Monday, December 19, 2011

The Colorado Experience IV

For the 4th year in a row now, Matt and I made it out Colorado to snowboard, skate, explore the local the tourist traps and eat quesadillas with our good friends Jeremy and Lisa (aka the Millers) who we've known since high school. I love packing. My routine usually goes something like this; pack, unpack, repack in a different bag, unpack again, repack in the original bag, unpack excess shirts and pants, pack more socks, unpack excess underwear, unpack everything to layout on the floor and start from scratch, realize I have too many shirts, repack, remember something I forgot as soon as I get to the airport.

fast forward to Denver international where Jeremy scoops us up and we head off to hit some skateparks. (I'm not going to list or post pics of them all but just know we hit a lot) Here's just the bowl section of the Colorado Springs park we hit that night. This is Jer who single-handedly keeps the Colorado professional sports attire business up and running.

I'll give you one guess who got stoked when some homeboy at the park cranked the Beach Boys.

We considered our options but couldn't think of one good reason to not stop by the world's largest beetle which was just 10 short minutes away.

skate mission gear up at Home Depot

I'd be lying if I said I didn't totally do some research on the subject

after some brush up, I felt confident we would reach our destination

"too much cheese" is a phrase rarely uttered in the Miller household

"Does the rabbit go around the tree or through the hole?"

oh yeah, Kipp and Juno were there too. it was great to finally meet the boys.

next morning, after everybody had their juice...

...and did their stretches... was time to load up and hit the road!

family portrait time

"dude, this is the one."

"sit, stay. don't make me come back there"

It became clear that what I was envisioning was just not gonna happen. Thanks Juno.

After we dropped the hounds off at Lisa's sister's house it was time for breakfast. It's no secret the Millers love their burrito spots.

They were regulars. The lady in the window simply asked, "The usual?" when the Element pulled up.

While it was delicious, with many twisty, turny miles ahead of us, part of me couldn't help feeling like we were taking a suicide pact with each bite.

When we finally reached our destination, I was ready.

The first time I ever went to Colorado was on a skate trip in 2004. On that trip we found this spot easily enough but as soon as we started scoping it out a Ranger pulled up and we had to bail. Then the last 3 times we've been back to Colorado it just never worked out that we were in this same area. Basically I've been counting the days til I could get another crack at it.

Finally, after7 years, it all worked out.

Seeing the huge metal door concealing the entrance was like a shot to the gut. We were all bummed. Seeing as we all came this far, Matt wanted to drop the rope and go check it out for himself.

Minutes passed and still no word from Matt. Jeremy lowered himself down to see what was up and Lisa and I waited around for a report.

Matt and Jer finally reported back that you could still squeeze in. And by "squeeze" I mean "squeeze".

After a quick change of footwear it was off and up the pipe we went.

hell yeah! you can't really tell from this picture but you had to walk uphill about 60 yards before the pipe leveled out and was actually skateable (hence the delay in hearing back on Matt's spot check)

Matt got his.

that snow patch with the light hitting it in the background is the point where the glory hole descends and curves in to meet the pipe/"drain". that means that at this point we were about 35 feet or so directly under the surface of the lake. (you skaters out there should already know this stuff).

Certain videos and bands lit the match in my youth and it was almost a release to finally experience my first "legit" full pipe. East coast kids learn fast that, with very few exceptions, all the pipes are in different time zones. Thanks fer nuthin' Reclamation Act.

We couldn't believe how smooth it was. It was humbling to see how high some of the stickers were pasted from past sessions. Albeit a bit lower, I still got mine.

looking up and out of the glory hole. Though it was highly unlikely due to the time of year, certain scenarios were definitely discussed between runs.

great session

I grabbed some last minute pics while Matt and Jeremy butt boarded down to the door. Judging from the noises I heard echoing in the darkness I'm guessing they had a good time.

sheesh, pass the Parkay

heading back down the spillway wasn't slippery at all!

Rule #1: Nobody gets left behind

Denver's #1 fan tunes into the Broncos game.

The back seat could have been on fire and Jeremy wouldn't have noticed.

And let me tell you how great those AM stations in the Rocky Mountains get reception!

After driving around the parking lot trying to get reception, we finally checked in at Glenwood where Jeremy displayed his unfledging commitment.

In his defense, it was a nail biter.

The following morning after breakfast it was calisthenics in 418.

20 minutes later we were at the mountain for our (well at least mine and Matt's) first run of the year.

always time for an extra sun salutation or two

you snooze you lose bro

there's always tomorrow

Jer shows no sign of retiring his thermonuclear protectors so we'll keep taking self portraits in 'em til he does.

physical fitness at 9,000 feet

Matt wanted to test his helmet out as soon as possible

After dinner we went for a stroll across the river into town. Here's the view of the hot spring pool from the bridge.

Had to pay our respects, again.

Everyone loves the traditional Christmas light walk.

Jer totally snaking my angle.

how many professional photographers is too many?

