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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”


Talons Challenge

January 31, 2008

Was in Vail last weekend.  Skiied the Talons Challenge – what a great time.  Thirteen black and double black runs in one day, 23,000 feet of vertical.  Was quite sore and slept really well that night.  Got a free beer, brat, hat and pin, plus got my name on a plaque for all eternity.  Did the event with two fraternity brothers.  We had a great time. 

My Talon's Challenge Card

My Talon's Challenge Card

I had my skis tuned the night before, and they actually de-tuned them, so they were like skiing on rounded edges, no purchase on ice whatsoever.  Made for some extra challenges.  I’ve been skiing since I was seven, lived in Colorado for five years, and raced on the ski team in high school, so can get around all right on the slopes.  Had a discussion on religion in the bar after, my good friend Paul is very liberal and a great debater, always have terrific discussions with him.  Stayed in my buddy Brinks’ (known as Stinks or stinky all through college-his wife isn’t too enamored with the nickname, however it is appropriate, especially at altitude) in-laws place in Edwards, several million dollar joint and wonderful people to stay with, warm friendly and generous.  The fellow Rich is 62 and did the Talons Challenge with us – actually faster than us as he did it with his buddy.  Amazing.  good to live in a ski town!  The event was cool – they had people at the bottom of the runs to punch your card around your neck after each run.  Also a tent with marathon-like snacks and gatorade, plus music pumping.  Was very cool, glad I got to go, have been talking about it for years.  Also was great to hang out with Stinky.  Gave him a new name, The Stink Machine, which in my opinion and his, is hilarious.  He pictures a machine with a giant crank that emits odor as you crank it, so he insists that when you call him that you make a big cranking motion. 

 I booked the flight on miles – and accidentally booked out of Rockford Illinois!  Whoops.  1.5 hours from chicago by car.  Actually less, an hour twenty – and free parking.  I got a spot 50 feet from the check-in.  I think I saved money over cab fare – and the blue line to Ohare from dontown is an hour, plus the walk to the check-in is forever and then to the gate is forever, draggin skis and a heavy bag – so I think it is actually a wash – with 5 gates total at Rockford international, I was seated and ready to board in one hour forty minutes after I left my home.  And had to carry my bags and skis just a short distance.  Very cool, I’d do it again.