This no snow thing is getting ridiculous and I'm getting as tired and bored with writing about it as you are of reading about it. The problem is that it has turned many outdoor lovers winter into what I imagine it's like for the people who curl up and cocoon at the first sign of cold or snow. Weather induced SADS. The indoor life stinks and if you do anything to excess, whether it be TV, Netflix, reading books (beer drinking excepted of course) it tends to drain a person mentally and emotionally. Hiking is fine but lets face it folks, the fun part of winter is its unique difference from the other seasons. You can hike on a stinkin' beach for God sakes! Sure, that chance of slipping and falling on your ass on the ice makes winter hiking a bit more interesting but it pales in comparison to the classic ski, skate, and slide. No, I want to glide over snow and skate on the ice, moving much faster and more effortlessly than can be done on plain old dry ground. We have not all curled up in the fetal position with a bottle of Bushmills and Tolstoy's "War and Peace" however.
Last weekend found me strolling out on the ice of Lake Nokomis for the US Pond Hockey Championships. There were a couple dozen rinks with a half dozen divisions competing for the coveted Golden Shovel Award and lots of spectators braving the 15F temps with a rare southeast wind. I had planned on a beer in the tent but the organizers had sold out to Bud as some sort of Gold Level sponsorship deal. Instead I spent my money on a useful container called the Whiskey Puck. It's pictured right with what became it's contents. The outdoor exposure continued when I headed over to the BessemerConvivialists annual Jilleah Loppet, typically a ski event but this year kickball had to substitute for the skiing. It was a great idea and great outdoor fun but it was obvious that only about 15% of the group had any idea of kickball and its similarity to baseball. Once we realized that throwing to the wrong base, ignoring base runners, and other baseball atrocities would be the norm, everyone had fun. Had the whiskey puck been full it would have been quickly emptied by the kickballers.
Sunday I sucked it up, after being encouraged to abort my downhill ski plans due to freezing rain, and headed over to the Elm Creek Hamster Cage. It consists of a couple kilometers of man made snow cross country trails, one of what I think are three such areas in the metro. It was congested like a rush hour freeway with everyone from elite Birkie racers getting in their 'K's' to plodding classical skiers, basically walking on skis along the trail. I resolved that my Elm Creek trail pass would be for two sessions: my first and my last. No more of that, I'm waiting for real snow.
Which apparently we will find this weekend. RonO, the ManFromSnowyLegs, and I are joining a number of the usual suspects on Lake Namekagan for the annual Intensive Training weekend. This is mainly classical skiing on the superb Rock Lake loops east of Cable with a bit of skating on the Birkie trail. There will likely be a beer savored and a card dealt as well after the intensive ski training. The VOR is joining the Wild Women for a weekend of skiing on the private yet tortuously confusing Fauerbach Maze in rural Saxon, WI. Some wine drinking and extensive menu planning and recipe discussion will be featured as well.
There is still no snow in the forecast so I guess a bit of driving is the only solution. The one thing the hamster cage bluntly pointed out to me is that although the brakes and supsension are top notch, the motor on the Olson ski machine is carboned up, out of tune, and missing on several cylinders. There is no hope for a complete tune up before the Vasaloppet on February 11th, if its held, but I will take comfort in the fact that every little bit helps and that I will be enjoying real winter, if only for the weekend.