Friday, May 26, 2017

Too much mulch?

There's a huge area covered with mulch around our house. On any irregular terrain, surface is hard to measure and while I came up with something around 2,200 to 2,800 square feet, this is neither precise nor guaranteed.

That's how, based on my calculations, I just had 8 cubic yards delivered to my home. Yes, that's about 216 cubic feet and if it were spread one inch thick, it'd cover just shy of 2,600 square feet, but will it?

For the moment, I'll have to shovel into that big pile of mulch, carry it on my wheelbarrow to where it's needed, while my dear spouse will spread it as harmoniously and consistantly as she can.

Will there be enough of it? We'll see, but what's certain is that with all the hard work at hand, we won't have to go to the health club for a while!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trump gets some religion...

On Wednesday, Donald Trump paid a visit to Pope Francis and got a free confession while the two were in conference.

The president acknowledged that he had been too soft on Hillary and that he should have lied a little more to beat her in terms of winning the popular vote.

The Pope said that he was far too modest and for penance gave him a coupon for a free impeachment redeemable before November 2020.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nice surprise!

On Monday, I got a call from my friend Larry Asay who lives near Seattle and said he wanted to stop to say hello.

Larry and I go back to my Lange days, when he was a rep for the brand, covering the entire Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Larry has always been a wonderful gentleman and only quit representing Dynastar and Lange a few years ago.
Today, this young-looking guy (on the left) appears to be his mid-seventies and I am not quite sure I can compete on an equal footing and look younger than him!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A bunch of bored Saudis...

I watched Trump speech before the Arab Islamic American Summit on Sunday and couldn't recognize our boastful president in the rather subdued declaration he made and his far less incendiary anti-Muslim rhetoric.

As expected, President Trump didn't have the guts to address the extremist ideology of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia's homegrown sect embraced by ISIS. It was just another show of his horrible electoral lies.
What was equally remarkable was the body language of most of the attendance who looked bored and otherwise pretty unhappy, just like Melania Trump appeared to be, by the way.

While Donald Trump made a few suggestions among a sea of platitudes and choose to totally ignore the positive in Iran's Rouhani's reelection, I wondered what the 9/11 families were thinking as their president was cowing to the very nation that supplied most of the terrorists that attacked our country more than 15 years ago...

Monday, May 22, 2017

A deeper understanding...

In my neighborhood, there's a “DIP” sign that calls drivers' attention to a cemented drop at a crossroad. It is meant for them to slow down; if they don't, a car with low ground clearance may understandably hit front and back.

That sign is rather rare and I assume many motorists have no idea what it really means. A few years ago, a smart Alec had added the four letters showed on the picture to phonetically “complete” the wording, perhaps out of making a play on words or, more simply, spelling ignorance.

The graffiti has since then been rubbed off (I photo-shopped it on the photo) returning the sign to its simpler admonition. Last night, as I we were strolling in that particular area, a car came slightly over the 25 miles speed limit and loudly banged both front and rear end on the pavement; we assumed the driver didn't get the meaning of Dip...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Season-pass price increase of Epic proportions!

I love Park City Mountain and until now have appreciated the work its new owners have put on the mountain ever since they assumed ownership.

What I don't like as much however, is how the company keeps on raising its prices, season after season, with seemingly little regard for the locals that constitute the true fabric of the community, and by the same token, local businesses and their employees that are part and parcel of the “experience” Vail Resorts is so good at selling.

I'm not saying ski resorts shouldn't raise their rates, but they should do it more responsibly, in taking into account, for instance, some basic yardsticks like the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Well, the Epic Pass that was $769 in 2015/16 jumped to $809 last season (+5.20%) and is now pegged at $859 for next season (+6.18%).

The Park City Local Pass (with black-out dates, among other restrictions) also went from $579 in 2015/16 to $609 last season (+5.18%) and will be worth $639 next season (+4.93%).

Kids were not “forgotten” either with the Child Pass moving up from $289 in 2015/16 to $319 last season (+10.38%) and creeping up to $339 next season (+6.27%).

In the meantime, the CPI increased respectively by 0.01% and 2.22% for the two years in question (April numbers, when Vail Resorts releases its new pricing). 
All this to say that, if this crazy trend continue, many parkites won't be able to afford skiing in their own town and Vail Resorts will be on its way to slowly, but surely suffocating the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Life as a Circus?

I've never been to a traditional traveling Circus, with trapeze artists, elephants, tigers and smart dogs.

I probably should have, because after nearly 150 years of consistent performance, the iconic Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, also known as the “Greatest Show on Earth” will be performing its final act on Sunday.

