Posts filed under ‘Shannon Katz Diaz’

Journal Excerpt: 2006 Snowshoe Ski Trip

In January 2006, I joined my sister and a number of friends for a five day ski trip at Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia.  By request, here are my journal entries from that trip.  I think they will be of little interest to the people who did not attend.

Lodging Woes 

1-22-2006
306 C The Summit
Showshoe Mountain

Greetings from Snowshoe!  Our trip is going well– which is very impressive considering all the obstacles with lodging and [the abscence of viable] cell phone signals.

Our arrivals were stratefied– as everyone had their own plans and differing departure points.  Carolyn came up with a valeuable idea — have us all meet at Foxfire Grille at 3:30 PM.

We weren’t all prompt– but we did all convene at the restaurant eventually (except Christian and Shannon).

I made it there nearly 30 minutes late.  I was certain I would have missed the rendez-vous.  We didn’t know what our address was beforehand– Carolyn only found out at check in.  So it was pretty important to meet up with everyone — so I’d know the lodging details.

As luck would have it, everyone was still at the Foxfire.  And– I wasn’t even the last to arrive!  Greg and Nicole arrived some time after me.

So the seven of us (Tony, Lud, Carolyn, Stacy, myself, Greg and Nicole) all ate an early supper.

Carolyn had already been to the check-in counter and knew we were staying at Unit 15 in Treetop.  But we couldn’t get the keys until after five.  So after supper we (Carolyn, Vicky, Stacy, Greg and Nicole) moseyed over to Top of the World to get the keys.

Well– that was easier said than done.  After a lengthy delay they said the keys were at the bottom of the mountain and on the way up.  

Meanwhile while we were on that mission, Tony and Lud were securing rentals.  The plan was to meet at 15 Treetop.

Back at Top of the World– the employee helping us mentioned a couple (supposedly Shannon and Christian) was looking for us and would be waiting at Foxfire Grille.

So Carolyn, Greg and Nicole decided to wait for the keys (which would supposedly be another 10-20 minutes) and Stacy and I went on an expedition back to Foxfire Grille to look for Shannon and Christian.

Stacy and I waited sometime at Foxfire, just in case Shannon and Christian were taking the slow shuttle.  We finally aborted and went to the Treetop lodging– thinking everyone would have keys and be good to go.

The parking lot was vastly empty.  Stacy and I parked and Tony and Lud came out of Lud’s jeep.  Turns out the keys had not been secured yet!  Tony and Lud had been waiting the entire time.  Stacy and I were the first to show up!  Needlesstosay, Tony and Lud were disappointed Stacy and I were not bearing the key.

Night Skiing 

Lud was anxious to go night skiing– Tony wanted to lay low as his knee was sore and Stacy leaned against night skiing as well.

So– I added some layers and prepared to join Lud on the slopes.  There was only one problem– I didn’t have  my lift ticket yet– it was with Carolyn!  But– Stacy had a lift ticket!

“Stacy– switch coats with me!” I demanded.  He had his lift ticket already attached.

Stacy complied and then a few minutes later I made a poor decision.  I took my shoes off and stood on the parking lot…when it had been raining all day.  I quickly realized my mistake and leapt into the dry safety of the car… only now my shoes were out of reach and I had no dry means to retrieve them.

“Stacy!” I called, “Hand me those shoes!”

Stacy chucked and said, “I always wondered what it’d be like to be Brian.”  🙂

Lud and I headed out and had a good but brief night skiing adventure.

1 + 1 + 1 + 1  Does Not Equal 3

The highlight of the whole evening occurred while Lud and I were waiting in a ski lift line (an unlikely spot for a night’s highlight).  The chair lift was a triple chair lift.  In other words– it holds three people.

Well– FOUR fully grown men (who should have known better) all tried to get on at once.

It was not a successful venture– they were too wide for the chair.  It was a big commotion when the chair reached them.  One guy got reamed in the behind.  Skis fell off and lots of noise was to be heard.  It was hilarious.

More Lodging Woes

Lud and I had some adventures after skiing.  When we returned to the condo– still no familiar cars were in the parking lot.  I walked up and determined the door was locked.  I knocked but I knew there was little hope– the lights were out.

So Lud and I decided to try to track them down.  We checked all sorts of bars in the Village and the Shaver Center.

No luck– bar after bar was filled to the rim– but all with strange faces.

Finally we returned to the townhouse.  Still no cars– so I relieved Lud and told him I could hang out in my car.  He left and I made one more stab at the door.  As I walked up, I was cursing my travel companions.

