Spent a few days at Killington. Vermont earlier this week.
Awesome conditions! Deep snow with nearly every trail open. From the summit to mid-mountain the trees were caked with snow; something I haven’t seen in a couple of years.
Here are a few things I observed at The Beast:
Old and young
There seems to me more older people at Killington, especially midweek. Go into any lodge and you’ll see groups of senior citizens sitting at a table sipping coffee. Sure they ski, not snowboarding, but they make sure to take frequent breaks to prevent breaks to their bones. Kids were where they belong: in school.
There were also some guys that I think were from Russia, or Poland. They passed me as I was shooting this video at the summit.
The music in the lodges is from the Baby Boom generation. Stones, Beatles, The Who. Who knew?
Plenty of skiing and snowboarding for all kinds of sliders from newbies to experts. Mainly packed powder with most trails groomed yet The Beast didn’t ruin many of the bump runs. The long Great Eastern trail was groomed down to its finish on Route 4. Skye Lark, Superstar and Bittersweet were sweet cruisers off Skye Peak. East Fall from the North Ridge was in its best shape in years.
Guys outnumbered woman at The K. It seems that most young guys in their twenties have some type of beard. Wheter it’s a stubble or a full beard, few are shaving. Why should they?
Looking for a cheap place to stay? Head to Rutland, about 15 minutes from Killington. There’s lots of cheap, clean rooms available midweek. Better yet, don’t pay full price by going to hotelcoupons.com Print out a coupon and you can stay for as little as $37.95 a night.
Time to eat
In the K1 lodge, there’s a new food offering: Sushi Yoshi chicken wings. Thumbs up to the chili and New England chowder, just under nine bucks. Hearty and just enough to fill you up. Another thumps up to Killington for providing free water, with cups, in their lodges. Staying hydrated is one of the smartest things you can do.
Saw a mom pulling her daughter on a snowboard over flat terrain. She didn’t tell her daughter she was weak, but instead said she didn’t have the “physical fortitude.”
On the opposite scale, a twentysomething in the K1 gondola told a story about how his father was pissed at him because he had to take frequent breaks after skiing in sub-zero cold. The dad divided the price of the lift ticket by the number of runs made. Guess he wanted to make sure he got his money’s worth even if his kid froze.
Although there was plenty of natural snow, Killington was still blowing snow on several trails. Snowmakers were also covering up some thin cover sections on heavily traveled trails.
At the top of the Frolic trail at Snowden, looking toward Ram's Head and Pico Peak in the distance.
Take a lift
No long waits in the lift line; practically walk on the lift from the single line. Not all lifts were running because they weren’t needed. The Bear Mountain and Needle’s Eye lifts weren’t running, but there were other lifts turning to get you there. One Killington worker said the lifts weren’t running to save money.
Killington’s got a Holstein-colored gondola near the K1 gondola to the summit to promote the fact that it’s powered by cow manure. No kidding. How does it work?
Here’s how Killington describes it: “The power actually comes from methane, a flammable gas that is a major part of natural gas, released from manure as it decomposes. Farms collect cow manure throughout the day, mixing it with wash water from the milking equipment which is then pumped into an anaerobic digester.
“The slurry flows through a digester for about three weeks at 100 degrees Fahrenheit allowing bacteria to convert the manure into biogas, about 60% methane gas and 40% carbon dioxide. The biogas is then delivered to a modified natural gas engine, which drives an electric generator to create electricity. Finally, the energy generated is fed onto the GMP electrical system which ultimately powers the K-1 Express Gondola.”
Temps were in the teens and 20s. Wind was gusting in the mid-30s mph, but varied across the the mountains. Strongest wind wasn’t on the summit, but just before the mid-station of the Skyeship gondola. Go figure. Temps dipped into the low teens at night.
Most people, including merchants, are happy because of the Christmas gift of four feet of snow. Most said we deserve it after last year’s sucky winter.
The Summit Lodge
The old lodge was demolished about two years ago. Today a foundation is in place. With snow around it is resembles a castle’s wall. The new lodge will be built during the summer and fall and is scheduled to open by next Christmas. Be nice if they bring back the potato puffs. This is what it will look like:
Tried free Ski Tracks app for first time. This awesome apps using GPS to gather data on vertical drop, distance, speed and incline. Skied Great Eastern trail from the summit a few times.
