Author Archives: jilladler PCSkiGal

Have You Ever Lost A Parent?

How do you accept death? Life, that’s easy. You look forward to seeds sprouting, grass turning green, a new baby’s wail. But how do you face death without this huge ache and dread in your gut? Maybe it’s different when you’re the one about to go – after you’ve lived 90 years. But I’m telling you now, I’m scared of the pain and unending sorrow that will meet me when a parent dies. No matter how angry and awful parts of my childhood are remembered to be, my mom and dad are my best friends. I call them every other day just to chat and catch up. They get on my case for choices I’ve made, I hang up on them, we chuckle, we plan visits. Who will I call ‘just to call?’ Who will make me feel that no matter what I do, who I do, how I feel, where I am, I have someone I can count on, someone who has my back, someone who still loves me? Only parents do that. They may pull the silent treatment or hold a grudge but in the end the wall comes down. Without them, I’m alone. I’m raw. I’m unprotected. Left to make decisions without their voice in my head; no one to try to make proud of me.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my parents cancelled their trip to Europe, got in a car and drove 12 hours to the hospital to be there for my surgery 10 days later. They would have been here immediately but I made them wait. No one else but a parent does that for you without asking. They just know it’s what you need.

I want to scream, “Don’t die! You can’t die! Live forever, please?!” But I can’t because it wouldn’t do any good.

My dad’s cousin died last night. I called Dad to see how he was doing. He sounded just like he always does. Upbeat, sarcastic, active. He told me they’re waiting for a guy to show up to measure the backyard for a putting green. Then he said, “and then there were two.” Referring to the fact that only he and his cousin Joseph were the last of his line (ignoring of course that both of them have children and grandchildren). He’s not thinking legacy. He’s thinking time left. Me too. I wish I could pick his brain about death, dying, life, how he sees those, how he faces them, what he wants in the end and what he dreams about. But I can’t. Not because he doesn’t want to talk about it but because I’d be reduced to a blubbering mess. I don’t want them to think they have to do something to make me feel better. We have nothing to resolve, no words left unsaid. But maybe I feel like that kind of conversation could be closure in the future; something to look back on and smile warmly inside? But I’m not strong enough to start that chat.

Maybe I’m afraid to see how scared they really are; or how they’re not scared at all? Maybe I’m just afraid of not being steady. I cried making the speech at my best friend’s wedding reception. She caught it on tape. I’m still mortified by that moment.

How do you tell someone living how much you love them and how much you’ll hurt when they’re gone? You expect them to say something like- “I’m not dead yet” and then you feel like an ass. I hate myself right now because they’re here, they’re not gone yet and I’m grieving when I should be celebrating; when I should be embracing whatever time they are here. My mom is 70-something (she’d kill me if I revealed the number), my dad, 82. This year we are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Club Med Punta Cana. Last September, I had them running, er, walking all over Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Universal and the Magic Kingdom during a week in Orlando with Sage. People live to 100 these days, right? And if anyone can do it these tech-savvy jetsetters can.

Sometimes I think I’d like to go first and then there’d be no suffering, no emptiness, no pain 100 times worse than a boyfriend ditching you. I’m selfish but not that selfish. My parents don’t deserve to feel what I’m terrified to feel. Neither does Sage. She needs me for her own eternity and I would never want her to want to die before me. I just have to grasp that what will evolve is part of life; inescapable, tragic and tearful. That we did all we could do- are doing all that we can- for this temporal existence and nothing was missed.

Gadgets gone Wilde At CES

It’s the stage for intense hyperbole.

I am no longer a Consumer Electronics Show virgin. I have conquered my first time at the biggest tradeshow convention of my life. More than 150k attendees have dropped into the Las Vegas Convention Center to explore the latest and “greatest” technology to come. Everything here is the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the most efficient, the greenest, the most innovative, the only, the _____ (your adverb here).

We entered the South Hall Thursday morning and were instantly disoriented. Imagine walking into a robust casino with every slot machine going off and you have an idea of the frenetic energy on the show floor. Oh, and, the South Hall doesn’t even cover a third of who’s here at the show. By 6 p.m. we had barely made it to the Main Lobby where Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic were displaying ginormous 3D flatscreen TVs.

The trends you’ll find for next year start with tablets. Everyone is making a keyboardless touchscreen thanks to the iPad frenzy. Blackberry’s Playbook is getting the lion’s share of the buzz but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a pad that’s just right for you and within your budget. Could I tell you who’s making the best? NO. I’d have to use all of them and I don’t see that happening. But I do plan on chatting with the marketing dude for CES to get his expert opinions on all things electronic.