“A damn note would have been helpful!” I thought.

Lo and Behold- I get up there and there was a note!  In fact– the note had been there all along– I somehow missed it the first go around.

It turned out Carolyn, Greg and Nicole waited for over an hour for those mysterious keys that were at the bottom of the mountain!  And still no keys.  So we got upgraded to a bigger townhouse at the Summit.

All in all– it was a good deal for us– no one had to sleep on the floor (Tony Airaghi opted to sleep outside on the balcony but he had a bed if he wanted it).

Still– it sure brought forth a lot of confusion and that confusion seeped into today as well.

When Lud dropped me off– he and I made plans.

“I’ll just come up here and meet you,” he said, “when I wake up.”

He had no idea we had moved.  So– I left the original note at the townhouse.

This morning time ticked by and still no Lud.  So we left two more notes.  One at the new place, one at the old.  In it– we proposed three time and places to meet up.

I used some price tags from canned goods to stick the notes to the respective doors.  Carolyn have an inventive way to post her note as well.  She ripped out a hole and attached it to the handle of the door.

Anyway– our notes were not appreciated by the intended audience.  Lud never found any of the notes!

“I’m amazed at the total ineffectiveness of notes,” Stacy commented later.

Well– just like St. Matthew writes God will take care of the little birds and like Mao writes Heaven will not delay a traveller, Lud was taken care of.

Early in the afternoon, Carolyn, Shannon and I ran into Lud!! Our group was reunited and Tony knew where his ride was!

Commercial Contradictions

Tonight we are all pooped– so we’ve laid low.  I noticed one pattern– we seem to be laughing a lot at pharmaceutical commericials.

“There are ones,” Christian said, “Where the side effects contradict each other.  It’ll say may cause insomnia and it’ll say right after that– drowsiness!”

I told them about Sean’s antibiotics for his surgery.  One said as a side effect your urine may turn dark– but it was normal behavior.

The other one said, “Call your doctor *immediately* if you experience darkening of urine!”

Luckily Sean was not put in the predictament to determine which medicine was causing dark urine– the harmless one or the troublesome one!

Best Conditions 

1-29-2006

Skiing went well.  I skied a little bit each day I was there.  The funnest day was Monday and it seemed like it would be the most miserable day.  It was rainy & foggy.  We were determined to get out on the slopes, however.  It turned out to have the best conditions of all the days!  The rain kept the top level of snow soft so it was easy to steer and stop.  And– more importantly, the rain detered the other skiers from coming out so the slopes were pretty abandoned.  No lines, no dodging fallen snowboarders and no ice.  It made for a very peaceful day on the mountain.

We also went night skiing that night– I had to meet the others as I had some contract work to do at Starbuck’s.  After my work– I drove to the Silver Creek area and walked out to the slopes.  As I skiied down to the lift from the lodge, I was literally the only person on the trail.  With the darkness all around me (except for the lit snow on the trail) and the silence (except for the whish of my skis in the snow), it was an invigorating, uplifting run.

It didn’t take long to reunite with my friends– on my second run– I eyed the passengers on the ski lift and soon enough, I spied familiar outfits!

Time Flies

Time really flew fast on our trip.  On Saturday and Sunday I was full of plans.

“Maybe I’ll take a snowboarding lesson,” I thought.

or

“Hey I think I’ll do cross country skiing one day.”

Over the weekend, it seemed I had all the time in the world.  But before I knew it, it was our last day and I had not fit in a snowboard lesson nor tried out cross country skiing.  Perhaps another trip.

I still have vivid recollections of riding a ski lift at Greek Peak on a Tuesday and thinking I had a lot of days left on the mountain.  My childhood experience was very similiar to the one this past week– before you know it– it is time to return home and resume your daily duties.

Worst Conditions 

Tuesday’s conditions were fairly rough– a lot of ice.  Then Wednesday I found the most miserable (still fun though).  Overnight we got a great deal of natural snow– plus they ran the snow machines overnight and throughout the day.  To top it off, it was dreadfully windy– it seemed no matter which way I faced, snow was pelting my face.

I took a lot of pride throughout the week of carrying my skis.  I was proud of the extra exercise I got by doing that.  Well Tuesday night my resolve weakened and I locked my skis up with Carolyn and Christian right by the slopes.  Tuesday night, of course, was the night the big storm rolled in.  So Carolyn, Christian and I learned a very important lesson:

Do Not Lock Your Skis Up Right Next to a Snow Making Machine

When we returned on Wednesday, we discovered that snow and ice were packed into the keyholes of the ski holders.  It took us *at least* a half an hour to drive our respective keys in the hole and turn them clockwise 90 degrees.  It was an amazing struggle.