The mere evocation of the word circus brings back to my memory some remarks by Kip Pitou, a ski industry associate, towards Look bindings, my employer, back in the late 70s. Our business was struggling, we had a succession of general managers who failed to make the cut and at times, our little organization looked as if it were in turmoil.

That's when Mr. Pitou, whom we paid to provide us distribution services, nastily told me on several occasions: “If we'd put a tent over Look, we could sell tickets”, meaning that the company I worked for was a real circus.
 
Today, I'm tempted to paraphrase these harsh words when I look at the Trump White House, thinking that if we could find a tent large enough to cover it, we certainly could sell enough tickets to repay our National Debt!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Confirmed!

Sixty years ago, the Annecy's Bishop, Auguste Cesbron, came to my village, in the French Alps, to confirm me along with a bunch of local kids.

For those who don't know any better, Confirmation is the sacrament by which Catholics receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That way, the Holy Spirit gave me the increased ability to soak my whole life into Catholic faith and to witness Christ in every situation.

I probably needed it an awful lot, because my faith was stuck in first gear and both the sacrament and the Bishop's best efforts were unable to get me up to speed.

Granted, I was an Altar Boy, but truth be told, I performed the job because it got me a free subscription to “Fripounet & Marisette”, a catholic cartoon magazine for kids, my only entertainment besides homework and home chores.

My religious practice amounted to fear (capital sins, confession, hell plus the rest), work (replying in Latin, ringing the bell, pouring the wine) and plenty of laughter as shown on the photograph (through pranks played along with my colleagues...)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

More fit than my father was?

I often wonder, what would have happened if I had gone skiing with my Dad when he was the age I am today, assuming that he could ski – he couldn't really – and where we would have skied together...

I would have taken a day off instructing, the day was beautiful in this late part of April, the snow still good in the morning. If that were remotely possible, I would have taken him to Avoriaz, the place I skied in France, we would have taken the tram (it would have been back in the spring of 1971) and we would have taken two or three run up on Arare, at the very top and then had a “steak-frites” lunch at the Pas-du-Lac, the only major mid-mountain restaurant back in these days.

He would have told me how the current equipment was so good and made skiing so fast and easy. He would have been mostly impressed how I skied and how effortless I made the whole thing look, but would have kept these thoughts to himself. We would have probably debated how wise it would have been to ski down to Les Prodains, decided against it and downloaded on the tram.

My father would have been tired and would have not wanted to take a chance. His whole body had aged much faster than mine because of all the hard work he had to perform all life long, the diet he had and the very little care he ever devoted to his own body. By any measurement, he wasn't as lucky as I was to have been born when I did.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hollande and Macron

I'm delighted that the French people have a new president and that he's both young and smart. I think he'll do at last as good a job as his predecessor, François Hollande.

This said, I've never liked the way Emmanuel Macron came across with his seemingly calculated choice of words and staged body language; that's caming to me as too well-rehearsed and too-well researched acting.

My overwhelming sense is that Macron is a creature invented by Hollande to avenge himself from his rather humiliating presidency in which his own Socialist party discredited him and left him to hang out dry.

To me, Macron is the by-product of what could be that long-planned vengeance by Hollande addressed to the entire French populace. No matter how you look at it, Emmanuel Hollande or François Macron, the more things will change, the more they'll stay the same!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nightmares, dreams and reality

Sometimes, I remember my dreams, but most of the times my recollection is vague and hard to grasp.

Most of my dreams are unpleasant and deal with situations that would remind anyone about the predicament of Sisyphus, that Greek mythology character, condemned to repeat forever the task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.
Precarious situations of climbing fences, building, dangerous mountains or cliffs also abound in my daily dream routine.

A normal person would place these kinds of dreams in the nightmare category. Rarely are my dream bringing me a pleasant experience either, so on the whole, my reality is much better than my best dreams and - of course - far superior to my mildest nightmares!

Now, how are your dreams?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Adventures in cholesterol

On Saturday, I responded to my health insurance company's annual invitation by to have my vital signs checked and see if I were in any imminent danger of losing my dear life.

So, as a good trooper, I just showed up and was measured from top to bottom and from side to side. Among other measurements, I got my cholesterol count that was well within the acceptable norms. No overage anywhere, no worries!

This was the second time I got such a good score when I went to this insurance-sponsored visit.

I also must say that my cholesterol readings stood in sharp contrast with the results I regularly get at my annual doctor check-up, in which my acceptable levels are always off the charts, always prompting my physician to prescribe me statins, which I refuse with all my might.

