« Solo | Main | Drive-By »

Ski! January 30, 2009


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.



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.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Ski! :


fun times!

YAY YOU! Congratulations. So much to be said for stepping beyond the comfort zone.

Rach, you are so awesome. You make me brave. Love you.

Yay! Sounds like a fabulous day!

Yay Rachael! It sounds wonderful. I'm glad you had such a good time.

Good for you!! The sushi place sounds awesome, and the hotel looks great. How much was the room, and how long was the drive? I've never been to Tahoe, and I miss snow something fierce!

Super cool!

Sounds like such fun! It's been over thirty years since I skied. But I remember the last time I went, during which I was the best skier ever, too.


You are totally the best skier ever (I think that's a fab rule).

I once went skiing on my ownsome at Vail - I had a fantastic time, and met lots of really nice people on the lifts. Several times I would share a lift with a couple of women who were there with a great big group of other women and they were all SHOCKED that I was "brave" enough to ski on my own. I was shocked that they thought it required bravery - I was having a ball!

Rachel, you look HAPPY and maybe tired in the last pic, but HAPPY is worth some tired! Congrats! Oh, and have you ever tried kitty skis on Digit? Maybe he could go along on your next ski adventure. LOL

It's so great you did and had so much fun !!
I skied years ago in Squaw when I lived in SF... wonderful memories ...

I'm so impressed! that looks like so much fun. If only I weren't forbidden bc I'm pregnant...oh well. some day. I hope to solo ski as well.

Yay, Rach! Sounds like you had a wonderful memorable day. Lucky you! Oh, and your hair is getting SO LONG. I've been reading this blog for several years and have seen you long, short, blond, red, banks, no bangs, etc. But this is the longest I think I've seen your hair. Very pretty!

Yay! The experiment was a success!

We really do parallel each other sometimes. I've had the worst jones to skiing, and it looks like that will happen tomorrow. I'm pretty excited!

Go you! Getting past that sign and skiing a blue run...I am so freaking proud of your gutsyness.

Ahhhh. I felt like I was right beside you on the lift watching the world go by way, way, way below us... What a wonderful experience to share. Thank you.

Many of my favorite memories of special times are from when I was alone. It's like not being distracted by a companion allowed me to more fully *be* in those moments and truly savor them. Yay for you!

Srsly, you are awesome. Your blog is so joyful, even during your difficult times. And I so look forward to your books.


Ok, you are officially my model for get-up-and-go, follow your bliss behavior. Thank you! Must find mountain and start climbing immediately (we've got plenty in Seattle).

What an amazing day! I'm so glad you went.

I used to go skiing alone all the time. Loved not having to wait/be waited for on any of the runs. We'd all go up together and meet up again for lunch and at the end of the day. It was great.

I haven't been skiing in over a decade, but now you WILL have to come visit. Not just to meet the beasties, but because I live in Bend Oregon, which is where Mt Bachelor is, and that is some of the best skiing in the US.

You are very brave. I would like to be you when I grow up.


I love to ski too, and I'm definitely the best skier of the day, same as you. It's just so much fun, it's pretty darn close to FLYING, and how is that not one of the best things ever?

An example of how much fun I have: several years ago, I was at Heavenly with my boyfriend, and it was the last run of the day, we went down the LONG blue run to the bottom, and right at the end, you can continue around a bend on a blue one, or hang a left and go down a black diamond bit, which is not really TOO long, and is kind of steep but it's still possible to do it if you're careful. That day, boyfriend talked me into the black, and I started down, and then fell. Pretty spectacularly. And I slid. Then I started laughing, and I kept sliding down the slope, cracking up, because it was just absurd, and I couldn't stop laughing for about 10 minutes, although I did manage to stop sliding before then. I couldn't get up because I was laughing so hard, and Ray was standing over me, which somehow made me laugh even more. I can't tell you how many ski patrol people stopped to ask whether I needed help, except of course, the only thing I needed help with was turning my giggle box right-side up, and they couldn't do that. :)

In fact, it's making me laugh now, remembering that day. Awesome.

SO happy for you! Thank you for the vicariously lovely day!

I've never been downhill skiing and have never had a desire to go until now. Sounds like you had a blast! WTG!

Now THAT is a great story.

Now I have to go and swim.

Oh, man...I'm SO JEALOUS!!! I love skiing, too--the same way you do! Whoever has the most fun is the best skier!

And skiing alone is the best--nobody saying "meet me at the lift", or, "wait for me at the top"--you just get to go and go and go! Fantastic!

Wow, that sounds like so much fun. I grew up skiing all winter long but my husband didn't, and we haven't yet tried skiing with the kids. One of these days, maybe...

That LAST picture?
JUST like I remembered my beloved Tahoe...
thanks SO much for this.
I'm a little teary, sitting here, remembering.

A guy would think nothing of doing something like this, (or may-be they just won't talk about it)

thanks for being an inspiration for me to get out there and do life, whether I have a companion or not.

You soooo totally rock! and make me laugh at the same time! I did a convention at the Lake for the University of NV 3 years ago and stayed at the Crown! You are so right, but never try to get a summer res., they are booked with repeats til the year 1 million! Someone has to die to get in that place in the summer! Rock on Rachael!

Awesome! now you've got me thinking that maybe when I graduate and have money again, I might just have to challenge myself to try skiing again! And it's already been 14 years. Hurray for you!!

You're making me miss skiing, even though there's a good reason I gave it up. (I would like what remains of my left ACL to stay attached.)

Only trouble with skiing alone is that if anything goes wrong, you're at the mercy of ski patrol, which (in my limited experience) is mostly aimed at passing you off safely to the care of someone else.

About the green stuff being up high: someone once told me that because the mountains out West are newer, they're more rounded on the top, so the steeper slopes are near the bottom. In the East, where the mountain are older and more worn-down, they're pointier, so the steeper slopes are at the top.

Glad you had fun! You look great.


You Rock! Skiing alone is so much fun and so quiet yet intense at the same time. Glad you had such a good time.

Cool! What a great day!!!

This is such an inspiring confident post! I have no plans to go ski-ing but the next time I think "I wish I had the confidence to just..." I am going to do it and think of you!

That sounds like an awesome day! Go, you!

Oh my goodness! That is the cutest goggle tan ever!
I have to tell you Squaw Valley is where I met my pen pal. My only pen pal. It's been 25 years and we still stay in touch. Magical place!

The comments to this entry are closed.