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Ch-ch-changes! September 1, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

The summer is typically a slow time for ski blogs and websites. So I generally view it as the perfect time to make changes, before the new season ramps up.

As part of this, I’ve re-located my blog and incorporated it into my newly redesigned website. You can find it here.

For those of you who’ve been subscribers, you’ll have to re-subscribe, but that’s very easy to do. Just submit your information on the new blog page. If you haven’t subscribed and want to (and I hope you do), you can do that, too.

While you’re there, take a look around! I think you’ll like what you see.

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Pix from the Vermont Flood August 30, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
Tags: , , , ,
3 comments

There are zombies in Vermont right now. Correction: we’re all zombies in Vermont right now, walking around dazed, barely able to comprehend the extent of the destruction.

Anyone who thinks (are you listening, George Will?) that the media exaggerated the effects of Irene only needs to set foot in the state (oh wait, you can’t get here from there).  Okay, we’re not New York City-center-of-the universe (no offense, New York). But as they say, what are we, chopped liver?

You  may have heard reports that many people in  the state are essentially cut off from the outside world.  Well, you can practically add me to the list. Why do I say practically? Here’s the deal: there are essentially two ways to the main road from my house. One of them is completely washed away, and the other will probably be gone very shortly, since a stream is literally eating away at the road bed. We spotted a car on the other side of that before it goes, so hopefully we’ll be able to get out when we need to (although we’ll still have to ford the stream). With so much needing to be done throughout the state, it’s anyone’s guess how long this repair will take, so we may be hoofing it back and forth to the car for a good while.

Here’s what I’m talking about. Yesterday morning this was nearly two lanes wide. By the afternoon it was barely one.

We also walked up the road that leads over the mountain by our house, and it’s G-O-N-E. I understand it’s this bad at both ends, so the people in the middle are entirely cut off.

This is only a taste of the destruction around here. It’s truly heartbreaking. And it’s this way everywhere, all over the state.

How will we rebuild? Before winter sets in?  This is a small state with limited resources. My township, for example, has exactly three dump trucks. Yes, three. That’s it.

Perhaps Jim Cantore, of  The Weather Station (and my new crush) said it best:

For anyone who wants to help, you can do one of three things:

  • VTResponse.com is working to connect volunteers ready to help with those that need assistance. If you want to help clean up and rebuild, let the folks behind this site know.
  • Donate to Vermont Red Cross. You can do that here.
  • Text FOODNOW to 52000 to donate $10 to the Vermont Foodbank. The Foodbank will turn each donation into $60 for families in need.

BTW, on a ski related note, the K1 and Snowshed lodges at Killington have collapsed:

Pardon me. I think I’ll have a good cry.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Swept away. August 29, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
Tags: , , , , ,
4 comments

Oh, Irene, you’re a tricky one. When all our attention was diverted to your path south and east of here, you sneaked inland and gave us a whump upside the head. I mean, since when are Vermont and hurricane used in the same sentence — except of course to say, “We never get hurricanes in Vermont”?

Right. Never. Until now.

Okay, Irene was a tropical storm when it got here. But it sure did a number on us. Torrential rains yesterday caused catastrophic flooding. Roads were destroyed, covered bridges swept away, towns and villages flooded.

Here are a few heart breaking images.

This is Ludlow, the town nearest me. The flooding is pretty typical throughout the state:

Here’s Route 7, south of Rutland:

Here’s Route 4, near Killington:

And here’s a remembrance of the covered bridge in Quechee, which was completely destroyed:

My heart is breaking for my beautiful state.

It’s going to be a long time before anyone can travel anywhere around here. Simple questions: how will we get groceries?  What about getting into town to get the mail?

And larger ones: how long will repairs take? What will this cost the state?

A lot needs to be sorted out. Right now the state is assessing the damage, seeing what needs to be done.

Thanks a lot, Irene.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

No news is good news. August 26, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
2 comments

That’s my takeaway lesson from the past week.

