Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sharing a Snowshoe with Friends at the High Altitude Adventure Center

Yesterday I had a great time trekking with a group of friends through the woods on Sunrise Mountain at Killington.  We were led by our awesome guide Chris from the High Altitude Adventure Center.  She led us to a tent about a mile in the woods.  At the tent hot soup and snacks were waiting.  We hung out for about an hour and trekked back.

After our hike we were joined by a few more friends for cocktails, dinner, and music at the High Altitude Cafe at Fallsbrook Common at Sunrise Mountain.  A good time was had by all.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Connecticut Wonder: Willimantic Brewing Company

Last night a friend took me to the Willimantic Brewing Company for dinner and a beer.  The WBC is housed in a huge old lime stone post office.  The post office theme is carried over to names of most the home brews like The Czech in the Mail, Spam Mail Ale, Scarlet Letter Red, and many more.  The food menu continued the theme, in addition to adding town names and zip codes to many of the items.

It was a hard choice with the large interesting assortment of home brews.  I settled on the "Most Wanted IPA," which is an Unfiltered India Pale Ale.  We shared the Aeropostale Flat Bread Pizza and the Colechester Cobb Salad for dinner.  Both drinks and dinner were very satisfying.  I look forward to my return.  I think next time I will try the beer sampling option, and make sure someone else will be driving me home. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunshine and Beach Please

I never thought I would tire of winter, but after a couple of springlike days last week, it sure seems mighty cold outside.  I keep dreaming of warm weather, sunshine, beaches and Margaritas.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Life is Like Tree Skiing

I just finished reading my latest edition of Ski Magazine.  In an article about skiing the trees, three quotes caught my attention and I thought life is like skiing the trees. 

The first quote was by Nick Herrin PSIA National Alpine Team; "If you hit one, it's going to hurt."
The second quote was by Dave Hartley, from the Steamboat Ski School, CO.  "If your eyes are constantly drawn to the trees instead of the paths between them, think of a pair of trees as a doorway.  As you pass through each door, look for the next one."
"When a student isn't distracted by past failures but is focused on progress, the lesson is often far more positive."  Gary Green Stratton Mountain School, VT.

My philosophy about trees skiing and life.  The trees are life's obstacles or challenges.  When we just focus on life's "trees," we often loose perspective and run into them.  It hurts.

Many times, I am fearful when skiing trees in tight challenging terrain.  It has to do with my past falls and crashes.  If I can clear my head of fear, and focus on the skills that were successful on similar runs, I am more likely to ski through each open doorway framed by the trees ahead.  I try to look at the space between life's "trees," and find the opportunities, so my run/life flows smoothly and I'm more likely success a successful run.

Monday, February 14, 2011

St. Valentine

Saint Valentine baptizing St. Lucilla by Jacopo da Ponte (via

St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred on February 14, 269 in Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses. (Catholic.Org)


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Adventure in the Kitchen: Gluten-Free Clam and Corn Chowder

I enjoy company when they visit me at Killington.  Company can bring challenges as well.  Today's challenge an easy apres ski meal that is peanut, nut, legume, gluten, and red meat free, also not too spicy.  After some thought I have decided on Clam and Corn Chowder using corn starch instead of flour as a thickening agent.

1 cup Onion chopped
2 medium Potatoes chopped (pealed if thick skinned)
1/4 cup Red Pepper chopped
1 stalk of Celery chopped
1 T of Olive Oil
2 T Butter (or bacon fat)
3 T Corn Starch
1 1/4 qts of stock (could be vegetable, fish, clam broth, chicken or a combination, today I am using 1 cup clam broth and 4 cups of chicken stock)
1 tsp minced garlic
16 oz frozen chopped Clams
16 oz frozen Corn
1 cup of
Salt and Pepper

Saute onions, potatoes, red pepper, and celery celery in oil/butter until onions are translucent.  Keep the heat medium-low stirring often taking care not to brown.  Add cornstarch stirring constantly for a few more minutes.  Add stock slowly stirring so mixture doesn't clump.  Add minced garlic.  Simmer 15 minutes then add clams and frozen corn.  Bring back to simmer for another 15 minutes.  Add milk.