All this to say that, in keeping with conspiracy theories, I suspect the lab associated with my dear doctor is in cahoots with Pfizer or some other drug producer to get me hooked to their poisons. There's definitely a pattern there and I don't think I'm paranoid!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Frankenstein and the Creature

Last night we tried to watch “Get Me Roger Stone” until we couldn't stand it anymore and stopped 82% into it.

This is a documentary about the evil man who claims to have manufactured Donald Trump. If you want to throw up, commit suicide or even murder, I recommend that you watch this flick.

While Roger Stone claims to be an “agent provocateur,” he truly is a living piece of crap, just like his creation. It's a lesson in immorality, one that show hows to manipulate the 62 million gullible Americans who voted for the New York real estate developer.

I wish all these “deplorables” watch it too and perhaps understand how they were taken advantage of, if their limited intellect ever allowed them to be that self-critical.

I also pray that Pope Francis sees the movie before Trump stops at the Vatican for tea, next time he's in Rome. His Holiness will see the real face of the anti-Christ in Stone's creation and might be less than charitable with his celebrity-guest!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Speed, skiing's magic ingredient!

When I was a ski instructor in the early 70s, I read the various books written by Georges Joubert on ski instruction, in part because I was curious, and also because some of them ended up translated into American by the late Curt Chase, then Aspen ski school director.

If anything, this reading was supplying me the proper vocabulary to teach my English speaking students and by the same token, familiarized myself even more with Joubert's approach to ski instruction that was primarily derived from his observations of ski racers.

Because I didn't like to leave any stone unturned, I tried to test and apply Joubert's theories on my students and quickly realized that if they sounded good on paper, they didn't work too well in practice compared to the true-and-tried approach followed by ENSA (the French instructing school), but I could never really understand why...

A couple of days ago, I was in the Snowbird tram overhearing a conversation between what sounded like two senior ski instructors. They were talking about applying pressure, setting edge angles and the like as it related to that day's lousy spring snow conditions.

That's exactly when it downed on me that all instructing theories, either from the French ENSA, Joubert's or the PSIA, were mostly static and left very little room for considering the critical role of speed and momentum in the sport of gravity that skiing is.

Joubert's theories couldn't work for intermediate skiers because they weren't capable of producing the speed required in executing maneuvers like wide-track turns or “braquage” as Joubert called them then.

Same thing with spring skiing in lousy snow: Speed trumps everything and is key, obliterating the minutia of edging or pressure considerations. Balance alone is what goes hand-in-hand with speed or forceful momentum and both becomes the necessary ingredients that really move skiers smoothly and efficiently.

Yet, these essential aspects of the sport are largely ignored in ski instructing and, I must admit, are phenomenons I have discovered late in life after skiing a hundred days and accumulating between 1.5 to 2 million vertical feet each season for the past 13 years...

Friday, May 12, 2017

Do I miss France?

If I didn't have this question asked from me half of the time I meet someone new, I probably never have. This question is a gem and my answer has always ran the gamut.

This said, it shouldn't, because less than a month ago as we were visiting the Arizona side of the Grand Canyon National Park we found out that half of France was hiking alongside the edge of this wonder of nature.

That's true, they were more French tourists than Americans, Chinese and the rest of the world combined! So, the answer to the question we keep on getting is simple: When we feel a little homesick we just have to drive to one of the National Parks that surround us and we'll find plenty of French company.
Oh, they're easy to spot. Most men all wear a “Route 66” cap, a fly fishing vest open on some t-shirt all written up in English and mid-calf pants...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Snowbird's heating up

Today was a ski day for me, but I didn't pay enough attention to the temperature. It was just too warm and the snow, even at the top of Snowbird, didn't stay good very long.

In today's skiing world, more than ever, and from November to May, it's no longer how deep is the snow, but instead, how high is the temperature!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Obama is cashing in...

I voted twice for Barack Obama and gave money to fuel his grass-root campaign. From the get-go, Obama said he stood for the “little guy” and I believe him wholeheartedly.

Today, after he signed a $60 million book deal and gave a few speeches at $400,000 a piece, I would like him to do more than make a token, $2 million donation. He's already made plenty with his first two books and now, with his $400,000 a year pension plus perks, he has enough!

I expect him to give all of his windfall profits to a good cause, and why not to revive a moribund Democratic Party who needs all the help it can have.

He should now walk the talk and show some respect to his small 2012 donors that gave on average $54.94 to see him re-elected. To them, it amounts to a slap in the face.

Will I ever give again to a Democratic candidate? Only if and when Obama agrees to pass through his future earnings.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Burger King, McDonald and Politics

Last Friday, graduating students at Southern Utah University were treated to a commencement speech by political journalist, Bob Schieffer.

