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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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skiing

Sally Barbara Terrain Park

Sally Barbara

Sally Barbara

I’ve upped the stakes over the past few weeks and finally overcame my fear of being inverted and spinning. We got a crew together from work and parked in the Sally Barbara lot then hiked about twenty minutes until we reached a bowl to the left of the cross country skiing path.  We used the roadway to create a jump and launch off into the powder. I hit a back flip for the first time and landed a 360. James learned a 360 and Alex was hitting 720s. The spot was perfect to learn tricks with minimal risk of getting injured.  I landed one back flip and fell on three hitting my tips and over rotating. Once I get enough practice and learn the rotation for spins and back flips my goal is to huck off cliffs and land them. I want to be able to scope out a line and just go off a cliff into a double back flip doing true free ride skiing.  We hit up the lot a few days later and launched off the biggest jump I’ve ever hit in my life. This man made jump was like 10 feet tall and launched us 20 to 30 feet in the air and 40 feet out.

I finally achieved some of my goals this season of attempting tricks. Now I just need to perfect them for Jackson Hole next winter.

Man made street jump

Park Jumps

Making some park jumps at Sally Barbara in the Back Country at French Creek Gulch.

Skiing In Colorado

Skiing in Colorado

I took out 179 Volkl Bridge’s today.  Bombed nine runs hitting a max speed of 60 mph.  I got the best of both worlds skiing today, glades and groomed runs. It feels more like floating than skiing out on the mountain.  I work a split shift today so I took my break skiing on the slopes at Breckenridge Mountain.  The last few days felt like college all over again. Partying hard, drinking PBR’s, celebrating James’ birthday, skiing every day, toking, munching out, sleeping on random couches, having fun. 

Skiing in Colorado

Volkl Bridge

Testing out the Volkl Bridge again on my 5th day of skiing in Colorado!

I wound up buying some skullcandy ear buds at Mountain Wave. Now I’ll be able to listen to some tunes while skiing in Colorado solo on my split shifts. Skiing in Colorado definitely beats Delaware. I may end up living here next winter and the seasons to come!

Ski Technician

Ski Technician

I finally started work at Blue River Sports this past Wednesday.  Everyone seems really cool.  I fitted a customer for a ski package, but other than that we have just started training for snowboard boot fitting, ski boot fitting, snowboard bindings for silver and gold packages, ski binding packages and next week we will learn more about tuning and waxing.  They also went over their packages, recreation, deluxe, performance, specialty for skiing and silver, gold and titanium for boarding.  There is a lot of material to remember since in the past few years inserts have changed the world of skiing and boarding and made everything more awesome for those on the mountain and more confusing for ski technicians.  After a little more practice I am sure I’ll be fine.  We also learned about the different types of boards and skis.  Wider boards are meant for people wearing at least an 11.5 snowboard boot.  Boards that are rockered are meant for beginnings and are more forgiving when falling.  Boards that are rockered in the center, cambered under foot and rockered at the tips are more intermediate/advanced boards.  There are a wide variety of boards in between meant for switch, half pipe, etc.  We also learned about the different types of skis.  Skis that are more narrow are easier to turn.  Skis that are wider are generally meant more for powder, but can be skied on groomed terrain.  Skis with twin tips are more of a terrain park ski meant for tricks.

I’ll go over more in this thread later when I look over my ski technician book.  This information is really just for any traveler interested in getting a job in the ski technician field.  You’ll have a one up on others that you are interviewing against for a ski technician job even if you have never done any of the physical work.  Just knowing about skis and snowboards will set you apart.

Pre-Thanksgiving

Aside from that I took the bus on a long epic journey to Silverthorne on Thursday for the Pre-Thanksgiving party at Tiffany’s house.  Chip and Rachel were there along with her son Eli, and a few other people I just met.  We ate a ton of turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, cookies, and indulged in a lot of beer.  I ended up staying pretty late and almost missed the bus back home.  We talked about punk music, drugs, Colorado and they introduced me to Left, Right, Center which is a game with 3 die that takes forever to win.  I wound up giving my chips away at the end because I just wanted to leave.

I might hit up the mountain Sunday with another ski technician, Ryan, to see how Breckenridge is for the first time this season.  He’s going to take me boarding next week on Wednesday while I demo a board from work.  That’s the great thing about being a ski technician.  Not only are the people you work with mad cool, but Blue River Sports pays for my pass, and they let ski technician’s demo boards and skis before the season gets busy.  All in all, the week couldn’t be any better.  I look forward to tutoring and working at Blue River Sports next week.

