4th of July in Tahoe with Moons

You know things are getting back to normal when we’re in Tahoe with the Moons for 4th of July. We had intentions of setting out early on Friday morning, but didn’t quite make it. It didn’t seem to make much difference because traffic was bad.

For as many times as we’ve passed Ikeda’s on the way up, Grace has never been. The kids and I stopped on our first Airstream trip, but they don’t really remember. We had a good stop for lunch and groceries.

When we’re at home, the kids spend most of their waking hours gaming with the Moon boys online. In Tahoe, it was the same, but in person. Just kidding – they spent time playing chess, ping pong and a little time outdoors, too.

Our biggest excursion was tubing down the Truckee river. We have done it in the past with rafting operators, but Mike had the gear for DIY tubing thanks to a pickup from Clara and Grace at the end. Speaking of pickups, Mike’s Ohio roots are starting to show with his new Ram truck! Grace has been informed that we’re getting a Raptor so we can duel.

My tube started to deflate on the first leg, which was exciting. I also spent the first leg of the trip Googling “Is the iPhone 11 waterproof?,” but I never had enough signal. It turns out it is! The kids worked well together to keep us out of danger. We ran into a couple friends on the river, which was a pleasant surprise.

Saturday evening, we couldn’t convince Clara and Grace to head to the barn to see Wonder Bread 5, but Mike and I wouldn’t miss it. Sunday was pretty chill as we celebrated America’s birthday. Olivia caught a fish (they’re not smart this early in the season).

We were able to squeeze in a little Thando baseball after dinner before getting in the car to return home. We were talking in the car about how we never really make it a point to see fireworks on the 4th and we’re often driving back from festivities at that time. This time, we saw ALL the fireworks on the way home, which really didn’t end as we arrived before midnight.

Thanks to the Moons for hosting us again in Tahoe. It’s always beautiful and relaxing. The kids (and adults) have been having fun together since birth and I hope they never outgrow their special friendship.

Week in Tahoe with the Moons

We’ve had many Tahoe adventures with the Moons over the years. Now that their home is finally ready, we were honored to be the first guests to break in the house (figuratively and literally). I guess the real honor goes to Ed’s bachelor party, but there wasn’t a speck of glitter anywhere, so it’s like it never happened.

We arrived on Monday and had lunch at the family barn, which is just a short walk from their home. It wasn’t hard to keep busy for a week with so much to do. The kids got started on a fort, which kept them busy throughout the week. Olivia is really wanting a dog, so spending time with Thando was good practice.

On Tuesday, Elin, Mike and I took the kids to the ropes course, which was challenging and a lot of fun for everyone. It’s a little bit Truman Show to be able to either fish or go bowling only 100 yards apart, but those were our options in the afternoon. Elin took Nico and Lucas bowling while Alex, Olivia and I went fishing. We heard they’re getting smarter and they did prove hard to catch. I got lucky and snagged a 10-12″ trout. Eventually the others found us and both Nico and Olivia hooked a fish but both fell off before landing them.

On July 4th, Mike wanted to go on a hike/adventure he had heard about at Crystal Peak. Apparently, the Crystal Mine trail ends on a mountain of quartz, which is there for the taking (one bucket-full per car per day). We had no real idea where we were going and there was a dispute between Google Maps, Waze and the internet. We also ended up off-roading for miles and had read that the last part of the trail required 4-wheel drive and clearance. I think we looked a bit out of place with all of the 4-wheel dune buggies whizzing by, but we made it all the way up. The kids thought it was fun.

There was no real objective when looking at a huge pile of rocks, so we told them to start digging up a huge crystal embedded in the mountain. That kept them busy for an hour or so (not even close to dislodging it). Eventually they started to search for and collect clear crystals, which were also hard to come by. After a couple hours, we decided to head out and went out a different way, which we were hoping was a little easier on the car. It wasn’t. The rugged terrain lulled everyone to sleep for what turned out to be a 65-mile drive deep into Nevada and back to Tahoe.

Grace brought a lot of food, which included a colorful 4th of July BBQ featuring Fred Steaks. We finished early enough to head down to Tahoe City to catch the fireworks. Things didn’t get underway until well past 9:30pm when it got truly dark out. Of the 600+ photos I took on the trip, it’s possible that 300+ were of fireworks. I posted one, which still looks terrible. I think the iPhone has those nailed.

