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Friday, December 31, 2010

Everything You Need to Know About New Year's Eve in Bend

A guide to New Year's Eve in Bend, Oregon.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 31, 2010 at 4:46 PM

If you haven't seen it already, we included pretty much everything going on in town on our Picks page this week.

Go ahead and read that right here.

But here are a few of my picks for tonight's festivities in no particular order:

New Year's Eve at Old St. Francis School

We’ve said it several times, but McMenamins has long been the go-to spot for most celebratory holidays, including New Year’s Eve. You can go big and purchase a lodging package, which will get you in to see Moon Mountain Ramblers, but everyone can join in on Jukebot’s rock and roll dance party in the Father Luke’s room for free. 9pm. 21 and over. McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 NW Bond St.

Larry And His Flask New Year’s Eve Bash

It’s Larry and His Flask – again! But this time the much loved self-described “hillbilly jamboree” is providing a rare intimate show for its loyal local fans at the newly named Old Mill Music Lounge above Level 2. Opening the show is Nashville’s Barefoot Surrender, as well as Portland’s Ether Circus and McDougall. 21 and up. $7/door and 8pm. Old Mill Music Lounge, 360 SW Powerhouse Dr.

Messages Through Music: Slipmat Science NYE Party

When we say this is probably the biggest NYE party in Central Oregon, we mean it. This eclectic gathering of musicians allows revelers into three different venues in the Midtown complex for hip-hop, electronica, dub, drum and bass – in addition to a room with four live bands. The list of DJs and other musicians appearing at this party includes Top Shelf, Mindscape, Eternal (with DJ Harlo), Brad Jones, Defect, Rada, and plenty of other artists. Midtown, Domino Room, Annex, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. $10/before 10pm, $15/after 10pm.


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cleaning House: Giving up my outdoor gear and memorabilia feels good

I'm getting rid of some old ski gear and memories.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 11:54 PM

I have no idea what prompted it, but one day in late October, I got this overwhelming urge to give away a great deal of what I have laying about the house, to strip down to the essentials and rid myself of the extraneous. The feeling proved not to be fleeting, but one that grew into a driving force.

First came loads of clothing and shoes to Goodwill and that led to gifts stereo gear, furniture, outdoor gear and apparel, and all sorts of ski gear to people who truly had a need for them. For example, at Christmas a bag full of warm jackets was taken over to the Bethlehem Inn the week before Christmas.

The point of this is not to call attention to myself as a saintly donor but to reinforce how good it is to not only to give things away but to trim down one’s personal inventory of stuff.


My end-of-the-year task has been throwing away (two recycle carts worth so far) some 35 years of magazines and newspapers. I might have had only a teeny photo or as little as a two-line blurb in some publication and that meant, of course, that I had to keep a copy of said publication.

Next up on my giveaway list is my collection of ski books. I’ve offered it via a ski magazine article to any ski club, library or school that might be interested. It’s comprised of well over 100 books – some rare, some pedestrian and some simply worth having for their kitsch value. My particular favorite is the official roster for the Soviet Union team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

After the books are gone there will be work on getting my collection of vintage and historic cross country ski memorabilia (boots, bindings and skis) accepted by either the Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan or by some private collector.

Then they’ll be another attack on clothes and siege of Craigslist with sporting goods items with a net result, hopefully, of a clutter-free existence come late spring.

Certainly I’ll never get back to the days when a move from one house to another meant one load in my old VW van, but I can strive for a Katharine Hepburn-esque existence. Hepburn, as was noted on a famous “60 Minutes” interview, chose to live in a sparsely furnished apartment and had only a few items in her personal wardrobe.

Hepburn wasn’t a nutcase, but rather someone who realized that clutter and chattels can keep you down and take away your freedom. And as I’m finding, giving things up is very liberating.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wild Driving: It's those gosh darn tourists in Bend again

Sometimes tourists in Bend drive too fast. But forgive them.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 9:22 PM

Who’s that doing 45 in a 25 mile per hour zone, snaking through traffic in a blizzard as if the pavement were dry, sticking as close to your rear bumper as possible? Why, it’s one of those gosh darn tourists who instead of slowing down on vacation have brought their urban zest for speed and reckless abandon behind the wheel from an urban area with snow-free streets to our fair city.

