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More busyness and a ski day, too

Busy, busy, busy.  I’m still hoping to get Netwalker Uprising out by March 1st, but damn, this has been the Book From Hell to get out.  Hopefully things will get better…but this has been One.  Tough.  Book.  And then I have to write another one to top it.  Netwalk’s Children should be fun, but OMG, this is one book I plan to plot, plot, plot.

Hopefully the  readers like Uprising.  There’s a lot of tie-ins to current events and I feel like I’m running just ahead of the latest neuroscience…getting to be a bit of a mad race.

Meanwhile, in other affairs, Riding Has Proceeded Along.  Miss Mocha has been quite energetic and switching to a Pelham has had interesting effects–we’re swapping leads quite nicely although a bit on the fast side.  Nonetheless, counter-canter! Comfortably! And two-track on the diagonal at the lope!  Granted, it ain’t purty.  Yet.  But first we have to hit Willing Suspension of Disbelief In Latest Movement Request, Human!

And then today was a sweet bluebird skiing day.  First day back after my fall, with the new helmet.  I’d decided to switch back to the glasses I’d used for a while, and they work better.  The new helmet is comfy and I like it better.  But….

The boots.  Damn it.  Boots!  I had a hard time controlling the skis and it was a midski wiggle.  I’ve put in over 160–maybe even as many as 200–days on the slopes with these boots.  I stopped to talk with the bootfitter on the way home and he pretty much confirmed that those boot liners are packed out.  Either new custom liners or new boots.

Or….I still have the Lange Exclusive boots that got too tight for me.  I talked with the bootfitter about them.  His comment was “I can make a boot bigger, I really can’t do much to make it smaller.”  So I’m going to see if I can use those boots.  After all, they skied well the first few months I had them…but I was heavier, and then had all those injuries to my feet that may have made my feet swell.  I put my custom footbeds in the Langes and tried them on with my ski setup, and they seem to be plenty roomy.  Just need to have my bindings adjusted (half size larger) and we’re good to go.

It wasn’t all problematic on the slope, either.  Lovely snow day, dry crispy snow.  That made the boot issue even more annoying.  Went down the pitch that threw me with no problems, and figured out why I fell–combination of leaning too far forward and a momentary midski wobble.  I skied much slower than usual because I had to overcontrol my skis.  Not fun at all in some respects, but it was so absofuckinglutely gorgeous that I didn’t care.

We got four runs in on Flood before going up to the Mile for two runs.  I stopped halfway down on the Mile and tightened up my boots–definite improvement but still not enough.  The second Mile run, I hit one stretch where it was steep, the tired leg didn’t want to turn right, and I had to force the turns.  Too much fighting the boot, and it meant my hips didn’t want to work right, either.  Or something.  I just knew that lovely as the conditions were, once turns stop working consistently, it’s time to get off the slope.

Nonetheless, it was a lovely ski day.  Second ride up on the Mile, I spotted two ravens together where one raven had been on our first loop.  And that lovely, squeaky, crispy snow!


Damn boots anyway.  Of course, it would help if I were a better skier.

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Out with the old, in with the new….helmet, that is.

Six days ago, I took a hard fall when skiing.  It wasn’t on a black diamond or even a difficult blue slope; the slope’s own name, Kruser, testifies to the reality that it’s a pretty easy run with a few sharp drops that are more fun than anything else.  Nonetheless, I caught an edge, weighted my downhill ski wrong, and flipped to land hard on my back and shoulder.  During the tuck and roll, my head hit hard on the packed powder snow.








That was the helmet on my head during that fall…and that crack, right where you see the harness in the full picture, was the result.

I had a wee bit of whiplash from that fall, but I suspect that without the helmet, things could have been much worse.

And, per all helmet advisories, that helmet has served its time and is now in the trash.  It’s been replaced.






And am I a helmet advocate?  Oh hell yes.  The only time you’ll find me on horseback without a helmet is during a Western show.  On skis or on a bicycle…never.  Helmet.  Always.

Didn’t need this to make me a believer, though.

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Ski days 5 and 6–yard sale!

