Friday, November 20, 2009

st george

monday morning we got up and drove over to bryce canyon. en route, we cancelled our reservations at the lodge, and caps' wife managed to change our hotel rooms from kingman to st. george. problems solved again! it was still a little chilly when we got there, so we bundled up before heading out. after about 20 minutes, digger realized he had forgot to lock the van - DOH!! no worries - run back - check it out - lock it up - run back in.

this place was amazing - like nothing i'd ever seen before. kind of like the backdrop for a coyote/roadrunner cartoon, or a dinosaur movie. and because it was end of the season, we pretty much had it all to ourselves. check out the blue sky!

we were out for over 3 hours, and as the sun started to drop, we made our way to st. george and the best western. as a change from burgers and pasta, we treated ourselves to a great mexican restaurant. lots of burritos and cerveza. wanting to burn off the meal, we walked the streets of st. george. a few cars were honking at us, and we couldn't figure out why. later we were told it was because it was so cold out, and one of us was wearing shorts. but it was 15* ???? okay ??!!

our plan for tuesday was to visit zion national park. before starting out, me and digger sampled a buffalo burger - not bad! digger rated his an 8 - good, but not quite as good as the one from planet hollywood. we hiked below for awhile, and then drove up through the mile long tunnel. at the top, we climbed on foot and came out to a spectacular view of yet another canyon.

after a bit of scrambling, we managed to get our 'pylon album cover shot'. pretty cool!

wednesday morning, me, captain, digger and onions went for a run and some 'sploring. cap had us climb this insane hill right off the bat, and that almost killed me! once up, we found the t-bone and the rim trail. we kept noticing all these little holes in the dirt, which me and digger agreed were tarantula homes. eeeeep ! glad we weren't running at night. we also noticed on either side of the highway, that the trail area was surrounded by one foot fencing. what the hell?? oh wait, it had to be to keep the turtles in. haha! it was a really cool place to run, and what started out being only 40 minutes, turned into almost an hour and a half. so after a quick shower, and some last minute packing, we were on our way back to vegas and the airport. beave got nailed at security for trying to smuggle in a bottle of scope! and when we decided to play our leftover change on the slots, he then won $10. lucky beaver! the rest of us came up empty handed. oh well! the flight home was pretty uneventful, and we finally made our way out of the toronto airport just after midnight.

this ends another exciting pylon adventure!

arches and the big kerfuffle

sunday we woke up to 2" of snow on the ground - thank goodness the race was yesterday!!! in true firefighter fashion, captain and digger cooked us up an amazing breakfast - eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast, beer . . . what a great crew to travel with! after that, on to arches national park for some sightseeing and light hiking to stretch out the legs.

silly onions !!!
silly pylons!

and so after at least a half hour of climbing straight up, we made it to the arch. light hiking my arse!

after another hour or so of stomping around, we headed back to the condo for our 'day-later-steak-dinner', bbq'd courtesy of the beave.

it was round about this time that the 'right kerfuffle' started. the original plan was to drive from moab to flagstaff on monday, stay overnight in a best western, drive to supai on tuesday, hike 3 hours down into the grand canyon, stay at the havasupai lodge, hike back up the canyon on wednesday and drive to vegas for our flight home. what could go wrong? hmmmm. glitch number one - we have to be at the airport at 2pm - the drive from supai to las vegas takes 8 hours - the hike up takes 3 hours. therefore, we'd have to start hiking at 3 in the morning. not good. okay, so we change plans and drive direct to supai on monday, hike down, stay overnight, hike back up tuesday, stay in kingman for tuesday night and drive to vegas on wednesday. this might work! captain got on the phone, and 20 minutes later had our reservations changed, while digger had us moved at the lodge from tuesday to monday. what could go wrong? hmmm. glitch number two - drive from moab to supai takes 11 hours, hike down takes 3 hours. assuming it gets dark at 5pm, we'd have to leave moab at around 2 in the morning to avoid hiking with headlamps. not good! so now what!? 6 pylon brains started churning and the room filled with smoke. after a few suggestions, it was decided that we drive to st. george, hitting bryce canyon on the way, and stay there for the next 2 nights. woo hoo! problem solved. wait a minute - we have to change reservations again and cancel the rooms at the lodge. argh! over big bowls of chocolate reindeer track ice cream, we decided to worry about it in the morning.
tomorrow - we're off to st. george

Thursday, November 19, 2009

to moab and the ultimatexc

with a visit to vegas out of our system, we got up early thursday and headed to moab - but not before digger locked himself out of his hotel room. we stopped at a walmart for water and promptly lost onions. we thought we might have to tie a helium balloon to his belt for future shopping trips. saw lots of beautiful scenery along the way.

on route to moab we passed through beaver city, and of course had to take advantage of this sign for a great photo opp!

we pulled into moab and our condo after dark - and after missing the turn a couple of times! here's a view the next morning from the front of the condo.

dinner that night was at the moab brewery. digger had a half-pound burger, with fries, more beer, and rated it an 8.5.