And before a vocal few in the local tourism business go completely bonkers and start posting rants that I’m anti tourist, let me say that I’m writing this in defense of those zany, wacky driving tourists. Their minds are simply on vacation and many things they normally wouldn’t do at home, like driving like a maniac, go out the window when they go on vacation.

Let me amplify. Years ago I attended a tourism conference during which there was a presentation by a senior executive of a major hotel chain. His subject was expecting the unexpected when you are in the hospitality industry.


“One thing I’ve come to know over the years,” the exec noted, “is that when people go on vacation, they turn their minds off.”

He went on to describe episodes of very bright people did stupid things. One of his prime examples was of Fortune 500 CEO famous for his brilliance and fast reactions to business crisis locking his keys and his infant son in his car on a 100-degree weather on the first day of his vacation.

There were more examples and all augmented his thesis that people tended to do things they never did at home during their normal lives when they went on vacation.

I grew up in a Colorado tourist town and my teenage summer jobs were at a famous resort hotel. There, I experienced a lot of what the Hilton exec cited. “I locked myself out of car/room/lost my wallet/can’t find my child,” were commonplace complaints.

And a member of the constabulary told me they got a lot of “I didn’t realize I was going that fast” or, “I can’t believe I did that?” statements when they pulled drivers over.

And so early on I developed pity on tourists doing, well “stupid tourists tricks” like driving like a maniac in a snowstorm or treating Bend’s neighborhood streets like high-speed freeways.

When I become a tourist, as I do for a few weeks every year, I go to a resort area where I don’t have to drive and can do everything on my bicycle. In the back of my vacant on-vacation mind, I think that if I cycle I’ll be less of a hazard to locals. Probably not.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seasons Greetings: A Merry Christmas to all

Reflecting on Charles Dickens and Charles Russell and their Christmas time.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 7:12 PM

Every year as Christmas approaches, I think of two favorite my two people names Charles – the great novelist Charles Dickens and the wondrous cowboy artist Charles Russell. And while there’s no historical link between the two men, their words link them together in my mind.

As to Mr. Dickens, there are those who say that without his A Christmas Carol the whole concept of Christmas as we now know it might not have happened. But after his Christmas Carol appeared in print, it launched the Victorian age craze in gift giving, decorating trees and eating hearty Christmas-day meals.

Years before A Christmas Carol, Dickens gave a hint of his fondness for winter and the holiday in The Pickwick Papers. David James Duncan who wrote The River Why once told me he loved Dickens because, “It’s so upbeat, as if Dickens was on a huge high when he wrote it.”

For those not familiar with the book, it depicts the travels about England by middle-aged bachelor Mr. Pickwick and some of his younger friends. The story was first serialized in British newspapers with people lining up to get the latest installment.

Situations like stories of the return of ghosts at Christmas to talk about the past first appear in The Pickwick Papers. The ghost stories come up during Pickwick’s celebration of the holiday at the country manor of Mr. Weller and his family in Muggleton.

It’s a festive celebration with people from all walks of life participating. Dickens sets the tone for the celebration thusly:

“The dinner was a hearty affair. Then came the dessert and some more toasts. Then came the tea and coffee; and then, the ball.

The best sitting room at Manor Farm was a good, long, dark paneled room with a high chimney –piece, and a capacious chimney upon which could have driven one of the new patent cabs wheels and all. At the upper end of the room, seated in a shady bower of holly and evergreens, were two of the best fiddlers, and the only harp in all Muggleton. In all sorts of recesses, and on all kinds of brackets, stood massive old silver candlesticks with four branches each. The carpet was up, the candles burnt bright, the fire blazed and crackled on the hearth, and merry voices and light-hearted laughter rang through the room. If any old English yeoman had turned into fairies when they died, it was just the place in which they would have held their revels.”

