Monday, March 29, 2010

New Routine

Without a ski day I am off to my Cornell office to catch up on things neglected during the ski season. Caught up on some e-mail and volunteer work and then began the vetting of a Ph.D. thesis. I find that my analytical skills are still there and was quickly engrossed in critiquing the claims and processes to reach the conclusions. A little rusty on statistical analysis so I did some research and review in that area.

Received e-mails from my Vermont children bringing me up to date on their family activities. I was amazed to hear that my full time working son has managed to get in 73 days of skiing so far. He surely has used all his vacation time plus to get to that number. He may well get to 80 before the season is over. Maybe we are genetically disposed to being skiers.

The "honey do" list is building so I better get at all those delayed tasks soon. Top soil to be spread on the garden, yard to be straightened up and who knows what else. Whatever the case Nancy and I will soon be on the tennis court on a regular basis. That is priority one.

My 75th birthday is coming soon - April 11. Sunday I received an early gift of breath taking proportions. A new iMac computer that has fabulous capability for working with videos and photographs as well as the other mundane things. Looking forward to creating a family history in pictures.

It is good to have projects and keep learning. Buzz Aldrin is on Dancing With The Stars and learning fancy dance steps at age 80. Nancy and I took ballroom dancing a few years ago so I know what it is like to learn new steps. I'll need to brush up on my dancing before August and September since I will need to do the father and daughter dance with the two brides.

I guess life has more variety than routine even as we mature.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's a Wrap - Goal Achieved

Another day of spring skiing at Greek Peak. Surprisingly cold with temperatures ranging from the low 20's into the 30's. Frozen granular snow was the norm for the slopes, even into the afternoon. The three slopes open provided sufficient variety for a good day of skiing.

Very few geezers appeared for next to the last day expected for the Greek Peak season. Gene, Bob, Larry two, and Tom were on the hill. Larry M. decided to pass up the opportunity today to prepare for his Sunday deck party. I was the only customer for mid morning coffee.

Now that I have achieved my 90 ski day goal for the season I am satisfied to clean and store the gear in preparation for the next season. In general I find it motivating to have goals and plans. Looking forward to the tennis season and the Senior Games in June. Both my wife and I plan to compete. She will compete in women's tennis doubles and I will plan to compete in men's singles. The goal of course is to at least medal if not win it all in our age groups. Regardless, the fun of competition is sufficient pay off in itself.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Reprieve - Another Geezer Day at Greek Peak

Remarkably Greek Peak was open today for another day of spring skiing. Three trails were groomed and the surface remained firm for most of the day with temperatures no higher than the mid to high 20's F. Bright sunshine brought out at least eight geezers that I could identify along with a few other younger die hard patrons.

Larry and I skied together for the morning until Larry's lunch hamburger called him home. We enjoyed a range of conversation and encouraged each other to ski the range of slopes that were open. After doing penance on the firmer slopes we allowed ourselves runs on the softer groomed K slope. I continued skiing until 1:30 PM before I decided I had enough for the day.

A long coffee hour gave time for the conditions to improve from the impact of the sun. Coffee hour was a time of extended sharing of ski and other experience and some laments over physical pains that we all work through to be active. Tony joined Larry, Andy and I to insert some of his adventures into the mix.

Bob, other Larry, Harold and Scooch arrived later in our coffee hour. We all appreciated that the season was not quite over. However, we all are contemplating our next exercise regime, whether it be tennis, golf, swimming, sailing or bike riding.

We are all thankful we can be active and vow to keep it up as long as possible.

As a geezer grandfather my afternoon was partially taken up with buying birthday cards for a granddaughter, a grand son, a son and a son-in-law. The birthdays all come together between now and April 13. Mine is a big 75 on April 11.

Tomorrow is likely to be my last ski day this season and will achieve my goal of 90 ski days for the season matching last years total. It has been a great season, but now is the time to move on.

