Sometimes, vacations are great for blogs.
Sometimes, like when you discover that the Internet is available if only you'll spend some obscene sum of money every day you want access, they're not.
For the past five days, I was off on one of the second kinds of vacations. Worse yet, I hardly took any pictures! (yes, there will be a few).
Packing knitting (you DO pack knitting first, don't you?) was hard. I'm so close to being done with the main body knitting on Thistle that I really wanted to take her along.
But she is rather large.... and there was no way I could persuade myself that I was taking her to finish and wear on the trip... so she had to stay home.
Then again, the Day of Obligatory Gift Giving is almost upon us, and I have a grand-niece for whom something must be made ... by the 23rd. As of Wednesday, as I was racing around the house trying to choose the knitting, I had not only not started the something... I'd not figured out what it would be. Finally, common sense whacked me upside the head, and I found more of the yarn I'd once knitted a wee sweater for her brother (when he was a wee babe) in, and grabbed the Wonderful Wallaby pattern and some needles. More on that in a bit.
Icarus came along, and over the course of the trip, I managed to knit up all the yarn I'd frogged....
The bamboo socks traveled to California with us, but lurked in their wee sack for the whole trip. Poor socks. I really must take them out for some quality time.
So... where did we go with all this knitting? Squaw Valley, where the original plan included three days of serious skiing. I was counting on that skiing to be three days of vigorous exercise to get to work on the second ten pounds in my weight loss program. More on that too...
Highlights of the trip:
FOOD! oh my, were those restaurants GOOD!
The girls got their first ever snow board lessons. They loved them.
Lowlights of the trip:
No where near enough snow, leading to there being only ONE run open in the whole ski resort (at least the trip to the top was in a gondola), and that one was under-snowed and icy.
Ice and flat light combined to cause me to catch the edge of my ski in a wholly inappropriate way, which in turn led to a fall that was almost certainly amusing to watch, but which left my knee more than a little bit unhappy.
And now: the saga.
Day One - Wednesday... a work day, a school day.
We came home from work and school to finish packing, find the yarn, load the car, round up all the library books that were going to be due while we were gone, etc. We didn't get on the road til about 7:00 p.m. We arrived safely in Chicagoland, where we stayed in a reasonable hotel that was perfectly okay with us leaving our car in the lot for the weekend AT NO CHARGE!
Day Two - Thursday
We roust ourselves, call a cab to take us to the airport, don the heavy snow boots that don't fit into the suitcases, and thus have to be worn on the plane, drag our lazy butts across the parking lot for Jamba Juice breakfasts (yummmmm!), and meet the cab at the car, which we unload. The trip to the airport is uneventful and much faster than anticipated.
We "enjoy" the trip through security, during which (for those of you who've been smart enough to avoid flying lately) you get to take off your shoes (note, the heavy snow boots, each of which takes its own little plastic bin to cruise through the xray machine), your coat, any sweaters, vests, belts, hats, etc, and empty your pockets. You also have to yield up any liquids -- like that bottle of water. Time was all you had to do was drink from it, but no more. Now, you must throw it away completely. This, of course, is so that the vendors on the other side of security can charge you twice as much for a bottle to replace it with, which you are then allowed to take on the plane.
I note that no one blinks at the three circular knitting needles, or the ten double pointed needles that are in my carry on luggage. No way I could hurt anyone with one of those...particularly not that long one... but that bottle of water was clearly hazardous. Whatever.
Now we're early. We settle in to read or knit and wait. Then our gate is changed, because the plane at the one we're supposed to go out of is .... defective somehow, and they can't get it out of the way so our plane can get in. We gather our stuff and troop down the hall.
DH and I take turns going on walks, taking trips to the rest room, and riding herd on the kids. Then, it's my turn to sit, and DH is heading toward the bathroom with all the boarding passes. Suddenly, our group is called, we're supposed to board. I put down the knitting and race after him...
a bit of yarn has hooked itself onto my iPod, and I trail yards and yards of it after me. As I gathered it up on the way back to the girls, one fellow passenger said he thought it was a tether to keep me tied to the kids. If said kids were older, we might have had a picture. I managed to gather it up into something from which I'd later wind a wee ball that I eventually had to knit for about three inches of Wallaby to get through, and we board the plane, which....
takes off on time!
The flight is long and smooth and allows me to make prodigious headway on the Obligatory Wallaby. Inevitably, it is attacked by a few cables, but only subtly (unlike the last one I made). Over the next several days, I will knit to here:
I am nearing the end of the pouch when we land in Reno.
