Friday, December 31, 2010

Plugged

Truckee is overrun with Holiday Revelers this week. The people couldn't resist the perfect recipe:

Great Christmas Season
Record Snowfall in November
Bountiful December Snowfall

add
No Income Tax Increase
Unemployment Insurance Extensions

Serve and Enjoy
Serves thousands
Nutritional values may vary

They're everywhere...I'd forgotten how exciting merely driving past the gas station at the bottom of my hill could be!

Going to the grocery store takes real commitment time-wise. You know you're in for it when you can't even find a place to park!

Whenever the crowds plug Truckee and turn the little chores into Epic Trials, I have to thank BajaBabe who impressed on me the need to maintain a decent Pantry! Thanks BajaBabe!

Thursday morning was a Bluebird Morning...first one this week (I can't be 100% sure, the days are all running together as they do every Christmas Holiday Period) It wasn't just the Locals who spent the past few days hunkered down...without that Pantry...

I checked the Reno AFD to see if there's any more snow on tap before the end of the weekend. It seems their models aren't in agreement past a couple of hours. We could get a few inches of snow, or the snow could go South of us.

I've considered an after work Reno Run to re-provision. Reno News Radio reports Reno's plugged too...New Years Eve is an outsized event in the Biggest Little City...I'm hoping another Bluebird Morning will clear a path to my local Safeway...if I pick up a couple of things and I can re-hunker...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Outta Breath

OK, my butt is officially kicked.

Tuesday's tally: 24 inches in 24 hours...that's a lot of snow...

My Tuesday began badly...the power flickering of and on wakes me before the alarm clock...I lay in bed for two more hours trying to harvest a little more sleep...no luck...the power goes off, and stays off...no shower...no shave...no sauteed chicken breasts for lunch sandwich...lastly...this hurts...no coffee.

I thought about bringing my beans and grinder to work, but thought better of it...I settled for Folgers

My 20 minute drive to work took an hour...good thing I left early...nothin' to do in the dark

My night went this way all night

When I arrived back at the DaveCave it was half past noon...the power was restored...it was the Christmas I missed last weekend!

Do you want whine with that?
Perhaps I'm a little on edge...reports this week from San Francisco touted doubts for the 34th America's Cup Host City Sweepstakes...Newport, Rhode Island is suddenly in the running? Rumor Control wasn't helping...we're getting down to Crunch Time. The Host City will be announced Friday 12/31/2010.

Hopeful news here

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Diggin Out

the DaveCave that is!

I have a full-blown two day weekend this week. All chores Monday...still have some tech stuff to complete before bedtime.

In the calm between the storms, I finally got my front porch thawed enough to chip away the last couple of storms-worth  of pack ice...I kept expecting a polar bear to stake it's territory on the darn thing. Chipping away with the heavy Mutt felt good...as did the sun on my face...a welcomed warm sunny afternoon!

Tuesday morning, I watched the unfolding story of the chairlift derailment at Sugarloaf in Maine on FoxNews...as is typical of the 24/7 cable news of today, the "reporting" was long on hype and short on details. Would it hurt to name the manufacturer of the chairlift?

FoxNews did report that it's the oldest chair on the mountain...and when they finally got a live link to a hospital spokesperson, said spokesperson gave no specifics, failed to play along with the anchor's speculative questions, and was generally useless as a source! During the over four hours of the story, no Sugarloaf spokesman was aired.

The best I could glean was 6-7 injuries after five chairs fell about 30-35 ft after a gust of wind hit just as the chair was restarted.

FoxNews cited a Maine newspaper in saying Sugarloaf wanted to replace the stricken chair with a "heavier chair that would withstand wind better" in a story from earlier this year.

None of the injuries were labeled life-threatening.

Finally I found a Sugarloaf Press Release that answered most of my questions.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Santa's bringing new snow for Christmas Night.

Chain controls are up as the storm inches Eastward.

Time for my evening nap...gonna be fun tonight

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stuck In Time

Getting a snowcat stuck is such a rare occurrence that getting stuck this week turned on my Way Back Machine.

In three decades of grooming on My Mountain I've got stuck three times.

Technically the second time, in the late 90's I could have driven out (save for all the trees below me)...I had to get pulled back up on the cat road that I fell off of (or more precisely, the cat road that fell away under me)

The memorable stuck was during my rookie season. Back then the fleet was all Tucker SnoCats and one Thiokol 3700. The Tuckers didn't have a blade out front. Groomers towed various implements for different conditions...rollers, mogul cutters, powdermakers, even huge drag chains.

The morning in question, I was pulling a 30ft roller.

The trail I was grooming was a steep intermediate run that we usually got a little toboggan action from at the breakover a third of the way down.

Working left to right, I crept down towards the breakover...sure enough, once the Tucker's pontoons were past the breakover, she slid. I punched the throttle and away we went...this time was different than the times I done this trail before...this time the whole run crowned...wall to wall...a 3ft slab avalanche that roared down the 50 yards or so to the compression at the bottom of the steep.

My Tucker went into the compression like a lawn dart into soft turf, and the avalanche debris piled up around me. It was up to the top of the hood, and up to the windows in the doors...I couldn't even get out to shovel myself free. My only tool available was the Motorola 2-Way Radio.

I called the boss who was digging out the top of the mountain. He advised that I'd better start shoveling...I explained that I couldn't get out of my cab to shovel...he replied: "I've gotta see this!"

The boss in his 3700 roared up about 20 minutes later...clearly amused at my predicament. He made quick work of removing the snow around my cab and that 30ft roller. As he roared off to return to his digging he keyed the mic: "Now you can shovel your way out!"

Maybe twenty minutes with my shovel, and I was free.

That was the only time I slid a whole run at once. Back then I didn't know what I didn't know. I chalked up the thrill as just another bit of  Groomer Esprit de Corps. Today I'd be scared shitless if I crowned a whole run!

Thirty years ago we had lots of thrills on the hill, but today we could never leave the ski surface the way we did back then. For the most part, we've evolved the adrenaline out of the job. That trail is only groomed by winch cats today...I can count on one hand the number of times we've groomed that run with a free cat since the turn of the century.

Having been in the trade all the way through this evolutionary epoch, I've evolved to enjoy the cerebral thrills in lieu of the raw adrenaline rush. Do I miss it? Sure...fun is fun...but the satisfaction I feel knowing how perfectly we groom the slopes in the modern era is deeper than I'd ever imagined back in those "Wild West" days.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Whale Watching

Until this morning, I thought there was only one kind of whale found on ski hills.

In snowmaking-speak, a whale is the huge pile of man-made snow where the gun or fan is pointed when temps are favorable and the groomers are too busy to spread the man-made around before a long, huge pile the size of a whale piles up.

This morning I heard myself say over the 2-way radio that I'm working on "My White Whale"...d'oh!

First, a little backstory...you'll remember that I've been trying to build bridges for better than a week now. Almost a week of rain filled the creeks and streams after all my bridges were in, reopening the watercourses, and turning my building material (fresh snow) from bridge building snow to dam building snow.

Let me be clear, the ski hill is in fine shape, all this hydrology trouble is on our cross country trails, a new wrinkle in my morning to-do list.

All the bridges were in place before snow levels rose to rainmaking levels, and I've been trying to rebridge every non-raining morning since...I found myself getting a little frustrated, as each time I built a new bridge, Mother Nature would open it up by morning again.

This week, I endured a one-day weekend and returned Monday to four new feet of dry snow that fell on my night off. Without any machine issues, my crew made short work of the Work Orders and we even threw in a couple of extras. I made exactly five passes of corduroy for the shift, spending my time digging out instead. Off the hill plenty early, I roared off to finish the final hold-out bridge project.

Here's where I got myself in trouble...As I was delegating our workload via my 2-way, I said in passing that "I wasn't gonna let that last bridge get the best of me"...I'm sure there's a parable that fits my crime, but I'm not conversant with all the parables and their names and numbers...

Back on the trail, I worked my way a kilometer at at time towards the last big crossing project...I smoothed out and widened the first two creek crossings, and dealt with a fallen treetop that blocked the trail. (Huge winds tore up the Sierra Crest Sunday night, Alpine Meadows recorded one gust at 155mph!)

As I approached my troubled bridge, I rolled up a huge bladefull of semi-heavy snow...there was no open water at the bridge site proper...I could see the creek downstream of my crossing...I plowed ahead...I sank a little as I expected (the bridge is at the bottom of a small compression in the trail) I feathered the snow out of my blade to fill the compression a little, just As I bogged down trying to climb out of the dip. Backing out of the sticks to give max torque to my tracks, I didn't make it across, I lifted the tiller and backed out of there quick! One track was on the snow, the other was in the mud...on the bottom of what was now a small shallow lake where the creek had overflowed it's banks.

Awful muddy water with weeds was pumping over the muddy track as I spun away from the tall bank. That bladefull of snow was now working against me...I wasn't totally high-centered, but enough to lighten the track that wasn't in the mud...the muddy track continued to pump mud, water and weeds over itself and a tree in my way necessitated a three point turn...which is where it all went for naught...I was stuck...in my trusty old BR350...oh the humanity...

A fine kettle of fish...I keyed the mic and called my boss..."I'm stuck and could you fire up a winchcat, please? It'll be a straight pull, should be no problem"...I asked him to "bring two winch straps"...he asked: "should I bring my waders?"...I said: "it wouldn't hurt, but we can probably keep our feet dry"...

So the cat was out of the bag...TruckeeDave stuck...on the air for all that care...the rest of the saga would play out on the airwaves as well...for all to hear...sigh...

On the bright side, I needed my sunglasses for the first time in a week...small compensation for my embarrassment, though...

