Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lake Tahoe - Friday/Saturday

Another three day weekend (Presidents Day) means another trip for us.  We went to Lake Tahoe this time!  Matt had never been and I really wanted to show him how beautiful it is.  And since I didn't go on a ski trip last year, it just worked out to hit Tahoe this year.  Actually, what really made the decision easy for us was when Southwest offered flights to Tahoe at HALF-OFF on Cyber-Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving).  There was NO WAY I could pass that up.  A chance to go back to my old stomping grounds with my favorite person, and at a decent price?  Yes, please! We actually booked the trip afer conversing via text-message for about 10 minutes.  It was that simple. 

Leaving my house Friday afternoon 
Two pairs of skis, my ski boots, a GIANT suitcase stuffed with two ski outfits and enough clothes for a week...  Yes, I really thought I needed all of that three days in Tahoe. 

Our flight was a little delayed, but we were running a little late, so it all worked out.  We got checked in (at the curb) and grabbed some snacks just in time to walk to our gate and board the plane.  Perfect timing!

While in the Denver airport, Matt realized one of his best friends, who now lives in Denver, was traveling back to KC for the long weekend.  It just so happened that we were in the airport at the same time!  We had a little bit of a layover there and were just finishing up a healthy dinner from Eistein Brothers when they called and said they were a little early for their flight.  Of course we hopped on the train over to their terminal to meet up for a quick drink at a little bar.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures (I know.  How could I?) but it was really great to get to see them for a little bit!

Our Budget rental car for the weekend
Once we got our bags, we waited in line for EVER at Budget to get our rental car.  Matt was so frustrated he was trying to book with Enterprise on his phone while waiting.  We finally got our car and made a quick stop at Wal-Mart (had to drag Matt in to that place) on the way out of Reno for some snacks for the weekend - food is so expensive in the Tahoe area.  Short drive over Mt. Rose to Incline Village.  I was just shocked at the lack of snow - and kept saying, "I just can't believe it!!" about every 5 minutes.  We got to Shannon's house close to midnight, and stayed up telling hilarious (to us, anyways) stories of our crazy days working / living together.  I really miss that girl - and beautiful Tahoe. 

My ski boots, somehow, do not fit too well anymore.  So I tried on some boots from her ski closet and decided to use her sisters skis AND boots this trip.  (Really glad I lugged my own boots and TWO pairs of skis on this trip - they never got used.)  We finally went to sleep a couple hours after getting there.  Got up early for showers / cereal and were out the door around 7:45am for the drive to Northstar.

Shannon's parents condo - where we stayed Friday night

I was still shocked at the lack of snow in Incline and Kings Beach.  There was just dirt everywhere - where there is usually feet upon feet of snow by February.  We drove to Shannon's condo at Northstar and I was snapping pictures the whole time - while driving.  I was so excited!  You'd think I'd never been there before! 

We made pb&j sandwiches in the car for a mid-morning snack on the mountainm then took a bus from her condo to the village at Northstar (free parking for us!).  The ski rental area was new since I lived there, and the whole process was incredibly smooth and just took a couple of minutes.  It helped that we were there early, too, but either way, it was pretty painless.

On the bus from condo to village

Got skies and boots for Matt, and I snagged a pair of poles while we were at it since I managed to leave mine in the car.  Took the gondola up to mid-mountain so we could try out the little bunny-slope for the first run of the day.  Had to test the waters with Matt.  He was really nervous all week that he wouldn't be a good skier, since he's really only skied once before (in the Austrian Alps last December).

On the gondola
Not the typical blue-bird Tahoe days I remember...

All geared up and ready to go!

Matt made it on and off of 'The Big Easy' without any problems.  I was beginning to wonder just a little how it would go since he had literally been carrying on ALL WEEK LONG about how bad of a skier he was and how we just fell and whiped-out the whole time when he went last.  So I kind of told him we would just ski really slowly from one side of the run to the other, making wide turns and not turning our skis down-hill very much - just to see how he did.  I took off - really slow - turning around every couple of seconds (with my camera out, of course) to see what I was working with... 

...and OF COURSE he pretty much just took off down the mountain like he'd been skiing his whole life.  I had been telling him all week that there was just NO way he was going to be a bad skier.  He's super athletic, super coordinated, very determined and a quick learner.  All of that just didn't add up to a bad skier.  And I WAS RIGHT.  I was SO mad at him for lying to me all week that I seriously started beating him with my poles right there in the middle of the run, yelling at him for sand-bagging for so long! 

We did one more easy, long, green from mid-mountain back down to the village - just to get our feet under us - and then we hit some blues and even made it all the way to the top of the mountain!

That's Matt in the middle - racing down the long run to the village.

Had to take a pb&j break at the top of the mountain.  We were tired already by 10:30!

Our first glimpse of the lake from the mountain

Really wish it would have been a clear, blue sky day, but it was still pretty!