You don't need to walk more than about ten yards from the plane to get to the first slot machine! It's insane! YUCK. Reno is surrounded by gorgeous scenery -- but there are those evil noisy one-armed bandits everywhere! They're in the freaking DRUG STORE!
Now, I'll freely admit that I tend to think that gambling is just stupid. Unless you're prepared to lose (spend?) all the money you use to do it, you should just stay away. And wasting time chucking money into slot machines is only marginally fun. I did it once, in 1982. I played a dime slot machine (in Reno even), and won $10.00 in dimes. It was okay. But folks were hanging out in the AIRPORT playing slots, and looking like zombies as they kept pushing the button over and over again. At least with video games there seems to be some cerebral involvement... somewhere. shudder. Color me never moving to Reno.
So the hills are green and lush -- but hey, it's WINTER! hello??? and notice the hill part? We don't have those around here... they built the only sledding hill around here. They had to. Our topographical maps can be drawn in one foot increments (well, except for the sledding hill). I LIKE hills.... here are some more:
And once we got out of Reno and into the foothills themselves, there were lovely gullies and things to look up into as we drove:
You might notice something about these hills though. They're brown, mostly. Not that there's anything wrong with brown, but when the plan is to ski, one tends to prefer white to brown.
See, there's some token snow there. Here's another view from that window, one that speaks "danger danger" to those who diet:
If you look very closely at that sign over the entrance, you'll see that steps, mere steps from our rental condo place was the dreaded Ben & Jerry's
Now, when we arrived, we made our way to our assigned room and were amazed. It was lovely, but I wonder how they ever thought four people could stay in that room. It was SMALL! Okay, two rooms: a bedroom that might have been 2 feet bigger on each side than the king size bed they wedged into it. There were zero drawers in that room, and no where to put the suit case you certainly had with you. The other room held a wee kitchenette, a table with four chairs, and a fold out couch with a coffee table in front of it. I'm not sure what you were supposed to do with the coffee table when you folded out the couch (which we'd clearly informed them we planned to do so that the girls could sleep on it). Perhaps it was supposed to go out on the wee balcony. I think the balcony was big enough.
So here we are, all but snowless, in a tiny tiny room. DH decided to call down and ask for better. The girls and I went prowling around the "village". We yielded to the call of Ben & Jerry's while DH wrangled us a slightly bigger room.
In what seemed like no time the wonderful bell-person Mike had moved all of our stuff to a new room, and we swiftly settled in. Now we had drawers in the nightstands beside the king size bed (that had at least 3.5 feet on either side, and 2 feet on the end), and room for not only the coffee table but a fairly decent chair to sit snugged up against the wall when the fold out couch was open. This building also boasted a "workout center" (containing one treadmill, one recumbent bike, a bench (but no weights), and a sauna that was never on); two outdoor "spas", one of which looked rather like a miniature kidney shaped pool but had a sign declaring its maximum capacity as 8 people; a media room (with a HUGE flat screen TV upon which to watch movies) and a "Kid's Room" with a foosball table. All of these were accessible using your room key -- but only after 8:00 a.m. Yep... no working out before 8:00 a.m. Whatever...
We dined at Fireside Pizza, where I enjoyed salad and a taste of other's pizza. The food was wonderful.
Day Three - Friday
In the morning, we dressed for the slopes, wished there were more snow, and embarked, pausing briefly at Mountain Nectar for smoothies and eggs for breakfast. Soon we were all suited up, with rental skis (and boots for the girls), and trudging across perfectly clear sidewalks to the gondola. It was a lovely, if eerie, ride to the top. We saw lots and lots of areas with zero snow cover at all.
Odd to see a ski hill's runs when they're naked.
However, soon enough we were at the top of the only run open, and on our way down the icy slopes. This is what you expect to see when skiing:
But another angle shows some definitely iffy stuff in the background:
Turning away from the designated run, we saw this:
Even so, we had fun skiing ... I skied with J for a while, then with C. Then I took a run with J... who at 9 is faster than I am on skis. This is okay, but while trying to chase her down, I took that previously mentioned fall. I'm amazed it wasn't a yard sale.* I was skiing merrily along -- and then I was lying head down, feet up, on the mountain, and my knee was whining. J was oblivious.
I nabbed the pole that had tried to escape, hauled myself back up onto my skis, and pursued her again. Luckily, J realized that I wasn't right behind her, and waited after a bit. She graciously let us ski down a bit more slowly.
Now, you'd think that a person with two degrees (one of which comes with fancy Latin words after it), would be smart enough to know not to go back UP the mountain to ski it down again when her knee is twingy. You'd think.
In my case, however, you'd be wrong.
