Sunday, February 27, 2005

Murphy's Law / La Loi de Murphy

The Canadian version of Murphy's Law is that whenever you get a packet of food out, you will always look at the French instructions first. Fortunately, "plonger les pates dans 6 tasses d'eau bouillante" is pretty easy to interpet, and instant noodles transcend the bounds of language.

Well, after tonight I am done with janitorial shifts. It will be very nice to get back to normal hours, and get rid of the stress. I may not have mentioned it, but my boss keeps complaining about the quality of my work. Unfortunately, she wasn't usually complaining to me.

Riverside (I think that's the first time I mentioned the name of this gulag) is not a good place to work. Most of the employees are great and the location could not be more confenient. Unfortunately, the owner and his management staff are straight out of a workplace tragi-comedy. It's kind of like working in "The Office" - the corporate culture is a combination of "cover your ass", "the customer is an inconvenience", "play petty power games", and "rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic".

I was talking to one of my co-workers recently and she said "it's sad because there are good people here, but I don't just want to make friends based on hating this place."

Thankfully, I will be eligible for parole soon. The season ends in about six weeks, and Bill Ing lays people off as soon as he can before that. Obviously the parole metaphor isn't 100% right, because prison jobs pay a little bit less than I get here (not much though). Also, people in Fernie like locals who stuck it out at Riverside for a decent length of time because "if you can put up with that place, you'll be a good employee anywhere else". I say locals, because a lot of Fernie businesses still have an us against them mentality when it comes to hiring outsiders.

But anyway. I'm back to working four days a week and when I say days, I mean days, not nights. I think this will ironically mean I snowboard more, since I won't be waking up at 11:30am and knowing I have be at work by 4:00.

In many ways I am looking forward to the end of the season (although some more snow would be nice between now and then). It's not that I don't like snowboarding, it's just that my feet are getting itchy (it's probably a rash picked up from the unsafe usage of cleaning chemicals - another reason to ?love? my job).

One last shift, although since my boss is cutting me from janitorial because I'm not up to standard, it will be difficult not to live up to her expectations by doing a bad job.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

At last, a post

Well, I haven't posted in a week. Partly it's because I have been working a lot recently. But mostly it's because I haven't felt like writing anything. The sudden jump from 0 hours a week to 60 left me quite drained (and work has been lousy recently, but we're not going to talk about that). But what about snowboarding?

Well, I haven't done much - I've been tired, and the hill hasn't been that special. It's funny, the more opportunities I have to go snowboarding, the less important it seems to me. I'm sure that if I was working in Saskatchewan, I'd be riding 9-4 every day and eating lunch on the chairlifts. But I'm not, so I don't have to.

I also don't have to blog every day, which is good, because I haven't been. I'm still alive, still broke (although with nearly 70 hours already in this pay period and four (probably 9 hour) days to go, I might actually have some money this time. Although, that's what I thought last time, and I got laid off, and just managed to keep my head above water.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Nose meet grindstone, grindstone, meet nose.

The snow has returned to the Elk Valley, and the guests have come back to the hotels. This means that I've got my job back. After a couple of half days snowshovelling, my boss got me back for a couple of days of housekeeping, and now I am back to janitorialising. Boy am I back - seven nights a week, in theory at least, I suspect this is a cunning ploy so that they can work me like a dog when they need it, and then cancel shifts at random when they don't, but we shall see.

For now though, it's a good feeling - I've just managed to cover next month's rent (and house expenses). If I'm lucky I'll make enough over the rest of the month to pay for the food I ate during the dry spell, and this month.

This season has been a financial disaster for me. I'm obviously not in this for the money (one discussion with my flatmate Tim will quickly disabuse anyone of the idea that ski-bumming is a path to a life of riches), but it is a little frustrating.

More worrying is that there is only about 6 weeks officially left in the season. On the 12th of April, the lifts go quiet for the last time. Time has flown by.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Random Quotage

"The Wise are guided by their belly rather than their eyes."

It was the random daily quote from Lao Tzu (an ancient Chinese guy who wrote the Tao Te Ching) that I found when I was googling to explain that the Tao of Pooh wasn't anti science).

