By: “Captain” Grant Burrow
Ping…Ping…Clank…Ping…Clank. This is what I hear every morning around 4:30am on the ‘Ring of Fire’ Volcano Tour. My eyes slowly open; I can smell the coffee brewing and sense the stoked atmosphere inside the Spyder Land Yacht from Team Volcano Tour as they prepare to climb and ski yet another volcano.
This is a volcano tour – an attempt to ski seventeen volcanoes throughout the Pacific Northwest during the month of May. But this is much more then a ski trip – it truly is a journey (and a mostly unscripted journey at that). Beyond the team’s stated priorities of meeting local skiers and mountaineers, partaking in local activities, and, well, climbing and skiing a ton of vertical feet, it’s an open book.
For those of you who have been following our blog, you know about the team’s experiences on the mountain. As the ‘Captain’ of the Land Yacht, I have a unique perspective of this journey. As ‘Captain’ – and we’re going to use a more expansive definition than a mere driver here – I spend my days holding down the fort as the cleaning crew, the cook, the jester, the DJ, the maintenance tech, and as the navigator. I’m a one-man army up in here.
My day starts when the team rises (no soundproof walls in the Land Yacht). After a quick bite to eat, I watch them exit the rig and then disappear into the woods or up a trail. Then what? I turn into the cleaning machine. For me, a clean home is a happy home! I tie up my apron, put on my rubber gloves, and get to work. I vacuum, do the dishes, set out our “outdoor patio” (artificial grass and lawn chairs – yep, as hilarious as it sounds), and then prep food items for brunch for when the team returns.
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We’ve interacted with a ton of locals on this tour. Sure – the team has encountered many like-minded locals on their ascents, but I on the other hand, have had the opportunity to meet the very unique. I walked an Indian family through the RV whom have their eyes on something similar United States. I also gave a tour to a woman wearing a full leopard print leotard with a matching eye patch on a motorcycle at a gas station in Mt. Shasta.
As you all can imagine, hiking 4,000+ feet per day to reach a summit makes a human’s body get hot and sweaty. Do you know what a hockey bag smells like? Or soccer shoes after the season ends? I do, and that is exactly what the team smells like! For the Mt. McLoughlin climb, we were stationed at a very nice campground called Lake of the Woods. The campsite was on the side of a beautiful lake with a great view of the volcano. When the team returned, it was time for a quick bath! Although the water was only 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I refused to depart for our next destination until all three took a dive. Thank you Lake of the Woods!
We are trying to take in the local flavor as well. While we were in Bend, OR, we went to a new microbrewery called GoodLife. As you all know, this is a small world. When we walked in, one of the brewery partners named Pratt came up and started talking with Dav. Turns out he recognized Dav from Aspen where he used to live. I can’t go anywhere with Team Volcano Tour without someone recognizing them – wish I were that popular!
We then headed over to Great Outdoors by Altrec.com for a little employee appreciation BBQ. We cooked up hotdogs and served GoodLife’s Mountain Rescue Pale Ale. A father and his two young kids were infatuated with the Land Yacht. Davenport told them that we had an elevator and the kids’ eyes lit up. He took them for a ride on the back gate (hydraulic lift into the back garage). After a hotdog, Spyder stickers, and signatures from the team, the family left happier then when we arrived.
This trip has been quite an experience … one I’ll never forget. I’ve had the opportunity to see a beautiful and expansive swath of the Pacific Northwest – maybe through a different lens than the team, but this isn’t a popularity contest. ;-)
-Grant Burrow a.k.a. THE CAPTAIN