Aside from the usual advice that is part and parcel of this kind of address, Schieffer got my attention by explaining how mean and negative campaigning have finally destroyed the way American saw politics and downgraded its whole place in society.

What struck me most was his example of two fast-food giants battling each other with insults, lies and negativity, and the self-assured destruction that kind of communication would have on their own industry.

Well, we can just sadly see how our American political landscape has been debased with the kind of language and treatment our new president has used to grab the top job!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mini, Micro, Maxi, Macron!

Well, I'm proud of my countrymen for rejecting Le Pen's extremist views, voting overwhelmingly against her and, in the process, elevating a brand new Macron to the top job.

From big to small, this guy really runs the whole dimensional gamut; he spent a minimum amount of time in politics and in life (so far), was maximally lucky to see Fillon crash and burn.

While barely able to use a microphone to utter intelligent sentences, Macron saw his command of macro-economics triumph over Marine Le Pen, when she stumbled over the ECU, the Euro and a re-minted Franc.

Emmanuel Macron must know God on a first name basis to have such a luck and in all honesty, won't do much worse than François Hollande over the next five years!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Nationalism can no longer contain a global tide

Friday night, I watched “Latin Music USA”, a wonderful TV series focusing on the fusion of Latin sounds with jazz, rock, country and rhythm and blues, from its struggling early days through its emergence into what used to be a white, anglo music dominance, as it simultaneously became a global phenomenon.

From Ritchie Vallens, Santana, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan or Shakira, the entire planet picked up what was good and recognized the artists.

It showed is that whether we like it or not, we've become a global society and whatever good is offer is likely to be embraced by the whole world, except for these narrow-minded policies and politics like Trump, Le Pen, Netanyahu or Kim Jong-un's.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Just tired of politics

I don't know if it's just me, but I'm now totally fed up with politics.

Undoubtedly, this is caused by our new president that I given me an indigestion of everything that's bad about the world of political manipulation, spin and other fake moves or strategies.

My being close to the upcoming French election doesn't help either, and I know, deep inside, that I shouldn't keep my guard down, but instead, keep on resisting the idiotic policies that are forced on us.

Perhaps spring and summer will revitalize my political juice and give me a needed boost through the rest of the year. Right now, I need a serious vacation from anything political!

Friday, May 5, 2017

My Snowbird experience

This past Wednesday, I returned to Snowbird and had a most enjoyable early day. Groomers were perfect, out of the manicured path was a bit more of a challenge, but still much enjoyable.

I love the front lower part of the resort, from Chip's Face all the way to Lower Mach Schnell and I hold a distinct preference for Lower Silverfox.

I'm not to crazy about Mineral Basin, nor a fan of the Cirque and far less of upper Peruvian Gulch and most of the Gad Valley.

I only wish Snowbird would build a lift from the tram base to top of Dalton's Draw...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Last French presidential debate...

Once again, we mustered the courage to catch the French presidential debate almost from its start until its bitter end (no pun intended!) and found in Marine Le Pen a nasty side that had heretofore totally eluded us.

Macron was equal to what we expected, except that Le Pen terrible economic diatribe, constant interruptions and mean remarks made her opponent look very good.
After seeing this, we think that Marine will lose big on Sunday and that Macron might, after all, be a preferable caretaker for my home country over the next five years...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Forty years in America!

Just four decades ago, on Monday, May 2, 1977, we left our new house in the French Alps, along with our antique Citroën and more than a quarter-century each of culture and memories, to move to America.

When we landed at Kennedy Airport, a limo was waiting for us to take us to the Elmsford Ramada Inn, 45 minutes to the north. We got very little in terms of support from my French employer and had to fend for ourselves from day one.

So, it's been often a tough, rough road and many, many years attending the “University of Hard-Knocks” especially in the early years. Today, the harsh learning curve is well behind us, we have no regrets anymore and are celebrating this important milestone.

Do we miss France? Just a little bit, but not enough to make us return for good!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Have lift ticket prices hit a ceiling?

Recently Vail Resorts published an interim season report, from the beginning of winter to April 23.

In spite of having one of the best snow seasons in recent history, it could only show an increase of sales amounting to about 3.5% over the previous years, while skier-visits dipped by about 3%.

What does that tell us? Simply that by keeping on raising lift ticket prices too much, year after year, ski resorts may have finally gone a bit to far and have begun to see their visitations drop. This season, prices went up 4%, much more that the consumer price index.

Seems to me that ski resorts ought to wake up and stabilize their prices!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Age, cold, visibility and deep snow...

Last Friday, I made the great decision to jump over the canyons and ski Snowbird. Wonderful idea, since the resort had just received 8 to 10 inches of new snow which would stay good all day under cold and stormy weather.

