After all these months of waiting, my school took us skiing last week (as I posted about earlier). It’s a little disappointing to say that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself, partly because of the lack of rest before hand. But at least I did go skiing, which I am very thankful for being able to do.
Interstate 80 (I-80 from now on) is a marvelous highway. It goes all the way from the George Washington Bridge (in New York / New Jersey) to California, and covers significant territory in between. I-80 also is one of the most common routes to the Pocono Mountains from New York. Fortunately, this super-highway was practically empty on Thursday morning, like it usually is at that time of day.
This trip was a bit different to me, because after I got dressed and picked up my gear for the day, I was able to hit the slopes right away (which is exactly what I did). I don’t know whether this particular set of steps was efficient or not, but either way it would have taken some time to get all ready:
- Fill out rental form, pick up boots, and try them on.
- Go down to changing room, change, come back up.
- Get the rest of the gear.
- Find a locker, take out and put away various things.
- Hit the slopes!
I started off on Camelback’s Coolmoor beginner trail with a few warm-up runs, and then went over to The Birches and The Meadows. This was the majority of my excitement for the day, which included a few runs with my friends.
I learned a bit more about controlling speed, which is essential on any trail other than the bunny slopes. I figured out an inefficient but effective way to get absolute control over how fast I’m going. With this technique, one ski is at an angle, with the other ski pointing straight down the hill and positioned slightly behind the angled ski. With the application of pressure on the tilted ski, you directly control your speed, but if you want to go faster, the straight ski allows it to happen.
This trick helped me make it down trails in one piece, but it came with an at-first unexpected side effect. It takes a lot of effort to keep the downhill ski in position, most of which I concentrated on my right knee, and I ended up with a bit of aching in that leg as well as the knee for the rest of the day. Stupidly, I didn’t take a lesson this trip (anytime I saw a ski school instructor, they were working with someone, and when I managed to find any other employee, it was for something else), so I didn’t officially learn anything new. I still feel a bit depressed about this mistake.
By the time lunch rolled around, I was really out of it. I ate somewhat slowly, constantly sighing at my level of “wiped out-ness”. Skiing, with or without made up techniques, is really a tiring sport, using muscle groups one never knew existed. Add the adrenaline rushes (after just avoiding falls) to the mix, and you’ve got one exhausted skier.
I didn’t do a whole lot after lunch. I sat around in the lodge, talking with my principal, and staring at the nice scenery outside the windows. I did manage to make two or three more runs later on, but they were kind of bad. My knee was about to crumble (not literally), and I felt like I could fall asleep while watching the trees go by on The Meadows.
For dinner, my class set up for a barbecue in the farthest parking lot. We had hot dogs and burgers, with pickles and soda on the side. I did enjoy this, even with the finger-freezing winds present at the time. We ate the food basically straight of the grill, decreasing the total time it spent in cold air, and helping to make sure we were able to get back home on the van with the rest of the school (I think my principal would have left without us if I didn’t have the key to the van, which I had used earlier to get something).
After this trip, I really thanked myself for buying my Smith Universal Helmet Helper, which currently is a bit difficult to find. If it wasn’t for the five dollar piece of plastic that extends a goggle strap, my eyes would have been stressed out too.
Lessons for next trip: Do more, and stick with the group. For the former part of that statement, I mean that I want to try even more trails, and take a good lesson, and for the latter, I am saying that I should stay with my friends most of the time. But for any trip, the main goal is simple: Have fun!
As a native New York City resident, I haven’t had that many opportunities to ride the Long Island Rail Road throughout my life. The last time I took the LIRR, I noticed the difference between the city and the (so-called) Island, but more specifically, the subway and railroad. After riding the train today, I wondered why the MTA doesn’t focus its attention on the city as much. Maybe someone will get up one day and say “Why can’t we join in the crowd?”
Before even getting to Jamaica, I realized that the railroads are more expensive than the ticket price. You have to pay to get to your station, whether it be gas for your car or a MetroCard for the bus or subway. Also, those who drive in suffer the agonizing task of finding parking, which, unless they get out at the crack of dawn (or earlier), will spend a long time doing.
One of the first things that I noticed after arriving at Jamaica Station was the Ticket Lobby down at street level. I went in there to buy my ticket, and ended up heading back in while waiting for my train. It was relatively warm in there, and felt like a comfortable place to be in. Also, on the tracks above, there is a waiting room on each platform. By comparison, NYC subways don’t have waiting times like the railroad’s, so there is no need for any type of waiting room.
On the train, there was very little noise. Although the train did go pretty fast in a few areas, there was no sounds indicating so. There were relatively comfortable seats within the car. However, the combination of being able to see where the train is going (unlike the dark subway tunnels), combined with sitting a rear-facing seat, made me slightly nauseous throughout the ride.
One annoying thing about the railroad is the constant automated announcements. They consist of a ding-type noise (ding, second or two, dong), and then the message, which was usually something that was said many times before. I think that contributed to the nausea.
Overall, I like the railroad. Quiet trains and a comfortable ride made my Wednesday. But for city-boys like me, it’s a bit expensive to ride the LIRR.
What an exciting day! Today was my first ever “Bus Day”. It probably differs from other people’s ideas of what a bus day is, since I went out for recordings of buses, not pictures. And unfortunately, I came back slightly disappointed, but I’m happy I came back with at least something.
To begin, I took the Q46 to Queens Blvd. (as I do when I go anywhere), which conveniently was a hybrid (a 2004 one I think). This ride went relatively smoothly, as my recordings point out.
I then hopped on the Q10 for the first time in almost a year and a half. The last time I took the Q10 was in elementary school. Ever since graduating, I have had a private bus company or van company take me to school. Anyway, I am noticing that the MTA Bus is using their hybrids wisely, since some of JFK Depot’s routes are of the constant stopping-and-going variety. That is what hybrid buses (especially those with series hybrid propulsion systems) are basically designed to take advantage of, which is good for transit agencies, but bad for those who like to record buses (like me, hehe).
The new (as in 2006-2007 build year) HEVs are slightly different in the inside. The floors now resemble those of the older RTSs and Orion Vs in that they are grooved in the aisles and have the marble look the other buses have. Also, there are now entirely forward facing seats behind the back door (not counting the far-rear row), instead of having two forward-facing rows. This would make it a bit easier to move around on a crowded bus, but there are also two fewer seats and I think that there are fewer poles for holding on to.
I took the Q10 back to Queens Blvd., where I got an old ex-Jamaica Bus RTS (presumably a TMC, but I don’t remember the number so I can’t look it up in the latest edition of The Roster). This bus had all of the old stickers around the back door, and surprisingly it also had touch-tapes instead of the old pull cords.
Another RTS later, I was ready to make my way into Manhattan. Got another hybrid on the Q46 to Queens Blvd. With this trip, however, I had a bit of fun in the subway. Within three minutes I had recordings of four trains, where in each recording (the latter of which you can listen to) two trains either pulled into or left the station at the same time.
Tomorrow I’m going to go out again. I might take the Q10 for a second try, if there are any buses around when I get to Kew Gardens. Otherwise it’ll be back across Queens blvd. for a shot at the Q60, which wasn’t doing too well today in terms of hybrids. In the meantime, I should probably study for the Regents exam that I am taking on Thursday.
Special thanks to BusTalk.net members whose names I don’t know for the pictures.