Friday, December 4, 2009

Good News & Bad News

GOOD NEWS: I got the job as a ski instructor!!! WOOHOOOOOO!!! :)

BAD NEWS: I have training camp tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 5th) and will most likely miss the most important gator football game of the season. :(

There's always a sacrifice, I guess.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Winter’s Long Awaited Arrival

It’s December already, but there’s no snow on my deck or ice on my windshield. People have begun to wonder, is this the work of El Nino? Climate change? Here in the Wasatch Mountain Range, locals know that the snow doesn’t usually accumulate well until the New Year. Even so, there’s still an incredibly contagious itch that seems to get worse with each passing day we don’t get a storm. It’s like an itch on that spot on your back that you can’t seem to reach. My roommates keep reminding themselves with a sigh of restlessness, “We’re so close.”

Since my return to Park City in mid-October, I’ve been preoccupying myself with the job search and attending various networking events. Park City has an excellent sustainability office and a real desire to become an earth-friendly town. With the launch of a new website in early October (parkcitygreen.org), came a plethora of events. Guest lectures by professors from the U (University of Utah), Green Business Expos, and Conservation hikes were all commonplace during the month of October and early November.

The lectures were my favorite. One in particular really sticks out in my mind. The professors touched on the affect a dust cloud is having on our snow here in Park City. Supposedly, there is a dust plume that seems to emanate from southwest Utah due to ecotourism activities such as ATV’ing. The dust plume finds it’s way to northeast Utah and mixes right in with our snow. It’s becoming a problem because it’s affecting snow quality and even quantity.

Another professor during the same lecture pointed out the affects of climate change on our snow. He also pointed out the most interesting fact I’ve heard in a while. On the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, there’s a place where they receive over 500 inches of snow every year. This might not seem interesting at first, but this area (I can’t seem to remember the name of it) is at only 700 feet above sea-level! Not only do they get hundreds of inches of snow, but the quality of snow is right up there with Utah’s “Best snow in the world.” It’s a phenomenon that scientists around the world are still trying to figure out, “but in the meantime,” the professor mentioned while chuckling, “we’re just going to enjoy it.”

The parkcitygreen.org networking events were fantastic! I learned so much and met so many great people! I always found myself wondering, why isn’t this kind of effort apparent in Florida? No offense here, but it’s almost like Floridians have blinders on when it comes to the subject of environmental sustainability and energy conservation. Why hasn’t this revolution of green living hit the east coast yet!!!??? Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on what you can do to counter your own carbon footprint! Parkcitygreen.org has a carbon calculator for anyone to use for free! Take advantage and educate yourself!

Anyway, the job search has gone wonderfully. I’ve landed a great job as a server with a company called Talisker (check out their website at taliskerclub.com). They’re opening up a new fine-dining, American bistro type restaurant on main street, which is where I’ll be working majority of the time. I’m really excited to be getting in with Talisker since it’s such a young company and they’re fairly new to the Park City area. Back in 2007, they purchased the Canyons resort, which means I’ll be getting a Canyons season pass along with my employment (wooohoooooo!!! what a perk!!!). I start training next Tuesday and I can’t wait to learn more about the food and beverage industry from a fine-dining perspective! Who doesn’t love food and beverages anyway!!??

I’ve also landed a job with a small start-up company I met when I was attending the Green Energy Symposium in Philly! It’s called Mortenson Companies (their website is mortensonltd.com) and I’m going to be helping them out as a remote sales representative. Again, I’m super excited to become a part of this company because it’s so young (started up just this past Spring!) and the versatility of their product is incredible. Check out the website to learn more and give me a call if you have any questions (or know anyone that might be interested in utilizing our product!).

There’s also a third job that I could be getting; teaching kids how to ski! I find out tomorrow if I got the job, so wish me luck! I had hiring camp last Sunday, which consisted of an interview and a mock teaching session where we could teach a group of the other applicants an activity of our choice. I decided to integrate basketball and chose to teach how to shoot a free throw. It was fun and I’m hoping that I brought the energy and enthusiasm they were looking for. Now, what really got me nervous was the training camp that would commence the day after we were hired. Since I don’t have a season pass yet, I hadn’t had a chance to try out my new boots or skis (surefoots & 2009 Atomic Snoop Daddies, respectively) or even my legs for that matter! I sure as hell did not want my first day on the hill to be for a job. I would be a nervous wreck if that were the case! I knew I couldn’t afford the high-priced Canyons or Park City pass (60 bucks with only 3 runs open) so I started asking my roommates and friends to see what they could suggest. In the end, it seemed, I was going to have to cough up the 60 bucks to practice my turns. But then, the very next day, my roommates surprised me with the announcement that they’re going to Brighton (a ski resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon) tomorrow. Not only that, but tickets are only 15 bucks if you bring in some clothes to donate! I was so stoked!

