What I have learned from writing a blog.

Anyone can write a blog.  Word Press and other platforms make it easy for one to put out thoughts and musings about a myriad of subjects that may or may not interest the general public.  It all started for me in January of 2013 when I was repeating one of my inane stories from the past to my wife, Janet.  She was laughing and suggested that I start writing these stories down for posterity and to perhaps start a blog.  I thought about it, looked up Word Press on the Internet, and began a journalistic adventure that has continued for 167 posts to date.  Most of my drivel is about outdoor adventures and experiences that have been humorous as well as telling about how I view the world.  My friend Eric from Nevada said to me when I started, that unless I have climbed Everest, saved sherpas and climbers from imminent death with my heroics, no one will really care about my blog except my friends who know me.  In fact many of my friends laugh and say that they can hear me telling the stories by the way that I write.  It is almost as if I am talking when they read the posts.  photo

So here are some conclusions for you to review along with some suggestions for those who might consider writing a blog:

  • Anyone can write a blog.  Millions of people do and most people will not be published in a magazine so this is the only way of scratching the writing itch.
  • Don’t expect to get rich.  It takes thousands of hits on the blog to get advertisers interested.  I currently have 567 followers -some faithful, some not, but it keeps growing incrementally and that is fine with me.  I am happy that some people find my writing entertaining and informative.
  • Keep it specific to a genre.  I chose to write about outdoor adventures with a touch of humor.  I am not an international outdoor adventurer sponsored by magazines or equipment manufacturers.  I am just Joe Blow who has had some funny times riding a bike, skiing, and running trails. images (3)
  • You have to be a shameless promoter.  At the risk of being obnoxious, I have told people about my blog and asked them to be a follower.  I have had business cards made, bumper stickers made( many of which have been plastered at ski areas all over the country).  My wife Janet keeps me in line if I get out of control promoting.  I just like to write and it is fun to see the blog grow.
  • Pay the hundred bucks to get the premium service from the platform provider.  You can put a lot of pictures and video with the space that Word Press allows and they give you excellent support.
  • You have to be creative and selective with “tags”.  If used properly, they can attract traffic to your blog.  Tags like “cycling” , ” skiing” , “humor”, etc.  IMG00375-20110730-0915
  • As the blog has grown, it is amazing to see where the hits come from.  All over the world!  Most of the followers now are people whom I have never met.  Other bloggers, curiosity seekers who are interested in outdoor subjects, people trying to sell me on marketing my blog, Facebook followers who are friends of friends.
  • Facebook was instrumental in growing the blog.  But as it has expanded, the Word Press followers have eclipsed the Facebook followers.  It is easy on my blog- just hit the button to the left and be a follower.  You will get an automatic email when I get creative- which is usually once per week.  See- promoting again!!
  • The posts are archived monthly and as I review them, I think my writing style has improved from the early posts.  I have learned what people like to read and what bombs as a post.  This post will most likely bomb but I had to do it as a review of where I have been and where I want to go with this.
  • Re-blogs are good to do because a lot of folks will not read the archives( frankly they don’t have time).  But the occasional re-blog will be timely and give me a chance to recharge the memory banks.  IMGP0205
  • Personal stories and posts that expose feelings and stations in life can be interesting to some folks who are going through the same thing or thinking the same thoughts.  I try not to get too serious but sometimes events inspire me to drop my drawers and expose my feelings for all to see.  Sometimes I moon people, sometimes I expose my heart.
  • I write a lot of this to document my life for my son.  He doesn’t read it.  But maybe someday he will.  Nothing malicious on his part.  He is just not interested.  And……………….that’s ok.  photo
  • As I go forward, I am running out of material.  My experiences and memory are waning.  But I will continue to write about things that strike me as I continue what has been a very active and fun outdoor life. I will keep it humorous, somewhat educational, and easy to read in a couple of minutes because that is all the time people have time to give my blog.  photo
  • I follow other people’s blogs to get ideas and to fan the flames of the kindred spirit.  They follow mine as well and I have amassed some very fun blogging friends from all over the world.  The Ouachita Shutterbug is a fun photo and musings blog.  Single-Tracked Mind is another and we have threatened to do guest blog posts for each other.  “To the nth degree ” is another one focused on outdoor life in Pennsylvania.  Helena is a mountain biker and kayaker.           My friends keep me grounded.  So far, I have not” jumped the shark” and when I do, enough will be enough.  But the challenge will  continue to write inspiring, “if I can do it, you can do it” posts as well as funny stories from the past.  Good photos will be included to round out the stories and if you have the chance to comment, please do so on Word Press or Facebook.  If you wish to contact me, my email is on the cover page.  Thanks for reading and I hope that I have not been too obnoxious or boring.  Hopefully my self deprecation will make you laugh and be inspired.