It took us an hour or so to extricate me...the boss widened the road down to the compression area where my cat was now a dam...the unseen lake had risen through the pristine snow at least five inches in 30 minutes...

We hooked up for the pull...the boss dialed his pressure up to 400Bar...I didn't even feel a tug...I was in deep...I keyed the mic: "Boss, I think we need to go blade to blade, you can push me back three feet or so, and backblade some of this snow from in front of my tracks, it'll give me some momentum coming out of my hole" Talk about good radio...

It worked! I popped out of the lake/hole like gangbusters! I left a trail 75 yards long of muddy, weedy snow...my adrenaline was still off the charts...I was under an eight of a tank of fuel...please God, I prayed...don't let me run out of fuel today! I made it back to the fuel dock and put in 55.42 Gals...whew that was a close one! No damage to either cat...bullets dodged!

OK, that brings me back to this morning...and my radio call about the White Whale...discretion being the better part of valor, I went the other way around...I stripped 200 yards of trail of enough snow to bridge the creek/lake/hole complex.

A little clean snow to cover Tuesday's muddy tracks, and one final lap around the whole trail and I called it in: Cross country trails OPEN!

Once again I needed the Ray-Bans...and I was out of there early!

Tonight, No Drama...I promise

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Catchin' My Breath

We're enjoying a little break in the Pineapple Express...good thing too. Nothing say Grinch like winter flooding. The classic La Niña split sent most of the moisture south of the Tahoe Sierra, to the Benefit of Mammoth Mountain. Sadly, lower elevation neighborhoods were inundated or caught mud slides.

On my mountain, we've opened most of our groomable trails...just a couple to go. Around Truckee, the Snow Removal crews are catching up. The big blower blew both sides of our street Tuesday, making a little more room for the influx of Holiday Visitors.

The Visitors are here in droves. Tuesday I orbited the Safeway parking lot for nearly ten minutes before giving up and doing my shopping at Save-Mart. I slipped into Safeway Wednesday morning, but the cupboard was bare (not a single bottle of Ginger Beer was left!) Save-Mart also featured the empty hole on the Ginger Beer shelf...

The Reno AFD says the next wave of winter will arrive the afternoon Christmas Day, so there will be a White Christmas.

In the meantime, mild temperatures should help thaw mountain peoples stuff long enough to brace for the next blast of Winter.

I for one am looking forward to another Bluebird Morning Thursday...Ray-Bans ready!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Diggin' It

It seemed like old times last night. I actually only made five pure corduroy passes...one trail...one shift...period.

I wasn't slacking, I was digging. All night I pushed and plowed, making room for ski tips at the bottom terminals, and making top ramps longer and steep enough to propel our guests away from the ramps to ease crowding.

The snowfall had eased enough for chain controls to end, and for resorts to catch up. We ran an extra shift and groomed a bunch in anticipation of decent weather and crowds. Mother Nature played nice and we enjoyed a Bluebird morning (though the overnight cloud cover made the Total Lunar Eclipse an inferred event, rather than a directly enjoyed celestial spectacle)

It's the little things really, that make my job so special. This morning it was putting on my Ray-Bans for the first time in what seems like weeks! The simple joy of needing sunglasses made missing the night's sky show the farthest thing from my heart.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Craterville

I relearned an old lesson this week...there's only so much a man can do...limiting factors like endurance, fortitude, and energy reserves are largely learned or earned skills, but one's gotta play the cards one's dealt.

The latest storm system to slam into the Tahoe Sierra has kicked ass and taken names...take my Friday night experiences for example...

I got all my sleep for the day...I headed out of the DaveCave a half an hour early. There would be some snow removal to be done before I could drive to work. I climbed the stairs to my driveway and was greeted by a four foot tall, five foot wide berm of half frozen, waterlogged snow and ice blocking the driveway...all 22ft of it...the berm was under the front end of my pickup, and the backside of the Landlord's wife's Subaru wagon.

Sans earplugs, I fired up the Snowblower and blew away the berm from the front of my truck and the back of the Subey. I fought my way to work up Interstate 80 and arrived a full 30 minutes late.

No biggy really...the whole swing shift crew was hanging in...my graveyard crew was there...and the fleet was in tatters...which is to say in various degrees of disrepair. I felt l;ike I'd reported for duty in Hiroshima, Japan circa August 7th, 1945!

Welcome to Craterville 
Population: Two sad grooming crews.
My crew of four was asking who could go home...there weren't enough cats to go around...One Bison X lost a wheel (fortunately the wheel went astray right outside the vehicle shop) Another Bison was misfiring, and had an awful exhaust note...and was down on power. One Sherpa winch had a hydraulic leak on it's winch, and my tractor's windshield wipers had given up the ghost after four hours...not good...

The fleet could only field three tractors until the graveyard wrench came to work at 0300. We ran the leaky winch as a free cat, and one guy (my Hero) waited for the mechanic to arrive. I needed to have all hands on deck come morning.

I roared off to work by myself (you can run without front wipers, as long as you control the light)...Our Graveyard Mechanic pulled in a half an hour early, and set about fixing the funny sounding Bison. After 6+ hours, I brought my trusty old BR350 into the shop for the wiper problem.

Fried wiper motor gearbox...remove and replace...I was back on the hill before 0800...it was still dumping...Big Time...

Those wiperless 6+ hours were feeling like 12+ hours now...the snow was pretty wet, making every move more difficult...my creeks were raging torrents again, and my bridge To-Do List went on hold for another day. At least I had all hands on deck fore the final push to opening!

I wrapped my shift in Hell after 11:30...I limped home and collapsed into dreamland...just in time to wake up and do it all over again...that's another story that I'd rather not tell. I've got a whole one night off, and I'm going to savor it now!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cozy Time

The big storm arrived early last night. Dry snow flurries began around 0100. I viewed the radar images on my iPod around 0300, radioed to the crew that "it looks like another hour, hour and a half in this wave" and marveled that CalTrans had put up chain controls at all.

The hour and a half later came, and Mother Nature turned it up. With plenty of horses on the team, we did some extra trails. Off the ski hill just in time to open, I set about building the bridges on the cross country trails. In spite of the fact that the mercury hadn't been above freezing for two and a half days, the creeks were still running high.

Using the favored dry snow, I pushed in the creeks without actually building any dams...essentially, I narrowed the creeks so the coming snowfall could build natural bridges for us. I bridged several of the smaller watercourses, but when I was plowing the biggest creek, I noticed a "rock" in the snow that looked suspiciously like a wheel. I back bladed it up, and yes it was a snowcat wheel and tire. I jumped out and looked, yes it was mine.

The hub was intact, so I'd lost all the lug nuts. The darn thing was heavy! I wrestled it onto the tracks, and into the passenger side of the cab, then gingerly limped my ol' girl home to the shop.

I took the "low and slow" route home, and I called for an escort for the 400 yards of the active hill that I needed to traverse. I made it back to the shop without incident.

I got back to the DaveCave before noon and fired up the snowblower . I blew the five inches of earlybird snow in time to catch the Noon News weathercasts. One day in, and CBS13's weathergal said she was "already tired of talking about the weather"!

I nodded off before KCRA3's weather segment, and woke up after 7PM.

Reno's NWS forecasters have been updating their AFD all day. Looks like 6-8 inches on my front porch...little wind so far...hey, COMCAST SportsNet is showing Game One of the World Series!

Cozy time until the alarm goes off at 10PM.

More good times!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Dialed

Good coyote! Watching Boreal's groomers
Funny, my sleep schedule this season is shaping up as a two part affair...fall asleep during the Noon News, wake up for the 5PM News, nap from 8-10PM...so far it's workin' OK

So between sleep shifts I check the web for weather intel...I read the AFD's, scan the PWS's, watch the weatherman's standup on the TV News...Winter Storm Warnings have been issued for Noon Friday through 4PM Sunday! Today I even received an email newsletter on the forecast deluge. This one gave me pause. It's from The Storm King, Mark McLaughlin our local Tahoe Weather Historian.

Here's the takeaway that might keep me awake:

"Weather watchers like me have been somewhat expecting a potential flood
event this winter, especially in December. The influence of the strong La
Nina event
in the Pacific Ocean trends toward a weather pattern that can tap
a moist subtropical flow known in the West as the “Pineapple Express.”
Virtually all of California’s most destructive floods have occurred during
La Nina-influenced winters, so this approaching potent system should come as
no surprise. Another one is expected next week."

"This winter is off to a strong start; precipitation in October was 253
percent above normal and November dumped all that snow. The saturated soils will be unable to absorb much of the expected rain which increases the flood potential. Interestingly, this winter’s precipitation plot line is closely following the trajectory of 1982-1983, the wettest year on record. During the winter of 1983, nearly 90 inches of precipitation inundated the region,
including 56 feet of snow measured at Donner Pass."

So, maybe we'll be making history this season...O, how well I remember 82-83!

Weather Geeks and History Freaks couldn't do better than subscribing to Mark's Newsletter: Tahoe Nuggets. Mark's always a fascinating read, especially for those of us lucky enough to live in the Tahoe Sierra, with all this history under foot...and at times...falling from the sky.

More good times!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quiet Before the Storms

My local weathersphere is pegging the hyperdrive meter. Anticipation has reached redline status...hearts are palpitating...defibrillation may be called for. Reno's AFD reads like a dime novel today.

A little trip down memory lane may help...just last week, the High Sierra endured a protracted spate of tropical rain storms. Mercifully, my boss asked if I'd like Saturday night off, and I was glad to oblige...four shifts of near non-stop rain were more than enough for one week!

