surfer's delight...

^Vertical Integration (VI) original and co-founder, Zach Houston, is one of the most talented humans I have ever met.  I have skied with him for over 10 years, and he still blows my mind on a regular basis.  A few years ago, Zach followed an urge to surf the beaches of Southern California.  He washed ashore in Cardiff by the Sea near San Diego, and now spends most of his time belly down on a surf board.  However, Zach's work with VI always keeps his mind close to the mountains.  We still manage to get him out in the snow a couple times a year.  Recently, he rolled into Utah just like he'd never left.

^Longtime friend of VI and burly Ogden local, Wes Knopfel, is the backcountry ninja cloaked in black looking back on Zach as we wait for the rest of the crew to exit the zone.  It has been sometime since we have all gotten out together.  Felt a bit like the old days.

^Mr. Knopfel is spotting Zach as he drops into the abyss.  Zach always seems to have impeccable timing and arrived just in time to harvest some ripe powder.

^Of course, Zach wasted no time and ducked right into a deep freeheel turn underneath the downed log that jams this chute.  He traded over-head swells for over-head powder, and picked up right were he left off without missing a beat.  His talent astounded us, yet again.  Ben Geiger looked at me and acknowledged, "Damn, he is still smooth as silk!"

^As local boys, we did our part to give Zach a lot of razing about his rusty legs and low elevation lungs, but as usual Zach showed up and ducked all of our jabs.  Only he can come into town without riding for six months and rip and tour as strong as he ever did.  Gets me every time.

^On Zach's last day in town we had an epic in Birch Creek Canyon. Wes Knopfel and I had to get out a bit early to make it to our night shift deicing airplanes at SLC International.  Pictured above, Wes is starting our skin out of the zone back to Snowbasin while I said my goodbyes to my dear old friend, Zach Houston.  Of course, he was still feeling strong and was going for one more big lap with Ben in the goodness. All I can say is, "If you've still got it, then get after it." Cheers, Zach.  

wedding and honeymoon...

Still playing catch up, but getting closer.  Now we have arrived at 12/11/10.  I will need to remember the date because that is the anniversary of the day I finally married the love of my life, Miss Christine Johnson. The ceremony was beautiful and my bride floated down the isle.  We were surrounded by all of the greatest people in our lives, and we couldn't have asked for a better day.

^The wedding party was a cast of characters that have all been huge influences and support in our lives. We were so pumped that everyone made it despite long distances and busy lives.  Thank you.

^Let this photo be an indication of how the rest of the night went. Enough said.

^Telluride, Colorado.  Christine picked this place for the honeymoon.  It is one of her favorite places on earth and I would tend to agree.  Telluride is one of a kind.  The charming little town is nestled in a little box canyon surrounded by monster peaks.  The views and vibes in Telluride are among the best I've experienced.  I have been there several times now in a variety of seasons and I still want to keep going back. The people were so welcoming to Christine and I.  We met several folks that we saw throughout the week and I am grateful for their kindness and generosity.  A special thanks to our new friends Tim and Alex who went out of their way to be nice to us.  Also, cheers to the crew over at Pescado, a raw bar.  Our sushi dinner was a top-notch great food and great company experience.  Thanks, Telluride.

^DJ Tim is pictured here looking for my request for his radio show.  We met Tim in the Last Dollar Saloon, and he invited us up to check out the local radio station.  Tim played a little Ten Years After, "Over The Hill" for me and Christine.  We had a blast checking out all the music and gear.

^Tim is laying it down while Christine is trying to find some tunes to play amidst the never ending collection of music in the KOTO 89.3 studio.  It was an evening that Christine and I won't soon forget. We are still blown away at the gesture on Tim's behalf to show some honeymooners a unique experience.  Very cool. Thanks again, Tim and KOTO radio.

^Telluride is not only a fantastic town, but a killer ski resort.  The terrain here is big by any definition of the word.  The off-piste lines are long and consequential. Pyramid peak is the real deal. Christine and I arrived to a thin early season snow pack, but a foot of new snow during our trip blessed us with some great powder skiing in the glades in the shadow of Prospect Bowl.

^Christine is all smiles and relaxing on the deck slopeside.  Her belly is full of a pulled pork sandwich that knocked our ski boots off. Honestly, the best I've ever had.  We had quite a few moments on our honeymoon that we will remember forever, and most of them involve the all around beauty of the people and the place. 

Cheers and thanks to everyone who was a part of these milestone moments for Christine and I. 

road trippin...

Again, as I mentioned in my previous post, I am playing catch up.  A couple weeks ago now Christine and I made the road trip from Utah to our hometown in Wisconsin.  We were slated to be married the following weekend, and we opted to drive across the Great Plains of America rather then fly.  Our golden retriever, Murphy, costs a small fortune to fly.  Even if your a company employee.  Therefore, we packed up my Subaru Outback and trekked it over I-80 eastbound.  

^Somewhere in Wyoming we passed a wind farm that was pumping out the electricity.  Nice to at least see some signs of the greening of America.  Lord knows we have a ridiculously long way to go, but small wins like this one do tend to make my day.  Time to make a change ( I drive passed in my combustible engine vehicle. Irony? I do what I can.)

^I drove through the night. Christine and Murphy were navigating and taking turns napping.  This photo shows the two of them in a classic cuddle moment.  Murphy would periodically awaken from a nap and come up to see how everything was going up in the cockpit of the Subaru.  She'd also take the opportunity give her momma a little kiss on the cheek.  She is such a lover.

^Of course, after a good twenty hours in the car, and after my own sixteen straight hours at the wheel both Murphy and I were over it.  Notice here that the exhaustion you can see in my face is shared by my four legged little girl.  I was beat, but it seemed that Murphy was right there with me.

^It took us twenty-three and a half hours to drive fifteen-hundred miles, but the warm wood stove fire and ice cold Miller Lite felt like the kindest welcome I'd received in years.  Murphy and I took a collective long deep breath, and I had some long slow swills of my native land's nectar.  Before I knew it we were both sound asleep with an empty beer can delicately balancing in my lap.  I woke up, had another cold one, and gave thanks for our arrival back in the dairyland that Christine and I will always call home.  No matter where we live.  Cheers to it.