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.

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