I had a fairly busy weekend; a few friends and I went skiing up at Bear Mt in Big Bear and I got a little bit of work on Cosette with some actual visual progression. The weather called for significant storm to hit Friday night into Saturday all week long, but we kept with our planned schedule to head up early Saturday morning to ski/board. I did most of my work on Cosette while recovering on Sunday; and if I keep my current progress pace, I should have her done by the end of this week for ValleyCon this coming Sunday.

Starting with Saturday, we woke up at 5am to a very rainy morning. Ed had drove out to my place from Riverside, Brandon and Art crashed over at the house. We left around 5, Hugo kept trying to sneak out of the house and into the car; so I had to squeeze out of my garage door while keeping him from bolting out; he’s remembering our early departure a few weeks ago up to Tahoe and thinks he’s gonna get another ride up to the mountains to play in the snow. The drive up was nice, I carried the chains I picked up and never used on the Tahoe trip; and figured that I would probably end up using them this time. When we got to about 5000 feet, we hit the chains checkpoint, so I pulled over and we put on the chains.

I’m used to driving on chains as I used to have to use them on my old camry when I lived in Sac and went skiing almost every weekend; so I just end up passing everyone not used to driving in chains in the snow. I mean, for fuck’s sake, they’re running at 10-15 mph. Screw that, pushing it to 30 mph, woohoo, hot rodding the mini van. I did slip out here and there, but nothing that I’ve not experienced before; granted this was the first time I drove chains on a mini van, but it preformed just like my camry. We saw a Lexus spun out on the side of the road with the driver and passengers outside wondering what they could do. But for most of the trip up, it was early enough that traffic wasn’t an issue and most of the time, I was the only car on the roads.

Reaching Big Bear, we stopped by McD for some breakfast, before heading up towards the resort.

I haven’t been here in a whole year and I completely missed my turn and ended up at Big Bear City, a good couple of miles away. Bear Mt resort was put into our respective gps’ and we turned around and headed up. We got there around 8, parked, geared up, and grabbed our lift tickets – Ed being the youngest of the group at 21 gets to take advantage of the young adult price, bastard; us old folks get full price, yay! We took the express (lift 9) and headed up to the top of the mountain on “goldmine mountain”. Bear Mtn Map reference Our first run of the day was the black diamond; how else do you really expect us to warm up? It was snowing and windy, and at the top you really feel the strength of the storm. Visibility was rather crappy, and it was fairly difficult to discern the terrain until you get really close.

Here’s a quick vid of our first run with the four of us taking the run as a group.

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Ed plows his way down the run, had I kept the camera running, I would have gotten him eating it face first, oh well.

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And for an idea of how windy it was, here’s a quick video of that.

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At the end of the first run, Ed feels that he’s holding up back so he tells us to just go on our own and that we’ll meet up at 1. So Brandon, Art, and I take off back up the express (lift 9) and from the top we head down towards the other express on the other side of the resort, lift 6. Lift 6 ends right above Lift 8 that takes us to the top of Bear Peak (according to the resort, the highest peak in So. Calif). A big sign warning that this is an expert run thwarts most folks and the lift is fairly empty as well as the runs. We head on up. Yeah, Art picked up a panda hat with balls on his chin to match my bunny hat. But he has his panda over his helmet, so the balls are just smacking his cheeks, instead of being snug under his chin.

Upon reaching the top of Bear Peak, I look to the left and see Bow Canyon, and ask Art if he wants to hit the trees. Brandon says he’ll take the easier way down which is the single black diamond Geronimo run back down to lift 8 where we agreed on meeting up. The side Art and I take is completely pristine. There are no tracks anywhere, and it’s clear that NO ONE has taken this side on this day yet. So we hop down and wind through trees.

And a shaky video taken while I try to traverse through the trees while holding the camera. Hah, and my mom had let me take her mini van on the specific condition that I don’t do any tree skiing. Oops.

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Holy hell that was a long ass run, and a really good work out as it took us roughly 15-20 minutes to get through the run. And the end of the run put us at the green way past lift 8, so we hit the express to get back to lift 8. At the top of the lift, a couple of women skied by us commenting on how cool my hat was, then as an afterthought, looked at Art’s and said that they were not dissing his, as she had seen his hat before; then went back to saying how much she liked my hat. No Brandon in sight, so we headed up back up to Bear Peak and headed down Geronimo, which took us about 2 to 3 minutes to get down. We waited a little bit to see if Brandon would show up, but decided to hit it again. Back near lift 8, I decided we should head down to lift 2 to get to lift 4 and do the middle section. While on lift 4, I get a text from Brandon, apparently he has reception at the top of the mountains, so I tell him to meet us at lift 4. We do one run down Exhibition and wait at lift 4 for a little bit for Brandon to show up, after a cig, he’s still not around.

