Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Heli Skiing in British Columbia with CMH Gothics

I first learned how to downhill ski in Montana while I was in grade school. A couple times a year, the whole school would go on a field trip to Big Mountain (now Whitefish Mountain). I didn't ski a whole lot in high school, nor in college (at the University of Denver). However, several friends went to DU for the skiing. They'd schedule their classes so they had a couple days off per week, and they'd head for the hills. Two friends in particular, Chris and Chris, were some of the best skiers I'd ever seen. They'd fly through the moguls with legs like rubber bands, upper-body barely moving, legs absorbing the world famous bumps at Mary Jane.

I used to talk about Chris and Chris, long after college, as the amazing skiers with the rubber band legs. I didn't start skiing a lot until I worked for a .com in the late 90s. The VP of Development (whom we now call "The Professor") told us that one of the perks was a "9-inch Rule". The rule was that if it snowed 9", you could take the day off and go skiing, as long as you went to the resort that had the fresh powder. It was crazy how few people took advantage of this, but he and I never missed a day that year. That was likely the first year I'd skied more than 10 days in my life, and I'll bet I skied 20 with him.

I continued to ski a fair bit with my practice wife, then took a couple years off when the kids were born. We got them on skis when they were two years old, and they've been skiing ever since. The funny thing is, I never got really good at skiing until I started taking tips from The Professor. The year was 2010, and I got good enough to be able to ski top-to-bottom bump runs without stopping. Skiing had become a passion for me.

When I met Trish a few months later, I asked her if she skied (hoping to God she did). Her response blew my mind.

"No, I tele."

She went on to explain how she'd started with Alpine, moved to snowboarding for six years and was now addicted to free heeling. I just gazed with a dumb stare and my mouth open.

Last year, Chris M. decided it was high time we did a helicopter ski trip.

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Posted in General at Feb 11 2014, 11:18:39 AM MST 1 Comment

We Bought a Ski Bus!

This summer while vacationing in Montana, I gave my Cadillac Escalade to my parents. My reason was simple - it'd been molested too many times in the big city. We did enjoy catching the criminals (busted two would-be-thieves in the act in 2010), but we were ready for a new car.

We started looking for one shortly after arriving home from our honeymoon - from the Nissan Armada to the Tesla. But none of them really appealed to me. Then I found a rig that made my heart leap, the VW Syncro Westfalia, aka The Greatest Car Ever Built.

Everyone from pro snowboarder Jussi Oksanen to Maverick’s surfing legend Grant Washburn to actor Tom Hanks, who calls his Syncro addiction "a rare dementia," has succumbed to the Vanagon. The only drawback: production ceased in 1992, and there are only so many of these babies left (maybe as few as 5,000), so the vehicles are appreciating in value.

The first one I found stood out because it fixed the problem that many VW Busses have - crappy engines. Rather than a powerless ol' VW engine, it had a Subaru SVX H6 3.3L (240HP). I found a maroon syncro that was similar to the aforementioned one, but ended up buying the blue one after I asked the owner why his was better. He replied with a 12-item list and a closing paragraph that sealed the deal for me.

Any van you end up with will have its own eccentricities, personality traits, faults and virtues. Owning one, especially a Syncro is a labor of love, not necessarily a good investment purely in terms of money but man, I've racked-up more memories in that Syncro over the past 10 years than with anything else in my life. I've owned Syncros for years and will continue to do so, it gets in your blood and there's no cure.

Trish has always wanted an RV for photography, and I've longed for a VW Bus that runs. With our plan of skiing all over Colorado this year (Abbie gets free days at every resort), it should be a heckuva ski season!

Right 3/4

I can't wait to go and rescue it in December with my Dad. We figured it'd be fun since we did our first bus rescue in 2004. For more pictures, see my 1990 Syncro Westy SVX Full Camper set on Flickr or the original listing.

As for my '66 Porsche Bus, that's progressing nicely. It should be starting and drivable (though not street legal) in the next couple weeks.

Update: Dad is out, Trish is in for the Syncro Rescue Road Trip. She wasn't about to let us have all the fun. ;)

Posted in The Bus at Oct 22 2013, 11:47:18 AM MDT Add a Comment

The Trifecta 2013!

The last time I pulled off a Trifecta (3 ski resorts in 3 days), it was in 2010. I hadn't met Trish yet and DU Hockey had started their we're terrible in the playoffs streak. Last weekend, I decided to go for it again, this time with fiancé and kids in tow. We originally intended to ski Friday afternoon, but Abbie had an important "Mayor Election" at school and we were unable to leave early. By the time we arrived in Winter Park, the lifts were closed.

