramp. The remaining movement, placement, and parking of the jump was uneventful. The saturated foam pieces were moved with the F350 via two trips and stacked on the deck of the ski jump. Jason left and took the F350 to the car wash for a much needed cleaning.

It was very dark when we were done with the ski jump and consequently, we didn’t get to ski. Considering all the things that could have gone wrong (slipping on nasty green moss; carriage bolt failure; last rope breaking, jump rolling into river and sinking; F350 rolling into river…) we got off pretty easy.

*** Update ***
There was no problem with the F350’s 6×4 operation. Our operator forgot to lock the front hubs, which differ from the F150s which lock electronically.

Trap

My dad and I joined the UCOA shooting club last night. It was my first time shooting trap and my accuracy was shamefully harmless. Several of the q-tip sharp shooters gave me advice.

  • Acquire and shoot with both eyes open
  • Don’t try to aim, just look at the target
  • Don’t stop moving shotgun until after shot
  • Think that you are trying to wet moving ball with garden hose, pull trigger to release water
  • Keep hand on stock further out and point index finger at target
  • Keep left foot pointed forward and legs relaxed
  • Use improved modified choke for trap

Trap was more difficult than the hand thrown clay variety since the thrower is 16 yards in front of you (at the easiest level of play). We had a great time and shot three rounds. Next time, I play to give skeet a try. I am hooked!

Kudos for Customer Service

Customer service is non-existent in this current day and age. However, I must give kudos to the kind folks at HO Watersports / Hyperlite.

I use my collection of waterski equipment frequently and work hard to maintain it well. Occasionally, my equipment breaks and I contact the vendor to check the availability of replacement parts (and I always attach digital pictures of the equipment failure). Every time that I have contacted HO / Hyperlite about an equipment failure they have supplied me with free replacement parts shipped to my door. This approach to customer service deserves kudos and I will continue to buy lots of waterski equipment from them and encourage you to do the same!

Proper Equipment

I waterskied up on Round Lake this past Sunday and literally faced some hail during one of my slalom runs. I used my new 3mm SWS dry-suit along with some layering underneath. I must say that it kept me warm and comfortable with only slight moisture around the seals.

Last night, I waterskied on the Maumee River with all the amenities. Of course I wore my dry-suit and I used the hot shower to warm my ski bindings and gloves up to a toasty temperature before plunging into the icy water. This morning during the weather forecast I learned that the Toledo area set a new low temperature last night of 26 degrees. I guess my friends and I fall into the hard core waterskiing category. I question why I didn’t buy a dry-suit earlier.

I wore a Barefoot International dry-suit a couple weeks ago which kept me perfectly dry. However, the neck seal was too tight that I felt like I was in choke hold. The wrist and ankle seals were impressively tight and the result was almost a claustrophobic fit. The disadvantage of the Barefoot International dry-suit is lots of drag due to the baggy proportions which allow you to wear massive layering. Therefore, a Barefoot International dry-suit isn’t a good match for slalom skiing. But they are solid and indestructible for everything else. Just remember to belch the air out (on shore and in the water) otherwise you will look like an inflated puff ball!

Double Digits

I played basketball tonight in the Marathon league as a sub for the 6pm game. I was able to score 10 points and achieve a personal best. Unfortunately, we didn’t win. However, I played with my regular team for the 7pm game and we won. I was able to score 2 and get a few rebounds. I am pretty tired, but this is good preparation for the waterskiing season.

Ski Course Removal

I just uploaded the photos that Kate took when we removed the ski course. These were taken with her camera phone, so the quality leaves something to be desired. We skied until almost dark, despite the fact that it was November.

Chris and Gary are barefooting this weekend (December 4th and 5th) in Michigan dressed up for the holidays. The local newspaper is going to write an article and publish photos of this endeavor.

Deer

I forgot to mention in my last posting, that we saw what we thought were four logs. Upon closer inspection it was two bucks and two does crossing the river. One of the bucks was at least 8 point. Only their heads were out of the water and they moved across the Maumee with impressive speed. I had never seen this before. We tried taking a picture of them with a camera phone but by then the deer were too far away.