So we head back up and take the double black side, the wedge down, and when we get back to lift 4, Brandon is there waiting for us. We do lift 4 a couple of times, then for a final run before our lunch break, we dropped down through Deer Canyon, this time Brandon is with us. We hit a clear spot in the weather, and that gave us some nice visibility, but that was fairly short lived.

Heading down through trees into deer canyon, Brandon can be heard screaming his hatred of trees. I like trees better than the random newbie snowboarder/skier – at least the trees are stationary and won’t drift right into your path.

Art has me take a quick video of him jumping out through a pair of trees. This is a pretty damn good work out and I’m breathing pretty heavily. It’s almost perfect, as he didn’t completely stick his landing. I was entertained.

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I take my time down the double black stopping here and there to take pictures. Art and Brandon have it a little easier as they can plow down through some of the narrower passes. At one point, there where two ski patrol guys that came down, one was having a little trouble with the narrow passes as well. They asked if I was alone to make sure I wasn’t being stupid in the not often patrolled area so I mentioned that my two buddies were ahead, and they still lectured me a little about not separating from my group. Granted they were only a few clumps of trees ahead and within voice; but they didn’t know that.

Our run finished right at 1 when we had designated to meet up. We headed inside and I found a table for the group of us. We looked for Ed but couldn’t find him so we cracked open some pork and leek dumplings that I had steamed and pan fried the previous night. Brandon had taken off to use the restroom and grab coffee whilst looking for Ed and when he returned, he noticed that the folks at our neighboring table had wrinkled up noses, and the guy at the table had his shirt over his nose. HAHAHAHAH the smell of leeks. We laugh at them and tell them that it’s our food. Hey, at least we didn’t bomb the place by throwing a few into the nearest microwave and REALLY stinking up the joint. We enjoyed our dumplings cold with the two sauces I brought up. Good thing I put the sauces that were in small tupper wear boxes in a ziplock bag; I had a small amount of spillage, but nothing too bad. We finished after about half an hour and with no Ed, we geared up and headed back up.

Art wanted to hit the terrain park so he went up lift 9 where we had first started and it was just Brandon and I. Brandon wanted to hit the middle so we went up lift 1 and took the run Silver Connection down to lift 4. We took Exhibition down and headed to the express lift 6 to take us back to lift 8. At lunch, I made the mistake of tightening up my boots and after the run down Exhibition, my legs were starting to react to the over tightened boots. I loosened them before getting on to lift 6 and there was a little bit a relief. The clear weather we had was a thing of the past and we were hit with the stronger side of the storm. Riding the lifts, we just got covered in snow. Visibility dropped, and it was pretty much a white out.

We did a run down Geronimo, and with the snow that hit the mountain while we were at lunch, the run was completely different. It was so damn soft and powdery. My legs were still recovering from being over tightened and I took the run fairly slow. Brandon ended up waiting for me at various intervals of the run. We got near lift 8 again, and Brandon wanted to hit it again. At first, I told him to go and that I’d just wait for him there, but after flexing my leg a little, I decided to do the run. The snow was REALLY nice, and I wanted to get another run. We headed back up, and my leg was pretty much 100% and I zoomed down the run. We headed down then back to the car. Brandon headed to the restroom while I just headed down to the car.

In the middle of the first parking lot, I found Ed. He had forgotten where we were parked and was looking completely lost. He was actually in the same lodge as us at 1, but he was downstairs. Art and Brandon had gone downstairs at various times of our lunch and didn’t see Ed; oh well. Poor Ed left his goggles on the table and they were stolen. People are just asses. We head down to the car and Art is there waiting for us. He cleaned off one side of the van, but left the other side so I could snap a picture.

Oh, and our respective animal hats were completely frozen, here’s what my rabbit hat looked like at the end of the day. The inside lining was still completely dry.

