Tag Archives: banzai

Spring? Is that you?


Today’s Music: Jimmy Buffett – Lage Nom Ai

At last! Despite the local weather trying to convince me otherwise, It. Is. SPRING!!!!
While this past winter wasn’t brutal in my neck of the woods as far as snow, it was awfully grey and pretty damn cold, and I’m ecstatic to put it behind me and move into my favorite season of the year.
Why is it the favorite?
– The beginning of enjoying a cold beer outside on a warm evening
– Not wrestling with a heavy jacket
– Blooming flowers (for those who think I’m insensitive.)
– Rising hemlines (for those who think I’m too sensitive.)

Ok, maybe that hemline is a little too high... width=

Ok, maybe that hemline is a little too high…

Which brings me to a brand new year, brand new spring, and a slightly different list. Here’s what I’m hoping to do, and if anyone wants to come along, I’d be glad to have your company.
The Musts

Surfing
My regular beach got slammed by Hurricane Sandy. Recovery is still going on. I’m going to try to get out there to lend a hand, and afterward, hit the waves.
Kayaking
I will not be intimidated by you this year, Duck!
Picnicking
In a park, with my girl, my guitar, her hula hoop and our books. A perfect day.
The July Ice Skating date
It’s NYC. There are year round rinks. It’s a shame to not take advantage.
(Plus, I always get a serious case of the giggles for this one.)
Evening walks when it’s warm out
Yes, to the homemade ice cream place.
bike riding through Central Park
It’s a long loop, with just enough incline to make you think “dear god, why am I doing this???”. Worth it anyway.

WHEE!!!!!!
*pantpantpant*

The Maybes

-Jet Skiing
A place opened in Rockaway last year. No idea if they survived the hurricane. but jet skiing (or wave-running) is a thrill I always enjoy.
– Rock Climbing
My girl and I went indoor climbing a bunch of times over the last year. I’d love to introduce her to outdoor climbing up at the gunks.
– Hang Gliding
More fun than a barrel of monkeys! though let’s face it, at some point, they’ll start flinging poo. And that’s never fun. Anyway, go if you get the chance. It’s a fierce adrenaline high, and incredibly relaxing, all at the same time.
– Stand Up Paddleboarding
There’s a guy on the Hudson, downtown. That’s one of those things where a great day out is made even better by the location.

Looks just like me when I’m surfing!

The Would-Be-Nices

– Bungee Jumping
Yep, scares the hell out of me too. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to go again!
-Skydiving
Suck it, Gravity! this one is very dependent on the weather,and it’s very frustrating to have to go again and again just to be turned away because it’s too windy.
– Sailing
Possibly solo. Because not everyone enjoys a fifty degree heel with a rail buried in the water.
Plus, then I get to control the music.

The Pipe Dreams

– Trans Continental Road Trip
Very much on my list of things to do. Probably need to wait until I retire.
Or get let go with a kick-ass severance package…

Some thing on the list won’t get done. I’ll probably get to enjoy some things that didn’t even occur to me.
Do you see anything I left off, and more importantly, what will you be up to?

Oh, there should be sunsets too.

Oh, there should be sunsets too.

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An Adventure – Learning to Ski


Today’s Music: Tori Amos

So, here we are, in the ongoing series of “Learning to” Adventures posts.

Some of my best skiing days have happened when I was hung over. I don’t recommend that condition for actually learning to ski though.

This picture isn't me, but could have been. Many times.

Skiing (from Urban Dictionary): somethin a person does in the wintertime to convince oneself that he or she is actually enjoying the 10 degree weather.

The first thing is to get the right clothes.
The first time I went, I wore jeans. And fell a lot. All the dye in the denim seeped right through the top 20 layers of my skin, and I had blue legs through February.

Second thing is have a sense of humor.
You’re going to fall. No way around it. If you can laugh about it, you’ll be able to get back up and learn to stay up that much faster, thereby freeing yourself to laugh at the poor bastard behind you who just did a fantastic slow-mo windmilling flop. While not moving.

Third thing is to get a teacher.
By teacher I mean not just someone who knows how to ski, but someone who can teach it.

Let me explain.
So one winter, Ronnie and Meat decided I should learn how to ski. Sure, why not.
We trundled up to the mountain, and I got my rental gear and lift ticket, and we headed up the mountain. To the top.

Much scarier with planks strapped to your feet. And no idea what you're doing.

This was the lesson, as explained to me by Meat: Ronnie’ll go first and show you what to do. I’ll go behind you to pick up your stuff (see top pic) and tell you what you did wrong.

One thing I learned about cold mountain air – it clears hangovers fast. Well, that and terror.

For those of you have never been to Hunter Mountain, the main skiing face faces east. That means it is softened by the morning sun. Which means?
Exactly. When the sun crests and begins to set in the west, the east face freezes back up. Into sheet ice.

People out west mock the east coast snow. And justifiably, because their’s is much softer and fluffier.
But lemme tell you, if you can ski the east (especially someplace like Hunter), you can ski anywhere.

Back to the lesson.

The fourth thing is to Zip. Up. Your. Jacket. All the way.
We’ve already established that you will fall. At some point, you will probably Yard Sale (again, see top pic).
That’s where both your skis come off and shoot in opposite directions, your poles bounce off to God-knows-where, your hat is half buried in the snow behind you, a glove may have come off, and your lungs are twice their normal size from all the snow forced down your throat as you belly surfed down the hill.
Zipping your jacket will keep at least one square yard of snow off your chest.