I went up again, and this time I led. So, of course, J fell. And I pulled to the side of the run to watch to see if she needed help, and found my skis sliding out behind me... angling apart, spreading my legs into what could certainly have been some interesting splits had I not regained control. My knee was not amused. I made it down to the bottom, but when we started to walk to take break and wait for DH and C...
let's just say that I'd forgotten what it's like to have something hurt enough that tears spring to your eyes.
I promptly checked in my skis for the day. DH and C and J had a few more runs to themselves while I took myself to the hot tub.
Dinner, however, almost made me forget my knee. We wandered .. .well, they wandered, I hobbled, over to PlumpJack's Balboa Cafe where the service was incredible and the food was even better. Oh MY! I knew venison could be that good... but the Juniper infused Cabbage was out of this world... and the Carrot Ginger soup.. and .. ahhhhhh..... diet? what diet? whose on a diet?
Day Four - Saturday
The night brought precipitation -- rain at our end, allegedly snow atop the mountain. It also brought wind. We collectively decided to give it a rest, let it keep snowing up there, and take a drive down to see Lake Tahoe before contemplating skiing. Okay, I wasn't contemplating skiing at all. OUCH. But the rest of the family was.
We climbed into our little car, and drove around a bit of the North Shore of Lake Tahoe . If you click that link, you can see the very road we drove on -- South on 89 from Squaw to 28, and north up around the tip of the lake.
It looked like this:
Then we had lunch, and drove back to register the girls for their first ever Snowboard lessons. They thoroughly enjoyed that while I thoroughly enjoyed a nap, and a diligent, if weak, round of exercise on the recumbent bike (which miraculously did not hurt my knee). Once the kids were fetched back, showered, and dressed, we had another go at dining with PlumpJack (who, it turns out is the mayor of San Francisco). Balboa Cafe was so good, we figured we'd be safe at the PlumpJack Cafe We were right.
ahhh... Starting with a lemon Basil Mojito martini (sounds weird eh? but it was delicious), then an amazing salad with romaine and pomegranate and pine nuts and other good things that wasn't even on the menu, followed by veal, sweetbreads (who knew??) and gnocchi. Again, I say, diet??? what diet? we don't need no stinking diet.
So.. Day five: Sunday
One of the great advantages to lazy folk who visit Squaw Valley is that NOTHING opens early. It is not possible to be skiing by 8:00. The lifts aren't open, the ski rental places aren't open until 8;30... you're lucky the breakfast place is open...
At eight o'clock I put on the ski boots and took an experimental walk up and down the hallway in our building. I figured that since it was walking in ski boots that made me cry Friday, there was no way I could ski if it still hurt to walk in them on Sunday. I also foolishly thought that if I could walk happily in ski boots, I could ski.
I could walk, so we wandered over for smoothies. Slipped in as the doors opened for ski rental, and geared up again.
I barely made it down one run (admittedly, with a delightful layer of fresh powder). THAT was dumb.
I had lunch with the family, I returned the skis and poles, and went back for another nap. Bummer .. but I had time to shop for the perfect obligatory ski pins (I've gotten one for each girl for each place they've been skiing), and still had time to get some knitting and reading in, and had a nice bit of alone time (a rare commodity on these trips).
Dinner, was again marvelous ... this time at the Auld Dubliner where they really know how to make Shepard's Pie!
Day Six.. Monday,
It snowed last night. The mountain now looks like what we want to ski on. Instead, we load the car and drive back to Reno. We endure time in the airport with the slot machines, but sneak in a bit of Obligatory Gift shopping. Again, we remove the boots, coats, vests, and divest ourselves of water etc. to go through security. They confiscate the toothpaste in the carry-on bag -- the tube is too big.
We get on the plane. Once we're all settled, they announce that there is rain in Chicago, so we're going to be delayed because they're increasing the time between planes. We get periodic updates for an hour and twenty minutes, and finally take off into turbulence.
We land at last. We get our luggage - again, it's all there! We haul it out to the cab line, where we wait for a minivan. Our cabby takes us to our car in the hotel parking lot ... I wonder what we'll find.... The car is still there, unvandalized (despite the I-Pass right there in the window), and best of all, it STARTS! And as the car starts, so does the rain.
My hero, DH, drives us home in the rain, and we arrive at 12:30 a.m to find the pets all home and happy to see us. Though we're exhausted, it takes another hour to get to bed.
Day Seven --Tuesday.
We're not chipper when we rise. But school and work are waiting...
*Yard Sale: fall by a skier that results in poles, skis and even hats, gloves and goggles flying everywhere so that it takes quite some time to gather all the gear back up again.