Sunday was one of those absolutely gorgeous ski days.  Foggy and moody at home, but up on the Mountain it was crisp, bright and clear.  Driving up, we spotted snow whirls way up top and worried that they meant wind, but it was still at Timberline.  The snow was crisp and sharp underneath, and we got three runs in on the Flood chair before moving up to the Magic Mile.

Four runs on the Mile, two on an older section with a couple of interesting drops.  Sunny, sunny day, gorgeous time.

Today was mist and half-rain, half-snow.  Crisp, icy snow underfoot and a fresh wax job.  Both DH and I are still feeling our early season conditioning muscles, so we weren’t pushing it.  Kruser was a nice run so we did it three times.

But the second time, I took a fall. A real yard sale of a fall, as we call it in skiing, with both skis popping off and poles flying.  Not sure how or why I fell, really, just caught an edge on a little halfpipeish V curve that really isn’t that difficult, except…something caught.  I found myself overbalancing and going down, twisting in midair to catch the fall just behind my right shoulder joint, popping out of my bindings (good, I was thinking as that happened, I so do not want to feel that pain), and landing hard on my back.  My head thumped but the helmet absorbed the shock and my roll had me ending up half on my left side.  DH took a slow, careful fall, I was half-up by the time he was done.  We checked in with each other, then I stumped up the hill to retrieve my first ski and we snapped back in.  The snow was actually pretty forgiving; not hardpack, enough to have some give.  Less snow or a fall like that on hard ground would have hurt more.

So far, there doesn’t appear to be much going on other than sore muscles.  The abs I’ve been working as part of my Pilates program are achy tonight, which suggests to me that I subconsciously engaged them as I fell, my shoulder is sore, my hip is sore.  But I’ve had worse.  As a result, though, I got chilled and wet to the skin (not just that, some other stuff), and ended up feeling wiped out for the day.  Not surprising.

We did three more runs after my fall, and then called it quits.  By then the weather was an icy, sleety, snowy mix.  I was chilled enough that I had problems bagging my skis in the wind and needed help.  But once in the car and warmed up, all was well.

I keep thinking over the fall sequence, though.  Not from fear, rather, from thinking about how to describe it.  One thing I have noticed in falling from skis or from a horse is that I seem to have the same experience of intense focus and looking around for a place to fall.  I never seem to be able to do that if I trip while walking, but skiing or riding, I can.  It was odd because I had the same sensation of picking my spot to fall–there–and working with it.  Ski pops off here, I land here, other ski pops off here, head bonks here, roll onto side and stop.  Very clearly delineated.

The only thing I can’t account for is how my pole got bent.  Not bad, but clearly bent, enough that it was catching a little bit annoyingly.  I’ve got a spare, so that’s taken care of.

Anyway, that was interesting.  This year’s skiing is definitely less aggressive, mainly due to illness and to working my way back from last year’s hip injury/long term hip maintenance.  Getting back into shape.  It’s coming along.

ETA–looking back, these were ski days 5 and 6….

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This and that, ski day #4, catching up, writer stuff, weird horse humor

Work is crazy and I’ve been sick, therefore minimal blogging.  This state is probably going to continue for at least a couple more weeks, and then I’m hoping it will cool off for a while.  ‘Tis the IEP season, and furlough days add to the challenge.

The latest bug managed to hit everyone in the family in one way or another.  I finally started feeling decent last week and went skiing with another teacher at Friday night ski.  Didn’t see a lot of the students but had a nice time.  Icy, fast, and I was wishing for a little less wax but grateful for newly sharpened edges.  The hips worked okay, but tired quickly.  It’s going to be a while before I can have long, intense ski days with me against the Mountain in a storm.  But hopefully it can happen again.

I remembered why I’m not a wild fan of night skiing after a bluebird day.  Bluebird days mean sun and melting, which means freezing after the sun gets low, which means ice.  Sure, it’s stunningly beautiful, especially if there happens to be a full moon (sadly, no), but it was not a night for challenges.  I went down Vicky’s once and ended up muttering and swearing along the way, mainly the upper stretch.  But it’s just one short and steep, narrow dip, and then the rest of the run’s pretty sweet.

Still, that upper stretch?  Arrgh.