Thrift Store

Picked up some Billabong pants at the local thrift store down the street for ten bucks. That is the only other pair of clothes I own here beside sweatpants.

skiing, dreads, a-basin, mountains, riding, boarding, snowboarding

Hitchin’ to A-Bay Partayyy!

I woke up around 8 AM and met up with Kelton at the bus stop near Summit High School.  It took a little over an hour to get to Keystone since the bus stopped in Frisco and Silverthorne beforehand.

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We ended up using my “Help a smurf to A Basin” sign.  Within a few minutes two guys from Denver picked us up.  A bit serious people, but pretty cool since they skied.  The one worked for a brewery and the other in the solar industry. We never did catch their names.

Skiing A-Basin

The lines took about twenty minutes to reach the lift since they only opened the one run.  We used this time to meet some people.  In total we rode down six times over the course of the day.  The slopes mainly granular with patches of powder in certain areas near the treeline.  The tiny crystals in the snow sparkled as the sun beat down across the mountain.  Everyone in the lines, either smoking or drinking beer, before heading up Black Mountain Express.

We ate and ended up calling it a day.  We walked down to the front lot and I put out my thumb to hitch back to Keystone.  Little did I know we’d end up meeting Will, Michelle, and Kristen with whom we’d spend the rest of our day.

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They took us to Loveland Pass to grab some pictures and then we hit up The Goat for some drinks.  Will and I played some intense games of connect four and we all just chatted about random stuff until heading back to his condo across the street.

We ended up meeting up with Tim and Dan and continued to drink.  The party landed in the pool and hot tub, which definitely felt nice with all the cycling, hiking and skiing over the past few days.

I wound up getting pretty drunk.  Will and I hit up the liquor store and pizza shop for some food.  Most the crowd left around 7 and 8 PM. I stuck around and talked to Kristen who invited me skiing A-Basin on Monday.  I’m going to teach her how to ski.

Everyone passed out around 10 PM including myself.  So hitchhiking ended with meeting some pretty cool people. I never saw them again and skiing A-Basin never happened with Kelton or the rest of the crew, but it was a great night of partying and new friends.

Craigslist Man-Date

Figured I would update this since I’ve been in town for a few weeks now. I met up with a guy from Florida who used to wakeboard on the pro tour.  He was originally from Oklahoma with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He moved to Colorado in December to board for the winter.  I met him through Craigslist, which normally would be weird, but hey, it’s Colorado and everyone here is pretty chill and from all over the country.

Colorado Craigslist Worked Out!

Loveland Pass Panorama

Loveland Pass Panorama!

His name is Kelton. We are going to hit the slopes this weekend.  Most likely get some skiing in on A Basin.

I also met an older gentleman a few days back named Chris Galla who took time off work to go on vacation and ski for a few months.  Intrigued by my story he offered to give me a ride to Denver if I ever wanted to head back that way between now and April.

Aside from that my landlords and I visited Loveland Pass over the weekend.  They did back-country skiing while I hiked a few miles and took in the beautiful scenery.

I’ve been helping them with concrete work outside of their home to take some money off my rent each month.  They are building a connection from the garage to the main house and installing a new front door.  It’s interesting because a lot of the work I’m doing is related to my field in Geotechnical Engineering.  Instead of inspections I’m actually doing the construction portion of the work.

They also lent me skis and boots so I can hitch a ride to A Basin tomorrow and get in my first day of many powder skiing days that lie ahead in my future.

I’m in the process of getting my Colorado license and trying to meet new people in the area.  My ski pass should be here shortly and my job starts in the beginning of November.

I stopped by the grocery store today and chatted with one of the store cashier’s.  I asked her great places to meet people and where the bar scene was in the area.  She told me she goes to Ullr’s Sports Bar on Main Street on the other side of town.  There are also some clubs in the area that aren’t too bad.  Hopefully, I bump into her again. Her name was Heather and she was drop-dead gorgeous.

Other than that I’ve just been chilling and hanging out waiting for work to start. A few inches of snow fell today so there should be some powder on the slopes tomorrow.  Can’t wait!

Also, I have written 31 pages to my book, which I have decided on a title: Jungle’s Journey. I hit over 11,000 words, which brings the story up to Day 8 of the trip. The book covers the idea behind the bike trip, the inspiration, the people I met, some of our conversations in a nut shell, their stories, the places I slept, and basically the adventure as a whole. It’s uncensored and I tried to make it as realistic as possible to make the reader feel like they were there experiencing it first-hand.

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