Our victory was short lived, though.  Carolyn’s ski bindings were frozen shut!  Christian, Carolyn and I struggled in the wake of a running snow machine to get her skis on.  Not only were her bindings inflicted with ice– but her boots had about 3/4″ of ice caked on her heel.  We must have combatted that challenge another half an hour.  Finally, Carolyn and I went inside and manually worked the bindings to loosen them up.  At long last, her skis would click on her boots.

We went back out, Carolyn snapped her boots on.  Sweet success and THEN

MY SKIS WOULDN’T GO ON!  🙂

I had similiar issues with caked on ice.  I was able to resolve it, but in order to do so, I had to bend over.  My 5 layers of shirts slid up and exposed my midriff skin.    I also had to take my gloves off to have the necessary dexterity to get everything on.

By the time we were all set to go– we were already cold and miserable.  I couldn’t feel my pinky finger!

Still our struggles weren’t over.  Due to the wind and the diligent snow making– there was a lot of very, very thick powder at the top, flat part of the mountain.  It was very difficult to get moving and with all the snow machines, our slow, struggled stride had repercussions.

Powder Power

Luckily after that first laboured run, everything picked up.  Snow machines weren’t running lower on the mountain and once we got on steeper runs it was great fun and the thick powder was an asset.

“It’s like skiing on clouds,” Christian said.

“Even if you fall,” he said, “You’re falling in a puff of powder!”

I originally found it very unnerving to be in snow so deep that I couldn’t see my skis, but after Christian’s recommendation– I gave it a try.  Sure enough– it is quite fun!

One thing that was impressive is how much difference slope conditions can affect a run and how quickly those conditions can change.

On Tuesday– runs that were okay in the morning were downright treacherous in the afternoon.

For example, in the morning, Carolyn and I rode a lift over “The Widowmaker.”  It didn’t look too bad and we considered going down it.

“We’ll be okay,” I told Carolyn, “It’s called ‘The Widowmaker’ not ‘The Widowermaker.'” She laughed.

In the end– we decided to play it safe and didn’t go on it.  In the afternoon, we rode up a lift over it again with Christian.  It was riddled with ice patches.

“This morning we could at least consider it,” Carolyn said, “Now you look at it and think, ‘No fucking way!'”

The next day it was brand new powder– it looked great!  So Christian and I went down it.

Meanwhile, Carolyn discovered another slope was greatly improved by the fresh snow.  That slope was called J-Hook.

The day before Carolyn and I skied down it.  It started out nice enough and then all of a sudden:

ICE BOULDERS!

They were huge round ice boulders all over the trail.  It wasn’t just a few here and there– they were prevalent.  It was one of the most unpleasant runs.

Fast forward a day.  I asked Carolyn how J-Hook was.

“Peaceful and powdery,” she said.

Sure enough, it was.

This was my very first ski trip without rented equipment.  Melanie had sold me her skis.  That saved me a lot of trouble and time– I will have to write her and let her know.

We ate really well.  Sunday we had vegetable chili.  Monday– Chicken caccitore.  Tuesday– pot pies.  Mmm!

March 3, 2007 at 1:01 am 16 comments

Worlds Collide at Larry’s Tailgate!

One thing I enjoy about weddings (besides dancing and the cake, of course) is the “worlds collide” effect. A number of people who all know the bride and groom in different contexts convene together for a common celebration. I like to see extended family and friends mingling together, sharing their memories and antedotes.

This weekend even though Virginia Tech’s bout with Northeastern did not promise to be a nailbiter, it still managed to draw a collision of worlds at Larry’s house. Many different aspects of my life were represented by the people in attendence:

  • My Blacksburg/Tailgate Life – All the normal tailgating people were in attendence. Larry, Ann, Penn, Gwyn, Andy, Bill, Sean, Keith, Jonathan Couch and even new father Brian Vandervort made a surprise appearence!
  • My Hiking Life – My reigning Hiking Buddy, Mike E, was present and he got to converse with my original hiking partner– Tony Airaghi.
  • My Married Life – Both of Sean’s brothers and their significant others came down for the event. That meant 66.66% of my brothers-in-law were in attendence (Carolyn‘s husband, Clint, was the only one missing from this brother-in-law reunion).
  • My QualTrax Life – ZJ Palasz, one of our QualTrax programmers, came in from Virginia Beach with his girlfriend to join our festivities.
  • My NOVA/Camping/Skiing Life – Kipp and Stacy came down for the event. On Friday night I found out that Shannon, Christian, Beth, Wayne and Shehab were going to be in town as well. I extended an invitation and all seven of these individuals from Northern Virginia came to Larry’s tailgate …and all seven of them got to witness a rare “Tipsy Vicky”.

