Sunday, January 01, 2006

Purple Skies, Bumps, and bad I-70 traffic: 2006 off to a surreal start

Okay, I was really excited to go skiing this morning. I usually like to be at the Morrison Cut by 6:30 am to beat traffic. The Morrison Cut is an interchange on I-70 that has cut rock formations on the south side of the highway, hence its nickname. It's also the exit you take to get to Red Rocks, the greatest outdoor ampitheatre ever. I didn't get there until about 6:40, but no traffic worries yet, seeing as it was New Years Day, which rarely draws huge skiing crowds. The Eisenhower Tunnel was a different story. Traffic up there sucked going to the mountain and sucked even worse on the way home, even if I didn't get there until over two hours after the ski area closed. I took my own sweet time getting to my car, getting my coffee, and finding part of a windshield wiper broken off.

There were a couple inches of fresh snow on the ground when I got to the ski area, which is always a good thing. My giddyness was soon tempered when I dropped one of my poles just after getting on the chairlift. I had to ski down a fairly tricky run with one pole, only to almost not find it. After that near mishap, the day was fantastic. Lots of good snow, fun bumps, little crowds (at least in the back bowls I was skiing), and even talked with a snowboarder from Yukon Territory, Canada. And did I mention purple skies?

Yes, purple skies, and I wasn't in a Jimi Hendrix style haze. A front was coming in from the west. There was some blue sky in front of it. Now, most fronts that move across the high altitudes in the Colorado mountains (9-12,000 ft above sea level at the ski area) turn the skies gray and drop a decent amount of snow. The area where the front is gets a bit of fog as well. But the sky to the west of me, a mix of blue and a nasty front, was purple. I swear. Not gray, or even black like a real bad T-storm would give you. Purple. I wish I had a camera. It was tough to concentrate on skiing to be honest because I wanted to look at the sky because it was so surreal.

Not being able to concentrate almost bit me in the ass on my last run. While I wasn't looking at the sky anymore, I was very tired and not on top of my game. I ended up going over a three foot rock that serves as a ramp to jump off of. Fortunately, I landed okay (I don't "huck jumps" so this was new and unintended for me) and got to the bottom of the mountain. Note to self: Don't try for that last run at 3:59 when I'm real tired, or next time it could get ugly.

The traffic on the way home sucked like it always does on I-70. Stop and go in the tunnel itself. I saw two SUV/Ford Broncos, obviously not driven by Al Cowlings, flipped over in the I-70 median after spinning off the road, before I even got to the tunnel. These people think they're freaking invincible in those big autos, and subsequently drive way too fast (35 was about right for these icy roads). I see this far too many times, hope they are okay, but it scares me to see crashed like that casued by little but excess speed and careless driving.

Surreal, but fun, way to start the new year.

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