Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Falling out of the sky!!

I'm not sure if anyone even looks at this anymore. Sorry for not updating this for months. It seems as I've used facebook more the blog gets forgotten. I'll try and update this at least once a month.

For my Birthday John took me skydiving. We had a blast. I took my Contour video camera along for the ride. I hope you enjoy the clip.

Here are stills I pulled out of the video.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Euro Trip 2011 - The Netherlands - Dynamite Soccer and More!

I (this is Danielle writing…) finally arrived to Amsterdam on Sunday morning to greet Jason, John, and Joe. I changed and we headed out into the town. The first thing we did was try to get some herring, Joe‘s favorite Nederland treat, but they were closed. We walked around for a little while and then headed off to the soccer match. Ajax vs. some team in green…sorry I cannot remember their name. (I might have been sleeping though some of it). Ajax dominated most of the time and I woke up startled after someone threw a stick of dynamite on the field. That will teach me to sleep during a game. Sorry, but I had only slept about 3 or 4 hours in 48 hours and was beyond exhausted!!! Anyway, there was a section across the stadium that was extremely rowdy. Imagine that at a soccer match…? They were lighting smoke bombs, chanting, and of course, fighting. Security pretty much had them surrounded. At least it was entertaining to watch. Ajax ended up winning 2-0.

After the game we headed back towards the hotel, grabbed a beer, and then hit the pavement again. Being there for such a short time really makes you want to run a hundred miles and hour through the city so you can see everything, but my body finally gave in and I was asleep by 10pm. Monday morning we went to Anne Frank’s house, did some souvenir shopping, and headed to Purmerend via the bus to spend the next two nights with cousins Evert and Bea. We can’t thank them enough for putting the four of us up at their place. They even let us use the car the next day to drive around and do more sightseeing. They guys took me to a few places they had already been, but thought I might like - Zaanse Schans which is an open-air museum with windmills and a wooden shoe factory and also Westzaan, the town that Joe and his parents lived in before moving to the States. I really enjoyed seeing it.

It is spring in the Nederlands and the flowers are blooming! We went to Keukenhof, a huge flower garden. It was amazing to see all of the colors and different types of flowers. The smells were incredible. Our last stop was Volendam, an old fishing village. Joe wanted us to take a photo in old traditional Dutch clothing. It was pretty hilarious to dress up! Wednesday Jason and I said goodbye and jumped on a train to the airport to head to Berlin. The Nederlands was so enjoyable. I hope we can go back there sometime. We are also looking forward to the next time family can come out and visit us in the States. On to our next adventure…

Friday, April 8, 2011

Euro Trip 2011 - Burges, Belgium

I'm running out of time, so I can't say much about Burges. But it is a really cool city with a ton of sites all within walking distance. And between the Chocolate, Waffles and beer why not come.

Were heading back to Holland tomorrow. Looking forward to exploring the city and seeing Danielle.

Euro Trip 2011 - Paris

This was my second trip to Paris but Dad’s and John’s first. We spent a day and a half and never stopped going. We bought a subway pass and were exploring all corners of the city. We spent most of our time in the main tourist sites. Which are breath taking and keeps you energized with every new site. The first night we walked from the Champs Elysees to the Eiffel Tower. The line to go up wasn’t long so we went all the way top the top. My dad doesn’t like heights so he was a little freaked out. But he was really glad he did it. It was an amazing view of the city. We worked our way back to our hotel but didn’t get back tell after midnight.

Thursday we started at the Arc De Triomphe then strolled the Champs Elysees. I’d already been to the Louver so I split for a few hours while Dad and John check it out. I was told if you spend one minute at each piece of art. It would take you four months to see the whole museum it is huge. I just strolled the streets and had lunch. Once they were done we went to Notre Dame. The line was long so we took a break and had a drink. John and dad ordered a large beer which ended up costing 20 Euro a piece and was the size of a pitcher. We hadn’t ate so by the time they were done they were a little drunk, especially dad. We then went into the Church it was an interesting stop with dad buzzing. To wind down Paris we relaxed on the lawn adjacent to the Eiffel tower. It was entertaining to see the cops chase of the people selling trinkets. It was a game of cat and mouse. The cops would show up and they’d run. Once they were gone they would slowly come back and it would happen every fifteen minutes. There is great people watching. Our final trip of Paris was a boat ride down the Seine river. It was a new perspective of the city I’d never seen. It was a good trip besides the fifty middle school kids on the boat.