For those of you who read my blog, you know I’ve been on a self-imposed news blackout. I did it to save myself. All the recent dismal news had left me feeling somewhat overwhelmed, even depressed — and this from someone who usually feels pretty upbeat. So I resolved to swear off news for an entire week. No Today Show, no MSNBC or CNN, no NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, no on line news sites.

I have to admit it was tough. I’d get in the car and not know exactly where to tune the car radio (mine is permanently fixed at NPR). Instead, I found myself listening to classical music or pop stuff I didn’t even know existed (I’m pretty out of touch). And even though at  times I thought I heard Brian Williams calling me (“Where were you last night, Wendy? I had a story just for you!”), I stayed strong. I’m glad I did.

How’d I make out? I think I feel a bit better. Now that my news fast has ended, I’ve learned that: 1) the world will still go on even if I don’t watch; 2) sometimes it’s better to tune it all out and give yourself a chance to breathe; and 3) moderation is key.

I think I can take these lessons and apply them to ski season, too. As obsessive as I’ve been about the news, I’m just as bad when it comes to ski reports and weather. All winter long I’m  tracking storms and monitoring temps and wind chill. Maybe it’s better to let it go and just enjoy the day, whatever it is.

That said, here are some great sites for online ski news. Just remember, moderation:

OnTheSnow.com

SkiNet.com

FirstTracksOnline.com

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

I’m in withdrawal. August 19, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
4 comments
Brian Williams

Bye bye, Brian. Hope you don't miss me too much.

Admit it; you thought this was about skiing.

Not that I blame you, especially this time of year when all us ski addicts are beside ourselves from lack of time on the snow.

No, this is about another addiction I have. It’s about time I admitted it (Deep breath here).

I’m a bit of a news junkie.

There. I said it. I know, shameful.

I watch and/or listen or read the news multiple times a day. I start my day with the local TV news and The Today Show. Through the morning and afternoon, I check the news websites multiple times (The NY Times, MSNBC, CNN, etc.). And when I’m driving, it’s NPR.  Then at 6:30, it’s the NBC news with Brian Williams, and at 10, New England Cable News. Plus there’s always TIME magazine. I’ve been a subscriber for eons.

Right. It’s a bit much.

I know it’s important to stay informed. But lately the news has been dismal. The debt ceiling debacle, continuing unemployment, plummeting stocks, violence in Syria and London, starvation in Somalia, the begnning of the long, painful campaign for president. and so on. It’s all starting to get to me.

Those who know me know  I’m not a depressive person. In fact, I’ve always considered myself pretty happy, no matter what the news landscape. But lately, I’ve found myself feeling actual despair. And I have to think that constant exposure to bad news has got to be a part of it. So even I know it doesn’t help to be ignorant of what’s going on in the world, I have to do what I can to save myself. For me, that means taking a vacation off to the news — at least for a week. If I still feel lousy, I’ll tack on another. And we’ll take it from there.

This isn’t going to be easy. Like any addict, the news is a habit. This morning, instead of The Today Show, I started out with the Blues Music channel. Not a bad way to get things going. And when I got in my car, I tuned in the classical station instead of NPR. Maybe I’ll use this week to learn to appreciate the finer things.

Something like Facebook is going to be a challenge. Many of my friends post comments about the news, along with links. I’m going to avoid those as best as I can, but you can’t win ’em all.

So even though Brian Williams signs off with, “We sure hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening,” I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. At least for a little while.  Hope he doesn’t miss me too much.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

You’re not a real skier unless you [fill in blank]. August 15, 2011

Posted by Wendy in General skiing.
4 comments

Ever hear anyone say something like the following:

“You’re not a real skier unless you:

……ski x number of days;

……ski off piste exclusively. No groomers;

……ski first chair to last;

…..don’t stop for anything, not even to go to bathroom (you can go in the woods);

……[fill in your own qualifier here].”

I know, I’m a sap. My first impulse is to check to see if I’m doing whatever it is they say I’m supposed to do. Am I a real skier? Oh, please let the answer be yes. But then I give myself a good dope slap. What are you, crazy?

It’s mystifying why anyone would set parameters for what qualifies someone as a real skier. I mean, what is that, exactly?  Isn’t anyone who skis a real skier? What’s the alternative? And anyhow, what’s the difference?

