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The eight day trip west is over.  I only give the highlights so that I can hang on just a little while longer to an absolutely wonderful trip that was way too short and ended way, way too soon.


My guy and I had a late four hour or so flight out of Houston Intercontinental last Wednesday arriving in Sacramento around eight at night.  By the time we checked into our hotel it was ten or so.  Early the next morning we made the beautiful two hour drive up US Hwy 50 to South Lake Tahoe…by 10:30 we had rented our skis, purchased the lift tickets, and were on the lifts heading to the top of the mountain. 

Heavenly is a great place to ski and, unlike last year, the area has gotten a ton of snow this winter.  With a base elevation of around 6,000 ft and a peak that is over 10,000, I’m always impressed as we take the lifts up more than three quarters of a mile to get to the top of the mountain.  The view on the way up looking out over Lake Tahoe and the high Sierra Nevada mountains is nothing short of spectacular. 

Last year, when we went, I mentioned here that prior to that ski trip the last time I had skied was thirty seven years ago but, in spite of all that time, it was bit like riding a bicycle for it came right back.  However, last year I was most out of shape…this year, in anticipation, I had been riding my bike religiously for four months and I really could tell the difference in strength. 

Both me and my man are way above average skiers (I skied much more than he did years ago…he has skied much more I have in the past ten years or so).  Last year he ate my lunch due to me having fallen out of the sport for so long and being out of shape.  This year we were pretty much even as we traded places being first at the bottom of each run.  As well, due to all the snow the place has had, including a full week of it just prior to us arriving, the slopes were in near perfect condition.  The lack of hard, often icy, runs eliminated the kind of monumental wipe outs we both suffered a time or two last year.  Also, the weather was just perfect with the temperature being in the low 30’s during the day and, for the most part, sunny.  Except when being at the absolute top of the mountain, where the wind, at times, can cut one in two, you couldn’t ask for better skiing conditions. 

Heavenly is not a super good place for beginners to learn, one reason we both like the place.  Most of the runs are intermediate and expert in difficulty, and sometimes a combination of the two (ski runs are classified as beginner [green], intermediate [blue], and expert [black] and are clearly marked as such).  Almost any decent intermediate skier can handle all but the meanest of expert runs if they so choose but, speaking from experience, an intermediate and above run can spell absolute disaster for a beginner.  Couple the fairly narrow width of the runs and you just don’t see many beginners at Heavenly which is a good thing for one is not as likely to either run over or get run over by an inexperienced skier.  We were there on a Thursday (not too crowded at all) and a Friday (kinda sorta crowded) and as anyone who skis will tell you, the fewer people on the runs the better the conditions and the more enjoyable it is…beginners tend to clog things up a bit. 

So, for two full days we skied our butts off and had a great time.  We skied both the California and the Nevada side from one end to the other.  Every so often we would drop into one of the lodges, take a break, and warm up with a large, whipped cream topped hot chocolate…for lunch we’d grab a burger on the run.  Though perhaps not the last down off the mountain at the end of the day, we were close.  It was great to get two full days of skiing in. 

Friday, after turning in our equipment, we stopped by a micro brewery and had a bite to eat and a couple of home brews before settling in to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  I’m sure Canada did its best, but both of us were pretty disappointed in their effort.  For that matter, with the lack of snow, the alpine events as a whole have been sort of lame.  A tough break for Vancouver for sure. 

I have to comment on the death of the Georgian Luge participant.  When the commentator came on announcing the death and warning that the video might be “disturbing”, like many, I watched.  After all, most the time when such a warning is given prior to showing a “graphic” video the truth is that generally it’s not all that big of a thing.  But seeing that kid somersault out of the luge run and then hitting the steel support column sideways at near ninety miles an hour before coming to an abrupt, instant stop, and then laying there not having even the slightest of the slightest movement afterwards…all within less than a blink of the eye…gave me a deep, immediate, sickening feeling.  I just sat there stunned after they played the video.  For perhaps the first time ever I wished I had not watched.  It was one of the most horrible, numbing things I’ve ever seen… 

Saturday morning we checked out and headed back down Hwy 50 for the drive first to Sacramento and then on towards Santa Rosa.  My mother-in-law lives almost exactly between Sonoma and Santa Rosa just off of Hwy 12 in the Valley of the Moon…right smack dab in the middle of the Napa/Sonoma wine country.   

