After

Big Sky 4975

It was a great trip. Fantastic weather, really good snow, no injuries, and my favorite part about Big Sky: no lift lines. The interns, as Ryan dubbed them, did really well. As predicted, I certainly had my work cut out for me just trying to keep up.

We got a lot of fun pictures too. Mine are here; Ryan’s are here. My favorite has to be this shot by Ryan. On the afternoon of the last day, we split up for a while. The boys headed to the terrain park while Ryan and I rode a couple blues we hadn’t seen yet. Our timing was perfect, because our next lift ride took us right over the park while Ben was making his run. He hit the C-box perfectly, and we were able to snap off some aerial photos. This all happened without any coordination.

I already can’t wait to go back, and the interns will be more than welcome when they’re ready for their true apprenticeship.

Before

Riding 2

I’ve always loved this picture, taken of my brothers Ben and Joe before their first snowboarding lesson. The total lack of enthusiasm on Joe’s face kills me. In 2003, I had the pleasure of teaching them how to ride. It was a struggle at first, but by the end of the day, they were both riding, turning, and stopping on their own, carving up the blues at Afton Alps. They’ve both become good riders, and I’m proud to have been a part of that.

Six years later, I feel very lucky to be able to bring them along to Big Sky this weekend. It’ll be their first exposure to real mountain snowboarding. I’m sure this time it’ll be me who struggles to keep up, and I’m hoping they’ll teach me a trick or two. My FS 270 needs work. This time, I’m assured that they’re very excited, and I hope to post a successful “After” picture soon.

Touch ’em All, Bryce!

Bryce's First Home Run!

This will forever be one of my favorite shots, and I’ll never forget it. I arrived late to watch my nephew Bryce’s first game of a local tournament. A few minutes later, I noticed he was on deck. I decided to warm up my camera with a couple of shots. I was in position just as he stepped up to the plate. He took a big swing at the first pitch, and I took a single shot of that.

I looked up to see where the ball was going, and noticed it was going pretty far. Back, back, back… just over the fence…

Bryce’s First Home Run!

It was so cool! Later on, with two outs and down 3-2 in the final inning, Bryce demonstrated great skill in another play by stealing home and clearly beating the tag to tie the game. Unfortunately the fix was in, as the so-called umpire made a terrible call, ending the game.

We know the truth, Bryce! Congrats on an awesome game!

The Return of the Tray

Guys' Weekend 03

Ah, guys’ weekend. Poker, cigars, cocktails, volleyball, football, wakeboarding, basketball, jet skiing. Almost constant nonsense (see: updog, literally, and marshmallow welts… I pinch). Strange sights and movie parroting. It really doesn’t get any better than that. This year was especially memorable, as a classic chapter from one of our past guys’ weekends was reopened… and finally slammed shut.

Many years ago of a Saturday afternoon at the old Shell Lake estate, one of our finest did his brothers from other mothers the kindness of preparing them a snack. He grabbed one of Jack’s finest from the freezer, and popped in to the oven on a tray he found in Ma Kessler’s immaculate kitchen. Simple enough… until we discovered that the pan in question was none other than Pa Kessler’s prized NFL collector serving platter… and made of plastic to boot! 450 degree heat + plastic? The pan was melted and warped beyond repair. Over thirty years of game-time treats and gridiron memories up in smoke.

We’ve never really let poor Anthony live it down. Guys’ weekend (GW) is all about constant repetition. Repetition somehow makes the unfunny laughable, and despite T’s, “Why ya gotta bring up old shit?,” the old shit always seems to entertain. The melted tray is a story for which we all have a particular fondness, so it comes up even more often the rest. As was the case a couple of months ago while a few of us were dining in Tim‘s screen porch. During our reminiscing, someone wondered whether such a tray could be found on eBay. A laptop was produced, and much to our surprise, there it was! And only ten or fifteen dollars! We bought it on the spot, and immediately went in to hyperactively, mischievously scheming mode. One thing was certain: some funny stuff was going to go down at this guys’ weekend.

Soon after, Tim received the tray and a cracked extra that we hadn’t noticed was also included in the auction. Last Thursday before our departure, Tim re-listed the tray on eBay. The plan was to casually suggest that we all look for the tray, just out of curiosity. This is exactly what we did when Anthony arrived on Friday, and gosh, who woulda thunk it, there one was. And only $60! “Anthony you have to bid on this!” After a bit of cajoling, Anthony placed his bid. We let him think about it more, letting the anticipation and tension of the auction build over the course of the afternoon and evening. I even called Patrick and had him bid on it, upping the suspense! The auction closed that evening at $68.

Of course he won it, and the next afternoon we let him in on the joke. While Tim was in the kitchen cooking, he asked Anthony next to him to please grab a tray from the cupboard. There he found the tray we had planted, and the fun ensued. He walked around bewildered, asking, “did you guys see this?” while we pretended to be equally shocked. We let him stew for a few more minutes before letting him in on the joke.

It probably should have ended there. But there was the problem of that extra. What were we to do with it? That night during our regular GW poker session, Tim was back in the kitchen cooking pizzas again when I figured out exactly what to do: melt it! I grabbed the extra tray from its hiding spot, and while Anthony was in the next room dealing poker and smoking his cigar, Tim carefully melted the tray in the oven, then set it on top of the warm range while the pizzas cooled and pizza rolls cooked. Returning to his place at the table, Tim asked Anthony if he’d mind checking on the rolls in a few minutes. When Anthony did, we heard nothing but silence for at least two minutes. I have never wished for a hidden camera so much in my life. I can only imagine the look on his face as he saw the new tray melted just as the old one had been. Even when he did finally pop his head back out on the deck to tell us, “I don’t know how this could possibly happen,” his expression was hilarious.

We let him on in on the double tray joke, and we all laughed even harder and longer than before. Now the tray has been restored, and I’m sure the story is finally over. But we’ll be telling it forever, with a bit more embellishment each time. And that is Guys’ Weekend.