I did manage to knock off a short story last week, complete from original notes on Saturday to final draft submitted on Friday.  Themed anthology piece, hope it works.  If it does get accepted, I think I’m going to use it as a plotting/organizing example, then tuck it aside as a potential teaching piece.

Mocha has been quixotic this week.  G has been gone for judge training and his absences do set her off stride.  Girl likes her routines.  Nonetheless, she’s been pushy in small ways.  Some of them are fun, like when she took off a lot faster and harder than I expected when we did rundowns.  I laughed and rode with it.

But then there are the other times.

She got grouchy about me asking her to do two strides of canter between two points in another session, and decided I must really mean “trot,” not “canter.”  Discussions ensued, including entertaining lateral evasions at rollback speeds, popping of whip, and sessions of two canter strides, whoa, two canter strides, whoa, two canter strides, whoa, all around the rail, in both directions.  A bit of that, and then she decided she could do it between two points after all.

I’d be more worried but we have occasional sessions like this where she just plain decides to get sticky about something she’s done repetitively before.  She’s overthinking it, for some reason, and that usually means she’s reprocessing this familiar movement in connection with something else we’ve been working on.  I don’t always understand the linkages she’s making but there generally is a connection.  Smooth out the behavior she’s sticking on and the other movement we’re developing also improves.

She’s also been getting pushy in little ways on the ground and I’ve had to correct her.  In talking to G tonight, she started anticipating a stop, or turning in a particular way to face him, without being cued to do it.  In fact, she moved from a position I’d put her in to a position she preferred.  I corrected it by moving her around, then reparking her.  She didn’t move.  Little stuff?  Yeah.  But with a horse like her, best to stop this stuff early and firm.

G commented that she was herding and driving the other mares around in turnout today.  Making a play to be alpha?  It would match the pushiness she’s been showing–it’s spring and The Girl is feeling dominant.

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Injuries, a quiet ski day # 3, and a quiet but warmer riding night

What with going back off the holiday and everything else going on, I’ve fallen behind on the blogging front.  This year, though, I’m trying to be more productive by being kinder to myself.  That also ties into skiing–taking the long view rather than the nail-it-now view.

For one thing, I’ve been wrestling with a long-term muscle injury in my hip that has stubbornly refused to improve.  I was able to finish out last year’s ski season with little impact, but skiing was definitely harder and more challenging, despite an improvement in skill level.  I kept wrestling to control things I shouldn’t have needed to control and fatiguing more in my legs and hips than I should have been.  The hips have been difficult for me to deal with when I get injured.  I thought this last injury was just another strain and I’d be able to work through it.

Well, a year ain’t working through it.  I still had hip pain and my range of motion in the hips has been drastically limited.  While I’ve never been able to adopt a full yoga sit, at least I could sit cross-legged.  Not now.  I’ve been to the doctor, the massage therapist, the yoga studio, and now the acupuncturist, soon to be joined by a very short Pilates interval (a LivingSocial coupon for private Pilates training, three classes).  Dr. Lady, Massage Guy, and Needle Guy all agree it’s the hip, not a back or joint issue.  Another flareup of the lovely myofascial pain syndrome I’ve been wrestling with most of my adult life.  I don’t get bone and joint failure, I get tendon and muscle issues.

The acupuncture has appeared to have some dramatic and effective results, however.  I went to a local sports/athletic-oriented acupuncturist.  We talked, he had me lie on the table, assessed my range of motion in a manner similar to my sports massage therapist, and summed it up in simple terms–hips frozen up, range of motion significantly limited, acupuncture on back and hips this time, next time the quads, series of exercises to perform daily.  For the most part, the needles went in smoothly.

Two stood out.  One, on the side of the new injury, burned.  I commented about that.  The other, on the site of the thirty-two year old injury, slugged me.  I literally felt as if I’d been hit by a hammer.  Obviously, I commented on that one.

I moved slowly the next few days, but there’s been some obvious pain relief, and maybe a little bit of freedom of motion.  Horseback riding has definitely shown improvement, and skiing….

Well, I also had the boots assessed as a factor in why I’m fighting the skis again.  The most crucial piece was that once again I’d overlooked the adjustable factor on the boots, with one ski set to soft flex and the other to hard flex.  Soft flex is more forgiving and takes less muscling; hard flex is more aggro.  But the fitter also added heel stabilizers to the custom footbeds (thankfully, those aren’t packed out) and adjusted my buckles.