Overall we had an amazing time in Paris. I’m sure I’ll be back again sometime soon.

Euro Trip 2011 - Normandy

On Tuesday we spent the day up and down the coast of Normandy, France. This wasn’t in any of our plans. But on my flight I meet a lady that had visited Normandy on her last trip to France and recommended it if we had time. I mentioned this to John knowing he has interest in old war books and movies. He was really excited about it so we changed our plans. We spent the day in a few museums and old war bases. We also went to Utah and Omaha beach were the US troops stormed onto Europe in WWII. It was very interesting and sad especially the cemetery. There were 9000 buried their and a wall of the missing 8000 long. We all had a great experience there and am glad John wanted to go. He planed the day and it turned out great.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Euro Trip - Castles

I don't have much time so I'll keep it short. We hit up a few castles the main one being Burg Eltz. It is set in an amazing area. Unfortunately it was under construction so the pics suck. We did take a tour inside. It was really cool. When we left Eltz. We headed out of Germany and headed to Luxembourg for a quick city tour and to visit the American war cemetery. Luxembourg is an amazing stop. The city is beautiful with lots of history to see. John wanted to visit the American cemetery. He is a war buff and General Patton is buried there. We showed up about 15 minutes after it closed and John was bummed. He saw a worker exiting and sweet talked her into letting us in for a few minutes. She ended up letting us in and gave us a 30 minute private tour. I was truly a amazing experience and continued to make this trip first class. This morning we decided to head to Caen France to visit some war sites of Normandy. We spent most the day driving. But we toured the city of Caen. It is mainly a day tour for visitors of Paris, so it really seemed like there weren't many tourist's in town tonight. Tomorrow were visiting some of the war sites than off to Paris. I'll try to do another post in a few days. Check back.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Euro Trip 2011 - A First Class Trip