The real reason we go out west is to visit my mother-in-law; the skiing is actually incidental.  The lady is simply a joy to be around.  Her home is snuggled up on the foothills of a mountain in the back and the front overlooks the Sonoma valley wine country.  As my man takes a couple of days to tend to her tax business, she and I visit and talk.  Some time prior to my own mother passing away seven years ago, I developed a great sense of appreciation for the wisdom the elderly hold and sitting with her talking is simply wonderful. 

This year, I finally got to meet my husband’s sister.  She lives in Sacramento and drove over for the weekend.  My mother-in-law took us, along with another older couple of whom she is very close friends, out to dinner Saturday night.  The six of us had a splendid time over a superb dinner and several bottles of local wine.  My sister-in-law and I hit it off immediately and we all laughed and cut up to no end.  It was simply a wonderful evening and, to some extent, the perfect top off of our ski trip that had only officially ended upon our arrival just a few hours before. 

My sister-in-law split back home on Sunday afternoon and much of Monday was just spent visiting and “making family”.  The weather for the entire trip was about as good as it gets, sunny and mild, so on Tuesday, our last full day, my guy suggested the three of us get out and enjoy the area.  We ended up heading south on I-101 toward San Francisco.  On the way there we decided to check out Muir Woods National Monument.  Muir Woods National Monument is adjacent to San Francisco/Oakland Bay area, though once one turns off of the interstate highway the city is nowhere even remotely in sight.  The drive on I-101 approaching the Bay area is absolutely magnificent, there is just no two ways about it.  I’ve been there on several occasions starting back almost 40 years ago.  As pretty as it is, I’ve never had any desire to live there…nor California, for that matter (though I could quite possibly make an exception if it was in the Santa Rosa/Sonoma/Napa area…LOL).  While on a contract six years ago, I did live in SOCAL for a good while.  But as nice as California can be, it does have a few serious drawbacks I don’t care for and I’ve never considered living there.  That said, it is a very beautiful state, and the Bay area is a spectacular place to visit if one never has. 

We didn’t spend much time at Muir Woods proper due to my mother-in-law not being able to walk much.  Though she is quite active and alert, lives alone, drives herself, etc., she was having a slight problem with her back and a bit uncomfortable on this day.  So after a brief visit, we hopped back on the Pacific Coast Highway to take advantage of the scenic drive up the California Pacific coast.  I’ve traveled quite a bit of the PCA, as it’s known…perhaps 25% of it.  Considering the PCA basically runs from one end of California to the other and beyond, traveling a third of it at different times over the years is quite a bit.  Each time I am blown away at how pretty a drive it is.  This time we drove from Muir Beach north through Stinson Beach, along Tomales Bay to just South of Bodega Bay (where we went last year with his mother, driving further North up the PCA).  South of Bodega Bay, we headed in toward Santa Rosa and back home.  The PCA is not for the feint of heart; it is known not only for its scenic views but for being very winding, very narrow, few guardrails to keep one from plunging down monumental cliffs into the Pacific, and elevations that have the drive going from near sea level to hundreds and hundreds of feet above.  The afternoon was a nearly six hour super drive. 

Hating to go, but nonetheless having to, Wednesday morning saw us back on the road heading to Sacramento to catch our plane at 12:30…and we did, getting back to Houston at just after six in the evening…a daylight flight, much better.  Shortly before eight we were safe and sound and back home. 

Yesterday I gardened.  The tomatoes and onions are planted; the herbs were pruned; some iris tubers I got out in California were planted.  I got a few rose bushes today and will plant them tomorrow. 

Life is back to status quo…is good. 

On a different note, Thomas Beattie, The Pregnant Man, is pregnant AGAIN 

On still another different note, Tiger Woods apologized.  I happened to be watching television when he held the news conference.  The whole thing gave new meaning to the term “prepared statement”.  It was about as ridiculous a thing as I’ve ever seen.  I have to agree with one commentator’s opinion that he appeared to be “robotic”Whatever…he didn’t seem very contrite to me, much less genuine in what and how he had to say.


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