Indeed, it was just freezing but except for a slight frostbite on the chin, I stood up the blistering wind. Was wasn't so good though was the visibility that was almost nil and which combined with my fair knowledge of the mountain made me improvise a lot and hope for the best.
Then to add insult to injury, there was all that deep snow that had to be moved around, and after I had racked up 23,000 feet vertical in 9 non-stop laps on Peruvian chair, it was time for me to drive back home.

When I got into the house, my wife said that I looked like the living dead. “Must be the age”, I replied.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Trump's First 100 Days

In an interview with Reuters, Trump recently admitted that he thought being president would be easier than his old life.

Sure, before Trump was a real estate developer that worked with contractors, realtors, and lawyers. He also worked with politicians when he had to bribe one of them, banks so he wouldn't put his own money at risk and bankruptcy judges when his deals went south.

It was fairly simple; he was solely in charge and pretty much free to do whatever he wanted. Oh, and I forgot one big thing; he lied whenever it was convenient for him to do so.

Compare this with running a country, working with Congress, Justice, the Press and being stuck with the results...
No wonder he couldn't do any of the big deals he promised when he was selling himself as president!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The airline marketing opportunity

 For years, American legacy carriers like American, Delta and United have been in a tailspin in the so critical area of good customer service. 
This deterioration was evidenced recently during incidents involving a doctor forcibly removed from a plane or a mom with two kids and a stroller harassed by a flight attendant. When asked, American fliers say they'd rather travel with a foreign airline than a domestic one.

Which bring me to the point that the entire industry must be blind, dumb or totally brain-dead when it cannot even see an opportunity to create a new airline devoted to caring for its passengers, like this was the case fifty years ago.

Granted, it would be a bit more expensive, but everything would be included; things like smiles, attention, Nordstrom-type service and good food would be part and parcel of the flying experience.

Whatever happened to the American art of marketing; is it dead?

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Macron compromise

On May 7, my countrymen will have to pick their next president and, hopefully, they'll chose Macron over Le Pen.

The ultra-right candidate is smart, articulate and knows how to connect with people. She makes some good points about the Islamic tsunami raging over France, but her economic plans are a disaster. If elected, she'd be to France what Trump is to us.

Macron, on the other hand is the perfect technocrat, a former socialist economy minister re-invented into a centrist, pro-business leader and most probably, likely to end up with a minority supporting him at the Assembly when it's renewed next June.

Even with Macron at the helm, don't expect my home country to pull many miracles out over the next five years!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spring: Dead on arrival

After spending most of my life in the mountains I should know that spring never arrives until it starts feeling like summer.

Weeks ago, already, I had put away snow shovels, snowblower, melting systems and anything aimed at repelling both cold and snow.

So guess what? this week, winter came back with a vengeance, just to show me how ignorant I was...

Will I ever learn that in Park City we have two distinct seasons: winter, from November 1 to April 30 and summer the rest of the year!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Can a mechanical binding protect the knee?

Recently, a paper was presented at the International Society for Skiing Safety (ISSS) during its last congress in Austria.

From what I have been able to learn, it stated that ACL ruptures were, by far, the number one injury in skiing while MCL ruptures came in second. This said, the paper stated that the form of lateral heel release featured by the “KneeBinding” cannot mitigate ACL ruptures.
As I have always suspected, this finding makes reasonable sense to me. Unless there is a sensor placed on the ligament to measure the stress applied during any kind of ski maneuver, there is no way for a mechanical ski binding to read and interpret what happens between the lower and the upper leg.

For the most part, traditional, mechanical bindings work fine to read what happens to the lower leg, but can't arbiter what goes in the middle of the leg.

The “phantom foot” theory advanced by Robert Johnson and Carl Ettlinger has always appeared to me as a “stretch” and unless we're able to measure what goes on inside a skier's knee when it's under stress, we won't be able to protect that critical joint.

Just my two cent...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Emotion control

It's not unusual that a “knee-jerk” response to emotions can have a devastating impact on our lives and that happy and successful people always seem to take control over their emotions. I wish I were part of that elite group, but I still have some work to do in that category. What to do seems pretty simple though...

Let time pass 
Refrain from reacting right away. Often it make us say or do things we'll soon badly regret. Before dealing with any emotion, always take a deep breath for several minutes to regain control of the situation. That's by far the most difficult part.

Find a release valve 
If you can successfully overcome the initial impact of the emotion, release it in a productive, constructive way. Never let it fester; if you can, get in touch with someone you trust, share what happened and seek council. Hearing what someone has to say may open up your views about the entire situation. If writing things down works for you, put your emotions down to paper. You can always kick the cat (if you own one), break some china (as long as it's yours) or meditate if you're able to quickly calm down.

