Colorado ski trip to the Beav and Vail with Spence

April 10, 2013

My best buddy since age five called a few months ago and invited me to go skiing with he and his doctor friends from Wilmington NC.  I readily agreed as I had had zero ski trips this season and how’s guy supposed to get by in life with zero ski trips I ask you?  I booked the flight and the weekend came, off to Colorado from Midway.  A couple of hours after I arrived the Wilmington physician crew arrived.  Solid dudes and a great time goofing around with them.  We spent the night in Boulder with Spencer’s family, my second family since I was 5 years old.  Then off to the mountains in the Volvo they let us use, I got to drive and rocket us up I-70 after the beautiful drive down 39 from Boulder to Golden, right along the foothills and past the former nuclear warhead site, Rocky Flats.  As we rolled up into the mountains I was so excited showing things off and pointing out various mountains and buffalo, they began to give me a hard time as it seems I would point and the car would go in that direction, not inspiring confidence. We got there in one piece thankfully.  The famous Beaver Creek, and Spencer’s awesome cousin Chuck who works at the fabulous Osprey hotel hooked us up with rooms, lift tickets, ski rentals, and food.  The price of the whole shebang was seriously a fraction of what I was expecting.  Kudos to Chuck and his beautiful wife Dawn for treating us so well.  We stayed in a $900/night room for $80… amazing.  The Osprey apparently is the closest hotel to a chairlift in North America and I believe it, steps from the lobby to the Strawberry lift.  Ski valet right there at the door to watch your shoes, skis, etc, making it so easy to ski.  Fun to live like the big dogs for a weekend and not pay big dog prices.  Spencer and I shared what was essentially a honeymoon suite, fireplace, king bed, bathrobes, pretty funny.


Then we hit the slopes.  A beautiful day of skiing ensued, and I was plenty tired and sore  though it was only about a half day.  I was actually a bit timid and felt rusty and out of shape.  Those feelings faded over the next two days and especially the third day at the stunning Vail Resort.  Incredible skiing, hit Sunspot, Wow, and a favorite bump run of mine off the front, so much fun we did it twice.  What  mountain Vail is, enormous, fantastic conditions most of the time, and plenty of terrain to keep anyone happy.  On a powder day there’s nowhere better I say, you can get fresh tracks all day and for days after if you know where to look.Image

Saturday night we hit the Beaver Creek Chophouse.  I was actually disappointed with my steak and with the service – maybe coming from Chicago I expected too much though I doubt it.   Sunday skiing at Beaver Creek with the three physicians and my lawyer buddy from college and his seven-year old son joined us.  Skied with a bunch of doctors and lawyers, good stuff.

Sunday night got a bit crazy as we went straight to the bar apres ski and didn’t leave for six hours – and then only to wander briefly around town, where the below “mouth wrestling a bear” incident happened.ImageLater this evening we convinced Brian to bust out his guitar and amp he’d brought from Wilmington to jam for us.  He played for hours in the lounge for us, asking each of us in order for requests, and then belting out a tune to us.  Really fun and quite a talented, rock and roll doctor.  Looking forward to seeing him again live in Wilmington next time I visit.  Good stuff.


And I already told about how fabulous the day at Vail was – terrific conditions, I knew the mountain and my favorite runs, and I was in good shape again, no longer rusty nor fearful, and got such a giant adrenaline rush, a feel good rush, bombing down the slopes, stunning peaks in the background, dancing down the moguls, ripping through the powder, flying down the cattracks.  What a feeling.  I remembered why I love skiing so much.  All of it with my best old buddy and other fantastic people – such a social sport, riding up the lifts, stopping every so often on the way down the hills to chat and laugh.  Wonderful way to spend time.

We headed back to Denver, flying down the freeway through the mountains to make a 5pm dinner reservation at Lola’s Mexican restaurant in Denver.  Great to see Bliss and Jordan, had been ten years since I had last seen them, they look great.  Then I hopped on a bus to DIA, as the rest of the crew went to the Avalanche hockey game.  At DIA, they cancelled my flight (All flights were cancelled), which with a dead phone left me in a bit of a spot, as they weren’t paying for hotels due to it being a weather issue.  I headed back out, and caught a bus to Boulder, and with no phone was unable to let anybody know I was coming.  I sat next to a fascinating fellow who was a former European Union official, how cool is that?  We talked global politics, fun way to pass the time.  I noticed a Whole Foods and a road name, Baseline, which had a good shot of being roughly near the home of Dave and Margie, but I had no clue really with my phone dead.  Whole Foods was closed but the Noodle restaurant was just closing, I barged in and plugged in discretely, and called Spence, and his dad – Spencer was only about ten minutes away, they picked me up, and bam, made it back to the Carney’s home.  Spent the night, up in the morning, flights were all in action so off to the airport we went, managed to get on a 9am flight easily, and back to Chicago, direct flight, and straight into the office for a productive afternoon of work, then home to see my gorgeous baby and beautiful wife who I missed!