When we drove to Steamboat on Saturday, we only intended to ski 2 days. We dressed up in our outfits and got ready for the warm, mashed-potato conditions on Steamboat's closing weekend.

We love closing weekend at Steamboat!

The conditions weren't great, so we only skied for a couple hours. Then we hung out with Trish's friends (Jenn and Todd) for the rest of the afternoon, swimming and frolicking with our kids like good parents do. On Sunday, we woke up and checked the ski report. While Steamboat did get 8" of fresh powder, Copper had 13 inches! So we packed up the car, puppies, and kids and drove 2 hours to Copper. When we arrived, we weren't disappointed. The kids were loving it and the conditions were great.

13" Powder Day at Copper!

When we stopped for lunch, I was a bit disappointed that our ski weekend was about to end. Then I checked the Winter Park forecast, was pleasantly surprised, and asked "Hey, kids - should we complete the Trifecta and skip school tomorrow?" Of course, they said "YES" and our plans were set. We did a couple more runs, listened to some good live music at the base, then headed to our mountain views in Winter Park.

Sunday night is when the fun started. I didn't call the kids in sick for school, nor did I call in sick for my current client. I simply told them both we had a unique opportunity to complete a Trifecta and the snow was too good to leave.

Monday morning we woke up to 7" of fresh powder and by the time we got to Mary Jane, it was knee-deep. The runs were unbelievable. I skied several bump runs on Mary Jane without ever hitting bottom. It snowed hard all day long and by 2pm, they'd closed Berthoud Pass. This meant we had to stay another night. Some friends were stranded, so we offered them to stay with us and we enjoyed a nice evening reminiscing about all the fluffy snow and face shots. The first photo below is the snow accumulation on Monday morning; the second is from Monday at Happy Hour.

Happy Powder Monday! The whole family took the day off to ski and it's DUMPING in Winter Park. Yeeee hawww!! Best. Monday. Ever. Snowed in with Berthoud Pass closed. This snow is just from today!

Skiing a Trifecta with my family seems like a perfect way to end the ski season. However, it's been snowing all week and I've had several powder runs since Monday. It's snowed 37 inches in the past 7 days and there's more snow in the forecast this weekend. Winter Park's Springtopia starts tomorrow. Live music, fresh powder, the Nuggets in the playoffs and a place at the base with good friends.

The fun ain't over yet! :)

Posted in General at Apr 19 2013, 10:25:09 AM MDT 1 Comment

Farewell to the 2011-2012 Ski Season

In 2011, I experienced the best ski season of my life. On the Thursday after ski season ended last year, I wrote:

For next year, I think I'll keep my goal at 30 days. If everything works out as planned, we'll have a place in the mountains this fall and it'll be a bit easier to hit the slopes without sitting in traffic.

Everything did work out as planned and we found ourselves in eager anticipation of ski season last fall. We prepped the Ski Shack for lots of visitors by getting queen-sized bunk beds made for the kids. We even got a hot tub installed for Trish's birthday in mid-December.

Hot Tub Installed for Trish's Birthday!

For Christmas, my parents, sister and her wife all flew in and we spent a beautiful evening watching the parade at Winter Park.

Christmas Eve at Winter Park Village

The skiing still wasn't great, but there was enough snow to cover the tubing hills in Fraser. We got some sweet helmet covers from my Mom for Christmas and had a blast with Trish's brother's family over New Years.

Skiing on Christmas Day! Skiing with Wild Animals

The "Training" Park Shredders

The rest of the season was filled with a lot of 4-run outings, where we skied the bare minimum to count it as a day. I can recall only 3 really good days. One was at Steamboat with 11" of powder and lots of knee-deep stashes. The others were at Mary Jane where Trish and I got fresh powder tracks for a good hour.

Yep, the snow was terrible this year. In fact, my favorite lift at Winter Park (Eagle Wind) never even opened. I still managed to get in 33 days, but it certainly wasn't a ski season to reminisce about. I am proud of the fact that Abbie and Jack skied 15 days and never needed a lesson. Trish even taught them how to snowboard one day and they both loved it.

We only made it to 3 resorts this year, a far cry from last year's 9 + a hut trip. However, I don't feel like we missed out because the snow was so bad. Having a condo 15 minutes from the resort certainly helped us get more days in, but I'm willing to bet we skied 10x more hours last year.

Next year, I hope it snows a ton and we get 50 days in. In the meantime, I'm pumped that mountain bike season has started and there's lots of dry trails along the front range. I have two rides in so far this week and hope to get at least 30 days in this summer. With 600 miles of trails just minutes from our Ski Shack, it seems like it should be easy enough.