Scene set, the ball takes place and at one point, Mr. Pickwick is urged to sing. A he does, offering his “Christmas Carol”, the latter portion of which follows.

“But my song I troll out, for Christmas stout,

The hearty, the true and the bold;

A bumper I drain, and with might and main

Give three cheers for this Christmas old!

We’ll usher him in with a merry din

That shall gladden his joyous heart,

And we’ll keep him up, while there’s bite or sup

And in good fellowship we’ll part.”

Hear, hear.

As to the other Charles, Russell’s vivid paintings of cowboy life are without peer. Some of his art, so legend has it, was given away for drinks at his favorite watering hole. I like that.

Russell’s cowboy doggerel remains a personal favorite including this from one of his now famous annual Christmas cards.

“Best wishes this Christmas is all you get from me

‘cause I ain’t no Santa Claus

Don’t own no Christmas tree

But if wishes was health and money,

I’d fill your buckskin poke

Your doctor would go hungry

And you’d never be broke.”


Merry Christmas

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Trespassing: Backcountry bad vibes in the Rockies

Backcountry skiers in Telluride face new permits.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 11:55 PM

Thanks to Seth Masia of the International Ski History Association for a heads up on a story in the Telluride (Colorado) Watch newspaper entitled “Public Lands Access For Backcountry Skiing Debated Elsewhere.”

It’s a cautionary read for skiers in parts of the backcountry ski world where getting to the best skiing often means short treks across private lands. It’s also is a read that makes you glad you live and backcountry ski in Oregon.

Here are the opening paragraphs of a long and detailed, must-read story if you’re a backcountry skier.

“In what could be called a victory for private land rights over public lands access, the U.S. Forest Service announced last week it would close backcountry access points into Upper Bear Creek at the request of private landowners whose holdings abut public land. The announcement generated a torrent of criticism from many in the Telluride community, from environmental activists to backcountry skiers who have long considered Telluride’s Bear Creek to be a local icon and public access to it sacrosanct.

While specific to Telluride and its Bear Creek backcountry, the uproar currently raging amid Telluride’s citizenry is similar to heated conversations erupting in backcountry ski havens elsewhere. Those conversations, while unique to their location and specific political climate, nonetheless relate to one common question: How public are public lands?
Parallel debates rage across the ski industry, in Utah and Wyoming. Last month a group of close to a dozen landowners whose properties are located within the Cardiff Bowl area of Big Cottonwood Canyon, near Snowbird and Alta ski resorts in Utah, sent a petition to Intermountain Forest Service Supervisor Harv Forsgren requesting the federal agency to require permits for all backcountry users of the Tri-Canyon area of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Millcreek Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon.”

This is an issue that could change the sport of backcountry skiing and one to keep up on for skiers who have enjoyed skiing the Utah, Colorado and Wyoming backcountry.


Photo by Bob Woodward.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crossing Over: A cyclocross national championships post mortem

Some observations from the 2010 Cyclocross National Championships in Bend, Oregon.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 11:24 PM

The 2010 National Cyclocross championships again proved that Bend is a superb venue for large-scale self-propelled sports events. A great deal of credit for the event’s success goes to those community members who volunteered and spectators who came out to cheer.

That noted, am I the only person who got a bit tired of the "'cross is truly the world’s greatest sport” sentiments gushed by some in the local press? And the on going flog that 'cross spectators are the quirkiest ever seen at or participating in a sporting event?

As to the former, the “greatness” of a sport is in the eyes of the participants and fans. As to quirkiness, ever been down to San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers run? Now that’s one quirky event.

'Cross is a lot of fun to watch, looks tough for competitors and Bend was lucky to have a great two-year run of the event.

Easily the 'Cross Nationals warranted more press than the Oregonian gave them. A couple of column inches and no photographs in the daily based in the epicenter of the 'cross world? Come on.

Another note on 'cross coverage skimmed over by the press was the fact that Ned Overend took down the men’s 50 to 59 age group title.

