Ullr Fest 2013: Get Your Snow On

By any standards, the United States boasts some truly worthwhile winter getaways, from the blue shores of Lake Tahoe, to all those East Coast resorts that try to compete with their Western counterparts yet never do. Out in Colorado, a state known for its generous mountain profile and equally epic outdoors scene, a major holding of winter locales are routinely bustling with activity and serving up satisfied customers. Bullz-Eye was given the chance to experience a few days at Breckenridge, one of the premier resorts Colorado has to offer, during one of its most enjoyable times of the year: Ullr Fest.

When I first got the email regarding Ullr (pronounced Ooler) Fest, I was in a state of complete darkness as to the meaning. In the back of my head, crude images of massive stone hammers and snowy, bearded warriors filled the void, vainly trying to conjure up any sort of applicable knowledge. It turned out my premonitions weren’t completely off, and the whole celebration was in fact Breckenridge’s way of honoring the Norse god of snow, Ullr.

All people who share a love for the outdoors have some sort of relationship with the weather. Cyclists pray for absence of rain, surfers yearn for hearty swells and so on. Snowboarders and skiers have that similar connection, yet take it to a whole other Bobby and Whitney sort of magnitude. The degree of snowfall can literally make or break half of the year for those who passionately delegate an entire season to winter sports. On a grander scale, resorts can lose significant amounts of revenue due to lackluster precipitation and the disinterested wake that follows.

So what actually happens at Ullr Fest? Are there droves of cute females walking the streets, clad only in fur bikinis and Viking helmets? Is the whole town mobilized into a party mode that rivals New Year’s Eve levels of intensity? And better yet, what does the whole experience say about Breckenridge and its ability to provide a worthwhile winter vacation? To make a long story short, the whole week was quite an epic adventure, but to adequately answer those questions, an introduction must be made about the team who participated, because seldom are the times when an individual alone is able to truly breathe in all the possibilities a new area has to offer:

Press:

Dane, Thrillist: More or less average build, with a clever and hilarious way of adding to every conversation and setting. Mannerisms similar to comedian Dane Cook.

Seth, Maxim: Nickname earned due to his uncanny facial similarity to Seth Rogen; if it weren’t for his towering height, he may actually be a full-fledged twin.

PR:

Drew: Pleasantly down-to-Earth, yet seriously extensive in her knowledge and passion for the area. Drew Barrymore doppelganger.

Daphne: Beautiful, interesting and once from Seattle. Being that Martin Crane’s physical therapist is just about the only female I know from the area, the nickname will have to stick, and yes, that was a “Frasier“ reference.
Kanye: The mastermind behind the entire organization and execution of the trip. A true professional, and much like the aforementioned rapper, Chicago raised.

Early frustrations

Do you ever have nightmares depicting missed flights or late/botched airport arrivals? Both seemed to rear their ugly heads last Tuesday when I stared in disbelief as my phone relayed a text from my “ride.”

“Shit came up, can’t give you a ride. Sorry man.”

Can’t give me a ride? Two hours ago would have been a perfect time to drop such a bomb, but not now. Oh well, I quickly thought, all is not lost – Go-Go Gadget Drive Myself. I flew down to the car and punched it aggressively for the next hour, cursing the heavily inundated 19th Avenue of San Francisco and looking at every red light as if I had never seen such an atrocity before.

As I neared the airport, the horrible realization was that I had zero time to drop my car in nearby Millbrae and instead was forced to throw up a Hail Mary. I drove straight into 2-hour parking, tossed my luggage outside, and then left forty dollars, the parking ticket, and my car keys in a tissue box deep inside the trunk. The final touch was the front door unlocked and a text message to my buddy who lived a short distance away, pleading with him to grant me this one favor.

Colorado, finally

After the day unexpectedly morphed into such a hectic beast, I was overjoyed when the plane touched down in Denver and I was soon aboard the hour and 40 minute shuttle towards Breckenridge. Something needs to be said about the drive up to Breckenridge. The road lazily tilts upward and soon you get the feeling that an ominous space mission is being made into the dark skies, ear-popping and all.

It was throughout the drive that I found myself laughing at our shuttle driver, Ted; not at him personally, but at the routine which followed whenever he chose to make but the slightest change in heater settings. He’d crank the dial ever so slightly and almost immediately, a reprieve would echo from the shadowy passengers in the rear.

