The Worlds Collide

Fun times at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

You know, one of the cool things about ski trips is that you can get together with a lot of your friends and have a great time in the mountains and afterwards at apres ski. I have been trying to get the four couples on this trip together for a long time. The Chetlins who are part time residents of Bend, the Durfees of Lake Tahoe, the Hutchinsons from Vermont, and the Girones- fomerly from Pittsburgh and now full time residents of Bend, Oregon. They all have their own different worlds of existence but they all collided finally last week at a really fun time in Bend and Mt. Bachelor. I have been trying to get the Chetlins, the Durfees and the Girones together because of their mutual love of camping with their truly amazing vehicles. Once they got to know each other, they got a good look at their respective camper vehicles and there was a lot of chatter in the parking lot at an impromptu tailgate to celebrate Tim Girone’s birthday.

The Girone’s fabulous tailgate and their amazing Mercedes camper van.
The Durfee Sportmobile

The Hutchinsons and the Chetlins have their own camper vehicles but generally use them in the summer months and Janet and I are the only ones who do not partake. However it was cool to see all parties discussing camping and their vehicles in the parking lot last week.

The gang at the Girone tailgate.

Another two worlds that collided positively last week were the Hutchinsons and the McCloskeys. We have been trying to get Nancy Hutchinson and Janet together to ski and it finally happened. They had a great time skiing together and their friendship bonded through the week on the slopes and off.

Nancy and Mark Hutchinson at Mt. Bachelor

Mark and I have skied together for 25 years and Eric and Helen Durfee and I have skied consistently together for 45 years. Recently my wife Janet has joined this mix and it is nice to have all the couples together on the slopes and telling tales afterwards over a cold beer.

But the final world to collide with all of us was the Chetlin world. Jeff and Julie were really the glue behind last weeks collision as they made everyone feel welcome in their adopted hometown of Bend and also their favorite ski area- Mt. Bachelor, as well as in their beautiful home.

Janet and Julie – pals forever.
Jeff the ringleader.

Jeff is nothing short of amazing. Part of the experience for all of us on this trip was to see Jeff make beautiful ski turns down the mountain. He also rode his fat bike and it was gratifying to see a guy who almost two years ago suffered a debilitating stroke and made an amazing comeback with the help of all of his friends and his wonderful wife Julie. On trips like this, memories are made and to see all these people come together and ski, talk about van camping, discuss food and wine from the Willamette Valley, enjoy all that Bend has to offer was spectacular. And to see Jeff back in his element with his friends and making classic turns down the mountain with excellent balance was a dream come true.

Now the finale to this story, is the fact that I love to do this. Part of my mission in life is to get like minded people together to experience each other as friends. Some people joke that I don’t really have to do this, because they like to do their own thing, and I understand that. But it is important to me to try to get people of similar interests together. Friendships are forged through memories and to create some new ones with new people getting together is something special. Mt Bachelor is an amazing mountain and the weather can be ruthless but the skiing is top notch and we all enjoyed our days on this beautiful mountain/volcano. It served as the backdrop to a really fun week with really fun people. Many of whom had met for the first time. Hats off to the Hutchinsons for getting the wheels in motion. One last thing……………Bend people are cool. So nice, considerate, and just plain friendly. Why wouldn’t they be? They all live and play in a great part of the country and they enjoy all that it has to offer year round. If you haven’t been to Bend, check it out. And take some friends along. Thanks for reading.

The majestic Mt. Bachelor
The ultimate fun seekers- the Girones.
Left to right- Julie, Helen, Janet, yours truly, Eric, and Richard the Bend locaL

The Operative Word is…..” Yes.”

Winter Hike with the Bride.

You know, last time I referred to a saying in my post that goes like this. ” You don’t quit skiing because you get old, you get old because you quit skiing.” You could really plug in any activity there. ” You don’t quit golf because you get old, you get old because you quit golf.” Really any activity you could plug in there and the lesson is still valid. I remember talking to Scot Nichol of Ibis Bikes one time and asked how long he thought we could ski and mountain bike like we do, and his answer is one that I always reference and think about. Scot says” Don’t even think about it Pat. Just keep doing it.” So true. Whenever you ask any older person what keeps them going they always say………” keep moving.”

So, the other night Jan and I were out to dinner and we ran into some folks that we knew. Had a nice conversation and the question came up whether we were still skiing. We said “of course” and they kind of chuckled when I asked them if they still skied, and they sadly said no. They said they thought they were getting too old and they didn’t want to get hurt at their age. The saying above immediately came to my mind but I didn’t verbalize it. I just left things go and Janet and I left the restaurant thinking that our path in life is a pretty good one. We are blessed for sure and we keep moving. When someone wants to do something, we just say “yes.” It is just the two of us now and we tell people all the time that we are flexible and can make some spur of the moment decisions.

