Joe makes trails
A tasty pre-ride sampler of a fresh stout
Serious distribution discussions underway.
"Twelve years ago, the skiing industry was rapidly consolidating and becoming increasingly commercial-based, and we kind of flew in the face of that," said Eric Friedman, longtime marketing director of the Mad River Glen Cooperative, formed in 1995. "Today, we're the only cooperatively owned, not-for-profit ski area in the country."
Ligonier Mayor Ormand "Butch" Bellas, Butler County's Rob Davis and others want to form a similar group to buy and operate Laurel Mountain ski resort, which will remain closed for a third consecutive winter season for lack of an operator.
"We're looking at Mad River Glen as an example of what we're pursuing right now," said Davis, an avid skier who recently requested pre-approval to form a nonprofit, cooperative aimed at purchasing the resort -- located in Laurel Mountain State Park -- from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the R.K. Mellon Foundation.
"Right now, we're just a handful of enthusiastic people with an idea," Davis said.
Key to making that idea a reality is the prospective co-op's intent to maintain a strictly winter operation at the 64-acre, 18-slope site, Davis said.
Since Laurel Mountain is located in a state park, it is forbidden from operating outside the skiing season, which hampers marketing efforts, Bellas said.
"The state is really intent on honoring the agreement with R.K. Mellon in the 1960s to have no overnight lodging and no summer programs there," Davis said. "We'd be willing to keep that going."
Since Somerset Trust Company took control of the area in 2004 from Laurel Mountain Ski Co., company representatives said they have talked with up to 10 parties nationwide interested in buying the resort.
"We are actively marketing the property," said Thomas J. Cook, Somerset Trust executive vice president, who declined to comment further.
But Bellas, a ski patrol member who has worked on Laurel Mountain, said the operational restrictions and the recent string of mild winters have driven away many of those parties.
"It's a big investment, so I can understand with winters why people have been scared off," Bellas said. "Somebody's got to be really committed and have really deep pockets to take it on."
But by attracting members to a cooperative like Mad River Glen to purchase the resort one $1,500 share at a time, Davis said anything is possible.
"We would need people with business and legal skills to form a board of directors to help shepherd us through this process," Davis said.
Representatives of R.K. Mellon Foundation and Laurel Mountain State Park were unavailable for comment.
Kim popped her head over the dunes about 20 minutes later after a frustrating and unsuccessful search for breakfast. We rolled on down to Hatteras proper, with me a little mellower after the quick surf, but Kim still with her city game face on. As soon as we hit the National Seashore, our moods picked up, our shoulders relaxed, as we enter a different time and place.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is still different, even after decades of development in Nags Head to the north. Hatteras Island has a “country” feel to it, much like the “town and country” of
I went out for another surf after dinner off the beach at the house, hoping to catch an evening glass-off. It was high tide and moving out towards low, and it was a bit breezy. But I went out anyway, knowing that every minute I sat out there, the tide was getting lower, the wind calmer, and the surf glassier. The big group of New York neighbors were watching me from their upper deck, and enjoying lots of Bud Light.
Paddling a fiberglass surfboard hurts my breastbones and pelvis bones, just like a bike saddle hurts the sit bones if you don’t ride often enough. I was already sore from the short morning session, and knew that this would make tomorrow even sorer. But, what the hell, I’m here, and all I had to do was walk to waves, marginal though they were, they were waves. I spent a long time not paddling after anything, just sitting there watching, no doubt making the NYers wonder what the hell I’m doing out there in the near darkness. Finally, a few come my way and I get a couple small short rides. For some reason, I remembered hearing how much sharks prefer the dawn and dusk times as I look up and down the beach see no other surfers out. I recall the sizes of a few sand(?) sharks I’ve seen caught on the beach here, and start to sketch my head out a little. Somehow I get past that, rode a couple more and headed in.
Headed up to the Buxton area this afternoon to see if the surf is any better up around the big curve in the island. I also wanted to check out the contest, the Eastern Surfing Association is having their 40th annual Championships here all week. The surf down at our place in Frisco is small and very glassy with a light offshore breeze, but there’s just not enough juice in the swell to make it break well enough. I check the Frisco Pier on the way, and it’s not much better than at our house. Sometimes it is, since the pier catches a lot of sand and offers a break when nothing else is breaking.
I paddle out at the 3rd groin in Buxton and spook a small school of fish as soon as I hit the water. The water here is much clearer and warmer than yesterday up north, and I can easily see the bottom at about 6-8 feet deep. It keeps making me think I can touch the bottom since it looks so close. With the contest 2 groins away, I expected this spot to be crowded, especially after seeing the SOBE and Monster sponsor trucks parked nearby. But, there’s only one other guy out in the lineup; long blond dreadlocks, long gray-blond beard. I paddle out past him, and sit closer to the takeoff zone near the groin and immediately realized my breach of etiquette. So, I just sat there a while, and let him grab a couple waves before I tried for any. After he had a half-dozen or so nice, long rides, I still hadn't caught anything. He asks me if I’m from
Man, did it ever feel great to be surfing small, quality surf right there. I didn't really want to get out of the water but I wanted to save my arms, and check out the contest. The contest surfers really rip, and made the surf look spectacular, doing anything they wanted on their long rides. They were getting clean lefts off the 1st groin, and riding them a long way milking points from the judges. The judges sit 3 stories up, in an elaborate scaffolding structure, which is causing controversy with the National Park Service. The NPS doesn't allow any advertising, and the large sponsor banners and tents, and the judges platform doesn't exactly conform to most of the Park's management plan. After 39 years here at the light
Man, did it ever feel great to be surfing small, quality surf right there. I didn't really want to get out of the water but I wanted to save my arms, and check out the contest. The contest surfers really rip, and made the surf look spectacular, doing anything they wanted on their long rides. They were getting clean lefts off the 1st groin, and riding them a long way milking points from the judges. The judges sit 3 stories up, in an elaborate scaffolding structure, which is causing controversy with the National Park Service. The NPS doesn't allow any advertising, and the large sponsor banners and tents, and the judges platform doesn't exactly conform to most of the Park's management plan. After 39 years here at the lighthouse, there was a serious threat by the NPS to not allow the contest back here with banners. Of course, the contest can't really function without the sponsors and banners, so a 1-year agreement was settled, with the NPS staff on-hand inspecting all aspects of the operation and assessing the contests' impact on any non-surfing visitors to the Park.