“Umm, Ted, can you turn that down a hair?” or, “Ted, could you make it blow less? Like, the temperature is okay, but there is a lot of air coming out, right on my head,” and further, “Ted, the passenger in the back would like it to be a bit colder. Thanks.” This pattern repeated itself multiple times, to the point where the lady in the front seat reached over and patted his shoulder, saying, “You’re doing great, Ted.” This made me laugh.

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SLAPPA delivers for photographers with the M.A.S.K. DSLR backpack

As a working photographer who often needs to lug a ton of equipment to my shoots, I was immediately intrigued when I heard about the new DSLR/laptop backpack from our friends at SLAPPA. We haven’t been shy about our love of SLAPPA equipment over the years, in large part because the quality of their gear is hard to beat. This MASK DSLR backpack is no different, with its water-resistant 1680D ballistic nylon outer shell and cushioned interior offering all sorts of protection for the contents inside. And I mean ALL the contents.

As with most SLAPPA bags, you may have a hard time filling all the available space in this backpack, with pockets seemingly on top of pockets inside of just about every nook and cranny of the bag. Inside, the padded divider insert allows for storage of a full collection of lenses and bodies for any pro or amateur photographer, and you can configure that section of the bag to fit your needs. The face of the bag features a pocket designed to give you instant access to your DSLR camera body and up to a 10” lens, and other flaps on the front are perfect for memory cards, spare batteries and other supplies. To top it off, there’s a dedicated pocket in the back of the bag for your 17” laptop and all the cords and chargers you need.

The only downside with this bag is the size which, when fully loaded, makes it more of a travel bag than something you’d carry with you on-site during a shoot, and the divider section is tough to access without completely unzipping the face of the bag. We’d also like to see a locking mechanism for the zippers so you can secure your equipment, but you won’t find many camera backpacks that can match the M.A.S.K.’s versatility and sheer capacity. If you need to get all of your photography gear from Point A to Point B, this is the bag for you. Stylish and comfortable, SLAPPA delivers yet again with this roomy and reliable DSLR/laptop backpack.

  

Sturgis: A low down, dirty good time

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All photos by Josh Kurpius

It was 10 a.m. and already too hot. Dust and the sound of uncorked V-Twins filled the air, and every decibel of spent combustion beat inside my head like a John Bonham drum solo. Surrounded by Harley-Davidsons covered from the grime of 1500 miles, trailers, and the empty Jack Daniels bottles of last night’s shenanigans, it finally hit me: this is what Sturgis is all about. Sturgis is a knock-down, drag out, low-down, and dirty good time. It’s as trashy, rock-and-roll, and loud as all the stereotypes suggest, but stereotypes don't matter when you’re having one helluva good time, and the experience is only heightened when you road trip out here. 4 days, 1500 miles, megatons of gasoline, and GoPro cameras recording every second; this is how you road trip on Harley-Davidsons.

Day One: Seattle as a Starting Block

Touching down in Seattle was the official start of the trip to Sturgis. Our trip began in earnest early the next morning. The fleet of new Harley-Davidsons sat in the morning fog waiting to fire up and wake up every single person that was still sleeping. Every bike was represented, from Sportsters and Softails and everything in between. I chose the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight for the first day of riding – a 1200cc Sportster slathered in yellow and black like a pissed-off wasp. Clad with chunky tires and a bobbed rear fender, it sat like a bulldog in the early morning sunlight. The goal for the day: cover 815 miles and arrive in Lewiston, ID. All that stood between us was miles of twisting highway and Mt. Rainer National Park.

Quickly, I learned that this was going to be no doddering ride. Riding with some of the best extreme athletes in the world – people who see broken bones as a minor inconvenience – the pace would be swift regardless of the road ahead. And what lay ahead? Only miles of forest, mountain vistas, drop-offs that were comically high, and gravel in construction zones located right near those drop-offs. Every corner was a new, breathtaking view. After awhile, the sensory overload causes you to not be impressed. Oh, another mountain seemingly punching the clouds. Oh, how nice, another raging river crossing through picturesque forest landscape. And as gorgeous as it was, Mt. Rainer Park was soon behind us, the Forty-Eight taking every corner much better than I thought it could, and happily thumping along hundreds of miles.