Ned Overend? Well, if you’d raced mountain bikes back in sport’s early competitive years (the mid eighties) you’d know Overend. He was the best of the best.

Overend came to mountain racing from road racing and first got attention outside of his Colorado home turf when he crushed the field at the Revenge of The Siskiyous back when it was Oregon’s premier MTB race held over the July Fourth weekend.

The Revenge was one of a handful of major races on the West Coast at that time and Overend’s win was somewhat of a surprise seeing that he didn’t made not much of an impression at the starting line wearing a cammo-colored helmet and riding a, to quote local retired MTB pro Paul Thomasberg “low-end Schwinn,” instead of some fancy handcrafted bike.

Overend’s Revenge win had all the then star racers (mostly from Marin County, CA) grumbling. Who was this outsider? It had to be a freak win didn’t it?

It wasn’t a freak but the first of many big wins and soon the slender, super-fit Overend was a force in mountain bike racing for years to come.

Also a force was his Mountain Bike Specialties retail and catalog company that was among the first to offer a variety of mountain bikes when mountain bikes were hard to come by.

So hail to a mountain bike racing legend. He could probably race with the current crop of pros and not fare too badly.

Finally what's the deal with the cowbells the Nationals?

Using cowbells at sporting events has its roots in alpine ski racing in Switzerland. Looking for a way to make noise as along the race pistes, Swiss fans hit on the idea of using jumbo cowbells (the ones you see adorning dairy cows in Swiss tourism photos) and clanging them at races.

Hard to transport to the slopes, the big bells soon fell out of favor to be replaced by easier to lug around and ring, smaller cowbells.

Once the alpine ski world had become used to cowbells clanging away, their use filtered into the international cross-country ski-racing scene and then into cycling.

The first time I recall the use of cowbells at a big event was by Swiss spectators at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. The din of the bells was deafening at the alpine races and even more so in town at night after a Swiss skier had medaled.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Please Release Me: Hjalmar Hvam's 1939 Saf-Ski bindings change alpine skiing forever

Hjalmar Hvam's invention of releasable bindings made skiing safe for the masses.

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Every time an alpine skier takes a spill and his or her bindings release on impact preventing either a leg fracture or something worse, they should thank Hjalmar Hvam.

An Oregonian by way of his native Norway and a short stay in Canada, Hvam came up with the idea of releasable bindings in 1939. His inspiration, as ski lore has it, came while on the operating table at a Portland hospital.

As surgeons repaired the leg he fractured on the same Mt. Hood slope in both 1937 and 1938, Hvam mentally worked on the concept of bindings that would release on impact. Legend further has it that he asked for pen and paper as he was wheeled into a recovery room where he roughed out a sketch of his bindings.

Before inventing the releasable binding, Hvam burst on the Mt. Hood ski scene in 1927 after moving to Portland. A year later, he founded the Cascade Ski Club and in 1931 was the first person to ski off the summit of Mt. Hood. This feat, considered a landmark in North American backcountry skiing, was done in the company of Swiss-born avalanche expert, and Aspen ski pioneer Andre Roch.

A cross country skier and ski jumper from childhood, Hvam won the 1932 U.S. National Nordic combined championship. Then he transitioned into the alpine events winning not only the 1933 Oregon State Championships in cross-country but also in slalom. Other accomplishments included winning a coveted 1934 four-way (x-c, jumping, slalom and downhill) title at a national meet on Mt. Baker and capturing the first two Golden Rose Ski Classic alpine ski races (1936 and 1937) on Mt. Hood.

As his reputation as a ski racer grew so too did the demand for his Saf-Ski releasable bindings, advertised as “steadier in slalom,” “safer in downhill” and “better in jumping.”

“Give your legs a break instead of a fracture” offered more Saf-Ski copy and by the 1950’s dozens of European manufacturers had followed Hvam’s lead and come to market with their own versions of releasable bindings.

Saf-Ski bindings were sold to retailers through distributors. Hvam himself also became a ski retailer operating shops in both Portland and at Mt Hood for many years.

