Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back and Beat

After not making it home for the first time since the DaveCave's inception, I'll just make a quick note before I'm enveloped in sweet sleep's deep embrace...

100MPH winds, and heavy snow did the Devil's Work Friday morning. My crew beat back Mother Nature's Best all night, only to lose one lift after another...first Wind Hold...all the Mountain Top Lifts...then the radio crackled with the closures, one by up (or down if truth be told) the Mid-Level Lifts...wind hold...then closed for the day...Today's lift ticket will be good for another lift ticket any time...

Finally, a 73MPH gust on the Bunny Hill sealed our damage except to our pride...

Discretion being the better part of valor, I jumped at Jeweler's offer to crash at his abode rather than brave the closed highway in the abysmal daylight white out conditions...

Thanks Jeweler for the Cot n' Hot!

I'll tell the whole story it a bonus...try not to think of it as a Makeup Blog...

Good night!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Holy Whiteout Batman!

Settle down, Boy Wonder, it's only Winter's encore...did you flick your BIC? Whatta tired cliché's Hipsters just hold up their Smartphones with the brightest screen they've got.

What a difference a day makes! The forecast got the snow and wind right, but muffed the timing. According to Reno's AFD, it started snowing twelve hours early. It was another good night before the ceiling dropped onto the deck, and the visibility went to pot.

It started innocently enough...gentle flurries...but still beneath the cloud deck, the seeing was excellent. Near Hero Snow reigned again, and though not lightning fast, grooming was fast enough.

Last night's List was back to reasonable, and aside from one equipment glitch, we enjoyed a Cakewalk in the end. My tractor's parking brake wouldn't release. The Prinoth/exBombardier E-Brakes are electric over hydraulic. It turns out the driver's door switch failed...It wouldn't allow the Safety Interlock to release the E-Brake, and the Dome light wouldn't come on when the door opened. My beautiful snowcat, ready to jump over the Moon...but I couldn't get her outta the barn...sigh...fortunately, the park groomers were on top of things, and I could run one of their cats, so I didn't have to run a winch for and hour or two and then get in snowcat #3 for my shift!

Instead, I ran the BisonX. It's a nice tractor, but it's not my fave old BR350...we dispatched the List, and were off the hill at 0815!

SturgeUrge and his girlfriend, the Doña of Aragon, were in town for Ski Week...I called them while I was warming up the pickup. I told them they'd best flee before the roads turned into parking lots. Westbound I-80 was moving at 10MPH when I crossed over it. I advised SturgeUrge and the Dutchess to demure, and go over the Summit on Old HWY 40...much better visibility, much less traffic.

Back at the DaveCave, I put the pickup in the garage, and cooked up some Hot Buttered Rum. I make my own Hot Buttered Rum Batter, from Emeril Legasse's recipe.

That wind is positively Arctic! Outside, the wind is howling, but it's cozy warm in the DaveCave's Inner Sanctum...thanks Emeril!  Bam!

I'm watching the early Trainwreck News on my DVR, and watching the LIVE coverage of the launch of NASA's STS-133 the Space Shuttle Discovery's last mission into space doesn't launch until 1:50PM PST Spaceflight Now is my Go-To Manned Spaceflight Website...all the LIVE Intel you want...thanks Internet Age!

OK, this is gonna be a good eyelids are heavy....sleep beckons...I've set my alarm for T-Minus 5 minutes...Godspeed case I don't get up for launch!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fooled Again?

Last night was funny. The snow surface was good (by which I mean it was near-hero snow). It was grooming out nicely, if a little bit slower than the nights before. There were spots that hid problematic climbing qualities, especially if one overlapped the previous pass too generously with too much down pressure...d'oh!

I was beginning to feel the time crunch, when at 0400 my phone rang. It was Jeweler (working further up the mountain). Jeweler was worried that he was the weeds...I told him I felt it too, ran down my concerns, and said I'd edit the List... we'd be fine by morning.

Part of the problem was perception...Wednesday night's Work Orders were penned by the Mountain Manager. Every groomable run was on the List! (Including two winchcat trails that we do so rarely that the grooming crew had long since settled on leaving them out of our internalized List!) One of these we've groomed once so far this season, the other not yet this season. At shift change, we had all groused about the "unrealistic" List, and agreed that the as yet ungroomed "trail" could go ungroomed forever...that's how little we think of it!

Back on the hill, I keyed the mic on my 2-way and announced that we'd omit a few secondary trails, and come back for them in the morning should time allow, I reminded the crew of the source of the night's list, and told them that I didn't want them hurrying....just steady as you go...the quality of our product has been Top Shelf all season, and now was no time to sully our reputation on a weekday!

We kept grinding it out...we streamlined our circuits, and left out some generous flourishes, and before long our night began to jell. I even pulled up to a good spot and called: "I'm going 10-7 for lunch. I'm up on X Run" It was 0530.

My power nap ended after 20 minutes when the 2-way crackled with my name and number.

Marketing was 10 minutes early with their morning call. This is when I tell them what, if any changes were made to the Work Orders. They use the Grooming Report generated from the updated list for the Daily Trail Map for our guests, and the Grooming Report is also faxed to all the radio and television stations for inclusion in their On Air Ski Reports.

