Ski Vacation in Park City Utah

This years winter trip was to Park City UT for some skiing fun. I had been to Park City over 25 years ago when I was a lot younger to go skiing and it was great to go back and see how things had changed. I wasn’t as adventurous as I was when I was younger and only skied at Park City rather than bouncing between Park City, Park West (now part of Park City as The Canyons) and Deer Valley (I can’t go there because they don’t allow snowboarders and my daughter snowboards). Park City is close to the top of the ski resorts that I’ve skied in the last 3 years and I’ll say why in a bit but on to the other stuff about the vacation!

SLC to Park City

By far the shortest drive of all of our ski vacations to date. It only took about 30-45 minutes to get from SLC to our hotel in Park City by car. For our vacations to Colorado and the one to Whistler in Canada, the ride from the airport to the mountain was around 2+ hours each way which is a lot considering that you’ve just spent about 4 hours in a plane, waited another 30 minutes for baggage claim and then had to spend even more time to get your rental car and then start driving to your hotel. We did a similar drive from SLC to Snowbird which is in another part of the mountains near Park City and it was also around the same amount of time to get there. So score Park City, it so far wins in terms of access to the big city and ski country!

Accommodations – Double Tree The Yarrow

I didn’t do anything fancy this time around, I burned up some of my Hilton points in order to book the Double Tree close to Park City. It was only 2 stories and it had a heated pool and jacuzzi (both of which I didn’t use because they were outside and I’m not that crazy). They had a ski valet that could store my ski’s and they had a shuttle that brought guests from the hotel to the mountain. Being Platinum (I don’t know how I still have that status given I haven’t stayed in Hilton’s at all this year) I was afforded a free breakfast every morning if I so chose. The breakfast and the room were typical Double Tree so there is nothing special to write about. If I was going to do it again though I would have stayed closer to the mountain so I wouldn’t need the shuttle to get to the slopes. The divers and attendants at the hotel were nice and helpful and of course they always offered us the cookies but we were good and didn’t take them all the time. The hotel was close to the place where I rented my skis and also to some places to eat but we used the car for that. It was right next to a grocery store so it was easy for us to get snacks and drinks. I probably would have liked a room with a kitchenette, that was really useful when we went to Keystone, Snowbird, and Whistler in the event we didn’t want to go out to eat.

The Mountain!

Park City is actually two different mountains but I only skied on legacy Park City. I didn’t ski the Canyons since it was a little far away by car and the shuttle wouldn’t take us there. There is a gondola that takes you there but you have to ski down from Park City in order to get there. Surprisingly there isn’t a gondola at Park City thats strictly for the mountain to access the different trails. In order to get to the top of the mountain you have to take 2 different chair lifts. I spent a lot of my time on the top half of the mountain going up the Bonanza lift and trying out the various trails from that lift. I did also the Silverlode lift a lot as well just to change things up. I didn’t do any diamonds this time around because some of those trails looked really hard and my legs were kind of telling me that I shouldn’t do them. There is a really nice mid mountain stop where they have a lodge to eat lunch. I went there once with the family to eat but for the most part I skipped that meal in favor of skiing. The mountain was dotted with little places to rest and eat which was nice. I passed most of them on the way down as I made my way to the next lift. I think that Park City is more beginner and intermediate friendly than most of the mountains that I’ve skied lately with the exception of Keystone. Although I questions if some blue trails were really blue’s or not, they sometimes appeared to me to be navy blue rather than a true intermediate slope. There were some great little adventure areas for the kids. I took my daughter to 2 of them and I discovered a 3rd one on my own. They need to be a little better marked since the first adventure area we went to my daughter ended up getting a little lost and went down through the trees instead of on the path that was created. The second one was also not well defined and we ended up getting lost and had to make our way down in order to find a trail that led to a lift. The third one that I found on my own was much better laid out and it was clear what the path was compared to the other 2. The only blue trails that I actively avoided were the ones with moguls. While I can ski them they just aren’t as fun as they used to be. Otherwise I think I covered most of the mountain quite well going up lifts and coming down trails.

The Other Stuff

In addition to skiing, there was a place called Woodward Park City which used to be known as Gorgoza Park which we went to 3 years ago when they had only snow tubing. This facility has tubing, some skiing, and a huge indoor area that kids can climb, jump on trampolines, a pit where you can jump your skateboard or BMX bike, and an indoor skate park where you can grind your board or scooter. My daughter played there for about 2 hours, the only part that was crummy was that they had surge pricing for tubing so instead of doing that as a family we just let her play around in the trampoline area.