Always look for the bigger picture 
If you can, place the emotion and its impact on you in context with the universe to get a just sense of perspective. We always say things happen for a reason, so if you share that belief, try to incorporate it into your situation.

Clean up your thoughts 
Negative emotions are feeding themselves upon former negative feelings, creating downward spirals that always drag us to the bottom. Time to be creative and replace the depressive thought with one of elation, a wonderful memory or thinking about what you love most or do best. Go one step farther and picture in your mind the situation turning around into your wildest, most satisfying desires.

Stop blaming others
These emotional triggers could be co-workers, friends, family member or just yourself. Don't leave room for “would-have, should-have”. Just make a heroic effort to forget and forgive. Throw away any resentment, jealousy or anger. Look at the situation as if you were a passive observer totally stranger to the conflict.

Remember that emotions are part of our daily life 
We often take the wrong steps when confronted with negative emotions that hit us on a continuous basis. By just following the above few simple steps, we can save ourselves lots of aggravation and soar over the petty and insignificant “grind” of life as well as above the tyranny of unbridled emotions.

Monday, April 24, 2017

On the way home

We had totally forgotten how beautiful the road (I-15) from Cedar City back home was.

Meadows, greenery, mountains and herds of cows were a nice transition following the mostly mineral world of Arizona. 
The roadway is fast, the mountains fascinating. Mount Nebo and Mount Timpanogos are particularly hard to miss. Along the way we listened to the result of the first round in the French elections and got most of its drama...

It always feels good to be on the way back home!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sampling Lake Powell

We had never set foot to Page and nearby Lake Powell and decided to get our feet (almost) wet by taking a little boat excursion on Antelope Canyon.

We certainly got the idea very quickly...

In leaving the town of Page, we checked out Glen Canyon Dam at the head of the lake. Quite a big deal in engineering!

Then, we traveled to Cedar City, through Kanab (is this the place where Kanabis was invented?), went through Orderville, stopped at Forschers (for sure) but couldn't find an ice cream or a fresh cake in this German “Konditorei”...

We drove up to 9,600' in the snowfields overlooking Cedar City before experiencing a picturesque descent and entry into town. That was the good part of the trip.

The not so good portion was to walk on a Saturday late afternoon in some empty streets where we had a very hard time finding a restaurant that would serve alcohol.

Cedar City was dead on a Saturday night! We finally got lucky and found a wonderful Mexican restaurant with beer to boot!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Still as Grand as ever!

We only had seen the Grand Canyon from its north rim and this time was our chance to observe it from the opposite side.
The view was different and maybe more impressive, albeit lacking the dramatic river views offered on the north end. Tourists were out in numbers, from Asia to Europe and of course, herds of French folks!

We walked 6.5 miles along the rim and when the sun was already low on the horizon headed north towards Lake Powell...

Sleek tourist trap and genuine mining town...

For years, I wanted to visit Sedona, Arizona.

ure, when we got there the setting was just gorgeous but the perfectly laid-out main street and its profusion of shops created the perfect Las Vegas version of tourist traps!

Thank God, we had the sense to explore the edges of that consumers' mecca and check out some beautiful homes...

We then headed to Jerome, a few miles down the road and discovered that almost ghost town perched on a hill and as funky as Park City might have been when it transitioned to a ski area in the sixties. To us and compared to Sedona, Jerome is the genuine article.

An old copper mining town atop a mountain-side with some great, unique shops and million dollar views. Totally unexpected!

Later, we settled in Prescott for the night; another great old town with its peculiar “Whiskey Row” flanked by large, old buildings and its picturesque Courthouse Square...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Petrified!

From Chinle, Arizona, we drove south to Petrified Forest National Park and saw the forest laying on the ground under the form of huge, cut up logs.

They looked as if some lumberjacks and their chain saw had been busy turning these huge trees into small pieces. We learned something about distant times when dinosaur still roamed the planet and the dead forest got buried deep into sand and all the silica seeped into the wood before turning it into mineral. We particularly appreciated the "Blue Mesa" section of the Park...
Then we drove to Flagstaff, a city of 70,000, planted in the middle of a huge ponderosa forest and tucked under the San Francisco Mountains.

We liked the town very much with its true western character. I almost could live there, especially when there is some skiing available just 30 minutes away!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

From Utah to Arizona

I love the Four-Corners area (where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet). The drive is always fascinating. 
We traveled through Navajo country, passed Mexican Hat which is pretty what the name is all about, went to Monument Valley which was not the greatest place we've ever seen (was it the sense of Déjà Vu from the many western movies we've seen?)