In case anyone’s forgotten, skiing is supposed to be (now get this, folks) fun. And last time I checked, skiing didn’t require any sort of certification or license, like practicing medicine. You can call someone a real doctor, as in someone who’s qualified to write prescriptions and perform surgery. But a real skier? Naaah.

Perhaps they don’t mean “real” at all. Maybe they mean “committed.” But how can anyone measure someone else’s level of commitment? Is someone who lives five minutes away from the mountain and skis everyday more committed than someone who saves for weeks for a lift ticket, gets up at 4AM, and travels five hours each way for a day on the slopes? Maybe someone who skis a lot is geographically lucky. Maybe they just have more time on their hands. Maybe they’re unemployed or retired. Or perhaps they’re incredibly rich.

You can see my point.

All I’m saying is that before we get our thermal underwear in a knot about whether or not someone is a real skier, let’s not lose sight of why we’re out there, folks. And let’s set all this silliness aside. Really.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Falling for the hype. August 9, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Ski Gear.
2 comments
Rear Entry Ski Boots

Rear Entry Ski Boots. Remember these?

You know how it is: each year gear companies come out with stuff that’s going to set our lives on fire, and the ski world goes wild: Buy this or don’t even bother showing up at the mountain. Some of us ignore the whole thing; some of us pony up and are extremely pleased; and some of us buy in and are, well, somewhat less than delighted.

My husband calls it the Magic Feather Syndrome. You know, as in the Disney cartoon film Dumbo. If you remember, Dumbo holds a feather because he thinks it’ll help him fly, even though he’s fully aero-capable. We’re just like Dumbo. All too often, we believe that x or y will make us ski better, even though we’re perfectly fine without it.

That doesn’t mean all new developments are useless, or that it’s all in our heads. A jacket made of the latest technical fabric, for example, can do wonders in keeping us dry and warm. And there are lots of developments — shaped skis, for example — that have made profound differences in the way we ski. That said, there’s a fair amount of overpromising involved with new gear. You can’t help but expect that. After all, companies want us to buy their stuff. But sometimes it’s a little over the top. And that’s where the hype comes in.

So what hyped gear have the Ski Divas found that didn’t deliver as promised? Here’s a sampling from this thread at TheSkiDiva.com:

  • Rear entry boots
  • Soft boots
  • Wool baselayers
  • Heel lifts
  • K2 Lotta Luvs
  • Rossi Bandits
  • Heated gear bags
  • Heated gloves
  • Leki grips

There’s more, too, if you care to look. Though there’s some disagreement over what’s hype and what isn’t. As my daughter says (and I love this), one person’s yuk is another one’s yum. Obviously, the best way to tell if you’ll like something is to try it yourself. At least it’s a way to see what all the hype’s about. And maybe buy into it yourself.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.



Coming Clean, or How’d I Get All This Crap, Anyway? August 2, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Ski Gear.
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1 comment so far

I think one of the reasons God invented summer was so skiers would have a chance to clean out their closets. You know, go through your gear and either get rid of things, sell them, or throw them away.

Right now I feel a little bit like Andy Rooney on Sixty Minutes. ( “Do you ever wonder why there are so many paper clips in your desk drawers?”  I feel like poking a fork in my eye everytime he does that routine.)  But really, I’m amazed at how much crap one person can accumulate.

Trust me, I’m not a hoarder. I got over saving most things years ago. But for some reason, ski stuff is different. I have goggles and gloves/mittens coming out the wazoo.

With goggles, it’s pretty easy to figure out why. I used to work in a ski shop, and sales reps were always handing them out. Plus my own personal search for a goggle that wouldn’t fog or make me look like a dork led me to buy a few, as well.

Goggles

Some of my goggles.

Gloves and mittens are easy to understand, too. My hands get cold very easily. So I’m on a constant quest to find something that’ll keep them as warm and toasty as possible. And after a while, even the best glove or mitten tends to pack down. So I end up buying something new.

Of course, there’s my multiple pairs of fleeces, gaitors, balaclavas, socks, and miscellaneous other items. Plus base layers I’ve tried and failed to fall in love with.

