You know how Sean, in Felicity was always coming up with ideas like flavored pen caps and and the restaurant the only serves appetizers and desserts? All of his ideas failed, but since it was a fictional television show, he of course got to stay in his beautiful NYC apartment. I often think up business ideas or daydream about what I would do if I wasn’t a newspaper editor, but since this is real life and I like the steady paycheck and flexibility of my job, I lack the gumption to ever follows through. No, it’s not even follow through, it’s actually getting started.

Today I came across this video of the couple that started The Poor Porker. They just wanted to serve good beignets an chicory coffee, so they started a business for just a few hundred dollars. I love the look and feel they created and it left me inspired on this Wednesday afternoon. Check it out.

Poor Porker

 

 

 

I check in on A Cup of Jo every day. Joanna Goddard is the wildly popular blogger that writes about lifestyle, love, family, travel, food and fashion. Her posts are easy to read and are always offering up fun tips and entertaining tidbits. Plus she has some awesome giveaways. Her blog is her full time job along with some other freelance work. I like her style and what she’s been able to do with her blog. It’s given me some inspiration for this blog. A Cup of Jo is great, but it’s so East Coast. I’d love to pull off a similar mountain version here. More adventurous, more geared towards the bad ass ladies that play hard but still want to look good doing it. So I’m thinking of changing things up a bit in this space and posting more often. I’m still trying to figure out that balance between this being a place for family and friends to keep up with my life in Wydaho and also taking it in a new direction. Naturally, I’ve decided to do more just as I’ve gotten busier. I’m taking over as the managing editor of the Teton Valley News this month! It’s always been my style to pile things on all at once. I think I’m more focused the busier I get. Good thing it’s been a low snow year. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

I was supposed to be skiing waist-deep, fluffy pow this morning. Forecasters were predicting snow in feet! But instead, there was rain in the valley and nasty wind.  I think the snow line starts at about 7,000 feet but the wind shut down the lifts so I decided it was a good opportunity to update the blog. Though rain is depressing in December, I remembered I did have a fantastic couple of powder days earlier this month. I just had to travel 12 hours to do so.

Silverton Mountain Colorado

My boyfriend claims to have a Ph. D in powder. He grew up skiing in New England and moved west after high school so I guess he does know what he’s talking about, so when he said Silverton was the only place in the lower 48 getting snow we kind of had to go. I often get left behind on these ski road trips, but I guess I’m improving and got the green light to hit the road with the bros.

Silverton is different than most mountains. There’s only one small lift and is open Thursday’s through Sundays. In mid-January it’s only open for guided skiing. Earlier in the season it’s open for those who can go un-guided. Basically our timing was perfect. We left Wednesday morning right after Silverton got a 14-inch dump and arrived for the week’s opening cycle Thursday morning. Shannon, our friend Chuckles and me drove to Salt Lake City where we met up with Seth who brought along his snowmobile then continued to southwest Colorado.

This is how we got to Silverton

There’s no lodge, just a cold tent where you fill out a waiver saying you are an expert skier and won’t sue them if you die. The life operator checks to see if your beacon is on and you have to carry a shovel and probe to ski there.I was getting nervous. Silverton is in the heart of the San Juan mountains and I heard while I was there San Juan was Spanish for “sketchy.” The Colorado snowpack is scary and avalanche danger is usually high. They control the avy danger at Silverton by ski-cutting runs and throwing bombs out of helicopters to get avalanches to slide, so as long as we didn’t venture out of bounds we were pretty safe.  But there are tight trees, rocks and couloirs. It was -12 or something that morning but as I rode the chair lift up my palms were sweating. I was also excited though. Shannon is a professional guide and really does put safety first. He’s seen it all and makes good decisions. Plus he’s spent a lot of time in this region before he moved to the Tetons. He even has a mining claim near Silverton so he knows the region well. Still, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. These weren’t going to be the gentle powder fields of Targhee. I’ve put in some time at Jackson and on steeper runs so I had some confidence. The first run was great, the pow was blower and we didn’t ski anything too far out my comfort level. The next run we decided to hike. I had no idea what we would be skiing, but was feeling good. We hiked up the ridge with about 100 other people. I stepped off the boot-pack a lot. I guess most of these people were used to hiking around at 12,000 feet but I was going slow and steady.