Having fun yet?

Looks ridiculous, but it does work.

Good. Because it isn’t all horror. By the end of the day, I was able to use my modified snowplow to zig-zag down the mountain in one piece. I was skiing!

Meat and Ronnie gave me my first lessons in skiing parallel too (as opposed to snowplow), and this gave me (barely) enough control and (way too much) speed to be able to zip down the mountain making some truly…unique maneuvers.
I had so much fun, I eventually forgave them for their wtf teaching method.

Once I could ski at a level near theirs, we needed to add some tricks,
like the Daffy, and the Backscratcher

I've done this! And landed well!

I've done this! The landing was hilarious. And painful.

Now, my wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I try and go skiing at least once a year. I taught her the basics, and she very wisely (and relationship savingly) decided to take a real lesson. She gets better every year. And so do I.

Looking back over this, I think the most important part of learning to ski is to do it because it’s fun, and you want to enjoy it.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with blue legs, or a belly full of ice, or a broken rib (that one really sucked, but I skied the rest of the day anyway), and no big stupid grin to show for it.

Bought these after I knew how to use them. They were great, but their time has passed...

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go see what lift tickets will be this season, and try on my ski hat…

Yes, I do wear it in public. Sometimes, I even wear it to work.

Why Adventure?


There are things that are important to me. One of them is adventuring.
Why? is a question a lot of people ask me. It’s a question I ask myself as well.
Part of it is being part of a group that understands the thrill of doing these things, that have felt the same thrill.
I’ve jumped out of airplanes twice – the first time on a static line, the second time as a tandem.
Most people I’ve spoken to that have jumped all say the same thing – they don’t remember the first five seconds of their first jump.
I have the same gap. I think that happens because there is just no frame of reference for the brain to process what it’s just done.
Even after the brain catches up, it’s kind of hard to process. But it leaves a pretty damn big smile on your face, even after (if you’re like me) you blow the landing, smack your knee into a rock and limp for the next three weeks.
Battle scars are cool.

Part of what I love is the discovery of what this magnificent, complex, under-appreciated body is capable of.
I’ve gone climbing many times at the Shawangunks in New Paltz, NY.
Sure, there’s a safety line, but once it’s fixed and checked for security, it’s forgotten, only used as a last case if (when) you come off the wall.
I remember 2 climbs in particular: Slightly Roddy, and the second pitch of High Exposure.
Slightly Roddy is a short climb – about 25 feet vertical, with a 10 foot overhang ledge. To reach the end of the climb, you shimmy up a very accessible face, then climb out parallel to the ground along a crack that is navigated by jamming both fists and both feet into it.
It’s a short climb, and as a Top-Rope, it is well protected. But on my third try, I was laughing so hard at the absurdity of the position I was in, that it was guaranteed I was going to fall off. And, laughing to my partner who was belaying me, that’s exactly what I did.
I never finished it, but it is one of the stand out climbs of my trips there.
High Exposure is memorable for a different reason.
Finishing a 100′ climb to a ledge, the exit move is done from that ledge onto a point.
To make the move (just below the woman in the picture), the climber has to lean forward over a 100′ drop, reach over their heads to find a hold, then grab it, spin around and climb up into nothing. Nothing.
I couldn’t do it. I took that look down and seized up.
If the two climbers rappelling down hadn’t stopped, called out encouragement and yelled guidance on where to put my hands, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
But they did. And with their words, they welcomed me into the club of “Because it’s There”.
That day, I learned, more clearly than from any other situation before or since, what my body and mind can do when they work together.
Same thing with hang gliding. The body and mind have to be focused and working together, or bad things can will happen.

Or scuba diving.
As an insulin-dependent diabetic, I’m not supposed to dive. But it was pretty high on my list of things to do, and on a resort vacation one year, I decided to take the whole Open Water Diver course.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Flying. I was flying. Moving in three dimensions with a wave of my arm or kick of my leg. Hovering. Rising. Falling. Flipping (a little weird doing somersaults in scuba gear, but still fun). And so, so relaxing. If you’ve done it, you know what I mean. And you can understand a conversation about the fun of being self-contained in an alien world.
If you haven’t, stop reading this, find a dive shop, and get your butt in the water.
You’ll thank me for pushing you into it later. Even you, Greg.

Or surfing. Which I suck at.
I don’t suck at all parts of it. there’s a move called “pearling”, which is flying off the front of the board. While it’s not the goal of surfing, I have managed to discover 117 different ways to do it. And mastered them all.
But I keep going out and I keep trying. Because it’s fun. And lets face it, driving through suburban NYC with a surfboard strapped to your roof is cool. Especially if you know how to use it! (Which I will one day. I hope).

It’s part of being in a group that knows what it takes to do these things, of the commitment and focus needed to ride on that edge between lots of fun, slightly insane, and totally unbelievably stupid.

In the end though, more than the community, more than the cool factor, even more than discovering my limits and how to get past them, it’s about discovering joys and perspectives that I just can’t find commuting to work, or just sitting at my desk, or doing any of the mundane daily tasks that are part of life.

If someone asks “Why adventure?”, my two answers are a quote from George Mallory, “because it’s there”, and the other, even truer for me, to answer every surprised gasp or aghast sneer of “why would you do that?”, I can only answer…

“Why would you not?