Thursday, we wanted to go to the beach on Lake Tahoe. Thando was joining us, so it had to be dog-friendly, which ruled out our usual Sand Harbor. Mike determined that Chimney Beach was the place to go, but it has limited parking so we got a very early start and were one of the first people there. Elin and I were trying to guess the water temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Either way, it was super cold, but the kids and Elin braved it (well, Lucas was less brave). We stopped at the Lone Eagle restaurant in Incline Village for lunch, which was well deserved after the big hike back to the cars. Clara, Mike, Grace and I had one adults-only dinner out at Plumpjack Cafe at Squaw Valley.

Friday, we played putt-putt, which wasn’t the hit it through the windmill type, but rather real greens meandering through the neighborhood. There was a lot of slope to the greens, which resulted in some big scores. Some of the group stopped after 9 holes, but Elin, Nico, Lucas and I pressed on to finish 18. There was a great family festival going on, which kept the kids busy for a while. Mike, Grace and I left early to play real golf. The Martis Camp course is so beautiful and is in amazing condition (until we came along). Mike got some advice to stay out of the bunkers, which was sage. It didn’t help.

On Saturday, we had one last meal together and prepared to head home to the real world. The kids were excited to show us their fort, which was a legit lean-to. We were sad to leave after such a fun-filled week with our gracious hosts. Thank you, Moons, for another amazing vacation together.

Ski Week in Tahoe with Moons and Uncle Dave

The last couple of ski weeks, we went to Colorado in search of snow. However, this year’s wet weather gave us more confidence that Tahoe would work out and we got even more than we bargained for. We rented a house with the Moons in Martis Camp. Their brother, Ed, joined us and then Dave came up for the second half of the week. We ran into friends from home and school, including Mrs. Zirelli, who was both kids’ first grade teacher, and Mrs. Lawson, Olivia’s teacher this year.

We arrived on Saturday just as a storm was coming in. It started snowing and basically didn’t stop for the week we were there. The first couple days it was dumping heavy, wet snow. It cooled down after that and the snow turned light and powdery. It was the most powder I’ve skied just about anywhere. The first day was a little tough for Olivia and Lucas, but when the snow lightened up, they got the hang of it.

We skied six days straight, which is a record for us. By the end of the week, Olivia was crushing some legit black diamonds and skiing the glades. On the last couple days, Lucas also opted for some real black diamonds. He struggled a bit with a full steep mogul run, but got back on his fast groomer and skied about a third of his last run through the glades.

Grace cooked a lot during the week, so we only made it into the village on the last night. Everyone was pretty tired, but Lucas got hooked on Settlers of Catan and really wanted to play. He stayed up until 12:15am to crush me and was quite pleased with his domination (with Grace). We had a great time together with our friends and look forward to our next adventure together.

2nd Annual End of Summer Airstream Trip

We all had such a great time on our Airstream trip last summer and it generated a lot of interest among friends. Jeremy showed the most initiative and several months ago, we had two Airstreams booked for the end of August. It wasn’t clear how committed the ladies were to a week on the RV, so I planned an itinerary that gave them an out after a few days. Grace also preemptively booked a hotel room in Tahoe.

As it happens, life gets in the way of the best laid plans and the Rogers family had to back out (reschedule?) at the last minute, which was totally understandable. I was still happy with my itinerary and Grace initially set the expectation that she would join for the first half. Right up until the last minute, I had planned to drop Grace off at the ferry so she could find her way home, but in the end she said she would join us for the whole week and she even cancelled her hotel room.

We rented again from Elite RV, which is under new ownership. Elaine actually reached out to me earlier this year after finding my last blog post and let me know they had taken over. Her husband, Brian, was also super helpful in coordinating the logistics. Because it was Jeremy’s first time pulling an RV, they were going to take one of the smaller ones and only the 19′ was available as the 20′ we used last year was booked. I opted for the one 25′ that was available, with only slight concerns that it was at the towing capacity of our truck. Along the way, Brian reached out and said he had a tight turn on the 25′ and asked if I wouldn’t mind taking the 27′ instead. I was only expecting it to be the 3.5 of us, so we really didn’t need such a big rig, but I figured it would be a good chance to test the extreme.

We picked up the Airstream at noon on Saturday and pretty quickly got underway, as I had been through the drill before. I immediately sensed the extra 2,000 lbs we were hauling and proceeded gingerly on our way up to … Marin. My theory was that the kids would have fun if we parked this thing in our driveway, so I figured they wouldn’t mind a semi-staycation for part of the trip. Ann and Jeremy used to live in Greenbrae, so I thought it would be a good chance for their kids to experience their parents old hometown. Even after they backed out, I figured it would be a great chance for the kids (and us) to do San Francisco stuff, which we rarely do.