Taking it in

After about 30 minutes we decided to drop into a run called Rope-de-Dope 1 (I think.) The run would require dropping into steep couloir, but it looked wide enough for me to handle. I thought about turning around, but really the boot pack back down would be scarier than skiing. Shannon dropped in first and said he would wait for me around the bottom of some cliffs. I knew I had to follow him and not wait. The longer I waited the more scared I would get. Plus there were two girls standing at the top with me and I couldn’t let them drop in before me. I didn’t have style, but I skied it slow and without falling and made it to where Shannon was waiting. I had to catch my breath and wait for my knees to stop shaking and heart to stop pounding. The rest of the way down was a lot easier and I felt good. I was kind of auditioning for Alaska. If I could hang at Silverton there’s a better chance Shannon will take me to AK.

Scared but mission accomplished. You can't see exactly were I skied down, but it was lookers left of those rocks.

 

 

The rest of the way down

 

 

 

 

At Silverton you can basically ski 360 off the top and that lead you to a road at the bottom. Then an old school bus picks you up and takes you to the base area and the chairlift.

The other shuttle is an old UPS truck.

We ate some lunch and then only did one more lift-served run after that. It’s exhausting hiking around at high elevation this early in the season. We met back up with Seth, Chuckles and our other friend Daniel who showed up from Tahoe. He’s been skiing man-made snow next to grass in California. He put his wife and daughter on a plane to Philly for Christmas and made the trek to the San Juans too. Crazy what we do for a pow-fix.

We cracked open some beers in the parking lot and decided to take a snowmobile run to finish the day. There are old mining roads everywhere in this part of Colorado so it’s easy sled-ski access. We all got in a bonus run and called it a day. We’d spend the next day sled skiing.

I shuttled a run for the boys.

We had perfect, sunny, cold weather so the snow quality stayed good and we had good visibility. We spent Friday in Minihaha basin and skied short runs back to road, then used the snowmobile to get back to the top.

There are old mining cabins all over the place and some local Colorado ski bums have taken over one of them in basin. It was stocked with a stove, wood, food and even dog food. On Thursday one of the locals was sled-skiing that afternoon too. He was bummed out because he had a ski-date the next day and wasn’t going to be able to come back. Poor guy. On Friday we had the place mostly to ourselves.

Miners cabin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’m back in the Tetons waiting for conditions to turn as good as they were in Silverton. It might not even happen this year, you never know. It’s all part of the fun!

My first spring/summer in Wydaho a man was attacked by a grizzly not too far from where I was living. A friend heard about it and said, “Good thing you’re living with Amy, she’s crazy, no bear would attack you guys.” It’s probably true, and I am missing her this summer. Bear spray is like $40, and there have been encounters, with grizzlies nearly every week. I wrote about a man who was charged three times and survived. (You can read that here.) Last week a man died in Yellowstone. I’ve never been scared of encountering a bear until this summer.

Before I moved to Wyoming, Lucky and I went to a bear lecture in Teton National Park with Ranger Tom. He told us that if it was a black bear you could just say “get outta here, bear.” But grizzlies are a different breed. I haven’t even gone hiking yet this year because I’ve been a little freaked out. I have gone biking and rode up on a moose and two calves. Also scary because they are protective when with their babies. I had to hike out the long way.

Anyway, Mother Nature is winning this year. It’s not all scary though. The ample snowfall this winter and spring caused a lot of mud and flooding, but that meant summer skiing. The lift at Targhee opened June 24 for the summer season, for scenic hikes and lift-serviced biking. There was so much snow, though most people went skiing. You could make turns top to bottom, but had to cross the road twice where they were plowing.

Sarah ready to ride June 24.

green valley, snowy mountain

 

The snow also made for an interesting 3-day music festival at the resort with Widespread Panic. Lots of hippies on substances. Most embraced the mud. Here’s a video of why you shouldn’t wear white to outdoor rock concerts, while also tripping on LSD. Or maybe you should, seems like he was having a good time. Still working on the video/iphone skills.

I hadn’t planned on going to all three nights of Widespread Panic, but I did. Luckily we got a new couch and the old one is outside. Not a bad place to recover and rest up.