2008 What a Year in Adventure-ness

December 30, 2008

Reflecting on the adventurous aspects of 2008…  One of the best ever for me second only to 2000 when I travelled the world for 6.5 months.  This year I was so fortunate.  Five foreign countries, two new mountains climbed, fourth Chicago to Mackinac sailing race, surfing, skiing…  I must list all the adventures and trips I was lucky enough to participate in this past year, and be so grateful for the opportunities I was blessed with.

  1. Elwha Trail hike in the Olympic Mountains West of Seattle with four good buddies.
  2. The 100th running of the Chicago to Mackinac Sailing race, on a J120 named Valkyrie, placed well in our class, finished in around 55 hours.
  3. Cruised the North Channel of Lake Huron on a 38 foot Ericson sailboat owned by my parents with a highlight being Topaz lake.
  4. Nantucket Massachusetts for several days with my oldest friend Spencer and his family, driving on the beach, catching bluefish from the shore, enjoying old friends, meeting my namesake, Cormac Thomas Carney
  5. Upstate New York at my girlfriend’s grandparents’ “camp”, waterskiing, kayaking, mountain biking, swimming.
  6. Climbing the highest point in New York State, Mt Marcy, ticking off the 12th state high point on my quest to do all 50 of them.
  7. Jamaica for work, Kingston.
  8. Cayman Islands to visit my cousin Megan for a few days.
  9. Jazzfest in New Orleans for a bachelor party
  10. Numerous mountain biking excursions around Chicago
  11. Numerous sailing parties on my boat, a 28 foot Ericson christened the Imjatse after a Nepalese mountain I climbed.
  12. Rock climbing in Red River gorge, Kentucky
  13. Rock climbing at Mississppi Palisades twice
  14. Summiting Mt Belford, a 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado, then sleeping in a bivy sack on its flanks overnight in about 15 degrees.
  15. Pilgrimage to the original Chipotle in Denver
  16. 35 person white water rafting trip sponsored by the adventure ministry I run at church, running class III and IV rapids.
  17. Kayaking the Vermilion River in very high, fast water.
  18. Costa Rica!  Staying at my friend’s resort, surfing, jungle hikes, four-wheeling.
  19. Talon’s Challenge at Vail, skiing thirteen black and double black runs in a single day with a reward of a free beer and a free hat.
  20. Skiing at Aspen with the family
  21. Moving my friend’s sailboat 200 miles down the intracoastal waterway from Norfolk to Beaufort NC, just my father and I.
  22. Two winter attempts of Mt Humphries, the tallest mountain in Arizona, each a failure, but getting closer and I lived to climb another day.
  23. Thanksgiving in Boston
  24. Ten person caving trip that I led through Buckner’s cave in Southern Indiana.
  25. Ski trip to Wausau Wisconsin and Granite Peak Resort.
  26. Raced the Cohasset Triathlon
  27. 40+ person sea kayaking trip led by my group

What a wonderful year, with lots of love and great relationships started, nourished, and deepened during all these adventures and trips. 

I have to give a lot of credit for this year to Tim  Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek for his writings and inspiration to live like this – thanks much Tim and all the best to everybody in 2009.  I always wanted to live like this but never knew anybody who did – I didn’t think it was really possible until I read Tim’s stuff and embarked upon the adventure.  Inspirational.  This year has been the best to date for my business, relationships, and adventures and experiences.  I hope for an even better 2009 and hope for the same for everybody.  I have to copy some of Tim’s stuff from a mentor of his here  – good food for thought:

“While many are wringing their hands, I recall the 1970s when we were suffering from an oil shock causing long lines at gas stations, rationing, and 55 MPH speed limits on Federal highways, a recession, very little venture capital ($50 million per year into VC firms), and, what President Jimmy Carter (wearing a sweater while addressing the Nation on TV because he had turned down the heat in the White House) called a “malaise”. It was during those times that two kids without any real college education, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, started companies that did pretty well. Opportunities abound in bad times as well as good times. In fact, the opportunities are often greater when the conventional wisdom is that everything is going into the toilet.