The explaination sas that this aphorism refers to fulfilling your physical needs
rather than chasing interesting things you can see, but don't need. It's what I've been doing recently, if only because I don't have any money to spand.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

We now return you to your regularly scheduled weather

Fernie is looking more and more like the place I remember from 2001-2. It snowed last night, most of today, and will hopefully keep snowing tonight. There was officially about 10cm of fresh powder this morning, but it felt like more up top.

My first couple of runs were through the usual soft choppy goodness that is a "groomed" run on a powder day (especially when over half the mountain is waiting for a visit from the dynamite fairy to make it safe for us mere mortals).

Eventually, patrol gave the all clear, and opened up Currie bowl. I ended up getting the first line through Currie glades. It was amazing. You just can't help but ride well in powder. Well, unless you're one of the "middle aged American women" who apparantly bring their passes back for a refund because "there is too much snow". I hope this story is apocryphal (which is a fancy word for made up), but I suspect it isn't.

So anyway, I had one of those classic runs that makes everything seem right with the world. For those of you that haven't tried snowboarding through trees (which is pretty much anyone who has only snowboarded in NZ, not to mention my non-boarding audience), it's great. Kinda scary, but great. If you've seen Star Wars (the good movies, not George Lucas' weak cashin prequls), then it's a little like that scene where Luke Skywalker and some stormtroopers are riding jet bikes through the forest. Trees rush by on either side of you and the ground seems distance. You're trying to plan ahead, working out where and when you have to turn, but at the same time, your attention is being dragged back to the present because you have to do things right.

There's even Ewoks - at least I think they are Ewoks, they might just be 12 year olds. Riding in trees is an exercise in overcoming fear. The faster you are going the more it feels like you might hit a tree and break your arm. But really, not only is it easier to get through trees with momentum (turning is physically easier when the board is going fast and you are more accurate), it's also less scary than stopping. When you stop in trees, unless you pick your spot, they all creep together and the truck sized gap you had lined up now seems smaller than your front door.

The rest of the day was pretty good too, but that one run would have made my day.

I also managed to do about 4 hours of snow shovelling after coming back down from the hill. That was hard work, but $30 is $30. Hopefully, the tourists are coming back (as much as it pains me to share the snow, the town, especially me, needs their money).

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Earn Your Turns

Well, yesterday was day three of the new and improved Fernie Alpine Resort. They finally opened the top half of Lizard and Cedar bowls (rumour has it that patrol's dynamite gun broke on Sunday, so they couldn't clear the avalaches on the old side of the mountain). So?

So there was a limited amount of totally fresh powder to be had. I picked up a couple of lines in Cedar bowl from the top of the Bear chair (Fernie trail map for those who need it).

After that though, it was time to earn some turns. The Facelift wasn't running, but the terrain it accesses was open. Time to hike. Roughly 900 steps to the top. It was hard work, especially the first climb where my fingers were burning from the cold.

But getting to the top was worth it. It would have been worth it even without the fresh snow beneath me. Today was one of those blue-bird sunnny days where just being in the mountains is enough to make me happy, and as odd as it sounds, the excellent snowboarding was just the best excuse to be out there.

But anyway, I boarded along the cat track (that's cat as in snow-cat, the large machines used for grooming the mountain, and not some sort of Alpine feline) until I saw a relatively untouched powder field. It had a couple of lines through it, but there was definately room for me.

I popped off the edge of the track, and promptly sank to about mid thigh level. You go deceptively fast in powder, especially when you're just pointing the board downhill. It's a strange feeling, but one that is easy to love. There's no noise, no vibrations, and precious little indication that you're even moving (although you can definately tell the difference, because getting stuck is very frustrating).

I started my first sweeping turn and watched the spray shoot out from under my board. Then I noticed a scattering of small perfectly round bumps in the snow in front of me. Little baby trees covered in powder - excellent. I raced past the baby trees, over another cat track, and through one last small patch of fresh snow before reaching the top of a choppy lift-accessible run.

My powder run was over, and I wanted more.

I climbed the face lift three times before Patrol decided they wanted to blow up some stuff on the mountain peak above us. It was a welcome break, and we managed to squeeze one last run in when they had problems with the gun again and just let us go down.