Motorola debuts the Xoom Tablet

Green energy and home automation to address energy saving is all over the place. I can’t wait to get my hands on an electronic thermostat I can control with an iPod app. GE and a few other companies are working on “smart systems” that integrate your home appliances with your power meter but until the utility companies purchase the technology we won’t be able to fully utilize what they’re creating. But I did hear that a company called Trane has a stand alone, mobile-enabled thermostat.

Imagine you’re out skiing and you realize that your thermostat was set to 70 because it was frigid when you woke up and you ran out without lowering it back down. Just open your app and log into your home meter before the tram doors shut and you have nothing to worry about.

Another company I’ve hunting down is called Vision Objects. They’ve developed handwriting recognition software that really works! The possibility of me writing in my journal or on a notepad, recording my penstrokes and uploading them into a word doc is really here. I can use my own paper anywhere. It’s too much to ask to make the pen and recorder waterproof but that day may come shortly.

This one didn’t

I’m sure you’re wondering if I saw any robots. Of course I did. In addition to the iRobot Roomba, the little, round disc that bumps into walls and furniture and jams up from all the dog hair, there were a few of those Jetson/R2D2 buddies attracting attention. Some worked, some didn’t. Most are still in the development phase and will be used by researchers. The one below is only for friendship at the moment. I’m not sure what’s worse; social interaction solely through Facebook or a robot friend.

Other attention grabbers at the show include boxes to stream Internet programs to your television, gaming like Wii’s race car driving game that you play from an inflatable race car, electric ‘smart’ cars, solar chargers of every size and shape with finally enough juice to power your iPhone smartphone or Mp3 player, pocket projectors to screen movies onto a wall from your iPhone and 3D digital cameras.

I slid into the Oregon Scientific room knowing I could find outdoor gadgets. Wireless weather stations, a new point-of-view waterproof helmet cam with a GPS add-on accessory that will map your trails and locations, and a strapless, touchscreen heartrate monitor wrist watch dazzled my expectations.

OK, I have to confess that one of the most exciting things I saw today was a wireless, waterproof, um, massager called the Alia from Lelo. Ladies, the little gizmo was sooo cool! Can’t wait to, um, test it.

More gadgeting and reporting tomorrow.

Winter Packing 101

Never fails. The night before your trip, you stand in front of your closet wondering, “What do I bring??” You’ve checked the weather report and it calls for snow and 30-degree temps, so with that information let’s get cracking.

1. Layers, layers, layers: Winter weather in the Wasatch changes with just about each forecast. Plus, while it might be cold and windy on the lifts, you’ll work up a sweat on the slopes. Not to mention that the faster chairlifts mean less time cold, more time hot. You’ll need technical clothing now more than ever to regulate your body temps. By layering you can add or subtract clothes as needed. By the way, leave the cotton for your flannel nightshirt. Cotton is a bad idea for winter recreating.

2. Technical Socks For Every Day: If you’re not planning to do the wash, bring a pair of socks for as many days as your trip. Technical fabrics get clogged with dirt and sweat so they won’t do their job of keeping toes warm and dry unless they’re clean. The thickness of your sock will be personal preference. Some swear by thin socks but I have terribly poor circulation in my digits. They will never be as good as my midweight Bridgedale and Fox River socks. If your boots are supertight, however, a thicker sock may cut off circulation and lead to frostbite. Bridgedale, BTW, has THE CUTEST ski socks for girls.

3. Sunscreen, Lip Balm, Goggles and Sunglasses: High altitude, sunny days and snow glare can fry your skin in an instant- not to mention what the whipping wind does. Pack products for evening replenishing as well as those to protect during the day. Sensitive skin types will love the natural lotions from Epionce like Extreme Weather Barrier and their 40+ sunscreen. I always carry a 25+ lipbalm on a string around my neck. No removing gloves to dig through pockets for the little bugger. JTree facestick is great for kids and to add an extra wind barrier to your face. Last note-you’re constantly wiping your face (of snow, snot and with that neck gaiter) so make sure you reapply often.

4. Water bottle or water backpack: If you don’t like skiing with things in your pockets or on your back leave a bottle or pouch in your car. You’ll be glad you did when you load up for your ride home. There are plenty of drinking fountains and water taps at area restaurants so make sure you keep tabs on your hydration level. Your first sign of dehydration will be dizziness and/or a headache. Don’t get to that place. It sucks. I have found the most awesome water bottle for post work out. The easy-grip Spresh from Source Outdoor may look a little phallic but get over it. No problem holding it with gloves on and the innovative squeezable bottle won’t crack if you drop your boots on it. And you can keep one hand on the wheel while drinking.