The drive back was fairly normal. Somewhere between the resort and big bear, I lost the left side chain. Screw it, I’ve driven in worse conditions. So we trekked on down the mountain. The views heading down were just as good as coming up. The exception was that Art was farting at intervals of every 5 minutes or so. Yay pudding! They were powerless farts however, all bark, no bite. My turn; yay pudding! And as soon as those words were spoken, the smell hit the entire van and all three people dropped their windows. Ah, pork and leek dumplings for the win. I had one more that hurt the inner children of the folks in the van, but after that, all my other farts were as powerless as Art’s, oh well.

We reached the are where they were checking for chains, so I pulled over and we went to the task of pulling off our remaining chain. Problem; there was one connection that got bent in the driving so the cable couldn’t slip through allowing the clasping end to come free off each other. No screw drivers or tools, we were kinda fucked. We asked the car behind us if they had any metal tool that we can use to wedge open the clasp such that the cable can come free. After trying to pull the cable free, the guy realized that he may have something in his tackle box, and came back with some needle nose pliers. Perfect, at least we can try to bend the damn thing back into position and possibly get the cable free. The guy tries for a while but cannot get leverage, so he hand the pliers to Art who tries and gets it a little bent but cannot open the gap enough to allow the cable to come free. I get my hands on the pliers and try a few ideas against the gap that all fail. The guy offers up plan B – jack up the car and remove the tire; which is what caused me to think of alternatives and I used the pliers clamping/cutting edges to clamp down on the cable, smashing it so that it was thin enough to pass through the gap freeing the chain from it’s connection spot. I handed the pliers back and thanked the man for his help. We moved the car and pulled the chain out and went along our merry way back home.

Korean bbq in Garden Grove finished our day. Damn good day! For more pictures of the day and bigger versions of the videos click here: http://gamerabaenre.com/ski_bear_mt.htm


On to Cosette. Sunday was spent recovering. I crashed out the previous night around midnight and woke up at 10 in the morning – body sore as all hell. The last bits of clean up cycles of putty, sanding, and priming finished all the fixes to the kit. I spent most of the morning cleaning up the rough spots on the hair, little booger bumps and mold lines that were very apparent in the primed state. With that done, a final priming session was completed and the parts were left to dry and cure for a few hours. I took off to return the van to my mom and sat at her place eating and watching the US Olympic Hockey team lose to the Canadians in sudden death overtime. Still, it was a DAMN GOOD GAME! All the while, switching back to the Laker/Nuggets game. At least the Lakers beat the Nuggests. HAHAHAHA Carmelo Anthony fouled out.

With the games over I headed back home and did a quick stop off at Lowes to pick up some Minwax Polyurethane clear gloss spray. Over the past few days, I had been building up the gloss layers on the stained wooden block. The trick to getting a really nice finish on the wood bases is to spray very light layers of clear gloss. The initial layers will be almost completely absorbed by the wood, so a great amount of patience in not spraying too much gloss is needed. Every couple of hours of when I remember, I return to the block and spray a light layer. After a few layers, I use a high grit sanding sponge – 320, and wet sand the block to rid any rough spots or particles that may have landed on the block before the layers of clear gloss have set up.

Back at home, work resumes on the kit. The primed parts are wet sanded with a 3200 grit sanding mesh to smooth out the surface. In the following picture, the skin part has been wet sanded while the main clothed body part has not, and you should clearly see a difference in the surface. After wet sanding the surface, the parts are dried and the skin gets a coat of white base in preparation for the skin tones.

While the white base coat on the skin areas dry, the hair is painted. I had first mixed a batch of reddish brown and then a lighter brown, but when my roommate took a look, she said it was a little too pink/mauve, so I mixed a new batch keeping the tone more orange than red this time, then used the lighter brown I had mixed earlier as the highlighting and blending color. It’s kind of hard not having any sort of color basis to run off especially since the original illustration is in black and white. Creative license at work. I also painted her cap using Finisher’s carbon black as the color.

As a change of pace from how I normally build; I’m painting the eyes before the skin tones. Realistically, painting the eyes will save a couple of steps in the build process; at least in comparison to how I usually did things. With the white base cured, the eyes are first drawn in with a pencil. And as a complete oversight, I painted the eyes before lining them, for which I normally line first. No matter; the job was done. Small details on the eyes were completed and I’m fairly satisfied with my result. Once the paint and ink dry, I can spray on a clear gloss.

And since all the parts have dried for a good couple of hours with the exception of the eyes, I did a quick mock up. Creepy she is with just white skin. But progress is moving smoothly, and if I keep this pace she’ll definitely be completely by week’s end.

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