Skiing Anthony Lakes, Oregon

25 01 2011

Lunch in the lodge

MLK Weekend 2011 was spent out in La Grande, OR, and we planned to ski and enjoy the outdoors around Anthony Lakes Ski area. Our friends Craig and Lisa moved out there in 2010 and had bought a house downtown.

My friends Kent, Alex and Stacy all planned on heading out with me for the weekend. Craig & Lisa were very excited to have us in town and show off their place! They had a nice one-story place – real cute with a new metal roof. Craig had just bought a new 55″ LED 3D TV…holy cow it took up half the back room! We’d spend a lot of time hooking it up for Blu-Ray and Netflix streaming movies.

Ready to head out...

Situated in the Elkhorn Mountains about 45 minutes from La Grande, Anthony Lakes is a combined alpine and Nordic ski area. The alpine area only has one triple lift. Small, but it’s known for dry powder. Its base is about 6,000ft and the summit 8,000ft. The lakes themselves make for nice cross country skiing. And one can park at the alpine lodge and do an XC ski from there. Very pretty area!

It’s very low key, something I love. The lift tickets are sold out of a little shack, and are only $35, good for both XC and alpine. If you only want to do XC, it’s $13. Better yet, you can get $5 off if you bring a season pass from another ski area! The lodge is 1970’s retro. And I got a sharpen and wax in 20 minutes for $15.

Just before we left for La Grande, the weather forecast was gloomy and I was afraid everyone would cancel. A massive “pineapple express” – a warm front, was coming and rain predicted even up to 8,000ft. Winter in recreation in the Cascades would be ruined, and maybe as far as Anthony Lakes. Because we wanted to visit Craig & Lisa we rallied and still headed out. We were rewarded Saturday because instead a wintry mix, it snowed all afternoon! Even though the downhill skiing conditions weren’t ideal we felt really fortunate!

Kent, Alex, Craig and I did lots of the groomed runs. The non-groomed runs were passable, but not worth bothering that day. Craig showed us some of the views and I could definitely see that on a powder day Anthony Lakes offered some sweet terrain.

I got a nice shot of Alex at a craggy tree at the summit. It was fast snow and I was tempted to tuck all the way to the bottom!

By noon, I had my fill of the alpine terrain. If the snow were typical powder, I’d have done more downhill.

Lisa and Stacy skied the Nordic area in the morning. By now it had started snowing in earnest! I decided to check out the cross country ski trails for the afternoon…

Cross country skiing at Anthony Lakes is a treat. Trails follow routes around small lakes and these lakes lie below some craggy peaks of the Elkhorn Mountains.

I headed out with Kent, Stacy and Lisa, and we all split up because we had different XC goals for the afternoon. The trails had some twisting downhill sections, and I fell three times! I rarely fell in downhill skiing. In fact the ONLY time I have ever come out of my current ski bindings is when I was hit by a snowboarder, dislocating my shoulder, in 2009! But not so in Nordic. There, I am more of a novice I guess!

Saturday night we had a relaxed dinner in La Grande at Ten Depot Street. It’s one of the nicest restaurants in town, kind of Western grande style, but you don’t have to go for the $26 entree. You can still get something for $12.

Then we headed back to the house for a night of fiddling with the new Samsung 55″ LED TV and the Blu-ray player. Blu-ray is very nice! But these streaming and 3D systems can be problematic …I won’t go into a lot of details, but it was a wireless system, 3D, capable of streaming movies over Netflix, etc. To get this to work you have to get yourself the right accounts set up, your passwords handy, have your manuals ready, have your wireless router signal strong, have your Internet connection fast, etc. etc. etc. If one piece of the puzzle isn’t up to the task (and that includes the human techies) it can get problematic. In our case it took Internet research to find out the TV had a software bug and couldn’t connect to the Internet – so we used the Blu-ray for that. In the end, it was the bandwidth. We needed a faster Internet connection. But the time spent gave a window to make a marionberry cobbler, which was a good reward.

