Posts in category personal - page 8

Adventures in Jackson, Wyoming (part 2)

Jackson

Jackson is a rather small cowboy style town that apparently is even busier in the summer than the winter. Everybody in town is very friendly and helpful apart from the miserable bar staff in the Cowboy Village who could barely be arsed to tell us what they had available to drink. We spent more time at a bar called Sidewinders which is a sports bar with far too many televisions and watched American “Football”.

The people at our hotel, The Ranch Inn, were incredibly helpful and also had a free open WiFi hot-spot which my laptop made it’s new best friend.

Either Jackson has a problem with under-age drinking or they are a little paranoid about it. I was ID’ed in a bar (okay), a liquor store (not buying anything just with somebody who was) and when ordering a pint of pale ale with my meal in a restaurant. It’s kind of strange how they are so strict on alcohol yet we went to watch Underworld 2 at the cinema and some 10 year old child sat through the whole gore-fest.

Jackson Hole (Teton Village)

We were a little disappointed to find that the main ski – Jackson Hole – is a 30 minute $3 bus ride away but we’ve done worse. The area only has 11 lifts and minimal grooming so you are left wondering exactly why the 10 day lift pass is over $500.

There are some great runs although many are quite steep and the masses of recent powder leave the unfit and untrained struggling. Alas, that seemed to include me but I still managed to have a lot of fun.

Inghams

Our rep was a nice woman called Nikki. Originally Scottish but having lived out in Jackson for a while she now talks with a very strange accent.

While our rep was nice it’s worth mentioning that while Inghams can provide you with a lift pass for slightly less dollars than the resort they also convert that dollars to pounds there and then at a rather pathetic $1.6 to the pound rate so it may not work out so well. My ski hire was also more expensive per-dollar than going to the place directly which I did once my 3 day rental expired and I switched equipment.

So I don’t forget I’ll leave myself a little marker here. 160cm ski’s, 8.5 US boots and release tension setting 8.

Return trip

We said our goodbyes to James who was still in hospital and attached to lots of medical equipment and to Jim who would be his entourage home now Warren had hassled the insurance enough to get them to do something other than say “yeah it will be fine”. As he pointed out walking into a hotel and saying “the insurance is paying for this” doesn’t elicit a “that’ll do nicely” response without paperwork or something.

The return trip was much shorter than the one out there and we were able to fly from Jackson straight to Atlanta which cut out another flight entirely. Alas the Delta transatlantic flight was much more crowded and too cold to sleep even with the paper thin blankets they provided.

It was with little surprise that I fell asleep quite quickly when I got home having left Jackson at 11am on Saturday and arrived home 2pm on Sunday after a brief Q&A with the people at Guernsey customs.

Sleeping when I got home was, of course, the stupidest thing to do because it meant a whole night of sleeplessness followed by a day of sleeping.

The joy of time-zones.

[)amien

Adventures in Jackson, Wyoming (part 1)

Once a year I head out with a bunch of friends for a week of winter sports. This year my snowboarding buddies and I (a skier) decided to skip the unfriendly European slopes and flip over the Atlantic to Jackson, Wyoming in USA for a whole 10 days of slope mastery.

Getting there

As always our first flight landed us at Gatwick. One overnight stay led us into flight 2 to Atlanta, Georgia via Delta Airlines. The flight was a whopping 9.5 hours but luckily quiet and under booked. If they hadn’t smashed the handle on my new luggage I might have given Delta a full 5 stars.

Things got exciting at US customs when the customs officer said “Come on little buddy” to a friend ahead of me. At that point all sense went out the window and was replaced by uncontrollable giggles and a bout of amnesia as to what exactly I’d come to do in the USA. Thankfully I’d already written out all the details on the Visa waiver form and despite a few stern looks and harsh words was let in. I guess terrorists and illegal immigrants don’t break out in a laughter attack at customs checkpoints.

Tired and dazed we boarded another 4 hour flight to Salt Lake City and then a quick 1 hour to Jackson itself where we finally met our Inghams rep Nicki – imagine a Scot with an American accent…

Man down

During our first day my friend James had a nasty fall off his snowboard that left him with a very painful wrist. As the day went on we found out it was dislocated and fractured and he was soon hospitalised.

As the week went on he’d go through three operations, have a metal plate put in his wrist and require a skin graft which would leave a massive red square of bare flesh on his leg.

To make matters worse he wouldn’t be able to join us on the return journey home and one of us would need to stay out a little longer to bring him home once the doctors think he’s ready.

Travel insurance is of course invaluable when this happens but phoning them up and making them sign forms when drugged up on morphine leaves a lot to be desired.

