Monday, February 26, 2007

Winter, San Francisco Style!

For those of you who haven’t yet heard, a few weeks ago Pearl and I went snowboarding for the first time, or as us boarders say, we “rode the mountain.”

Pia flew in to join us for the trip and she, Pearl and I awoke at 4am so we could be at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe before the start of our 10am beginner's lesson. With the sun still hours from rising, we made our way through the city streets to pick up Suzanne and Lily and then jumped on Route 80 and headed east to Tahoe. We were making great time when (adventure alert!) an hour outside of the city our rented minivan started making funny noises. Strangely enough, when we picked up the van the previous evening, it only had a total of 7 miles on the odometer. Luckily, we had enough momentum to roll off the exit in Roseville and come to a stop at the closest gas station where Pearl spent the next three hours of the phone with the rental agency. Suzanne kept the rest of us entertained by playing guitar and singing songs.

Finally, after hours of waiting, a truck arrived with another minivan in tow. The replacement was not as new, nor as nice, but it worked and that was good enough for us.

We arrived at Alpine well after our lesson was to begin, but this turned out to be fortuitous. Lily's friend, Gray, who had worked at Alpine the previous winter, met us as we were finishing lunch and offered to give us a private lesson. For the next 3 hours we rode the mountain, fell a lot, developed a few bruises, got soaking wet, and had a great time. None of us were expert riders by any means, but we all looked good in our boarding outfits and let's face it, that's what is most important anyway.

Lake Tahoe in general - and Alpine in particular - is beautiful. It was snowing when we arrived, the first snow we'd seen since our move. It's funny how when you don't need to do the shoveling snow seems almost magical, like something out of Narnia. And like much of California, Alpine is green conscious (from the website): “Environmentalism does not begin by adopting a set of trendy “go-green BMP's”; it’s more of a mindset that starts with self, manifesting into choices, actions, and life practices. Most guests and employees have actively chosen Alpine Meadows as their home mountain because of the resort’s environmental standards and high regard for the mountains. Alpine Meadows does as much as it does not. Alpine Meadows works with Colorado-based Renewable Choice Energy. The resort purchases 100% renewable energy. Using this amount of wind energy is equivalent to not driving a car 1,822,061 miles. That’s three and a half round-trip tickets to the moon!”

When we'd had enough, we set out to find our hotel which was a beautiful place overlooking a mad-made beach on the lake. Being cold and wet, we upgraded to a room with a fireplace where we bathed, showered, stretched and rested.

That evening, we dined at Gar Woods Restaurant, a sumptuous meal of fresh fish and fancified side dishes.

When we returned to the hotel, Suzanne picked up her guitar again and sang us to sleep.

The next day we all awoke in pools of our own sweat. The fire which stayed lit through the night to dry our clothes also warmed the room to roughly the same temperature as the summer.

We took breakfast at The Old Post Office and then returned to the mountain. This time we almost made it in time for our lesson (thinking that the lesson was at 10:30 we strolled in 15 minutes "early" only to find that the lesson had begun at 10). Still, one of Gray's friends recognized us and snuck us into one of the lessons already underway. We all progressed steadily throughout the day, learning how to control our speed, how to change directions and how to come to a full stop without the use of our faces.

Toward the end of the lesson, our instructor, Josh, announced that we were all going to take the lift to the top of the hill and ride down to end the day. The next few minutes were somewhat of a blur: I remember standing in line, then a chair attacked Pia and knocked her to the ground, then all of a sudden I was level with the tops of the trees I'd spent much of the morning narrowly avoiding. I was more than a bit frightened when I realized that nothing held me to the chair as I was rocking in the wind 40 feet above the skiers and snowboarders below.

After what seemed like an hour, I made my graceless exit, head first, off the chair at the top of the bunny hill. Pearl executed her dismount with ease and then rode down the mountain in full control ending our lesson and the whole experience on a high note. That afternoon, wet, tired, bruised and happy, we made our way home. Along the way we made our plans to return again as soon as our collective schedules would allow.

Best of all, we now finally have an answer for all our friends and family when they ask us if we'll miss the seasons during our stay in SF: It's 70 degrees and sunny in mid-February, but if we want snow, winter is only 3 hours to the east.

1 comment:

Courtney said...

your adventures always make us so jealous. even though we were in tahoe 2 years ago already, it feels like an eternity ... next year we'll fly out to give you upgrades on those lessons (ps did you check out the naturalist spa in tahoe?)