Day After The Super Bowl

640px-Mercedes-Benz Superdome_from_Garage
Mercedes-Benz Superdome from Wilipedia, photo by Nicholas Williamson

Louisiana Super Dome No More

Although still owned by the state of Louisiana, the Louisiana Superdome is now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This little quirk in the name occurred because the state of Louisiana allows the team the authority to sell rights to the name. Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints as well as a pair of Mercedes Benz dealerships in the Pelican State did just that in 2011. Having once lived in the Crescent City, this name just doesn’t seem right.

Johnny Unitas signing an autograph in 1964, from Wikipedia, photo by Joel Kaufman

Baltimore Team Changes

Strangely enough, I attended high school in the city of Baltimore, when Johnny Unitas was still playing quarterback with the Colts. So as a result, I still haven’t got used to the fact that the Colts are now in Indianapolis and a team called the Ravens plays in Baltimore. Nonetheless, congratulations goes out to the new World Champions.

artificial turf in Norway
Artificial turf in Norway, from Wikipedia, photo by Rune Mathisen

About The Playing Surface

When I did live in the “Big Easy”, I once had a two day job, setting up the Louisiana Superdome for a car show. The playing surface or carpet had already been rolled up like a Swiss chocolate and was sitting out of the way at the edge of the indoor stadium. And I must say that the green carpet sure looked thin. I would hate to be tackled on such a floor covering. Maybe the Saints need a real grass stadium.

The Harbaugh brothers from Sports Illustrated

Forty-niners Fan?

I have always been a great admirer of Bill Walsh and his West Coast offense that featured Joe Montana at the helm. I guess that put me on the 49’ers side for yesterday’s contest. Believe it or not Sunday’s championship featured two brothers as head coaches, who were born less than two years apart. Both seemed to be channeling some of Bill Walsh’s offensive ideas, but after all is said and done,  congratulations are in order for older brother John, who lead the Ravens to a narrow victory.

The Zen of Snowshoeing

Winter Image by Koppdelaney
Winter image by H. Koppdelaney

Zen and Winter Walking

I hope you like this photographic image of the serene beauty of winter. It was not put together by me, but instead the surreal landscape comes from the image bank of Hartwick Koppdelaney, who most graciously allows general non-commercial use of his photographic artwork. Even though the figure in this picture is not wearing snowshoes and the image is a composite of several pictures, the snowy scene accurately conveys the solitude and beauty of snowshoeing.

Snow-covered road leading into the Wheeler Peak wildernesss in New Mexico, photo by author

Road to A Wilderness Trailhead

Last week on a free day, I grabbed a pair of aluminum frame snowshoes (hardly anybody makes wooden shoes anymore), took a shuttle bus to the Taos Ski Valley and followed this snow-covered road to the Williams Lake trailhead near the Wheeler Peak wilderness in northern New Mexico. Just a walk along the graded route was a joy of discovery, because of the remarkable view of the mountains, which towered just over 13,000 feet. Williams Lake my final destination has an elevation of 11,040 feet and sits in a glacial cirque at the base of these mountains.

Williams Lake in Northern New Mexico on a sunny January day, photo by author

My Destination

In January, Williams Lake is frozen solid as a rock and covered with several feet of snow. Because of the ring of lofty summits that surround the small body of water, it is a wonderful spot to sit and ponder the mysteries of life. Winter adds a special kind of beauty and peacefulness to place, as does the hike in, which passes through a beautiful spruce forest. Another advantage of winter is the lack of a crowded hiking trail, for the alpine lake is a popular hiking destination, especially in the autumn, when the leaves turn a golden yellow.

Cloud formations above the Sangre de Christo mountains, photo by author

Clouds From the Bottomside

Since the walk out was just about all downhill, I had a much better chance to take in the stunning mountain landscape. As sunset quickly approached, the overhead clouds took on strange shapes, accented by the sun that was located low in the western sky. The high ridge line of the ring of mountains, which circled Williams Lake, made me feel very small as I continued my descent back to civilization.

High mountains near Wheeler Peak in New Mexico, photo by author

Reflections On the Walk Out

Overall, I felt very fortunate to be able to access such a place by public transportation. I don’t own a car, so traveling to Nature’s most spectacular locales is often not a viable option. Furthermore I enjoyed my view of the sky as day slowly faded away and turned into night. By the time I made it back to the base of the ski resort (located some 1700 feet below the lake) the sun had set and the first evening stars were visible in the night sky.

