So Soggy Spring

I luuuuuuuuuurve wet, 9 extra days a year!!! 3 extra days a month!!! The land and the winds reacted and so did we, to the 10% seismic shift in our climatic expectations. The 25% swings that might come with further climate change will mean refugees, from the mountains and the coasts, and food shortages.

2 hour canal ride was much gentler than all my friends freezing and drowning at 24 Old Pueblo.

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Dia at Lake Westworld

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i aint afraid of you Lime Disease!!!

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We did a ride with the kids team. They are sprouting like mushrooms.

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Liam Clark (age ~13) killed it climbing, and nearly ran me over on the downhill off Whiskey Bottle. How can someone who has never ridden the Waterfall be charging my ass? :)

The next day G had a birthday party at AAWL in S. Phoenix, and I hiked w Beckie and Alana up 24th St, their first time ever my 25th? I missed every bit of it, nothing compares to SoMo. It took me longer to hike than to ride up while Alana climbed rocks on the side.  Alana slipped going down the S-turn. I explained it was the hardest move on the trail, welcome to my former world riding SoMo every week. Wisdom that no one catches.

It rained again.

Some kids have been digging out a small track along Reata Wash. It started 3 years ago when a dirtbike charged through it. Its got good natural flow and sustainability. I showed the girls in January, and they got stoked on it.

With soccer practice was rained out, we threw dirt! Dressed in plastic clothing and layers, G me and Dia sluiced down the street to the levee. We piled up a berm through the drizzle, and a proper jump over a mound of rocks packed in mud. We returned home filthy and glorious.

Another day, another rainout, we built another jump.

I bought one of these.

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Between soccer games Beckie and I snuck in a Gateway loop ride on the new 429. Anyone who says ‘climbing on [insert bike here] is like [cheating\being a goat\riding a scalded monkey]’ has *never* ridden the McDowells. But it did climb better than the HeiHei. The suspension sticks better, and everything carbon was way more efficient. Look forward to moving off the blues to the blacks and see how it does.

bookmarked around that Phoenix Rush 06 girls upset #3 Legacy 3-0 and then #2 Del Sol 2-1 in the Port O Subs League Div 1 play. So proud of the trajectory this team is on – they went 6-0 in Div 2 in the Fall, and ended 4-2 in Div 1. G took one in from midfield, beating the defense to the outside before sneaking it in at the far post – best goal I’ve seen her score.

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Spring Break deal, $30 lift tix and $20 for girls to get gear and lessons. Coverage and weather were awesome but hard and icy. We rode groomers frightened of the speed. I’m such a powder hound it’s been 5 years since I rode a hardpack like this. Was fun to get comfortable going really fast again.

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I warned them day 1 snowboarding is gawdawful, and both wanted to quit at lunch. Lessons, they said, sucked. They rallied and Beckie and I took over w individual instructions. Both were riding lifts and heel turning by days end. Who knew?

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Spring Break, Day 2

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i read this, and i cant stop thinking about it

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The Monsters stole my FatBike.

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Time for a QR seat collar.
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#NEVERSTOPHERDING

I had this new bike at home waiting for me! I rode it everyday, on 29 and plus wheels

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I dont name my bikes, but “The 4-2-9” was just too dang wordy.

I present: Bentley.

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More awesome bday presents.

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the back way to Alana’s soccer game
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Wildflower ride at Browns Ranch with Alana

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tail end of a gila monster

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The girls ended the year on a 7-0-1 run, 3rd in the 40 team Valley league, and won a tournament. Every match G scorches 40 yards of earth and scores, her teammates all get better, their gel through March was magnificent. She doesn’t recognize this run on this wave as special, but they all are. They dont ever come around enough. Crash Davis said never fuck with a winning streak.

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Demasculation

After Wolf Creek I was inconsolable, sweating and nervous, sick for powder.  I ordered all the tuning tools i didn’t already own, and turned the kitchen into Chollaball’s Ride & Apparel Shoppe. For 2 days i edged, waxed and burned p-tex while starving for direction.

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I rode 1.5 hours from home out to Local Jonny’s to share a beer with Gordon and Yuri, and find whatever motivation to push push myself. I’m fat, my knee hurts, and I have no excuses. G and I hit 15 miles of contoured desert and grabby edges the next day.

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Absent soccer the next weekend, the kids rode the MBAA McDowell Meltdown race. I rode over Bell Pass and down into Fountain Hills to meet them at the starting gate. G was leading 1/3 into her race for 11-12s, but crashed out when she overcooked a turn. She hit her face and twisted her seat, cried when she quit after limping 1.5 miles back in. 30 min later she was pissed for not winning. Hopefully she learned to ride on the right side of the edge.

