Hi, I have moved to Chile! Right now the plan is to find work and stay here for several years before returning to the United States. I have two prominent goals during my stay here:
1) Become fluent in Spanish
2) Learn more about international trade to help prepare me for business school
I have a couple posts I would like to backdate regarding my travels and will try to get these up within the next few days!
1) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Written November 23 and backdated for chronological order)
2) Las Vegas & Hoover Dam, Nevada (Written November 24 and backdated)
3) Portland, OR (Written November 24 and backdated)
4) Monterey (Written November 24 and backdated)
5) 17 Mile Drive (Written November 24 and backdated)
To be honest I had no idea what the 17 Mile Drive actually was, just that it was in my area. We did this on my birthday and it was absolutely beautiful. I am glad we were a full car because I didn’t know that you had to pay to enter the area (like $10 or $15 per car). Here are a few of my favorite photos.
I lived in Monterey the summer of 2010 while attending the Monterey Institute for International Studies to learn Spanish. Based on my conversations with locals, it is fairly typical weather for Monterey to be overcast during the summer (similar to San Francisco). I lived right under that bubble of cloud and could see out in the distance the sunshine peeking through. That being said, it is an absolutely gorgeous area with lots of wildlife. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is supposed to be one of the best in the world, and Carmel and the 17 Mile Drive are right next door. Here are some of my favorite photos of Monterey.
June 6 – 10 (Sunday – Thursday)
I went to Portland, OR to visit one of my best friends from middle school. I’d been meaning to do this for years and I finally got the chance and LOVED it. I think the city is beautiful, clean, and cultural. I called it a combination of Boston and Berkeley in that the people and culture are more from Berkeley but the parks, buildings and public transit seems more Bostonian. I love that the city is very encouraging of outdoor activity; they have an annual naked bike ride. Other perks include go-karting on the waterfront, food-stands for lunch including German and Turkish stands, Rose and Japanese Garden, and skiing one hour away at Mt. Hood.
May 16 – 23 (Sunday – Sunday)
Las Vegas pleasantly surprised me. I had expected to not enjoy it since I don’t gamble, drink much nor stay up late. Pretty domesticated and for someone my age possibly boring. (I like to think I make up for this youthful wild life by traveling and seeing lots of new places). I LOVED VEGAS!
Throughout my travels I generally judge places by their cleanliness and architecture and I loved the architecture in Vegas! I loved the Wynn & Encore, Venetian & Palazzo, Paris, Mirage, etc etc. This post isn’t that long (textwise) since we didn’t do much except walk around (I looking like a gawky tourist with my camera out). While there, we did go visit Hoover Dam which I thought was amazing and inspired me to do tons of educational field trips if/when I ever have kids. We also raced in the indoor go-kart arena, went to see the Joshua Tree U2 Tribute concert, and saw the Cirque du Soleil Zumanity show.
April 18 – 22 (Sunday – Thursday)
We visited Puerto Vallarta post-ski season to catch a little sun. Upon arrival in the airport we immediately got ushered to the side by what we thought were representatives of our hotel helping to make the process over smooth. I asked if the hotel bus was coming and the concierge told us that it would come in 10 minutes. They are so smooth… so of course we stood there and let the guy show us a map of all the things we could do with prices and then slash the prices and show us how we could experience the same for so much less. Needless to say we ended up agreeing to visit a timeshare the next morning for a free breakfast, tour, and the free gifts. At least they gave us a private car to our hotel.
Walking around Puerto Vallarta
We got to the hotel, the Crown Paradise Club, which I had picked because the water slides looked so cool. I was thinking like a German where they have really awesome water slides built for adults. Unfortunately these were strictly for kids and we were stuck in the family resort, right next door to the adult version of the same hotel. Oh well, my bad.
The next morning we took our tour for the time share. I was happy for the first hour but got frustrated after that and eventually they finally let us go with our discounted gifts. We got two tickets for Vallarta Adventures and two tickets for a full day of kayaking by some island for 80 bucks total.
Our Vallarta Adventures consisted of being picked up by a speed boat and taking a 40 minute boat ride south along the coast. Then we got into these old Mercedes trucks and sat in the back shoulder to shoulder along the bumpy, curvy and fast 30 minute trip up to the camp.
Stock Image from Vallarta Adventures
There we had to relinquish all our gear (I chowed down on my sandwich at this point), suit up in harnesses and have a quick debriefing of the trip ahead. We got moved to the pony area where we were put on ponies and I got to lead the way up the hill for another half hour.
Finish with a 10 minute walk up the rest of the mountain and adventure the adventure just begins!! At this point we were briefed on how to ride the zip-lines and proceeded to make it all the way back down the mountain via 8 zip-lines or repels (including down rock sides, into water pools and through waterfalls, and over canyons).
This was a seriously fun trip. My only downside was having to pay like $30 per person per CD for a disc of photos that their photographer took. I think it wouldn’t have been so bad if we had known about the price in advance but it was a shock considering that it was more expensive for the tour. Naturally we paid for it anyway!