The 3D was interesting, especially amusing to look at people wearing the 3D glasses…

I’m not ready to say that 3D for HD TV is ready for prime time. But it is a fun toy I guess! Those glasses cost $129…

Sunday broke with heavy rain courtesy of the warm front – dousing any winter recreation plans. We spent the morning reading the paper at a La Grande coffee shop and then decided it was time to make our way back to Portland…we got Kent some new windshield wiper blades for the monsoon-soaked drive back…see you next time Anthony Lakes…when the powder returns!

Christmas 2010 at April’s

19 01 2011

With both parents passed away and a brother in Minnesota and cousins back in NY/CT, I was an orphan this year. So when my friend April Obern and her beau Jim Dockwiler asked me for Christmas dinner I accepted thankfully!

April invited some other orphans, too, like Olga and Lisa. Brother Kevin drove over from La Grande for the celebration. Also in attendance were several members of April’s immediate family. I arrived to a merrily decked out house, and the cooks were involved in what seems an American holiday tradition – fretting over the meal!

In this case the culprit was the gravy…April is gluten intolerant so they were making “alternative gravy.” Someone had an idea to add ‘coconut flour’ to thicken it…and with that, all hell broke loose. I tried it and thought I could deal with it…

This is the offending element! Must fix!

However, most others simply turned their noses at this stuff. So Jim toiled over an alternative gluten-free concoction, which turned out to be the choice for the day’s dinner!

A little of this and that...

I am impressed with April’s cooking! The salads, sweet potato side, dressing, and especially the home baked pies (one was pecan topped pumpkin pie) were to die for!

OK, DIG IN….Time to let go all thought of restraint, and enjoy the spread!

That's a gobbler, quacker and a clucker!

Vegetarians, close your eyes! We are having a Turducken…a duck stuffed in a chicken stuffed in a turkey. Simply scrumptious. And when combined with the accompaniments…

Carnivore at heart!

The company was warm and the conversation vibrant!

Kevin gushed with stories about backpacking and climbing/exploring far east Oregon and parts of Idaho. He has a lot of stories about hiking the Wallowa Mountains, Elkhorn Mountains, and Blue Mountains, as well as the Owyhee River. I’ll have to head out there and let him be my guide!

Olga is a reporter and was looking for contacts on an assignment. She hails from Moscow, a city I’d like to visit one day. She took her Mom to see Lady Gaga! Wow, I had a hard time imagining that!

Well, the clock struck 3:30 and it was time for me to head to my next Xmas “dinner,” which I’m afraid would just be dessert, at most!

Last 2010 Post: Nordic Ski – Teacup Nordic Club on Mt Hood, OR

1 01 2011

Got to get this one in before the clock ticks over to 2011! Two weeks ago went on a purrrrrfect Nordic ski day with my buddy Jessie Bader and her friend Nancy Zink. We went to the groomed trails of the Teacup Nordic Club.

It had snowed, snowed, snowed and there was zero wind, so the woods were absolutely GORGEOUS, to die for!

Oh, the cathedral of snowy trees!

Nancy offered to drive up, she’s got a hybrid Toyota Prius, and since she and Jessie are only like 5’5″ tall each, I had plenty of room in the back!

As we ascended the mountain, the forest was all fresh snow! It was going to be a really good day!

I am an intermediate XC skier and Nancy is a skate skier. Jessie is a newbie…very careful on her new skis!

On arrival we went to the Teacup Lodge to get situated.

It was real busy at the lodge, both inside and out!

I found one girl who was very interested in Mommy’s fancy parka!

OK, we had some lunch and then, it was time to hit the trail! It wasn’t long before I just had to shoot a photo of my reindeer antlers. Got to ham it up!

Every time we got to a little decline, Jessie got nervous. We all encouraged her to just ride the track down, but each time she “over thought things” and fell backward. Next time she’ll get it I’m sure. Otherwise, the snow was perfect and the holiday mood was truly bright!

So MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! And best to everybody in 2011!