As a Cornellian I was disappointed our basketball team was not able to upset Kentucky but I am proud of what our team has accomplished. Now it is time to cheer on our Hockey team in the NCAA regional in Albany this weekend. Go Big Red!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Day at Bristol

A bonus ski day. Bristol Mountain Resort has a plethora of snow. I estimate at least 24 inches covering all of the main slopes with snow making. Great corn snow conditions although the ungroomed slopes were hard and rough early in the day. However by noon all slopes had softened to spring corn snow conditions.

I left Cortland about 7:45 AM and managed to be on the slopes by 10:00 AM. The high speed quad whisks you to the top quickly and I was able to make over five runs per hour. It can be a tiring cycle with the high speed lift, so frequent breaks are in order. I had forgotten how long the trails can be there. The warm up easy trail seems to go on forever and is a great way to start the day. There was a small crowd on the mountain so I was frequently riding the quad alone. There seemed to be a few geezers among the skiers in the morning, but within an hour or two most of them were gone for the day. I must have had over 15 runs for the day, broken up by brief coffee and lunch breaks. Although it was cloudy, the visibility was good.

Arrived home about 3:50 PM with a bit of fatigue from both the skiing and driving. Many thanks to Pat R. for the voucher for a lift ticket. Can't beat the zero cost for my lift ticket. Food at Bristol is quite good and reasonably priced. The servers are happy to have someone to talk to since there are so few customers.

All in all a bonus day of skiing for the season. Only wish the area was closer since they plan to be open until April 4. I'll try to stay awake tonight for the Cornell-Kentucky basketball game. Go Big Red!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hope for Another Day This Season

I surfed the web to the Bristol Mountain Ski Resort site today and discovered they are still open. Also their web cam shows a pretty significant base from their extensive snow making. Due to another meeting tomorrow I will have to wait to Thursday to try their spring skiing conditions.
It is about a 75 mile one way trip of about one and a half hours. I will enjoy a survey of the agriculture in between and put on some good big band tunes to keep me entertained.

Bristol's high speed quad gives you a lot of time on the slope for a four hour ticket. I am sure that it will be a welcomed help in my transition to other activities.

Today was fully occupied with volunteer activities in follow up to yesterdays meeting and trashing a years accumulation of superfluous papers and files. Tomorrow will be filled with a breakfast in Jamesville with my old geezer buddies from the Fayetteville United Methodist Church. They are the ROMEO's (Retired Older Men Eating Out). The social equivalent of the Tough Old Geezer Skiers. They are all SU basketball fans and as a Cornell alumnus I will take the opportunity to crow about our advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
The remainder of the day will be filled with vetting a PhD thesis and a meeting in Cicero. Paying penance so I can go skiing on Thursday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'd Rather Be Skiing

Today was the first day of a revised schedule for my post ski season life. An all day meeting in Cicero, NY working on the issues of combining four church conferences into one Upper New Conference. I am participating in my role as President of the North Central New York Conference Trustees and especially leading the development of a comprehensive insurance program for the combined conferences. It is quite a change to go from roaming the ski slopes for most of the day to sitting in an all day session.

As I sit here listening to the rain and wind on the window, it is obvious that any hope of skiing at Greek Peak this weekend is quashed. My lovely wife was kind enough at dinner tonight to suggest that she could understand it if I needed to go off on a three day trip to reach my goal of skiing 90 days this season. Although this is a tempting offer of release, I am ready to move on. My last day on Sunday was a good end to the season. I am extremely grateful to have skied 87 days without any form of injury or significant fall. Now is the time to pick up my connection with my volunteer work at Cornell.

And for all of you Big Red basketball and hockey fans - Go Cornell! Best of luck against Kentucky for the great basketball team. And for men's hockey - see you at the Frozen Four. Congratulations for your ECAC championship.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not Over Until its Over

Greek Peak was showing a lot of bare spots today and several trails have been closed. It looks like the season is over, though there is tentative hope for opening on the weekend. With rain predicted I doubt that the area will have enough snow left for the coming weekend. I still have a goal of 90 days on the slopes and have three to go. Looks like it will be a stretch to find snow for the remaining three days.

There was quite good spring skiing today though there were areas where you had to pick the best snow and line. Hercules had huge soft moguls. Most of the other slopes had some moguls as well.