Tuesday evening the rain turned to snow...when I got to work Tuesday night, the snow had moved South, and a few stars were twinkling through the clearing cloud cover. Sadly the clearing came too late to catch the peak of the Geminid Meteor Shower...so I capped a pic from SpaceWeather

Geminid meteor and Aurora Borealis over Sweden's Abisko Natl Park
I enjoyed my shift more than I can say! Cold, dry snow, with Venus blazing overhead...such a welcome turn of conditions!

Meanwhile back at the forecast offices, NWS forecasters are running their suite of models and have been buzzing about the "Next significant weather event" now forecast to enter my wheelhouse Friday.

I woke up Wednesday afternoon in time to view the afternoon news shows, and every weatherdude and dudette were excitedly touting the coming systems. KCRA3's @MarkFinan called for 3-6 feet above 6000ft

Every Sacramento TV News show featured a story on possible flooding with the next storm system and the local hydrological preparations.

I heard similar stories from my Reno radio stations.

Three to six feet...another 3-6 feet...in time for the Christmas Holidays? Awesome!

It's gonna be close, timewise...I need my mountain to "drain" enough so I can build some bridges, i.e. "fill" some creeks, and re-establish the cross-country trails. I committed to Friday, and it looks like we'll have cold temps until the storm system arrives Friday night.

Pretty sure I can cash that check...umm, Mother Nature? A little help?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RoachCats

Last spring I wrote about Alpine Meadows and their snowcat concert stage contraption, the BandWagon.

Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle Travel Section featured a story on Mammoth Mountain getting into the SnowCat Re-purposing sweepstakes...Behold the first "RoachCat"

Food trucks are all the rage these days...gastronomically speaking...Snarky TV Travel Chef Anthony Bourdain has devoted a fair amount of time to the Food Truck Phenomenon in the latest seasons of his Travel Channel Show "No Reservations"

Some of these rolling kitchens look pretty tasty...I'll patronize the SushiCat, and of course the Fresh Dungeness CrabCat, when and if they ever set sail...

Speaking of Sailing...
San Francisco's bid to host the 34th America's Cup Regatta on San Francisco Bay looks to be in big trouble...The City seems to be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I'm not a worry-wart, but I had considered the "shoot yourself in both feet" option for San Francisco's Progressive Pols...the final decision is Friday December 17th...pray for the Cup!

There's been more than enough drama surrounding the City's bid for the Cup this week...I was relieved to see the Board of Supervisors approved the Host City Agreement Resolution Tuesday. Clearly I haven't a clue if the vote will bring the regatta to the Bay...I don't get the whole negotiations deal at this level...still, my fingers are crossed for my dream.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Building Bridges

More fun at the fuel dock Saturday morning! My boss walked up as I was fueling up and asked if I'd take Saturday night off...duh...I'm up for a three day weekend!

With four days of rain and warm temps, there's just not that much to do. He didn't say it, but we find ourselves in Total Conservation Mode until the mercury drops and the skier visits rise.

This season a new set of tasks has been added to our list. We build and maintain cross country trails now...once we've vacated the mountain proper. It's a different sort of grooming to be sure.

This week, on said skinny ski trails, I've been filling in the same four creeks every morning. The thing is, we haven't had the right kind of snow for the application yet...not once since we opened.

We opened on Thanksgiving Eve on 100+ inches of champagne powder...on bare ground...

In a perfect world, those first inches on bare ground would be the much maligned "Sierra Cement"...lousy to ski on, but ideal for spackling granite and dirt...we call it building the Base...

Early season, there's a lot of building to be done...ramps and maze areas are pushed up and groomed, only to be enlarged as the snowpack deepens and the crowds grow. On the hill, creeks are buried...or more accurately, creeks are bridged and trails are reborn. Cat tracks, service roads, snowmobile roads, pedestrian paths...all are constructed with Nature's Miracle Building Material, snow.

There is a "Sweet Spot" in Mother Nature's building material...too dry (like those first 100+ inches of Utah Powder) and the snow won't adhere to itself enough to endure future grooming traffic....too wet, and you're building dams not bridges. Dams and their impoundments have no place on ski hills. You want water skiing? Get a boat not a lift ticket.

Add four days and nights of warm, wet weather and the pack needs conserving and drying out...all the creeks and streams are flowing big time, wetlands are lakes...not a pretty picture...we closed the cross country trails Saturday morning...call it what it is: Surrender...

I'm enjoying my first night off so far...I've got a shot at seeing the beginning of the Geminid Meteor Showers, which peak overnight Mon/Tue December 13/14 at a forecast 120 meteors per hour...Tonight, I'll be lucky to see one every two minutes!

I won't be giving any thought to snow, grooming, or building bridges until Tuesday night!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grumpy Me

Another wet night Thursday...just Jeweler and me squeegeeing the mountain...Where were those "eye problems" when I needed them? I wish I could have napped away a half an hour of last night's soggy Hell...

Warm drizzle for going on three days now...the pack is so saturated now that you can't run full stick unless your cat has the latest fenders to prevent slush from flying over your tiller onto the fresh-made corduroy.

You usually want to run as fast as you can when the snow is this wet, it's the only way to get decent results.

Mercifully, we got finished and off the hill early...I pulled up to the fuel dock and there were my boss and the Big Boss. I spent a couple of minutes gathering up my gear and packing my bag and lunchbox before I stepped out to greet them and fuel up.

The Big Boss spoke: "Truckee Dave, how are you?" "I'm kinda grumpy this morning" I replied..."I've had enough of this wet, warm weather!" "We all have" Big Boss replied...he wasn't in the mood for our usual banter either...Grumpy is contagious on soggy ski hills...

Jeweler and I were outta there before 0930...I went grocery shopping...dungeness crab on sale for $2.99/lb...breakfast of champions...when combined with some San Francisco Sourdough and some California bubbly!

When I woke up, half of the champagne was warmed to room temperature...I made cooking wine...d'oh!

I laid in bed for three hours knowing I wasn't going to get the two more hours of sleep I wanted...

I watched the weather report...another warm night ahead...silver lining? Shouldn't be any more rain...fingers crossed...

10PM Friday and the remote sensors show the temps still holding in the mid 30's...they've been hanging right in that warm neighborhood for three days now...

Unless the cloud cover miraculously vanishes overnight, I'll probably get to bank 30 minutes of those two hours I wanted after all...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, What a Web We Weave...

When we try to fool Mother Nature... Wednesday night...the repercussions of screwing with my sleep cycle are still playing their hand...

I got home Wednesday morning around 11AM...took out the recycling and the garbage...I didn't see noon, and awoke at 5:45PM. Then I couldn't get back to sleep to catch the last three hours...

But wait, it gets even more cruel...the weatherdudes were having fits with the latest pulse of winter weather, and I drove up to work in a drizzle...not good...

So, I get out of my pickup and throw my Grundens over my shoulders just as a gust of wind turns me into an old overweight version of Marilyn Monroe over the subway grate in "The Seven Year Itch" My slicker went straight up, my watch cap blew off, and flew who knows where!

A fierce 30+MPH wind followed me up the 100 yard long shop road, totally soaking the back of my jeans. I couldn't hurry up the shop road, it was encrusted with a miasma of frozen tire tracks, liberally lubricated with spilt oils under a small lake of runoff...perfect slip and fall terrain...

Things didn't improve once I'd made it safely into the Groomer's Ready Room...Swing shift were there...all long faces and deflated egos...rain on a ski hill does that to the best of us...

It was a less than enjoyable on the hill...snowpack saturated...grinding around inside a cloud...blustery winds finding a way to blow the drizzle through my barely open window. I avoided most temptations to put my blade into the goo...we were making very long passes to minimize turn ruts that become "dragon holes" and lots of trouble to fill and forget.

The rain had edited our list a bit...time was on our side...unless the snow level lowered a thousand feet or so...before long, Highway Hypnosis began to set in...my eyelids began getting heavy...

Jeweler and I were working on our lists, each on our own hill. Around 0330, I surrendered. I keyed the mic on my 2-way and called Jeweler: "Jeweler, can you give me a call-back in 30 minutes?" Jeweler replied: "Sure, I'm on my last pass over here, so I'll be coming your way, where are you going to be, so my lights won't wake you?" I set him up, and pointed my cat up a steep spot, reclined my throne as far as it would go, turned down the iPod and closed my eyes.

Jeweler called back in what seemed like an instant...the power nap worked though...my eyes stayed open...we were way ahead of the clock now, so I took one pass all the way to the top of my mountain to see if it was rain all the way to the top...alas it wasn't snowing up top...

Jeweler and I finished up around the same time 0615...usually we're running flat-out 'till 0830-0900...

I called Jeweler: "Let's take some passes to the top of the Western Peak and have a look-see."

We packed-up and began to climb the western peak...there was a little new snow on swing shift's corduroy...not fluff mind you...more like primer on something in need of a paint job. We surprised a big sage grouse sitting on the snowpack at the top...first one I've seen on the snow...we rerolled the easiest way down and headed back to the lower mountain to groom the last trail of the day.

Damn if my eyelids didn't fail me again! I took a break...15min...OK now, we finished up the mountain and hit the outlying road crossings, parking lot ramps and cross country trails. We were back at the Ready Room by 0815 to file our Checkout Sheets and the Grooming Report.

Back in the parking lot, my watch cap was laying in a puddle 20 feet from my pickup...under a Jeep...

Note:
The first thing I teach my new rookies in Grooming 101 is: Part of the job is getting plenty of sleep...without enough sleep, you're disarming yourself of your most important tools...your Short Term Memory...and your eyesight!

I advise the troops that I want them to pull over and get a nap when they're having "eye trouble" better to take 15 minutes than to run into something with a $350K snowcat! We fit the power naps into our 30 min lunch and two 15 min breaks. A good day's sleep makes for a good night's work.