Thus, we descended upon Marin RV Park. While it was a lot nicer than where we stayed in Half Moon Bay last year, it’s really about a 9 iron from the 101 on one side and a short swim to San Quentin State Prison on the other. The real benefit was being walking distance to the Larkspur ferry, which was part of my agenda. The kids always have fun with the Moon boys, who joined us for a bit last year. I asked them to come along on this trip, but they had already started school. We were in their backyard, so we met them for dinner at Farmshop at the Marin Country Mart on Saturday. The kids romped around on those big trees for hours.

We were back at it (Marin Country Mart) on Sunday morning for breakfast at Rustic Bakery before we headed out for a hike. It was one of the 5 things I had on my list of things to do that day. We drove up to the trail head on Mt. Tam and did the Steep Ravine Trail. Lucas was objecting to such a long hike and put a hard limit at 3.5 miles. Thankfully we were under it at 2.6 miles and the entire hike was downhill to the ocean. The kids had fun along the way and the hike went by fast for everyone. We took the bus back up to our cars and then headed back to the RV for the afternoon until dinner at … wait for it … Sushi Ko at Marin Country Mart.

Monday morning, we cooked our first meal on the RV before heading to the Larkspur Ferry, which we were going to ride into the city. Of course we  went to MCM for a quick stop while waiting for the next boat. The ferry ride was a lot of fun and the weather was typical for SF summer (cool and windy). We had lunch at Slanted Door (not exactly roughing it so far on this trip). Afterwards, we spent the afternoon at the Exploratorium, which was the first time we had all been to the new location on the Embarcadero. Hours of fun. Next on the agenda was a cable car ride. Grace has been in the Bay Area for 20 years and had never ridden it and neither had the kids. We indulged in a pedi-cab ride down to Fisherman’s Wharf, right past my old Bluelight.com office. We waited about an hour and the kids were super patient, though when asked if it was worth it, the answer was “maybe not.” We took it to the end of the line at Powell, picked up our favorites at the SF Center food court, Ubered back to the Ferry Building, and caught the 2nd to last ferry back to Larkspur.

Tuesday morning we had breakfast again on the RV before packing up and heading up to Tahoe. We stopped for lunch at our usual Il Fornaio in Roseville, which was convenient because I needed a big lot in which to park the Airstream. We only took up 6 spaces. It ended up being a long stop at the mall for some last minute supplies (and Merry-Go-Round and Pinkberry). Finally we were back on the road and arrived at Coachland RV park again in Truckee just after 5pm. Dinner that night was ramen in the RV.

On Wednesday, we drove over to South Lake Tahoe in the morning to spend the afternoon on a fishing charter. This was a first for our family and after not getting a nibble last year on Donner, I wanted to increase our chances of catching something. There was one other family on the boat and everyone, including Captain Sammy and his deckhand, Greg, couldn’t have been nicer. They set the expectations that the salmon for which we were fishing were difficult to land (about 50%) and sure enough, Olivia and Lucas hauled in 3 and lost 3 just as they were surfacing. The other family brought in a much larger trout, which was awesome for them. It was a beautiful and fun afternoon on the lake for everyone.

We gave our fish to the other family and opted for a well-earned dinner at Manzanita at Northstar. It was quiet as we expected and we enjoyed a nice meal at one of our favorite places in Tahoe. The kids slept well that night.

Thursday was our last full day in Tahoe. Lucas, Olivia and Grace did the ropes course in Tahoe City for a couple hours. Afterwards, we stopped in Incline Village for lunch on the way to Sand Harbor, which is another one of the kids’ favorite stomping grounds. Having lunch lakeside at the Lone Eagle Grill was awesome. My younger self only went to the Hyatt to gamble, usually while all my buddies were sleeping. Sand Harbor was gorgeous as usual and the kids spent hours there playing and exploring. We drove back to Coachland to clean up before dinner at Plumpjack at Squaw Valley. Creatures of habit we are.

On Friday morning, we started to pack up, went to downtown Truckee for a quick breakfast, and prepped the Airstream to be returned. The plan was to make it back non-stop, but Grace called an audible and we pulled into a Walmart for a quick bio-break. Just after 4pm, we pulled back into Elite RV.

I’m so glad Grace decided to come with us for the week. We all had a great time and the kids were sad to leave the Airstream behind. We have this trip pretty dialed in now and I’d go any year and every year for as long as the kids would like to. Next summer I think we might have to venture a little further, but even if we don’t, it’s going to be awesome. Let me know if you want to caravan.

