Theft, priorities

We caught a shoplifter yesterday at Neptune Mountaineering. A repeat offender. I'm glad we caught him, for a couple reasons. First, he stole from us, and a lot of employees at our store take that personally, myself included. We work hard, everyday, to make this a great place and it feels like a violation when it happens. We're quite small in comparison to REI and such and theft hits us hard. Not that people should steal from REI either, but Neptune is almost more like a family, and when you attack a family they tend to rally.

Second, I hope the guy who got caught gets the motivation and help he needs to get better. It's not a "caught the bad guy" thing for me where I/we are "better" than he is. I've lived enough to know that line is awfully thin, and it doesn't take a lot to make a person drop below it. He's a guy who is making bad choices…whatever the reason…and maybe getting caught will help him make better choices. There is certainly some truth that going to jail is an unpleasant enough experience that it will encourage you to stay on the straight and narrow to simply avoid it in the future. Unfortunately, jail is filled with repeat offenders, so I sort of believe the above theory only works to a certain extent. So on that note, I hope the man gets the help he needs to improve his life, and more importantly that he has the internal fortitude to, in essence, lift himself up to that better place.

***

Yesterday was my 14th day on skis this season. Today will be the 15th. I think that's pretty good, and I'm proud of it. I think the reasons for this pride are more intrinsic. I cringe a little when I hear people telling stories of their epic adventures, or blogging about this and that, because I think there is a fine line between capturing the story and bragging. I remember when Off Camber was going full swing, it almost got competitive at times. There was this other blog, Singletrack Dream, that was run by a friend of mine, and at times it seemed like…well, a battle. I'll take full responsibility for that, and it's a regret, because it soured relationships. Truth of the matter is a lot of us are competitive people by nature (as much as we try to deny it), and I think at times we traded that competitiveness on the race track to something in cyberspace – be it a better write-up or a better photo or what not. I was younger then, hadn't really experienced much in life of a humbling nature, so it was easy to get sucked into the game.

I think now when I blog, and say something about how much I've skied or what hills I've biked up, it's more of a personal gauge as to quality of life. Truthfully, it would be easier to NOT do these things. I could quite comfortably stay in bed until just before work, drive down and repeat in the evening. And it's certainly a balance for me, because priority #1 in my life is my family. When I'm with them, I want to be fully with them…not in some distant daydreaming place that defined me for a long, long time (learn from mistakes, lest you repeat them). That said, I know I need my woods time…it's a sanity thing. I need the balance. The great thing about this is that they don't need to be separate, and they are not. Elaine can ski just about everything I can, she can hike up the same mountains I can at the same pace. Truth of the matter is I'm going to have to stay on my game to maintain this truth…it's a simple reality of our age difference. It's a huge motivation to live healthier now than I ever have…I plan to enjoy my time with her for 60 years plus…not 25.

Getting ready for a ski starts with math. There are slips of paper all over the caboose, envelopes, etc., that have weird time information listed on them. For example:

9:15, 8:50, 8:35, 7:05, 6:50, 6:35

It's just working backwards. I have to leave for work at 9:15 am. That means I need to get home by 8:50 am to get everything sorted for the day. 8:35 am is when I will be leaving the ski destination. 7:05 is when I start the ski. 6:50 am is when I need to leave home, and 6:35 is when I need to get up. Calculations to make the morning good.

Much of the preparation happens the night before. Skins of course need to be dried, but usually I'll load the skis and the skins in the car the night before, already mounted, to simplify things. Clothes are all laid out in order, pack loaded with the gear for the session. It has to be done, because at 6:35, when that alarm goes off and it's 42° in the caboose and the bed is warm and it's still dark out and cozy there are PLENTY of reasons not to get up. But, for the most part, I do. It hurts for a few minutes – the body is groggy and you are shivering – but not as much as it hurts the soul not to do it.

Evenings are family time. As are days off. I look forward to these. No that's not strong enough. I live for these days. Today for example, Elaine and I are going to go for a ski…maybe B.C., maybe a combo alpine/nordic day at Eldora, maybe Brainard. It doesn't matter. What matters is we are together in our adventures. For a long time I did all this stuff alone. That didn't work in the bigger perspective of life, and I don't want it now.

For me, the 14 days on skis thing is just a testament to living life with a certain quality and discipline that carries over into other elements. Take care of that compartment, and it doesn't spill over into others. And of course, it's a hell of a lot of fun to ski every morning!

***

I'm stoked. The owner of the place I work at is going to teach me how to make wooden skis, by hand. I feel like this is a good first step, given my limited financial resources right now, as well as space to start a full blown ski company. I want to make them and I want to ski them.

I'm going to try to model my first pair after the original skis made. Very long, wide, early rise tip. I want to put some horse hair on the bottom for travel up and downhills. And I want to take them out this year to my favorite backcountry spot and see how they work.

Time to get the day going. Fire is crackling, brew up some tea for my girl and plan out some adventure on this windy Rocky Mountain Tuesday.

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