The data showed:
Maximum Speed 46.6 MPH Distance 4.3 mi. Vertical 2893 ft Slope 17° Duration 11:20 minutes. Was a really going that fast?
ATT service greatly improved not only at Killington, but across Vermont. Try to find the cell phone towers designed to look like pine trees.
Stopped in Woodstock and got some air for my tires. The air was free, but if you needed help, they charged you 5 bucks; three if you were elderly or handicapped. By the way, SLOW DOWN in Woodstock, rated one of the best towns in Vermont for getting a speeding ticket. If you’re looking for some great (and pricy) Vermont products from cheese to syrup to meat and freshly prepared foods, stop at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market.
Have yet to find a Starbucks in VT. Off I-91′s Exit 3 in Brattleboro, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts served up by older ladies. A great cup of Joe; throw in a plain stick as well to make it a true dunkin’.
Our own Hartford; a slow crawl. Avoid the rush hour in the AM and PM if you can.
C’mon, the kids have been bugging you for weeks to take them skiing or snowboarding.
So why not do it on Sunday at Mount Snow in southern Vermont with this great deal:
Anybody 18 and under can get a full day lift ticket for the price of their age! If they’re 13, their ticket costs costs $13.
It’s an excellent deal because the regular price for a one-day weekend ticket for kids costs more than $65.
And it should be a nice day at Snow on Sunday. The forecast: Scattered snow showers. Cloudy, with a high near 34. southwest wind 10 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.
Here’s the giddy snow report from Andy at Mount Snow this morning: “Well Thursday was one of the best days of the year so far in my book. I was able to get first tracks down Ripcord alongside Patrol and all I can say is… EPIC. If you didn’t get there, you’ll want to make your way on over because it has a TON of snow thanks to Mother Nature and our snowmaking crew. Let me correct myself, the whole mountain has a ton of snow and 100% of it should be open by the weekend! Whoo ha! We’ll inch closer to that magic number Friday with 78 trails open for skiing and riding across all four mountain faces. All of North Face, Sunbrook and Carinthia (minus the pipes) will be open for turns to start the day. Make sure to dial in to the morning trail report to see where the groomers are located. There will be plenty to go around seeing our ace groomer pilots have plans to smooth out roughly 314 acres into some nice cord.”
Check out this photo posted on Okemo‘s Facebook page yesterday. A sweet Bluebird Day with 113 trails. Okemo is offering a $99 weekend warrior 2-day pass this weekend. Buy it online here.
verall, it should be a great weekend for skiing and snowboarding across the Northeast. Pick any area whether it’s in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York or northern New England and you’ll find some great conditions on sweet packed powder and some fresh pow pow in the woods. It seems like every day this week northern ski resorts have been picking up a few fresh inches. Killington in central Vermont picked up 21 inches in the last week pushing trail counts to the 100 percent mark. Stratton in southern Vermont got a foot.
New Hampshire areas are also sitting pretty with most areas reporting packed powder conditions on their nearly 100 percent of trails open.
In the Catskills, Hunter Mountain is open with top-to-bottom skiing and riding on 49 trails serviced by six lifts. Now through January 11th (excluding Saturday 1/5) college students will receive $35 lift tickets with a valid, current student photo ID. Windham is looking good with 47 trails just waiting for you. And just over the border, Thunder Ridge in Patterson, N.Y. has 18 trails open.
The big mountain – Whiteface in Lake Placid – is 90 percent open. This Sunday lift tickets will be just $40 as part of its Super Sundays deal.
In Massachuetts, areas like Butternut in Great Barrington have all its trails open.
Catamount on the Massachusetts/New York border has most of its 33 trails open. On its Facebook page, there’s a coupon for a $59 learn to ski/snowboard package. On page A12 (the weather page) in today’s print edition of the Connecticut Post, there’s a coupon for $10 off an adult or junior lift ticket.
In northwestern Mass., Jiminy Peak’s got 37 trails open on an average base depth between 20 and 56 inches. New this year: valet parking on weekends for $20 … cash only.
