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June 02, 2018

The Day My Life Changed - 2017 Edition

On December 22nd, 2017, I was sitting in the Emergency Room at the Phoenix VA Hospital having yet another MRI for the sinus surgery in 2011 that almost killed me. I got poked in the brain, had a sinus leak, got meningitis, almost died, had to have brain surgery, and have had chronic migraines ever since. I have skied a total of 10 days plus or minus since. I sold my condo at Brian Head in 2013. Settled in to my post-ski life.

I had an epiphany sitting on that gurney wondering when the headaches will stop. What if they don't? What am I going to do? Am I going to waste my 40's living in the suburbs of Phoenix in a beautiful home in the desert or am I going to return to my roots, put on my boots and start taking turns again?

My wife said, When are you thinking? I said Tomorrow. She said, but it is three days before Christmas. I said, then we better hurry up. The next day, we started selling or giving away everything we owned.

I am now a resident of Big Sky, Montana. Wife, youngest two kids, and a flatlander old man who skipped lunch at work as a telecommuting Systems Engineer for a day in April to take turns for the first time in two years off the top of Ramcharger on a powder day with his 17 year old. Almost 6,000 acres just up the road. Gallatin River off my back porch.

It is time to make the next thing in my life happen.

I want to TRULY WRITE and I want to write about the ski industry, about my new home town as it transforms from sleepy ski town outside Bozeman into a playground for the rich, about the socioeconomic impact of this, about how the industry is creating a permanent underclass who can barely afford to exist on low wages, on the environmental impact of a thousand workers a day driving the canyon to get to work, on the need for quality transportation, on quality of life issues, on sustainability, and on how I am so totally not a smelly hippy about this but a business major who wants to make sure I am part of a town where families can afford to raise kids.

So I am going to be a citizen journalist AND A SKI BUM again... all while telecommuting making damned good money. I am even trying to get a teaching job doing a Computer Science class or two at MSU in Bozeman. Because Montana is home now. It is home AGAIN! First time since I left MEPS for the NAVY. Or maybe it has always been home, I just left home for a while and it has been waiting for me.

Welcome home to Big Sky. And I hope people still give a damn about blogs and I am not a completely worthless writer. I have to do some redesign work and expect some construction happening. Both on my site and in Big Sky. A lot in Big Sky.

And last thing I have to say is shout out to an ASU Journalism School student who was half talking shit about my cynicism of journalists, half having me rant and act crazy about how much I hated what the media has become and she basically asked me what I knew about the media. I called myself a "citizen journalist" and she scoffed. She is always polite and one of the most amazing people I have ever met who is going to do great things in life but it pissed me off. Because she is right. I am just some asshole on the Internet who hasn't updated his blog in five years and drops comments and trolls.

Posted by Justin at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) | Categories: Big Sky

December 22, 2016

Wolf Creek Trip and Bark Beetles

Went to Wolf Creek, CO, this last week and the conditions were solid. They got a 30" snowstorm, but with it being early season, it was the wet, dense snow. Great for a base, but not exactly powder conditions. Every once in a while (especially since I have not skied as much the last couple years) it is nice to ski some groomers and some nice mellow stuff. I think 90% of what I hit were ungroomed blues that were great. Nothing but the Alberta side.

The worst part was how badly the last couple years have treated Wolf Creek. The bark beetles have just really gotten full hold of the resort and the forest is starting to look like most of the rest of the West.

At some point, nature will correct itself and the beetles will run their course. I would hate to see Wolf Creek turn into the windswept wasteland that is Brian Head. The trees are what keeps the pow in place as opposed to drifts and ice.

It was so good to get back on the mountain. The drive wasn't bad as the roads had all cleared before we left. We got stuck in some cold rain / presnow on the drive back Wednesday.

Hope anyone reads a blog that hasn't been updated in three years. I am going to try to ski more and blog more. I miss my second home at Brian Head. Skiing wasn't great and the mountain too small, but living at 9500 ft and having the beautiful four seasons there is such a welcome relief from Phoenix.

Posted by Justin at 08:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) | Categories: Wolf Creek

October 29, 2013

Gearchase.com

Gotta check out this site, www.gearchase.com:

Paying retail price for something your friend buys a month later for 50% off is just not fun. The fact is, these online retailers have only limited room for new inventory. When the current season is over it’s got to go to make room for the new gear. That’s when we start seeing discounts, sales, and end of season clearance events. There are just too many stores online that have sales and discounts to search them all. We found a great site for sifting through 100’s of online retailers and finding the best deals. GearChase.com searches the inventory of all the major online outdoor stores like Backcountry.com and REI.com and brings you a search engine to browse the best deals from all these sites in one spot. We have heard them compared to “GearChase.com is the Kayak.com for Outdoor Gear”. Check out the product page to see the price history of an item to know if you are buying at the lowest price. Just don’t wait too long, these items sell out quickly and soon you’re left with odd sizes and colors.

GearChase.com also list over 50 daily deals from these website on one page, with countdown timers and links to compare prices on eBay and Amazon. GearChase is about to save you a lot of money on buying and searching for amazing deals and sales on outdoor gear.