Pond Skimming At Taos Ski Valley

Snow-capped Sangre de Christo Mtn.

Last Day of the Season

Today, Easter Sunday was the last day of the ski season at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. As I am an employee, I was fortunate enough to be assigned to a spot, where I could view the crazy antics of the many skiers and snowboarders, as they came flying down the slope and tried to negotiate 40 feet of open, chilly water. The competition went on for a couple of hours, as costumed skiers and snowboarders flew down the slope and tried to cross the makeshift body of water. A good time was had by all as only a few lucky individuals made it across the watery course. Losers got to soak in a hot tub that was set up right near the temporary body of water.

Late Season Snowstorm

This event would not have been possible without the cooperation of Mother Nature, who earlier this week graced the New Mexican Sangre de Christo Mountains with over a foot of the white stuff. TSV collected almost two feet, which made for some great skiing and boarding. If not for this recent snowstorm, the popular annual event would have been canceled because of the unseasonably warm temperatures that have descended on the region. Several weeks of 60 and even 70 degree days have turned much of TSV’s snow cover to a mushy meal during the daytime, only to be frozen again overnight. On this last day of the season, these conditions were returning, though some good early morning skiing was still available at higher elevations.

Pond skimming at Taos Ski Valley

There’s Always Next Year

Though thoroughly enjoyed by all, a definite sadness descended over the crowd that had gathered to watch the fun and games. For once five o’clock rolled around and the event ended, everyone had no choice to head for their vehicles and make the long drive down the mountain, knowing full well that the next skiing days were now over six months away.

Lombardi Trophy Returns To Green Bay

Zeta Oph: Runaway Star Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, WISE Team
Zeta Oph: Runaway Star Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, WISE Team

Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers, who edged the Pittsburgh Steelers, and rode to victory on the crest of three turnovers. Without these turnovers, the contest could have easily gone the other way, but that’s what football is all about. You can have the greatest team play in the world, but it is still possible to shoot yourself in the foot with penalties and turnovers. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m always glad to see Green Bay win. It just goes to prove you don’t have to enlist the support of  a large metropolis to be competitive at the highest level. And not only is the Green Bay franchise given out to a comparatively tiny community, but the team is owned by the city municipality, instead of your usual billionaire tycoon. True, the iconoclast owners can be quite colorful to follow, but variety has its advantages also.

And then there were those lovable commercials. The one that stuck in my mind the most was the McDonald’s ad just before the game began. You know the one where the bears turn a car upside down to shake loose the last remaining french fries, while the previous occupants hide in the woods. There were many good commercials during  the game, but they kind of got blurred together. The one thing that came through was the large number of movie previews that got filtered into Sunday evening  viewing experience. They were definitely fun to watch.

All in all, it was a good night to be glued to the tube.

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX trophy, photo by BrokenSphere from Wikipedia
49ers' Super Bowl XXIX trophy, photo by BrokenSphere from Wikipedia

Super Bowl Haiku

Mt. Fuji and The Sea off Satta by Utagawa Hiroshige
Mt. Fuji and The Sea off Satta by Utagawa Hiroshige

Applying poetry to sports is not an unheard of event, but it is a literary activity that is not usually applied to football. However, an opportunity recently arose to write a piece of Haiku about the upcoming Super Bowl, which features a contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. The popular sporting event is scheduled on Sunday and will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas barring any unusual weather events or meteorites dropping out of the sky.

Haiku is an interesting form of short poetry, originally associated with Japan, but now popular in the English-speaking world as well. In this type of writing a short poem is created using just three lines of text. Each line has a designated number of syllables and rhyming isn’t necessary. The first and last lines each contain five syllables, while the middle phrase bears seven. Traditionally, Haiku portrays two juxtaposing images, which when combined, should reveal irony, humor and awareness.

In Japan, Haiku was often used to express some of the tenets of  Zen awareness, along with detached observations and comments on everyday life. In America, Haiku has become a popular method of reflecting our national past time, baseball, but associating this poetic structure with football is much less common. Perhaps this will change in the future.

Recently, I wrote several Haiku in honor of Super Bowl LXV, which is due to be played early on Sunday evening. One was published at Associated Content and the other two I have included with this post. Hope you enjoy.

Poem  #1

As the pack returns

Strong resistance heeds their path

The trophy is theirs

Poem #2

Heads clash in Dallas

The sound echoes everywhere

Then there is silence