I think I was the only geezer skier on the slope today. Most of my buddies have hung it up for the season and moved on to their golf season. I am looking forward to getting outdoors on the tennis courts and sharpening my game in time for the Senior Games in June.

This is a time to change routine and adapt my schedule to do other things. I guess it is good news that I have a couple of days of meetings this week in the Syracuse area. In addition it is time to do some of the household chores and house and grounds maintenance that I have put off.

Now is the time to shift to commentary on other geezer related activities. I'll be looking for inspiration.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Skis - Spring Conditions

The last two days have been delightful sunny spring skiing experiences. Thursday my new skis arrive and Friday afternoon and Saturday morning they passed all the tests that I could give them. The Rossignol Avenger Carbon 82 skis are very forgiving in a variety of conditions. They performed well during the bumpy and hard surface conditions for the early morning runs and continued to perform well in the clumps of corn snow later in the day. Edge hold is great and the lighter weight compared to my former skis gives me a bit more agility in the bumps. I will not pretend to ski the bumps fast or well, but find that I am now more able to move comfortably through the moguls albeit at a slow pace. Hercules had some gigantic soft moguls today.

Enjoyed a long coffee hour with Larry, Jack, and Tom (the Rochester bunch) and we later skied off chair 4 for a few runs. More bare spots are appearing but there is still a ton of snow in enough places to provide decent, if not great spring skiing. The Rochester bunch cut out for lunch early, so I skied solo for several more runs until a crazy bomber nearly wiped me out as he flashed by. I decided it was then time to do other things for the day. Bought my season pass for next year and my locker.

As I age, I find I have more and more respect for the geezer skiers a decade older than I am. I hope to follow in their footsteps. Should it come to pass, I hope remain an optimist who buys a season pass for the next season on a 90th birthday.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another Spring Skiing Day -New Skis Arrive

Another day of bright sunshine and spring conditions. Several geezers showed up today even though the ski report for Greek Peak lacked a comment about grooming. Fortunately for the early morning there was limited grooming on the main slopes and later in the day the other surfaces softened to corn snow. Snow is rapidly disappearing so it will be a stretch to be skiing next week.

Had a great day chatting with Larry M. as we skied the requisite more than 10 runs to be an official day. The conditions demanded stamina for the legs and by 12:30 PM we were ready to go to other things.

I had a busy afternoon spring cleaning my car. Discovered manure on the roads to GP had attached to the undercarriage of my car so it had a smelly job of removing it.

Happiness is new skis and my recent purchase of Rossignol Avenger Carbon 82 skis arrived via Fed Ex this afternoon. Assembled and set the bindings and I am looking forward to trying them out tomorrow. Larry and I were able to list about ten reasons why I should get new skis. Some were pretty wild. Anyway, I have skied my old skis over 350 days so it must me time for a change.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Gaggle of Geezers

Just like a gaggle of geese, there was a gaggle of geezers on the slope today. Groomers and bright sunshine and warm temperatures increased the geezer population at Greek Peak today. We all enjoyed the hero snow conditions well into the day. Even by 1:00 PM the skiing conditions remained very comfortable.

The posted picture shows a group at the top of Chair 1A early in the morning. From left to right, Gerry, Bob, Bob, Pat, and Dick. Not shown but on the hill for the day were, Allen, Frank, Cliff, Gene, Roger, Andy, Jim(Scooch), Otto, another Bob, and Tom(Stash). I probably missed a few, but much of the old gang was there. Followers help me out with others I may have missed in my list.

In a few more days most of us will scatter to our off season activities. As I see it after April 1 it will only be about 36 weeks until the beginning of next season. The memories of these last days on the spring groomers will have to sustain us until then.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Geezers Return

Overnight grooming brought the Tough Old Geezer Skiers back to Greek Peak today. Splendid conditions with groomers all over the mountain. It was relatively hard and fast granular early in the day but the sun warmed things up to a corn snow surface by 10 AM. It was good to see many of the regulars on the slope. We all hope for an extension of the season beyond this coming weekend. Maybe we will have to shift to our rock skis if things deteriorate too much. Still 52 inches of snow in the snow making area?!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Late Season Blues

Another spring skiing day at Greek Peak. Corn snow today that got softer as the day progressed. Tonight I checked last season's ski diary to find the last day I skied at GP last year was March 21. That was followed by a day a Bristol and a day at Song. I expect that this Sunday will be the last day at GP in view of the anticipated temperatures.