However, the best place for the day was Canyon de Chelley (overlooks only), near Chinle, Arizona that captured our attention as well as the native-run Thunderbird Lodge that is a must-experience place!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trips south often begin in Moab

On our way to sunny Arizona, we decided to overnight in Moab, one of my favorite small-cities in Utah.

Except during winter months, this place is always busy and the traffic going through town is simply crazy. Crossing Main Street where there's no traffic light is simply suicidal! I have been half a dozen times in Moab and stayed there four times at various motels and motels.
This time our hotel was just great, brand new with a super large room, however our dinner at the Moab Brew Pub was disgusting. It used to be much better in years past. Okay, there's always next visit

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Park City is closed for the season!

This past Easter Sunday, as I was skiing with some “friends of a friend” from Europe, we all closed the door on my 32nd ski season in Park City which also happened to be my 64th in my entire life.
Suffice to say that I've now skied more in Park City than anywhere else and I consider this is to be a major threshold in my snow-life. I can now claim that I've become “an American skier” so, let's celebrate that promotion!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Not what my doctor ordered

When Emma Morano passed away on Saturday at the ripe age of 117, it was revealed that the secret of her longevity was a steady diet of 3 eggs a day and not much reliance on fruits and greens.

In other words, the total opposite of what my doctor keeps on telling me. Her bad cholesterol must have stayed in overdrive for the past half-century and she would have flunked every single physical she would have taken.

My sense is that she (fortunately) never took take any. My doctor would have told her “Emma, at this point, your chances of dying of a heart attack are 100%!, I'll have to put you on statins...” If she had followed his admonition, her chances would have climbed to 150% and she'd be long dead...

Another good reason to say that ignorance is bliss!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The shrinking American ski season

When I first moved to Park City, it wasn't uncommon to see our ski mountains stay open through early May, but this has become a distant memories. In fact, our real ski season now spans between December 20 and March 31.

That's right, just over three month! Unlike Europe, Easter is not a ski factor on this side of the pond, except maybe for a few Latin American visitors. Of course there's all the pre-season excitement, but it involves mostly local clientele.

Destination skiers only come during these sought-after 100 days. Early April, the interest wane and everyone is ready to show off on their expensive road or mountain-bikes, hit the golf course, jump in their boats or return to gardening.

I will have skied through the end of the Park City season (today is closing day) and can attest that after March, while conditions were still very good, the skiers were gone.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A glut of expensive homes...

Park City has been booming for as long as we've lived here, but not as much as it has in recent years, and particularly after Vail Resorts purchased two of our three local ski areas.

Lately, I have been shocked by how much real estate prices have soared. If we focus solely on the City of Park City (8,000 inhabitants) and look at its real estate listing for single family homes (not including multi-family dwelling), we find 129 listings, ranging from less than $1 million to over $20 million for a total of $575 million at an average listing price of $4.44 million!
Out of these numbers only 6 homes are listed under $1 million, 26 range from $1 to $2 million, 30 from $2 to $3 million and 97 are scattered from $3 to $20 million...

The bottom line is that we are faced with glut of expensive homes and their price distribution is totally out of kilter as it doesn't reflect the typical pyramid of affordability.

Is a correction coming? Most probably in my view, and much faster than we might anticipate...

Friday, April 14, 2017

Can the independent ski resort survive?

A few days ago, Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners just acquired Intrawest in a deal valued at $1.5 billion.

We'r e talking about Snowshoe, Steamboat, Stratton, Winter Park and both Tremblant and Blue Mountain in Canada.

The following day, that same group gobbled up Bear Mountain, June Mountain, Mammoth Mountain, and Snow Summit, all in California. While not mentioned in the merger, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows (both affiliate of KSL) will also become part of this family.

So now, the big question is what will happen to the small operator like for instance Deer Valley, here in Park City?
Will the new mega-players like this new entity, Vail Resorts, Powdr Corp or Boyne Resorts try to jump on these independents and add them to their portfolio?

This appears to be quite likely as this on-going consolidation seems far from over...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The stagnation of ski binding design

For almost 30 years, nothing much has changed in the way ski bindings operate.

Nothing drastically new has come up and with binding companies moving from solely-owned companies ran by their founder to large corporations in which bindings are bundled and branded with skis and boots, ski bindings have become a commodity that no one worries about and for which the general assumption is that technology has reached its final destiny.

When Rossignel took over Look bindings in 1994, it has been notorious in getting away with stale and rudimentary designs that hearken to the old Geze toe-unit and the spartan Look 27 heel-piece.