If you are looking for a super easy way to get the latest pricing on a product, or just want to find a really REALLY good deal on a new pair of ski’s go check out GearChase.com. Be sure to Like them on Facebook for some great post, photos, interviews, and deals on gear.

Some smokin' deals on close outs. Meta site with deals from several retailers. I have seen several different sets of boots running $800 or more that sell for under $200. Problem is they are in weird sizes that don't fit me, Jake or Jarrett, but that is why they are on closeout. Usually men's size 9ish stuff.

Have a look around.

Posted by Justin at 08:46 PM | Categories: Gear

October 16, 2013

Wolf Creek Opens on Saturday

Wolf Creek is opening:

Wolf Creek is opening this Saturday and Sunday with the Nova and Bonanza Chairlifts operating from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM! After receiving another 4 inches of new snow, the current base is 22 inches with a year-to-date snowfall of 28 inches. Conditions are very early season!

The Ski School will be available for lessons including the Wolf Pup Program. Ski and Snowboard rentals will be available as well as Treasure Sports. Burgers and a limited menu will be served in the Wolf Creek Lodge (upper lodge); as well as drinks from the Pathfinder Bar.

I would love to head there this weekend, but give it one more good storm and I am going to pack the skis up and head up that way. I really don't want to take the trip without Waterfall being open as it is literally my favorite place on earth to ski.

Such good things. Think Snow.

Posted by Justin at 06:45 PM | Categories: Wolf Creek

August 14, 2013

Ski Economics and Why I Love Wolf Creek, CO

I hate being cheap. I guess it is hard to say I am cheap when I am a guy that spends double digit days skiing every year, but still, I have to keep costs under control or else it is impossible to ski as much as I would like to.

This is the Disneyland problem. If you go to Disneyland once every couple years for a couple of days, you can get the Express Passes and the kids can eat corn dogs and buy memorabilia. But imagine if you wanted to spend 20 days a year at Disneyland. I don't want to ski 5 days a year over Christmas, rent an overpriced condo, and eat at the expensive resorts. I know this is a dream vacation for the average city dweller, but I live differently. I want to spur of the moment leave to follow a huge storm coming through, stay in a cheap hotel down mountain (and occasionally sleep in my car), and spend my days skiing great snow. That is a very different idea of "skiing" from the first category.

Vail Resorts sells the first category at their half a dozen mega-resorts. And you pay for it. $120 lift tickets. $300 a night condos. $10 burgers at the mountain. Slopeside shops selling high end designer products. It is a world of Escalades and 7 Series BMWs. I drive a 5 year old Chevy.

Enter Wolf Creek. There are no condos. But snow for snow, Wolf Creek dominates all of Summit County. It is just in the middle of nowhere. You get epic skiing, no lift lines, often on weekdays no people, and an authentic skiing experience for around $50 for a lift ticket.

I invite anyone that reads this to think about what you really want. You can spend a week at Wolf Creek and lose out on the nightlife, the glitz, and the possible celebrity sighting but get incredible skiing and an authentic feel for pennies on the dollar or you can pay for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual sport of skiing.

In fact, the Disneyland comparison is quite accurate. Most resorts now are selling "vacations" not "skiing." They are selling you Disneyland on snow complete with the ridiculous cost of mouse ears and expensive food. I know this is what many families and many individuals want, but it is about as authentic as visiting a zoo is. You can see "wild animals" at a zoo about the same as you can get an authentic ski experience eating a $200 meal slopeside after your 2 hour private lesson and massage.

The industry has priced themselves out of catering to the average working class family. Wolf Creek hasn't. Take your sandwiches, eat in the parking lot, have a reasonably priced beer after the day of skiing, and enjoy a great mountain full of unpretentious people there to enjoy nature and great snow.

Posted by Justin at 05:48 PM | Categories: Wolf Creek

August 11, 2013

Summer 2013

It has been a long absence from the site but I think it is time I either shut the site down or I start blogging again. I am leaning toward the latter.

Just making preparations for this season. We sold out condo at Brian Head which opens me up for a lot more diverse season this year. I want to make at least a couple Wolf Creek trips as well as hit some of the Summit resorts.

Lots of other good things going. Work is great. Oldest son Jake is 16. Middle Jarrett is 12. Slowly working to turn the youngest into a skier and it is going pretty well.

Wish me luck in my preparations. It is time to start thinking about the upcoming season. Three months left.

Posted by Justin at 02:08 PM | Categories: Personal

December 30, 2011

Depressing Possible End to Second Straight Season

Explaining my absence from the blog the last year and a half, I offer more info about the sinus surgery gone bad last February. On December 19, I had a second surgery to repair the hole in my skull base that has been causing the headaches and the bouts of meningitis.

Doctors advise me to take the next three months off of any strenuous activity including skiing.

Brian Head is 100% open but with such a sparse amount of early season snow that I am very hesitant to ski without a solid deep base and some soft on top, if I do get out before the three month deadline.

I will post updated info about Brian Head and Wolf Creek as these will be the only places I will likely go this season.

Hope you have a great New Year!

Posted by Justin at 02:10 PM | Comments (1) | Categories: Personal