In other life-related news, I'm driving to Colorado Springs this afternoon to pick out the interior for The Bus. With any luck, MotorWorks Restorations will have it done in a couple months. In the meantime, you can see their latest progress on Facebook. I can't wait until this bad boy is road worthy! :)

Posted in General at Apr 26 2012, 09:46:33 AM MDT Add a Comment

Farewell to the 2010-2011 Ski Season

I'd call the 2010-2011 the best ski season ever, but it's really just the best ski season so far. In 2008, I wrote about a great 21-day season. This time last year, I wrote about an amazing 25-day season. This year, I took it up a notch and aimed for 30 days. I'm proud to say I accomplished my goal and had an awesome time doing it. I skied with more people I'd never skied with before (largely in part to my cool co-workers from Overstock) and shared many days with the lovely Trish McGinity.

The season started with a trip to Copper, shortly after Abbie's 8th Birthday. I remember that day clearly as the kids were a bit rusty and had a heckuva time on their first run. Sobbing, whining and fear surrounded them the entire time. After the first run, I had some hot chocolate with them, calmed them down and then proceeded to the bunny slope for some turns. The lift was broken when we got there so we had to hike for a few runs. Amazingly, Abbie said it was the most fun she'd ever had skiing, which surprised me after her meltdown on the first run.

It's fun to compare that day to the last day I took them this season. We did the same run (a blue at Copper) and both kids were doing parallel turns and having a blast. Actually, Jack was the only one doing parallel turns, Abbie was flying down the mountain, not turning at all. She was going so fast her legs looked like rubber bands, weaving and bobbing over the bumps in the snow. I'm awful proud of my little skiers.

As for me, I happened to land a new gig in Utah, home of the greatest snow on Earth. My interview with Overstock.com was two days, with the 2nd day on the slopes at Snowbird. It was easily the best interview I've ever had.

Snowbird! Mike, Sean and Chris Sun over Snowbird Back of Snowbird

That week, I returned to Denver for 3 days of skiing Breckenridge and A-Basin for Trish's Birthday Weekend. After returning from Christmas in Florida, I got a couple days in at Mary Jane and then accomplished 10 days before 2011 while skiing in sub-zero temperatures at Steamboat for New Years.

Good Morning from Steamboat! Sunrise over Steamboat

The next 4 months of skiing were fantastic with many firsts. I experienced Alta, Crested Butte and thigh-deep powder for the first time.

Speed Racer! Top of Crested Butte

Free Heeling at Alta Free Heeling at Alta

We finished up the season with a hut trip after TSSJS in Vegas, a weekend with the kids at Copper (as mentioned above) and Spring Splash at Winter Park.

For next year, I think I'll keep my goal at 30 days. If everything works out as planned, we'll have a place in the mountains this fall and it'll be a bit easier to hit the slopes without sitting in traffic. For now, I'm pumped about the beginning of mountain bike season. I took Trish and I's Gary Fisher Hi-Fi Plus's to the shop for tune-ups yesterday and we have a trip planned to Moab for Memorial Day. It's gonna be a great summer. :)

Posted in General at Apr 28 2011, 09:40:08 AM MDT 3 Comments

Peter Estin Hut Trip in Colorado's High Country

Last weekend, after returning from our trip to Las Vegas, we packed up our stuff, got a good night's sleep and headed on a hut trip in Colorado's High Country. The name of the hut was Peter Estin Hut and it was a bit of a hike to get to. My friend, Joe, set my expectations correctly when he warned me it'd be a 5 hour death march. It took us 4 hours, 30 minutes and we skied up 2200 vertical feet of switchbacks.

From the Parking Lot Joe and Sean Made it! View off the front port of Peter Estin Hut

The hut itself was great. It was a lot like The Cabin, but bigger, slept a lot more people and was at 11,200 feet. It had an old fashioned cookstove, heat stove (where we melted snow) and a two-room outhouse.

The Roomy Inside Water Source Peter Estin Hut

On Sunday, we hiked up to the top of Charles Peak (12,000') and had a nice (albeit choppy) run down and packed up to hike down.

Livin' it up, hut style We made it! At the top of Charles Peak

This was the first hut trip I'd been on since Last Dollar Hut near Telluride in college. It was definitely a physical challenge, but was a lot of fun thanks to good friends, nice views and "summit push" music from Joe's boombox.

For more pictures from this adventure, check out my Peter Estin Hut Trip photos on Flickr.