He continued love for snow sports included coaching the U.S. Nordic Combined Team at the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympic Games and skiing recreationally well into his mid eighties.

Hvam, who died in 1996, was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dandy Don Meredith: Remembering a classic

Remembering the great Dandy Don Meredith.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 7:41 PM

The news of former Dallas Cowboy football great and NFL television color commentator “Dandy” Don Meredith’s death had barely become part of the daily news cycle when I got a Facebook message reading: “Remember the picture you took of me and Dandy at the 1980 Olympics? It’s still on the wall in my office.”

I do remember it and for those new to this blog, here’s a reprise of my Dandy Don story.

Getting around the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York was a pain. The transportation system simply wasn’t functioning well. The only people getting to where they wanted to go were those working for ABC Television, the official network of the Games.

One day while waiting for a bus, a friend who was doing color commentary work for ABC at the Games told me if I could hang out with him for a short taping session he’d get a van to deliver me anyplace I wanted to go.

I went to the taping which turned out to be one with Dandy Don who was supposed to make some complimentary remarks about the sport of cross-country skiing that would be used to lead into the live telecasts of the races.

Well, Dandy Don couldn’t quite do it. He found the sport, “kinda dumb” and made some hysterical on-camera remarks about it only to be told to “keep it positive” by my friend and a director.

Resplendent in a long fur coat that looked like it had been plucked from a photograph of life and times in the Yukon in 1849, a cowboy hat and boots, Dandy looked just dandy.

The fact that he was a bit tipsy made him even harder to direct. The planned short filming session took and hour with Dandy sipping away from a flask that would appear from deep inside the great fur coat.

Finally, the director called it a wrap and Dandy, myself and my friend headed off in a van to ABC headquarters. Dandy sipped away throughout the trip telling jokes and making observations on the lunacy of the Olympic Games.

By the time we got to ABC headquarters, Dandy was in pretty sad shape. My pal and I helped him out of the van and sat him down on a nearby snowmobile where he immediately fell asleep, cowboy hat over his face. And that’s when my I took the picture.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Noise: Endless chatter and bad ads during The Civil War

Posted By on Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 6:50 PM

At the last minute, I opted out of two Civil War parties and headed instead to a local pub. That turned to be a good choice as the beers on tap were all new to me and the crowd at the bar not overly Duck or Beaver crazed.

Thanks to some good conversation and the aforementioned beer, what was supposed to be an exciting game, and wasn’t except for the first few minutes and the Duck's wonderful fake punt, saved the day.

And as the day and game wore on, the people at the bar got a wee testy and the barbs flew. Their first target, the announcers who, like all college football announcers, talk way too much and never, ever leave some space for the viewer to make up his or her own mind.

Play-by-play announcer: Jones is hit and stopped for a two-yards loss.

Color Commentator: Well wasn’t that an interesting second down call. The Bearcats opted to use the old Red Highway 86 formation where the quarterback lines up under center and then moves to left tackle. The right tackle them shifts to right end and does a wing-nut reverse option with a double sliding sweep. But give it to the Mountaineers for picking up on it and using the Delta, three-backs up, two in the press box formation with the cornerbacks shifting back three steps and ten moving up two when the ball was snapped. Brilliant.

Play-by-play announcer: Speaking of Jones and that loss, he lost his English History three-ring binder on campus the other day and it was picked up by his grandmother who just had an ingrown toenail removed. Our thoughts go out to her and the rest of the family.

Boring, aimless and truly obnoxious.

The play-by-play guys roasted, the bar crowd turned to the television ads which were, be they national or local, bad.

“Sexy and daring,” a voice intoned over fast cuts of scenes from some melodrama,” says Rolling Stone about Neighborhood Madams, starring Justin Neverwas and Jessica Hasbeen starting this Friday on ABC.”

I can’t wait to waste an hour watching that overly inflated tour of bad acting, script and plot.

Then we got into the local ads where we discovered that having your ad voiceover done by a woman with a very proper Oxonian English accent is apparently supposed to make a product or, in this case, service seem more superior. Wrong, it made the company behind the ad pretentious and totally out of touch with the Central Oregon market.