Thursday morning I set out for another travel adventure. This time I was going to Europe. The best part is, I was going to spend part of it with my dad Joe and brother John, and the later half with Danielle. I’ve been wanting to go to the Netherlands and see were my dad grew up and meet family. The time has finally come. The trip started off great. I took a 6am flight from Reno to Salt Lake city. I had a short layover then on to Newark. When I boarded the flight to my surprise I was bumped to first class, thanks Delta Medallion. I was happy that at least part of this long day of flying would be in comfort. I had a nice big seat and we were served lunch, snacks and drinks. I also had a great passenger Sandra that has spent a lot of time in Europe and gave me a lot of good tips. After having a great flight I landed in Newark with about a 1:15 layover. I ran to the sky club to get a few snacks, then back to the gate for my next flight to Amsterdam. I was booked in Coach and Silver Medallion members aren’t eligible to be upgraded on international flights. But today It must have been my lucky day, the flight was oversold so they need to bump a few Medallion members up to first class. When they called me to the front desk I couldn’t have been happier. I wanted to jump for joy, but I played it cool. We boarded the flight a minute later. I had a huge lazy boy type seat, there must have been 6ft of room in between each seat. Once we seat down we had slippers, Bose noise canceling headphones, down blankets, pillows, champagne and a lot of other nice goodies. I had the biggest grin on my face. I couldn’t believe I was sitting in first class for the price of coach. Thanks to my friends James and Janet for giving me a few tips on being loyal to an airline. And it has sure paid off. The flight was purely 1st class. The food and service was amazing. I was actually able to get a little sleep. Once I arrived in Amsterdam I had about 1.5hrs until John and Dad got in. With me flying 1st class I was able to get in the KLM club. I had just ate a great breakfast on the plane, so I wasn’t hungry. They had showers, so I decided to freshen up before they arrived. It felt great to wash the filth from sitting on a plane all day. After the shower I was able to use Apple Face Time and video chat with Danielle. It’s an amazing app and it’s free to talk to each other. I love technology. I saw dad and John’s flight land so I went to the gate to meet them. Once they got off they looked beat. They could see I was looking chipper and when I told them I was in first class they didn’t want to talk to me. I felt bad, but great at the same time. Getting through customs was a cinch. Once there bags arrived we exited the airport and our family was waiting for us. My dad’s cousins Evert and Ton were gracious enough top pick us up. When we got out of the airport my dad kissed to ground. We all laughed at him since it was a parking lot. We loaded into Ton’s van then off to Evert’s house in Purmerend. We arrived at Evert and Bea’s, they live in a nice neighborhood with a canal a 100 yards away. They have a cozy house with three floors. They set us up on the top floor. We dropped our bags and relaxed in the living room catching up. They also noticed I was looking chipper and we told them I was in first class. From that time on it’s been a running joke. Through out they day when dad and John looked sleepy and I was wide awake. They would say look at Jason he’s first class. Grandma Irena also informed them that I don’t eat beef. So they said they got 1st class chicken / kip just for me. It’s been a running joke for the last 3 days, I love it. We spent most of the day trying to adjust to the time change and we relaxed at the house. Ton came back over with his wife “Tiny” in Dutch it’s sound like Tien. The day was a lot of eating, drinking and great story telling. A perfect way to get the feel of things. We did manage to take a few walks around the neighborhood to get some fresh air and snap a few pics. In the evening Evert and Bea’s daughter Karin came by She is the same age as me and we really hit it off. She speaks great English and help translate for John and I. She really wants to come to America and we would love to have here. We managed to stay up until 9pm and John and I sleep through the night. Dad was up at 2am and manage to get another hour of sleep. But his body was still a little off. The next morning Bea made a great breakfast and I had some of my favorite treats from when I was a kid. We were picking up our rental car today and Ton and Evert drove us to Hertz back in Amsterdam. I got a great deal through my American Express discount and we rented a Renault Scenic. It is a nice little car, we were lucky it had a built in Tom Tom GPS but the maps only had Netherlands , Belgium and Luxemburg, We would have to go with the map for Germany and France. After we picked up the car we headed out on our own. The first stop was Westzann this is the town were my dad lived and were my Grandparents got married. We stopped at both the houses my dad lived in. One was completely remodeled but the other remained the same. We also went to the futball/soccer club that my grand father played for V.V.V. Westzann. It was great to see the fields it has been redone with artificial turf. The club house even has a bar in it. Next we went to the City Hall where my grandparents were married. It was really cool to see all the places I’ve seen in pictures since I was young. Dad then brought us to a preserved tourist town named Zanzaase Schans. It was really cool. They have a wooden shoe factory that was cool to check out. We even saw a demonstration on making wooden shoes. There is four working windmills on the river. We walked through one that had huge stone rollers to crush flour, salt and other things. It was pretty cool to see all the moving parts. It was a very picturesque stop. We then went to an area of Purmerend were my dad spent a summer with his aunt when he was a teenager. We had a snack at the Snack Shop where he always went to as a kid. It wasn’t the same, the shop was now run by a Vietnam’s family. We still had some fries there. We then went back to Evert and Bea’s house. They were having a BBQ for us and some other family was coming over. You wouldn’t believe the spread. They had a ton of great food and of course the 1st class chicken for me. Oh was in tasty. All the same people were there form yesterday. Bea and Tiny were getting everything ready and Tom manned the grill. It was a nice day, so we enjoyed our dinner outside. We again had a great time talking and drinking into the night. Thanks again to Karin for keeping john and I in the loop. Another cousin of my dad’s came over after dinner. Peter and his wife Monique. It had been about 18 years since my dad had seen Peter and it was the first time we meet. We stayed up late into the night. Bea finally had to kick out her daughter so we would all go to bed. It was a great day. The next day was Sunday, we were heading out on our road trip. Bea again had a great breakfast ready for us and even had us make sandwiches for the road. After we ate we hit the road. We were heading to the Rhineland area or Germany. Getting out of the Netherlands was easy. We had the GPS to guide us to the border. Once we got into Germany it was a different story. We got turned around in the first mile, then ended up at a dead end road. We wasted about 10 minutes driving in circles then we were back on track and heading in the right direction. After a few hours on the Autobahn we got to our destination in St. Goar on the Rhine river. It is a cute little medieval town on the river. We hit up the castle as we came into town. Rheinfels Castle is now only a shell and not functional anymore, But you can imagine it in it’s prime. The castle was built in 1245. It was amazing how old the castle is. It was built over 500 before America became a country. We spent about an hour walking down dark hall ways and steep spiral staircases trying not to fall in a hole. I wish I had my flash light it was pitch black in a lot of the castle. It was amazing to see all the rooms and tunnels. We then went into the town of St. Goar to find a room. We are here during the slow season so a lot of the places were closed. We ended up finding a great place called Hotel an der Fahre. They gave us a huge room overlooking the Rhine for 70 euros with breakfast. We checked into the room and took a short rest before heading out for dinner. We walked the main street and check out all the options. We ended up finding a great place the Siberian Rose. We all ordered traditional German food. Dad and John order some type of schnitzel and I forgot the name of mine but it was a minced pork wrapped in Cabbage with potato’s. It had such a great flavor. We had a tasty waffle with fruit for dessert. Defiantly a meal we will remember. So far the trip has been amazing. I can’t wait to see what else is to come. Check back in a few for more on our Euro Trip 2011.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Europe Bound!