I think these two pictures are a solid representation of the worlds colliding. The first one depicts some of the usual crowd– Me, Larry and Lindsay. The second one is the same shot— only this time, Kipp has made his way into the scene!

And here comes NOVA bursting in! 🙂

More pictures from the Virginia Tech vs. Northeastern Tailgate are available on my website.

September 4, 2006 at 11:36 am 1 comment

Assateague 2006

A little more than a week ago, Christina Geyer, Stacy McMahon, Jay and Jacqueline and I were first arriving on Assateague Island.  I was there for less than 24 hours, but packed a lot of activity in the time.  Here’s a recap:

Arrival Fanfare
Ponies were waiting for us in the parking lot when we arrived to the campsite.  One pony’s genitalia made it very very clear he was a male (and an aroused male at that).  Christina did not bat an eye:

“Look, he’s very excited to see you, Vicky!” she said.

It’s a statement we certainly would have uttered in high school.  Ah, to feel young again!

Our human companions were significantly less excited to see us.  Everyone was so tired and/or miserable that when I announced, “Hey everyone, this is my friend Christina!” the only acknowledgement that I had spoken was an abbreviated grunt from Wayne Howard.  🙂

Walk on Beach
Shortly after our arrival, Christina, Stacy and I went for a walk along the beach.  We were headed towards a black blob a couple with binoculars thought was a dead pony.  It turned out to be a log.  It was still a nice walk though and Christina spotted some dolphins in the ocean.

Afternoon in the Ocean
A number of us spent the afternoon in the ocean.  At one point, it was just me, Erin Jebo Cooper and Carolyn.  It reminded me of our water aerobic days!!!  When we were all three in Blacksburg we used to attend a class at the Blacksburg Aquatic Center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  (Fridays were sometimes followed by Marguerita Night at El Guadeloupes!)  We reminisceced briefly about our class….and our traumatic experience where two women trapped us in the sauna, making us hostages in that continual heat.  And what weapon did those ladies against us?  Nothing but their own naked obesity and a strategic placement in our line of sight.

Quick complaint– there were some idiots fishing right in the middle of the day when the ocean was filled with people.  At one point, their fishing line was bisecting our group.  We tugged and tugged and tugged on the line–but the fisherman was so oblivious to everything he didn’t even notice.  Jerk.

At one point I was trying to tell a story and the rising sea waters kept interrupting me.  I spurted and sputtered and coughed and gagged.  Finally I told Evan and Carolyn, “It’s hard to look your sexiest in the ocean.”  Just moments later I drilled that point home.  I dove under a wave and when I came back up, I was greeted by Carolyn’s shrill:

“EWWW! You have snot hanging from your nose!”

Tanlines
I had been wondering just how effective those spray on sunscreens are.  Shannon Diaz Katz was able to put that question to rest.  She developed a very interesting pattern of skin coloration.  There were a few white circles running down her arm, surrounded by tan and burn.  You could see exactly where she sprayed the sunscreen…. and exactly where the coverage was missed.

Shehab has the honor of having the most distinct tan line I’ve ever seen.  He has a typical farmer’s tan, but he must have worn the exact same style of shirt every day of his life.  When he lifted up his shirt sleeve, you can see a very rigid, strict borderline between pale flesh and a deep, enviable tan.  The division was so accurate and clear– an artist would need a ruler to recreate it on paper.

Dinner at Sneaky Pete’s
Around dusk, Shehab, Wayne, Shannon, Christian and I headed off the park to go eat at Sneaky Pete’s, a seafood restaurant right across the water from Ocean City.  Due to the hour and the crowd, our party was seperated in half and we got to eat on their dining facilities in an old boat.  We were baffled by the parking meters in each booth (turns out it is for a charity event) and Shehab wasn’t too pleased with the ongoing selection of Jimmy Buffet music.  Other than that, it was a pretty darn good environment for supper.

We tried an interesting shot while we were there.  It was hazelnut liquor and citron vodka.  It came with a lemon wedge and a packet of sugar.  Basically, you put the sugar on the lemon wedge and you bit into it and swished it around.  Then you drank the shot.  It tasted just like Chocolate Cake.  The ingredients didn’t sound like chocolate and with its sickly yellow color, it certainly did not look like chocolate– but sure enough it tasted like chocolate cake.  Weird.