The day out at Brighton was exactly what I needed. I got acquainted with my skis wonderfully and I was catching mid-size airs at around the middle of the day. This was a HUGE confidence boost for me. Now if I land the ski-instructing job, I’ll be extra comfortable at training camp.

Did I mention that I was also having some fun in-between my job searching and networking events??? Here are some pics and vids of some great times in and around Park City.


The last bloom of summer




PCMR Zip-line (headcam!?)


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PCMR Zip-line POV


PCMR Alpine Coaster POV


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PCMR Alpine Coaster POV


Quittin' Time



The trails were littered with gorgeous autumn colors



Hikin' Around PCMR (A.K.A. my backyard)


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First Snow of the 09-10 Season!!!! (I have no idea what day it was hahah)



A taste of the winter wonderland to come



View of PC from Silverstar Run @ PCMR


Trimmin' up the jib!


First Day out at Brighton

I’ve got 2, maybe 3 jobs lined up and the weather report says we should be getting dumped on all week next week. It seems as though winter’s long awaited arrival has finally come…or has it?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In-between Seasons

It’s late Autumn and the air is becoming crisper with each passing day. The colors that once swept across the mountainside have begun to fade; the gorgeous crimson reds, sunset oranges, and golden yellows seem as though they came and went in the blink of an eye.

I live in Park City, Utah and today I finally realized that I accomplished something I set out to do long ago…

Live where people vacation.

I live in a 3-story, 100 year old house that sits at the foot of Park City Mountain Resort. It’s walking distance to the bars, ski-in-ski-out (not door to door, but close enough), and equipped with one kick-ass hot tub.

This is my Staycation.

I have 4 roommates, 3 live on the top floor, and one lives with me on the bottom floor. We’ve got our own kitchen, laundro, and bathroom. But what we didn’t have, was a 2nd room for me. We took a long look at the living room, and decided to build walls. I have to admit, I was nervous during the early stages of the room, but now I couldn’t be happier. It’s not perfect or luxurious by any means, but it’s still the most unique room in the house. It’s kinda like my own quaint, little log cabin inside a big house. I’m not going to post pictures, so if you wanna see it, get out here and check it out yourself (and that’s an open invitation to all of you).

I’ve really only lived here for 2.5 weeks total since I left Bryce in late August. I’ve been in Florida for some quality family & friend time, Philadelphia for the World Green Energy Symposium, and Chicago for Yom Kippur (and maybe a little bit of fun). All of which were an absolute blast.

Visiting my sister at school with Oma & Opa.


Playin golf and eating lunch at the Touchdown Club with Mom & Larry!



Enjoyin a day out in Biscayne Bay with some old friends!



Takin in the sights of Philly with another old friend!



It'd be a sin to not see this sign before leaving Chicago



Now I’m back in Park City and working harder than ever to land my next job.


So, to all of my close friends and family….


QUIT WASTING TIME AND BOOK YOUR SKI VACATION IN PARK CITY RIGHT NOW!!!! :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Moment for Reflection

12 weeks ago, I pulled into a dark parking lot. Exhausted, and almost delirious from the cross-country adventure that just occurred, I stumbled into an unfamiliar apartment not knowing what to expect from my stay at this strange, new place.

Now, I can say without hesitation, that Bryce Canyon National Park is one of my favorite places in the world and will always have a special place in my heart.

The perspectives and lessons that I acquired through this experience have truly changed me.

I’ve grown more since graduation than I have in my entire life. Taking on the awesome responsibility of freedom and true choice has been the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced. I’ve constantly looked to others to gain new perspectives, to learn from their “I-wish-I-had’s” and “what-if’s.”

In the end, it seems, we all get out of life what we want. I’ve always said, “if you want something bad enough, make it happen.” I want everything out of life, and I’m going to make it happen. I just don’t how yet. Part of me feels as though I should step into a career and start earning a real salary so that I can support a family and do fun things later. But then the other part of me says, “Who says there will be a later?” If I can support myself while seeing, doing, and meeting as many different places, activities, and people, isn’t that all that matters? I don’t have the answers, and I guess that’s what makes life so exciting.

Experiencing exposure has become more than just a piece of advice from my grandfather or a blog title…it’s become a lifestyle.

“Experiencing exposure and exposure to experience. That’s everything.” B.B.W.