Between the needles and the fitter, things appear to be better on the boards.  DH was happy because the conditions were the hard pack he prefers to ski.  I was just plain happy because, while I was still being overcontrolling (taking care of myself), I wasn’t fighting the skis.  The frustrating thing was that I got tired and achy after two runs down Kruser, a little run down Pucci, and then four runs down the Mile.  Yeah, some of that is still early season conditioning stuff, but still, it’s annoying.

But–sunny day on top of Hood while clouds boiled all around us for the win!  And of course I forgot my camera.  At one point, I looked across at Mt. Jefferson and could barely see its tip while clouds boiled between Hood and Jefferson.  The cloud bank boiled just about at eye level up at the top of the Mile, but it didn’t curl around the upper, open slopes or the higher level of trees.  Very much a low-level foggy mist cloudbank.

So a nice day and sun we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

Last night was my first ride after going back to work.  I was late getting to the barn, of course, but that’s not surprising.  It’s warmed up so Miss Mocha was plenty warm and energetic.  We did an enthusiastic but low-level schooling based on inside and outside bends at all three gaits, with some two-tracking.  She’s definitely regressed a little on the counter-canter, but I think that also has to do with my hips deciding to lock up more this winter, footing slickness, and her own winter issues.  We had solid inside and outside bends, and even got some nice short counter-canters.

Happy girl at the end, with treats, a good roll, and a thorough brushing.  As we went into the stall, I noticed that one leg strap was looser than I liked, so I had her stand at the door while I adjusted it, before I pulled off her halter and let her eat.  She waited patiently.

Damn, I love this horse.  No worries about taking her away from her food.  She leaves it willingly for work and, while she’s eager to get back to it, she’s confident it will be there (though the barn manager says she’s been noisy at grain time).  And she waits for me to okay it before she goes to her food.  Lots of training there, though, it didn’t happen overnight.  Plus I am generous with the cookies while tacking/grooming.

And now, time to write and then head off to the day job.  Whew.

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Ski day # 2





Today I remembered to bring the camera.  Lots of dry, fluffy snow, and alternating sun and clouds, especially up higher.  I even got to see a snowbow (pictured above).

DH didn’t ski today because his knee is still bugging him.  Timberline was hopping from the beginning.  I did a warmup run down Pucci–still don’t have my ski muscles back up and in line yet.  But a day like today helps.  A quick two runs down Pucci, and I continued on down to the bottom of Jeff Flood–where I decided I wasn’t ready to go yet.  So I moved over to Stormin’ Norman and stayed there the rest of the ski session, watching as the lifties worked to get the Magic Mile up and running.  It was still covered with rime ice from the last storm, and man, the snow depth is amazing for December.





I got in five runs on Norman, which isn’t too bad given the crowds later on and all.  About eleven the slopes started getting really chopped up, and I didn’t want to push my luck for the Mile today.  I didn’t start to see skiers on the Mile until after I’d taken my gear off.  Oh well.  It’s only the beginning of the season.  We’ll see what the end brings.  There’ll be plenty of good ski time.  Just getting my legs back.

And in the end, to be rewarded with this view….







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A thank you, and first ski day of the season

For those of you who’ve responded to my post about teachers and guns, thank you for your thoughtful responses.  I appreciate every one of them.

Sadly, there are folks out there (but only two that I know of, thankfully) who’ve accused me of either overreacting or being afraid to use a gun.  Sigh.  As far as I’m concerned, they’re following talking points, knowingly or not.  And so far, none of them have any actual classroom or teaching experience in a K-12 setting.  Nor do they show signs of having thought through the force decision steps in that setting.  Sigh.  That’s all I’m going to say.

On to more cheerful things…sort of.  The first day out wasn’t the greatest this year, while not being the worst.  DH wrenched his bad knee when he got into deep, heavy, wet powder and was out for the day.  My bad, because 1.) I didn’t insist we stay on Pucci and 2.) I didn’t scout it first.  My skis handle powder better than his.  So he’s out for a couple of weeks, but thankfully no long-term harm done.

