After my divorce, I downsized from a huge truck and slide-on camper to a van.  I got a decent trade in and picked up a brand new Ford Transit 260 medium height medium length with the Ecoboost twin turbo (trouble in the making).  2 years later I have a rig that I can pretty much live in.  I still want to do a few more things to it, but for now, it’s pretty stellar.  Two of the things it lacks is a heater (I do have a propane “little buddy” heater but it consumes A LOT of propane) and a shower.  People asked how I’d cope and my response has always been,  “I have lots of friends.”   Many of those friendships have been neglected.  When I joined the army in 2000, I cut myself off from way too many friends.  That was a huge mistake and over the past few years, I’ve decided to reconnect with as many friends as I can.

For winter break 16/17, I decided to road trip to ski country.  My son and his mom only had a 9-day break.  With two weeks on tap for me, I figured I could get in plenty of skiing in Utah with the little ripper, meet up with some old friends, and maybe do some riding.  I’d have more than a couple of driveways with nearby electrical hookups and showers at my disposal.   My brother recently moved into a place in California not too far from ski country.  So plans came together after Thanksgiving to do a 3,000 mile loop….Utah, across Nevada, California, back down through Nevada, Arizona, and back home.

That month before the trip would include recovering from a week in Moab at Thanksgiving, riding as much as I could (but I ended up with a pretty severe respiratory illness which knocked me on my ass), getting my classes ready for final exams, finishing a van project so I could have some more storage space and actually be able to get into my bed without killing myself, doing as much yoga and dry land ski training as possible, and making all the bags that had been ordered.  Unbelievably, I was able to do everything I needed to do.

The van came together exactly like I wanted.  (Pics)

Shanti Yoga near the airport offered 4 classes a week free to dudes during December.  I think I went to 11 classes.  They were either hot Vinyasa or hot 26.  The Vinyasa classes helped a whole bunch since my dry land ski training consisted of doing hundreds of downhill lunges with a 30 pound backpack, running up and down steep and rocky hills, and a few thousand heel raises.  I was sore from day one and never took a break until I got in the van on December 23rd to head north.

And……. I made a bunch of great bags for customers.  Thank you customers.

On the 22nd, I got this message from Jen.

Crap.  That meant no riding in Moab, but that was a mute point as a thin layer of snow and ice blanketed the trails.  I would be hustling to get through that storm before it got too bad.  I had contemplated purchasing snow tires….at least on the rear…but nobody would sell me non-commercial rated tires.  The current tires are perfect for dry street, but they are E load rated commercial vehicle tires and they ride rough as crap as my van sits at about 6,200 lbs curb weight.  They are through about 2/3rds of their life, so I decided to go forth on those and hope that I’d be fine with the cable chains I bought a year earlier.

I also had Jen (yeah….I have my ex doing errands.  Baller!)  grab these at 2nd Tracks in Salt Lake.


Surface Walk Free 186 skis….Made in Utah

I have old but reliable tele gear –  T1 boots with Rainey bindings mounted on Rotefella releases.  Using that stuff would be like running a 3×9 drive-train on a 27+ bike.  Apparently those skis aren’t cheap, but I scored them on a sick sale price of $240 with tax.

After dropping off my dog with my friend Hayley, I was on the road by 3 pm on Friday the 23rd and made it all the way to Farmington, NM where I stealth camped in the Walmart parking lot.  The next morning I continued my cannonball trajectory through Cortez and across snow covered farmland and desert all the way to Moab…..which was cold and snowy.  So onward to Salt Lake I drove.  Just above Price, I blew through a jam packed chain-up area and spun tires up through about 15 miles of snow covered roads.


I don’t need no stinking chains!

Soon the road became 4 lanes again before Soldier Summit and there was no falling snow and the roads were clear!  Yay yay yay!!!!  I made it through the first small part of this HUGE incoming storm without having to chain up and only fish-tailing about 5 times.

After arriving in Salt Lake, it started to snow.  BIG TIME.  On Christmas day, Connor and Jen XC skied to church.  I borrowed Jen’s truck and tried to go to Brighton….at lunch time.


Wasatch Dr and Big Cottonwood Canyon.

I sat in that same spot for 7 light changes before I bailed and went to my friend Ann’s place just west of there.


Ann’s porch..that’s well over a foot in less than 24 hours.

After catching up, I finally got up to Brighton to try out my new skis….which were awesome.  If I had a Santa suit, I would have skied for free.  Mental note for next year….bring Santa suit.   It was an excellent way to spend Christmas day.