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Alana took first in her first-ever MTB race for 8&Under girls. 1 lap of the Sport Loop, where she enjoyed beating a lot of the boys too.

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The biggest blemish on the day was seeing the sexism so many boys have learned at such a young age. The race organizer had kids line up by 5’s by age group, and lined up ALL the boys first. As if screwing the girls out of a clean hole shot never entered his mind. Why dont they spread the races out by 5 min? Both girls reported hearing “You’re being passed by a girl” and having to deal with bullshit while passing on the trail. I will let MBAA know, when I find a voice to say it constructively. Beckie tut-tutted at my disappointment given all the times she’s dealt with mansplaining and entitlement on the trail. Dinner at Four Peaks cured all.

Sunday we were in the car at 4:30 to catch first chair at Snowbowl after a storm. The girls picked up where they left off.  Alana crapped out at noon and slept in the car, which for $16 on the day was supah w me. No friends on powder days. G kept going and going til 2:30 when we bailed out before the traffic. Back home by 5:30, 13 hrs door-to-door.

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The weather pounded AZ all week. Inauguration Day I went for a wet beery dog ride.

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Soccer games cancelled, we went to AZ on the Rocks free anniversary party. Alana had just come from gymnastics, and G from the gym with me: they said they were both hungry when we arrived. I hoped to starve them out after an hour, to return to the comfort of my couch. No such luck as there was free food and ice cream, and we stayed for 3 hours. #WPP.

Alternative fact: holding a place in line for my children to jump off a wall, especially while i could be climbing, is life’s greatest pleasure.

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I bought Snowbowl’s 2-for-Tuesday online tix while we were huddling inside from the rain. Then we played hooky, $150 for everyone to ride 4 feet of fresh.

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Little story about this little girl: she mistakenly went down the gulley at the bottom of Agassiz, then to the top of the mountain and all the way to bottom of Humphreys. I kept hoping she’d be tired, but she just kept going. Some of the most challenging runs she’s done, nonstop and no doubts. She takes instructions incredibly and has a flourishing sense of self-evaluation. 

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That Saturday, G’s team was losing 5-0 against the #3 team in the country when she took one in from midfield. That night I went to the Old Timers game at the 35th Anniversary of New Years Fest. Here is a story about my first NYF in 1997.

I’ve had a real hard time being around the game for the last 10 years. Tonight no one ran and no one tracked turnovers. There were so many old friends to hug. I stopped a point twice to hug both Matt Westfield and Philip Norton Brown.

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Look, I’m about to throw away a hammer!!
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Irony: the generation who built the internet has only fat photos at 46 to brag about their radness. The video of me making the play of my life was lost cause the guy couldnt find the tape. I made peace with Ultimate that night. I think. I might go punch someone. I might go back next year.

That night my back hurt, not from pounding my knees but from short striding so much i pulled my glutes. The reunion went on the next day with a big group ride on the Black Canyon Trail from the Gloriana TH. I was worried, slow and shy, I ignored people and kept pace. I climbed and descended, didn’t melt down, and ended steadily. I’m less afraid of a beating when i have less to lose.

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Officially new family tradition of alt-Xmas and whiteout driving

3 years in a row Wolf Creek for Xmas with the family. And 9 December trips now for me. Each successive trip nudging me closer and closer to buying a tow rope and some shackles for the truck. I bounced the rear end lightly off a snow covered embankment to get me back into arc of the turn coming down into Pagosa Springs. Same turn I did a donut on in 2007. By choice, i swear. I prefer to think I’m getting more experienced at driving in winter conditions. Table stakes for powder days.

9in of fresh fell during our first day. 6 months post-TKR my knee didn’t hold me back at all. Only being fat to blame.

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They got 15 inches more that night, which was for awhile too much. The lifts didn’t open til 10, and I nearly drowned. The day started sour. The kids really wanted only a half day of lessons, trying to all meet atop Raven Lift for lunch was a cluster. I thought it might just suck, but, such is impossible. The worst day snowboarding beats most other days.

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G knows no one likes a complainer or their pouting, and Alana is getting good enough we almost all have fun. Last year i said  “All I want for my birthday is them to come snowboarding with me.”  Yes. So much yes.

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I wanted to cry. I was growing wings, forever unsticking from icy Greens full of Texans.

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Coyote on the road out of town.

