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March 12th, 2005

Lake Tahoe Ski Vaction, Day 4...

My morning started off with a flurry of activity. The first thing I noticed is that I left out my tub of cream cheese overnight. Damnit. It was a crusty and a little discolored this morning. For that reason, I decided to go upstairs to the complimentary breakfast, which I haven't done at all, and see if they have any of those little cream cheese containers with the bagels I know they have, because Jon commented yesterday that that place is a "carb fest." (He's an Atkins guy.)

It was very crowded up there, Jon was there, and the carb fest looked pretty good to me. I decided to eat up there, having one of their bagels (a sesame seed one), took 2 containers of the cream cheese (yay!). I also had a cheese danish, and a cup of coffee.

Back at the room, I got on the web to get the customer service number to find out why I can no longer check my voice mail messages on my phone, especially since I see that I have a message. All of a sudden when I hit the speed dial for voice mail or push *86, I get the message: "The feature code you've entered is not valid. Message 562 1." When I finally got through, after calling (just the plain) Verizon, which turned out to be for land lines only, and getting transferred to Verizon Wireless, the lady told me that that "feature" of speed dialing to voice mail doesn't work on the extended network. I have to dial my own phone number, and then put in my passcode.

The message was from Rebecca. She was psyched that I was here, and so close, and she definitely wants to try and get together. She said that she hasn't skied in 20 years, and she had said to herself, "This is the year I'm going to do it again." I checked with the lobby to see what accommodations can be made tomorrow if I decide to ski part of the day. They will hold all my luggage, and there is a locker room area, complete with showers, where I can change when we get done skiing. I called Rebecca back, and left her all the details, and invited her to come up tonight and spend the night if she'd like, and we can be on the slopes first thing in the morning. I don't have to leave here until about 8 or 8:30 tomorrow night, as my ("red-eye") flight doesn't depart until a little after midnight.

Oh my God! I can't even begin to describe what an incredible day of skiing I had today. It was just perfect, perfect, picture perfect

I totally dressed down today after experiencing the warm weather yesterday. I didn't wear any thermal underwear -- pants or shirt, and chucked the ski suit. I wore my black bibs, with a t-shirt (outer t-shirt, not an undershirt), and my ibm.com sweatshirt. No hat. No gloves.

I got to the first lift at about 9:20, and skied until almost 12:30. I checked out where the photographers were on the slopes, so that when I returned after lunch, I would know where to go. I made my way to the Nevada side of the mountain. Oh, I don't think I mentioned this yesterday; you cross the state line from California into Nevada up on the slopes. It's cool. They even have a sign up there that says, "Welcome to Nevada."

On this side of the mountain, you can look one way and see the beautiful Lake Tahoe, and look the other way, and see way down in the valley, Carson City, Nevada. It is such a great vantage point for the view.

I went as far as I could go to that side of the mountain, and took the slope named Perimeter, which, as its name suggests, is the most outside slope marking the perimeter of the mountain in terms of ski trails. What an unbelievable run I had here. It was groomed the night before, so was flawless, and I was the only person going down at that time, all the way down. Wide, consistent drop, but not very steep. It was one of those moments when I thought how beautiful it was there, and how good I felt doing something, and tears actually came to my eyes there, just full of feel goodness. Glorious.

I did this run two more times, even though it took about 8 minutes to go down this run, and 15 minutes to go back up. The only lift at the end of this run, is one of the old, non-high speed, three-seaters. It's very slow. At one point along this lift, looking down there is this area where the snow has completed melted in this semi-circle, leaving a peninsula shaped snow formation, which to me, looked just like ET. The second time I was riding over it, I yelled down, "ET, phone home."

I also did the Galaxy run while over this far, which is the run right next to it. I slowly worked my way back over to the right side, as I wanted to end up all the way to the right, at the California Lodge, which is where the shuttle to Lakeland Village picks you up. I had just nice, casual runs, taking lifts here and there to work my way right, and once again totally enjoyed the independence of skiing alone.

I didn't have my phone with me today, which sucked because you have to call the shuttle when you want a ride, and it's not too likely that someone would be going back in the middle of the day, much less at the same time as me. When I got to where the buses come, I asked two women who were standing there if they were by chance going to Lakeland.

"No," the only lady answered, "but the bus from there just pulled away about five minutes ago." Damnit. She went on, "You can go right inside there to Guest Services, though, and they'll call for you." I did, and they did.

I had lunch at that authentic Mexican restaurant I had lunch at the first day of my arrival. This time it was about 12:45 (instead of 2:30 in the afternoon), and the place was jammed. There was only one other tourist (skier) in there besides me. The rest of the place was full of Mexican people, none of whose conversation I could eavesdrop on. I had the "four taco" lunch select. They were strange tacos, but turned out to be delicious. What made them strange (to me) was that, first of all they were soft tacos and the shells (or wraps) were small, maybe 3-4 inches in diameter, and each one had two shells together,and then the meat on top of them. And that's all there was on them was meat. No lettuce, sour cream, no cheese, no tomatoes, onions, etc. Just the meat.

"Help yourself to the salsa bar with these," the waiter said when he gave them to me. I went up there, and poured some salsa that had tomatoes and onions in it, chunky salsa, and some of that green sauce that I think is called molee, something like that. Anyhow, they turned out to be very, very good, and afterwards I was thankful for not having the cheese, sour cream, and guacamole, that I probably would have eaten had it come on them.

Back at my room, I got back into my ski clothes, but this time put on my green cargo shorts instead of my bib. I wore the same t-shirt, and my ibm.com sweatshirt, and headed back to the slopes for the afternoon. It was so wonderful skiing in shorts. The first thing that really surprised me was how much snow gets kicked up on your legs while you're skiing, which of course you don't realize when you have pants on. I didn't remember this from years ago, the one other time I skied in shorts. Especially, when you make a sharp turn while you're going fast.

A lot of people were intrigued by the outfit. People would be pointing down from the lifts at me. People on the lift would ask, "Are you cold?" Two women at the top of the mountain asked me when I skied by, "Hey, are you chilly at all?" I absolutely was not. One guy on a snowboard in one of the lift line said, "Cool man. I wish I was in shorts. My legs are sweating." Another guy said, "Now that's Spring skiing."

Though the day before, I saw maybe five or six people skiing in shorts, today I only ran into one other person, and in a statistically significant moment, we both ended up getting in line at the same lift, both in the singles line, of which there were two. He was in one of the singles lines, and I was in the other. At the front, you alternate, a single from the left line, then a single from the right line. We both ended up at the front of both singles lines at the same time, and the lift monitor, says, "Two singles -- here." What are the chances that we would end up at the same lift at the same time, and then end up on the same seat?

He was a nice guy, straight, cute, though not my type (light-haired, and not very hairy), but I found it slightly erotic how our legs rubbed together on the ride up. Oink. Oink.

I think the fact that it's so rare that you would feel someone else's skin in a situation like this added to the sensation. Another thing I hadn't thought of in terms of skiing in shorts (and having hairy legs), is that it's easy to get the hair on the underside of your thighs pinched in the seat when you sit down on the chair lift -- right at that point where you plop down, and the lift is starting to move, but your legs are not suspended yet. That happened a couple of times.

I made my way to where I had noted a photographer would be to get my picture. When I got there, he was taking pictures of these two straight boys who were acting all weird about standing next to each other to take pictures. The photographer, who was, shall we say, queer as a three-eyed cat, was really working them. He kept doing this very, well queer (in its "odd" meaning, though working nicely as a double entendre), yodeling type noise to try and get them to smile.

I started to get a little annoyed at them, just because they were taking so long, and acting like people would think they were married or something if they got fewer than 12 inches from each other. The photographer yelled, "Come on. Get closer. You're buddies." I heard the porn music start up... Chickie-chickie-boing-boing. With that said, the guys were hot. Young. Both on snowboards. But I digress.

Missy took me next, and she (I am doing "gay pronoun usage" here now; I am talking about the male photographer), started off by saying, "Are you alone?"

"Yes," I said.

"Oh, well you shouldn't be! You come over here and let us do some shots that will get you somebody." I inched down to where she was. "Are you a florist?" she asked.

This is the code question for, "Are you gay, honey?" I, of course, in my head, went right to the, "No, I'm a person, not a building," place, but said, "No," and pointed to my ibm.com sweatshirt. I said, "I work for IBM," though I wanted to say, "I work for IBM, Mary. And, you, are you an interior decorator?" Though in a sense, I suppose, she was an exterior decorator.

She got me in two different poses, and took several shots -- up close, zoomed out, landscape, portrait, all the while making those yodeling noises, and screaming at people behind us down the hill, "CLEAR THE SET!" "Clear the set, PEOPLE!" This just cracked me up, and maybe it was meant to. The set? Honey, the people are skiing. On a ski slope.

For the very last picture, he said, "Take your shirt off." I said, "Okay, I have a t-shirt on; that would be nice to have one without the sweatshirt."

"No. Take that off, too. I want to get one with your bare chest. Stick that chest out, be a he-man."

I looked at him like he was out of his fucking mind. "I'm not doing that," I said. "I would like one in the t-shirt, though."

We finished up, and he told me that the pictures would be ready down at the California Lodge in a couple of hours. I asked about getting an electronic copy to make holiday cards out of, and he said, "Oh you have to order those through us. They're not bad, though, between one and two dollars," which if it's true isn't too bad. "And we use a special paper to print the photos, which won't scan." I thought that sucked. Oh well. There's no obligation, so I waited to check them out at the end of the day.

I had the most incredible final two hours of skiing that afternoon. Just enjoying the weather, taking leisurely runs -- not so much to make sure I didn't fall on my bare legs, but as I always do on my final day (and especially on the final afternoon) of my ski trips. I don't want any chance of getting hurt when I've had such a good time, and it's so close to the end. I think I'd go nuts if I couldn't dance for two or three months if I hurt my legs in any way.

I had a wonderful last run that must have been five to six miles, from the top of the mountain, down Ridge Run connecting to Powderbowl Run connecting to Round-A-Bout. Just a wonderful way to end the trip.

At the lodge, I checked out the pictures, which was an incredibly electronic and efficient operation. You walked up to one of three big flat-screened monitors on the wall, typed the first few letters of your last name in the name field, and your pictures popped up in an album type application, which was also a commerce application. You flipped through the pics, you could zoom them, rotate them, etc., and then move them into your "shopping cart" if you liked them, complete with choices of packages, such as 2 5x7's and an 8x10, etc.

As expected, they were not cheap. I ended up getting two sets of 2 -- 5x7s -- one of them in my sweatshirt on my skis, and one in my t-shirt holding my skis. The total was $64 -- $16 a photo. What a racket. However, I decided that I was going to put the money out of my mind, and "just do it." I am a very "needs" oriented shopper as opposed to a "wants" oriented shopper, and sometimes I have to make myself buy wants now and then.

I really wanted this photo to be my holiday greeting card this year, and some of the samples they had on the wall did have a "frame" around the picture that added "Merry Christmas" to it. And Missy did say that you could get them, but that you had to get them through them. The pictures stay on their website for quite a while, so when I get home, I will tinker around there, and see what I can get, and how much it will cost.

I got back to my room close to 5:00, and as fast I could get out of my shorts and into my swimsuit, fill my plastic cup with bourbon and Diet Coke, fill up my flask, and grab an extra bottle of Coke, my ass was in the hot tub. Once again, we managed to get close to 15 people in the 8-person hot tub. There were even two Lesbians in it with us this time. They were from LA, and the one looked like Meryl Streep to me. I asked her if she got that all the time, and she said, "Actually, I have never heard that." And then her girlfriend said, "No, but I can see that! And she's my favorite actress." For a moment I imagined them back at their room making love with the one now fantasizing that she was making love to Meryl Streep. But I digress.

Back from the hot tub after about an hour and a half, I napped for a couple of hours. I went to Faces at around 11:00. When I got downstairs to catch the shuttle, there was this group of six people, three couples (straight people), each with a bottle of beer in their hand, loud, and complaining that they had just missed the shuttle. That they were actually out there, yelling at the guy, and he just drove by. I found this really incredible, as the service here to me, all week, has been impeccable.

I said as much to the one girl who as the loudest, and she said, "Oh. Well that's good to hear. Today's my 30th birthday, and we're off to the Harrah's to celebrate."

"Well, Happy Birthday!" I said. They were quite rambunctious the whole way on the bus, and I was relieved when they all finally took their loud, drunk messes off the bus.

Faces had a fairly decent sized crowd. Since the big "Blue Party," the culminating party of Gay Ski Week, the one at which Boy George was guest DJ-ing, was going on at another place, I didn't know how crowded this place would be. I stood by the pinball machine in a corner, and didn't talk to anyone the entire night. Surprise, surprise. This one guy was cruising me, but I was so not interested in him. We did one of those cat and mouse things, where I would sit somewhere, and then five minutes later, he would work his way to the area, and sit next to me. I'd get up after some time, after less time each time it happened. I hate when people can't read other people, take in the situation, accept it, and move along.

I called for the shuttle at 1:00, and the first female driver I've seen picked me up. We stopped at the Casino in which the Blue Party was going on, and three guys got on the shuttle. Evidently, Boy George was supposed to have started his "turn" at DJ-ing at 1:00, and they had announced that he hadn't even arrived yet, which, obviously to these boys, was unacceptable. The one guy muttered, "I wish I could be four hours late in my job, and get away with it." Bitter, party of one, your table is ready.

I was out like a light as soon as I hit the pillow.

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