I practiced what I preached Thursday. Bedtime had it's way with me during the Noon News. I awoke at 4:30PM, checked the front porch for precip and went back to bed until 9PM...I'm saved!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grooming 101.8

Damn, I sure mismanaged my first 2-day weekend! Consequently, I paid dearly Wednesday morning. I stayed up all night Monday, my first night off. I succumbed to nature Tuesday and slept five hours, when I should have been up and at 'em.

Aside from great Night Vision, the groomer's most important tool is his Short Term Memory. STM only works well in fully rested brains. Get too little sleep, and the first thing to go is the Short Term Memory.

Tuesday I screwed-up my carefully cultivated sleep cycle...and fortunately Jeweler caught my missed last pass right down the middle of the Easiest Way Down off my mountain's tallest peak.

Efficient groomers save a "last pass" for their way off each mountain...I always say: "If you're grooming corduroy, you're not grooming...save that sliver for your traveling pass, and put new corduroy everywhere you can".

On the hill, "Proper Prior Planning" on the fly, combined with a well rested STM, equals good production. It's elementary...like Bedtime.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back at the Grindstone

Just a quick thought before I surrender to sleep...two days off rocks...My first 2-day "weekend" this season.

AT&T got me the hookup after two tries, two orders and two weeks...I'm good to go now. My WiFi Network is back online and well and truly locked down, so I can do some online reprovisioning...I need some photography gear, photo printer ink, I fancy a Wireless-N Router, and I need a new Rain Slicker.

Once I get back up to speed, I'll resume my Grooming 101 odyssey.

Out doing errands around noon today I was wearing too many clothes...it had to be 70°F in front of the hardware store! The streets were juicy to be sure. It was positively Spring-like at my mountain too.

Reno forecast, Truckee was +15°F above these Tuesday
Reno's NWS says the next system will be warm...if and when it arrives...their confidence in their models is low today.

In other news, the 34th America's Cup Regatta goes before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors today. Drop 'em a note of support.

San Francisco Business Times has the details.

I hope everyone remembered Pearl Harbor Tuesday...Godspeed sailors and GI's, and thank you all from the bottom of my heart! May God bless you and keep you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Vision Thing

 It’s not what you think. It’s not that New Age Business clap trap so popular with mid level hacks scheming for greatness from their cubicles. It’s not the rare photographer’s point of view that enables you to recognize a photo as theirs.

When it comes to Grooming 101, the Vision Thing I speak of is the world of windshields, wipers and mirrors.

I came face to face with the Vision Thing on my first night back at the sticks of my trusty old BR350.

After a long day and a short sleep, I rumbled into the parking lot at My Mountain a little before midnight. I surveyed the fleet parked around the shop, and caught up with my crew.

My Mountain had reported 100+ inches of snowfall since Friday night. My first shift was Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve. Snowmaking temps were in effect, and everyone on the mountain was frantically working to get the resort in opening shape.

Shortly, my machine came roaring up to the fuel dock, manned by a park groomer who was doing double duty as a snowmaker. He apologized for the shape she was in, giving me the bad news that the driver’s side wiper arm was broken…that there was no graveyard mechanic yet, and that their attempted fix only lasted a few wipes.

All was not lost, you can run without wipers in most conditions…until the sun comes up…

But wait there’s more…both mirrors were encrusted with an inch or more of snowmaking rime ice, the electrical connectors were unplugged and their sockets were full of the ice too.

Without the graveyard wrench, the shop and it’s hot water hose were unavailable, and it turns out the ice in the mirror sockets was beyond the half a thermos of hot French Roast remedy. (The electrical connection carries the power to the mirror heater and the actuators that move the mirror)

I soldiered on. Conditions were great considering the early date. The snow was plenty deep, but fly-away dry. The East Wind had built in during the day, and was moving the light fluff up top. This was only a problem when I had to plow away the huge drift atop one of our peaks.

The drift was taller than my cat, and the best place to plow to was a bottomless abyss that I didn’t want to fall into…oh, and I was pushing directly into the 30mph wind!

Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to plow the thing before sunrise. It was a real case of seat of the pants grooming…I used the gut feeling method, and watched the backside of the pile I was pushing for signs of falling.

The seat of the pants method also happens to be the adrenaline method, so I wasn’t missing the sleep I donated to the holiday get-away traffic earlier Wednesday. My trip up the hill was 5:30 long, not the usual 2:50.

Around 0600, I rolled in for fuel and there was the first day mechanic opening the shop. It took twenty minutes for him to replace the broken wiper arm, and it took me five minutes to melt the icebergs off my mirrors and get them plugged back in.

From the comfort of my cat’s brand new driver’s throne the view of Thanksgiving morning through the windshield was spectacular. A Christmas Card view rewarded my perseverance. Five days of snowfall never looked better as the blue sky illuminated my personal Winter Wonderland! I think my office has a view better than the most lavish corner office anywhere.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Still Vibrating

Tuesday's gone...still no broadband...post "Customer Service" vibrations subsided after a good day's sleep.

Thanks to Javier in Texas who assures me that I'll be connected in the DaveCave next Tuesday!

I've got a thing or two to say about the "Vision Thing"

'Till Tuesday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Help! I've been up all night, and I can stop vibrating!

First shift back on the hill was a success!

I'm gonna take a few days off until my broadband is hooked up at the DaveCave Tuesday...I'm not comfortable blogging on a poached WiFi hotspot!

My Wednesday PM/Thursday AM in capsule form...

2:50 drive takes 5:30
I managed 3 hrs of sleep
jumped in my ol' Faithful...new driver's throne...new tiller
Spotlight handle broken
Mirrors caked with man-made snow...heater/actuator connectors unplugged and iced up beyond half a thermos of hot coffee's ability to remedy
Driver's side wiper arm broken
No AM reception on tractor's stereo
11+ hrs behind the sticks...I'm still vibrating
Will listen to the Who's "Maryanne with the shaky hand" when I get up to do it again (the grooming part...I didn't even drive a half mile to the market after work)

Happy Thanksgiving! and...Thanks for you patience.

TruckeeDave

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grooming 101.7

The storm has been entertaining me now for a couple of days. This is fun! I've been burning up the internet looking at the various forecasts, chain control reports, PWS's, AFDs, webcams, and remote data webpages. Plenty of snow has fallen, and snowmaking temperatures are the rule of the day.

Tonight I'll be back in my beloved old BR350 for my first shift of the season.

I guess it's time to revisit Grooming 101...Just a little tune-up on the basics is in order every season.

As I do every year, I'll begin at the beginning.

The Groomers Kit Bag
I don't use a backpack anymore. After years of fighting fogged windows in my cats, I finally broke down and got a Dry Pack. These are used by watersports enthusiasts for dry storage. Dry Bags come in various sizes and shapes from small "stuff sacks" to expedition-sized duffel bags, and so-called Portage Packs favored by voyageurs (touring canoeists) The Dry Pack doesn't wick up any moisture like a plain backpack, where it's then exhausted onto the glass in the groomer's cab.

After a long search, I finally found a day pack sized Dry Pack by Eureka Tents that was affordable. I ordered it online and started pattin' myself on the back for outsmarting that crafty Moisture Monster! The Dry Pack was great, it did the trick and cut way down on my fogging problems...for a while...

As nice as that Dry Pack was, I couldn't stand up to Full Time Grooming Duty...it fell apart in a matter of months. Oh, I kept it mended and in service, but I knew the light at the far end of the tunnel was an approaching train!

Back to the internet...back to the hunt. Lo and behold, I found a Pack Maker that makes Dry Bag style Bicycle Messenger Bags! I ordered the large orange model and waited for UPS to bring my latest Kit Bag.

The Bike Bag has been in service for two seasons now. If it has a downside, it's that I can put too much crap in there. (Think the Little Woman's huge shoulder bag) The single wide strap slings over my rain gear-clad shoulder easily, and aside from the failure of a zipper pull, it's given perfect service for around two hundred shifts. I paid less than $80, and I'm what you'd call a satisfied customer.

The Dry Pack failed because I carried too much crap in it. To wit:

1 Qt Stainless Steel Thermos
Watch Cap
Gloves
Gaiters
Squeegee
Flashlight (now downsized from 3D-Cell MagLite to MiniMagLite)
Headlamp
Tool Kit (jack knife-style Torx, jack knife-style metric Hex wrenches, Gerber Multi-Tool)
iPod Kit in Bento Box
Digital Camera in small Pelican Box
Document Holder-style Clipboard

To be fair to Eureka, I was asking the Dry Pack to perform Combat Duty on Shore Leave Pay.

There's one thing about the BR350 that Bombardier omitted. The Grab Bar across the back window. In the old BR275 days, I'd clip my backpack to the grab bar with a carabiner and and the pack would say put...in reach, and wouldn't fall to the floor when breaking over into a steep pass.

With the unrestrained Dry Pack riding on the passenger seat, it would take the big dump once in a while and the heavy contents did their damage...blowing out the strap anchors and finally tearing the side open.

Until Prinoth adds the grab bar, or I can convince the Vehicle Shop to retrofit a backpack anchor, I've developed a work around. I carry a six foot length of 1/2 inch nylon webbing with a carabiner at each end. I hook a 'biner to the bike bag's shoulder strap, and the other 'biner to my lunch pail's handle and lower both to the floor on the passenger side. I hook the middle of the webbing over the stinger joystick. No more big dumps, and my stuff is always at hand.

