Lake Tahoe Getaway
If you're planning your next winter roadtrip and want to stay fairly local, Lake Tahoe is a great option. To get there you coast along a very scenic 7-8 drive from LA and even though it sounds like quite a few hours, it's totally worth the trip. Personally, I'm a huge cold weather fan and even though I'm from a tropical country, I enjoy wearing lots of layers, thick coats and powder snow as much as your average Eskimo girl. So you could say I was pretty pumped!
In January I had the opportunity to take this trip and go skiing for the first time ever with my boyfriend Alex. Now, I had seen snow several times before, but I had never embarked on any winter sport adventures. I was eager to get in that winter gear and give the snowy mountain a shot.
When we got there we stayed at The Landing Resort & Spa. This place is one of my favorite boutique hotels out there. It sits on waterfront property (breathtaking views), has outstanding amenities (pamper your socks off), stone fireplaces in every room (so romantic), heated floors (you come to truly appreciate this when you have to wake up super early and it's 6 degrees Fahrenheit outside -spoiled much?-) and awesome service all around.
The rooms are so cozy and inviting. I love the look and feel of mountain cabins, they make me want to snuggle up under a blanket and watch movies. Check it out, The Landing Boutique Hotel.
We arrived late that night and were ready to go to bed, but were surprised to know that the concierge at the hotel was ready to send up staff with ski gear so we could try it on and have it all ready for the next day. In my first-timer ski mentality this was diva-esque and unnecessary, but Alex made me realize how useful this was, since we didn't have to spend any time in line at the ski shops to rent boots and skis the next morning. They would simply pick us up at the lobby and take us straight to the mountain with all our gear on point. More time on the mountain, less time standing in line? Yes, please! Thank-you-very-much hotel services.
On our first day of skiing, we went to Heavenly Ski Resort. This place is right in the border of CA and NV and consists of 97 runs and 30 lifts spread out on 4 base facilities. What does this mean? Hours and hours of skiing in a humongous mountain. You can take the lifts as high up as 10,000 ft (3000 mts) and even drink some boozy hot cocoa when you get to the resting area -fuuun!-
Let me tell you, putting on those skis was not an easy feat; I was wearing the big ski boots and walked like the Yeti the entire day. I think when we (I mean me) see people skiing we (again, me) forget about what they're wearing and think it's a breeze. I imagined myself flying through the slopes, cutting sharp angles and even taking some jumps. This is not the case. If you have been skiing or snowboarding, you know what I'm talking about.
First of all, making your way up the tiny hills to get on the lift, even before you start skiing, is like skating on butter. Wearing long, narrow paddles on your feet takes some getting used to. Anyways, Alex told me we should start on the "Bunny slopes", aka. the amateur hill. (Note: He's skied before, also, he has the patience of Buddha).
We got on the lift and when it was the time to get off, I panicked because I honestly didn't know how to get off of it. So I literally just jumped off of it, lost my balance, fell down and instinctevely ducked so the lift wouldn't hit me in the head. Such a graceful start. However, I wasn't going to let it determine how the rest of my ski adventure was going to be.
We went down the bunny slopes maybe twice. I fell going down the first time, didn't know how to get back up (it takes some serious ankle strength to pull yourself to a standing position) and then Alex taught me the master principles of the Pizza and the French Fries. These are tasty descriptions to symbolize what to do with your skis when you're going downhill. Do the pizza to stop and the fries to keep going straight. Fair enough. I think I got this.
After I fell down hard in the middle of the snow and used my body to stop a lady coming down the hill (not on purpose) which left me a purple knee and some tears in my eyes that I had to hold back, Alex and I decided that we should ditch the bunny slopes, and that it was time for me to graduate to big-girl-slopes. Purple knee and all.
This left me the next snippet of knowledge:
Tip #1: The Bunny Slopes are like a high school parking lot. Dangerous! Everybody falls, nobody knows what they're doing and more importantly, nobody knows how to stop. All big no-no's if you're trying to keep your bones intact. If it's your first time skiing go down it once, maybe twice. Then grab some courage and go up higher. People are less likely to crash with you if there's more space to do your own thing.
By this time I got the hang of getting on and off the lifts, and also a little bit more skill going down the hills. Quick learner or good teacher, you decide. Like they say, the best way to learn how to swim is jumping right into the pool. Right? Okay... maybe it's not the best way, but it sure does force you to learn fast.
On some fashion notes, I wore four layers of clothing this day. A long sleeved shirt, a thermal Columbia shirt, a thermal water wicking Champion hoodie, and on top I wore a waterproof ski jacket, those last two items I found at Target (Skiing and snow are not regular in SoCal, so I didn't want to go all out in some Moncler goods). I have to say I was very impressed with my buys, they kept me warm and dry the entire day. Go Target! On the bottom I wore some thermal leggings and North Face ski pants. I have to admit wearing all this noisy waterproof gear made me feel like I was a cranberry farmer, but a girl's got to do what's necessary to stay warm and not loose any toes or ears in the snow.
Tip #2: Wear waterproof everything! I saw people in jeans and tshirts, to which I concluded they must be local and desensitized to cold temperatures. For us regular folk, waterproof your life. You'll fall down and get snow on every crevice, make sure it won't stay wet. If you stay dry, you'll stay warm.
Tip #3: Whenever you see a kiosk at the bottom of the hill, with a bunch of people resting outside, it's a signal to stop skiing for a while and take a hot cocoa break (with or without alcohol). Go there, take your skis off, and ask for a Dirty Snowman. You won't regret it.
We skied from 11AM to 3PM and by the end of the day, I was a self-proclaimed expert. Okay... no. This was just for the picture, but the views were incredible.
We skied, we had boozy hot drinks, I fell, got back up again, twisted my ankles a couple of times, almost cried, laughed a lot and felt immensely happy and terrified at the same time for most of it. Isn't that what new experiences are all about?
Now, tell me how your first time skiing or snowboarding was in the comments below!