Early this morning I was the first and only skier other than the ski patrol on the mountain. Later a couple of other skiers appeared. As the day progressed a few more skiers appeared. No geezers in attendance. Only a few aspiring geezers showed up.

Had a long coffee break with Larry and Dick. We explored issues of waning church attendance and the disappearance of the many college age students from the congregations. This seems to be the issue across all denominations and both Protestant and Catholic.

The skiing took a lot of energy and I was satisfied to wrap it up at 1:00 PM. Perhaps there will be grooming tonight. So, it is time to think of other things to do. I don't think that will be a problem since I have a Ph.D. Thesis to vet for a student that I have been advising over the last few years. Time to be productive?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Waning Season

Took a few runs this afternoon on the diminishing snow pack at Greek Peak. Still quite a bit of snow but many bare spots are beginning to show and some trails are closed. For those of us hooked on skiing daily it is hard to contemplate the end of the season before the end of March Perhaps this year we better develop an early transition plan. Some are looking forward to golf and I know I am beginning to think of playing tennis outdoors. With the Senior Games coming up in June, perhaps it is not to soon to get the game tuned up for competition.

Meanwhile I am hoping for a cold spell and some new snow. We shall see.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Story Telling Geezer Skiers

Another interesting spring skiing day at Greek Peak. A windy day with light showers but better ski conditions than the last few days. Snow is beginning to corn up and be more consistent.

Longer breaks are now typical in the rhythm of the ski day. Today was a particularly interesting coffee break with the Rochester gang. Pete, John, Larry and Tom entertained me with highlights of their group adventures at Whistler-Blackcomb and other venues such as white water rafting. They are a no whining group. If you injure yourself, suck it up and keep on going. Even when you break a leg as Larry once did.

My wife asked me what we talked about when I saw her at home. As I described our conversations, she said it sounded like typical guy talk. I guess she is right.

Storytelling is an art that most guy's strive to perfect. In a group one story leads into another and on and on into more stories. Garrison Keillor the great NPR, Prairie Home Companion story teller says that timing is the trick. Know when to chime in and know when to be quiet. Today the rhythm was really there. For over an hour we had the ebb and flow of a great story telling session. I guess story telling on a day of marginal ski conditions ranks almost as high as being on the hill.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Where Are the Geezers?

Another day of spring conditions at Greek Peak. A few groomed paths were a relief from the more challenging bumpy and somewhat sticky surfaces of the non-groomed trails. Only a few geezers showed up and I was surprised to see almost 90 year old Pret on the hill. Larry and I had a more or less enjoyable morning alternating between a groomed path and the more challenging slopes. It was our penance to do the non-groomed so we could follow the groomed path on the next run. I was amazed to find that I wanted to stop for a rest part way down.

It was a pleasure to swap stories with Larry and to meet some of his family. Daughter, son-in-law and a couple of grandchildren. We mutually shared our appreciation for our families.

We look forward to a shift to corn snow. Maybe the anticipated rain will help the transitions. Meanwhile we hope for some colder weather to at least extend the season for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Skiing the Glue

A challenging day on the sunny slopes of Greek Peak. Warm conditions precluded any grooming over night. Early morning in the 40's meant a brief time of relatively good conditions. As the morning progressed the snow became quite sticky and never became corn like or crystalline. Up to coffee time things were tolerable. As we neared noon things slowed down to a crawl. Larry and I made the wise decision to wrap it up about noon. Really tough on the old legs. A good day to do other things. Let's hope for an overnight freeze up soon so we can get some real spring skiing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TOGS Ski Toggenburg

It was a pleasure to join several Tough Old Geezer Skiers at Togggenburg today for sun lit runs on well groomed slopes. Thanks to Pat Ryan for arranging this adventure. Bob, Dick, Pat and I arrived about 9 AM and were soon on the slopes. Toggenburg is a small area but has excellent terrain for geezers and intermediate skiers. Dick is an early learner of the ski trade and was initially challenged by the conditions. However, after adjusting his boots he was soon moving down the hill with confidence and control. Hats off to Dick for rapidly becoming a competent novice on the hill. I am sure he is soon to be an avid skier. Pat is a great guide and helper to both novice and expert.