Those Big Dumps have cost me dearly since I got into BR350's...the Eureka Dry Pack, and the LCD Screen on my digital camera. I replaced the Dry Pack, I got a Used/New digicam from eBay, and bought a Pelican Box for the camera.

I just made myself a leftover turkey sandwich...when I went into the kitchen, my gaze fell on my thermos and I broke out my kitchen scale, filled the thermos with water and weighed it. 4.54 pounds. That's the battering ram that did in my camera, and blew out the Dry Pack.

Gravity plays for keeps.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Results So Far

From the TV overview this morning, they're really gettin' slammed up in the High Sierra.

I've got KMAX31TV's "Good Morning Sacramento" streaming on the laptop and KCRA3 on the tube. The storm coverage is fun to view from the cozy comfort under the covers...chain controls are all the way down to Colfax on Interstate 80. KCRA3 showed an awesome view of Lake Tahoe complete with the dark gray squall line right down on the lake.

All the webcam views are spectacular...winter wonderlands or near white-outs.

The the Thanksgiving table last evening, the Ancestral Digs were treated to lots of thunder and lightning, and the flickering power to remind us of our true place in this world.

Most of the lightning strikes were five or more miles from the Digs, as were the heaviest cells of rain. The Bay Bridge even sustained a lightning strike that was captured and posted to Facebook by KTVU2's senior meteorologist, Bill Martin.

Forecasters promise two more waves of moisture before all is said and done. Snowfall totals are in the midrange of the forecast...18-24 inches from each wave, not the 24-36 inches at the top end of the forecast range.

Four resorts are open this morning: Boreal, Northstar, Squaw Valley USA, and Mount Rose.

Temps are frigid, so snowmaking can run around the clock for the next few days. Lots of resorts will open in time for Thanksgiving.

In my post-turkey torpor last night, I snuck away from the family long enough to do a quick lap round my weather websites.

The latest 90 Day Outlook Discussion is up at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. This month's discussion says we have a "borderline strong La Niña", and there's a lot of cold water across the Eastern Pacific, and it's over a huge portion of the Tropical Pacific.

At 9:30AM Sunday, CalTrans closed I-80 again for accidents and spin-outs in the High Country.

It always happens during the first big winter storm...human nature being what it is, most folks are clueless when traveling over the High Sierra until they have their eyes opened by chain controls, a scary white-out, or a spin-out. Welcome back to reality! Now, pay attention!

White-out at Boreal means white-out on I-80 too!

I'll be back up there this week...I can't hardly wait!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Time to Break Out My Tools

Chain controls are up, radar images are rich with echoes, and the new storm is making news.

Today the snowfall on the High Sierra is taking it's first break until the next wave. @planetski tweets that it's snowing in the Rockies, the Alps, and the Pyrénées. 'Tis the season...

All the webcam images are great! Fresh snow everywhere and lots of it.

I tuned in to channel 31 KMAX TV to watch the latest, and the storm was the leading story. Power outtages, road conditions, high school football in the mud...what's not to like? Streaming TV on the internet...pretty handy.

So, what about Trans Sierra travelers...what resources are available for them to track road and ski conditions, traffic and weather?

Smartphone devotees have the web and thousands of apps for that.

My search for the perfect Weather Apps continues, and I'm hot on the trail of the perfect Weather Radar App.

I'm a cheap old groomer, so I don't carry a smartphone. I use an iPod Touch as my Mountain has a robust WiFi cloud, so the Touch is plenty for my needs on the hill.

Last season I wasn't that happy with the weather apps I tried...they all seemed to lag too much behind the Real-Time conditions. I want real time weather intel so I can stay a step ahead of conditions. I remember one storm when I was looking at a clear radar picture on my screen, showing the band of snowfall had passed a half an hour ago. I looked up from the screen, and out my windshield was a total whiteout...

I did find a useful tool that night. Twitter, while not a graphic view that pleases the eye, it is Real-Time Intel...if you find and follow the relevant Tweeters.

I follow @i80chains. They post chain control info for most of the Central-Sierra Highways.

The people who run the webcam site Magnifeye.com had a Twitter Account last season that Tweeted the Electronic Signs on Interstate 80. Magnifeye has been making some changes to their webpages during the off season, and I can't find their SignTweets now.

They seem to have moved the SignTweets into their regular feed: @MagnifeyeRoads. Hopefully, they will resurrect their SignTweets (I stopped following them at the end of the season)

After a few nights of following the road and chain tweets, you get an idea of the overall weather in Real-Time. You can follow the storm's progress up and over the Sierra Crest by following the level that chain controls begin. As the storm passes, chain controls rise as the snowfall tapers off and the temps rise, allowing CalTrans to clear the roads.

One caveat however...when the storm's pounding, conditions on the Interstate change fast. All the automated tweets make your Twitter Timeline move fast, and on a small handheld screen, this world can pass you by in a lightsecond. The Electronic SignTweets are very prolific, but they offer a plethora of information.

I use Tweetdeck on my iPod to tame the flood of tweets. I have a different Twitter Accounts for my different interests...Boating/Fishing, Politics, Culture, News, and @CorduroyPlanet. Tweetdeck lets me keep an eye on one account easily, while keeping the other accounts handy.

If you want to keep Twitter down to a dull roar, you can create a Twitter List just for road and ski conditions, and toggle to and from the List to your total timeline.

I explain Twitter to my uninitiated friends this way: Twitter is like Radio, except it's text instead of tunes or talk. Yes, it's 2-Way, but you don't have to broadcast (tweet) you can just listen.

I'm off to prepare the Ancestral Digs Early Thanksgiving Feast now, but I'll keep an eye on the storm...this is fun!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Winter Storm Warnings

OK, Now it's serious. Winter Storm Warnings have finally been issued for the Tahoe Sierra and environs after days of talking about the coming "significant winter storm".

The forecasters are still stymied by the timing, and the latest AFD says the storm will come in as waves, one tonight and the second wave Saturday into Sunday.

The TV Weatherfolks are having a ball with this one, and they're calling for several feet for the resorts.

The streets are damp this morning in the Inland Valley, and the radio's weather and traffic reports from the Big Valley says showers are due later today.

I'll see the aftermath for myself once I strap on my BR350 and grind around my mountain next week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ramping Up

Tic-Tic-Tic-Tic-Tic, the clock is ticking...

The Tahoe Sierra WeatherSphere is all abuzz due to the approaching "Significant Winter Storm"

Here in the Inland Valley, I've been closely following the storm's progress since the Boss called Sunday.

I must say that given what the Real WeatherGuys are saying in their AFD's, I'm not as impressed as the TV Weather Readers...not yet anyway.

Let's remember that there's at least a moderate La Niña holding forth over the Eastern Pacific, and that the models that the NWS Forecasters rely on are a little less than stellar performers during La Niña Events.

Just to sweeten the Uncertainty Pot, remember also that the PDO has entered the negative phase (Cold Side) and that these models were developed during the Positive Phase of the PDO (Warm Side).

Finally, remember that winter storms often split in two as they come ashore when La Niña rules the roost. The split gives the models and the forecasters who run them fits...and the groomers trying to plan for a tidy opening on their respective mountains.

I remember the last La Niña Winter, and all the times a storm would hammer it's way onshore only to miss the Sierra Crest entirely! Meanwhile, the Big Valley and Foothills got pounded while the storm's energy and moisture would track Northeast as the storm center drifted Southward until it petered out leaving my Mountain high and dry once again.

That my friends is the recipe for disappointment and frustration on a ski hill.

So, here we are 48 hours from the storm's first arrival in the Tahoe Sierra, and as yet no Winter Storm Warning has been issued. The forecasters haven't seen what they need to call that yet. Timing and moisture factors are still iffy. The frigid air behind the front will make snowmakers happy all next week...and the resort operators.

There's been a lot of buzz about 2-4 feet of snowfall above 7000ft, but if you look inside the numbers, you'll see that the snow will be very dry. There's gonna be plenty of wind with the front so a couple of feet of champagne powder will be blown into the trees and drifting up alongside trails and terrain.

Two, three, feet of that wind-swept super-dry on bare ground? Don't go there...

The good news is the temps, once the front passes, will make around the clock snowmaking a reality for most of the week.

Thanksgiving skiing looks like a GO from my vantage point. The Ancestral Digs' turkey is thawing and I'll be serving the feast up this Saturday.

I'll enjoy the last leftover turkey sandwich for lunch on my first shift behind the sticks of my faithful old BR350...Whoa Nellie!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Reading

It's Sunday night and I've been toiling all week at the SturgeUrge Compound, so I'm pretty tired. (I did get up in the middle of the night to watch the Formula One Finale, so it's my own damn fault).

Tonight after my shower and dinner, I settled in to do some recreational reading online...

Since I was a teenager, my first choice in fishwrap has always been the San Francisco Chronicle. Today that means SFGate.com

Today's Travel Section is the annual Skiing Special. You'll find articles on "What's New at Tahoe Resorts" "Where to Eat" and "Where to Soak and be Pampered" for Spa aficionados...the paper even covers "Shopping from Gear to Goofy" too.

Just so the won't be accused of being too parochial, they have a story on Vail, CO too.

I always love the Special Travel Sections...it's the Dreamer in me...Mexico, Hawaii, Provence, Japan, Skiing...Mexico, Hawaii, Skiing...done 'em all, still get to Mexico whenever I can.

The Skiing Special has been my favorite for decades now...it's always got the "What's New at the Resorts Primer" Look at Sunday's issue...no new lifts in the Tahoe Sierra this year. Tahoe Resorts did well last season. I'll admit that I've been surprised by both seasons since the Financial Meltdown. Business at My Mountain was good both seasons. What was interesting was the gain in Midweek Skier Visits. A little midweek skiing or snowboarding takes the sting outta unemployment I guess...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wrapping Up

I woke up at 5AM this morning. I wanted to watch LIVE the final Formula One race from Abu Dhabi. Without much serious drama, the young German wunderkind Sebastian Vettle swept the weekend to become the youngest F1 Champion in history.