The Smittys. Our skiing and snowshoeing pals.
Lifelong friends- The Birsics

Soon we will be heading west to ski with our pals from Philly – the Smiths, and our local Park City resident friends, the Birsics, on what has become an annual affair at Deer Valley. We all comment on how there are fewer and fewer of us who still ski together and how important it is to keep going. The days and years go so quickly now that the operative word ” yes” is even more important. We will also ski this winter out in Bend with our friends, the Chetlins, the Hutchinsons, and the Durfees. Jan and I are the common denominator on this trip introducing our friends the Chetlins to our other skiing pals- the Durfs and the Hutch’s. We really like making introductions like this so that new adventures can be shared with some new friends. So important to keep like minded couples together doing things well into our older years. We met the Hutchinsons through the Durfees and now the Hutchinsons and the Durfees will meet the Chetlins through us. Kind of a cool dynamic with active couples who keep doing things together.

Julie and Jeff Chetlin hiking at Laurel Mountain.
Lifelong friends the Durfees from Lake Tahoe.
Vermonters Mark and Nancy Hutchinson hiking in their beloved Green Mountains.

So I guess the point of this virtual Venn diagram is to point out that as we age, we need to keep active and keep friendships going. It takes work, as we all know, to schedule things with friends. But it is so important. Time flies so fast and if you don’t keep in touch, the years fly by and your friends become nothing more than a memory. This year, Jan and I will also start taking some bucket list trips that we have the time to do now. We don’t want it to get to the point where we said, ” we really should have gone here and there and now it is too late.” Do things with your friends, schedule trips with your friends, do the bucket list trips, and make the operative word” yes” part of your senior vocabulary. Thanks for reading.

The Yinzers invade Bend!!

There has been a lot written, posted, and videos made about Bend, Oregon and I won’t bore you with repetitive stories and accounts. However, suffice to say, when 19 people from Pittsburgh go to Bend and take in the gracious hospitality of native Pittsburgh people Julie and Jeff Chetlin and Barb and Tim Girone, things happen that affect one of the top 5 places to live in the country.

No visit would begin without the obligatory trek to one of Bend’s many brew pubs where the beer is fresh and cold and the food excellent. After pahnnding dahn an Elk Burger at Immersion Brewery http://www.imbrewing.com and drinking their most excellent IPAs, I began our adventure with our merry band of riders who sat around the tables and relaxed after a long day of travel to the West Coast. We were so happy to unite with Jeff and Julie who are our official tour leaders on the rides and the Girones who execute the lead with professionalism and the daily on-line “Trail Report” from Tim. Rising the next day we begin our climb up to the snow line surrounded by the most beautiful waterfalls you will ever see in one place.

Slogging through 6-8 inches of wet snow to get to the top around 6,000 feet, we began our descent down perhaps the longest trail I have ever descended. 13 miles to be exact. The gang was ripping down Mrazek Trail as the Chetlin video was rolling. However at the end of the trail, our fearless leader had a horrific high speed crash and broke 6 ribs in the process.

After the EMTs and the Bend Fire Department hauled Jeff out of there, we continued on and finished what was to be a 6 hour experience for the band from the burg. Settling in that night with a local IPA and tacos from the local food truck, we were treated to music in downtown Bend where the locals hang out and just chill around the tables and chairs set in the courtyard for the event. As you have heard, very laid back indeed. Puffys and trucker hats everywhere with dogs running amuck. As we all lamented the crash, and the loss of our riding leader, we made our way to the St. Charles Hospital to pay Jeff a visit. He has amazing resiliance and despite severe pain, he orchestrated our rides from the hospital bed. The next morning was another climb led by local hero, Matt,a schoolteacher who teaches culinary arts to middle school kids, who punished us with a rock strewn start on COD Trail up to the snow line again. The treat began as we descended the iconic Tiddly Winks Trail with major league features that were flawlessly crafted by the local trail crew. But perhaps the best day was the last when after an amazing breakfast at “Chow” http://www.bendinspoon.com we all took the COG Wild Shuttle http://www.cogwild.com to the top of Swampy and began a snow and ice lined trail system that led to a fast rip down a finish at the classic Bend trail- Phil’s. Another amazing downhill experience with the course profile on STRAVA all pointing negative ascent. We then began the inspection tour of Bend with a visit to what was described to us as the best brewpub in Bend. The Crux Fermentation Project as it is called is another outdoor respite that is relaxing along with some amazing food. http://www.cruxfermentation.com With a visit also to the Good Life Brewery, http://www.goodlifebrewing.com we were set to make our way to the hospital again to visit the fearless one, followed by the new Warren Miller movie “Timeless” at the Tower Theater in downtown Bend. Hoots and hollers from the Pittsburgh crew for sure as we are all skiers and boarders as well.