Tomorrow I am Europe bound! My dad, brother, and I will first be landing in Amsterdam and then we are off on road trip around Western Europe. I am excited to be traveling with my dad and brother. I can't remember when the last time we all took a trip together was. My dad, who was born in Holland, will be able to show us not only where he lived before coming to the States, but also things like where my grandfather used to play soccer and where they were married. It will be an intriguing family history lesson. Normally these Spring trips leave Danielle to work at home, but this time the end of the trip coincides with her Spring Break from school. She will join us on the 10th and be able to spend about 8 days. Danielle and I will leave from Amsterdam and hit Berlin and also Prague before heading home. Of course camera and computer will be in hand, so stay tuned for pictures and updates. Let the traveling begin! I hope our rental company gives us an up-to-date model...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Friday Gift

We knew that a pretty potent storm was headed for us last night, but it was still a little uncertain what time it would actually hit us. About 6am I received a call saying we would be on a two hour delay at school, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up a little later, I looked out the window and thought “Hmm…this is going to be an interesting drive.” Actually I was pretty pissed that they didn’t call a snow day. It was dumping outside and visibility was minimal. Our students come from all parts of Reno and driving at this point has become pretty dangerous. I started to get ready so I could head out on the road when the phone rang and explained school would be cancelled. Jason had already made the call to work from home and it was a good thing because the freeway headed to Truckee was closed anyway. So instead of heading to work, we fired up the snowblower!

Just In Time for the Weekend

The week leading up to President’s Day Weekend we went from sunny and 60 to snowy and 30 degrees. My school had two late start days in a row followed by a day off. I ended up with a four day weekend. Not too bad if you ask me. Jason and I woke up right when we got the call and headed for NorthStar. I was literally waist deep. It pounded most of the day and night and when we woke up the sun was out. Time to bust out the shovel!

Laguna Beach

Jason was able to have some fun in the sun before the snow came back to visit. Here are some of the amazing pictures from his trip. Needless to say, I was very jealous even though it was a quick 36 hr trip. I know he calls it work, but come on! :-) Laguna Beach in February never looked so good.

SIA 2011

Denver – the annual snowsports industry show has come and gone. Burton had an interesting display of snowboards from past to present. I am sure Jason was reminiscing of his days with his first snowboard...a Burton Air.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dragon APX Bonnie Belle Cabin!!!