Ski Sundown in New Hartford now has 100 percent of its trails ready for skiing and riding. This Saturday Rail Jam with THE STUDIO Clothing Company happening. Registration starts at 10 a.m.
Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall is working to have more trails this open. Mohawk Mountain invites all sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen, Coast Guard, and National Guard personnel on active duty to come enjoy skiing or snowboarding with a FREE LIFT TICKET through the 2012-2013 winter season. Non-active duty personnel and veterans also receive a discount – show your military ID, or DD-214 discharge papers and a Photo ID, and you will receive the JUNIOR rate for any lift ticket.
The holidays are over and the crowds are gone at ski resorts.
That means resorts will be rolling out some price breaks and special deals to get you back on the slopes.
Add peak snow conditions with nearly every trail open and you got a wonderful situation.
The first day of 2013 at Killington in Vermont.
How do you find those deals? Go to a resort’s web site and follow them on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Okemo in Vermont isn’t wasting any time. They’ve got some good deals, including a free lunch. All online ticket offers on its deal page are Print @ Home ticket options. You buy and print your ticket at home – and show up ready to ski & ride!
Among the Okemo online offers:
Tickets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for just $55. The regular price of a mid-week adult ticket is $80.
Pre-buy your 2-day weekend (Sat and Sun) lift tickets online for Jan 5-6 or Jan 12-13 and pay just $99 The regular price for a weekend ticket is $165.
Parents, buy a regular priced Adult lift ticket and get a ticket for your child FREE (ages 7-18) valid for the same day. Limited to either one Junior or one Young Adult free ticket per paying adult. Child receiving free ticket must be present. Offer valid anyday from Jan 2-18th, 2013.
Stratton in Vermont is offering a free, three-day lift ticket if you book two midweek nights at the Stratton Mountain Inn. The fine print? The cost per person, based double occupancy I checked this morning and this is what I found: Two nights starting Monday, Jan. 7 and a three-day ticket for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for $375.60, including tax. That comes down to $187.80 per person; not a bad price when you consider it includes lodging AND lift tickets. The price for a three-day pass alone will cost you $165 or $150 online.
Bromley in southern Vermont has 2-for-1 tickets on Tuesdays, if you purchase them online at least 48 hours in advance. The cost? $49 for two people.
With the holidays over, ski areas are going back to their regular rates. That means the best deals are again happening midweek.
One of the best comes from our own Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall. A four-hour ticket for just $20 bucks; the four hours start when you purchase a ticket.
Mount Southington has a $25 off coupon for a four-hour flex ticket that’s good through Friday. You have to purchase the 4-hour flex ticket by 2 p.m. With the coupon you pay only $24.
And don’t forget Catamount and Butternut, just a few miles over the Connecticut border. Runs as long as two miles and a respectable 1,000 foot vertical drop. Midweek the Cat charges $29 and Butternut $25.
Over at Bellearye in New York’s Catskills, bring any Coca Cola product on Wednesdays and you can buy a lift ticket for $30.
Jiminy Peak in northwestern Massachusetts has a number of great ticket discounts when you print out an e-coupon at least 24 hours in advance. Click here for details.
It was a pow-pow day at Killington, Vermont on Thursday.
Our snow prayers have been answered. Now the real skiing and snowboarding season has began.
It’s all because of that wonderful nor’easter that dropped more than two feet of snow across northern New England and New York. Many ski resorts now have 100 percent of their trails open, there’s deep powder stashes in the woods and a solid base has been laid down for the months ahead.
We’re talking powder and packed powder, not that scratchy hardpack we’ve been sliding on the past few weeks. No more bare and brown ground alongside ski trails. This is the real deal.
When you add up the parade of snowstorms that some resorts have enjoyed the last week, weekly snowfall totals are impressive. Stowe’s gotten 42 inches and Killington 37 inches.
So sweet. And it came at a time when many people were at ski resorts for the Christmas/New Years holiday week.
There was one downside to the storm: strong winds. With gusts at the summits more than 60 mph Thursday, many upper mountain lifts were closed.
Ski condition reports are giddy this morning.
From Sugarbush in Vermont: “With over 4 feet in the last 10 days, the season total is currently at 110” and we are 110% open. Is even that possible? Today, it is. Better be here.”
