Meet our writers


Humor April 2015

Ernie's World

There's No Business Like Snow Business

By Ernie Witham

"Whoa, dude, that was awesome! A full split, double front somersault with a twist. And the ski poles sticking out of your ears. Brilliant!"

This year, the bone, ligament and tendon gods were apparently looking out for me because there was not enough snow at Yosemite's Badger Pass to open the ski area. It's not that I'm a bad skier, it's just that I seem to excel at falling. When regulars spot me, they often grab their GoPro cameras and follow me down the slope.

"Whoa, dude, that was awesome! A full split, double front somersault with a twist. And the ski poles sticking out of your ears. Brilliant!"

Of course, there are many other things to do in Yosemite in the winter besides skiing. Sometimes we hike.

"Are we there yet?

"Are we there yet?

"Are we there yet?"

"No this is just the trail head."

"The head is at the bottom?"

"Yes, just like yours when you tried snow tubing."

Fortunately, the scenery at Yosemite is incredible whether you are right side up or upside down, so this year we found a listing in the Yosemite Guide for a Camera Walk with a professional photographer.

Unfortunately, it was at nine a.m., a somewhat brisk time of day.

"Feels pretty warm out," I said. "I'm not even bringing my jacket."

"Hm," my wife said. She can be such a naysayer sometimes.

"Whheerrree the heecckk'ss the suuuuun?" I asked.

"Takes a while to come up over the mountains," the guide said, slipping on her arctic gloves and hat. My wife pulled the hood up on her parka, as did many of the other Eskimo–looking participants. I pulled the collar up on my polo shirt, which I wore beneath my golf sweater.

"If we hurry," the guide said, "we can see the rainbow at the bottom of Yosemite Falls."

Hurrying seemed like a good idea. So we all took three steps forward - into a deep shady spot - when a woman said: "We have to wait for my husband, he's using the restroom."

Five minutes later I was afraid he might have gotten frozen to the toilet seat and I was going to suggest someone go back for a can of de-icer, but he showed up.

Three steps later: "Look, deer!" Sure enough, a doe and her two doettes walked out from behind a tree.

"Where's the dad?" a shivering preteen girl -- whose parents had talked her into coming out in the predawn cold, which would probably come up in some future counseling session -- asked.

"The bucks usually stay by themselves during winter," the guide said.

"Probably having a stag party at a heated condo, playing cards and drinking spiked eggnog, while discussing vacation options like the Florida Everglades." I suggested.

"I love Florida," the preteen said.

We moved forward several more feet, rounded a corner and saw Yosemite Falls and the rainbow. I took about a thousand photos, mainly because my finger was stuck to the shutter release.

"We are going to cross the meadow now and head over the bridge," the guide said, "great photo ops but it is the coldest part of the Valley." I waited for her to laugh but she didn't.

"I'm going to the lodge for breakfast. Try not to fall through any ice," My wife said.

I joined her several hours later and she fed me breakfast because my hands didn't work.

The next day we decided to try something else new - snowshoeing. We met the Ranger at the bottom of Badger Pass and he outfitted about 80 of us with snowshoes and off we went.

"How much of this will be uphill?" my wife asked.

"All of it," said the Ranger. There was a collective groan.

He did keep stopping to allow some of us to breathe again and to point out interesting trees and footprints.

"These middle prints are from a squirrel. These odd marks outside the footprints are owl wings. See how the squirrel prints end right here?"

Immediately I looked up to see if any owls were watching us. This caused me to fall over backwards and tumble into some trees.

"Say, isn't that Ernie?" someone asked.

Several people took out GoPro cameras and aimed them in my direction.

"Next year how about we join the stags in The Everglades?" my wife said.

"It's flat and warm."

"Great. But if the alligators are wearing GoPros I'm outta there."


Meet Ernie