I'm not sure if the turns felt better because I earned them, although they might have, but once the free turns are mostly gone, addicts like me have to put a little effort in. I'm now trying to work out how many pints of blood I have to sell to afford a day of cat skiing. Heli skiing is totally out of my price range, unless anyone needs a kidney?

Anyway, I was pretty tired after that earned run , and making silly little mistakes on relatively easy terrain, so I called it a day. I went downtown and bumped into a co-worker (or former co-worker, whatever). She had a huge amount of meat that she wasn't going to eat, so I've now got a venison roast and maybe a pound of elk burger meat.

So Chateaux Richard will be having roast at some point this week - it will make a change to have a communal meal that is not fondue or sushi (we eat communally about once a week, in theory. Since Kara is the least lazy of us when it comes to cooking, actually, she is the least lazy when it comes to anything domestic, she usually gets stuck with most of the preparation duties. But I'll have to step up for this one, since it's my fault we have the meat.

Mmmm mmmm venison.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Bowls Sunday

Today is SuperBowl Sunday (it's like the World Cup final of American Football).

More importantly, it was Super BOWLS Sunday. Another day of fresh snow at Fernie Alpine Resort. Not quite as much as yesterday, but there were some beautiful patches.

I only rode for about five hours, but they were five great hours. Riding powder is a lot of work. You have to keep your weight back, so you keep your speed up, but this is more effort than riding normally. It's so rewarding though, especially when you get to lay down a big slashing turn through an untouched patch.

The mountain wasn't quite as consistently nice today - there were more bare patches. But, it was nicer in places where the snow had accumulated.

The mountain is finally looking like it should - snow everywhere, plenty of happy people (perhaps the most common chairlift word today was "finally" - as in "the snow has finally arrived), and a lot of lines (when the snow is soft you can see tracks where people have ridden, when it's hard these are much less obvious).

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

It isn't always a train.

The thunderstorm last night sounded like it could have been the death-knell of the Fernie season. The rain was coming down, and it could have killed the season.

Thankfully, it snowed up at the hill.

Just saying it snowed is a bit of an understatement. It dumped. We got somewhere above 30 centimeters of beautiful fat snowflakes.

The season is saved, and I am happy again.

Today was amazing - there were fresh turns to be had almost all day (you just have to know where, and how, to look).

The fresh line is the holy grail of a powder day. To make a series of turns in snow that nobody has touched before you, well it gives you a tingly feeling deep inside (for a change, the tingly feeling that Fernie is producing isn't frostbite). It's kind of like being an explorer, or a viking (you get to pillage and destroy the lovely fluffy drifts of snow), or something.

I'm not revealing my secret spots, well, because they're secret, sort of. But trust me, today was great.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Do I even like Snowboarding?

Well, after Edouard came home yesterday saying how great the mountain was, I decided it was time to end the two week drought. OK, it was possibly the world's wettest "drought, but anyway. I went up the hill bright and early this morning.

Overheard outside the repair shop - "It's like a ghost town out here" - couldn't have said it better myself.

At some point between shelling out the $45 I owed for my board repair and getting on the first chairlift, this was a depressingly long time because my binding had jammed shut so I couldn't get my foot in to it. Anyway, while on the first chair. I noticed a nagging pain in my wrist.

I decided to ride anyway, and it wasn't too bad. The top quarter of the mountain was fairly nice and the bottom half of the top chair was slushy and chopped up. But I just couldn't get into it - I kept noticing that my wrist ached (and falling onto the side of my wrist didn't help).

I love snowboarding, or at least I thought I did. Why couldn't I actually snowboard a whole day after not doing any for two weeks. Surely I'd be yearning to breathe free?

Well, you'd think so, but today was another one of those days where I couldn't really be bothered. I like snowboarding, really I do. At Whakapapa, I would be riding every chance I had - days off, lunch breaks, staff ski time, night skis, heading-down-to-pick-up-some-milk-from-the-main-cafe times, any time. Today would have been a nice day in Whakapapa, yet I couldn't manage more than four runs before I just went home to watch TV and grimace whenever I moved my wrist sideways.

So yeah, I have an excuse, but that's all it is really, an excuse.

Meh. Maybe I was just spoiled by the good days we have had here.

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