My husband is ruthless about this sort of thing. “If you’re not using it, get rid of it.” But me, I’m not so sure. What if someone visits who needs something? What if I lose x and need to replace it in a hurry?

If I’m lucky enough, I can keep putting the whole thing off so long that eventually, next season will roll around and then maybe, just maybe, today’s potential cast offs will become tomorrow’s must haves.

Think that’ll actually happen? Nah, me neither. But it’s easy to pretend.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related

Island Hopping on the West Coast. July 25, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
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1 comment so far

I recently spent a wonderful day on the West Coast.

No, I wasn’t in California or Washington or Oregon. Or even Florida.

I was right here in Vermont.

Yes, Vermont has a west coast, too. For those of you who are geographically challenged, Lake Champlain forms half of Vermont’s western border. At 490 square miles, Champlain is the largest mountain lake and the sixth largest fresh water lake in the US (thank you, Wikipedia). It’s even reputed to have its own monster: Champy, which seems to look very similar to  the Loch Ness Monster, and is just as much of a mystery.

A photo of the alleged Lake Champlain monster

But I wasn’t there to search for Champy (though that would have been fun). Instead, my husband and I spent the day biking on the islands in the lake.

Yes, Lake Champlain has islands. Good size one like Isle La Motte (16.7 square miles), Grande Isle (35.1 square miles), and North Hero (couldn’t find the area), connected by a series of bridges and causeways.

Isle La Motte is home to Chazy Reef, a 480 million year old fossilized coral reef that’s believed to be the world’s oldest. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and since it’s now above water, you can see it without even getting your feet wet. Worth a stop to see the fossils.

Fossil on Chasy reef

What I love about biking in the Lake Champlain area is that 1) it’s flat, a rarity here in Vermont, so I can bike without slogging up hills, and 2) the scenery is fantastic. You see these incredible  mountains running down to the lake along with stunning water views.

Even though Vermont is a small state, it took me nearly 3 hours to get to our starting point. We usually make this trip just once a summer, but terrible flooding from rain and snow melt caused us to delay our trip. The floods cut Isle La Motte in two, and many of the roads in the area were underwater and covered with debris. So we waited until the water dropped below flood stage. I’m glad we did. We had a perfect day.

Our route took us from North Hero Island to Alberg, to Isle La Motte and back to North Hero. A total of 35 miles.

Some images from the day:

Here’s a view of the causeway leading to Isle La Motte:

It pays to be careful while you’re biking. Here’s some road damage from the flood.

Many roadways are still lined by makeshift rock walls created to hold back the flood water. I’m hoping they’ll be removed.

Here’s one of those triangular purple boxes you see everywhere this summer. If you’re wondering what they are, I looked it up. They’re traps for an invasive species, the emerald ash borer, which can kill the trees.

We met a friend along the way:

And saw lots of  beautiful views:

At the end of the ride, a treat: brownies from the Vermont Brownie Company, a local bakery that makes the most amazing — yes, you guessed it — brownies. Yum! (This image is from their website; the brownie disappeared way too fast to be photographed.) A perfect way to wind up a perfect day.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

It’s a Small Ski Diva World July 19, 2011

Posted by Wendy in General skiing.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

The internet is an amazing place.

Nearly five years ago, I started TheSkiDiva.com as a place for women to talk about skiing. And so far it’s been a tremendous success. Today, the forum has nearly 3,000 registered members from all over the world: the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe. There are amazing conversations about gear, technique, resorts — anything and everything that has to do with skiing.

But the most remarkable thing about it is how it’s become a genuine community — a place  in which friendships are formed. where we share one another’s joys and sorrows, where we help each other out, even if it’s not related to skiing.

Take forum member BraveSkiMom (yes, everyone has a user name to protect anonymity. The world can be a scary place.) BraveSkiMom was looking for some travel tips for a family trip to Ireland. So she posted about it on the forum — with incredible results.

Here’s what she said about it on her blog, BraveSkiMom.com (which, by the way, you really must visit):

Perusing various topics on TheSkiDiva.com forum in November, I ran across this query:

“What are your skiing goals this season?”