The other great part was the Olympic stuff that was left over from 2002. They capitalized on it by allowing people to train there for the Olympics and they put in some other structures like a huge ropes course for kids and adults. I went on the tour since they also had 2 museums there and my wife and daughter ended up doing the ropes course. There was also a chairlift that brought you up to the top of the hill because there was extreme zip lining, I didn’t do that either since I’m took chicken shit about heights but I went up and down the chairlift with my daughter to take in the sights. I took some great pics from the top of the hill for the Bobsled track and the ski jump as well while I was on the tour.

The Food

The great part about Park City is that there is a lot of restaurants near by and if you really wanted something you could always go into Salt Lake City. We didn’t do that, we chose to stay within Park City as much as we could. We were able to find pretty decent food most days. I think our favorite place was Fuego’s which is an Italian place that was close to our hotel but it still required us to use our rental car. Our last night we ate at a sea food place and had some amazing lobster rolls. We did go eat in downtown Park City but just had sushi at Oishi’s which was also pretty good. We were supposed to go to this other place but the wait was 3 hours long and that included seats at the bar which is crazy. I think that is the only downfall of Park City, in order to eat you need to plan way ahead and make reservations or else you’re going to be hungry all the time or you’ll need to get some groceries and snack on that stuff.

Verdict!

Overall, Park City ranks up there as one of my top 3 resorts. The others that are on my list are Keystone and Whistler. Although Park City definitely wins in accessibility since its only 30 minutes from the airport rather than 2 hours. I think I’ll come back to Park City to ski The Canyons and maybe even go back to Snowbird. If I could only get my daughter on skis that would open up Alta and Deer Valley to us as well.

The Hero 8 Black is ok…. just a slight upgrade to the 7

I’ve had the GoPro Hero 8 Black for a little bit now and compared to the Hero 7 Black, I’m not really seeing that big a difference between the two cameras except for the overall form factor being different (not having a cage is pretty awesome) and the menu system onboard the camera is different now and has presets. Truthfully, I have not used any of the newer software features of the 8, I’ve been using it as I did the 7. The footage is still great on the 8, I don’t use the 4K resolution, I don’t have TV’s that support it so why bother and it saves space.

The one area where I am nervous is the little feet that is used instead of a cage mount. Unless you screw it in really really tight, its a little bit wobbly but the HyperSmooth is supposed to take care of that. I’m more concerned that if I fall while skiing that the camera will snap off of my helmet and then bye bye camera. Right now I use the camera for filming my daughters soccer games and its stationary on a tripod where there is little chance of damage except for the occasional soccer ball coming out of bounds.

Would I do this again? Probably. The camera that I gave up had a messed up screen and used a weird card for memory. I kept the card of course but the camera was unusable. I now have 3 GoPro’s, the Hero 4 Session is my oldest and doesn’t have image stabilization. What I’m hoping to do is to take both the Hero 7 and the Hero 8 and giving the Hero 7 to my daughter to wear on a body harness so I can see what her perspective is while she snowboards. It would be nice also to allow her to take pictures and video as we walk around or tour a particular city. I’ve seen some great things with time lapses while walking in a new city and I want to be able to do that with her where she shows what she’s looking at and I show what I’m looking at and maybe splicing the video together.

The Mystery of the Missing Move Ring

Where’s my Move Ring???

 

A few weeks ago the Move ring on my Apple Watch Series 3 stopped recording my Move ring. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a big deal but I use an app with my insurance provider that gives me points for meeting a certain calorie burn which is recorded by my Apple Watch. I found it strange that it wasn’t recording my Move ring but it would record my Stand and my Exercise rings just fine. I did a number of things to try and correct this:

⁃ I turned the watch off and on

⁃ I tried to update the watch but it was running the latest software

⁃ I unpaired and repaired the watch to my iPhone

All of these things didn’t get the Move Ring to work and these were the standard things that would normally get things right again. I took the very last step, I actually had to talk to Apple Support. Instead of calling them I decided to use web chat. I explained what the issue was and all the steps that I had taken to get the Watch to work again. The suggestion they had was to put my iPhone 11 Pro into recovery mode and then try and re-pair the watch to see if that solved the issue. For some reason I was having a hard time getting my phone into DFU mode so I had to end the chat with Apple. I was able to do this in another day or so after watching some YouTube videos on how to do it with a FaceID enabled phone.