The last three days I was fortune enough to be invited on a backcountry trip to Silveton, CO by Dragon Alliance. Though I’ve been lucky enough to travel for work at to some of the best mountains in the world, this trip was like no other. In the matter of two days I snowboarded off snow cats, snowmobiles, lifts and helicopters.

I flew out of Reno, NV Wednesday morning to Grand Junction, CO. I meet the Dragon crew, - Mike from Transworld Business, five people from other retailers and Gabe Taylor, a Dragon athlete, at the airport. We packed the rental cars to the brim and piled in for a two hour drive to Ouray, CO. I’d never been to Ouray or even heard of it, but it’s a cool little mountain town that happens to be an ice climbing mecca. There is an ice climbing park in town that is built to attract tourists from all over the world, but we were just using the town as a quick stopover. Once we got into town we checked into our hotel then headed straight to dinner. We went to a Mexican restaurant called Buen Tempo, which at first I didn’t think a Mexican joint in the middle of Colorado would be that great, but I ended up being wrong. After dinner a few of use decided to hit up the Ouray Hot Springs. It was a great way to end the night.

In the morning we met for breakfast, all dressed and ready to ride. We were heading to the Bonnie Bella in the Silverton Backcountry for an overnight backcountry excursion. I only had room to pack a few essentials. We drove the last 20 miles up the sketchy Red Mountain Pass. The road is a step mountain pass with hundred foot cliffs off the sides with no guard rails. Once we got into Silverton, we drove straight out to the backcountry access area. The owners of the Bonnie Bella cabin were waiting for us with 4 snowmobiles to shuttle us up the canyon to the amazing cabin, but first we had to sign release waivers and show our beacons, probes, and shovels. The canyon is extremely narrow with 27 avalanche paths, so being quick was essential. We had to double up on the sleds, which I have never done. Each person needs to stand on a side and as the hill changes slope you need to lean from one side to the other to make sure the snowmobile doesn’t roll.

After the scenic 4.5 miles ride, we climbed a ridge and the amazing Bonnie Bella Cabin was finally in site. The cabin sits in complete seclusion from everything. Sitting on the top of Skull Mountain at 12,000 ft., there is amazing terrain in all directions. After arriving, it took about 2 hours to get the crew and all gear to the cabin and setup. I was starting to get impatient because I was one of the first to arrive at the cabin and had all that terrain just staring at me, but since there was about 14 people, it took awhile to get everything ready. The Dragon crew also surprised us with a pair of 2012 Dragon APX goggles. It is a rad frameless goggle.

Finally we were all geared up and were hitting up runs just 40ft off the back of the cabin. The runs were about 2,200 vert ft of step untracked powder. We were all screaming with joy as we ripped turns through the trees. The minute we got down we jumped on the snowmobile for a shuttle back to the top. We called one of the zones “Mario World“. There were perfectly spread out rollers and pillows of snow to fly off. After a handful of runs we moved zones to the front bowls of the cabin. It was just as fun. I felt like a kid in a candy store, I just couldn’t get enough. As fast as I could get down, I was on my way back up. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear. We ended the night with one last pow run in the woods behind the cabin, where the snow cat was waiting for us at the bottom. Once back to the cabin we were all beat from a hard day of riding. We got changed into our lounging gear - many thanks to Dragon for hooking us up with down booties and fleece pants. Everyone hung out and relaxed on the couches, reliving some of the day’s events. Alex Pashley, Dragons Team Manager and the man responsible for setting this fantastic trip, was cooking a tasty dinner of steak, shrimp and veggies. Every piece was devoured. Some fell asleep early, but others were partying hard. The 4 cases of beer were gone by 8pm. The crew was bummed, so Pashley got on his satellite phone and made a call to some friends in town. He got them to agree to meet him at the trail head with a few more cases. So Pashley and Drago jumped on the snowmobiles and raced down the hill to make the ultimate beer run. 45 mins later they were back, saving the party. The music was pumping and beer flowing, so someone had the bright idea of heading out in the dark and shooting a 9mm and 12gauge shotgun. There is a skeet shooter off the deck that they were using. About 20 skeet were thrown up and shoot at, but in the morning light we could see that only one was actually hit. The party settled down about 11pm when the solar batteries died, shutting off the music and lights.