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Day 3 the Dump settled into cream, 30 degrees and blue sky. G, Beckie and I rode Treasure Lift all morning. They took the blues while I dropped Alberta face. Some of it was textbook and i was glorious, some was too much heel sliding and lawndarts.  Ugly or not, i de-emasculated myself, booted me from my hole of fitness excuses. I had frequent headaches and shortness of breath pulling myself off the ground. Thusly riven, I met up with G for le shushing down the lower mountain. Run by run she was getting the pow and the pitch, looking for her lines and her exits. I’m not always seeing her, but I keep seeing her success at the bottom. Lack of a body is all good when it all goes downhill. We rode for 3 hours without a break.

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there was some of this…  which made my day hard. On my knees on my butt facing uphill, in and out of my bindings, punching through, lunging up, strapping in and clawing to start. Should I show her the line or collect her yardsale from above? Where can we both stop and start and discuss the next sequence? On a bike I can climb, stop on a dime, turn on it, and never worry about whatever is underneath. Too many times snowboarding with the kids in powder felt like huck-and-pray, bad dadding.

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But it worked, over and over again. The kids knew, even if they didn’t know how, to point downhill and flow, to not get too stupid, to look ahead, to grab the awesome and shake off the suck. They know how to fall, knew it didn’t hurt. They charged stuff kids with 15 and 10 days have no business charging. Unless they cheated. My 10th day on a board I was riding blacks badly at Steamboat, my 15th day chasing Byron badly through steep powder forests in Tahoe. The mountain-bike crossovers of balance and vision and momentum and engagement once again blowing my mind. For all a biker doesn’t know about snow, so much is so easy. Their body language shouted out their handups. Poised powerful girls riding.

As i ducked off the sides of the groomers, they followed fearless, feverish, banging it. They popped up each fall I kept mistakenly thinking ‘this is a big one‘. Only 1 meltdown each over 1000s of vf.  At the bottom Alana would shoosh through the lift line and brag she hit nothing but pow. Her gymnastics and tight stature a natural match for the mountain. She was the calmest purple-pink glow in the universe. She warmed me every trip up the lift. My kids crave pow through the trees; my work is done here.

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I got stuck shooting pics and had to flop my way out. But Alana never fails to give it up for the camera. I watched her completely take her eyes off the ground and turn to me and smile, and keep looking at me and smiling, making sure i got the pic, slide through a turn and find her way down the mountain while i struggled to catch up.

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Tday Staycation

Casa V rented for a chunk of money, and this worked out quite well!

What do you give someone who is doing just fine? Cake picked out and picked up by 2 daughters, homemade cards and a team bike ride at Browns Ranch. Thankful for doing just fine, my wife, and 2 daughters.

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Thanksgiving Day we hiked Marcus Landslide. I had not been there since it was first cut and still open to bikes. Most of it is an easy hike with lots of bouldering fun. The short steep top loop I’m still bummed you can’t ride but the hiking made up for the closure.

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Black Friday sale at AZ on the Rocks – $25 for the whole family! #optoutsideish

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So wrong this earned a 50 point bonus.

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Saturday we rode to and hiked Quartz. G took the hard way up Natural Wash, Alana popped in at the top of the hill and rode out down Taliesin.

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Cornering

2 years in a row Wolf Creek for Xmas, making 8 December trips for me. El Nino took their ytd from 150 inches to 210 around our trip.  The best gifts share time, right? So here’s 9 hrs in the truck, into a snowstorm. Merry Xmas!

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My other paltry Xmas gifts were new swim goggles and a large camping tarp, but who’s dad (and mom) drive them 500 miles through squalls for fresh pow? They have been great kids all semester, G just qualified for comprehensive gifted classes, and Alana hasn’t gotten a math problem wrong yet this year. Every day they get smarter, learn more how to learn.

some voracious Hour of Code
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I was doing pretty good too, trading my Man of Leisure to become the new QA Architect for Nextiva. The office is conveniently located for a ThNR down to Boulders on Broadway.

i so miss commuting to Tempe
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Day 1: its a great day at Wolf Creek when its too grey for any photos.

Day 2: we were stacked up in the morning waiting for Wolf Creek Pass to finish avy control.

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so fresh Beckie and I stuck together all day, me taking edges and alt lines til we met at the bottom

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I convinced Beckie to follow me down a blue run on the Alberta face.

She stressed and blamed the whole float through the trees, but stayed in the tracks and carried her speed. We kept in sight of the lift and easy bailout. The next run we pushed further into the powder-drenched glades. She whined, worried but didn’t panic. She said she hated it, but I think she had fun, even if she won’t admit it.