I have the same goal each and every season, so I quickly responded, facing the cold, hard truth, that yes, I am old.

“My goal every year since I turned 40 (sigh) is to ski at least as many days as I am old. So far, so good. Can’t wait til I’m 80!”

With that I went on my way, posting a few other items, responding here, responding there, recognizing women with whom I’ve communicated before and enjoying a good 1/2 hour of skiing-related chat.

A couple of hours later, however, I got a reply in my email from 3VSki (Most women choose a forum name, rather than use their own name. Mine is braveskimom — surprise!).  She responded,

“Oh I love the idea of skiing the same number of days as I am in years but that just might mean bankruptcy cause I live in Ireland!! I managed 24 days last season so to match that would be good.”

I thought to myself, “How cool is that? A skier from Ireland responding to me, a skier in Colorado. Not only that, she’s got a great sense of humor!” And I thought that was the end of it…

TheSkiDiva.com Community

Now, if you are not familiar with TheSkiDiva.com, here is the back story. In 2006,author, PR whiz and skier Wendy Clinch started TheSkiDiva.com as a way to connect with other women skiers.

She explains, “I didn’t really know many other women who skied, and I wanted to find people I could talk to about skiing in a way that I could relate to. That wasn’t the case with other ski forums on the web; they’re dominated by men, so the atmosphere is, shall we say, pretty testosterone-charged. It’s pretty hard to get any input on women’s equipment or the things I wanted to talk about.”

Wendy was clearly not the only female skier feeling isolated, because within 4-1/2 years,TheSkiDiva.com has grown to nearly 3,000 members and is the leading site for women who ski. I found TheSkiDiva.com when I was researching the online “competition” for family skiing information. Once I joined the forums I quickly realized that unlike the majority of chat room/forum sites, TheSkiDiva.com really is a community. Within hours I felt like I had friends and you know what, I did.

One Ski Diva from Massachusetts volunteered to be interviewed for a Brave Ski Mom review of Smugglers’ Notch. A couple of other Ski Divas from Colorado and I tried to set up a few ski dates (which fell through because I caught a cold). But we were all game and we’ll ski together some day. And then there is 3VSki.

Skiing Advice, Travel Advice

In June, 3VSki and I actually met and got our families together at her home in Northern Ireland. As my family was planning our summer vacation, we were looking for an off-the-beaten track, best-possible-place in Ireland to rent a cottage for a week. The guidebooks weren’t helping much. Nor was talking to friends and relatives here in the U.S. For one thing, I was being picky. I’d already visited Dublin and traveled in that area, so I knew I wanted to visit the West Coast. Yet everything we read repeated the same beauty spots and made them all sound crazy-busy with tour buses. Just not our style.

On a whim, I contacted 3VSki through TheSkiDiva.com. Immediately she responded enthusiastically, “Look no further than County Donegal on the North West coast for beautiful scenery (though the weather is never guaranteed).”

Divas Unite

And you know what, we didn’t look any further. I knew that she was a skier, I knew that we are almost the same age and I knew that she knew what she was talking about (she’s the native after all). What more did I need to know? Our holiday in County Donegal was perfect! The scenery was drop-dead gorgeous, the beaches were pristine and golden, the village of Dunfanaghy had everything we needed and no crowds, and the company was outstanding.

For that was the real highlight of our visit to Ireland. We had dinner two consecutive nights with 3VSki and her family and spent an afternoon hiking (women) and golfing (men). We connected, our husbands connected and our children, well, they just need a ski holiday together to get over a bit of shyness.

And speaking of ski holidays, we compared notes. While I may not yet have convinced them to visit us and ski at Aspen, they have convinced us to visit them and ski at Les Trois Vallees in France. Hundreds of kilometers of trail, endless piste and chalets with chefs. Yes, you read that right. French Chefs. I’m sold.

Thank you 3VSki for all of your assistance, hospitality and generosity. You have a sincere, open invitation to visit us at any time. Until then, I’ll meet you at TheSkiDiva.com.

Cheers!