I mentioned our party was seperated between two tables.  Shannon, Christian and Shehab were at one table and it was me and Wayne at the other.  I very much enjoyed visting and talking to Wayne.  Through the years, I used to see him at Carolyn/Clint parties, blacklight bowling, the occassional rollerblade on the Huckleberry Trail and a Virginia Tech away game in Philadelphia.  But I think this may have been the first time we really just sat and talked for an extended period of time.

Night Owls
By the time we got back to the island, it was already dark.  I had missed the sunset I had coveted all day, but our meal was well worth it.  Now, unlike the morning, when we arrived back at the campside everyone was abuzz with activity and a second wind.  The evening was filled with great conversations.  Most notably, Carolyn and I chatted with Ryan Somma for quite some time.  Another very enjoyable conversation. 

Birthday Bonfire
Sunday was Christian’s birthday, so at midnight we moved down to the beach for a bonfire!  Originally it was intended as a surprise, but it didn’t take long before Christian was well aware of the plan.  I’m not sure how the information leaked to him, but in the past I’ve found drunk people tend not to whisper as quietly as they think.  🙂  The bonfire was very nice.  Wayne tended to it and took on the ambitious task of burning the “gigalog”.  Some of us played with glow sticks.  A number of us got to see some shooting stars. 

There was one mishap, however.  A poor little crab ran into our fire and subsequently cooked himself.  The common interpretation is the crab was suicidal.  I’m not so sure.  I thought I saw the crab run towards the fire and stop.  “Wait a second, that’s hot!”  Then I saw the crab take a few waddles away from the heat until he was frightened by Doug’s tall stature and fled… right into the fire.  Regardless of the crab’s true mental state, I like what Angel has to say to the crab:

“Party foul, dude!”

Midnight Hike
Between 12 AM and 1 AM, a heard a small party discussing a night hike.  I was sold on the notion immediately.  So Clint, Heather Diaz, Gene and I headed out to the “Life in the Forest” trail.  Thanks to Heather and Gene’s headlamps (and not much thanks to a piddly glowstick) we took the trail to a deck that overlooked the marshlands and Sinepuxent Bay.  A near full moon hung in the sky above the water.  The scenery was spectacular.  Dark blue silhouettes of the pine trees and the marshgrass contrasted with the soft blue hues of the night sky and the water.  At some places, the water was reflecting the moonlight so vibrantly, it looked like snow.  I don’t think pictures would ever do it justice.

Very peaceful, very moving.

We got attacked by some bugs, but it was well, well, well worth it.

Night Swim
When we returned to the bonfire, I heard of another activity of great interest to me– swimming in the ocean!  A number of years ago, Aaron Evans, Ryan Schutt, Stacy and I went swimming at Ocean City at 3 AM.  I remember bobbing with the tides admiring all the lights on the shore.  I remember a fun experience.  Stacy might have different recollections since he cut his head!

Anyway, Shehab and I headed into the ocean, I guess around 2ish?  Doug quickly joined us and later Ryan Somma came in as well.  Although Assateague does not sport all the lights Ocean City does, our adventure was just as beautiful.  Away from the bonfire, the stars were even brighter!  The distinct band of the Milky Way bisecting the sky could not be missed.  Then you had the brightness of the moon and of course the intermittent shooting stars.  I could just stare at that sky and feel free and happy.

Then Doug noticed something!  There was some plankton in the ocean that was reacting to our movement.  Anytime we moved, little packets would flash green.  So as we swam or walked or waved our arms under the water, little trails of green sparkles would follow us.  They even reacted to someone blowing bubbles (that was Shehab’s discovery).

So above us, we had the great lights of the formidable universe and all around us, we had the humble lights of one of nature’s smallest creatures.  We were surrounded by great visuals.  It felt very cinematic.  Magical almost.

The End
The moment was less than magical a little later when I was sleeping in a tent with wet clothes and no sleeping bag.  Luckily, sweat pants and my Virginia Tech hoodie did not let me down.  I slept four hours before waking up at 7 AM and starting my long, somber journey home.

Other Recaps and Pictures
My Pictures

Clint’s Pictures

Carolyn’s Recap

Christina’s Recap

Angel’s Pictures

Ian’s Pictures

Christian’s Pictures

Angel’s Recap

Stacy’s Pictures

August 12, 2006 at 12:40 pm 4 comments


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