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Mike Valletta

Storyteller. Photographer. Traveler.

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February 2012

Discovering the “Y” in Yoga

“Stretch to downward facing dog!” snaps the instructor on my Gaiam Yoga DVD. “Bend farther down!” he continues to bark. “Now, bend even farther, and breathe.” he says so calmly when I’m in the toughest physical position in my life!

There’s just something about Yoga. Most people recommend it. They say it’s most likely one of the most vital physical activities you could partake in. Well, that phrase was all my personal trainer needed to hear when she ordered me to start Yoga twice a day at home. (Are personal trainers hired to kill you?)

“Breathe, just breathe. In and out, feel your breath.” that lovely voice from the DVD says. Yeah, I’ll feel my breath, if I can catch it first!

It’s been nearly a week since I began my now daily yoga routine, once in the morning before work, and then again right before bed. I’ve got to tell ya, the AM Yoga is the one I look forward to the most. As soon as I hop out of bed, I don’t reach for the cell phone or flock to the coffee pot, I run right over to my Yoga mat and begin the half hour exercise. After about two hundred or so in takes of oxygen, twenty or so different stretches, and one deep meditation session, I can’t believe how awesome I feel afterwards. I feel wide awake, without the coffee! Not only that, but I feel eerily calm, and for those who know me, you know I suffer from ADD so calm is usually not in my vocabulary!

As I go throughout my day, I continue to feel revitalized and refreshed. It’s like some sort of super charge. I’m not exactly sure how to explain it, but I know I’m in a good place, even after I get barked at in the morning by some instructor who bends into pretzel figures so calmly!

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Bumps and Bruises to Show, a Skiing Accident Still Won’t Get Me Down!

As a professional skier, I take great pride in having the ability to master some of the toughest courses in New England. Our icy slopes are very much for the brave! As a professional, I watch the ice slowly and study it throughout the day. In the morning, the snow is good. In the afternoon, the snow slowly turns to ice. By evening, the slopes are an ice skating rink!

This is common at most of the resorts around New England. Our snow is mainly very frozen and not the fluffy powder that west coast skiers enjoy. I’ve been skiing these slopes for well over twenty years now. I’ve had a few bumps and bruises along the way, but this weekend, I encountered a close call.

It was around 7PM on the frigid slopes of Jiminy Peak. The lights were on for night skiing. A big thrill for me since the slopes are a vast ghost town at those hours. More people enjoy skiing through the day, which unfortunately doesn’t leave much snow to play with at night, rather it turns into one big skating rink. I headed down a trail I had been skiing all day. It was a trail I felt pretty comfortable with and was well lit.

Then, it happened. I was making my way down to the base when I came across a side of the slope with a number of jumps. I thought for sure I was able to handle it. I looked twice to make sure there were no visible ice patches, and none were to be seen, by the naked eye anyways. I continued along, then made my way onto one of the jumps when suddenly up in the air I went, backwards, legs over the head and a hard landing on my neck and back. I hit an ice patch.

At first, I thought I was okay. After all, this happens from time to time, even for us professionals! I picked up my skis which came dislodged from my boots and continued my way back down to the chairlifts. It was there, that I had discovered I was quite soar. My neck had become tense, and my right thumb badly bruised. It was clear to me I had to end my night. My body was aching from the fall.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt every bit of the fall. My neck stiff. My thumb barely movable. It’s every skiers worst nightmare. I was pretty beaten up from the course. I threw on some Icy Hot to relieve the tensions. It seemed to work. The stinging pains were slowly fading away, though only for a short time. After the fall, my whole body was soar over the weekend!

I’m a fighter. I’m a strong believer in fighting through the pain. For the most part, it works! I went back out and skied again the next day, and by night fall those sharp pains I felt in the morning seemed to have calmed down, only acting up once in a while to let me know healing needs to take place!

I can’t remember the last time I was in this bad of a skiing accident. They happen all the time! Even for experts, the slopes are a challenge and are too often a force to be reckoned with. Skiing is a very dangerous sport. When someone tells you to be careful out there, they mean it every literal sense!

All and all, it was another awesome weekend, despite the injuries. I’ll be back out on the slopes next weekend. After a week of rest, I should be as good as new to take on another fall!

My Weekend in the Northern Berkshires

If I had to sum up my weekend in one word, I don’t think I could. There’s just not one word to sum up the world of awesomeness. I spent the weekend in the northern Berkshires of western Massachusetts at one of my favorite mountain resorts; Jiminy Peak.

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway up north, but don’t want to spend the high ticket prices of the ski resorts in northern New England, then Jiminy is your destination. When I’m not in Vermont training, this is my hangout, and for good reason. There’s so much to do that just spending a day here isn’t good enough!

I arrived to the mountain on Saturday morning just before noon. The place was packed. Weekends here are very busy and is often the playground for those traveling up to the Berkshires from the city. I had to park my car in the lower lot which was parallel to the vacation club and get bussed over to the base. Not a bad trip, and just under 5 minutes!

As I got to the base I headed over to the ticket window and purchased a two day pass. For about $120, I was in business to ski the weekend away in paradise, and as soon as I got to the lift lines, I realized so was everyone else! The lines were long but moved quickly thanks to the speed of the Berkshire Express lift, which is the main lift to get you to the summit and as soon as you reached the top, you are face to face with some of the most impressive views of the Berkshire mountains, some even snow covered!

Saturday was a gorgeous day for skiing. The sun was shinning. It was warm, and there was a slight touch of winter in the air as flurries passed by. The powder was great and every slope I skied down was like butter. Easy!