[)amien

Resolutions for 2006

I don’t actually wait until the new year to make resolutions but this is a convenient way of posting…

1. Buy less

I have far too much stuff already, books unread, movies unwatched and games unfinished. I certainly do not need a new 30″ Dell LCD especially as it is missing all the lovely inputs of my 24″ Dell. The two exceptions this year *might* be a new TV for the lounge and a new Apple x86 laptop to replace the aging x86 Dell and PPC PowerBook.

2. Read more

In my pile to read are a couple more Philip K Dick novels, Refactoring with Patterns, Knuth’s The Art of Programming and rounding off the end of Tony Hawks travels.

3. Travel more

I have a 10 day ski trip to Jackson USA booked for 2006 but that’s it. Clarissa would like to try skiing – most probably in Germany. A big holiday mid-year to Canada, New Zealand or Japan would be very cool indeed although somewhat unlikely.

4. Study harder

My 2005 assignment scores are in and fine and am now just waiting for the Open University to give me my TM427 project report mark. This should be my final year studying and I need a merit or better to achieve a first on my BSc (Honours) Information Technology and Computing degree.

This years course is T305 Digital Communications and I’ve already received a large chunk of study materials for block 1… and there are 6 blocks. This is going to require some serious commitment.

5. Blog often

Need to get these thoughts out and into my blog. Integrating it with damieng.com and a new lick of CSS paint wouldn’t be totally out of the picture. Perhaps I can even squeeze a photo gallery in.

[)amien

A German Christmas

This year I broke with my life-long tradition and spent Christmas not at my parents house with my family but with my girlfriend and her family in Germany.

The flight there was uneventful but dull thanks to Aurigny’s one-flight-per-day to Stansted at mid-day. This means 5 hours + of milling around. Thankfully Stansted isn’t quite as bad as I recalled and there are a few book and game shops to browse around in and I managed to keep my shopping down to a mere 3 books… Shame I already had 3 in my backpack.

After the introductions and a good nights sleep I put on my best “oh please” face and Clarissa drove us to Media Markt to see if they had Xbox 360’s in. Unsurprisingly they didn’t so we headed into Nuremberg to check out the shops and experience the Christmas market.

Having spent hours exploring the streets and stores of Nuremberg on a previous trip I stopped by EB Games in the mall and quickly acquired one of the two 360 core’s they had in stock as well as a wireless controller, Project Gotham 3 and Need for Speed Most Wanted. The box weighed the same as a small child but alas was not equipped with legs and so we dropped it back off at the car before my knuckles reached the floor.

The Christmas market was very atmospheric and the white lights the Germans favor over the English disco-fever multi-colour bonanza felt less tacky and helped keep the descending chill of sunset at bay for a few minutes longer. We ate hot waffles and caramelized nuts whilst wandering around the multitude of stands before my feet eventually protested to further activities and we headed wearily back to the car.

Back at home we played a bit of 360 (I’ll post more on this in a future post) where I found that while the console and PGR3 will auto-switch to the language my NFS Most Wanted was decidedly German only and Clarissa had to help me every stretch as my German currently consists of telling people my stomach is empty or that I have hiccups.

We met the morning with tragic news… Clarissa’s parents had set-up the Christmas tree in the lounge where the only TV in the house and my 360 were. This meant after weeks of waiting to get one I would now have to wait 2 days before I could get back into the lounge to play it!

We had Christmas shopping to do and some friends to visit and between those two events I sunk into The Time Traveller’s Wife (a very good read so far and a similar core to something I had in mind a while back). Clarissa’s father had taken the plunge and installed a WiFi ADSL connection so I kept up with emails and repeatedly checked for my assignment score.

On the 23rd we had a mini-grill/fondue night with friends where we ate lots and played some games. Unfortunately my German is still minimal despite evening lessons and Clarissa’s help and her friends were only occasionally speaking English so the night went by with a rather detached feeling.

The 24th here in the UK is Christmas Eve, generally people rush around getting the final gifts they need for people before retiring for a few drinks with friends or family before a big meal and gift exchange on the 25th. In Germany the gifts and big meal happen on the 24th.

Clarissa’s parents cooked a fabulous dinner which we ate with her sister and brother-in-law and we all exchanged gifts. We even got her brother-in-law and father to have a quick go on PGR and NFS respectively with… well, mixed results.

Boxing day was a quiet affair but we took in some snow and a meal at a Chinese restaurant before packing as much as we could into our suitcases, grabbing 3 hours sleep and setting off at 4am for our flight back which involved an even longer sit at Stansted, falling asleep in departures, a nice sandwich at Pret and some woman throwing her coffee over my 360’s box.

Sony fans.

[)amien