The last half of the trip was fairly uneventful. I developed stomach cramps right in the upper abdominal region and was unhappy in bed for much of the rest of it. Good trip all in all and my Dad loved the Rey Misterio mask I bought for him.
On April 7th we finally made it to Kirkwood after many failed attempts. A few attempts failed just because we were tired and couldn’t muster the energy for the 1.5 hour drive south, and then the other two times Chair 10 was either closed due to repairs or over half the mountain closed due to wind.
The terrain at Kirkwood never ceases to amaze me. I don’t know what they have done to the place for beginners but I remember using chair 1 a lot (slow and mild) as a kid. It is also my understanding that there is a whole area of the mountain with more beginner friendly terrain back towards the entrance of the ski resort.
The main attraction to Kirkwood is the off-piste you can get yourself into. Chair 6 introduces you to some steeps and allows you to traverse along the ridges into bowls of your preference. Chair 10 is famous for its skull and crossbones signs at the bottom and ominous wind barriers at the top. From there you can drop into a bowl or cross around the big boulder at the top of the mountain to one of the backside bowls. Moving up Chair 2 you now have access via the T-bar (Chair 14) to the bowl which is where the freestyle competitions used to be held (so yes, if you want to jump off a cliff you can!). Up Chair 4 and to the left is also new Poma 15 which gives access for the average Joe into the backcountry – pretty cool if I must say so myself!!! I’ve also completely forgotten to mention that on top of the bowls you also have lots of good tree skiing and fun gullies for kids to drag their parents into!
The wind barriers at the top of Chair 10
View from Chair 3 on the backside. The top right corner barely shows Chair 10 on the front. The top left is accessed by the new T-bar.
Kirkwood has a reputation for getting tons of snowfall which is solidified by the fact that Hwy 88 closes often due to Avalanche danger. Unfortunately while we were there it was quite late in the season so the snow was very slushy. By 10:30 all intermediate terrain had been bumped over even though the groomers had done a good job. The best snow we had access to was on the Wall (Chair 10) which was actually quite pleasant. Usually this resort has awesome snow though. I was a Mighty Mountain kid from about 3 – 12 and had my yearly vacations here and never remember being disappointed by the mountain.
The view from Chair 10 across the front bowl towards Chair 6 on the right.
The lifts at Kirkwood are slow. They are the same lifts I used back in the day fifteen years ago. There are no safety bars and the lifties do an excellent job holding the chair as it comes around so you don’t get slammed by it. As I mentioned earlier, they have added chairs 14 (T-bar) and 15 (poma) which now provide exceptional access to terrain that you otherwise had to hike to – a truly worthwhile improvement!
Poma 13 lets you go along a ridge you would have otherwise needed to hike in order to access the far territory of the resort.
We sat inside in the Village and ordered regular burgers which turned out to be really really good. They were decently priced and very tasty. From a stay with my Dad I have also experienced the restaurant which was good as well as numerous barbeques which are what I remember the most as a kid. I don’t remember the food so much as the employees being chatty, happy and embodying the Tahoe lifestyle.
The Village is small. It consists of a ticket room, locker room, 2 restaurants (1 cafeteria and 1 sit-down), store and condominiums. The resort also offers the demo center, grocery store and pub across the road.
This resort is not very accessible which is probably why it is never that crowded. It is about half an hour from South Shore and and hour and a half from us in Truckee. On top of that, the day we decided to go we had to turn around on our route via Tahoe City because Emerald Bay was closed due to Avalanche danger. The drive over is quite stunning though. I would say unless you are die hard about getting the best powder after a storm, this is the place you would want to go to for a few days and not just as a day trip.
The drive on Hwy 88
As mentioned above, Kirkwood is not that convenient. It is in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t offer shopping or lots of dining options. I think because of this a lot of mainstream vacationers will shy away from the resort to go somewhere more inclusive and entertaining for a variety of different tastes and needs. For Kirkwood, usually the only time you spend waiting in the lift line is if it has stopped for some reason.
Top of Chair 10 – It was a childhood dream of mine to make it up here!
Sugarbowl is located west of Lake Tahoe and off I-80. I have been there several times including once with a broken leg during which I just sat around and sulked about how much fun everyone else was having. On March 11 we went to Sugarbowl – this was two days after a 10+ inch storm. (Map, Homepage)
This caught me by surprise but I absolutely loved this mountain. I thought it was much smaller from my previous memories. The beginning area that I saw by Mt. Judah actually looked fun for beginner’s and I thought it provided enough to progress new skiers and riders to the rest of the mountain. The park is nothing like Northstar-at-Tahoe’s but has enough features for the riders that do choose to use them. As for the rest of the mountain… the terrain was phenomenal. We used the Summit Chair and Mt. Lincoln Express to access the double black diamond chutes with minimal hike required. Given the thick snow, by the time we made it to the bottom we were definitely ready for the rest on the ride up. The intermediate groomers were also fun and in particular I liked the Sidewinder and Harriet’s Hollow runs.
A view of the mountain taken from the Summit chair.
As I stated before, we were skiing on 10 inches of snow that had fallen two days before we went. The moisture content in the snow had increased so skiing the chutes definitely required leg muscle to move through the chop. The snow on the groomers was fine. At approximately 12:30 the groomers began to slush up and before that some of the sun-exposed off-piste felt like sierra cement.