A Surprise Plane Ride

During one of my last weeks at the park, my supervisor threw a little going-away party for one of our seasonal law-enforcement rangers. It was great; cold drinks, good food, and better company. As the night went on, I was chatting with a buddy of mine about life and goals and such, and out of nowhere he mentions that he has an airplane. I won’t lie, I kinda freaked out; “What!? Are you serious!?....” Before I could even ask he said, “yeah, I’ll have to take you up one day.” Little did I know, that day would come sooner than I thought.

The very next day, he poked his head into my office and said “Hey, wanna go up today?” “HELL YES I WANNA GO UP TODAY!!!” I replied. hahaha Unfortunately though, it was only 1pm and now I had turned into a total clock-watcher. It seemed like the slowest 4 hours of my life. Hahah

Well, the end of the day finally came and that afternoon, myself and 2 buddies were treated to a private airplane ride over Bryce Canyon. What more could I ask for after seeing this park from EVERY possible angle??? This was like the cherry on top of my summer. Enjoy the pictures ☺


Above: The Bridge Fire's massive affect on the environment


Above: From bottom to top (or near to far), Boat Mesa, Sunken Ship, and the Sagittarius PlateauAbove: The 1964 Cessna


Above: The Amphitheater from above

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Last 3-day Weekend

Once I realized that I only had 2 weeks left of my stay in southern Utah, I knew I had to make the best of it.

I was motivated to make my last 3-day weekend the most adventurous yet.

Luckily, I had a coworker to accompany me on my adventures.

On Friday, we headed out to Lower Calf Creek Falls; a wonderful 6-mile, sandy hike that led to an incredible 120-foot-tall waterfall. It was amazing to see how this waterfall fed the entire canyon its water. Trees, animals, shrubs, all flourished in the canyon in which it fed. It was almost oasis-like.








The water was absolutely FREEZING. We jumped in on the count of 3 and I could barely stay in the water for more than 3 seconds. You know that feeling of pins and needles? Well, multiply that pain by about 100 and put it all over your body. That’s how cold it was.









What was great was this little area about 50 yards away from the water that still had a bit of sun shining on it. We ran to this area and soaked in the sun to bring our bodies back to life. I’d never been happier to feel the sun’s amazing heat. We had a nice lunch in the sunshine, then hiked back.
During the drive back we decided to hit the town of Escalante for a bit of rural exploration. We ended up meeting a gentleman by the name of Kevin, who has a PhD in chemical engineering, but you wouldn’t know it by his looks. A modest man, with a long, ungroomed gray beard, soft brown eyes, and torn clothing, he was extremely friendly, and welcomed us into his incredibly unique shop. “I build waterwheels and drums,” he said, as my coworker and I stared in awe at his work. “This piece has taken me about a year and a half, and I’m still not done yet,” he softly mentioned. “I’m selling it to a hotel in Park City for 35 grand.”

His work was like nothing I’d ever seen before and his passion for it was truly apparent. Check out his websites if you get a chance:
Tribalsounds.com
Hydrowheel.com



He suggested we go to Georgie’s for dinner. We took his advice and later thanked him for it. We had a wonderful Mexican dinner followed by fresh cookies, which we took to the local frosty shop to have mixed in with a milkshake ☺.
















Best Friday so far, now it’s time to make Saturday REALLY worthwhile.

Saturday started out AMAZING. I decided to bring my longboard along for some of the awesome hills we came across on Friday. I had my coworker follow me in the car and take pictures. The early morning adrenaline rush was a great way to start the day off ☺



So, if you haven’t heard of Peek-a-boo and Spooky slot canyons before, take a minute now to google and read some literature on them. They’re truly some of the greatest gems in this country. They’re located about 30 miles south on an un-maintained dirt road called Hole-in-the-Rock in Grand Staircase Escalante Nat’l Monument. The drive turned out to be the scariest part of the entire trip. With obstacles like sand pits, 10-foot slides, and areas with 100 2-foot-bumps gathered together, I was scared for my 1998 Toyota Camry. Ever time we bottomed out, I dreaded that it would be the last bottom-out the Camry would see, but at the same time, I was determined to hike Peek-a-boo and Spooky. They had been on my to-do list since the beginning of the summer and there was no way I was leaving Bryce without hiking’em.

The 30-mile drive took us a little over an hour, but we finally got there. As we were hiking out, I looked back at my Camry, “I hope she can get us out of here.”

The hikes were a real treat after the hour-long white-knuckle drive. I didn’t realize how tense I was until I finally got out of the car and took a deep breath. The drive took a lot out of me.

