The altitude climb freshened the air and the crispness tingled my face. Clumps of snow hung out under firs, hills and ravines widened my eyes. The mountainous region had a sense of spirit and magic, as the ice was preparing to melt itself into spring. I tried not to hang my head out the window like a happy puppy dog with its tongue flapping drool into the wind. Upon nightfall, we’d reached our home for three nights; North Beach, Lake Tahoe
Hostel Tahoe in North Beach has to be the nicest hostel I’ve stayed in, with a homely communal kitchen and living room. Our family room was reinstated once again, with bags strewn open, phones charging and The Gannet reclaiming prime toilet bag position in the bathroom.
Another grocery store stop to find dinner came with the promise of plus-sized eating and drinking. Marvelling at the large cakes and cheap liquor, we had to cave in and buy a 1.75L Canadian Club whiskey for only $20. It was a brute of a thing rivalling a door stop, but dayum it tasted that much sweeter knowing that you could never find decent liquor back home, at that price. Not even in duty free.
That night was the ‘blood moon’ and we celebrated it by tucking under our covers in our bunk beds. It wasn’t until the next day when everyone was raving about it, that we realised we’d missed something important; that it wasn’t just a spectacle for Twilight fans.
I’m not a skier. It’s one of those calamitous things where I end up in some awkward state, too chicken to go at any speed down a slope and too uncoordinated to know how to stop. But the troops were ready to hit the slopes at Squaw and I was ready for my maiden voyage at the helm of Ron. Once I’d gotten my right side driving mojo, I found it hard to give up the steering wheel; a sense of freedom and the feeling of being a little bit naughty because you’re driving on the wrong side of the road.
While the ‘kids’ skied, I relaxed in the quaint town of Lake Tahoe. The lake is pristine, lined with trees and enveloped in snowy peaked mountains. The sun was out and that signalled to the local teens to strip down to their singlets. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re in, they apparently cannot feel the cold.
The day’s skiing was celebrated with The Gannet’s meat marathon for dinner. Skirt steak, short ribs, marinated pork ribs, salad, bread, cake and a couple of slices of candy apple for an aperitif. Excessive meat consumption leads to kooky hour, especially when the guy we quietly nicknamed Jesus sat next to us and we wondered whether he was a vegan with his plate of mushrooms and apple & potato sausages.
Day two of skiing and the kids were dropped off at Alpine Valley. I went back to town and hit the local charity shop, purchasing a hideous cat patterned vest for the ‘Doosh of the Day’. It was awarded twice when I got back, once to The Gannet for forgetting his ski pass and me having to drive half an hour back to drop it off and then again to No. 2 for picking up the wrong skis and realising this at the top of the chair lift.
Back at the hostel everything was serene and lovely until we met ‘happy hour’, at altitude. Quite innocently No. 2 and I had kitted out in our fitness gear and gone for a lakeside walk; taking photos of nature, laughing at signs for ‘jazzercise’… stopping in at a bar that promised cheap drinks. They were easy-to-drink tequila cocktails to be exact; the kind that makes you incapable of chewing tortilla chips after the first glass is empty. And that is where the wheels fell off and all of a sudden a once full bar, had quickly emptied. Where we saw ‘Jesus’ walking to the Laundromat with a shopping bag full of washing and coaxed him into bringing Snitch and The Gannet back, with my jacket and hat. Where toilet paper wars in the bathroom began, dirty shots were skulled and arm wrestling gave way to a serving of the worst fish tacos in the world. Where the 30 metre walk home felt like it took hours, incomprehensible calls were made to loved ones, and we had all passed out in our bunk beds by 10:30pm.
At 5am I had woken up, laughing, still in my exercise gear. By check out time, No.2 had been subjected to balls and rubber bands being thrown at her head by some young boys in the lounge, and the rest of us had ferried stuff to Ron. Collectively we had thrown up ten times that morning, except for The Gannet; he’s a machine.
I’ll leave you with that for now, going from fab to filth. Until the next instalment; make good choices and enjoy each other.