Vettle, driving the Red Bull Racing's RB6, won the Pole in Qualifying Saturday, and the Grand Prix Sunday in his usual fashion...he ran away from the rest of the field...twice.

A lap one wreck in the middle of the field bunched up the racers behind the Safety Car before Vettle made a crafty restart and jack rabbited away a second time.

The closest championship battle in F1 history ended with three World Champions standing on the podium. All fought to be the 2010 Champ in what many fans say was one of the best Formula One seasons ever.

Many changes are in store for Formula One over the off season. I can't wait for 2011 to kick off in March!

Another warm day is forecast for the Inland Valley, and sadly temps stayed up overnight in the High Sierra.

Snowmaking temps will return, meanwhile I'm going to enjoy another balmy November day!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

OK, Who Forgot to Knock on Wood?

The fans are deployed, power and water lines in place, and the crews are hired and ready.

Cue Mother Nature!

Alas, there's been nothing but the sound of crickets these past two nights.

Way back on Tuesday morning, the Sun shone brightly on a fresh blanket of snow across the Basin's Ski Resorts. Temperatures in the wake of the cold front favored around-the-clock snowmaking, setting hearts in Resort Marketing Departments aflutter.

By Tuesday afternoon, those fluttering hearts became a Reno Newspaper Story announced by a Tweet.

Snowmaking ran overnight Wednesday, then the mercury climbed out of range and the waiting began.

Fast Forward to Friday night/Saturday morning, and temps for snowmaking are still MIA.

My lightning tour of the webcams and PWS's showed the story...close, but no cigar...oh, and toss in some freshening Easterly Winds and it's not a pretty picture.

Reno's AFD spent some time discussing the winds before promising cloud cover and inversions for later in the week. I guess the fluttering has been replaced by the Maalox Moment.

Thanksgiving is twelve days out...Bay Area WeatherCasters are saying the next chance of rain will be next weekend.

At the Ancestral Digs, I've been enjoying my Dungeness Crab Diet while planning the Ancestral Digs Thanksgiving.

After the last of the pumpkin pie and turkey sandwiches are gone...I'll start waiting and anticipating with all the other groomers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

America's Cup: On the Horizon in San Francisco Bay?

After Wednesday's glorious fall day on Tomales Bay, Thursday's aches and pains were muted by an update on the campaign to bring the 34th America's Cup Regatta to San Francisco Bay in 2013. The Marin Independent Journal's Sailing Columnist, Michelle Slade posted the good news to her blog Wednesday an update on The City's quest to host the Cup.

After crab brunch, I set about checking the remote weather world for both the Crabbing Grounds of Tomales Bay, and the High Sierra Ski Resorts.

Snowmaking temps fled the mountains with the sunrise.

On Tomales Bay, the winds took the day off.

Mammoth Mountain joined Boreal as California's second resort to open.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tomales Bay Crab Fest

What a great trip to Tomales Bay!

Like "real" fishermen, SturgeUrge and I awoke well before dawn, made a thermos of French Roast, and set out in search of the Bounty of the Sea. Set out in this case means an hour and forty-five minutes on California freeways and highways with the F/V SturgeUgre in tow.

We arrived at the Miller Park Boat Ramp on Tomales Bay about 7:45AM, and were motoring onto Tomales Bay right at 8AM. The morning was glorious...sunny, with the barest hint of a breeze from the NNW, the hills have all turned green with newly sprouted grass from the Fall rains.

Hog Island from the North
We crossed the Bay just to the South of Hog Island, and set our first pot by 8:15AM. We set our second pot 10 minutes later and set about trying to catch some bait to hunt halibut with.

After a half an hour fighting huge patches of eel grass, and not getting so much as a nibble from the baitfish, we returned to the first pot  for a look-see...

SturgeUrge slid the boat along side the pot's buoy, and I grabbed the buoy line with the gaff. Handing off the gaff, I started pulling the line and directing Urge on where to steer... neutral or in gear...I've got the line in the pulley...the pot's right under us...I've got the pot hanging...here's the pot bridal...Lots of crab!

The first pot had a dozen crab in it, after about a 45 minute soak. Six Dungeness Crabs and six Red Rock Crabs. Three of the dungees went back overboard to grow bigger, and the small reds went back too. Every crab Wednesday was a male...sport crabbers in California waters may retain crab of both sexes, but most sport crabbers release the females...they are the future of the resource after all!

We enjoyed a pretty relaxing morning. We drifted the edges of the eel grass patches between pulls, trying to jig up some live halibut bait, but the drift wasn't right.

We got into a routine of pulling and resetting every half an hour. When we pulled a pot of mostly reds, or not as full of crab as we'd like, we'd leapfrog our other pot and move closer to the ocean. Most of the day we were 3-4 miles from the Pacific Ocean proper. Tomales Bay empties into Outer Bodega Bay, and that opens to the Pacific.

Every time we pulled, we took a minute to estimate and record the time, wind speed and direction. I recorded the data so I could compare our observations to the two nearby PWS's I'd found online.

We gave up on the live bait quest, and drifted for halibut with frozen anchovies...without a bite. The wind began to freshen after 10AM, and really started to blow around noon.

We weren't the only folks out crabbing Wednesday. The Bay was covered with crab pot buoys. Four or five boats were pulling and setting in the same general area. Our pots continued to come up with keeper crabs every pull, but the first pulls of the day were the most bountiful.

Finally we moved both pots well towards Bodega Bay, and made lunch. The winds were now up to 10-15 MPH, making pulling the pots and tending the pot lines a little more interesting than we'd like. The F/V SturgeUrge has tall sides...a lot of windage, and it weather-vanes easily...we ended up pirouetting around the pot line once or twice. We moved the pots into the slight protection of some coves, and still boated crabs.

We decided to leapfrog all the way back South of Hog Island for the last set of the day. We were recording winds now 15-20MPH. I said: "Time to break out the "Victory At Sea" music".

We were glad we were doing our last sets...I had the "Popeye Arms" thing going...my hands were starting to lock in the claw position...and a crab got a good pinch in on us both...we were getting tired and a little careless (when handling the crab anyway)

During the last set, we counted and culled the crabs in the livewell...they were quite frisky...a big Red Crab grabbed Urge's hand in that fleshy spot between his thumb and forfinger, and he almost tore the crab in half ripping it loose. (his crush wound wouldn't start bleeding for more than two minutes) Then a commercial size dungee grabbed my thumb, and I instantly winged him off. He had me at the base of the thumbnail, and I got a small cut on the thumbprint side. This morning, I can see a black blood blister under the nail.

I finished the count and cull. We retained 14 Dungees and six of the biggest Reds. We retrieved the boat without drama, made it ship-shape for towing, and were on the road by 2:45PM Even at the ramp, the wind was merciless...and we were tired of it pushing us around. It was great to get our boots off, our street shoes on, and into the Tow Rig's comfortable cocoon.

Back at the SturgeUrge Compound, SturgeUgre steamed the crabs, and I ran downtown for some fresh salad greens, a loaf of sourdough, and a nice chardonnay. A classic crab feed...there's nothing like it. Personally, I like Dungeness Crab more than Maine Lobster. When cooked the crab count went up by two Reds...we were more tired and beat up out on Tomales Bay than we realized.

While the crab were cooling in the kitchen sink full of ice water, I surfed the net and compared the PWS data to our observations. The Bodega Bay PWS was pretty representative of the conditions we observed five of so miles down the Bay. The Victory At Sea winds were 18MPH

The nearby Point Reyes PWS wasn't recording it's data Wednesday so we'll have to try again next time out.

On the drive home, we decided to forgo the halibut fishing when the days are this short. We'll ad two pots to the arsenal, so we can just set the string of pots, and motor back to the beginning of the string and start pulling and resetting. We'd do the same number of pulls, but we wouldn't be killing time so we' get in, get our crab, and get out earlier.

If the weather holds, we'll test the concept next Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Challenges

The latest cold front has blown through, and my world is drying out a little. A busy week ahead with the promise of some Dungeness Crab fishing on tap.

Sunday morning I heard a traffic bulletin on a Sacramento radio station citing the messy conditions over Interstate 80's Donner Pass. As luck would have it, I was actually on the CHP's Traffic Incident Website wondering when chain controls would go up given the spate of spinouts and rollovers that littered the highway between 8:30AM and 9:30AM. The Kingvale webcam showed rain, but Boreal's images featured snow and lower visibility. Controls went up for a short time around 10AM.

Sunday Morning's 9:43 view
Sunday evening was lots of fun! I stayed in and  followed weather and road conditions like a ball game, leading up to the 11 O'Clock Newscasts. By 11PM the cold front was just a memory in the Valleys, but the TV WeatherFolks were overjoyed to have something wet and white to report. Up top over the High Sierra passes, the webcams showed the lingering snowfall. (I love that the Media is making heavy use of webcams...how long before they start sponsoring HD webcams?) Chain controls were up for the second time Sunday.

Monday Morning Roundup
I woke up well before sunrise Monday (I'm no fan of Daylight Savings Time, sorry 'bout that Ben Franklin) I listened to some radio weather and traffic before I toured my suite of High Sierra websites. I caught weathercasts from Oakland and Sacramento on TV...it's all over but the shouting...the WeatherDudes I watched all teased "a chance of rain Tuesday", but a look at the AFD's says it'll pass us to the North.

