Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Not Quite Ski Week

Every year, Nimue's school has a break not just for Presidents' Day, but for the whole week.  Yay ski week!  Typically our agenda goes something like this:
  • Drive up to Downieville to visit Linda.
  • Spend the busy holiday weekend traipsing around on skis in the backcountry where there are no crowds (at least once you get off the snowmobile superhighway on the way in).  Get good and tired.
  • Eat lots of yummy stuff.
  • Head over to Sugarbowl sometime mid-week when it's not crazy busy, and do several days of downhill skiing until the legs doth protest too much.
  • Go home to insane cats.
This year presented a variation.  It's been freakishly dry and warm.  One feared no snow.  Chad found some local snow statistics that that so far, this is the worst snow year since 1971 (which for me, is the worst snow year ever!)  The snow on the ground is very thin, even up at 7000 feet, making the lower-elevation backcountry options around Downieville somewhat limited.

We thought briefly about taking bikes up with us, but decided to be optimistic about skiing, with our hiking boots tucked in as a backup.  

Look:  actual snow!  What you can't see is that it really just barely covers the dirt.

Based on a local report of conditions, we braved the cross-country trails off of Yuba Pass the first day -- but instead of taking our normal gear for yo-yo skiing up and down the hill off the road, we opted for lighter-weight cross-country gear.  A wise choice in theory...except that Chad's lightweight boots date back to the late eighties and have lived a long and useful life.  They've been reglued and repaired in the past, but that doesn't stop aging plastic fatigue.

Within the space of 5 minutes:
  • buckle and supporting plastic ripped off of one boot.
  • back of sole started to come off of other boot; attempted fix with duct tape.
  • front of sole came off of boot; no more duct tape; fixed with athletic tape.  The entire sole now loose, only held on by tape.
  • plastic fractured on boot; another buckle loose.

The poor things were just done, so Chad skiied very gently out.  Fortunately, that meant I could keep up :)

Of course this all happened when we were at the farthest point from the truck.  A fine outing overall, but going out again wasn't that inspiring, so the next day, we attacked Linda's apple tree, which was in desperate need of pruning.  Perhaps it is just my inherent tendency toward tree carnage speaking, but it was a lot of fun.  I don't have a "before" picture, but at least the tree isn't heading for the power lines anymore, and we cleaned off many eye-poking hazards and one big branch that had been partially broken by a bear.

Apple branches = fun!  Chad made a couple of toys, which made Nimue quite happy.  Sadly, these particular activities probably are not recommended for the school garden club's pruned apple branches (even though the kids would like them a lot!)

After that day of relative sloth, we headed out for a hike, climbing the little hill above town to the (defunct) antenna station.  

Views were nice

and the terrain lent itself to getting sidetracked into exploring old flume routes on the way back down.  We poked around the old foundry site for the Oxford Mine

found some funny rocks

and discovered a leaking water fixture, which we were able to report to an old classmate of Chad's who happened to be out working on another town repair project further down the hill.

 More laziness and good food, then eventually we headed over to Tahoe to downhill ski.  As usual, we went to Sugarbowl.  This turned out to be a good choice:  there was plenty of snow on the groomed trails (some of it man-made) to do some fun family skiing, without having enough for me to either lead people astray off trail, or yearn excessively about escaping family responsibilities.

Nim has clearly remembered how to ski, and is mostly careful -- aside from one amazing butt-slide down a black trail.  She was laughing maniacally at the bottom of that one; I had skiied down around the side of her to outflank her movement should she start heading into the trees.  She regained her groove and skiied it the "right" way on the next run.

Unfortunately, later in the day Nimue took what looked like a minor spill on an easy trail and sprained her knee.  She was able to get down to the bottom under her own power, but after having the first aid person assess the joint and declare it sprained, we decided to cut the day short.  The ski patrol person laughed when we responded to her query about why the fall happened with "I don't know -- must have been snow snakes reaching up and grabbing the skis."

Nim was in good spirits despite this, and looks ready to be up and running without crutches tomorrow.  The miracles of ice and ibuprofen work on the small as well as the big peoples.

Lest you wonder, the cats were indeed insane when we got back, as usual.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Visions of Sugar Plum Fairies Dance in Her Head

Nimue reminded me to put this up.

She asked me for an OmNom (the character from Cut the Rope, a cute ipad game she really likes) for Christmas, so I crocheted one for her.  A pattern I liked was not to be found, so I made it up -- not so hard when one is making a slightly demented little monster.  And of course, he had to have a little piece of candy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine from Nimue

Nimue currently likes acrostic poems, as evidenced by the Valentine booklet she made for me and Chad.  I'm almighty; chad is divine.  I'm not sure who came out ahead...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Godzilla vs. Mission Santa Ines

At school, I was assigned a project on building a model of one of the Spanish California missions. Since I was already doing a report on Mission Santa Ines, which is near Santa Barbara, I did the model on it, too. Although it took half our time and made me feel like it would never end, making it was fun, and it turned out great, too!
I think that this was an awesome, totally fun project even though Ma thought it took too much time!


Despite the lack of rain, Chad managed to find mud on his mountain bike ride the other evening and came home speckled.  You don't even want to know what the bike looks like...


It's always a good sign when both kids at a sleepover show up in matching pajamas.  Nimue pointed out that they are all set up for both "Twin Day" and "Pajama Day" at school.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More complicated than it should be

Compulsive tapping at the computer required at 8:00 am this morning.

Every year, Sarah's Mountain View Mom Mafia organizes several local group camping trips. We usually catch a couple of them -- especially the one the last weekend of summer before school starts.  It can be a lot of fun.  The kids more or less form a feral pack and run around in the woods; adults only intervene if they do something extra-foolish like all trooping off into the woods in the dark for an off-trail night-time puma hunt.

Of course, this works best if we all have sites close together, and given that we are near a large urban area, summer weekends at nearby campgrounds are always full.   Online reservations open on the first of the month at 8:00 am, six months ahead of time.  That means that if one wants to go camping in August, one had to do it this morning(!) to be assured of getting the correct spot.

Various members of the group are uber-organized, so the process is highly honed.  Here's how it goes:

1.  Six and a half months ahead of time, someone decides on a campground, usually with a tent-only loop (no noisy RV's!), and sends an email with the proposed loop and dates to the group.

2.  People decide on target sites that they will try to reserve, so that we aren't all directly competing with each other in step 5.

3.  A Google Doc is set up with all nearby sites and who wants what.

4.  Reminders get sent out

5.  We all compulsively log in at 10 minutes to 8, fill in the reservation form, and stare at the computer with glazed eyes until it is exactly 8:00, and click "Reserve Site". (Keep in mind that for those of us in Sunnyvale, this is right when we also need to take kids to school.)

6.  Wait for the overloaded server to respond, with caffeine from morning coffee coursing through veins.  Watch the pretty blue lines blink across the screen, hoping it doesn't mess up...

7.  By 8:10 the spreadsheet is all filled up with everyone's confirmations of sites.  Also filled with gratuitous comments about how annoying Step 6 was.

8.  Closer to the actual weekend, emails again fly to organize one big joint meal, and the same spreadsheet is used to coordinate who brings what.

What happened to the good old days when you could just roll up to the campground and pretty much always get a site?

It's only going to get worse if/when all of the slated park closures due to the woeful state of the California budget start to kick in.

On the bright side, since I took this task, Chad and Nimue got a little extra bonding time this morning, as he had to take her to school.  They had to drive (gasp!) , as she had a large foam core model of Mission Santa Ines that she made to go with her mission report that she didn't want damaged.