I told them that we got everything on the list except those two winchcat trails we rarely do, and one more big winchcat secondary trail (that was skiing fine). With the rising sun beginning to color the eastern sky, the crew's spirits began to rise. Slowly the free cats joined up into one big pack. Then right at 0700, one winchcat finished his list and joined the 4 machines strong...easily covering a 60 foot swath on every pass. The lower mountain was finished in short order, the second winch operator finished his final project, and we went back up the hill for one final secondary.

Three of us knocked it out in less than a half an hour. The winches tidied up the walking paths, and we were back at the fuel dock well before the lifts began loading.

Another hat, another rabbit...

Back in the Ready Room everyone was upbeat. The Boss came in with a sixer of Newcastle Brown Ale saying: "This is the first six pack of a case that the Big Boss gave you guys to thank you for the great job you did keeping up with the big storm." I asked: "Did we get our 100 inches in 100 hours?" Better everyone chimed: "100 inches in 96 hours!"

The night ended well, we punched out and enjoyed a Newcastle. I read the Reno AFD and the Storm Report from the Ready Room's terminal. Good news and good snow's gonna be a lot colder than that Newcastle, and there won't be any wind to speak of once the snow starts falling Thursday night.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


You'd all hate me if I said I feel like I've been wandering in the desert for the last 30 years, but weirdly that's how I feel this afternoon...

Perhaps it's because I just watched this week's "American Experience" on PBS. The 90 minute documentary, "The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln"  was chilling...America was saved by President Lincoln, and his murder just after the Civil War ended was almost more than the country could bear.

After a six day week, with tons of snowfall, it's no wonder I'm sensitive to external stimuli...

Politics is boiling up across the globe...Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Wisconsin, Ohio...Lord, let me up! Somali pirates kill American cruising sailors, and deadly earthquakes in New Zealand...oh my!

News today from Europe...The Bahrain GP scheduled for March 13th has been "postponed" due to political unrest in the Kingdom...lot's of grousing in the press...

Thanks to Amazon and CowboyStudio, some small diversion came to my PO Box today...some gear to make video easier to produce in my snowcat...some mounting brackets, a shoulder mount, and an LED Video Light...stay tuned...

As a diversion tactic, I managed to install some Old School Groomer's Swag on my Bike Messenger Bag.

The Tucker Sno-Cat Key Fob is most of 30 years old!
SturgeUrge is in the's his Timeshare Week at ClubTahoe over in Incline Village. I'm not sure we'll have an open window of time to get together this will tell...

The Reno AFD says we're in for it starting Thursday...I'm down with that...gotta get the precip whenever we can...I want the local Boat Ramps to still be in the water come October!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guilty Pleasure?

Like something from Meat Loaf's 1977 classic rock tune "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", scanner enthusiasts tend to be seen as less worthy of esteem than your garden variety radio listener tuning the latest Lady Gaga track...I dunno...

I say "Police Scanner" when I really mean "Wide Band Communications Receiver" Everyone knows what a Police Scanner is, when I say "Wide Band Communications Receiver", I always gets bank stares.

I've been a "Radio Guy" since I can remember, but I've only recently added a scanner to my shack. Living in snow country, and going to work all winter at midnight, the immediacy of the scanner is invaluable. Even in the Internet Age, the scanner has the edge if it's timely traffic and road conditions that you seek.

BajaBabe wondered if it was legal to listen to Police is. While I do scan the local CHP and Sheriff's Department frequencies, I don't hear many...

This may be due to many things. Hell, I may have Blocked their channel during a particularly long, boring set of comms when I was actively monitoring someone else's comms. It may be that since Truckee incorporated, most of the local Law Enforcement traffic moved to the Truckee Police, who I've never bothered to add to my scanned freqs. Truth be told, the police freqs don't give me the info I want.

In the winter, I monitor the Town of Truckee snowplows, CalTrans, and the local Fire Departments. I can get an accurate picture of road conditions, and sometimes know before the fact, when a new berm will be plowed into my driveway! If I'm suited up and ready with the snowblower when the plow berms my driveway, the berm blows away much easier than after it sets up.

I also scan the local Ski Resorts, and Search and Rescue. I heard a SAR comm the other evening saying: "We've got all five people, and we're loading them into the snowcat" I couldn't hear the other side of the conversation, so I didn't know where the rescue took place.

When I first started scanning, I listened to the Tow Truck freqs. Again the tip of the spear, these guys were always out in front of breaking road news...after a while though, I had to quit listening to them...they were a bunch of snarky motormouths who never shut up! When those guys cranked it up, it was snarky good fun, but no other comms could get through!

For the past few years, I've only cranked up the scanner during storm periods, and during Monsoon conditions during the summertime.

When the High Sierra is getting lots of lightning, hearing the Fire Calls and the Fire Lookouts calling HQ with lightning and smoke reports is very compelling listening. When there's an active wildfire nearby, that's pretty interesting too...the DaveCave is in a heavily wooded subdivision and it's good to have a little notice if there's a wildfire coming your way!

I use the scanner every September when I head out to the Reno National Championship Air Races. I listen to the Pace Plane Pilot leading the racers onto the race course. He gets them lined up and bunched together tightly, brings them "down the chute" and says: "Gentlemen, you have a race"!

Before I went to bed today, a channel I scan had a stuck mic. After two minutes of straight static, I turned the scanner off. Chain controls are over for now, and the snowfall is done for the next few days, so the scanner will get some rest.

Radio Silence...sounds good!