@borealmtn showed up in my Twitter feed to announce their Tuesday Reopening. I looked at their webcam and the Groomers are already out pushing the new snow around. Nice to see the snowmaking fan blowing snow.

The cold air behind the front should hang in all week making for favorable snowmaking conditions. When I saw the fan pumping the man-made I looked at the neighboring PWS's, and the temps should warm to shutdown territory before noon.

I see that the storm closed the first mountain pass for the Winter. Hwy89 through Lassen National Park is closed for the season with 27 inches on the road near Lake Helen.

SturgeUrge called this morning, it's still sloppy wet at the SturgeUrge Compound so our construction project will be on the back burner for a day or two...I reminded Urge that Dungeness Crabs don't care if it's wet out...we're gonna try to get out to Tomales Bay Wednesday...weather permitting.

OK, Crab Fishing is ON for Wednesday! We're gonna have to get up at the crack of night to get over to Tomales Bay in time to hit the optimal tidal currents for success. I picked up two pounds of squid bait and moved my crab pots over to the Compound...we'll do some more work Tuesday afternoon before we prep and load up the boat.

I spent some time prospecting online for some relevant PWS's for Tomales Bay...I ended up resigning myself to the fact that the sparse population up there is going to make for some big-time extrapolation for real-time weather data. No matter, I'll record my observations each time we set a pot, and compare my observations to the two nearest remote stations...nothing too fancy at this juncture. Estimated windspeed, direction and time are all I'll need.

Buoyed by my PWS Tomales research, I surfed back up to Boreal and Donner Summit. Things are looking up and they'll be looking good Tuesday when they reopen at noon.

Boreal's fans are pumping the man-made big time! A look at Sugar Bowl's webcam shows they have their fans blowing snow too.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Raining All Over the World

Saturday morning I watched Formula One Qualifying LIVE from Sao Paulo Brazil. It was raining at the beginning of the first Session, leaving the track to develop a Dry Line as Qualifying continued and the speeds rose and rose. Exciting stuff with only one race next weekend to decide the Driver's World Championship. None of the contenders grabbed the Pole Position...that went to a first time Pole Sitter, Nico Hulkenberg in the Williams FW32

Rain is coming to visit the Inland Valley sometime after we turn back the clocks an hour, and turn in Saturday night.

Thunder showers developed south of Interstate 80 Saturday afternoon before the main system comes into the High Sierra Sunday. The system is warm and wet. Most of the forecast 1.5 inches of possible precipitation will fall as rain below 7000 ft. Most of the moisture is out ahead of the front. When the front passes the cold dry air will lower the freezing level a bunch, but there won't be much snowfall.

The good news is the temps will stay below seasonal norms throughout the rest of the week...probably cool enough for a few hours of snowmaking overnight too.

Sunday 10:00AM Update
It's raining across the Inland Valley, and up to Kingvale on I-80. Boreal's webcam shows the wet snow is sticking at 7227ft El.

Still no chain controls on I-80, though down Kirkwood way they are up on Hwy88. It shouldn't be long for I-80 though, a look at the California Highway Patrol's Traffic Incident Website shows several spinouts and a couple of rollovers atop Donner Summit.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil the Formula One race was contested under sunny skies.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Got Nothin'

Another sunset enjoyed from the horizontal...I'm still grinding out some remove and replace carpentry at the SturgUrge Compound in advance of the looming cold front. Perhaps my fatigue is the cause of my contentedness. There's no bee in my bonnet, no fire in my belly, everything is A-OK (if you don't factor in all the troubles NASA has been having getting the Space Shuttle Discovery into orbit this week)

There were lovely high clouds for the setting sun to paint SF Giants' Orange tonight, and once enjoyed, I fired up the internet to check on the latest AFD's, remote sensor data, and to do  a little tele-presence viewing with the High Sierra webcams.

Things looked altogether too nice up there...too warm up there...and the forecasts keep getting less and less optimistic for snow in decent amounts.

Boreal has done yeoman's work getting their mountain open with such tiny windows of snowmaking temps, and the Boreal Groomers have been rock stars keeping the trails together in the warm days and nights since they opened.

Looking at this afternoon's webcam image told me they were in more than a bit of trouble today. Boreal hasn't had any significant snowmaking time since they opened on Friday October 29th for their Traditional Halloween Opening.

After I watched the 5 O'Clock News and weather, a tweet from @borealmtn announced they'd be pulling the plug until Tuesday morning November 9th. You've gotta hand it to the whole Boreal Crew, they worked miracles given the little support they got from Mother Nature! As my friend BajaBabe says: "Mother Nature bats last"

No kidding! Since Boreal opened, there's barely been any time where the overnight thermometer even got into the 30's (and I'm talkin' 39°F, not 30°F!) Afternoon temps flirted with the 70's most of the week, too.

Give Boreal's Snowmakers and Groomers a big hand folks...they've earned it in spades!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Calm Before the Storm?

Thursday was a fine fall afternoon here in the Inland Valley. Sunny and in the 70's, it was a great day. Once I finished up over at the SturgeUrge compound for the day, I hit the Remote Sensors to confirm another nice Fall day on the Sierra Crest.

The webcam views showed a sunny afternoon and the PWS data confirmed the Warm/Wonderful part. Mid-60's afternoon temps seem so luxurious in November. How long can it last?

I searched Reno's AFD for a little insight. They're dealing with that splitting system scenario that's so common during La Niña events, so timing and track are a little iffy. They do say the second wave for Sunday night into Monday will come in warm and cool down to Lake Level snow levels. Alas by the time snow levels drop, the moisture will have past, so there's only going to be a few inches of accumulation.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Rain on My Parade

I watched a parade on TV Wednwsday...all four hours of it!

No I'm not big on parades really, It must be 30+ years since I've seen more than a second of the Rose Parade while clicking around the dial in search of a College Football Bowl Game.

Now that I think of it, I do watch the Fourth of July Parade in Downtown Truckee when the CableTV company puts it up on the Local Channel...Truckee's Independence Day parade is so "Small Town America" and comfortably corn-ball. I love watching the kids havin' such a giddy good time. The highlight show never goes more than an hour.

So, what of the Four Hour Parade?

This was the San Francisco Giants World Series Parade. The four hours of TV coverage was on COMCAST's SportsNet Bay Area, and had the studio hosts babbling about the day and the Giants' history in San Francisco while they introduced each live report from the parade route. The whole affair was like an Orange and Black stream washing down a cobble strewn brook...mellow in comparison to the edge of your seat excitement that was this season for the SF Giants and their fans.

There's lots of stuff to talk about and remember about the team since they arrived in San Francisco back in 1958 full of hope and promise...lots of wistful memories were conjured up Wednesday.

The Giants say more than a million fans lined the parade route and filled the Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall where the stage was set for the Giants and a bevy of dignitaries on hand to fete the team.

Throughout the whole four hours, I saw and heard so many "If only so and so had lived, they'd be so happy that the Giants finally, after all these years, won the "Big One"

Everyone in my family said it this week. "Dad would have loved this"...

Typical of any "Only in San Francisco" event, there were signs and costumes...I read in today's Chronicle their account of the day. One fan was holding his infant son who had a sign that read "I've been waiting SEVEN MONTHS for this" Here's the Chronicle's photo album.

COMCAST SportsNet showed the whole four hour show again Wednesday night...

It was a beautiful  warm Autumn day in the City, and the forecast is for two more days of warming before the next wet system comes to visit.

So, full of happy feelings and warm all over, I surfed the web to see how warm the mountains were. It was  nearly 70°F Wednesday afternoon. Reno's AFD  was still touting possible record high temps before the weekend arrival of the next system, and Boreal walked back their program to one chair, night skiing only.Boreal's website announced that their "Operation schedules will be updated day-by-day"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Heat Is On

What a "weekend"! No rest for the wicked I always say...I couldn't help myself on my days off...I had to write about the SF Giants and their place in my life.

I managed to get some tech issues wrangled, did a bit of carpentry at the SturgeUrge Compound, and touched bases with most of my far-flung family before sitting down to today's game...Mid-Term Election Returns on the radio!

Talk about Blood Sport! Politics is for keeps! Enough said.

After it was all over but the crying, I turned my attention back to the High Sierra Snowmaking Saga.

Sure, it's only November 3rd, but Boreal is endeavoring to stay open for night skiing Mid-Week this week.

The weekend system is but a memory now. Here in the Inland Valley the temps are climbing to Indian Summer levels. In SoCal, Red Flag Fire Warnings are up for the big Santa Ana Winds.

Up on the Sierra Crest, a look at the PWS data shows all stations still in the Mid-40's at 12:47AM. Worse yet, the Highs were in the Mid-60's Tuesday. Reno's AFD calls for warm temps until the next system comes calling Sunday and Monday with Lake Level Snow possible.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fathers and Sons

The Baseball Connection
Forgive me regular readers, I have to gush because my San Francisco Giants just won the World Series!

This has been some ride for a kid who was raised by a Native San Fransiscan to love the SF Giants and hate the LA Dodgers.

I was only six years old when the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers moved into California. Somebody in MLB had a bit of the PT Barnum in them back then, because they moved an established cross-town rivalry West and transplanted it into the fertile ground of the NorCal vs SoCal rivalry...genius.

I have vague memories of going with my Dad to see the San Francisco Giants at their temporary home, Seals Stadium before construction of Candlestick Park was complete. The stadium was the home of the Minor League San Francisco Seals, a Pacific Coast League team that was home to the DiMaggio Brothers.