I decided to try chat one more time and this time they asked me to read an article about the setup of my watch using the Apple Watch all on my iPhone. What I discovered was that for some reason, my measurements were right except for my weight. It said that I was only 10lbs which definitely isn’t right. After changing the setting to my real weight the watch started to work again which was awesome. I had already researched ways to trade in my watch by either giving it to Apple or giving it to my daughter. Since I got the watch to work, I’m going to keep it of course until maybe another 2 years or if the battery starts to be really bad.

I’ll see what the Watch Series 7 brings, thats the next time that I can get a new iPhone.

Upgrading to the GoPro Hero 8 Black

GoPro had a really great deal when they announced the Hero 8 Black, $100 off the camera if I traded in one of my older cameras. Over the years I’ve had a ton of digital cameras for my vacations. This is mainly due to my iPhone camera not having enough megapixels and the cameras that I did buy were generally water proof so I could take it swimming or on some other water type adventure while on vacation. For this deal I decided to give up my old Panasonic underwater camera that I bought quite a few years ago. The screen was a little messed up but the offer did say that I could send in a camera in any condition as long as its former retail price was over $99. The camera also used an xD card to hold photos, I think only my desktop can even read those cards now but I’m keeping the card.

I don’t have the camera yet but I’ve watched a ton of review videos showing the differences between the 8 and the 7 Black which I have. The two features that sold me was that I don’t need the cage anymore to mount the camera and the Hypersmooth 2.0 software upgrade.

The cage part is huge for me. I’ve broken the cage for the Hero 7 Black once already and had to buy a replacement for it. The cage itself wasn’t that big a deal and the one I got as a replacement was actually better than the one that came with the Hero 7 Black in the box. It’s nice that they moved the battery to the side so I can get to it and the memory card easier. The little feet flip up and down from the body in order for the camera to be mounted or to lay flat. I can’t wait to test it out with some of the mounts that I do have like on my bicycle and on my ski helmet.

Hypersmooth 2.0 looks really awesome. I’ve used the original Hypersmooth on my Hero 7 Black and it did a really good job of stabilizing the video on my ski runs compared to my Hero 4 Session. I saw that the new version is supposed to make it look like I’m floating even when the camera is getting really bumped around. There is supposed to be some loss of field of vision but thats a small price to pay for really smooth video.

I’m waiting for the shipping notification from GoPro that they’re sending me my camera. It won’t come in time for my daughters soccer game but I use a tripod for that anyway so I won’t be able to test out the Hypersmooth feature. I’ll have to try that out this winter during my next ski vacation.

Life with the iPhone 11 Pro

iPhone 11 Midnight Green

I’ve had the iPhone 11 Pro for a couple of weeks and the one thing that I realize is that its an iPhone but with just a ton more speed and a much better camera.  I’ve been sporting an iPhone 7 for a couple of years and I thought it would be nice to upgrade.  I mainly did the upgrade because T-Mobile gave me a great deal on my trade in, $300 in credits, but I would have to pay off the phone over 2 years.  I have a tendency these days to keep my phone for about 2 years so paying my phone by installment isn’t such a big deal.  If anything it frees up capital for other more immediate needs.

The camera is pretty cool but I haven’t had an opportunity to use it much.  The new camera interface if pretty cool, especially for zooming in.  I also like how it can seamlessly switch between different lenses for zooming in and out.  I need to take a vacation to really test out the camera since thats when I tend to take the most pictures across different types of lighting situations.

The speed of the phone is definitely awesome, I can tell its faster than my iPhone 7 when I open different apps or switch between them.  The other thing that really sold me was the increased battery life.  I have been running the phone without charging it for most of the day and the battery indicator barely moves.  It’s definitely better than my iPhone 7 which was losing battery power just by looking at the screen for the weather.  The camera was definitely the biggest battery drain but the better battery life should preclude me from having to bring a spare battery with me.

Truth be told, the iPhone 11 is just another iPhone.  It’s faster with better cameras and has more battery life for once.  I’ll be living with this thing for 2 years but so far I’m impressed with what it has become.  I finally have the best phone in the family again!

Making Shirts with the Cricut

Cricut Maker

My wife got a device called a Cricut almost a year ago.  It “prints” designs that you can put on almost anything.  It technically cuts vinyl with a blade and you make the pattern on a an app that you can use on an iPad or a regular computer.  My wife uses it for making cool things like water bottles and shirts but I have never asked to have a shirt made for me until very recently.

