A series of mishaps delayed our skiing on another cloudy, snow-filled morning. Firstly, having plodded from the hotel in our buckled-up boots to the brink of the gondola, climbing over foot high piles of snow deposited by the ubiquitous snow ploughs (which we also had to dodge at regular intervals), we discovered that we had left our ski passes in our room. So no prizes for who had to trudge back to the room, clambering over those twelve inch snow stashes and swerving out of the way of those pesky but heroic snow dispersal vehicles.
As it was our last day, and we would have to return all of our ski equipment, including the boots, later today, we had our moon boots with us which we intended to place in a locker whilst we were out skiing. Whilst I had been wending my weary way back and forth from the hotel room, Janet had been attempting to deposit the moon boots in the locker, but finding that the magnetic strips on both her cheque and credit cards would not be read (the machines did not take cash). However, not for the first time in the morning, she was the recipient of an act of real kindness – a young American couple passing by paid the $6 for her.
Skis and poles collected, we made our way up the gondola to get an early start on the mountain, only for Janet to reveal, on the gruelling uphill walk to the Tamarack chairlift, that she had lost her backpack, complete with phone, cheque and credit cards, and, most alarmingly, her driving licence.
We could only think that she had inadvertently taken it off whilst we were sat in the gondola being distracted by a Grizzly Adams lookalike quizzing us on the virtues of the British National Health Service. It transpired also that this fifty / sixty something hulk who lived locally had just taken his first ever trip to Vegas (he hadn’t been impressed because there’s nothing else to do there but gamble – we begged to disagree).
Anyway, I digress outrageously – you are desperate to know what happened to Janet’s backpack aren’t you?. I left her distraught whilst I trudged / plodded / yomped back (again) to the gondola to report the loss. The guy at the top of the gondola contacted his compadres at the bottom, asking them to look out for it, and the long wait started. Now the gondola ride is around 15 minutes, so it would take some time before we would know the outcome of their investigations. Well, despite my faith in the inherent goodness of both the skiing community and the American people, I will confess that I felt it was a goner, so long was the resulting vigil.
Eventually, after around an hour, the message came from the bottom that it had been retrieved and was being held in Guest Services in the village. Thank you to the resort staff and to whoever handed it in, my faith was duly returned.
At last, we could begin our final day skiing, but that hardly went to plan either. Now I’ll own up that we are both fair weather skiers – which is why we always ski in March when the snow has given way to the sun – yeah right. By the time we were ready to go the weather had closed in again and whilst the snow conditions underneath were awesome – to lapse into the Californian vernacular – the dull visibility and bitter swirling wind cutting into our cheeks like needles, was not much fun. In addition, despite repeated reminders that I should have invested in light rather than dark goggles, I just could not see in front of me – at eye or feet level.
So we retired early to the magnificent new Tamarack Lodge for a couple of beers whilst we watched for the weather to improve – which it did, and then didn’t, then did again and didn’t again, all at five minute intervals – well, that’s the way in the mountains. The upper lifts then went on to wind hold, which finished us off.
It’s at this point that I have a confession to make – I fell over. However, nobody, including Janet, saw me, so I would be grateful, dear reader, if you kept that to yourself.
Returning to the village, collecting Janet’s backpack and (finally) returning our skis, boots and poles, we took solace in a late lunch at the American River Café in Harrah’s (another two egg all day American breakfast for me!). The remainder of the afternoon was taken up shopping, packing, blogging and watching that great documentary on the Giants’ World Series win again.
Our final evening meal was at our favourite South Lake Tahoe restaurant, the Riva Grill on Ski Run Marina. It didn’t disappoint – my shrimp and lobster bisque and seared diver scallops were divine, whilst Janet enjoyed steamed clams in a white wine and pepper sauce, followed by Seafood Tagliarini. A bottle of Charles Krug sauvignon blanc from the Napa Valley was a great complement to the food.
There was one final mild misadventure on our return from the restaurant. We.had decided to walk there and back – around a half hour trek each way. We thought we could take a short cut through the car park of the Tahoe Vacation Resort which we would save us a couple of hundred yards. However, at the end of the car park was a steep – well, steep enough – wall of snow that we had to climb over to get back on the roadside path. Janet managed to negotiate it with her dignity intact, but having planted my left foot on what I thought was a solid block of snow, I sunk into the snow almost up to my unmentionables. Worse still, only my foot emerged, leaving my moon boot embedded in the snow. Whilst I dangled my sodden, frozen leg in the air Janet dug the boot out of the snow, no easy task, and foot and boot were reunited. A deeply uncomfortable walk back to town ensued.
Finally, yes, my favourite subject – the penny slots. Mindful of an early start, we did not tarry long at our favourite machines, but long enough to turn a $20 stake in to $30 – high rollers or what?