Well…we’re nearing the end of another great year, and, despite what we read about the outlook for 2009, we can look forward to a New Year filled with opportunities as well as stimulating challenges.”

Triathlon with an Olympian, Nantucket Fish Haul, Mount Marcy Climb

July 9, 2008

Just took a week long vacation – haven’t done that in a few years.  It was action packed.  Started by flying into Boston and eating at Lisa’s folks – they always make amazing dinners – had pasta for us Saturday night in preparation for the Cohasset Triathlon on Sunday.  My good buddy from age five, Bill Burnett, puts it on, and what an amazing job he does.  This year Jarrod Shoemaker (representing the USA in the triathlon in Beijing!) and 900 other people raced it, including a number of elite competitors.  Jarrod beat me.  In just two years it’s become a huge deal in the northeast.  They had a giant stage and all sorts of gear and food available.  Super foggy and a heavy surf in the morning but they did the swim anyways, which added that much more difficulty to it.  I finished on a mountain bike, next year I’ll get a real bike, though I’ve said that for the last 8 triathlons I’ve done and never have.

Wayne and I before the Cohasset Triathlon

Wayne and I before the Cohasset Triathlon

The next day we left for Natucket to stay with my very close family friends the Carneys in their beautiful home in the town of Nantucket, overlooking the harbor – such a nice place.  But boo, it’s on the market, bummer.  My best bud Spencer was there with his kids, including new baby Cormac Thomas – named after me!  How cool is that?  2 months old, and amazing.  Also his older sister Daley, who at three is super fun to hang out with.  Went out to a super nice dinner at Orin Moore’s with Spence, Sue, Lisa and I, highlight was when the waiter brought a french press and pushed down on it at the table, spraying coffee and grounds all over the table and putting out the candle – we found it hilarious, the head waiter not so much.  Went sailing several times on their Rhodes 19 in Nantucket harbor and through the cut in the jetties to the open ocean, a little sketchy coming back in but fortunately the tide had shifted in our favor.  And a highlight was driving out on the beach on Coatue and surfcasting – we caught four huge bluefish!  I can never get over how you can stand on the beach up to your ankles in water and take this giant rod, cast out a huge lure, and reel in these 4 or 5 pound (guessing) fish.  Plus the added bonus of driving on the beach which is always a good time.  Letting the air out of the tires first so they are somewhat flat is fun too.

Fish in hand

Fish in hand


After Nantucket we went to Lisa’s grandparent’s place in upstate New York, on Indian Lake.  A terrific two houses they have, on the water next to each other, a bunch of waterfront  with docks, ski boat, swim platform, rowboat, kayaks, canoe, and sunfish.  And over the course of five days we used them all!  Taught Lisa to sail one day which I expect will do wonders for her confidence on my boat here in Chicago – so much easier to “get” sailing on a small boat.  Swam every day and showered and shaved zero days – just an “Adirondack shower” in the lake each day.  So fun.  For the 4th we went and climbed Mt Marcy – 3200 feet or so of elevation gain, 7.2 miles up and 7.2 miles down – it took us 4 hours up and I couldn’t believe it, but also four hours down.  Weird.  The last couple hours seemed to take forever.  The summit was really beautiful, above tree line so huge views, 360 degrees.  Count it as my 12th state high point! 

Nearing the Summit of Mt Marcy

Nearing the Summit of Mt Marcy

Actually quite incredible fireworks that night on the lake for such a small town – we took the rowboat and speedboat out to watch.  The next night I went on about an hour long mountain bike ride around Indian Lake, which is no small feat considering the trails are for snowmobiles not bikes – and are overgrown and mosquito infested and swampy in places.  Kevin, Lisa’s uncle, was in better shape and kicked my butt up the hills – one particularly long one – tough to train for that kind of stuff in Chicago.  Was a blast, and really cool and pretty.  A interesting aside – at one trail intersection in the middle of nowhere out in the woods there were advertisements on the trees for bars, hotels, restaurants, etc – for the snowmobilers.  Was something I’d never seen before.

Managed to chop a whole bunch of wood for Lisa’s grandfather, he appreciated it and I enjoyed the physical labor.  Small repayment for such incredible hospitality and relentlessly delicious meals, one after the other.

Got back late Monday night, tired but refreshed.  I need to figure out how to do more and longer trips!  Actually in a couple weeks we have the Mac race and then a few days sailing in the North Channel with my folks – so good stuff.