From Mount Snow: “Good morning skiers and riders! We received another 2 inches of fresh snow last night bumping the total up to a whopping 19-21 inches since Wednesday night!! What does this mean you ask? Well you probably didn’t ask that question because you already know it’s going to be EPIC out there today!”
Stowe, Vermont got dumped on Thursday; 17 inches of fresh powder.
The storm dumped nearly two feet of snow across areas in Vermont. Mad River Glen got a well deserved 20 inches, Stowe 17 inches, 16 inches at Mount Snow. Over in New Hampshire, areas like Loon, Bretton Woods and Wildcat got up to 17 inches. Generally, Granite State areas got around a foot. Maine continues to get big snowfalls with another 16 inches piling up at Saddleback, a foot at Shawnee Peak, 10 inches at Sunday River.
New York State areas were not forgotten by the snow gods. Hunter, Belleayre, Windham, Gore were blessed with up to 18 inches. Whiteface got 20 inches in the last two days.
Massachusetts picked up a few areas, but not the needed big snowfall that’s needed. In northwestern Massachusetts, Jiminy saw 7 inches fall. Southern areas like Butternut and Catamount got about a half-foot.
That’s the same situation for Connecticut ski areas that have about half their trails open. And finally, Mount Southington joins the game when it opens Sunday.
The forecast for the weekend calls for snow on Saturday and cold temperatures.
Lots of good news for skiers, snowboarders and lovers of snow.
First, Ski Sundown in New Hartford opens today with six trails. It’s one of the latest openings for the Connecticut ski area that’s run by Stratford native Bob Switzgable. And it comes at a make or break time for state ski areas that depend on school vacation weeks like Christmas/New Years. Add some natural snow and things get a little nicer.
Unfortunately, Mount Southington remains in the starting gate. On its web site this morning, Southington posted: “Rats! We’re just not getting those low temps that we expect at this time of year. We’re sorry to say that we need to push our projected opening date again. Although there is snow in the current forecast it will be enough to get us all excited about skiing but not enough to actually ski on. Meteorologists seem to agree that the temps will finally fall into a productive snowmaking range Friday and Saturday night. Therefore, if the forecast is correct we are planning to open on Sunday, December 30th. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and can’t wait to see you all on the slopes.”
Massachusetts areas like Jiminy Peak, Catamount and Butternut, all under winter storm warnings, could get up to a much needed foot of fresh snow.
And the best news: most mid to northern New England ski areas are going to get pounded with heavy snow tonight and into Thursday. Well over a foot (maybe two) of snow is forecast for the mountains of northern New England. This storm is a good example of digging a little deeper in the forecasts. Go to the usual weather sites like weather, accuweather and you’ll get the in-town forecasts for say Ludlow, Wilimington and Rutland, Vermont. In Ludlow, weather.com is calling for “five to 9 inches” of snow.” The forecast for Rutland, down the road from Killington, calls for “8 to 14 inches of snow … heaviest along the eastern slopes of the Green Mountains.”
Sugarbush, that already has 100 percent of its terrain open is in a good position to luck out with the storm.
It reports this morning: “We are under a Winter Storm Warning for Wednesday 7 PM through Friday at 7 AM, with 8-14 inches predicted, heaviest on the eastern slopes of the Green Mountains. Hey, that’s us! Thursday looks like the height of the storm, with the potential for fresh tracks all day long.”
The snowstorm would be an added blessing for Mad River Glen, on the same mountain spin as The Bush. Mad River that relies on natural snow had its prayers answered in the last week with over two feet of snow, just in time for the holiday week. It now has 100 percent of its terrain open.
Above is a National Weather Service map, as of Wednesday morning, showing projected snowfall amounts across western New York and Vermont. Looks nice doesn’t it.? Enough to pack your boards and head north for some deep powder? You might want to wait a day or two because some of the details tend to get buried. That is unless you look at the detailed mountain forecast.
