First Snow

This post is for all those folks who are stuck in oppressively hot and humid summer weather. Enjoy this little taste of winter…

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OK Walker. It’s the middle of summer and as you continue to tell me, “July is a SUMMER month and we need to wear shorts,” and while that’s not always true in San Francisco, it is safe to say that talking about snow right now doesn’t feel right. However, life has been busy and I feel the need to tell you all about the first time you went to Tahoe and played in the snow despite the fact that you’re wearing shorts to school.

It won’t surprise you to know that I got a bee in my bonnet and felt that it was time to take the family up to play in the record-breaking snow fall in the Sierras. Not having been to Tahoe in almost 20 years and forgetting what little knowledge may have once had about the area, I turned to my online community to inquire where we should take you for your first trip to the winter wonderland. The overwhelming suggestion was Granlibakken and luckily, someone informed me that there was a 2 for 1 special running so Mommy even got a good deal on the room (always a plus).

We went up President’s day weekend. Before we left, Mommy and Daddy made multiple trips to Sports Basement to gear up on hats, mittens, gloves, coats and long underwear for the three of us. (Thank goodness we saved the money on the room because we certainly gave the credit card a workout preparing for the trip.)

The drive up was, well, epic. (And not because of weather — it was bright and sunny the entire way.) We didn’t realize until long after we had the insanely wonderful, fully-loaded hot dogs in Placerville, that we had taken a wrong turn south of Sacramento and were headed up toward the wrong end of Lake Tahoe which would add on about two hours to the drive. But the drive was easy, and we didn’t have much choice but to sit back and enjoy the miles and miles (and miles) of cabins covered in many feet of snow and the crystal blue waters of the Lake.

We arrived just as you were becoming impatient to get to the hotel (and honestly, we were a bit on edge after the 90th playing of the PHINEAS AND FERB soundtrack which you insisted on hearing for the duration of the drive). The snow drifts were over our heads as we drove into the parking lot and you were vibrating with anticipation of taking a big dive into the snow. But you were patient and we got our keys, drove to the room and brought our bags upstairs. Silly Mommy, thinking that we might be able to catch a nap before heading out to experience the snow even though you said you were tired. We lay in bed and you giggled and talked for 30 minutes before we threw in the towel and geared up for your first romp in the snow.

But, unlike home where we toss on a light jacket in the middle of winter, we needed to get into all that snazzy gear from Sports Basement. First there was the thermal underwear and shirt. Then the jeans and the pirate snowboard socks that would fit an 8 year old. A long sleeve shirt over the thermals and that was just the beginning. Mommy and Daddy suited up and then we finished you off with your snow pants, snow boots, coat and mittens. Twenty minutes later, we headed out the door. It was 50 degrees and sunny. Ah well.

Granlibakken is up in the woods and has its own little ski and sledding hill. We stopped by to check it out and Daddy had to jump out of the way to miss some tween speeding down in a saucer on one of the last runs of the day. Daddy pulled a muscle and was instantly on high alert for injury by high-speed plastic disc. You thought it was AWESOME.

We decided to meander back toward the room and cut between the tennis courts and the lodge. We walked into some drifts with you leading the way. You were light enough that you were able to walk on top of the snow but you hit a patch that wasn’t so strong and your foot sank deep into the snow and you fell over, hip deep in cold white soup. You screamed and giggled. At that moment, you were one big bubble of pure joy.

We explored a bit more and added on to a snowman someone had started but soon we decided it was time to get ready for dinner. Shedding a few layers, we ventured out to a highly-recommended restaurant in Tahoe City. You were excited to eat and talking a million miles a minute when we left the room but you fell fast asleep before we left the hotel compound. You were so exhausted you remained asleep as I wrestled you (and your gear) out of the car, waited 20 minutes for our table and consumed a glass of wine. Your little eyes opened the moment your hot dog and french fries arrived and you were certainly awake enough to dig into an ice cream sundae.

The next day we enjoyed the amazing buffet at the hotel and prepared for our dog sledding adventure at Squaw Valley — requiring another 30 minutes to gear up. You were so excited for the adventure but the moment we arrived you were a bit wary of all the barking dogs that had a hearty breakfast and were, shall we say, completing the digestion process. We got in our sled with every piece of clothing we could find while our musher stood behind the sled in a pair of jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt. It was 50 degrees.