Some Blog Maintenance

70019150-SLD-001-0028 First of all, I wanted to thank all of you who have been gracious enough to indulge my 2013 New Years resolution by following my blog. It has been a great experience for me and has given me the opportunity to chronicle some of my past adventures and humorous times with friends and my family. It is all in the spirit of encouraging people to get outdoors and enjoy what nature has to offer. It also gives me a chance to put my sense of humor out there for you to enjoy and have some laughs, many at my expense. I hope that so far, it has given you some funny times as you enjoy your coffee or take a short break from work.

A couple of things:
1.) If you follow on an I-Pad, I-Phone or other device that is not your home or office computer, you may get the story but not the pictures. If that is the case, simply click on the title and you can see the photos that I put at the beginning of all of my posts.
2.) Many of you follow on Facebook and that is fine seeing that Facebook is connected to my blog. However, I would like to encourage you to follow my blog on Word Press. I pay for the premium service that Word Press has to offer which among other things, respects my privacy and the privacy of those who follow my blog. The more followers I have on Word Press, the more love I get from them, plain and simple. So if you would not mind getting one E-Mail a week from Word Press alerting you to the fact that I posted another zany story, I would appreciate it. If you don’t want to do that and you are comfortable with just following on Facebook, I understand and thank you for following on that medium. But if you would follow on Word Press, all you have to do is hit the box to the left of my home page and enter your e-mail. That will automatically make you a follower and you will get only that weekly e-mail. Please feel free to pass my blog on to your other friends. The more followers, the merrier.
3.) As you may know from looking at the archives, I have a lot of posts from January of 2013 until now. It has been suggested by friends that I take some time to re-blog some of the best posts by way of popularity. Kind of like a ” Best of Chronicles of McCloskey.” In the transition time now between seasons, I will post two per week for the next two weeks and then I will get started with a weekly post on spring and summer activites. I hope this would be ok and that you might enjoy some of my blasts from the past.

Again, I thank you for indulging me and I hope that my weekly posts can be a short break for your day and that you can have a smile on your face as you read them. Thanks for reading, thanks for being a friend to the Chronicles of McCloskey, and finally thanks for being my friend. I am not sure where this blog will go in the future but with your help and encouragement, you never know what will happen. Spring is coming.

Old Friends – Familiar Haunts

photophotophotophotophoto Vail, Colorado was the very first major ski area I ever visited. Way back in high school, there was a trip and I was excited to ski the west. My dad thought it was great and that if I wanted to go, I should save my money that I was earning and put it towards the trip. Great gem of advice from my dad as usual. As a young teenager, it was exciting to get on a plane to Denver and take a bus with my friends to what I thought was heaven on earth, or so it was told to me. Rocky Mountain National Forest, Buffalo Bill’s Grave, the buffalo herd, the space like house that was used in Woody Allen’s movie “Sleeper” were all visible for the first time from the interstate and going over Loveland Pass( or through it- I forget if the tunnel was open at that time) and eventually up and down Vail pass was intoxicating. When you see the lights of Vail for the first time, it almost seems magical to a young guy and as we piled our gear into overcrowded Vail Village Inn, we hardly slept in anticipation of what would be a memorable week of skiing and sunshine.

