Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Grinder

I see a light at the end of the tunnel...I only hope it's not an approaching train!

Things went into the dumper right off the bat last night. We had one machine down when I got to work. Two crew members were MIA...after the phone calls, one was sick and the one who overslept was on his way. That's when machine #2 blows a hydraulic hose. A half hour later I pick up the operator from machine #2 When I call our Graveyard Mechanic to come in early, he says He's trying, but his truck needs a battery charge before he can come in...when it rains it pours...

We soldier on. Making the best of a bad situation isn't the best way to spend a night. It's hard sometimes to enthuse over the 5-6 feet of snow we got this week when you're trying to make the most of tonight.

I woke up tonight looking for solace...sick, twisted freak that I am, I sought said solace at the Reno NWS Website! the AFD to be exact...there is a light at the end of the tunnel! The Siege ends tomorrow! So, we get a break, and I get a weekend off!

I can only hope the the final weekend of NFL Playoff Football will be worth watching! So, I'll kick off my weekend fighting off sleep to watch me some post season football. Home made pizza with a side of football and a nap...Mmm, mmm, good.

I may not have the weather on my side Monday morning...I'm headed down to the Ancestral Digs. I gotta get reunited with a garage-full of my carpentry tools and fishing tackle!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tapout When Tapped Out

What a night it was. We just flat out got beaten. Mother nature had her way with us...plain and simple. Back at the fuel dock, at the end of the shift, there were no shouts of joy, no whoopin' it up, just groans and "expletive-deleted" versions of "let me up, I've had enough" Tough way to end a day.

We're reporting 20"-24" of snowfall for the 24 Hour period, but I found three feet easy on the Bunny Hill. Deep and Dry at the bottom of the mountain, it signaled a long, slow first grinder of the Five Foot Storm hurt.

I found a little salvation on my drive home. Thanks to CalTrans, I actually saw a little pavement on I-80 with my sunglasses on! Just a brief break in the train of systems that's been blowing through this week. On my way home, I wore my goofy smile to the Post Office and Grocery Store.

Props to my Landlord! When I got home, the driveway was totally detailed! Not a cubic inch of snow to deal with. I made breakfast and collapsed into bed before noon. I kept my eyes open long enough to see the beginning of the Noon News, and woke up just after 8PM.

I logged the whole night's sleep, but I feel the fatigue. Just one tough night after a string of good nights, and that Ol' Devil Fatigue worms it's way into your bones. When I feel this intrusion, I know to reach into my bag of tricks and start husbanding my energy so I can be nearer to the top of my game for the duration...I get out of bed early, make dinner early, and get some shoveling done early...without having to hurry or look at my watch...lessen the load a little. It's like making a deposit in the bank. I make a little extra time, so I can linger over the second cup of coffee during shift change.

I have three nights to go this week, then I get a three day weekend...after one night off last week, I'm gonna really need it! I think I can squeeze in a quick trip down to the Ancestral Digs...there's a brief weather window Sunday/Monday so travel won't be a struggle. Another little system for Monday/Tuesday and clear sailing back uphill Wednesday. So, that's my, anyway.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Good Old Fashioned Thrashing

I parked my tractor at 10AM. That's late for this season...I had a vague realization that felt like déjà vu...MuscleHead Memory call it. Last night we enjoyed the tail end of the third of five winter storms that are blasting the High Sierra this week. Thanks to BR350 power, we got lots of corduroy laid down across the Mountain and we had all the mission-critical digging done before sunrise!

That vague, MuscleHead Memory goes way back to when I was barely past Rookie Status. Back in the early 80's we had some similar Storm Sieges...weeks-long periods of hammering blizzards, that dumped copious amounts of snow on the High Sierra people who fought together valiantly to stay ahead of the burgeoning snowfall. This was the when I learned to pace mete out my effort so as not to shortchange the Mountain while saving enough in reserve so I could keep my own life ahead of the game. You learn to keep a lid on your emotions, so your reserves aren't wasted on non-essential pursuits, so those reserves are available when push comes to shove.

Having a whole fleet of modern BR350 grooming machines certainly makes the whole endeavor easier...these cats have more gumption than anything we ran twenty-something years ago... geometrically more!

Modern technology makes the struggle at home that much easier, too. Modern Honda Snowblowers make quick work of blowing the snow outta the driveway...moving tons of snow hourly, where back in the day it was done with a snow shovel. There's no way to conserve your energy when you're shoveling snow after working 12+ hours behind the sticks!

Up to the second information gathering allows much better planning at work and home. A quick scan of the latest radar images lets me decide how early I need to get out the door on worknights...allowing for extra time to blow the driveway, extra time on the road when I have to take the Interstate during Chain Controls instead of the Old Highway which gets closed during big storms by the CHP.

All the tech and planning fall to the wayside once I'm in my cat, going toe to toe with Mother Nature. One the mountain, during the battle it's just parry and thrust, action and reaction...hours become minutes and days grow longer...

The Winter of 83-84 was epic on the Mountain. My shifts averaged 14 hours between January and April! We took refuge in the Yucatan in May. It was funny, we ran into some other groomers down there...decompressing and getting a solar recharge, too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Like a Kid on Christmas

Here it is, Tuesday morning...the tail-end of my One Day Weekend. I stayed up most of the night watching the storms advance across the state via the miracle of webcams and the internet. Certainly this was far more compelling viewing than the two weekends of NFL Playoffs have been!