Resting up before Day 2 of Widespread Panic

 

 

This time of year there’s a mass exodus of skiers who flock to Alaska from the Tetons. There are a few places to go, but the main Jackson/Teton Valley connection is on Thompson Pass. There are a few heli-ski operations whose owners call the Tetons home the rest of the winter. I’ve never been, (maybe next year!) but Thompson Pass is just a mountain pass and a parking lot, basically. A few years ago Tailgate Alaska started a springtime party and king of the hill competition. Shannon left yesterday for a 10-day trip. He’ll do a little guiding, but mostly he’ll be playing. Here’s the scene. Most everyone in the video is from Teton Valley. Shannon’s in the green jacket/ white helmet. Looks fun, huh?

There’s still a couple weeks of the lift-serviced skiing here, but a lot of other people, if they don’t go to AK, they head to the desert. Some friends left for Zion and Brice Canyon in Utah. I’m watching their really sweet Pomeranian while they are gone, so at least I have some company. Meet Noelle.

I've been carrying her around town in my purse.

(· · · — — — · · ·)

SOS is the commonly used description for the international Morse Code distress signal. No doubt the Japanese have been sending out many an SOS over the past week. Living in rural wydaho I do a fair amount of online (mostly window) shopping. I came across this cool jewelry designer who makes Morse code necklaces. They are giving 60 percent of their profits to MSF, a humanitarian organization that delivers aid.

I just thought they were cute and helped a good cause. They have more than just an SOS choice, and would make a fabulous, unique gift. Check it out.

COATT Morse code necklaces

I’ve been back from Jamaica for five days and I feel like I’m finally starting to adjust back to the cold snow temps. It seems so weird to think that I won’t feel Jamaica-like heat until probably July 4th or later. Saturday morning I was swimming in the Caribbean and Sunday afternoon I was skiing pow. It snowed 60 inches while we were gone. We missed the biggest day of the year where Targhee picked up 30 inches overnight. My boss at work even closed the office and let everyone go skiing. While I missed the snow, I was happy to be floating in tropical blue water snorkeling, eating lobster, sipping fruity rum drinks and lounging on a beach chair. This was my first trip to the Caribbean and the water didn’t look real at first. It was so clear and blue at the same time. If there were waves to surf I may not have come back. The weather was also perfect. Not too hot, except for a sweaty car ride one day and a trip to town another. It wasn’t humid and there was always a warm breeze.

I’ll try and break down the trip with some photos. It took us awhile to even get to Jamaica. Living in rural Wydaho, it’s sometimes difficult to travel. Thankfully the weather cooperated a little. We left Driggs early Friday morning to drive to Salt Lake City. We started vacation Thursday night though because there was really good music at the Knotty Pine. Chali 2na and Karl Denson were in town so it was a show not to be missed for town that has only one blinking stoplight. When we got to Salt Lake and checked into the airport our flight was going to be delayed two hours. We already had to stay over night in Houston and fly to Jamaica the next morning so it wasn’t that big of  deal. But then fog in Houston re routed us to Dallas to get more fuel. We finally got to Houston around 1 a.m. having left Driggs at 8 a.m. Houston to Jamaica went smooth but then it took us two hours to get through customs when we finally arrived. Needless to say I was really excited that Shannon had already booked us a flight in a Cessna 120 something or other to take us from Montego Bay to Negril. It was a 15 minute plane ride along the cost vs. an hour and half taxi or bus ride. We made it to Negril just in time for sunset.

The pilot. He said in Jamaica they give you a pilot's liscence when you get your driver's liscence. Didn't scare me, I've flown with Dr. Lampitt as a kid.

As soon as we got through customs everyone kept telling us “welcome home,” or “you’re home mon.” A lot of Americans or Canadians we met had been to Jamaica multiple times. It seemed kind of weird at first, because there are a thousand other places I would want to travel and couldn’t see going back to the same place every year. I can see why they keep coming back though. When your not used to that kind of hospitality it feels really good. Besides it’s gorgeous.


On our first night we were sitting on the beach drying off from a swim and having our first rum drinks when we met O’Neil. He introduced himself as Jack Sparrow and I thought, “oh great, he thinks we are dumb tourists.” Which we kind of are I guess, but I didn’t want to buy anything from him or listen to his pitch about the “real Jamaica mon.” The security guard was approaching and he warned us real quick to say he was our friend. So Sparrow kind of weirded me out a bit at first, but he was really nice even though he was a hustler. Everyone we met kind of was. But everyone’s gotta eat. We told him we would find him the following day and set up trip for him to take us to some caves and Treasure Beach.