Many years have passed and many miles skied at Vail over the years. But the sight of the clock tower and the bridge, and the walk through town in anticipation of taking the gondola to mid Vail and rushing to the other side before any crowds come is an experience that never grows old. Like my friends in the picture above. They never get old either. Art Bonavoglia, in the red jacket, is my friend for years. We have cycled together and skied together and now at 62, he is spending his third season teaching in arguably the best snowsports school in the world in Vail. Skiing a big mountain every day can do a lot for your personal skiing and although Art works hard and spends countless hours teaching, he has the ability to free ski and work with really quality trainers at Vail. You can tell by his skiing that he is taking this very seriously and is also in great shape in order to execute high level turns. You can’t get into ski shape by just skiing. You need to take the time and effort to hit the gym, run trails, ride a bike, and do whatever it takes to get aerobically, and physicaly strong. Lots of people don’t make the effort as they get older and they pay for it on the mountain.

One guy who makes that effort is Bart Raitano (the guy with the cool shades and the white jacket). Bart is ageless because he pays attention to what he eats, and is faithful on his pre-season gym time. Once the season starts, he is ready to make those beautiful turns of his and he does it over 100 days a year. Bart lives in Vail in the winter and I am lucky enough to visit him. We have been friends for years and it is comforting to know that even though Bart is older than Art and me, he can still ski exceptionally well which gives us the inspiration to keep on training and skiing because it is a sport that we can do for a long time.

Even though I know Vail pretty well, it is a great bonus to ski with guys like Art and Bart who know the mountain really well because they are locals. They know what lifts get crowded first, they know where the groomers have been, so when you ski with these guys, they pretty much set the schedule and the slope selection and we all let it rip all day long. We all have taught skiing for many years so we have a lot of interesing talks on the chair lift about technique- what works and what doesn’t( no matter what PSIA says :). We discuss the latest equipment and why we ski what we ski. All of us are current on equipment and it helps when you are trying to stay in the game. There is nothing like a new pair of freshly waxed and tuned skis on perfect western conditions in a classic area and along with bright sunshine, we were truly experiencing heaven on earth this week together.

Vail is one of those resorts that continues to grow every year and caters to a very exclusive clientel. When you ski different areas, you will notice that some areas are rustic and family oriented. Some are old school with older lifts and grooming equipment. Some are hard core areas where the expert skier is king and ammenities like world class restaurants, spas, exclusive shops, are not a priority. Vail has it all really in that it has excellent skiing and if you want that European, shopping, spa and dining experience, Vail will not disappoint. Everything there is first class and even today, I still get that feeling driving down the Vail valley that I had on that first trip from high school. There is something very welcoming about Vail in that it gave me my first big mountain experience without any pressure. I was in awe of all of the shops, restaurants,and the town itself and am still amazed at how Vail re-invents itself every year. I will say that for a guy who is used to changing his boots in the parking lot( my father in law calls us trunk slammers), it was sure nice to go to Bart’s locker room in the middle of town where the coffee, energy bars, and hospitality are ever present. People know each other and get excited about their ski day in a very gentile way. Vail takes a lot of heat from the jaded skier who sees it as an expensive rip off catering to the wealthy people who can’t ski. That criticism is a little harsh and even though I am not in the league with a lot of the locals who call Vail home, I still feel welcomed by its warmth, charm and world class slopes and grooming. The Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin aren’t too shabby either.

Short trip this time and driving out of there this morning I was a little nostalgic thinking about all the good times that I have had in that valley. Especially with these two guys who are now- locals. Lucky stiffs.

One little aside, I included a picture of a great book that every ski racer and skier alike should read. Edie Thys Morgan was a World Cup Downhiller and Super G racer for the U.S. She had the highest finish of any American in the Calgary Olympics with a 9th place in the Super G. This book records her experiences on the World Cup. She tells the reader in detail about the training, the personality conflicts, the harsh travel and weather, how hard it is to stay injury free and manage to compete at the highest level. How not to get caught in the “tuna nets” which are the nets on the side of the downhill courses that catch a racer who has made a mistake and crashes hard. This book is exceptionally well written and although the characters are fictional in name to protect the innocent, the circumstances are real and true to life. Go straight to Amazon and buy it. Trust me, you will be glad that you did and give Edie a good review too will ya? Thanks for reading and think snow.