We decided to link Peek-a-boo and spooky together as a loop. We started with Spooky, which was….indescribable. As we were squeezing and shuffling through the slots that were sometimes not much wider than the distance from my nose to the back of my head, I couldn’t stop giggling. I was so happy to have finally been right in the middle of the world-famous slot canyons. The rest of the hike was incredible. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking for me.






Well, the camry made it out (thank the heavens) and I'd never been happier. In the words of my old roommate Ryan, "The Camry runs on good times."

We hit a little café in Escalante for an amazing green-chile cheeseburger and we also stopped in at the frosty shop again.

Sunday was supposed to be a relaxed day since I had work at 4:30, but my neighbor woke me up early, “Let’s go hike the cottonwood narrows.” I couldn’t refuse hahah. It was a wonderful day-hike, but after doing peek-a-boo and spooky, no slot canyon can compare. Grovesnor arch was sweet, though! It almost looks like a castle or a fort or something.

I slept that night feeling very accomplished and satisfied.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Great Finale….

The 22nd year of my life was a special one, filled with more life lessons, good times, and memories than any year before and it ended with one crazy week, and a wonderful weekend with my two favorite girls in the entire world.

My mom & sister not only brought a ton of food and drink for my birthday party, but also some amazing weather. They got to see the best of Bryce in just 3 days. 3 of the most beautiful days I had seen in 2 weeks.

It started with a decent sunset, and then we hiked with moonlight as our only guide on Queens Garden trail, stopped, laid back, and gazed at the incomparable night sky of southern Utah.

Woke up the next morning for the best sunrise I had ever seen here. What a perfect start to the 23rd year of my life. We hiked Navajo loop later that day, then started partying. This party was great. A nice fire, hot dogs, s’mores, roasted starburst (if you’ve never tried it, go for it, it’s delicious), beer pong, and good friends and family. Nothing could’ve made me happier on my birthday.

Sunday was great, too. We went on the tower bridge hike on Fairyland Loop and had a nice snack at the bottom.

We would even be treated to a show put on by my favorite bird in the park! The Stellar Jay! Another great birthday gift!

Thanks, Mom and Andrea for a great birthday weekend!

Love you both!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

An Interesting week at work


Monday was, well, Monday.

I wasn’t exactly excited to be back to work after, what turned out to be, a great 3-day weekend, but I was given a treat by being sent out with the fire affects crew. It was a crew of about 9 people, half from Grand Canyon, half from Zion. Their assignment was to collect post-fire vegetation data from about 30 different sites around the park. It was a great day; totally stress-free and I was able to work with some new people for a change. We did get caught in a pretty nasty little hail storm, though. With one incredibly close call with lightning. It was kinda funny, we all decided to head back to our gear when the lightning seemed to be getting closer then once we had our gear, a bolt of lightning seemed to have struck within 100 yards of us. We all froze, looked at eachother, then started to run as fast as we possibly could. Hahah, we all couldn’t stop laughing once we got back to the cars. It hailed and rained on us for about an hour, and then we started back up with our data collection.

Tuesday was lame. Just a meeting and some office work.

Wednesday was ACTION PACKED! I finally got my hands on my own project. I was given the task of revisiting photopoint markers that were last documented in 1996. It’s called a photopoint survey and it’s used to track vegetation changes throughout the years. This was an awesome project. I finally got some real responsibility and some good fieldwork experience! It was like a treasure hunt. There were 9 total photopoints where I needed to find a marker (sometimes a piece of painted re-bar or a slab of concrete) and take various photos facing different directions. The people who originally documented the sites in 96 never GPS’d the points, so we were following written instructions on how to get to each photopoint. This was sometimes fun and sometimes very, VERY frustrating. In the end, I was able to track down 6 of the 8 photopoints. Not a bad hit percentage! The fun part of this day was when we came across, what would end up to be, one of the craziest storms either myself or my colleague had ever witnessed. Hail, flash floods, lightning…you name it, we got it. Check out the pics and videos below.

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On Thursday I was able to help out the interpretation department in administering a Visitor Survey. This was a pretty cool experience. I was the stereotypical guy with a clipboard asking for a few minutes of your time, but this survey was different because the visitors didn’t have to stand around to take the survey. The survey was a booklet with a stamp on it that they could take with them, fill out on their own time, then throw it in a mailbox and send it back. Most people were surprisingly excited to participate in the survey. I guess it’s because I’m not standing in a mall trying to sell them something, plus they’re all on vacation having a good time.

Friday was exciting because my Mom and sister arrived at Bryce to spend my birthday with me!

My First Taste of the Grand Staircase

The weekend of July 24-26 was, well, better than I thought it would be.

