Ski! January 30, 2009
I AM THE BEST SKIER EVER!
Didja know that? I am. I so am.
Except that I'm not. But when I learned to ski, back in like 1992 or something, even though I was terrible, the guys I was with dubbed me the best skier of the day because I'd obviously had the most fun. So that's been my rule ever since. Whoever has the most fun is the best skier.
And that was me! Me!
You all were completely correct to encourage me. In fact, I think I may be spoiled now for skiing with others. Now I know, it's way better alone.
The whole trip couldn't have gone better. I got up to the north shore of Tahoe at about 4:30pm. I'd read about Ferrari's Crown Resort online, so I drove there first, to check pricing and availability. You can always get a better price at a family-owned hotel. They have a vested interest in selling the room, whereas a corporate desk clerk just can't lower rates willy-nilly. If you're standing in front of the clerk at a small, local hotel, ready to pay, they'll sometimes give you a really sweet deal just to keep you on site. Miguel did just that, and he gave me the best room in the house (room 250 -- you should go).
This was from my balcony. The room had a fireplace and a small kitchen with almost everything one would need, up to and including an apple peeler, a cheese grater, and a salad spinner. The only thing that I needed and that was sadly lacking was a bottle opener, but Miguel helped me out with that, too.
Directly across the street from the hotel were the other two things I needed most: Tahoe Dave's rented me great skis and gave me a discount for staying across the street. (So I got a discount at the hotel and then a discount on skis for staying there. Oh, yeah, I bought my lift ticket for the next day at the hotel for a discount, too.) And next to that was Hiro Sushi, which from 5-6pm does all-you-can-eat sushi. Lord. It was as good as you think that might be. You sit at the bar, and as soon as you have one piece left on your plate, the chef asks you what roll/nigiri you'd like next. I was SO full by the end of that dinner that I couldn't even kill the wine when I got back to the room, which was my original goal. Nope, two glasses and I was conked out.
But falling asleep at 9pm means I was up and ready to go by 5am the next morning. This was unfortunate, since I didn't have to get up until 8am (I already had my lift ticket and my skis, so all I had to do was drive the 20 minutes to Squaw Valley.)
So I got up and wrote, instead. I opened the curtains and blinds and sat in the dark with the fireplace and worked, waiting for the dawn, which was worth waiting for.
THEN I WENT TO SKI.
People, I was nervous. The last lift ticket I'd had was still pinned to my hopelessly unfashionable jacket, and it said 2000, Northstar. So nine years had gone by with no skiing. Would I even remember how to put the skis on? I wasn't so sure. (Also, things have gone so high tech! Your lift ticket just goes in your pocket and when you approach the initial lift, the ticket activates the gate to open for you. Crazy!).
But I remembered how to get off the lift. And even how to ski. Just barely. I skidded and plowed ungracefully all down that first short green (which they put at the top of two lifts, by the way. You have only two choices to get off the mountain: ride the long gondola down (no! Mustn't!) or get good enough during the day to go down the intermediate slope to the bottom. Way to put on the pressure to improve).
I overdressed from jump. I figured skiing was the perfect opportunity to wear handknits. No, not so much. It was sunny as hell. The air was still cool to the skin, but after the first run I was dripping sweat. I didn't even have the two bucks in quarters to rent a locker, so I chanced leaving my sweater knit with yarn bought in Brugges in a locker without locking it. I didn't care. Stripped down to one layer of fleece, my snow bib, and jeans, I was good to go. I was even too hot to wear a hat. (I was the only one -- everyone wore a hat. I wondered how they weren't burning up.)
Appropriately attired, I did four or five beginner runs. And then I started wondering (AKA getting bored). Could I go down the mountain on that long blue named Mountain Run? I barely remembered how to get my skis parallel on turns -- I could do a left turn okay, but a right turn made me feel like a windmill almost every time.
I got close to the edge, where the signs warned that beginners shouldn't go any farther. I stood there and looked straight down the mountain.
I couldn't tell. So I flagged down the next boarder going by.
"Hey! Can an advanced beginner go down this run?"
He hesitated, and then said in a deep Scottish brogue, "I dinna. Ski for me."
I skied a few feet.
He paused some more. Then he said, "Yeah, I think you should be able to make it. I think. Probably. Good luck!"
Then he sped off going a hundred miles an hour or so down the eighty-five degree slant.
And off I went!
I was terrified.
But I did it.
I was elated.
And I did it six more times.
So going past this sign!
It was empty yesterday. No wait at any line. I never had to share a lift, just plenty of time to sit and swing and think.
It kind of made the long steep downhills more scary, though. Either I had expert skiers flying by me, going fifty, or there was NO ONE around. A lot of the trail was high and narrow, with plenty of room to go wrong. But plenty of it was wide, too, which made slaloming around without regard to getting in anyone's way SO FUN. Usually when skiing, I manage to knock over at least one person, and it's usually a kid, and I always feel SO badly. But yesterday, none of that.
I skied for about five hours (didn't even waste time eating), and then I had to get back on the road home.
This is on my way up for the last time. You can tell I'm tired, but I had to retrieve my sweater from the locker (it was still there) and ski down one more time.
But oh, so happy.
It was THE BEST!!!!
No, really. Yay.