5. Good waterproof walking shoes: The best part of the day can be stripping off your ski boots and stepping into something soft and cozy. It’s a toss up between my Acorn Earthroamers and the Hi-Tec V-Lite Snowflake.

They’re like a spa treatment for your feet! I waterproofed both with Revivex Nubuck, Suede, and Fabric Waterproofer and now I take them everywhere. If you throw your boots into a Transpack bootpack, you can wear your comfortable shoes all the way to the slopes then stash your bag under a bench until day’s end and wear your walking shoes home.

You’ll have the added benefit of not wearing down the plastic of your boot soles walking across asphalt. (A note to fashionistas: The only high heel you should ever sport on a ski vacation should be something like the Jambu Cruise. Anything else just gets sloppy and dangerous.) FYI- Nothing screams “tourist” like the wrong shoes on your feet.

Jambu Cruise

6. Après ski clothes: Hat hair and wet clothes may be badges of honor after a day of skiing but if you want to be stylish and comfortable for the evening it’s best to change things out. Layering applies here too. It’s cold walking around Main Street but it could be downright sweltering inside that restaurant or bowling at Jupiter Bowl.

If you’re going to an outdoor concert or event then by all means where a pair of fleece-lined Wrangler pants but inside, they’ll just look like mom jeans. Better to wear a pair of Kuhl cords or heavyduty True Religion jeans under a long wool coat like the unique Helly Hansen Embla wool hybrid jacket of merino and Primaloft.

You can find amazing apres sweaters from Neve and my favorite trendy hats for men, women and kids have to be those from Nobis (no relation to Jeremy). The dress code for ski vacays is “Mountain Casual”. Leave the fancy stuff at home (unless you’re doing New Year’s Eve at the Stein Eriksen Lodge).

7. Food: You can plan to drop a load at resort cafeterias or you can pack snacks like Tram Bars, trail mix, and Power Bars and eat on your way home. Eating smaller more frequent meals throughout the day actually keeps you from bonking and prevents that afternoon bloat that comes with a big mountain lunch.

8. Swimsuit: Duh. Hot tubbing, people! But if you’re white like me, pack a tankini from Athleta. Not only are they cute but they’ll cover more skin. Sorry, guys.

9. Pain Reliever: No matter how hard you trained for you vacay, you’ll feel your ski day in every muscle and joint. Pack your favorite pain killer.

10. Neck Gaiter: Those rings of fleece may not be the chicest but you’ll regret not having one the minute you ride a windy lift or ski while it’s snowing. And they pack and wear better than a scarf.

I’m Dreaming of a White Thanksgiving

Oh yes, I finally headed out to Little Cottonwood. After a week in Orlando wearing sundresses and shorts and tracking Disney Princesses, I arrived back in SLC and head first into a storm. The forecasters didn’t lie or even get it wrong this time. Today was epic. Think April 2010 but with less terrain open. I made the bonehead move to blow off changing out my tires and was forced to leave the Blizzaks in the garage and grab the Thule snow chains to get out of my driveway. At least a foot of powder stood between me and I-215. Did I mention that I have never once put on snow chains? In my entire life of weekend roadtrips to Mammoth Mountain, Calif., my guy friends always did the honors.

I watched a quick YouTube Thule installation video and had those puppies harnessed around my rear tires in 10 minutes. (They recommend placing chains on rear tires of 4WD/AWD cars.) I rolled up to Chickadee at the crack of noon. The drive up the Canyon was a slow crawl with many a vehicle doing the fishtail boogie. Alta probably would have been the better call because they have more terrain open, a singles line at Collins and the trees make whiteouts manageable; but I parked at Chickadee. I’m a wuss in the cold and the Tram’s like a womb- warm, safe and rockin’ the good vibes.

It’s still early season despite the reported 14″ this morning so I clicked into my rock skis and cruised to the tram dock. The line was insane. Full maze inside then out the door around the back of the building and out toward the plaza, ending at the ski school office. What could you do? The Peruvian Lift won’t open until Friday. Gadzoom was running but I wanted the top not the middle. I wanted untracked powder not Big Emma. I stood in line. Like going back to school after summer break, there were all the familiar Bird faces.

I ran into Alta Lodge’s Joni Dykstra on the dock and we hooked up for the first run. I hate skiing alone especially when the visibility sucks and my fingers are cold. The temp meter at Hidden Peak was pointing to 15 degrees. We took the Cirque Traverse for the Sign Line. We dropped in to the most forgiving snow you could have ever dreamed of on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Usually we’re getting this kind of fluff the day after Turkey Day. Not this early. Every turn was creamy and if we were guys we’d be high-fiving each other at the bottom. Instead, we snapped iPhone photos. Back in the tram line others echoed our amazement. How could it be this awesome, this early? One guy went so far as to say, “Global warming my ass.”

