Winter Rodeo

Winter Rodeo

Monday, January 24, 2011

Super-Vaca 2011, Elk Lake and Bend, OR

For the past three or four years a few friends and I have been trying to arrange a meeting of greatness.  A couple of years ago two out of four made the trip.  This year we finally managed to pull it off.  We started planning in Summer of 2010 and got the plan of attack down.  Chris, Johnnie, Phil and I were all to meet in Bend, OR and spend a few days out at the Elk Lake Resort.  Phil has a buddy from work that is good friends with one of the owners and arranged the lodging.

As the time to head to Bend was closing in I was unsure of how I would be able to make the trip.  I tried to figure out my travel arrangements with some other friends to Bend, but we couldn't manage.  I ended up cashing in some air-miles and got a flight out of Seattle for pretty cheap.  Phil and Chris were scheduled to get into Redmond at 8 PM on Thursday, so I made my flight plans to arrive at 630.  I told my old friend Evan when I would be getting in so he picked me up at the airport and we went to his place in Bend for some dinner with his lady, Gena (pronounced Jenna.)  She owns a cute place right near 14th/Century which made it quite easy for Phil and Chris to scoop me up when they arrived.

From Gena and Evan's place we took the cab the rest of the way out to the Deschutes National Forest around Mount Bachelor.  We were dropped off at approximately 9 PM at the Dutchman Flat parking lot to await our chariot.  Phil, Chris and I hung out and watched the snowmobiles get loaded onto the trucks and trailers as the riders came back from their moonlight rides.  

After about thirty minutes at the snowpark we saw the floodlights and the headlights of the Snow-Burban. What's a "Snow-Burban" you ask?  It is a fully tricked out, lifted Suburban with Quad-Track designed to carry passengers and gear on snowy roads.  Pretty much as bad-ass as it gets.  The drive into Elk Lake took about an hour and we still had no idea what we were really getting into as the website hardly covers what to expect.

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We arrived at the cabin and unloaded the gear.  As we walked into the pad we were greeted by six or seven of the already drunk dudes that had been at the site since earlier in the day.  The other guys had already been out snowmobiling, had dinner, and started on their binge.  Actually, a couple of the guys were already to the point of passed out.  We went to one of the other cabins to say hi and meet the guys that were still up.  Chris, Phil, Mike and I hung out for a while and finally retired at around 1 or 2, after going down to the lake and doing the 7 second echo.  It is pretty sweet.  You can actually shout from a point at the side of the lake and the echo will travel all around the lake bouncing off of the mountains 7 times.

The next morning we woke up and got on our snow gear for the day ahead.  We walked down to the Lodge for some breakfast before our day of fun in the snow.  The menu is pretty decent for being a one-man kitchen show.  I had an order of biscuits and gravy that was excellent.  A bit spicy and very hearty.  The other guys were drinking fresh squeezed citrus juices with a splash of soda and vodka.  I opted for the juice and soda.  I loved how they had a real juicer on the bar!  After breakfast Chris, Phil and I had to fill out the necessary rental paperwork for the sleds, just in case we wrecked them or killed ourselves in the name of fun.  Apparently there is a $7,500 replacement cost for any of the rental sleds.  Probably a little bit more than the actual cost.  Phil took a single sled and Chris and I rode the Two-Up out to the snowpark and recreation area with the other 10 dudes.  We did a little bit of hill climbing, trail riding, played a little bit of high-mark, and got some air.  We tried to get up to the top of one of the mountains in the area for a view of the surrounding mountains, but as we climbed higher fog rolled in and the sleeting rain killed all hopes of seeing the range.  We rocked the sleds back to a small glen half way down the mountain.  We ripped around the area and took turns jumping the sleds over a small roller.  A couple of the guys had been drinking and one of the dudes lost control of his sled and took it straight into a tree. The sled wasn't damaged but it was pretty nice to have that reminder of why I don't drink.  About six of us dug the sled out of the tree well and everyone was ready to get out of the rain.  We hopped back on the sleds and went back to the lodge.  

Chris and I hung out at the cabin reading while the other guys hung out at the bar and drank for a while.  I read some more of the book that I have been reading, "A Million Little Pieces."  It is a great story about a man that had hit rock bottom and decided to quit drugs and alcohol.  I can see a few similarities in the main character and myself in how he tried to avoid his emotions and run from his feelings.  Johnnie's flight got in at 315 and Phil, Mike, and I hopped back on the snowmobiles to pick him up.  We rode out to the Dutchman and waited for his taxi to arrive.  On the way to the parking lot the extra helmet that we had brought for Jay fell off of Mike's sled and I ran it over.  It was ok, but the visor didn't make it.  We got to the parking lot and this is the greeting:

I drove Johnnie back to the cabin while Mike carried his bag on the back of his sled.  We raced back in the sleeting rain and made some pretty good time.  I actually got the sled up to 70 with Johnnie on the back.  At one point he said that he thought he was going to fly off the thing.  I'm glad he didn't, but it would have been pretty funny!

We got Johnnie settled into the cabin we all went over to the lodge for dinner and some socialization.  The rest of the crew was already there and pretty saucy.  I actually decided to take a night off the wagon to hang with the bros and drink a couple beers.  The night was going pretty well until Mitch (The Owner) and Rob were playing a game called "Root" in the snowy parking lot in front of the lodge.  The game is played by trying to knock the other person off balance to the point that they raise a leg and set it back down or take a step.  Mitch was in the process of falling down and there was a loud pop in his knee.  We weren't sure how bad it was but the way that he laid on the snow for almost half an hour it couldn't have been good.  We all tried to get the big guy up off the ground but he wasn't having it.  I pulled his sled around so that he could get back up to his cabin.  Mitch got up off the snow using a shovel and my shoulder.  I helped him board his sled and he went back to the cabin.  Mike walked and brought the sled back after he got him into the cabin and settled into his recliner.

Here's where things got really silly.  Johnnie doesn't drink very much anymore and we had been bought shots to accompany the beers.  When Mike returned with the sled Johnnie hopped on it and took off.  He hadn't ever driven a sled before and bounced sans helmet.  At first I thought he was just going to the cabin to crash out due to sleep deprivation and alcohol.  Not the case.  He actually took the sled out to the main road and hauled down the snowy road.  I guess he hit the kill switch on it and not knowing how to start it back up was stranded.  We sent a search party out to find him.  They got to him after about half an hour of being out in the cold with no lighting or idea where he was.  The two guys that went after him got the sled started and as he tried to get the sled back to the resort he rolled the damn thing onto himself when he drove it up the embankment.  Luckily he is a big dude and it didn't do any damage other than a bit of a scratch on his back from the ice.  They got to him and pulled the sled off and when they tried to start it back up the plugs were wet.  They towed the sled back to the resort and Johnnie crashed out in the cabin.  No one was hurt but after that I decided that there really isn't any reason for me to consume booze.  Too many friends have been destroyed by the stuff and I have had too many close calls myself.  I had been 18 days sober, had a few drinks, then swore it off altogether once again.  This was pretty much the end of day two of Super-Vaca.  Stay tuned for more to come!
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Interesting Perspective

I am always looking for new and interesting perspectives on Snowboarding, Skateboarding, Rock Climbing, Action Sports, and Marketing. Along with those topics some related issues that interest me are Sustainable Marketing and bridging the gap between the growing nature of businesses and the goal of enhancing the current sports industry business model to a healthier design for all!