Bright and early the next morning. He missed FC (first chair) but he wasn't about to miss FO (first omelet).

nothing like a big cloud of hot sulfur wafting in your face on your way to breakfast

FO...mission accomplished

They have awesome old pictures of the hot springs all over the place. Here's one we obviously needed to recreate. I happily volunteered for the roll of the photographer.

back outside for the photo shoot

Same spot, same body position and I'm sure the same toast to good health. I wish I had video of this cuz Jeremy seriously chugged the whole thing.



one last trip into town

Even though it's at the confluence of the Colorado River and Roaring Fork River, we always said the same thing every time we crossed it.

we out.

I've always been a huge fan of local, non-chain army navy surplus type stores.

post-breakfast, pre-lunch fill up for Jer.

It was about this time we reminded Jer we should also probably fill up the tank before we set out for the day since we had some miles to cover. Unfortunately there were "none to be found".

fast forward 60 miles later to the booming metropolis of Rancho Del Rio where he finally felt it appropriate to top off.

here's the abandoned and forgotten general store

here's looking out over the abandoned and forgotten cabin area

oh and finally here's Jer at the abandoned and forgotten gas pump

Jer swore he "knew this car" so we pressed on.

back on the heavy populated County Road 1.

no service, no worries

all I kept thinking

dropped it in neutral for the downhills. again, it's a shame there weren't any places to fill up before we left.

you can spout confidence all you want but the eyes don't lie

always time for a Tebow

vistas were about the only thing not in short supply on that stretch

nothin' but professional photographers in this bunch.

Phew! Finally made it to Kremmling. The park looked sick but was snow covered.

the session must go on

Matt tests out one of Brian's christmas presents I picked up before we left Glenwood Springs.

about 10 minutes later we were good to go

everybody found a line. (and since Lisa left to find a bathroom it totally didn't take a million attempts to get this shot using the 10 second self timer) "Ok. Last time. Are we dropping in on 6 Scooby Doo or 7 Scooby Doo?"

always lookin'

It was dark by the time we got to Winter Park. That gondola that was right next to the lodge is what we'd take to the mountain in the morning. Neat!

Room 525 at the Winter Park Resort was to be known from that night on as "the Party Room"


"Do you guys want Mexican?"

Marty Moose was about the extent of the night life downtown.

that was of course until we found the town sledding hill!

The following morning we got sucked in and missed first chair. No complaints, I'll always be a sucker for a rom-com.

Let's ride!

I ended up keeping the camera in my pocket most of day 1 so here we are bright and early on day 2 at Winter Park. Morning routine phase 1.

Morning routine phase 2

Looking up from the lift line before our first run.

When you're on the mountain for a whole day, having the sun come out can make all the difference in the world.

When I feel a sun salutation coming on I just roll with it.

Now that I was loose it was straight to the park. The jumps there were fun as hell. All different sizes. None too huge, none too small. Great approaches, take offs and landings. Years have passed but the quest for big airs and knee punishing landings remains. Go big or go home bro. (I more often than not just go home).

Jer was going for backside 3's all day.

Matt goes frontside 3

tweaker off one of the smaller jumps up top

working out the kinks of his rotation. next year he's claiming them on lock

who doesn't love a good method? the epitome of classic.

frontside 3 with the grab. you either have it or you don't.

few things are more frustrating than whiffing on a grab

there it is. still working on maximum tweakage on my grassers though.


looking down at the second set of jumps

looking across to the take off of the first jump

not satisfied with your last hit? unstrap and hike it til you nail it. (I hiked a lot that day)

Lisa isn't afraid to get hers

last run of the day was a no-brainer

plenty of room in the back after we picked up the pups

best feeling

back at the Miller's house we went through some of Jer's records

definitely some gems in there

reminded me of late night drives to Ocean City, Maryland in high school. (the REM flexi not the customized embroidered hat)

I sent this to Jer in '01 but the contest goes back to high school. Every year I sit waiting on top of Weis bank but he never shows. I better learn how to ollie again just in case.

The next morning it was back to Loveland Pass for our traditional last riding day of the trip.

Coverage was on the thin side this year so we rode as far left (west) as possible before dropping in.

this natural roll in was fun as hell. you can see Matt's blue jacket on the far side.

for the last run of the day we decided to hike out as far as we could to one of the back bowls

Ideally, the lip in the distance on the far right was our destination.

some sections were flat"ish"...

...some were not (notice Matt in the distance)

looking to my right (down). I made sure I maintained a tight grip on my board at all times. probably the only I wish I still had my Aunt Mable's pipe leash (anybody remember those?)

peep Matt up on the far lip

Lighting conditions were not as ideal for Matt's Loveland strap in photo as in previous years but we made the best of it.

Matt and Jer discuss the dropping point

Matt snapped this one of me bombing the drop to make it over to the back country kicker we spotted other people riding earlier in the day.

we all made it but as you can tell the lighting was crap for pictures since the sun had already dropped behind the range

hiking it for another go

After a few hits we made our way down the mountain and out of the woods back to the road. Next year we'll need to start earlier in the day so we can hike farther out on the range. Safe to say the back seat was whooped on the way home.

Northglenn park that night. God damn this bowl was fun!

Jer, leave the christmas lights on the fern in "my" room and we'll see you next year. Great trip! (there'll be some more random pics as soon as I finish the roll in my camera)

PS Happy Holidays. Solid haul at the Barto house this year.