For example, go to the National Weather Service site for the forecast for “Killington, Vermont” and you get this forecast for Thursday:
“Tonight Snow, mainly after 9pm. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 22. East wind 6 to 11 mph increasing to 13 to 18 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Thursday Sleet before 9am, then snow and sleet between 9am and 10am, then snow after 10am. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 30. Breezy, with a east wind 14 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow and sleet accumulation of 5 to 9 inches possible.”
TONIGHT…CLOUDY…SNOW. SNOW MAY BE HEAVY AT TIMES AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOW AROUND 21. SOUTHEAST WINDS 30 TO 45 MPH…BECOMING EAST AND INCREASING TO 65 TO 80 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND CHILL VALUES AS LOW AS 2 BELOW.
THURSDAY…SUMMITS OBSCURED IN CLOUDS. SNOW. SNOW MAY BE HEAVY AT TIMES. HIGH AROUND 28. EAST WINDS 80 TO 85 MPH…DECREASING TO 60 TO 75 MPHIN THE AFTERNOON. WIND CHILL VALUES AS LOW AS 1 BELOW.
Along with the heavy snow, the big story here is the wind. With those projected wind speeds it’s likely upper mountain lifts will be on “wind hold” for a good part of the day.
Ski areas won’t be hiding that fact, but check the lift, trail and conditions report carefully before deciding to make the plunge.
Before making the trip north, it’s also wise to check road conditions. the 511 web site are wonderful. Vermont 511 not only tells you the truth about road conditions, but has radar and even a few live cams along I-91 and -89. Image at left shows what it looked like early this morning in Derby, Vermont not far from the Canadian border.
New Hampshire’s 511 site has a few weather stations along I-93 that give you real time weather data like temperatures, precip and the all important visibility.
Maine has an impressive 511 site with loads of weather reporting stations across the state.
Friday and heading into New Year’s looks very good. More snow is expected, cold temperatures won’t leave us and ski areas will rapidly expand terrain.
Hopefully, we’ve turned the corner a winter that had a slow start.
With rain falling and temperatures in the 50s, it’s hard to think about a White Christmas in Connecticut.
But …some forecasts say there’s an increasing chance that even Connecticut could see some snow on Christmas morning. Maybe not in Bridgeport or Stamford, but possible for Danbury and the Northwest Hills.
At this point The National Weather Service is saying not so fast. Christmas Day’s forecast is “Partly sunny, with a high near 35.”
Of course we’re days away from Christmas so it’s still early to say if the Snow Angels will visit us.
Probability of at least one inch of snow on the ground Christmas Day. Note: This is not a forecast. (National Climatic Data Center map.)You're guaranteed a White Christmas if you head north to Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and upstate New York. But what about Connecticut?
Here’s some forecasts:
NBC Connecticut: Christmas Day, Rain Snow Showers. Bob Maxon says there’s an “increasing possibility” of light snow late Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.
WTNH’s Gil Simmons says “it looks like one to three inches for a White Christmas” starting late Christmas Eve. Here’s what Gil is saying here.
WFSB forecasters: Tuesday (Christmas Day): Light AM snow possible, decreasing cloudiness in the afternoon. Low: 25. High: 35 inland, 38 shore.
Weather Underground: Chance of Snow 40% chance of precipitation
Weatherbug: Mostly cloudy on Christmas morning… then becoming partly sunny. Highs in the mid 30s.
The Weather Channel:
Rain and snow showers. Highs in the mid 30s and lows in the mid 20s. Chance of precipitation: 40 percent. High 34 degrees.
A chance for a bit of snow or flurries in the morning; otherwise, rather cloudy
Even if we don’t get a White Christmas, Josh Fox’s Single Chair Blog says there’s good hope that we could get some significant snow late next week. Dreaming of a White New Year’s Day?
If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, winter will officially arrive at 6:12 a.m. on Friday.
Friday marks the end of the ancient Mayan calendar, the time when some believe the world will end. That would mean the end of everything … including skiing and snowboarding.
But there’s bigger question some are asking: How are snow conditions?
Well … it depends of where you go.
Head to Sugarloaf and Saddleback in Maine and you can enjoy some sweet deep powder. The real stuff, not machine made snow.
That’s because, for some reason, the Snow Gods have blessed these two areas with up to 32 inches of pow pow in the last seven days. As you would expect, the Big Dump has exploded trail counts at these two areas.
