Lodge Goodbye

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Can’t beat the NE sunsets

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You have probably heard me swoon over the lodge many times. I love everything about it. I love that every surface (the roof, the fireplace mantle, the railings, the chandelier) is treated like a giant jungle gym. I love the history that is so thick you can practically taste it as you explore. I love the sense of calm and excitement you can see transform every face that comes in through the front door. I love the fact that a single student chef makes food for each meal, making each visit a culinary adventure. I love the red dance floor, in my mind the best dance floor in the world. Most of all, I love the people that live, speak and breath the lodge.

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friends in great places

Unfortunately, there is the other side. The lodge is 75 years old. When it was built, it was the biggest ski lodge in North America. It was the birthplace of american alpine ski racing, and with all that history also come a lot of wear. The floor has been reinforced with extra beams because it bows when people dance. Flushing the toilets is a bit like putting up a prayer. Who knows if the plumbing gods will answer. Logs are rotting out, and each time we need to lift the entire building to replace a log, it becomes harder to find logs that are wide enough to match the originals.

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Needless to say, the lodge needs a 75 year update, and the college plans to do that starting this year, so we needed to make one last visit to the hallow ground. We decided to visit during one of the lodge’s many awesome parties. To no one’s surprise, a ton of other recent alums had also made the trip to visit the lodge, so you can imagine how the night went. Dancing, bonfires, swimming in the river and good food all ensued, with the best of people. Here is to lodge 2.0!

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Science!

When I’m not out adventuring, I am engineering projects for Square One. I help design and test positioning systems for cryo vac or “space” conditions.

Our project is building a ‘robot’ that can move a sample from point “a” to point “b” not only at room temperature, but also in extreme cryo conditions, -333 degrees without oxygen. The complicated part is that materials change with temperature. Material properties such as brittleness and size change; each material of the robot changes size at  different rates. Figuring out the tolerances so the system can run smoothly at both room and ‘space’ temperatures is the hard part. Only a thousandths of an inch is the difference between a working system and one that fails with the bushings clamping onto rails.

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We went to Tennessee to test our positioning system in one of the Space Institute’s chambers. It was great to see our work actually performing in the intended environment!

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Pulling the positioning system out of the chamber!

One Pedal Stroke at a Time with Continue Mission

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Teaching mountain biking at Dartmouth was one of my most rewarding experiences. Giving other people the means to escape the craziness of a college campus in a constructive way that also encouraged them to pass the knowledge along was really empowering and fun. After college, biking every day in Jackson was great, but I really missed teaching skills and leading rides.

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When we moved to Park City, I was excited when an opportunity to lead biking came up. White Pine Touring sponsors Thursday afternoon group rides, and I volunteered to lead the beginner group. If you are ever in Park City on a Thursday during bike season, join us! They are really fun rides.

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My group was pretty damn good for beginners, and that was due in some part to the fact that the ride has been adopted by the Veteran’s group Continue Mission. I have never met a group of better people. Not only have many of them survived the injuries and shock of war, but they have made the best of returning home. Many of them know people who died overseas, but worse, many know people who have committed suicide after surviving war. I don’t feel like I can fully appreciate the depth of their experience,  but I am glad that I can share the skill set to enjoy an endorphin charged, beautiful, and accessible sport.

Impacts

This summer I wanted to see what small things I could do to improve my environmental friendliness.  Caring about my environmental impact is important to me, and it is challenging to work with this in everyday life. If I were to minimize my impact I wouldn’t own a car, use only public transport, grow all of my own food and never buy meat. However, I like to visit my family and  I travel for work, two things that can upend all the rest of my efforts. With this in mind, it is easy to get discouraged and think that it isn’t worth doing anything. But it is. It really is worth doing, and here are some of the things that I like to do.

Summer Garden

My small summer garden makes me happy. I mostly grow lettuces because in Utah, I need to grow something that has quick maturation. This gives me appreciation for my food and makes me less likely to let veggies spoil during the year. There are lots of ways to make small garden plots work. I bury wood under the soil in order to encourage healthy soil fungi.

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Compost

Compost is the easiest thing ever. All you need is a spot in your yard, and a bit of motivation. I put anything that doesn’t have meat in my compost, layering food and wet things with straw. You can use wood chips or dry dead leaves instead of the straw. Compost makes me happy for a lot of reasons. It keeps methane out of landfills, it prevents my need to buy soil for my garden, and it lessens how much trash I throw out.

Pot and Pan Coatings

There is this awesome technology that helps me cook the best steak, pancakes, eggs, and stew. It is pretty revolutionary and has been since the early 1800’s — cast iron. It is really easy to clean, it can handle any abuse, and can last a hundred years. Nonstick cookware on the other hand wears through, winding up in the landfill and, worse, uses PFOA in manufacturing. The PFOA is burned off before the consumer gets the Teflon pan, but it stays in the atmosphere for a long time. PFOA is considered a carcinogen, so I cook with cast iron.

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Elk Steak Anyone?
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Or Sweet and Sour Chicken?

Panniers

I have these great laundry detergent container panniers that take about 20 seconds to put onto my bike. That way, if I am going to do a local errand, I have absolutely zero excuses not to do it on my bike.

Hunting

There are so many things I love about hunting. I love the sunrises, smell of fall, sneaking around the woods and trying not to get noticed by the smallest animals. I love being part of the ecosystem in a way that reminds me why food is precious. I especially love not buying red meat. For a pound of beef, a farmer needs to provide about 1800 gallons of water. In the west that is a big deal, and getting to eat meat that I know everything about is a huge plus.

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Using my Freezer

Along with pesto that I make with my garden basil, I freeze lots of food, including elk. This means that when I see a great deal on a gallon of curry, I can feel great about buying it and freezing it in silicone muffin tins. By freezing in muffin tins, I can assemble ziplock bags of the perfect serving size for all sorts of things!

Recycle

Recycling is really easy once you get into it. Many towns have zero sort, and if yours doesn’t, you can always presort at home.

Buy Smart

I don’t shop that often, but when I do I try to buy things that are built to last and are built sustainably. For that reason, I love buying Bergans gear. Environmentally friendly fabrics have been part of their clothing way before it was a trend, and they often forget to even mention it in their marketing.

These are just a few of the things I like to do. What are your favorite small steps?