My daughter plays for a soccer team called the Cobra’s but since they are a city league they don’t have a lot of swag that the parents can wear, or that I would like to wear outside of a game.  Since I grew up in the 80’s the only logo that can properly convey the “cobra” is the Cobra from GI Joe.  My wife was able to find the logo and clean it up so that she could put it on a black shirt for me.  The black and red make for an excellent shirt.  I have my last name and my daughters number on the back of the shirt that my wife was able to do as well.

I also had my wife create a second shirt with Cobra Commander on the front.  This one was especially cool because I had use this logo before for a text message to some of the parents on the soccer team.  I added a phrase to the side which says “Mark a Player” which is what her coach yells a lot to the team.  Earlier this year my wife made me a custom water bottle that I use pretty much every day but since I wash it so much the logo is starting to peel off.  I know if I ask my wife can fix it.  I think I’ll ask her to make something cool for my MacBook Pro or my IPad Pro.  I used to have a Stevie Griffin on my older MacBook Pro but the computer died and I got a new one.

If I find more things that look interesting that aren’t too complicated for shirts, I’ll definitely have my wife do it with the Cricut, that thing is pretty cool for making custom shirts.  What’s even better is that by reversing the stencil, she could potentially make shirts using silk screens but we’ll need a bigger house for that so she can have her own workshop for that.

I Pre-Ordered the iPhone 11 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro

Here’s something that I haven’t done in a good long time, actually pre-order an iPhone, or any apple device for that matter. I think the last time that I actually stayed up late to do a pre-order was for my iPhone 6. Since then I’ve only upgraded to the iPhone 7 and even then, that was originally my work phone and not my personal one so no staying up till the wee hours of the night for that one. So what made me do it this time? Well here we go with the rest of the post……

To my utter delight, I didn’t have to be up at 3am to do a pre-order for the phone. In years past when I would want to pre-order an Apple device right after the reveal, it normally went on sale at 12am PDT, thats 3am to me since I’m on the east coast. This time they pushed it back so the first orders could be done at 8am EDT. That means not being bleary eyed for the rest of the day due to lack of sleep and cursing at websites that won’t load because there are too many other people trying to order the same device that I am.

My iPhone 7 is frankly getting full, I have a lot of stuff on it from apps, movies, photos, and music and even though it has 128GB of space, I was always only 25GB away from running out of space. I have another iPhone 7 for work thats only 32GB so its basically stripped down to nothing with only the essentials for checking email and stuff. This time I bought the 256GB version so thats twice the amount of space. I figure I’ll need that space for all the extra videos that I can take at 4K with the new camera’s. I could have gone all in with a 512GB like my iPad Pro but I won’t be using the iPhone to import my GoPro videos to view and edit them on the go.

T-Mobile was offering a crazy trade in deal for my iPhone 7, they were going to give me $300 in statement credits if I financed the phone over a 24 month period. This is another first, I’m actually going to finance the phone, normally I pay for it outright but due to this great deal I decided financing was the best way to go. Apple was only offering me $150 for my trade in and they weren’t discounting the phone on their EPP website either. Even with the EPP discount and the trade in, the T-Mobile deal was way better. I have no intention of leaving T-Mobile in the next 2 years and I’m sure I’ll either be ready to get another phone after that or I’ll just keep it for an extra year like I did my iPhone 7. Besides, even with every vlogger on YouTube saying “wait till 2020 for the 5G iPhone”, I looked at the coverage map for 5G and its definitely going to be lacking for quite a while. There’s technically nothing wrong with LTE, the coverage is pretty good and the speeds are fine to stream video which generally hits all the use cases I have. The biggest thing for me is coverage since I travel for work, until thats there, I’m going to hold off till 2021 or 2022 for a 5G phone.

Oh I never said what I picked as a color! I decided on the Midnight Green this time. I’ve had black since the 3GS for my personal phone. I’ve used white for my work phones to differentiate it, and my daughter has a rose gold phone. I was originally just going to get black like always but my wife convinced me to try the new color. I’m excited to see what it looks like when I get it. That will likely be one of the last times I see it since I know the wallet case I’m going to use to cover it so I don’t have to actually carry a wallet. The ship time is Sept 21-24, thats beyond the actual release date of Sept 20, but I’ve waited this long so I can wait a little bit more. Only slightly more than a week to go!