The dogs couldn’t wait to drag 800 pounds of people and equipment across the snow-covered golf course. They yelped and barked until they were allowed to take off and show us the majestic scenery of the Valley. Mommy and Daddy asked all sorts of questions. You fell asleep in Mommy’s lap within ten minutes.

You woke up just as we ended the trip and insisted I carry you back up the hill to the car. The sun was extremely bright for your little eyes and Sherpa Mommy hadn’t had a Diet Coke so we went in search of sunglasses and caffeine. We found the former and got you some nifty blue skull glasses to match your socks. Mommy was out of luck. We found a Safeway and got ourselves some lunch items and a sled.

Back at the hotel we attempted another nap but you were not having any of it. You were telling us stories about Batman, Robin, Superman, Cat Woman, Batgirl, and Walker. Again we gave up and suited up to go sledding.

We decided to see what the hills were like behind the hotel for your first run and happened upon a Dad and two boys who had built a sled path not far from our car. It was perfect. You could hike up the hill, the run was steep and fast but just long enough that you didn’t get scared. And, they had built a cool little jump and a berm at the bottom so we could really fly but not worry about skidding into any cars or trees. They had even tricked it out so that you could try to grab a tennis ball on the way down if you were really feeling lucky.

Mommy hadn’t been sledding in years and it took a few runs for me to remember how to steer the crazy red plastic missile. It was second nature to Daddy and you two sped down the hill with giggles and screams. You hated walking back up the hill and begged us to carry you but as long as we gave you a fist full of snow to munch on, you were satisfied to slog to the top on your own.

Mommy was focused on making a snowman. In all my years in the Midwest, I had never remembered doing that. The snow was heavy and wet and I struggled to put the body and head on the huge base I had created but I conquered that snow and we made a very impressive figure. You helped decorate it and we brought Snow Batman and his snowmobile to supervise.

As the sun set behind the mountain, you and Daddy had one last run down the hill. Mommy decided to run as fast as I could down the drifts and did a rather impressive face plant into the soft snow. All the boys were shocked as Mommy came up laughing, looking like the Abominable Snow Man. With pants, socks and shoes sopping wet, we made our way back to the room and changed for dinner. What we didn’t know was that we’d left Snow Batman behind…

We decided to make it an early night and headed for dinner at 5:30 in the hotel. You were so excited and we were the second table seated. You feel asleep eating a french fry. You were instantly awake the moment the band invited the kids in the room to play instruments with them. You stole the show.

Another morning and another amazing buffet. Mommy ate everything in sight, Daddy exhibited some self control, and you pecked at a muffin. We suited up one more time and you really wanted to try the hill “where Daddy had to jump out of the way.” Now, this was a really BIG hill. You could ski down it. We brought our sled and rented a saucer. You braved it like a trooper but it was really too big and busy to have much fun so we decided to head back to check out the private run. We also thought we’d see if we could find Snow Batman who we said went on a “mission.”

As we approached the hill, Mommy spotted a small blue spot in the middle of the hill. There was Batman. He had fallen out of Mommy’s pocket during the kamikaze hill descent the night before. However, we were not the first ones to find him. Something small with very sharp teeth found him first and after gnawing on his head, decided he was not interesting enough to keep or eat. (Today he is with Helicopter Batman, Motorcycle Batman, Black Batman and all the rest of your superheroes, villains and other guys in your toy bin. He bores them nightly with tales of his close call in Tahoe. Green Lantern told me so…)

Luckily the run was still in good condition albeit a bit icy. We went down a few times but it was much faster than the day before and that jump really catapulted us into the air. After about 30 minutes we had a run where we got four feet of air and we hit the ground with a big thud. Mommy decided to end the day with that one before needing an emergency trip to the chiropractor.

The trip home was much shorter than up since we followed the proper route and we all had a fantastic time. There will be many more years in the snow (wearing the same clothes since we purchased them so oversize). While the trip was almost seven months ago, it feels like yesterday and we will never forget the joy and fun of your first snow.

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