Sunday, however, was a whole different story! Not only was it bone chilling cold, but the winds were really kicking making it feel as though temps were well below zero! It was, without a doubt, one of the most challenging days I’ve skied this season. Yes, the powder was fantastic even still, but the winds were harsh. So harsh, I was even getting pushed back up the slopes on the way down them! If you’re a skier, you know that’s a challenge.

I had an 8 hour pass for Sunday, good until about 7PM. I couldn’t survive the last hour. As the sun went down, temperatures began to get even colder, and the wind was becoming even more abusive. I decided it was best to head on down and enjoy dinner at a little place called Powder Hounds, right on the edge of the resort. If you’re looking for good food in a ski lodge atmosphere, this is the place for you. Powder Hounds knows how to deliver fantastic hospitality, but an even better meal! I ordered the blue cheese bacon burger along with one of their famous Powder Hounds root beers. After a day of abusing myself in the bitter cold, this made everything worth while!

I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend in the Berkshires. It was memorable and Jiminy Peak delivered on every expectation I had set for them. In fact, I think they have gone well above and beyond!

At Mohawk, the Snow is Good!

As of late, I’ve been staying at the local resorts. The past week or so has been pretty dry for the ski resorts in the north country, so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for me to spend my hard earned money locally. After all, the folks at these resorts are my neighbors!

Friday afternoon after I picked my skis up from the ski shop I spend time at up in Pittsfield,MA, I drove my car back home to good old Litchfield County where I made my way over to Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall. Mohawk continues to have special meaning to me as it was my first job growing up. Believe it or not, that was ten years ago!

Mohawk has always been my favorite local mountain here in Connecticut. Not only do they always guarantee snow since they invented it, but the views are absolutely incredible from the top as you look over to the Taconic mountains in New York. It will leave you speechless that we have such undisrupted views of such an incredible landscape right here in our own backyards.

As the sun went down Friday night, it was time for me to ski under the lights and what a delight it was! The snow was good! A few ice spots to roughen me up a little bit, but all and all, a rather gratifying experience as I spent a solid four hours on the slopes. To elaborate, that’s four hours of non-stop skiing. If you think that’s bad, I went back on Saturday morning to do it all over again! Yes, another four hours of non-stop skiing.

The conditions on Saturday were even better. For one, it wasn’t as brutally cold as it was on Friday night. No need for a hat, it was a bluebird day out on the slopes as the sun splashed my face with color by the end of the day. Every run I made was well worth spending my money locally. Mohawk just knows how to deliver it’s guests expectations, even despite a rather tough winter!

By the way, did I mention they also offer Snowga?

Superbowl Ads Go Viral on YouTube

So, here we are now just hours away from the big game on Sunday. The Giants against the Patriots. The ultimate rivalry amongst football fans. Who’s going to win? That seems to be one of the most popular questions around, but second to that is, of course, who’s going to have the best Superbowl ads this year?

The advertising industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Advertisers have been working up a sweat all year long in preparation for this one event, in fact, they even pay top dollar just for a thirty-second slot!

This year, we’ve been getting plenty of sneak previews of these ads from our good friends at YouTube. Last night, I sat on the couch with my iPhone just watching the numerous previews available. I’ll be working the night of the big game, so I’ll be missing out on all of this!

The previews were, at best, well thought up. This year, Toyota even brings Ferris Bueller back!

Spend some time on YouTube when you get some down time. You’ll be amazed at what you find on there for the Superbowl this year. It seems pretty endless, though I’m sure those big marketing companies didn’t post everything they have up their sleeves on there! It’s a fierce industry filled with competition. They don’t want to let too many secrets out of the bag just yet. After all, they did pay top dollar for a mere thirty-second air time!

In Drunken Groundhogs We Trust

Spring has sprung says Chuckles, the furry little rodent from Connecticut. Six more weeks of winter our old man Phil proclaims out in Pennsylvania. Who’s right? If you ask me, both rodents are drunk and were clearly pre gaming for today’s festivities. I mean honestly, do they think we’re naive! We’ve stopped trusting those furry little critters years ago. Besides, they only have a 39% accuracy on forecasting the weather, as if a rodent could actually forecast the weather, that is.

We are a nation built on trust, and it has occurred to me that, over time, we have trusted the groundhog more than today’s weathermen, if that doesn’t say a lot then I don’t know what does.

So today, Chuckles, here in Connecticut, proclaims an end to winter. Maybe he didn’t see the sudden falling temperatures that we’ve had today and a sky that resembled snow by the afternoon. That’s one point for old man Phil.

Why are we trusting groundhogs again?

Social Vixen Heads to Catamount!

Everyone knows I love a good road trip. I mean come on, who doesn’t love to hit the pedal to the medal and jet the car across the open roads of America. What I love even more, however, is a good old fashioned ski trip to one of our many nearby resorts. Skiing takes the blues out of the term winter blues, which is probably why the only individuals who aren’t depressed during the winter are skiers.

Recently, my friend, and fellow blogger, Kristen Colapinto, took a ski trip up to nearby Catamount, a beautiful mountain set in the heart of the southern Berkshires and adjacent to the New York border.

Obviously, Kristen loves to ski just as much as I do, if not, even more! Take a look at her latest posting to get all of the juicy details on her awesome day out in the mountains: http://www.socialvixen.com/travel/today-ski-day-at-catamount-in-hillsdale-ny/

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