But the fav of the day was the ad from the local car dealer featuring a spokesmodel we started calling “Hand Woman”

Why “Hand Woman?” It’s because of her stilted hand movements—a cross between someone doing The Robot, a baseball umpire making the “safe” motion and some sort of weird fraternal salute followed with the “safe” motion.

“Don’t make fun of her,” said the guy two seats down from me at the bar, “she paid a lot of money to learn that at a TV spokesperson school.”

Now if she only had a British accent.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Dispassionate: Not taking sides in the Civil War

It's OK to not root for either the Ducks or the Beavers.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 6:54 PM

Come Saturday, I’m easily the most relaxed male football fan in Bend because I could care less who wins the Civil War. You see, I have no association, save for friends who attended them, with either of the two schools.

However, I rooted for the Beavers on their way to two consecutive NCAA baseball titles. And I admit I always root for the Ducks track and field and cross country running teams.

I’m not a big fan of the Ducks’ yellow and green colors and think the Beavers’ orange and black is always a bad combination outside of Halloween. There are exceptions to that color scheme, like the Oklahoma State Cowboys jerseys that feature a whole lot of orange and not much black.

Uniforms aside, I do like the Beavers' “Quizz” Rogers who is what we used to fondly call a “scatback”. In Rogers' case, a scatback with power.

And I do like the Ducks sans Jeremiah Masoli and the way the team, via coach Chip Kelly, are changing the game of college football.

I like the Beavers for the fact that they have 31 in-state players on the team, eight who start and eleven who are make significant contributions. Oregon has only 22 in-state players and one of them starts. Time to make one of those “University of Southern California at Eugene” jabs?

I’m of a mind that the NCAA should have an annual award for the University football program that has the most in-state players on its roster. This year it would go the University of Wisconsin as 85 percent of their players come from within cheesehead land.

Speaking of cheese, I’m looking forward to some tasty cheese, great dips, canapés and brews at the two Civil War parties I’ll attend. At both parties, I’ll be thoroughly focused on the food and drink and not on so much on the game.

As a dispassionate observer, I predict a 42-14 Ducks win.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Speed Kills? Apparently not on the way to and from Mt. Bachelor

What's with all the people driving dangerously fast on the way to Mt. Bachelor in Bend.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 11:21 PM

We were driving up to ski. The driver is a guy who’s lived here and been going to and from Mount Bachelor as long as I have over three decades. It’s snowing hard and we’re cruising along, in control, at 45 mph.

That’s when the first car blazes past at what’s gotta be 65mph. Then comes another one and another including one driver who thinks it’s safe to pass on a blind corner.

Which brings up the question: why the hurry? The ski area isn’t going to disappear, the lifts should be running all day, the snow looks like it’ll provide plenty of fresh, untracked cover to ski for the next several hours. So why the zeal to get there so quickly?

It’s always been thus and probably will not change until there’s a major accident. But who knows if even that will change some drivers’ need to go as fast as they can, pass recklessly and generally imperil a lot of people. And the bet part is the worse the conditions, the worse the driving.

Take a couple of years ago when I was crawling down the roadway because it was as slick as I’d ever seen it. Cars were already snugged up against the snow bank at the road’s edge after sliding ever so slowly into it.

At the first big bend in the road just after the Virginia Meissner snopark, an SUV came roaring up behind me and started flashing its light for me to either go faster or get the hell out of the way. I chose the latter.

The SUV hurtled by and made it about 250 yards before going into a huge slide, crashed through the snow bank and then proceeded to roll over three times on it’s way to landing some forty feet off the roadway.

Thankfully nobody was hurt and more than likely no lesson was learned.

“Unfortunately,” a retired OHP trooper told me last year, “everyone thinks if they have four-wheel drive they are bulletproof and can drive as fast as they want on snow and ice.”

Driving cautiously on the way to and from the mountain is a rule for some, four-wheel drive or not, but for most it’s something to scoff at.

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