Conditions remained good throughout the morning as we went from perfect grooming to cornlike snow later in the day. We continued to enjoy the ambiance of the area through our coffee/hot chocolate break and a late lunch. Tog is a very friendly area that makes you feel at home. There are several changes to the slope usage since I was there a year or so ago. A slope that once was simply an easy trail has now been completely transformed into a multi-faceted terrain park. Tt was marked with an extraordinary array of features for boarders and skiers. More features than I have seen in any central New York ski area.

It was good to see and talk to Tom Buckley and Walt Shepard, veteran ski patrollers that I got to know some years ago. Both of them emphasized their view that helmets save lives and injuries. One of their colleagues hit a tree and split his helmet and not his head. He is living testimony for helmet use.

It was good to ride the lift with Bob O. and talk skiing technique and other major life issues. His suggestion about lifting the downhill ski to help initiate the turn was a revelation to me. I found it remarkably helpful in helping me to control speed.

After a late lunch in the sun compliments of Pat R. we were on our way home basking in a great geezer skiing day. See the picture above as proof that we were there.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sunny Day Risk

Another beautiful sunny day at Greek Peak ski area with great snow and excellent visibility. I missed the early day skiing since I had a morning meeting in Cicero, NY. However I did get on the slopes by about 1:00PM. Even with the higher temperatures the snow remained slippery with few spots of sticky snow. After skiing several runs on the groomed slopes I thought I might need the challenge of a mogul covered slope. Assuming that the Olympian would have soft moguls, I thought I would give it a go. After a few good turns off the top things fell apart and I found myself sliding down the slope on my side. Fortunately I still had my skis on and came to a more or less graceful stop. No one was on the slope to observe my embarrassment, so some of my pride was preserved. In some of my earlier blogs I suggested we should know our limits and stick to them. I obviously ignored my own advice to my own peril.

The rest of the day was uneventful but also pleasurable. For variety I did ski the rest of the groomed slopes and obtained sufficient exercise. The secret is to ski for fun and survive for another day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Family Days in Vermont

Daughter Yo and fiance Matt rarely get to go skiing. However, they were instrumental in a family gathering in Vermont for skiing at Mad River Glen. Viki has six half siblings and serves as the bridge to her extended family from time to time. Son Colin and daughter Tange and their spouses live in Vermont and provide six of my grandchildren who are all accomplished skiers ranging in age from almost four to 19. On Saturday and Sunday there were 11 of us on the slopes doing our respective things to enjoy the snow.

I (Grandpa) was charged with schlepping Matt and Yo's ski gear to Vermont and providing airport pick up on Friday. I left Cortland on Friday morning and managed to get to Gore Mountain to get a few hours of skiing before going on the Vermont. Gore was blessed with sunshine and great snow and excellent conditions. I wrapped up my skiing at Gore by 4:00PM and then was on my way to Vermont. Since the Champlain bridge has been removed, a ferry ride to Vermont is required. Relying on my GPS for directions got me into a little trouble when I missed the turn to the ferry so I arrived a little later at daughter Tange's house than I expected.
I did get to bed by 1:00 AM after an airport run for Viki and Matt at midnight.

Part of my responsibility for the travel to Vermont was to bring wife Nancy's doll house for granddaughter Kiara. This was a hit with Kiara as you can see in the picture.