The conditions were tough.  Heavy, wet powder on a base that hadn’t really had time to build.  Pucci was in pretty good shape early in the day; Pucci as I like it with the high sloping banks that make me think of pinball bumpers as I ricochet off of them.  Even at that, it took me three runs to get the rhythm of shifting weight from ski to ski smoothly.  And I’m tight in the hips, not in a good way.

I finished off with a check it out run down Uncle Jon’s band.  Still pretty low snow and as a result, lots of choppy moguls on the slopes.  I opted out of the last steep drop because I saw a little tree emerging from the snow at the top and figured it was lower than I wanted to ski.  I went around, and was happy I did when I looked up from the bottom.  Not only is more snow needed but it needs to have about a week of grooming and packing for best results–at least for what this old lady likes to do.  Given the forecast, however, I think things will be great by next week.

I found my condition lacking in a couple of areas.  Not surprising, considering my usual modus operendi is to ski Pucci and build up my strength before moving on to the longer runs.  Definitely in beginning of season condition.  Which means caution, listening to the ol’ bod, and doing some drills.

And squats and lunges at home.  Ah well, it was a beginning, and I started tapping into the flow.  We’ll see how things go from here.

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Reining and skiing

I had a revelation last night while working Mocha and musing about both G and husband’s comments about our reining performance.  G said that we had the best control at speed, and DH said we looked totally natural, a horse running because she wanted to run and the rider flowing with her, directing her.  Plus there was the barn rat whose comment after our first run was “Day-UM.  You two were smoking out there.”

I have no idea what it looked like, myself.  No pictures, no video, at least to my knowledge.  I know what it felt like to ride those runs, and we were going fast enough for my well-fitted felt cowboy hat to wobble (which takes some doing, it’s a very snug fit.  Don’t usually have that problem with the show hat).

But I had to wonder–just how did I get to the point where I could ride fast with that degree of control?  Even up to about six months ago, fast galloping was best done in two-point for my balance.

And then I figured it out.  Skiing, in particular, developing the skill and confidence to take on challenging and steep runs, as well as skiing fast (relatively fast, for me).   Before I skied, I had a fairly common problem with riding circles at speed–I’d lean in a little (a phenomenon known as motorcycling/motorbiking in the horse world and frowned upon).  That puts both horse and rider off balance.  When I started the baby schooling working Mocha at speed about six months ago, I started automatically and smoothly shifting my weight to my outside stirrup and my outside seatbone.  It felt like second nature and it contributed to the ability to run faster with better balance.  Mocha responded eagerly and I found I could direct and control her better.

So where did I learn that?  Working my way down Palmer and some other steep slopes.  Effective turning in those circumstances means weighting the outside ski and edge, then shifting quickly and smoothly to the opposing edge.  My balance was more forward, more hunt seat than Western, but this past year I started working on skiing a bit more upright due to back issues, while still maintaining the correct balance.  And, on the steeper slopes, leaning into the hill is a no-no because then the skis slide out from under you.

Interesting.  Improving my ski balance also helped improve my riding work.

I love it when a plan comes together, even though this one really wasn’t planned.

And now, if it would only snow……

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Palmer 2012 and other stuff

Yesterday morning was a perfect illustration of Timberline’s dual nature.  We started out in the trees, with conditions like this:







Annoyingly I had to stop and wipe my glasses every fifty yards or so.  While my goggles had been great all season, yesterday, they….weren’t.

Then as we got off of Jeff Flood after our third run through the trees, we spotted what looked like a clearing trend up high on the Mountain.  So we hopped on the Magic Mile and went up, to this:







The Palmer chairlift is now open, so I convinced DH to give it a try.  Palmer is the highest lift on Hood, and it’s a black diamond–as much for the elevation and lack of trees as the steepness.  Here’s a look:







We skied down Palmer twice, taking our time and going slowly.  For one thing, it was steep, for another, it was pretty cut up.  But we did well, though DH hit a patch of snow and his ski popped off at one point.  Still not sure how that one happened, but it was on a flat run so not too bad.

