I hope you all are enjoying your hot and humid summer . Unfortunately, there really is not much to report, with everything for the most part still pretty much shutdown or canceled. It is nice to see some things starting to reopen again, though. For example, actually got to run a real, live race on the 4th of July, a 4-miler over at Pratt Park that started at the Y, and actually took second place in my age group. When we get through the summer and closer to autumn, we will see about the feasibility of being able to hold meetings again. At least in September, with the weather still being fairly nice, perhaps an outdoor venue, such as over at Billiken's Smokehouse in downtown Fredericksburg like we recently did for the Fredericksburg Cycling Club.
Anyway, the Telluride trip is still a go as far as I know and I believe slots are opening up for anybody that wants to get a deposit in. I am actually interested in going as I have never been to Telluride and it does look like some sweet skiing there. At the risk of raining on the parade, I do have concerns about how the whole COVID-19 thing will affect this. I've already had to cancel my trip to Atlanta in September as we had to cancel our ProgPower USA heavy metal festival for this year that I sponsor. I am hoping by February, things will have improved that we can safely pull the Telluride trip off, provided we don't end up getting hit with a second wave as some in the medical community are fearing for autumn or even early winter. If things like the resort is not able to operate due to the pandemic that there is not much we can do. With that said, if you are interested in going to Telluride, now is the time to scrape together your deposit and get it in.
Looking to the future, will be interesting how even Massanutten will operate, or if we even have a ski season this year. If we do, most likely things such as only allowing one person per chair on the lift, unless they are part of the same family, social distancing in the lift lines and such will most likely happen. If it is cold out, most likely people will have a face covering of some type more to keep warm than to protect from a virus. Of course it will also be interesting to see how they handle the food service up in the cafeteria or even if the bar will be allowed to be opened. Granted, this is still some months off, but something to take into consideration. Usually by August, we are just beginning the initial preparations for the upcoming ski season. In October is when I go through the annual re-certification for the ski patrol training, but by September, I have to do a bit of online course work as well to prepare. The fact that I am a member of the ski patrol does have me concerned about things like this COVID-19 and will also be interesting how we will have to deal with this from the point of the ski patrol.
But anyway, on that happy note, I am hoping you are enjoying your summer despite all the COVID-19 and even with all the recent protesting (which I am not even going to get into, especially as I don't want to turn this political). Hopefully, I will get to see you guys again and perhaps get to show off some of the pictures and videos from Japan and tell you about it.
Reports from Japan
President Steve Konopa, Jim Callahan and Jim Weinhart participated in the first-ever Blue Ridge Ski Council's Asiafest, this year to Japan. Steve and Jim have provided reports on their adventures, not only skiing or snowboarding, but also catching the sights of Tokyo and Kyoto while contending with the coronavirus outbreak.
Steve's report, with many accompanying pictures, can be read at the following link:
To view Steve's report, use the magnify button in the pop-up at the bottom of the page and select "Window width." Also, during their trip, the exchange rate was about $1 = 110 yen.
Report from Jim Callahan
Hakuba was a wonderful ski destination though we experienced mixed conditions. Our final day blessed us with wonderful powder runs but limited visibility. At one point, Steven & I made our way to the top of the mountain, above the clouds, and enjoyed some bluebird conditions, if only for a while. Of the ten ski resorts in Hakuba, I was able to ride on five of them. My focus was on finding mountains with snow cover more so than ski-able acreage. This brought us to the most distant slopes in the region; Cortina. The conditions here were not as great as we'd hoped but we still very much enjoyed the mountain. As a side trip, we took a day to see the famed snow monkeys (other than the slopes, this was my absolute favorite thing we experienced in Japan) then lunched in the village of Obuse. After lunch we walked around the kiosks in the market and were able to try some regional treats including miso-caramel ice cream and barbecued locust. Both were delicious though I must admit that the texture of the locust was a bit off putting for my taste.
From Hakuba we traveled by bullet train to Tokyo and met up with one of Steve's friends who gave us a wonderful tour of his city and took us to a fantastic authentic Japanese restaurant which was recently featured on a popular TV show in Japan. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to eat fugu (puffer fish), a Japanese delicacy that must be prepared just so as it is a very poisonous fish. It was delicate and delicious. Even more enjoyable was the hospitality of the chef and server of the establishment. They went far out of their way to make our experience both authentic & memorable. We were able to go to the top of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the final day it was open before the Japanese government shut it due to the COVIN-19 concerns. We took in as many of the sites as possible in this magnificent city but really, a month spent here wouldn't be enough time to see it all! We walked around the Emperor's Palace, watched the commuters in Shibuya Crossing, and stumbled across a Shakey's Pizza; a childhood favorite of both of us. Though the toppings were a bit strange to me (shrimp & mayonnaise, corn, teriyaki chicken), it still sparked nostalgia.
From Tokyo, onto Kyoto. I wasn't excited about Kyoto. I knew little of the city and had no real expectations. Well, Kyoto was an absolute delight & I only wish we had more time to experience the rich culture and history this city had to offer. Some of the highlights of Kyoto were visiting the Golden Temple, the Fushimi Inari Shrine, and walking through a bamboo forest. We ate dinner in a tiny little back alley establishment. I was actually frightened to even walk in the door but when we did, we were greeted by an expatriated Canadian who welcomed us with beer! This eased my tension a bit and soon the man was introducing us to two actual Geisha girls. The food turned out to be amazing, absolutely delicious. But it's the Geisha's that I can't stop thinking about! hahahaha
For the pop culture enthusiasts, in both cities, we visited the Hard Rock Cafe which had rock & roll memorabilia we could all enjoy. The servers at both were happy to sit and chat with us about music and other shared interests.
While in Japan, the perspective we received was that back in the US, there was seemingly a bit of a panic over the COVIN-19 virus. I didn't know what we'd be coming home to! While in Japan, we came to learn that Japanese schools were closed, most museum were closed, and the government warned the citizens to stay home. This was apparent in both Tokyo and Kyoto. Sites that should have had long lines had none. We were lucky enough to get into Sky Tree the night before it was ordered closed but we did miss out on museums. The Tokyo Giants preseason baseball game was closed to the public, and the Tokyo marathon was canceled (except for elite runners). We attempted to visit the Tokyo zoo, which was closed, but instead stumbled across a Samurai festival which was a wonderful consolation prize! Personally, I think the virus scare may have been more advantageous than disadvantageous as it allowed us to quickly navigate the cities. The Japanese government was very obviously taking as many measures and precautions possible to contain the disease. They were taking it very seriously. There was no traffic in Tokyo, a fact that amazed us all! While we did take precautionary measures, we didn't let the scare freak us out. I was receiving daily reports from a colleague of mine in the CDC and for a brief moment, there was concern that we'd be in mandatory self quarantine upon our return to the states. Thankfully, we made it home safe and sound.
It was a wonderful trip though long and exhausting. We signed on the trip through the Harford Ski Club in Havre de Grace, MD. It's a small club and they were the most wonderful and welcoming group. We really seemed to fit in well with them and their kindness will be forever remembered.
There are a TON of pictures. I'll bring either my phone or laptop to our next meeting or you could check some pictures out on either Steve's or my Facebook pages.