The only interesting new product that came outside of the “legacy brands” (Look, Marker, Salomon and Tyrolia) has been the so-called KneeBinding that is supposed to mitigate knee injuries. That's right, we're talking about ACL injuries (anterior cruciate ligament) that are estimated to affect between 60 and 80,000 skiers, world-wide, each season.

Proponents of the KneeBinding claim that their bindings, with its lateral release at the heel, will protect the ACL. This claim might be overblown though, as no one, among the established suppliers has tackled this problem yet and by so doing, validated KneeBinding claim.

All this to say that we shouldn't expect much from that the legacy brands and can only hope that some independent product developers like KneeBinding finally bring some innovation into a market that is desperately asleep.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Alone on planet Jupiter

Jupiter sits on top of Park City and is one of the places where I like to recreate when I have my skis on.

The place can get mobbed on big powder days but you'll never see me lining up for making “first-track”. It simply isn't my style. I like to come to that special spot after the crowds are gone but the skiing is still excellent.

Yesterday, conditions on most of its runs were very, very bad and there was not a soul in view, except for the lift employees, the ski patrol and some rares skiers who pointed their nose, struggled to get down and turned around as quickly as they came.

After finding out how bad the main bowl (pictured here) was, I took a chance on one other run, “Portuguese Gap”, that also happens to be my favorite on this part of the mountain; it was so good that I took three consecutive runs there.

That's right, I stuck around and didn't fall like a fly, just as the rest of the other skiers did, but again in skiing parlance, I must be quite a cockroach!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A matter of skiing style

We all approach sports and leisure differently. Compared to my contemporaries, my way of skiing is peppered with idiosyncrasies that make it radically different from them. I tend to make it a rather intense experience and there is very little room for being laid-back or dreamy about it except for the time I'm riding the lifts.

For one thing, I never stops in the middle of a run; it's always non-stop from top to bottom, regardless of the distance. If I'm with family, I may slow down a bit, but I wont stop willy-nilly at the top of a lift, smell the roses and decide where to go; there's plenty of time to make that kind of decision on the way up! I generally ski as fast as the conditions and my body allows it.
When I get a choice between an easy and a challenging run, I always pick the latter; I love difficult snow, impassable terrain and this has nothing to do with masochism. Unlike normal people, I always keep an exacting count of what I do: Number of ski days, total vertical, etc.

Finally, unlike most skiers of all ages, I am totally conscious that my days on skis are counted, so this point alone explain why I make the very best of what I've got left!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fifty years ago: My bro and I

During the winter 1966-1967 I was teaching skiing to kids coming from Paris for one month at a time, and was working with my brother who had been instructing for one or two seasons.

I had no certification whatsoever at the time and was teaching the little ones how to ski down the hill, snowplow, turn and side-slip. If I did my job well, they might earn their “1ère étoile” or “2ème étoile” pin.

In those days, while still a teenager, I wasn't looking forward to begin serving 16 month in the French army the following November and didn't know what I would do with the rest of my life.

Already, my big secret dream was to teach skiing in America, most particularly in Aspen or in Whistler. I remember having applied for a job to Jim McConkey, ski school director at the British Columbia resort and he had even offered me position! I already had good tastes...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The lightning “excuse...”

This had never happened to me. Yesterday, while I was enjoying some great skiing in some good snow at the top of Park City, the entire ski resort shut down at 2:30 pm because of lighting danger.

I was a bit miffed, thought for a while that this weather danger was an easy excuse, but probably wouldn't have enjoyed receiving a huge electric shock while riding up a chairlift!

Trump's family business

By now, most of us have seen that Trump is intent to run his administration as if it were his own family business.

Conflicts of interest don't seem to bother him and he just elevated his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared as his (most) trusted advisers. I must say that I'm far from being impressed by the sum of the couple's intelligence.
Then, like in any large family businesses, there are the other employees who aren't too happy to see the “family” become front and center in the day-to-day operations. So, comments are made, innuendos multiply and soon, the working atmosphere turns into a permanent hell.

What we've just seen with Bannon is only the beginning of this destructive process. If you're familiar with any big family-run business, I leave the rest of this story to your imagination!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Trump's good decision

I was pleased to see that we finally responded to Bashar al-Assad barbaric ways.

It was largely a surprise, because back in 2013, Trump had admonished Obama not to intervene in Syria and that just a few days ago, his administration pledged not to get involved in that conflict.

So, while this spectacular action demonstrate that Donald Trump works more on instinct than through a well thought-out strategic process, our new president probably feels good as he can show the world that he's able make quick and powerful decisions on his own and this wasn't a shock to me.