growing up in the northern michigan woods in a home that did not have central heating (wood stove), on a private road that, during the several months of winter, often got snowed in until some neighbor went out and plowed it, driving through blizzards to get to work, pipes that froze (melted snow for bathing!), and without all the fancy NorthFace gear that kids have nowadays (have you ever worn knitted mittens? they are totally useless, and just get wet and then freeze to become icicles on your hands.), i have a fair amount of post-traumatic stress around winter. i get really scared of it. the potential for it being funtimes vs. cold miserableness seems very low to me. this is much different than my california and southern friends who ONLY have memories of funtimes in the snow, because their only interaction with it is ski vacations. but for me, all i can remember is how cold, difficult and what a pain in the ass winter was, and i haven’t had enough ski vacations to quite get over that yet.
so generally, because i’m not into the downhill sports (my skiiing in Chile this summer was an exception, not the rule), when i think about going to tahoe, all i imagine is getting stuck in a blizzard on highway 80 and having to sleep in the car (which happened to our friends the weekend before), frostbitten fingers and toes, and feeling trapped inside a cabin. usually late november in tahoe is brisk late-autumn with some dustings of snow that melt off in the morning but you can still go hiking kind of weather, and that is what i envisioned when we made the plans to go up there for Thanksgiving weekend. so as mentioned, i was slightly apprehensive once we learned what the weather would be like. jay, however, was SO EXCITED.
wednesday eve, the 5 of us (stephen, nicole, whit, jay, me) had a delish dinner @ Wally’s Cafe and left oakland late to avoid traffic, and then our drive up was fast and on dry roads. above 3,000 feet the unseasonably large snowbanks sparkled in the moonlight. we arrived shortly after midnight, and because it’s so early in the year and the not all of the services are open, we had to have the SnowCat – a tank-like vehicle with a passenger cabin – pick us (and all our stuff) up and take us to the ski house, which sits right on the slopes. so once you’re there, you are THERE. no driving anywhere to get to where you want to go. *amazing*. and then we stayed up until 3am drinking wine.
Thanksgiving morning it was GORGEOUS at Sugarbowl – still cold, but sunny and clear and piles of white fluffy snow (see current conditions here). jay and whit got up early and went to hit the slopes ASAP, and nicole, stephen and i hung out in the apartment – which is the bottom floor of the larger cabin, and sort of dungeon-like in that there are low ceilings and few windows – until mid-afternoon and then went for a long walk on the cross country trails and had some cocktails at the bar. despite my PTSD i enjoyed it quite a lot, and we frolicked. for Thanksgiving dinner we cooked a hodgepodge of items in the tiny kitchen – baked mac and cheese, fondue, roasted vegetables – and then hung out, continually marvelling at the slowness of time after it gets dark at 5:00 and enjoyed eachother’s company.
Friday morning was similarly gorgeous, and after the other 3 left to ski, stephen and i both debated if/when we might also go skiing/boarding as it seemed sort of like we should (we were RIGHT THERE), but neither of us were super motivated to 1. pay the lift tickets and 2. hurt ourselves, which were possibilities. part of the reason i’m not into downhill is that i’m pretty terrified of hurting myself. almost everyone i know who does downhill has been hurt pretty badly at some point, and given that i’ve already been dealing with constant body pain for over a year now, the idea of doing something that could possibly hurt myself even more seems ludicrous. so, it being a gorgeous day we went and sat on the deck near the bar and chatted. later, when the other 3 went into the bar, the bartender, a local friendly fellow, asked “Where are Cosmo and the White Russian?”, referring to us by the drinks we’d ordered the day before. quaint!
then came saturday, when we awoke to a fairly significant snowfall that kept going all day long. everyone else decided to “hit the pow”, and i continued my streak of sleeping in and then laying in the bed watching movies. Lost in Translation is really a great film, although i find ScarJo to be really flat. i don’t buy that she’s a hyperintelligent Yale Philosophy grad at all. jay came back sometime after noon and i put on my snowclothes and walked the 100 yards to the bar, met up with everyone for a drink, and then went back. i can bring myself to enjoy a sunny gorgeous day in the snow; in my world, blizzards are really not fun, but they were all RAVING about how much powder they were shredding all day.
after dark, another long evening of movies (Let the Right One In, touted as “the best vampire movie ever”, really didn’t do it for me) and fondue and wine. the amount of calories in cheese and wine consumed over the course of this weekend was pretty astonishing, and we didn’t even consume all we’d brought.
sunday morning it was back to clear sunny skies, and now about 2 more feet of snow. stephen and i stayed inside for the morning, then jay came back and we all packed up our stuff and went for a walk while whit+nicole skiied more. we investigated the car situation, and found it buried in the parking lot. luckily, it’s light dry snow (powder) and didn’t take too much effort to dig out.
just before leaving, in a brave act of full immersion, whit flopped into the snow bank in his regular clothes. we hit the road just before dark, stopped at Ikeda’s for dinner, and were home in decent time.
i do sort of regret not skiing, if only because it provides spectacular views from the lifts and tops of runs. that was the main reason i skiied in chile – i didn’t want to miss out on any gorgeousness. but without that stress – physically and mentally – i was able to decompress quite a bit, and after a long weekend of sleeping and eating as much as i wanted to, when i got back sunday night i felt great. rested. satiated. and THAT i was definitely thankful for.Filed in autobiographical, travel | Tagged with NaBloPoMo, tahoe | Comment (0)