I woke after my nap Monday in time to plug into the evening news blocks on the local TV stations. My GoTo station is Sacramento's KOVR Channel 13, the CBS Affiliate. KOVR has a huge block of time dedicated to local newscasts spread between their CBS outlet and their WB Channel 31 All told, KOVR covers 04:30 thru 10AM every morning, and they run Early Primetime, so their afternoon block runs from 4PM through 7PM before doing an hour of Local News at 10PM. Thanks KOVR, I can watch two weather forecasts on work nights!

KCRA Channel 3, Sac's NBC Outlet has Mark Finan, Sacramento's Senior Meteorologist and I trust his forecasts more than most other weatherpeople in the market. Finan clearly loves his job, and I suspect he's one of these "Super Achievers" who gets by fine on four hours of sleep! I follow him on Twitter, and he's always updating the weather forecast, observations, models, and even chain controls. I like that I get timely intel when I'm not in the DaveCave, online. Finan is clearly "Value Added"

Back on KOVR, they've really embraced the Social Networking Revolution. Their "Good Day Sacramento" morning news magazine relies heavily on the viewers. They regularly feature their viewers photos, e-mails and now Skype to enrich their content.

This morning the Wind is the Lead Story. Heavy rain and high winds are lashing the Big Valley. Viewers are connecting to the News Studio via Skype and walking outside with their laptops and webcams to provide live remotes of the wind and weather from their neighborhoods. This Interactivity sets GDS apart in the market, and really adds a "Wild Card" of spontaneity to their show.

Monday night, I watched the local's Storm Coverage. It was weird...KOVR aired at least six different upside-down cars during an hour! There was even one that made National News when an Off-Duty Security Guard skidded off a bridge and into a canal. His SUV quickly sank into the 50F water. As he was going under, the Security Guard used his sidearm to shoot out the window to make his escape! Totally un-nerved was the Good Samaritan who was getting ready to jump into the canal to help!

After an hour, I switched over to KCRA...their storm coverage didn't have any upside-down vehicles. They were specializing in video of vehicles stoved into snowbanks and into guardrails! Man, whatta mess! D-Day on the Freeway goes the old song...

Ahh, now the Truckee Schools have called a Snowday. It's like Christmas for the kids...until June when the missed day is tacked on to the end of the School Year, delaying the start of Summer Vacation!

Back on GDS, they're doing a Live Remote from Natomas...the story? A huge pile of tumbleweeds blew in overnight and piled up against a chain-link fence! The reporter is bustin' a gut laughing outloud. Hundreds of tumbleweeds...comedy gold...

I just watched the second Skype Report from a moving vehicle...yikes- careful you don't get upside-down now! They're following up with one of their On-Air Talent Skyping from his vehicle...he's headed out to the Yolo Causeway, where the wind really blasts across Interstate 80...his commentary is how it's almost impossible to keep his car in it's own lane!

There was a little color in the sky at sunrise, before the cloud deck descended on the DaveCave. I'm all jacked up now, too. Tonight I get to go play in a bunch of new snow. I can't wait!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winter Returns

Last night was the last of a long string of "Hero Snow" nights. The first flurries of the 2010 Summit Siege began around 0500. Nothing to write home about, so anemic that it looked like it would take a day to amount to an inch. I motored down into the Mountain's WiFi cloud and looked at the Radar images on the iPod...Oh, it's coming all's taking it's damn sweet time though.

The first big blast should arrive this evening. The Winter Storm Warning goes up at 4PM, and lasts through 4AM Tuesday. The storms are lined up like airliners coming into Chicago's O'Hare Airport. They say another storm every 18-24 hours all next week...with the average 5000ft snow level, they're promising 10 feet at 7000ft by Friday the 22nd!

I'm actually looking forward to a good ol' fashioned's been too long! When Mother Nature gives us her worst, I love the way all the folks pull together, to just get it on. The Mountain Spirit is in full display, and many hands make light work. It's sort of an enlightened "Bunker Mentality" for lack of a better phrase.

Last night, as I was blasting around the Mountain at Full Stick, I looked at all the stuff that will disappear over the next few's a tree that we drove right over...dozens of times a night...that we haven't driven over yet in this Century. Soon, it might even be downhill from the piste to the lodge decks! Bottom lift terminals will live in huge pits, and our guests will gaze down at our big trail map billboards.

I'm keeping this short today...I'm already husbanding my energy. Tonight's my night off, but I'm going to work anyway. I missed all the early season fireworks, and I don't want to be on the sidelines this time!

I have a feeling that getting to work tonight is gonna be a Grade A Bitch...My neighborhood is plugged with Holiday Weekenders...all of 'em parking on the street...which is against the law this time of year...the Town of Truckee clearly isn't enforcing the Parking Regulations...their snowplow crews are gonna be hating life street is going to look like a Bobsled Track once the plows come through! (Unless the Snow Removal Boss calls out the tow trucks first!)

I'm gonna fire up my Police Scanner when I hit the sack this afternoon...first time this can't help but be way better than TV. Never any reruns on the scanner. Go Vikings!