Posted in General at Mar 26 2011, 11:20:12 AM MDT Add a Comment

The Greatest Snow on Earth

Last week, I traveled on my monthly trip to Utah to work on-site at Overstock. Unlike previous visits, snow was in the forecast and it didn't disappoint. I woke up early on Friday, worked a few hours and then met a couple co-workers at the office at 8. We arrived at Solitude by 8:40 and were in line for the lift by 8:55. We were the 5th chair on the lift and quickly skied to The Summit Lift. It was here we found thigh-deep powder and face shots on every run. The video below has shot by my co-worker, Eric. You can also view it on YouTube. The face shots start around 0:45.

After an awesome morning of skiing, I returned to work and later picked up Trish from the airport for a weekend of powder. When I started working at Overstock, I told myself that I'd buy a pair of "Utah Skis" if the powder was good. It seemed like the right time, so I picked up some Bluehouse Powder Skis on the way back from the airport. That night, we saw Hot Buttered Rum and woke up early for 27" of fresh powder at Alta.

Free Heeling

The skiing was incredible all day and it never stopped snowing. That night, we headed to The Canyons and stayed slopeside at The Hyatt. We got upgraded to a great room and enjoyed some nice views.

The Hyatt Bluehouse Awesomeness View at The Hyatt

We slept in on Sunday, grabbed some breakfast and hopped on the lift around noon. It was a Bluebird Day and we skied as much of the hard stuff as we could find.

The Canyons The 9990 Lift 9990's Fun Runs Into The Light

Hiking to the top of 9990 Top of 9990

Several weeks ago, I said I thought Colorado's powder was better than Utah's. After experiencing knee-deep powder at Solitude and sweet, fluffy powder at Alta, I'm officially changing my stance. In my opinion, Utah has the greatest powder on earth. If Colorado happens to get that much powder, and I get to ski it, I'd be more than happy to reconsider.

Posted in General at Mar 02 2011, 12:11:59 AM MST 3 Comments

Crested Butte

Last week was a great one for my ski season and happiness meter. First of all, I had the pleasure of skiing Alta for the first time while traveling to Overstock.com. I started working early on an overcast day and was delighted to drive into sunny blue skies above the clouds of Salt Lake City. I never expected it to be so nice and was super impressed with the mountain and its powder stashes.

I flew back to Denver on Thursday night, had a gorgeous lunch ride in 70°F weather on Friday afternoon, then picked up my lovely girlfriend Trish and drove to Crested Butte for a weekend of skiing with James Ward and friends. It was my first time visiting Crested Butte and I can see why people call it Paradise.

We stayed at a sweet location right in town, ate some exquisite cuisine and had some of the most beautiful days I've ever had skiing. Hopefully the pictures below convey how beautiful it was. You can also checkout the full set on Flickr.

Crested Butte, The Town Top of Crested Butte

The Steep Stuff Blue Sky

Trish and I are up to 17 ski days for the year so far, and hoping to hit 20 by Valentine's Day. Not bad for a couple Flatlanders. ;)

Posted in General at Feb 01 2011, 05:57:41 PM MST 1 Comment

Alta

Had my first Alta experience this week. It was awesome.

A Bluebird Day

Will post pictures from Crested Butte on Monday. :)

Posted in General at Jan 28 2011, 03:47:16 PM MST Add a Comment

Farewell to the 2009-2010 Ski Season

Top o' Jackson Hole The 2009-2010 Ski Season ended for me last weekend. This was mostly due to the fact that Winter Park and Copper closed and that's where I have my ski pass at. I'm writing this post to reflect upon what a great ski season it was. I skipped writing a similar post in 2009, mostly because I was basking in the Florida sun at a helluva wedding on the last ski weekend. 2008's season was the last one I wrote about, and I managed to get 21 days in that year.

This season, I managed to get in 25 days, my most ever in a season! Not only that, but I got to watch Jack ski like a madman, enjoy a fantastic weekend with friends in Jackson Hole and perform The Trifecta. As a parent, I feel like a lot of hard work and persistence has finally paid off. Jack can now get on and off the lift by himself and Abbie hit her first jump (catching 2-3 feet of air) in the terrain park. Yes, I'm a proud papa.

Abbie showing Jack how to do bumps

Personally, I was able to complete several top-to-bottom runs (without stopping) at Mary Jane. This was a goal last year that I was never able to accomplish. This feat requires you to be in good shape and have some eloquence in your skiing style. I thank my good friend Matt Good for his tips on how to ski bumps more smoothly, exerting less energy. The one thing I failed to pull off was a helicopter, even though I tried twice. Oh well, I'll get it next year.

Thanks to all my skiing friends for the good times and to Winter Park, Mary Jane, Copper Mountain, Steamboat and Jackson Hole for the wonderful slopes. Can't wait to do it again next year.

Posted in General at Apr 24 2010, 10:49:24 AM MDT Add a Comment