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G’s instructor said she’d maxed out on what lessons could teach her, until she joined the ski team. We rocked blue runs together as the crowds gradually surrendered to sundown and flurries.

Alana believed herself equally awesome, even as she avoided parallel turns because she wants to go fast. She and Beckie took the last lift way up the hill and finished so late and so cold and so dark the ski patrol mounted up to go look for them. Alana couldn’t have been happier.

It was bleak, snowing, and the road was closed the next morning. Another murky 7 degree day on the hill followed by 10 hrs home in the dusky accumulation seemed dumb. Heading home early still wrapped in our outerwear seemed smart, until we slipped into a backache-migraine-inducing total whiteout in the pass to Durango, with the engine light blinking, on Xmas — that seemed really really dumb, and only seemed less dumb when we finally got home and could pick up Dia.

xmas day +1
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These moves are getting routine.

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Alana finding her capabilities on Quartz trail, however, is not. Every time i thought she would dismount she did not.

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vaya con Dias
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smarter about some things
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New Years Day+1
Brown’s Ranch
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last dance for the 2-bike?
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I barely pedaled or braked 3 miles down Hawknest, it felt like snowboarding.*heart* that trail, new favorite trail.

G wrapping up 15 miles
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That night Alana and I rolled Dingo trail with Dia, and talked about lana-sized rides. A great conversation, we agreed to try the Sport Loop at MMP while G and Beckie went off on their own.

The next day she did another run down Quartz. She was tired and bonking, sluggy, but so much cleaner than last time, outriding failing strength. She demanded to session a few of the hardest sections. Crashed dropping the big hill from the Library into Westworld, and fighting back tears acknowledged my reminder to not start on a downslope or take off her gloves. Breaking through the cognitive ceiling…how else do you explain not having to explain ‘soft on the brakes‘, ‘flow through the turn‘, ‘carry speed in the rocks‘? So recently, so long, a 5 mile ride with Alana seemed so unfathomable. Physical limitations dissipate in the incursion of confidence and skill. 

The next week we joined our Dynamix Devo teammates at MMP.

happy bday BB and Liam!
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this is a serious muthafuffin cake, handmade by Jen Clark
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about to invade the Sport Loop!
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Alana’s best trail ride evah! There were a few challenges, like being dropped by everyone and their mothers, a long slow uphill, and 20 failed starts on a downhill that got in her head.  The flowyness opened her mind, in the background 4 Peaks snowyness.

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herdy dog

The very next day G climbed lower Gateway and almost cleaned Paradise Wash. I told her it would be lumpy. She shrugged and banged through it, maybe better than my first time over 10 years ago. They are turning a corner.

At Wolf Creek, G asked me what I meant by ‘days‘. Why did she have 12 days, why did Alana have 7? 13 and 8 after Beckie daytripped them all to Sunrise. I was 3 at 23yo, before buying my first skis for a trip to Silver Mountain, Idaho with Beckie, that blew out the back of my mind.

El Nino-drenched soccer fields had G off the pitch for 3 weeks, but she had 9 days on the bike. Alana had 5. I could ride this curve a long time.

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Aspen Trip

This is how you Fall Break! Weatherford Trail from Freidlein Prarie Road, Flagstaff, USA

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Dia ate 7 hot dogs, 12 meatballs, and over a pound of ziti and queso dip. Her stomach was notably bloated as she lay on the bed panting between refills of her tiny water bowl. Getting our full $15 pet-friendly hotel fee from the happy hour buffet at the Drury.

Biscuits and gravy refueled the dog for the Inner Basin trail in the morning.

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DirtBag DadCamp: GrandsCamp

With 2 weeks left in summer vacation, The Chollaballs bailed; fleeing the fireball to visit Mom and Dad in Sarasota!

Their new neighborhood pool is plush.

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One of my oldest and dearest friends Eric Ascalon posted up that he was visiting in Clearwater, so we met for drinks in St. Petes. This reunion brought to you by the BookFace.

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MomMom and PopPop took the kids to the Sarasota Library

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Next day we went to the Ringley Bros Museum. Stuart takes awful pics, but at least he took em :)

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I ditched the kids and flew to New Hampshire to meet Beckie for Janna Lorenzen’s wedding at Loon Mountain Resort .

Beckie killing time in Manchester waiting for my flight.

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Friday afternoon we hiked up the mountain before a fantastic pre-wedding party.

