Saturday, February 26, 2011

Late Winter Delights

On the left: the view from Washington state, Doug Stauffer photographer
Center and right: a trail and Helderberg Escarpment, John Rowen photographer

Left and center: the view from June Mountain and Yellowstone National Park. photograph courtesy of Dennis Grenninger
Right: Pasadena Casting Club, photograph courtesy of Seymour Singer.

The view out our front door, photograph by John Rowen

Even though spring is less than a month away, you can still find many great winter sports on our three coasts.

Doug Stauffer, an upstate New York expatriate in Washington State, has enjoyed great snowshoeing and winter hiking in his neck of the woods.

In upstate New York, I have enjoyed cross-country skiing on good to excellent conditions with Jon and Rose Cooper. We had one day where ice coated the snow and breaking trail was exhausting and sometimes the wind chill is unpleasant.

But when things stabilize, the temperature rises or an overnight snow shower leaves a coating of powder that enable smooth, fast conditions. I have become fonder of non-wax able skis. They work in whatever weather is found. I used to have beautiful wax able skis but I was not smart enough to get them to work when the snow got thick and wet.
Best of all, you do not need to go far to enjoy the skiing. The snow is great whether you go out the backdoor - - or drive a few minutes to a nearby park.
Downhill skiing is also in good shape on both coasts. Dennis Greninger reports good conditions within a comfortable drive of Los Angeles. I would go but with so much great cross-country nearby it does not seem worth the fuss this month.

Winter also offers snowmobiling, dog sledding and ice fishing. A California friend likes to head inland for snowmobiling in Yellowstone. He and his wife also wing their way to the North Coast, to spend a few days dog sledding in Ely, Minnesota.

If the cold makes you want to forget the cold, you can always head south - - or southwest. My friend Seymour Singer and his family had a welcome time-out at the beach at about the same time as upstate New York received its second or third snow storm of the season.

At this time of year, southern California is at its peak. The temperatures are balmy and rain keeps the landscape and flowers green. In a month or so, things will dry up and turn brown, but now everything is vivid greens and bright colors.

Last year at this time, I enjoyed visiting the Pasadena Casting Club. Some time was spent cleaning up the fall and winter debris. But when the work was done, many people adjourned to the casting pool and started getting their casting arms in shape, on a bright and warm afternoon!

Before, during or after your excursions, you will need restorative food and beverages. In Pasadena, Yahaira’s continues to please. In Eagle Rock, Mia Sushi and Senor Fish’s appealing cuisine has been joined by Four CafĂ© - - a new eatery with a seasonally driven menu. In Albany, we enjoyed this past Valentine’s Day at Creo.
In East Hampton, my mother and I had an innovative version of surf and turf at the Palm. The experience was topped off with a schooner-sized Manhattan.
Regardless of whether you are working, playing, drinking or dining, the best part of this season are the longer days. Each day is longer by two to five minutes. That helps sweep out the winter cobwebs for spring!

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