The next day though, we weren’t any mood to travel. We hung out on the beach took a walk down seven mile beach. Our condo was near the end on the West part of seven mile beach. We walked all the way down, checking out all the hotels and people watching. Locals selling fruit, bracelets, baskets, marijuana, anything you wanted as well as topless women, European men (easily spotted because of speedos) and lots of snowbirds with skin as dark as the locals made for good entertainment. We got talked into a snorkeling/sunset trip that evening and it was a good choice. We snorkeled in some caves on the way to Rick’s Cafe. Rick’s is a famous cliff jumping spot and we went there next. When we got there, I was glad we were by boat. It was a madhouse. Climbing up the cliffs a girl had just hurt her back jumping and Shannon went into EMT mode to help. I bet there are a lot of injuries there with people fueled on liquid courage. Jamaica is great because “it’s no problem, mon.” You can do anything you want. You don’t want to wear a life jacket on the jet ski, no problem. We jumped in once and got back in the boat for sunset number 2.

 

The next day we set out for a day trip to Treasure beach and some caves with underwater swimming. We found Jack Sparrow. He hung out just down the beach from where we stayed. They called it the free bar. He slept on the floor in some old run down buildings. The free bar was the remains of what was at one time an actual bar. They had a cooler full of Red Stripes that they sold for cheaper than the surrounding resorts, though. Goats and a horse were lingering in the grass behind the bar. A lot of old Rastafarians  hung out there as well, rolling joints and selling baskets, shells, are, jewelry and whatever else they had.

We called this guy the Mayor of Seven Mile Beach. He hung out at the free bar, selling baskets he made from telephone wire he found. I don’t think he lived in the back though, because we saw him walking down the beach from town at the same time every day. It’s weird to think that his job was hanging out on the beach all day, hoping someone might buy a basket. Everyone kind of had their turf. They set up at the same place everyday and wandered the beach, but not too far from their hang out.

Sparrow, who’s real name was revealed to be O’Neil, introduced us to DJ who was going to be our driver for the day. DJ was a DJ that wasn’t his real name either. Everyone has a nickname. They called Shannon “General.” Not really sure why. We left Negril and headed west on the Island. On the way we stopped for Red Stripes at all the little huts dotting the road. There was never one far. They only sold beer, a few snacks, cigarettes, and juice drinks.

Our first real stop was the community of Rolling River. There we went to caves with underwater swimming holes. It was pretty cool, but everyone wants a piece of the action. We had to have yet another guide in addition to our driver DJ, Sparrow who set it all up and now the cave guide. He was nice too, though and kept stopping to point out leaves that smelled like lime or ginger or whatever else. The tour was a little cheesey, but we never saw any other gringos and Sparrow kept saying, “the real Jamaica mon.” So who knows. The guide said locals used the caves as a place to meditate. While we were touring there were some people singing some spiritual songs. I don’t know if it was set up or not. There was one really deep swimming hole and it was kind of creepy jumping in because you could see the reflection of the stalactites in the water, so it looked like you were going to jump on top of rocks. It was like 100 feet deep though. Still creepy because it was so dark. Not that into caves, I was ready to go back to the beach. On the way out Shannon tipped our guide $10. And he tried to get more, but we already paid $20 for the tour and it was cool, but not that cool and only like 45 minutes long. Jamaican’s aren’t shy about asking for more. But we felt that was fair and they always appreciate what you do give them. “Respect, mon. Respect.” That’s what they usually say when they want your attention or later if they decide what you gave them was fair. The guide wanted more but thanked us anyway and wished us a long life and good trip.

We got back in the car. Stopped at yet another hut for more Red Stripes and then stopped for lunch.

Before we got out of the car DJ and Sparrow told us to let them handle the fish ladies. It was a bunch of huts on the side of the road where ladies were cooking fish and bread. As soon as we got out of the car they all began swarming us and yelling at us to buy their fish. We wandered down to the water where some men were scaling fish. A bunch of boats were tied up. DJ and sparrow brought us a tin foil package of parrot fish with onions and spices and some bread. They eyes and all the bone were still in, but it was delicious. Probably because it was so fresh.