The first day would end as we crossed into Lewiston, ID. The road in was also picturesque and gorgeous. Slowly rolling hills, the sun setting on our backs, and throttling the Harley’s through, it was a day of excellent riding. Not perfect, though, as a glaring flaw of the Forty-eight would shine through: suspension travel. On the rear, you pay for that low and lean look by sacrificing damping and travel in the suspension, and your back takes the lumps for it. It wasn’t nearly enough to dampen the spirits of the day though.

Day Two: On to Montana

Another day, another early morning rise, and miles of asphalt ahead of us. This time, though, I chose the Harley-Davidson Night Rod as my ride for the day. You may remember the Night Rod from our previous story when Bullz-Eye rode it at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and its sibling the V-Rod Muscle on a trip in Miami. For those who don’t, the Night Rod is Harley-Davidson’s cruise missile. It’s the most powerful Harley-Davidson available, and our example was, as you can probably guess from the name, black as night. Smooth and powerful, it eats highway and miles effortlessly without any fuss. Another national park, more highway miles, and more of the absolutely most healthy road food in the world, and the day flew right by. 800 miles in, our trip to Sturgis was at the halfway point.

Day Three: Elk, Bears and Tourists

Day Three for me and the motley band of athletes would cover the least amount of miles, but lead us through Yellowstone to do it. The good was the fact that Yellowstone National Park is a mile of untamed wilderness, geysers,and bears. Mostly bears. Miles and miles of bears. It is also full of tourists, so the group’s hope to cruise right through was quickly dashed when we were stuck behind lines of tourists looking at “wilderness.” Yes, you should stop and smell the roses and take pictures of elk for your Facebook feed, but not every time.

Then, bison decided they didn’t want us to pass either. Bison, if you are not aware, do not give two shits about anything. Ambivalent to passing cars, RV’s and motorcycles. They will squat anywhere, at anytime, and sit there. At one point, the bison decided that the front of our group was a great place to take a break. Bison are also huge, and aggressive if you pass them, so with this in mind, we waited until they decided to move. Noticing that we were heating up as the bikes idled beneath our legs, the bison moved only slightly to let us pass. How polite of them.

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From the Vault: On Location in London

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With the London Olympics starting tonight with the opening ceremonies, we thought it would be a great time to dig up some never published photos from our archive of Natalie and Britney from our trip to London as part of our 2006 World Tour. We spent a day hanging out with these two beautiful models as we caught many of the sites in this iconic city, and you can see many of the London tourist spots in the background.

The first group of photos have Natalie and Britney hanging out in a classic London phone booth. Naturally these things are obsolete these days but in London they blend in as part of the beautiful architecture and scenery. We spent a lot of time in Soho so many of the photos from the first have of slideshow above are from that trendy part of town.

We made our way down to Parliament and got some nice shots in the park nearby. Later in the evening, the girls changed into heels and dresses and we went out in an area near London Bridge. The photos at dusk with the bridge in the background are great, and you can see one below with others in the slideshow.

We finish it up with the girls having fun posing in a London taxi, otherwise known as a hackney carriage. These classic taxi cabs are another site you'll see all around this classic city.

If you're in London for the Olympic Games we're sure you'll enjoy it. It's one of the great cities of the world and we loved our time there. English food isn't very good, but as a world-class city London has amazing restaurants, particularly excellent Indian food and amazing sushi. That said, the city is incredibly expensive. Don't bother going unless you have a real budget, as everything from hotels, food and taxis are ridiculously expensive.

In any event, enjoy the slideshow and the Olympics!

All photo by Paul Miller

© 2012 Bullz-Eye.com. All Rights Reserved

  

U.S. Scientist Vows to Find Captain Henry Morgan’s Lost Fleet

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Most people associate Captain Morgan with the image on a rum bottle, but a team of leading U.S. archaeologists are on a mission to find the fleet of ships the iconic real-life privateer lost in the Caribbean in 1671. The search began in September 2010, when the team discovered six iron cannons belonging to Morgan off the coast of Panama, and continued last summer with the exciting discovery of a 17th century wooden shipwreck, potentially one of the five ships Morgan lost at the mouth of the Chagres River, including his flagship “Satisfaction.”

This summer, the team returned to Panama to excavate historic artifacts from the shipwreck in hopes of confirming its origin. Throughout the field season, the team recovered a sword, chests and wooden barrels, which are currently being preserved at the Patronato Panamá Viejo in Panama City.

Check out this link for an overview of the unprecedented project, the dive team and some amazing footage and photos of their discoveries.

  

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