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Once in a Blue Moon: Timing is everything 

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A Blue Moon is "an event of timing," says Conrad Jung, a staff astronomer at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. A full moon occurs every 29.5 days. If there is a full moon early in the month, there is a possibility that a second full moon will appear at the end of the month. This occurrence, called a Blue Moon, takes place approximately every 33 months.

This New Year's Eve is especially special. Not only will the moon be full, it will also be blue. The last time that happened on a New Year's Eve was 1990. Our next Blue Moon will occur in August 2012, but our next New Year's Eve Blue Moon won't appear until 2028. So, live it up now! Ski into Meissner shelter, snowshoe up Tumalo Mountain, or, if you were smart enough to reserve a cabin a year ago, celebrate at Elk Lake.


Timing is also everything, when it comes to skiing into Elk Lake, and this past Sunday our timing was impeccable. I had gotten wind that the Elk Lake Shuttle was departing Dutchman Sno-Park at 9 a.m. and leaving Elk Lake for the return trip at 3pm.

"Hey, let's do lunch at Elk today," I suggested to several friends. I wasn't talking about riding the shuttle (which of course you can do for $40 per person roundtrip) but skate skiing behind the Big Cat and its compacter bar. I actually got two hardy souls to join me for the little 22-mile adventure.

According to Nansee Bruce, co-owner of Elk Lake Resort, it is ideal to give the Cat a 45-minute headstart in the downhill direction - you don't want to catch it too soon, but you also don't want too many snowmobiles to beat you to the fresh corduroy.

We slapped on our skate skis at the nordic center and skied down the Common Corridor to Century Drive. It was about 10 a.m. and a number of snowmobiles had been there before us. My friends expressed a little dismay and I replied, "Remember, this is adventure skating, not nordic center skating." As it turned out, we found some really sweet pockets of untouched corduroy along the way, especially near Sparks Lake where the snowmobiles preferred to play in the meadows.

An hour and a half later we arrived at Elk Lake Lodge, where we promptly ordered Elk Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries. Those hit the spot! We hung out for a couple of hours, enjoying the fire and the festive aura until 2:30 p.m. arrived and it was time to don our skis again.

Nansee and her brother Larry decided to ski back out with us. We figured a half hour lead on the Cat would be just right in the uphill direction. "It will probably catch us at the base of the Sparks Lake Grade," Nansee predicted.

Just as we left the resort and turned onto the highway, we were greeted by the Moon Country groomer, which had just finished grooming all the way in. "We never know when Moon Country will be grooming," explained Nansee, "Because it is a volunteer effort and they don't have a fixed schedule." I guess Ullr was just smiling on us.

"Weeeee! Yippeeeee! Yahoooooo!" we yelled as we flew across the pristine snow.

By the time we reached the base of the big climb, the snow had been churned up by quite a few snowmobiles. My friend paused, looked up at the looming climb, and said in a tired voice, "It sure would be nice to have some fresh corduroy right now."

I heard a faint hum.

"Andy, ask and you shall receive," I said as the Moon Country groomer, on its way back out, rumbled toward us like the Cavalry marching in.

"Weeeee! Yippeeeee! Yahoooooo!" we yelled as we followed our escort up the hill. Halfway up, the Elk Lake Cat finally caught us and added the icing on top.

Once in a blue moon, everything just goes right.

To find out more about all Elk Lake Resort has to offer, visit


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