Friday morning we woke up to high winds and snow. You couldn’t see more than 50ft in front of you. We were really bummed because we had nothing but blue skies the day before. Between the bad weather and the hangovers no one was fast to get up and get moving. One by one we all stumbled out of bed. When most of the crew was awake Pashley started cooking up breakfast burritos. As we finished eating, the wind started to die down and the clouds started breaking. This was our big break. Our plans were to get picked up by a helicopter and do a few bigger runs in the valley. Pashley called Silveton to see when the heli could come pick us up. Warren Miller’s crew was in town and had the heli for the morning, so we got pushed until midday. We were all cool with that since we could do a few more runs in Mario World. We had barley touched the surface in that zone and had plenty of fresh lines. Once suited up we were able to get 3 amazing runs. With the snow and wind overnight, our lines were filled back in.

We were all so excited to get on the bird. This was my first trip on a heli. We had to split into 3 groups of 4. We were all anxiously awaiting the chopper. Once the heli landed we quickly loaded and got our seat belts on. Within a minute we were in the air. The heli quickly flew up the mountain we had just boarded down. As we reached the summit we zoomed passed the Bonnie Bella and up the next ridge. It was amazing seeing all the terrain in high speed. We snowboarded on such a small amount of the terrain. The wind was gusting and the chopper bounced from side to side. Within a few minutes the pilot was spotting our landing. As you look down you wouldn’t think we could land on the small ridge, but we did. We had to wait for the last group to arrive before we could head down the hill. The ridge was really windy, so you had to sit on your board or it would fly away. We were just across the mountain from Silverton Ski resort, so the plan was to ride down then head through the valley to a road were a bus would pick us up and bring us to Silverton Mountain. Skyler, the guide, led the way. Once to the bottom, we were picked up by a bus and brought to the base of Silverton Mountain.

For those of you that don’t know of Silverton, it’s an amazing resort for backcountry terrain. Silverton Mountain is a unique mountain experience. There is one chairlift that takes you into a high alpine environment surrounded by amazing lines in every direction. There are loads of bowls, chutes, cliffs and wonderful natural terrain features to be discovered during a visit to Silverton Mountain. It is the highest Ski Area in North America with a peak of 13,487’ and it is also the steepest with no groomers to be found. The mountain is left in it’s natural state with the exception of the avalanche work. With the late start in our day we were only able to get one run at Silverton. Our guide Skyler took us to the top of the lift, then we hiked about 30 minutes up the ridge to 13,000ft. We took a run down a bowl named “Rope a Dope“. It was a nice untracked run with little hits and a natural half pipe. We again rode out to the road and took the bus to the resort. When we got back the lift was closed. There is a yurt, the only lodge, that has a great happy hour. With the trip winding down everyone was happy we had a safe and amazing trip. We had a few drinks in the yurt before heading to town to visit Montanya Rum Distillery. We only spent an hour there but the drinks were strong and the crew was wasted. The designated drivers, me being one of them, drove the crew back to Ouray. We got showered up and went out for our final dinner at the Ouray Brewery. The trip was an absolutely amazing time. I want to thank the Dragon crew for showing us Silverton in style. I’m not sure Silverton will stay so remote forever, so go enjoy it while you can.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday's Sunrise Snowboard Session

Instead of heading out to a resort to rub elbows with the giant crowds, we decided it would be more peaceful to snowshoe and snowboard by ourselves on Mount Rose. We could get some exercise and still throw in some snowboarding while we were at it. Jason, Eric, and I headed out Sunday morning to enjoy a beautiful sunrise over Reno. While it is of course fun to do endless laps at Squaw, there is something exciting about hiking up to the top of a hill and take the quick way down on your board.