Joni’s friend Larry Burch joined our unit and filled us in on the La Nina/El Nino banter. Those little siblings love to take annual turns toying with Utah ski conditions. Larry is the deputy director at the NOAA Salt Lake aviation weather center so he knows a little something about weather. Supposedly, we’re in a La Nina season. COLD COLD storm systems that will dump copious amounts on winter crack. He says we’ve got another 2-3 feet coming by Wednesday, then an arctic front that will push in to deliver a few clear, brutally cold days for Thanksgiving.

The tram line had mellowed a bit now that the morning hardcores had left. We did another run in mid cirque. It was 3:25 p.m. when we boarded for our third and final lap. That’s three runs in three hours. Not a record but seeing as how my legs burned after the first run, I wasn’t complaining. Larry cut across Reg to the traverse and mentioned something about dropping down the backside; i.e. Nirvana. Sure why not? He’d been spot on so far. OMG! Not only were we the only ones in the whole area but we laid down the only tracks. I got my first face shot of the season. Up until now I had been tentative. No one wants to wreck and hurt themselves before March let alone before Thanksgiving. But here I was faced with a couloir with bottomless blowage. I had to attack. Sorry, Ryan, this was better than sex. The turns happened when they were supposed to, the legs extended when they were supposed to the hoots came out when they were supposed to. I was in the zone. I was in the zone? Already?

By the time I got my SUV unstuck from the parking spot it was 4 p.m. and the line down the Canyon was moving 2 mph. I heard those trying to leave earlier in the day had it worse- an hour and half to get to the mouth. But the traffic was worth it. I was able to make three phone calls spraying about my day to those who decided to sit it out. NEENERS.

Most people don’t plan Thanksgiving ski trips. There’s usually no snow. This year, Utah couldn’t have wished for a better marketing campaign to get the tourism phones ringing. Where will you ski this Thursday?

P.S. The Canyons really ought to figure out a way to make their passholders happy. Announcing a Dec. 10th opening in the midst of these big dumps is not going over well. Just look at all of the comments their Facebook “fans” are leaving:

Orlando Day 2- We Made It Through Epcot

Ok, I really should be sleeping at this very moment. Everyone else is passed out. But I can’t let the thoughts pile up. I wouldn’t be able to sort them out later. What a day. We had at least three tantrums from Sage – and this is after she spent over an hour screaming like Linda Blair last night. She didn’t want to sleep and she made sure no one else could. SIGH. My dad has started calling her The Thing again.

It absolutely sucks to have a child who might lose it at any turn. You read all of those books that tell you to head off tantrums before they happen? What do you do when they’re always about to happen? We can’t just give her everything she wants. Tantrums happen whether she’s tired, rested, fed or hungry. She wants a present every day. She doesn’t deserve one. Last night she didn’t want to sleep. Not going to let her stay up. Today she wanted a princess dress. We told her last night that if she didn’t stop, she wouldn’t get a dress. She has to go a whole day without being a beeatch (we didn’t use those words). She didn’t last five minutes today before the monster came out. Stomping, shouting, making pouty faces, and crying were all part of the scene today. At least they didn’t last as long or as loud as last night. But it was enough to get us to tell her, no dress tomorrow. And then there’s another tantrum. Maybe tomorrow she can be a good girl and get her dress on Wednesday? Doubt it. The good news is then we don’t have to spend $60 on a Disney Princess dress. That’s the price in these parts.
We kept seeing all of these little girls glittered up, with a tiny tiara tucked in their bunned hair and wearing the latest in princess fashion. I asked one mom how much it cost and where did they go to get their kid all dolled up like that and she said Bibiddy Bobbity Boutique in Downtown Disney, $189!!! OMFG. Good thing Sage will never ‘earn’ that kind of present. Parents with boys are lucky. They have to buy hotwheels and video games. They don’t have to spend $200 on dress up clothes.
In case you couldn’t tell, we made it into Epcot. Not a single problem with the tickets. The place was relatively uncrowded and we were able to do just about everything we wanted to – Soarin’, Innovations, Sum of All Thrills, Turtle Talk, Test Track, walked twice around the World, drank beer in Germany, ate potstickers in China and watched Illuminations. The parks close at 9 p.m. until Thanksgiving but we still didn’t get home until 11 p.m.
I”m really going to bed now. I need my energy to deal with Sage. We’re doing Universal Islands of Adventure tomorrow. My rents are big Harry Potter fans. One last mention- Sage went right to bed tonight without fuss. Is there a light at the end of this tunnel?
She looks like a princess but can she act like one??
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