Saturday we got a relatively late start to Mad River Glen but had a marvelous day in the sun and on the snow. Mad River is challenging retro ski area with lots of fun twisty and mogul sprinkled runs. However, in spite of the hype about being able to ski the area (Ski it if you can) there are numerous intermediate trails that give anyone a good ride. Granddaughter Kiara at less than four is already accustomed to the challenges and frequently seeks out the twisting mogul runs for fun(see the video). Kiara is to be the flower girl at Yo and Matt's wedding in September. Maybe she needs to come down the aisle on her skis!! Son-in-law to be Matt is still learning, but is doing quite well on the intermediate slopes.

Saturday night Abby and Colin provided an excellent dinner at their home and we had a rehash of the the day on the slopes and made plans for Sunday's skiing. Sunday was also a great sunny day with excellent ski conditions. I was originally scheduled to deliver Matt and Yo to the airport in the late afternoon, but fortunately other arrangements were made and I was able to leave for Cortland by 1:30 PM.

These were great family days and provided cherished memories for all of us.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sunny Day Vision

Yesterday I visited my ophthalmologist for an eye exam after about four years. I guess most seniors are expected to have an eye exam about every year so I was certainly due. In addition, it was time to renew my driver's license so I could get doctor verification rather than have to hassle the DMV. I was asked if I had any vision complaints. The only thing I could think of was trying to see the bumps on the ski hill on a cloudy day. My doctor got a chuckle out of my complaint. He said that it was the most unusual complaint he had encountered. In the course of our conversation he told me he regularly reads the obituaries in the New York Times and had read about J. R. Simplot who was an inventive creator of potato processing for chips and so forth who was an avid skier into his nineties. He was known for singing and humming while whizzing down the mountain. I never did that, but once had a pair of Hexcell skis that would sing all by themselves. Simplot was a legendary billionaire who convinced Kroc to introduce French fries to the menu for McDonalds. He maintained a vigorous life style throughout his nineties and passed away just short of 100. Google him for more detail.

All this brings to mind that one of the most frequent complaints I hear from my geezer friends is the difficulty of seeing the terrain on a cloudy day. My doctor reminded me that the lens of the eye develops some opacity as it ages. This disperses the light and reduces our visual acuity. Apparently if you use a yellow lens the UV is blocked and reduces this dispersion. My prescription goggles have the yellow tint and the combination of prescription and UV blocking certainly improves my vision. Today however was a beautifully sunny day. With the blue sky and great snow conditions it was certainly a "best ever" day on the slopes. Good vision makes for greater confidence and improved skiing. However, we adapt to what we have and any day on the slopes is a good day as far as I am concerned.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Pret -90 Years Young!

Wonderful skiing today with a comfortable temperature and excellent groomed conditions at Greek Peak. A day to celebrate being outdoors and on the hill.

It was a pleasure to see Pret and Nita on the hill with friends Bob and Lenore. It is especially noteworthy that Pret is nearing his 90th birthday. March 25 , 2010 is the date. So a very happy birthday to Pret and best wishes for many more birthdays and many more days on the ski slopes. For those of us in our 70's and 80's, Pret sets an example we all want to follow. For me it means I should be looking for at least another 15 years on the slopes.

Pret is an example of how aging can be both graceful and fun. My wife is now in a visitation ministry in her semi-retirement. She daily visits many seniors that are home bound for one reason or another. I vastly admire her skill in bringing a bit of cheer and comfort to those who are now unable to carry on a more active life style. Each day I am eternally grateful that I continue to enjoy an active life style that includes skiing. For all of us "geezer skiers" I am recommending that we enjoy each day on the slopes and work on storing up memories and friendships for the future.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Being Comfortable

I always find it challenging to ski with the super expert skiers. Some of my children and in-laws ski at a level that is way out of my league. I have to remind them that I am not comfortable pushing myself beyond my level of expertise. Often I hear, "Dad, you can do this - come on lets go". Fortunately I am wise enough to resist the temptation to follow their lead.

As I converse with my contemporaries, they also express the same admonitions from their children who are experts on the slopes. Perhaps our children want to keep us forever young. However, the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is to stay in an appropriate comfort zone. Challenging enough to invigorate us, but not so risky that we can get into trouble.