Still skiing like a champ down the blues!
Another view from the top of the mountain!
 Once we made it all the way to the top of the mountain and all the way back down to the village, our legs were burning.  Or mine were anyways. Skiing is workout - especially when you haven't done it in a couple of years!  We both sat down in a chair, un-latched our boots, and just collapsed for a few minutes. 

While in the village, we checked out all the shops that were having President's Day sales.  I'm such a sucker for sales!  Helly Hansen, North Face, Oakley...  I wanted one of everything I saw, but decided to just get a black zip-up fleece hoodie from Helly Hansen since we don't have that brand anywhere around the mid-west and it was super cheap!  (And the girl working in that store brought her French bull-dog, Murphy, to work with her.  He might of been the cutest little puppy I've ever seen!  I'm sold on one of those now...)

Once we felt like our legs could go again, we went back up the mountain for some more skiing.  And I decided it was time for Matt to conquer his first black diamond - even though I told him I wouldn't make him do one this trip.  He was ready - and I knew he was going to be fine!  And to top it off - the run was called SURPRISE! :)

That sign on the chair lift (above) did not make him happy!

The new Ritz Carlton they built right in to the side of the mountain

When I asked Matt to pose for the picture by the sign, he said, "Okay, yea.  And then we'll just take the blue down on the other side?"  Ha - no, buddy.  We're taking that black!  I think he was a little nervous, but he did it.  And he did it well!! I was so proud of him!

We definitely deserved - and needed - another break after that run, and Shannon was done with her morning lesson, so timing worked out perfectly.  We met up with her at mid-mountain and went up to the brand new lodge at the top of the mountain for some lunch.

Shannon ran in to her clients, the Morgans.  I skied with them when I lived there!

Shannon recommended Teriyaki noodle bowls - and they were AMAZING!
We sat there and talked for hours, I think.  It was just so good to finally catch up with Shannon -- after three years!  I think Matt even enjoyed some of our ridiculous stories.  Once we realized how long we had been sitting there, we decided we should go for a few more runs before our time at Northstar was done!  But first, we went over to check out the new Ritz Carlton.

The Ritz Carlton at Northstar

It wasn't really as fancy as I thought it was going to be...
On our way to the Ritz, we ran in to an EpicMix photographer.  They take picture for free, and you can buy them online, or upload them to facebook for free.  Of course I chose the free option - and then saved them to my computer from there so I can still print them!

The sun finally came out and most of the clouds disappeared, which I was pretty pumped about!  Our legs were still tired, so after a few more runs, we went all the way to the top of the mountain one more time and skied all the way down to the village (Shannon left us at mid-mountain) for our last run of the day.  I honestly didn't know if my legs were going to make it.  I don't know about Matt, but I was DONE by the time we made it back to the village.

My puruple glitter pants really sparkle in the sun!

At the top of the mountain again!
A drink and a comfy chair in the sun sounded pretty amazing at that point, so that's exatly what we went for.  Luckily, we found a table and chairs at the Overlook bar and watched the ice skaters below - with some live music on the stage.  When Shannon met us, she went up and got us a "ski school discount" on a drink called a dirty snowman.  It was hot chocolate and like 3 different kind of alochol I think.  I had a couple of sips and couldn't handle it anymore, ha!  Overall, it was a pretty relaxing and great way to end the day at Northstar! 

We talked for awhile, but Matt and I decided to hit the road for our drive to South Lake Tahoe (and our hotel) for the night.  So we went back and bought my black Helly Hansen hoodie, returned his skis/boots, got our stuff from the rented locker, and got to the bus just in time to hop on and get the last seats.  Or seat, actually.  I had to sit on Matt's lap.  But either way, it was perfect timing, again!  And no traffic leaving Northstar was a nice surprise, too! 

It was too cloudy for a pretty sunset :(

(I had to pee so bad I didn't think I was going to make it to the hotel!)

Cute little room at Best Western.  ON the lake, had a fireplace, AND free breakfast for $50/ night!  Thank you, Hotwire!

The guy who checked us in at the hotel (after I bolted for the bathoom immediately upon walking in) recommended a little ski-rental shop across the parking lot to get Matt's skis/boots for Heavenly on Sunday.  It was super cheap, and they stayed open for us even though it was an hour past their closing time.  Perfect!

With that all squared away, we cleaned up and decided we needed to go get dinner.  Even though we were both exhausted and not hungry at all, I still thought we needed to eat after such a long, hard day.  And I wanted to try a buffet.  So after driving around forever trying to find a parking spot, Harrah's buffet had a line and was too expensive for me.  Back to the parking lot.  Matt was beyond frustrated.  We ended up at Mont Bleu for $12.95.  The place looked nice enough, but it was seriously the worst food ever.  What did I expect for that price??   I won't go in to too much detail, but how do you ruin mac 'n cheese??  Matt was right - we should have just went to bed and skipped out on that whole debacle!

We both collapsed in bed and were out cold for the night.  I forgot how much skiiing really takes it out of you!  Round two tomorrow...

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