The Lucky Loaf reports this morning: “The snow has left us buried here at Sugarloaf, with total accumulations of over 2 and a half feet of fresh powder since Sunday. Trail count has jumped to over 100, and more snow is on its way with possible accumulations of 4-6 inches through Thursday night and Friday. Snow is soft, and surprisingly light at elevations Temps in the 20s and 30s today, with little to no wind forecasted.”
Sunday River in western Maine picked up 14 inches in the last three days, allowing it to open up 58 or its 132 trails.
Unfortunately, the big snow missed most northern New England areas. Yeah, White Mountain areas in New Hampsha got up to 13 inches many, but most Granite State hills had to settle for a only a few inches.
In Vermont, the big winners were in the northern part of the Green Mountain State. Stowe, Sugarbush, Bolton and Jay are sitting pretty with up to 17 inches of freshies. Killington reports it got 7 inches.
Southern Vermont areas like Mount Snow and Stratton were on the short end of the snow stake with just a few inches. Hey, we’ll take it and now it looks like winter.
Sadly, Massachuetts and Connecticut areas got nothing. And we’re going to get kicked again with some heavy rain moving in tonight.
Once the rain moves out Friday, those ski areas will have time to recover for the weekend.
While no major snowstorms are expected during the Christmas/New Year’s break, a long stretch of cold temperatures will allow ski areas to open up more terrain through the salvation of snowmaking.
Yes, it’s not a perfect situation and things will be more crowded during holiday week, but it’s not enough to cancel your plans.
My advice: If you’re planning to be skiing or snowboarding up north next week I’d get out early to enjoy the best conditions and fewer people.
Want to ski or snowboard like those seen in the video above from Park City, Utah?
Well … you get get a start by taking advantage of an offer that doesn’t come around often: a free, learn to ski or snowboard lesson!
Yup.. Free. Gratis. Complimentary.
And, the offer also includes equipment and a ticket for the beginner lift.
It happens this Saturday at Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall in our own state of Connecticut.
Here are the details:
“Mohawk Mountain and Sharon Hospital would like you to come out on Saturday, December 22, 2012 for FIRST EXPERIENCE DAY! We will provide first-time skiers and/or snowboarders (age 5 and up) with everything you need for your first time… FOR FREE! Participants will receive a custom-fit rental equipment package (skiing or snowboarding), a lesson from our world-renowned Learning Center at Mohawk Mountain, and a lift ticket valid on our beginner lifts. As you can imagine, the response to this offer is incredible, so we suggest you arrive early. We will be ticketing and fitting for equipment until 3pm, after this time regular package pricing will apply. Please make sure to dress appropriately as weather conditions can be severe (recommended outerwear includes, warm gloves, a hat, a warm jacket along with ski pants and tall socks).
“Are you under age 18, and planning on coming to FIRST EXPERIENCE DAY? If you will not be accompanied by a parent or guardian, you will need to provide us with a completed RENTAL AGREEMENT FORM. Click here download our rental agreement form. A completed form will be required to use the rental equipment included in the package.”
If you can’t get to Mohawk on Saturday, there’s other opportunities in January.
Ski New Hampshire’s “free week” is January 12 – 18, 2013. The offer is a free lift, lesson, rental package for first-timers at participating resorts. There also is a bounce back offer for those who register. The offer is $10 off for a return lesson and $20 off for a return package. The offer is good for the entire 2012-13 season and there are some restrictions. Check the SkiNH Web site for details.
Ski Vermont’s $29 Learn To packages are available at ski and snowboard areas throughout the state during January, non-holidays. It includes lesson, equipment rental, and lift ticket. Children and adults can sign up for programs at participating resorts on the Ski Vermont Web site.
Some natural snow fell in northern New England Monday, with up to 15 inches at Saddleback in Maine. In New Hampshire 10 inches of fresh snow is reported at Attitash and Cranmore. Northern Vermont areas like Sugarbush, Stowe, Burke and Jay got about half a foot.
While the snow is welcome, we still need lots more so mountains can be in good shape before the holiday crowds.
Keep your fingers crossed and continue to pray for snow.
Also, ignore those snow reports from the west to keep from getting jealous.