Our Palmer runs were a lot like our early runs on the Mile–slow, careful, with breaks to ease the legs.  When you ski slow and under more control, that’s more fatiguing than skiing fast.  But neither one of us were really up for a fast mile-long run, especially one like Palmer.  Nonetheless it was gorgeous and in the sun, while everything else was fogged in.

And then we came home, rested, then went to the DH’s thirty year award banquet.  On the way home, we spotted Reed College’s Renn Faire fireworks so we stopped to enjoy those.  A lovely end to a lovely day.

Today is a light day.  I could have gone to the barn, but I wanted to do household chores and get back to work on the Netwalk stories.  Friday, besides watching over the son here at home, I got my MS together and out for the Angry Robot open call, and then sent out all the short stories that have been accumulating since the last big submissions flurry.  For the moment, everything marketable is now out.

So I’ve planted my flowerpots with pansies, cosmos, begonias, lobelias and petunias.  Several leftover petunias got stuck into filler positions around the flower beds.  That’s pretty much all of my flower planting for now since I planted the rest of the nasturtiums and sunflowers on Friday.  The California poppies, sweet peas and first nasturtium plantings are cruising right along.  Looks like we’ll have edible pod peas by the end of May.  The apple trees appear to be setting fruit (except for the baby Yellow Transparent) so we should have some nice apples this year.  Despite the craziness, we do appear to be on track.

Onward now to rearranging office and getting to work on Netwalk stuff.  It’s been way too long.

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It’s a lovely April afternoon. So we go skiing.

DH and I had many plans for this weekend, and one of them involved shoehorning a ski day around work/credentials testing today and work/ballet/groceries/etc tomorrow.  The weather for a quick yet pleasant ski trip looked auspicious for this afternoon, so…we went for it.

Spring skiing at its best.  You’ll have to take my word for it; no camera this time and that was probably a good thing.  While the temps were in the high 30s F, the winds out of the northwest roared through with gusts in the mid-thirties, at least by the official measurement.

I think there were a few stronger than that.  At least one gust pushed both me and DH back into the chair momentarily at the top of the Magic Mile.

Nonetheless, despite the wind it was comfortable, sunny with clouds wisping through the high slopes, and crystalline snow blowing drifts across the groomed areas to provide a bit of wind tillage to even out the surface.  Cloudbanks kept threatening to sock us in, but by the time they hit the ridge just on the west edge of the Mile, they’d break up into clawlike tendrils that briefly resembled roaring dragons.  We watched the clouds, fascinated, on each ride up the Mile.

Then we flew down.  A bit of wind assist, I’d say, and somewhat spooky with the flying shadows from the clouds skittering across the snowfields, alternating shadows and sunlight.  Conditions were icy with drifted powder, but a sharp, crisp ice rather than wet over ice.  The line between crisp ice and slush hit quite sharply.  Not enough to throw us, as it happened on a flatter part of the slope, but it was clearly a quick transition between softer snow and harder snow, and the softer snow was still cold enough to be slick instead of grabby.

Some days the wind on the Mile is just too sharp and cutting to bear.  Then the groom has to be good enough to want to ride uphill huddled over on the chair to preserve body heat.  It wasn’t like that today.  Sharp wind, true, wind strong enough to push me along with my back to it unless I dug in my edges, but still a capricious, warming spring breeze, cold and crisp with promise.  The same gust that pushed me back onto the chair also whipped a small chunk of ice into my cheek just before we got off.

Slipping off the chair was a bit of a challenge, not just because of the wind but because the ramp was a sheet of solid ice, but again, it was crisp and not wet over ice, which is a lot easier to handle.  And once we dropped over the edge and started down, between the wind and the firm snow, we both built up quite a bit of speed.  We started with 15 minute circuits (between riding up and skiing down) and ended with 10 minute circuits.  Not bad for a couple of old pharts who took up skiing later in life.

And then we came home to a warm spring afternoon.  I decided that today was the First Day for Hippie Skirt Wearing.

A clear sign that spring is here.  Hopefully we’ll get more lovely days like this up on the Mile (and maybe I can even sneak encourage the husband to try out Palmer.  He’s done Vicky’s.  Could be an epic spring for Palmer).

Yep.  Ski day #18.  Sweet.

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