on friday we drove to arches national park to try and find the start of the race. we paid our $10 to get in, only to find that we weren't even close - doh!! after lengthy directions and a few maps, we made our way over to the right one. getting there involved manouvering down kane creek road, which was an adventure in itself. digger was driving and he almost killed us! the shoulders were really soft, with crumbly gravel, and there were tons of switchbacks and hairpin turns. we thought for sure we were going over more than a few times!!! we then made our way back to the town, where digger had hot chicken wings (and more beer) for lunch. we eventually picked up our race kits, and the cap put together an awesome spaghetti dinner to get us loaded up for the next day. once full, we each tried to determine tomorrows' finishing order in a 'top secret pylon pool'. it was a toss-up between beaver and cy, with the general consensus being me last (including my pick!). digger topped the night off with a few more beer before we all tried to get some sleep.

above is a picture of beave and digger getting ready for the start. check out our cow faced drop bag. at 8:30, race director dan counted down and we were off. we climbed up 500 feet on the pritchett canyon jeep road for over 5 miles before reaching the first aid station. from there we hit some single track and ran along the top of hunter canyon. note the 500 foot drop !!

the next really cool part was a one mile 'hike' up the 'scorched earth wall' jeep road - climbing 1000 feet to the hurrah pass. this seemed to go on forever, but the views were spectacular once again!

and yet another great view of the colorado river as we came down the jackson trail single track.

once through the aid station at the start/finish area, we had to head back out for another 10 miles or so. they first made us go up this ladder which was tied to a cliff and ended in a patch of cactus, and then climb up a short cliff using a rope to get to the top. good grief!! after a brief road section, we climbed 1000 feet up to the moab rim along a slab of slickrock. it was really steep! once at the top we had to go just past the jeep before turning around. yes, there was a jeep at the top!!!

the rest was pretty much downhill, including another creepy descent using those stoopid ropes again. and of course my foot just had to cramp as i was trying to figure out where to place it so i wouldn't skid to the bottom. argh! i came up the last little sandy hill to the finish, where the rest of the pylons were waiting to cheer me in. my time was 7:18 and i was really happy with that. the upset of the day was digger, winning the supermasters division with a time of 5:48!!
beave was next with 6:05, followed by cy (6:12), onions (6:22) and the captain (6:51). we were a very happy group of pylons!

once digger received his medal, we got ourselves into the van and went into town. me and cap went for the traditional pylon post-race milkshake, while the rest of the guys settled for beer. in the end, cy won the pool, having best guessed the order, and his own finishing time. we tried to order a pizza later that night, but the driver never showed up, claiming the roads were bad!??? so me and beave drove back into town and picked up 2 large yummy all-dressed for some well-deserving runners.

in all, it was a great race. the course was extremely challenging and the views were spectacular. i would recommend this to anyone who loves an adventure!!!

more stories to follow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

we arrived

so the caledon limo - aka the vents mobile - picked me and onions up at 5:45 and dropped us off at the airport at 6:30. the toronto contingent - captain, digger, cy and the beaver - had already arrived and were checked in at this point. onions bought a $9 sandwich from starbucks and we settled in to wait for our departure.

they announced that the flight was 'almost' full, but me and cap managed to score an empty seat between us! we buckled ourselves in, and cap surprised me with a backpack full of yummy snacks. we had just opened a huge pack of black licorice, taken a piece each, and were offering some to cy who was across the aisle, when this woman walking by sneezed right into the open bag!!! cap was stunned and i couldn't stop laughing. there went that bag of licorice. so we got into the box of pecan butter tarts next! i think the nachos came later. the rest of the flight was uneventful, and we landed in vegas a good half hour ahead of schedule. from there, we grabbed our rental van and drove to the best western.

that evening, cy and the beave went to see cirque de soleil, while the rest of us cruised the strip. i'd had enough by about 9, so we made our way back to the hotel. onions stayed out a bit longer, winning over $100 at craps, but we can't tell lucy. digger's burger report for the day: planet hollywood earned a solid 9, while dennys was a 6.5. beer glasses collected: 2. tomorrow, on to moab. will post more pics later.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

the pylons do moab

so it was way back in march, while we were in virginia, that the captain and digger informed us we would be doing a road trip to moab in the fall. something about a 50k on the mountain bike trails. we would fly into vegas, spend the night there doing whatever, and then head to moab the next day. the race is on saturday, and once completed, we would drive to arizona and run down the grand canyon. we'd stay overnight at havasu falls, and run back up. what could go wrong?

well, let's see.
  • first of all, we read the following on the race site: 'BEWARE: no baby allowed. most of our distance advertised are wrong. for instance our 50km was in reality a 56km.' okay.
  • then i read: 'the ultimate xc moab edition 50km is considered as one of the hardest 50km on the planet.' interesting.
  • and further: 'most of our participants will attest that this is as hard as a 50 miler.' hmmm
  • i then checked out the elevation: total gain = 10,174 feet
  • finally, we received this update about a month ago: 'november is unpredictable and therefore you could have rain or even snow on the ground. therefore if heavy rain or snow is part of our lives on race day, we will have to dramatically change the course as some of the section that you will be racing on would send you to a sudden death. No this is not a Joke.'

and so, on wednesday, november 11, me, captain, digger, cy, onions and the beaver are boarding a plane for las vegas.

like i said before, 'what could go wrong?'