Ok enough, so what was the most impressive? Personally, what struck me were the neat things that you don’t see in many places like the fireplace and the bar setup in Sagebrush Cycles http://www.sagebrushcycles.com where you can try on ski boots while you drink a fresh IPA and ogle the eye candy mtb frames and clothing. Pine Mountain Sports also set us up with most excellent rental rides of Santa Cruz Hightowers and Tallboys. http://www.pinemountainsports.com They were most accomodating in their set ups with us, taking their time to set the sag based on our weight and riding ability and just in general wanted to make sure that we had the best ride for 3 days in their hometown. Did you know that they don’t have downspouts in Bend? They use a chain and the water runs down the chain into cisterns to be captured. Only in Bend. I digress. Oh one more, I was in the men’s room at one of the breweries and saw this amazing sink with no bowl. Just a flat slightly inclined sink deck where all the water ran away from you into the drain somewhere else? Only in Bend. Little things like that that you don’t see. I digress. Little things amuse little minds.

All in all, the band of ‘burgers thoroughly enjoyed the “vibe” of Bend as it is described. But the most impressive thing to me was the friendliness of the people of Bend. They are all smiling and asking you about YOUR day, where YOU are going and offering tips along the way. The relaxed mood of the restaurants, brew pubs, and shops all make you feel somehow that you are in a homey atmosphere with no plastic or snooty residents. Flannel abounds and along with kids riding, hiking, climbing and skiing, it would seem to me to be a great place to raise kids. The one comment from the Oregonians that joined us on the rides, was that they were amazed that we all were such a tight knit group and that we rode so well. The operative word was fast. As the geezer of the group, I smiled at that one and once more, it is apparent that even though we were in the most friendly, laid back, wonderful town in America, the Pittsburghers have something special too by way of camaraderie and friendliness especially in the mountain bike community where we reside. So, Jim, Simon, Josh, Dave, Sandy, Pete, Syed, John, Haley, Steve, Julie and Jeff, Barb and Tim, and Todd the resident fun timesĀ  commuter to Bend via Seattle, and Stacey- the new immigrant to Bend via Pittsburgh, I salute you and cherish you as friends. We can go anywhere and make new friends all along the way. Thanks Julie and Jeff and Tim and Barb. We will see you soon along the trail.

Statistics per John Cassucio for the 3 day riding adventure:

70 miles
5560 elevation gain
8316 elevation loss
Average Speed 8.33 MPH

John, Haley and Simon- the family that rides together stays together.

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Q.D.L. ( Quality Days Left)

My friend Jeff Chetlin( pictured here front and center in the orange shorts) said to me the other day on a MTB ride,” Paddy- I want you to get in your Jeep and think about what I am saying. I want you to think about quality days left.” He said, ” Today is a quality day. Sunshine, a long ride with friends, beers and lunch in the parking lot sitting around on soccer chairs, enjoying each other’s company after a great ride ” That is a quality day.” ” How many of these days do we have left?”
I thought about that on the way home and as Jeff also said, we really don’t know how many of these quality days we do have left. He is ten years younger than me but still, we don’t know. I asked the same question basically to my ski crowd a few weeks ago. ” How much longer do you think we will be able to ski the chutes, rip GS turns, and ski at a high level comparatively speaking?” The general consensus was if we kept ourselves in shape, didn’t get injured( longer recovery at an older age), and nothing catastrophic happened, we should be able to ski like this into our 70s. We saw a guy at Snowbasin one year making beautiful GS turns on the groomers at high speed…..at 75 years young. So back to Chetlin. He has ideas on how he wants to utilize his QDL.

Jeff seems to think that he needs to someday soon move to Bend, Oregon to pursue his dream of maximizing QDL. In many ways, his environment dictates and contributes to his QDL. He is questioning whether he wants to spend the rest of his active years in Pennsylvania or make the move to his favorite place out west. We all currently travel to ski trips and mountain bike trips but aside from those great days, our QDL are currently here in the Keystone State. But in my mind- that is ok. All of our friends are here with the exception of a few, and life is what you make of it, right? So I thought more about it and asked myself in my Jeep, what do I think is a quality day? Well, I have this positive way of viewing things and really, every day is a gift. When we wake up and are blessed with another healthy day, it is a quality day to me. I know that the epic mountain bike rides with friends and epic ski days with friends are quality days, but I think about every day being a quality day. No matter the weather, no matter what the circumstances, if you are blessed with friends, a good work environment, and a wonderful spouse, you have quality days. A great quality day is spent with my wife Janet. We need to value each and every day because we have each other currently in good health.
We will always value each other no matter what, but we need to maximize that time together. I am sure that Jeff feels that way about his wife Julie who is his partner in everything that he does.
So, I can dream about quality days left out west in some great location. But currently I live in Pittsburgh and must make the QDL alive and well right here. Again, the travel QDL are important and always will be memorable, but days like we had last Saturday with our MTB crew, riding in the spring sunshine, sitting around and telling stories in our soccer chairs, and sipping a cold brew, that is a quality day for sure. How many do we have left? Only the Lord knows that for sure. But my goal is to make every day a quality day, no matter what the day presents. I know what Jeff means about life in Bend. And, he may attain that goal soon. But for the time being, I am looking forward to the Coopers Gap Epic Ride in a few weeks at State College with the Chetlins and looking forward to more fun times with my Janet in whatever we do. Thanks for reading and maximize your QDL.