The Seals celebrated their inaugural year in Seals Stadium by winning the PCL pennant in 1931. The following year, Seals outfielder Vince DiMaggio arranged a tryout for his younger brother Joe. In 1933, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 61 straight games with the Seals, a harbinger of his 56-game hitting streak for the New York Yankees in 1941...Pop was a big fan of the Seals' Vince DiMaggio...Joltin' Joe DiMaggio? Not so much...

When Candlestick Park was finished, my Dad's Office bought Season Tickets. They used their seats to woo potential clients, and as perks for employees. I watched a lot of baseball from Section 10 Box 2A Seats 3-6

These were Front Row seats on the Left Field Line just outside of the Visitor's Dugout. (Seat 1 was adjacent to the dugout, and the row of seats behind our seats were reserved for the Visiting Team's wives and girlfriends). Actor Carl Malden had Seats 1&2 during the run of TV's "The Streets of San Francisco". Malden loved baseball, period...he always had a program folded open to the scorecard and he dutifully kept score from batter to batter.

We always bought a program, and my Dad showed me how to mark it up to keep score. I was never any good at keeping score...there was too much baseball happening all over the field and stands for me to pay attention to the scorecard.

As I was nurtured into a loyal SF Giants Fan, I fell in love with baseball...My Dad got me signed up for the local Little League Team, and we went to many Giants games every season. When I was 10 years old, the Giants had a magic season. Loaded with future Hall of Fame players, the Giants battled from the depths of their "June Swoon" to force a playoff series against those hated LA Dodgers for the pennant. They WON! It was amazing!

Next up, my Dad pulled me out of school to go to Game One of the World Series against the New York Yankees...the Whitey Ford, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Clete Boyer Yankees! We lost that game, and finally lost the Series, and I learned a little something about expectations and reality.

I've been waiting since that day for My Giants to win a World Series..as have untold numbers of SF Giants fans. Tonight our prayers have been answered.

Baseball is a 19th Century Game occupying October's Center Stage in the Media-Saturated 21st Century...

All throughout the Post Season, I've been watching and listening to the Giants' games with several of my closest and oldest friends, and sharing every up and down by way of the internet.

My Facebook page has been lighting up like a pinball machine in a 7.9 earthquake. Friends I haven't had a face to face with in 30+ years are sharing every pitch, close call, triumph, and setback.

Tonight, when it looked like the SF Giants would finally be World Series Champs, lots of the guys let their guards down a little...

I was amazed by how many guys talked about their Dads taking them to their first Giants game at Seals Stadium...lot's of remembrances of Dad's and early baseball lessons, baseball games, and baseball love. My Generation, who are closer to 60 than 39 were all little boys when the Giants came to town...formative baseball age, if you will...

Fathers and Sons...it's the Great Unspoken Secret of baseball. I saw it referred to on TV tonight in the Post Game Hoopla on CableTV. Lots of talk about Giants fans waiting 52 years for a SF Giants Championship...about the Giants fans "looking down from above" finally seeing their beloved SF Giants winning it all.

On TV tonight after the game, my childhood idol, the best baseball player of all time, Willy Mays spoke of many of the same joys and fears that all my friends were feeling throughout the Giants' Post Season. Mays is a fan, as much as he's the Greatest to ever play the game.

Baseball is the only Professional Sport that has this level of love at it's core. Baseball is a super highway back to America's Agrarian Past, that pastoral, simple past of our best dreams and hopes, and a handy framework over which generations of Dads have molded their sons into civilized, caring and able men.
My Dad kept me out of school to go to Game One of the 1962 World Series against the New York Yankees...the New York Yankees of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, and Clete Boyer. We lost that game, and finally the World Series setting up the Epic Oddesy

Monday, November 1, 2010

Marinate Until Saturated

OK, I'm marinating in it...San Francisco Giants World Series Baseball.

I'm a Radio Guy. I've loved Radio and radios since I can remember. I'm in love with the spoken word as well as the written word. I blame radio. I had the lucky fortune to be born in the San Francisco Bay Area in what is now known as "The Golden Age of Bay Area Radio"

Born in the early 50's, radio was ubiquitous in my childhood. Oh, TV was there, but TV was more Event Oriented back in those days. TV went off the air at bedtime. There were TV Shows that everyone always watched...your Ed Sullivan Shows, Jackie Gleason Shows...back then TV meant Variety Shows.

Growing up, I didn't know a single family where the television was on 24/7...not one...even big families with a bunch of kids.

My Dad was a radio Guy. A Civil Engineer, Dad was a hands-on guy, not just an idea man. Dad built stuff. He built a boat, a house full of furniture, and all the little nick-nacks that clutter up the furniture. Some of his dining chairs are still in use at the Ancestral Digs 50+ years after he made them.

I was too young to remember the Shop he built the furniture in, but I remember every shop since that one. They all had one thing in common...when you entered the shop and turned on the lights, the Radio came on too.

Back in the day, Dad listened to KSFO. "The World's Greatest Radio Station" was their slogan, and it was not an idle boast. KSFO was a popular music station in those days...Sinatra, Patty Page, Mel Torme, Steve and Edie, Big Band Dance Music, and the occasional Comedian. To me, all that was just filler (though my music library today features all those artists as well as My Generation's tunesmiths)...just filler between the DJ's. KSFO had so many Hosts that went on to the Broadcasting Hall of Fame...Don Sherwood, Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins, Terry McGovern, Ed "The Moose" Syracuse, Carter B Smith and more.

The hosts on KSFO all were storytellers, weaving "Theater of the Mind" with their ongoing shtick, casts of imaginary characters, and running gags on listeners and management. Irreverent good fun most of the time.

To me radio was always about the talk between the music until the Underground FM Revolution began in San Francisco. With the good quality of the FM sound, and the Freeform Programming, music came to the front of the class. I said goodbye to KSFO and hello to KMPX-FM.

The between tunes babble was way different on FM...it was the 60's Counter Culture on the air, but the FM Guys could spin a yarn, and the way many of the creative FM DJ's had of weaving the tunes into their presentation could be electric.

Eventually, business caught up with the new normal, and KMPX became KSAN...things just never seemed the same to me after that. Eventually the 70's happened to Music Radio. Disco, and Programming Services ended the Freeform FM's Heyday...not long after that I discovered Talk Radio.

Don Chamberlain's "California Girls" on KNEW was a "Relationship Talk Show" in the station's parlance...in reality it was the first "Sex Talk" Show. Chamberlain's show only took women callers. It was heady stuff in it's day...you never knew what you'd hear. Over the first summer I listened to Chamberlain's show I found other radio programs to keep my mind on a good simmer. (I was painting houses with a high school buddy in those days, and we found painting mind-numbingly boring)

We listened to lots of Public Radio. KPFA had lots of radio drama in those days...even serials. I fondly remember their multi-day presentation of "Day Of the Triffids" that was SciFi Gold...and really scary!

In time I discovered Owen Spann on KGO, and Talk Radio totally replaced what was left of Music Radio on my playlist. The discovery aspect of music radio was dead...killed by the Programming Services. Album Rock stations rose from the Underground Radio Ashes...playing the same 50 FM Hits...50 times a week...I was done.

Once hooked on Owen Spann, I found Jim Eason, Dr Dean Edell, Bruce Williams, Michael Jackson (The British Chat Host, not the moonwalking singer)...and loved 'em all...

...Which brings me to my point. Even with all that talk radio, there is one flavor of talk radio that TruckeeDave can't abide...

Sports Talk
I can't, and I barely can even try to give it a chance...I find it to be so much static...all Fanboys and retired sports figures hashing and re-hashing wins, losses, and interminable sporting minutia. I don't go there...Period.

So how come I've been listening to Sports Talk all week? San Francisco Giants Baseball...that's why!

The Giants are such a good story this season! Scrappin' their way up to the top of the baseball world from the NL West basement over the final three months of the regular season...it's a feel-good story in an otherwise noisy world. Can't this election be over any sooner than Tuesday? I'm dreading the inevitable post-election litigation in every remotely close race that'll drag this one into December or worse...

OK, I've become a FanBoy...I'll admit it...in many ways I'm the same 10 year old SF Giants fan that I was in 1962...when my Giants lost the World Series to the New York Yankees.

Oh, I'm not going wall-to-wall sports talk...but I am listening to the extended pre- and post-game Giants' Shows...this story of the 2010 Giants is so much fun...the misfits, oddballs, cast-offs and home-grown rookies are just plain Playin' Baseball...fundamental, hustle-up baseball...a different hero every game...even the East Coast-based "Sports Media" haven't told their story...and it's a good story.

Clearly this year's World Series Broadcast is in the hands of TV Guys...not Baseball Guys.

Sadly, the TV Guys aren't telling the Giants' Story...the Giants' Story is simply...the Giants are playing baseball the right way. Sure they have great pitching, but no sluggers...just good defensive execution plus heads-up base running and situational hitting.

When I think about it, the story is just baseball...simply baseball, the Giants are merely the players...this season Baseball, The Game, is the star, and the story.

Just plain Old Fashioned Baseball played in the World Series like every one of the previous 105 World Series...there's plenty to talk about...for baseball lovers.

Postscript
The Giants win Game 4 and take a 3-1 lead in the World Series.

As always in Baseball, some history was on display. 

The Giants' 23 year-old catcher Buster Posey- and 21 year-old pitcher Madison Bumgarner  are the first rookie battery to start a World Series game since Spec Shea and Yogi Berra in Game 1, of the 1947 Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers

As with every Post-Season Giants Game...I turned the TV sound OFF and listened to the play-by-play on the radio. KNBR 680AM, the SF Giants Flagship is home to several future broadcast inductees to the Radio Hall of Fame...and John Miller who's already enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

These guys are a treat to listen to. If you're out of range of KNBR, no problemo! The KNBR Feed is on MLB.com