Spring Break, OYB-style...
It's Spring Break these days for the Fighting Drunks of MSU. They flock down to the institutional hotel beaches that are designed so everything can be hosed out after the kids trash it and puke it up at their parent's expense.
It reminds me of a couple Spring Breaks I did back in the day. So I'll tell you about them quick before I tell you about this year's Getaway...
I found a ride on the MSU ride board and took my bike and panniers down to Florida where I ran into a group of a couple dozen bike touring college kids from Ohio State. The guy I accidentally got a ride with was what was called a "bike racer." I had never met such a person before. Now that was a fated ride! He played blues guitar with the window rolled down as we drove south. I had never heard that either.
I don't know how I found the bike tourers when I got to Florida. I'd heard that their tour might be riding down through a particular county when I was somewhere in the vicinity. I got dropped off in Tallahassee and started biking. I might have had a state road map. I suddenly felt quite alone yet I had everything I needed. I thought, if I find em, fine, if I don't, I'll just explore around. There was a girl I liked in the group but I hadn't realized until right then that just wanting to find someone didn't mean that you would. Well, lo and behold in a couple hours I ran into riders on the tail-end of the group. Crazy. So I biked along with them for a week. We rode every day and camped on beaches and cooked fresh seafood dinners over bonfires. I'd never seen porpoises or phosphorescent surf---both freaked me out during a moonlit walk on the beach. I remember listening to Manfred Mann's "Singing the Dolphins Through" for the first time on an early Walkman on that stroll. Cosmically lovely... Total trip cost $150.
For another Break, the MSU Outing Club, plus our professor advisor, drove a couple hours north and went canoeing with snow on the banks of the AuSable. The water was warm and crystalline. Then we skied our camping gear into the backcountry on sleds and did winter tenting and skiing for a few days. We cut benches into the snow and had a big bonfire pit. What a great time that was. Breakfast never tasted so good, bacon never smelled better. Cost probably $30.
So this weekend suddenly proved to be my big chance to finally go up north this winter. First time in 2 years!
Going up north to max-out the sun-time is still a bit too wild an idea for the kiddies. They wanted to do sleepovers with friends, etc.
Snow is gone here but I wanted Just One More.
So longtime OYB-er David Eric invited me up to show me the big glades that he and his ski buddies romp around in. I jumped at the chance.
On the Saturday morning sunrise drive north when I crossed into Snow Country I saw a big russet coyote standing along the highway. A few minutes later a mink loped across.
So I got to meet David for the first time, along with a couple of his friends, at the Green Timbers state land near Vanderbilt. We headed off into the big hills and did casually joyous tele'ing for a few hours. Pure sunsoaked face-tan bliss. We picnicked a couple times.
A wonderful thing was seeing my three backcountry cohorts all bust into Tour-style Skiing exactly as I describe it in my New Ski Theory report. All three are expert all-day skiers. And they were all skiing in a relaxed, efficient way NOT DESCRIBED IN ANY SKI BOOK. Amazing. I'm going to have to write that RealWorld Ski Book myself, I bet!
Our young lady companion was even doing the Two-step Doublepole -- also NOT MENTIONED in any ski book, except for those over 50 years old! When I showed her the difference between what she was doing and the "official" Kick Doublepole we could easily see that her way was right for backcountry and that the KDP was mostly wrong---it relies on having a fast, solid track---which homestyle skiers DO NOT have.
(PS: I heard back from a ski instruction official and he said Yes they teach race-tech but it's via a progression that people can use depending on their level of intensity. The problem is that the progression doesn't include ANY of the RealWorld modes that I see being used every day. I'll have to get a copy of their Tech Manual and study this all further... Sadly, the $24 manual cost is a bit of a barrier...)
It was funny to drive on those muddy yet icy back dirt roads with the Volvo that I had just taken the snow tires off of the previous day---the car would rotate like a top, yawing left and right but kept generally going straight(ish).
Later on, back in Petoskey, after a tasty dinner David whipped up we figured the snow had firmed up so we went back out and did some skate skiing on local trails and watched the sun set over the half pipe at Nub's Nob. Dang, that's steep terrain. We chatted with a grey-bearded guy on a snowboard who had a swarm of kids with him. David says this is a great area for kids to live.
It was really neat finally meeting David and some Fresh Air up north people. We compared notes and figured out some of our mutual connections from back in Ann Arbor days.
David and Kat like living right in town, saying they can get most anywhere around town by bikepath---as well as to the beach and park. It's all nearby. They say Petoskey is unusual in that even though it has a thriving city-center it doesn't have the deadly sprawl we're used to. They said the wilds come right up to the edge of town. It's a good place for kids, too, with two ski areas basically right next to town. Lots of kids have lockers there and hang out skiing after school.
I missed a big gathering at Short's Bar the previous evening that brought together a buncha folks for a fundraiser for one of their friends. I had ALMOST come up earlier. I would've run into even more surprise people if I had.
The next morning I went classic skied a few hours and ran into a bunch more skate-skiers of a wide variety of types, speeds and age-groups. (But only one nut was out there in jeans and wool!)
That Nub's Nob has a trail loop with a half-mile long steep winding downhill that I fell for and enjoyed skiing up and down a few times, then I did the whole loop---wow, that's a toughy---lots of good hills and challenging berm-shot turns throughout.
As a send-off from my visit, David spotted me for a shuttle canoe outing on the Sturgeon River while he went and ran their 2 hugefast powerbeast thoroughbredracehorse German Shorthair dogs.
So I got to do a couple hours of snowy-bank paddling with crystalline water. Saw a beaver up close. The river changes from open alder country with bright red bushes to cool, shady cedar hollows. Gorgeous. I passed a few feet from a fisherman who had his back to me and was on the riverbank starting to clean a big colorful steelhead he had just landed. I didn't want to startle him so I slipped on by. I note that this is a powerful, narrow river, suitable for short boats with lots of rocker. Not for my long race boat. Ahem.
Then I drove on home.
Now that's a Spring Break!