I like to add a little crumbled bacon as a garnish when I serve the chowder.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Killington: Favorite Restaurants

My favorite restaurants in Killington:
7.  Sun Up Bakery.  Best bakery, sandwiches and soup.  Take out only.
6.  Liquid Art.  Best coffee and expresso bar.  Nice atmosphere to sit, hang out and enjoy art from local artists
5.  Sushi Yoshi.  Sushi and Hibachi Grill.  Good Asian Food
4.  Wobbly Barn.  Great steak, salad bar, and night club.  Open seasonally.
3.  Lookout Tavern.  Casual, friendly bar, good service, consistantly good food.  Mostly Burgers, salads and bar food.
2.  Choices.  Consistantly good food if you want a real meal, great soups, friendly bar, good service, and atmosphere. 
1.  Hemingways.  The best food, not only at Killington but most anywhere.  High quality service, quiet, informally elegant, mellow atmosphere.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wacky Winter Weather

There is a popular saying in the North East, "If you do like the weather wait a minute and it will change."  That describes yesterday's weather. 

I awoke to a blue sky with plenty of sunshine and by the time I headed out to ski the temperature was in the mid-twenties.  After lunch, I decided to get away from the crowded Killington slopes and headed into the woods for a peaceful snowshoe.  I began my snowshoe with an overcast sky and a few snow flurries.  An hour later, the snowflakes were big and the landscape looked like a Currier and Ives painting.

After a short rest and shower, I headed out to dinner.  As I drove down the mountain the precipitation had change to sleet, then freezing rain. 

The drive home from dinner had to be one of the scariest drives of my life.  The clouds had opened up to dump golf ball sized hailstones accompanied by thunder and lightning.  The wet roads and cold temperatures created a layer of ice over the pavement. Cars were stuck in ditches and many motorists could not make it up the mountain roads.  They were stopped midway up with the tires spinning as they willed their cars to continue up the road. 

The odd thing was the temps had stayed in the mid-twenties most of the day and all of the evening.  I always thought thunderstorms occurred with drastic changes of temperature.  I guess I was wrong.

I did a websearch to find out more about winter thunderstorms. I found out they are referred to as "thundersnow."  Thundersnow is a rare weather event which occurs when there is a strong instability, along with plenty of moisture in the atmosphere.  Jim Cantore from the Weather Chanel freaked out while reporting in Chicago last week when he was surprised by thundersnow.

Thundersnow is a rare event that indicates significant snowfall somewhere within the weather storm system.  A severe thundersnow event accompanied by hailstones like the one that I experienced last night is even rarer (  We ended up total of 6 inches of snow from yesterdays storm.  I have to say it was one wacky weather day, and I hope it is not repeated anytime soon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winding Trails

Yesterday morning, I did something I have wanted to do since I moved to Connecticut 11 years ago.  I went x-country skiing at Winding Trails in Farmington, CT.  Established in 1975, it is one of the few groomed x-country touring centers in Connecticut.

The conditions were perfect.  The sun shining and the temperatures in the mid-twenties.  The 350 acres of pristine, rolling, woodland terrain was covered with the 5 feet of snow the Farmington Valley received this winter. 

The trails varied from double track groomed green trails that were fairly flat and straight, to single track twisty fairly steep black diamond trails through the woods.  Ice skating and ice fishing is also available on the nearby frozen ponds.

It left me wondering why I had delayed taking advantage of this winter wonderland.  I know I'll be back to enjoy this wonderland again very soon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Prehab to Rehab

A few weeks ago I talked about prehab as injury prevention.  Since then I had a couple of slips and falls causing intermittent sharp lower back pain and spasms.  I tried my usual stretches, exercises, yoga, and rest to recover.  It helped, but my low back still hurt.  I came back to Connecticut to rest and seek medical advice.

Today I visited an orthopedic doctor.  After a lower back x-ray, he discovered I have spondylolisthesis.  Which means my lower lumbar vertebrae is slips forward over the sacrum.  He also noted my scoliosis (see 11/10/10 post) is virtually gone.  Not bad for 52.

The doctor said spondylolisthesis probably resulted from a fracture I received as a child.  As I age, the space between the vertebrae will continue to degenerate (arthritis) and compress putting pressure on my disc.  Most of the time I don't even know there is a problem, but with the stress of a few recent slip and falls the area is aggravated, causing my intermittent low back pain.

His advice is basically what I have been doing.  I may ski, but if it hurts back off and/or rest.  No moguls until it is better.  He prescribed Indomethacin ER, which is a drug similar to Ibuprofen but lasts for 24 hours to reduce the pain and inflammation.  I start physical therapy tomorrow to strengthen, stretch and stabilize the muscles that support my lower back... safely. 

My core is strong, but what I found out is hyperextention of the back can aggravate the condition.  In my yoga practice I do back bends that hyperextend my back, this aggravates not helps spondylolisthesis.

I am very curious to meet with the PT tomorrow morning to find out what I am doing right, what I should avoid, and what new exercises I should add.  I know if I want to continue playing hard I have to put in the time to keep myself strong safely.