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saturday – hiking in Franconia Notch State Park

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then this

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New England wedding overruns us with bow ties, gingham and seersucker

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Meanwhile back in Florida, the family went to see Winter at the Clearwater Aquarium

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Sunday hike, size large. Falling Water Trail to Franconia Ridge to Lafayette Mtn to Old Bridle Trail. About 9 miles, I think about 5k vf. Trail was very rugged, mile-for-mile it compared to the Canyon, harder in some ways as there were few easy steps.

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post hike drinks at Strange Brew, Machester, NH

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Back in Florida, we went to Selby Gardens where Dad is a docent.

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Siesta Key Beach

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G lining up 2 weeks in a row at the summer Kids Run series.

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Don’t order the schnitzel, they’re using schnauzer

The Salt was nearly 1000 cfs, barely saw a rock and barely had to paddle. The girls are now crackerjack. Buying actual ‘river tubes‘ allowed me to drive the Prius instead of the F150, fill them up from an air mattress pump attached to the cigarette lighter, and string us all together through loops that let us slacken out or tighten up. With cupholders. Pros.

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shove your lifevest up your ass! Nobody puts Alana in the corner
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I even trusted them to hangout at the water’s edge instead of the parking lot while i went for the car. I said yeah this is another test just like the movies, do you want more freedom? ‘k, don’t drown!

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The kids seamlessly adapted my foodieism for Bavarian Point  whenever we goto the Ranch Market in Mesa. So…hungry… I could hear rumors about a taco stand selling dogshit, and they would lobby for the meal, if they thought they had sufficient traction. There are 3 good German restaurants in the Valley, and 2 of them are next door. So, after buying groceries we finally tried Zur Kate.  BP’s meals are amazing and massive and full of sauce, enhanced with their salad bar where every vegetable is doused in dumplings and onions and vinegar. The ambience is 1996 Best Senior Early Bird Special. Zur Kate is almost as filling, but a little more vibrant, smaller, simpler, sausages or schnitzel, and very smoky beer.

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They had a live accordian player, and when he stepped off the German ambience pop all sounded like Ripple by the Grateful Dead.

ripple in shtill vater
ven zere is no pebble toshed
Nor vind permitted to blow

The waitress had to be 70, and with efficient communication and honesty was by far the best server I’d had in years. She struggled to move, yet we had everything we needed in record time. Danke fraulein. I left 22%, unheard of in East BumFuck Mesa.

DirtBag DadCamp: Needle Rock to Box Bar Rd

Verde River float from Needle Rock to Box Bar Rd. 2 miles, 2 hrs. The cfs was 125 and led to many bumped asses and lining of the rapids. But a new adventure, with the twist that we had no recent beta other than “a couple gravel bars that you will need to dismount from. Definitely a slow go…”. 10 dismounts got old and a few times me and Beckie got beat up by the rocks and current keeping the kids clean. I enjoyed watching my girls, all of us, getting a little cold and not quite knowing when or where it’d be done.

The Verde is much tighter and greener, but less ‘wow’ than the Salt. The low levels made it less, and more, scary. Lots of herons, egrets and hummingbirds. The horses were awesome.

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DirtBag DadCamp: Ellison Creek Cascade and Water Wheel Falls

Daytrip to Payson, a few miles up Houston Mesa. Beckie and I were here 10+ years ago, didn’t remember it all til we dove in. So much fun for such easy access, a Prius-based adventure that cost $18 in gas, and, why you should hit it mid-week.

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For about 4 hours I was a broken record “hands and feet! careful! slippery! 3 points!

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they are so much fun

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I climbed the ladder while they were playing around on the cliffs. It was slick to mount in water i couldn’t stand in, and a little scary the first time as it bounced in cadence with you. Easier the second time after i found the footholds. G HAD to try it, and I approve of this rapacity, so i did it 2 more times right on her butt to spot her. Then Alana HAD  to try it 2x too, and finally G HAD  to jump off it with me after we watched someone else dew eet.

We watched another family come down, something wrong with the ~23yo dad, skinny as straw with his hair everywhere and zombie eyes. When he walked by and G said ‘ugh, Dia you stink!‘ I also got to teach them about tweakers. #ParentingForGnarness

 

 

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I lost track of the time, loving it all, and struggling more than them with tired knees and higher COG. The coolest stuff we did swimming a few pools above the draws into falls, tugging Dia along with us, I gots no pics.

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wetsuit flatters my junk, but black is slimming and shrinkage = junk neutrality.

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The hike out was a girls-high-on-stoke romp: everything is green, the dragonflies are beautiful,  the rocks are warm and the air cold enough to last into the 105 degree evening down in the Valley.

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Doesn’t like water

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