We had a 2-day backpacking trip through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM) planned. My friend and I headed to the nearest “city,” called Cedar City, to do a bit of shopping for the trip. On our way there, our other friend called us saying that there was a 60% chance of rain all over Utah for the entire weekend. We’d never come across precipitation chances that high the entire summer and since our trip was planned around hiking through slot canyons, we knew we had to start working on a backup plan.

We were immediately bummed. We couldn’t think of anything to do that didn’t depend on the weather being at least decent. “Well, we might as well stay in Cedar City and just party,” I suggested. There were no objections.

We traveled up and down Cedar City’s main drag, doing anything even remotely fun, which ended up being shopping at the local thrift stores. What bummed us out even more, was that half of the city was closed because of Utah’s state-wide holiday, Pioneer Day. We were disappointed to say the least. How could a weekend go so wrong so quickly?

We ended up grabbing a cheap motel room for the night and roaming around Cedar City on foot, hitting all 3 of their incredibly boring bars. We had fun nonetheless.

On Saturday morning, we headed back to Bryce real early. My friend had gotten a call saying that he needed to report back so that he could work on a fire. Once we got back, my buddy went to work and I passed out again. Later that day, we decided to hit the local rodeo. It was fairly entertaining and made for some fun photos. Afterwards we stayed for the fireworks, which was actually a pretty good show.

Sunday was, surprisingly enough, a beautiful day. We decided to head out early and try our hand at a slot canyon hike in GSENM. It would come to be the best decision we’d made the entire weekend. The weather was perfect and the slot canyon was amazing. Willis Creek was the name of the hike. Slot canyon hikes are incredible experiences and I would suggest them to anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Bridge Hollow Fire

It began last Wednesday, when I was out with the veg crew.

All of our radios squawked…"Fire call center to Bryce Canyon Fire Chief…we have reports that, if the current conditions remain constant, a fire is headed in your direction and should reach the main park road in approximately 2 hours."

From that point on, for the next 5 days, the radio never went quiet. Not for more than a second.

The fire that began with one, single strike of lightning in Bridge Hollow, would burn continuously for over 5 days, scorching over 3000 acres of land in Bryce Canyon National Park and Dixie National Forest. With over 200 wildland firefighters on call, teams of resource and safety specialists from all over southern Utah, and, of course, the amazing team of people at Bryce Canyon National Park, this “incident” would require everyone’s best efforts to, not only manage the fire, but also keep the public’s (locals and visitors) safety and ease of mind as top priorities.


Just to give you a little bit more perspective, this smoke is about 14 miles away.



I attended the first fire briefing on Thursday morning. The fire had already burned 1500 acres. A plan had to be put into action, and quickly. The fire crew-chiefs would have a full plate of contradicting objectives; the national forest wanted to sustain and utilize the fire for resource benefit, but the national park wanted to go on full suppression, and they had a whole set of rules of what the firefighters could and couldn't do in the park due to impact levels on the park’s resources (falcon nests, archaeological sites, etc.). Thankfully we all reached a consensus and, although I didn’t experience the fire first hand, I believe the fire was managed fairly easily.

After the meeting, I was approached by our Chief of Interpretation and the Chief of Resources. They wanted to promote me to Public Information Officer (PIO) for the next few days. I was ecstatic. Not only would I be getting paid for a change, but I’d also be gaining some new experience (“It’s all about exposure to experience, and experiencing exposure,” that was my late grandfather Pops’s saying and my inspiration for the title of this blog and my own ambitious lifestyle).

I would be in charge of editing daily press releases and hand-delivering them to select people and businesses within a 50-mile radius. Now THIS was my style. I really enjoyed this job. Driving around, meeting new people and talking with them about the fire (or whatever else they wanted to chat about) was really fun.

The southern end of Bryce Canyon’s main road would be closed, restricting visitors from seeing 75% of the park. Fortunately our main attraction, the Bryce Amphitheater, would remain open to the park. The biggest challenge for our interpreters and administrators were the visitors that would constantly demand that their park entrance fee be refunded because they couldn’t see the whole park (even though about 60% of our visitors never spend more than 2 hours in the park, nonetheless get to see the whole thing).

When I wasn’t out working as the PIO, I was around the park looking for the best vantage points for pictures of the fire and smoke. At Fairyland Point, I would take the best panorama shot of the summer so far. I hope you like it!


The Bridge fire went down in history as the biggest fire Bryce Canyon National Park has ever seen. Teams of specialists are still coming in and out of the park for weeks at a time to analyze the affects the fire had on the local ecosystems.

I feel privileged to have witnessed and been a part of managing it.

What an amazing experience.