Right below Mt. Lincoln Express after the Sisters.
I believe the resort has 9 chairlifts. The new Summit Chair which brings you to the Mt. Judah chutes is a great addition from summer. The chairs are a bit on the slower side but are still considered detachable quads.
I was very impressed with the food available at the Judah Lodge. We did try to go to the other base lodge for food but they only had a bar and sit down (tablecloth) restaurant. Going from “The Village” back to Judah Lodge took a bit long for someone who gets less patient the hungrier they become. Once there the cafeteria offered Mexican, Pizzas, Burgers, Sandwiches and Pastas. Pricing was typical resort pricing but I felt the quality of the food was a bit on the better end.
The “Village” of Sugarbowl is one of the base lodges and is where the tram drops you off if you choose to use the west parking lot. This includes a hotel which would be pretty cool to stay at, the hotel restaurant, bar and outdoor seating area. The other base is Mt. Judah which includes the shop and cafeteria. These are definitely not going to keep a non-skier entertained with shopping and activities but provide enough amenities for the skiers and snowboarders.
Sugarbowl is about 3 – 3.5 hours from San Francisco via I-80 East. It was about 40 minutes from us at Northstar (closer to the lake). In order to get there you need to leave I-80 and go on Donner Pass Road which is the famous route the Donner Party took back in the day. Sometimes this road can be incredibly gnarly especially during a storm in which case I would use the west entrance.
While skiing here we almost never had to wait in a line to get on the chair lift. This could be due to the fact that it was a weekday during a non-busy week but I also think that in general this resort is not as crowded as some other big ones.
This was written as an e-mail to a friend and I thought I should put it up. If you have alternatives or suggestions feel free to post a comment.
Your steering power should come from rotating the femurs within the hip socket. My favorite exercise to demonstrate this is having the students take off their skis and walk a line. Instead of walking it straight though I want them to zig-zag across the line while having the hips stay oriented down the line. Usually I hold the student’s hips in place (just facing forward) while the student rotates their legs to turn. This feels really really weird at first but introduces the notion that all of the turning can be done below the hips. Once on the snow I have them focus on whether they are feeling the same sensation in their turns (usually not) so then I ask them to twist their toes/legs just a little extra up the mountain at the end of each turn. This usually brings that feeling back and they can work from there on building in more leg rotation to their skiing. The turns will start to use more bone power instead of muscle power which translates into less fatigue at the end of the day! Be warned though that at first this feeling is really weird and you have to do it for a few runs and then it will start to feel better and work itself into your skiing.
Feet and Pressure:
Most skis are designed to have pressure applied at their center right under the skier’s ball of the foot. When pressure is applied here the tip of the ski automatically digs into the snow and initiates the turn. Most skiers however tend to “sit back” and apply pressure to the ski through the heel of their foot. There are several things you can think about to help this (using the ball instead of the heel) happen in your skiing that all have the same effect. You can pretend there is a grape between your shin and the front of your boot and squeeze it (or a $100 bill that you don’t want to lose). You can stand on your toes in your boots or pretend there is a thumb tack on the back of your boots. You can also pretend you are “digging your shovels (wide part of the ski in the front) into the snow”. My favorite is the “child-proof medicine bottle cap” borrowed from my coach last year. These bottles open by “pushing down, and twisting” so when I start my turn I imagine that I am pushing down on the balls of my feet and then twisting from the balls of my feet. Any of these work and usually lead to a much cleaner parallel initiation.
Instructors say that you need to extend (get tall) at the beginning of the turn and flex at the finish of the turn. I refer to this as “diving” into the turn because you don’t just want to get tall, rather you want your body to move down the mountain (to apply pressure to the fronts of those skis right!?). The steeper the slope the more aggressive your “dive” will need to be for your skis to work the most effectively. I like to combine this with the pressuring of the ball of the foot mentioned above. After students try and feel comfortable with the dive and the bottlecap moves I have them combine it by asking them to dive off of their top foot (or new outside leg) just at the beginning of the turn right when they are reaching down for their pole plant.
Hands hands hands:
Speaking of pole planting… most people are lazy about this one and drop their hands. In reality though your hands need to be up and forward and the pole planting motion should come just from your wrist. If you swing your arm, your body will eventually get behind and you will no longer be pressuring the front of your ski. I like to think of the appropriate hand position in two ways. The first is like you are pushing a shopping cart – your hands are not super close together or far apart .. but far enough to push it effectively. The other way is like you are reaching to hug Santa Claus or a really fat man. An exercise to demonstrate the effectiveness of good hand positioning is to stand on the slope with your hands down by your side and then have someone quickly push you. Then have your hands out in the Santa Claus position and have them push you again. Your body will be much much more stable with the second push.
It seems that everyone I know and everyone they know is ok for which I am grateful. I believe that we can benefit from this experience by looking at the structures that survived and the structures that collapsed from the Earthquake because to me Chile is one of the most advanced and earthquake-aware countries out there.
Here is a link of humanitarian assistance organizations that are currently working in Chile: