At about 7:30, I went down to the lobby and bought my lift ticket for Heavenly today. It was $62 for the day, $2.00 cheaper than buying it at the slope, and no line.
The shuttle here is pretty amazing; it's "on demand." Whenever you want to go anywhere, you just call downstairs and tell them, and they come and take you. It's all free, and it's wherever you want to go. I'm sure there's a limit, but it's anywhere as far as you'd need to go, really. Before you get off, they ask, "Do you have our number to give us a call when you're ready to be picked up?" They give you a card with their info on it. Very cool, and very accommodating.
I got to the Heavenly slope at about 8:30. There are two main lifts to start from from where we're staying, the California Lodge and the Gondola. The guy driving the bus said, "Which lift would you like?"
"Well, it's my first day here, and my first time skiing in two years. What do you suggest?"
"California Lodge," he replied right away, and took me there.
Everyone I've interacted with here has been exceptional. In the grocery store, every person working there that I walked by asked, "Have you found what you need?" And to the one of which I asked where something was, he walked across the store and showed me. The same at the restaurant, and at the drugstore I went in. People are very customer service oriented. And you know that works for me.
I got to the lift at about 8:50, and it didn't open until 9:00. As I snapped my boot into my binding, I thought, "Lord, I probably should have tried this before now." It went in just fine, and I rocked back and forth on the snow, and moved forward a little. Ah, like riding a bike.
I rode up the Gunbarrel Express lift, took the green Groove slope down to the Powderbowl Express lift, and took it up. From there I did the only green slope available from that point, Mambo, and it reminded me of the Mambo Shuffle, as line dance we do. Nice slope. Good easy start. Nicely groomed. As soon as I started going, and picking up a little speed, I gave out a huge "Yahoo!" Life is good.
The next run I did took me higher up the mountain, and as I got part way down, I can around a corner, and was just stunned. The view was absolutely breathtaking. Lake Tahoe, in all its glory, straight ahead. Beautiful blue water surrounded by snow covered mountains. I pulled over to the side, sat down in the snow for a minute, taking in the beauty and thought of Robert, who makes me appreciate nature.
Later in the day, further up the mountain, it was as stunning. At that height you could see how the lake was the crater an old volcano. I wished I'd had my camera with me as it was so beautiful, and the skies were so clear today. There was a professional photographer up there, and I thought about having her take my picture, but decided maybe tomorrow instead. I'm thinking it would make a good Christmas card this year. My one from last year of me in Greece, with my "Peace from Greece" message went over so well, I might have to do it again this year. I'm thinking, "Tahoe-ho-ho, Merry Christmas!"
Just before 10:00 I headed over to the World Cup slope, which is where the "Speedo Contest" was going on. I had trouble finding a route to that slope, and I asked one of the guys at a lift I'd come to, "Can you tell me how to get to the World Cup lift?"
Though his jacket said he was from Atlanta, Georgia, he had an accent that was not of this country, but he didn't talk long enough for me to discern it. He said, "Oh yeah, the Bikini Contents, it's over at Sky Deck." I had heard that there was a bikini contest going on today today, with women, of course, and who knew it would be at the same time. "I wish I was off so I could go over there," he said. "Go on, it's right up this left than turn to the left."
I knew this wasn't where I wanted to be. It definitely was not a bikini contest I was interested in, and I was sure it was on the World Cup lift. I ended up taking the Roundabout slope, which was very, very long, I'd say probably 3 miles, which according to the trail map should take me to the World Cup lift. It did. Eventually. After about the second mile, I looked at my watch, 9:55, and I thought, "I'll never be there in 5 minutes." Then I thought, "These things never start on time." I remember the drag contest at Gay Ski Week 2003 in Aspen, it started 40 minutes late.
I ended up getting over there at about 10:05, and I asked myself, "Is this the right place?" There seemed to be nothing going on. There was a little area with "stands" in it, from which to sit and watch the contest/race. On it, I spotted Jon B. We said our hellos and I sat there for 45 minutes, while the organizers were still trying to get contestants to sign up. This contest, and all of Gay Ski Week for that matter, was sponsored by Q-Net, which evidently is some gay cable channel that we of course don't get in North Carolina. The first place prize of this contest was two people being flown to the Q-Net studios in Houston or Dallas (can't remember which), and being on the show that the person hosting this contest evidently is the emcee of.
Anyhow, she really wanted 10 contestants, and only 7 guys had signed up. It went from having to be in Speedos, to boxers, to shorts, to "okay, just topless," she finally said. No more bites. Two guys were in traditional Speedos, one pair of which were actually Jon B's worn by Hans, who I had met in the hot tub last night. I finally left at 10:45, as the guys were still at the bottom of the lift, they yet had to go up the lift, and then start down the course one at a time. I thought, "I have already given up too much precious ski time; I'm not spending another hour here."
While sitting there, I could feel my forehead turning into a tomato. It was so hot out there; it would have been great to be in shorts. I mean you know it wasn't that cold if two guys could stand there for almost an hour in only Speedos. I have so much suntan lotion and block at home, and didn't bring one tube.
I had a great day of skiing alone, which I genuinely love. I probably only skied half the mountain, if that much.
After skiing, I walked to a souvenir store, where I bought 30 post cards, a fridge magnet, and some sunscreen. I passed a gas station: $2.65 for regular, $2.75 for extra, and $2.85 for premium.
Back at the lodge, I went into the hot tub where Jon B, and several of the boys were again. No one could tell me who actually won the Speedo contest. Hans was there, and he did not win. Later on one of the guys came, I can't remember his name, and he had come in third. Two people mentioned the one guy who ended up going down in a thong. He fell and had this huge raspberry on his butt cheek. Two guys actually fell during their race. I've never mentioned that his was a slalom race they were doing in their undies. They had to weave in and out of the flags, and were being timed. The person with the best time won.
Most of the people in the hot tub were going on some kind of sunset cruise tonight, and they all left by 5:00 in order to make the 5:30 shuttle that was taking them to their boat. I ended up staying in the tub with Ken and Amy -- Ken from Houston, and Amy from Jacksonville. They were both very nice, and we had good conversation. Ken works at an oil company, and Amy is a pediatrician in the Navy.
After hot tubbing, I came back to my room, caught up this journal, wrote out some post cards, had dinner, and hit the sack by 9:00. Tomorrow I plan to ski Sierra, which is another slope in the area.