From there we went on to Treasure Beach, but with so many Red Stripes in me at that point I really had to go to the bathroom. DJ pulled over at another hut and asked the girl if I could use her bathroom. All the bathrooms are outside and look like they would be a gross latrine, but everyone I used were all very clean, sometimes with a dirt floor, but always with running water. Treasure Beach was an even more laid back beach town than Negril. It didn’t have as many hotels and restaurants or people, but it was probably headed that way. The car ride was hot at that point so we were ready to jump in the ocean. We stopped at Jack Sprats, a bar on the water, but there was a live Reggae band at the next bar down the beach. We hiked over some rocks and listened for awhile. There were a lot of locals and a few gringos. Next time we want to hang out at Treasure Beach more. We didn’t make it to the Pelican Bar, which I really wanted to do. It’s out on the water and you can only get there by boat. We just ran out of time. On the way back, it looked like it had rained in Negril, so we missed the day’s showers.

The next morning we went snorkeling out on a reef. It was beautiful. I don’t know what all we saw, but lots of colorful fish and fan coral and other underwater plants. There were two Canadian girls who were in military school with us. They were backpacking around the island and visiting some friends from school who were stationed in Ocho Rios working with other Caribbean military units. They were hoping to get that kind of gig when they graduated.

The rest of the days we mostly kicked it on the beach in front of our condo. Our condo was a little older than some of the other hotels, but it had one of the biggest beach areas and lots of shade. I needed the shade after two days in the sun. We also hung out at the Sea Grape Cafe and Kuyaba. The Sea Grape was right next door to our beach and had cheaper Red Stripes than our condo bar. It was DJ’s hangout.

 

We kind of ditched Sparrow and let DJ take over as our guide. He told us Sparrow sometimes had friends that were trouble. Maybe he was just telling us that so we would give him more of our money and not Sparrow. Anyway, DJ had wheels and Sparrow didn’t. The Sea Grape was also local but a little nicer than the Free Bar. The Free Bar was cool, with a great view and nice Rastas, but the Grape was just next door and had a little bit better vibe. It also had an older Jamaican lady who would rub me down with her aloe plant. I think it really helped and felt great. I told her no at first, but as soon as she started with the aloe it was hard to say no to a mini cooling massage.

We also went fancy a couple nights and spent the rest of our sunsets at Kuyaba. They had the best frozen fruity drinks and ran a 2 for 1 special from 5-6 everyday and had swings in the bar. They also had the most entertaining beach security guard. He called himself Big Boi and had a local sidekick that helped him put up the beach chairs. They never stopped heckling each other.  We asked what the name of their show was and they said Big Boi and the Beach Chairs. We had a kitchen in our condo, but we mostly ate out. The food everywhere was so good. We had lobster a couple nights and also had some street jerk chicken and street conk soup.

The conk soup man carried around a big pot on his bike with a generator that kept it warm. On the beach everyday the patty man also came buy pushing a bike with a bucket full of patties. His bike was rusted and didn’t have pedals or a chain or a seat. It didn’t look like fun pushing a bike that barely worked in the hot sand, but he had a method and was the most popular beach seller. The patties are sooo good. It’s a flakey crust stuffed with beef, chicken or seafood.

The patty man’s bike was just barely in better shape than this one.

We had DJ take us to the airport on our way back. We stopped for lunch at another local spot in Sainte Luce. It was another cool town between Montego and Negril. It was on the ocean but the mountains were also really close. A police officer also stopped for lunch. Everyone was always asking me if everything was ok. It always was. I had heard Jamaica was a little dangerous and dirty. Parts of it were a little trashed with litter, but I wouldn’t say it was dangerous at all. Of course I had a tall 200+ pound boyfriend with me all the time, but everyone relied on tourism so much that they couldn’t afford to have anything bad happen to anyone. Besides the security guards and police officers, the locals were always asking if I was ok or needed anything. They really just wanted you to have a great time and good experience, then go home and tell your friends.

I could have been smoking a joint with a beer in my hand and this cop wouldn’t have cared. As long as you weren’t harming anyone else, it’s no problem, mon. It’s Jamaica. Besides the beauty and music of Jamaica, they really have other parts of life figured out.

I do want to go back. Shannon’s parents have the condo until 2017, so who’s coming next year?

Here’s a link to more photos http://www5.snapfish.com/snapfish/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=6692437014/a=90500458_90500458/