Celebrating the End of Summer in … an Airstream!

After some recent trips, I had become concerned that the kids needed some perspective on their lifestyle. I don’t blame them and know the responsibility is ours. I had this vision of taking them on a road trip this summer in my crappy old 80s car (really, it’s the coolest) and staying only at the Days Inn, like how Grace and I traveled as kids (except in 70s cars). Then I realized that they probably wouldn’t mind that much as long as there was a pool and that it might not be that fun for me.

I say “I” because I didn’t really envision Grace having the same tolerance for being on the road in this manner. At the beginning of the summer, I started to consider camping instead of a road trip and then realized RVs were readily available to rent (excess capacity thanks to Burning Man). Now we were talking. I had gauged Lucas and Olivia’s interest in such a trip and they both seemed game.

The only thing that held me back from pulling them out of the camps in which they were enrolled was that I had no plan. I realized that the idyllic coastal campsites need to be booked months in advance in the height of summer, not days. So, I just let it go.

A few weeks later, the kids inquired about the RV trip and I was surprised they remembered. There might have been some misunderstanding on their part about what type of RV we were going to take on this trip, but it was crystal clear to me that we were renting an Airstream in any color as long as it was silver. I booked the RV for the last week of summer when they were already free.

Like any trip research, reading Yelp, TripAdvisor or campsite reviews only makes you not want to leave the house. People mostly complain and the complaints are severe enough to discourage just giving it a try. After a while I came to grips with the fact that there was no ideal itinerary or campground and accepted that the journey would be the destination.

I only finalized the trip a couple weeks before we left, taking into account the logistics of travel, oil spills and forest fires. Ultimately, I settled on spending two nights in Half Moon Bay, which is just 30 minutes from home. This was partly so that Grace could have the option to join us for the weekend, as she had to work during the week. The other reason was close proximity to the Ritz-Carlton, in case shit went really sideways (just kidding – haha … ha). Posse mentioned that he would be up in Donner that week and that the Rantas would be up there, too, so I planned 3 nights in Lake Tahoe so the kids could spend some time together.

I rented the rig from Elite RV in San Jose. There were 5 different Airstreams from which to choose. I picked the second smallest one (a 20′ Flying Cloud) because it was only the three of us and I had never really towed anything before. I figured it was a good test to see if the size was sufficient and it was well within the towing capacity of the truck. Nora and Chris couldn’t be nicer and all of their Airstreams are only several years old and come fully stocked. By fully stocked, I mean Le Creuset, Scanpans, Dyson vacuum, high-count sheets, Egyptian towels, spices, and even latex gloves to hook up the sewer. The only option at booking was Nespresso or Keurig. 

We arrived at their place at 9am on Saturday. It took about 90 minutes to get the training on every procedure and feature. I added the wiring to the truck the week before and the actual hitching process seemed pretty straightforward. After pulling out, I immediately had some issues with the lights, so I pulled over from the 280 to have a look. Waze apparently didn’t know I was pulling a trailer and routed me though the windiest roads in Portola Valley to get to Half Moon Bay. Besides trying not to clip dozens of bicyclists, some of the bridges were barely two-lane. Ironically, I lost satellite in the trees and missed a turn up La Honda and ended up going through Woodside back to the 280 and the 92, which was what my instinct told me was the best way.

The RV park in Half Moon Bay was nothing more than a dirt parking lot with full hookups. It only took me a little while to get everything hooked up, after which we went into town for lunch. Both Lucas and Olivia were hangry at this point, and I basically won and lost father-of-the-year in that first hour when I almost lost my shit at the restaurant.

I came up with a list of rules for the RV trip when the kids agreed to go. We added some along the way and I made them recite them almost daily throughout the summer.

  1. No whining
  2. Listen to Daddy
  3. No whining
  4. Have fun
  5. No whining
  6. No fighting

Lucas and Olivia were breaking all six rules simultaneously at the restaurant (and indrectly breaking #4 for me). After they finally got some food in them, order was restored and we were back on track. We spent the afternoon at the beach as we had so many times before (it’s never too early to start working on the holiday card photo). We were there a record 12 minutes before Olivia said she had to take a dump. Seriously? She offered to go to the porta-potty we had spotted on the trail, but I advised her against it and pointed her toward the hotel in the distance. Lucas is a poky walker and Olivia was in a hurry. I told her to go ahead and we’d either meet her or she could come back and find us. She never came back, so we walked through two weddings and found her waiting by the bathrooms for us. It was a productive stop for all of us.

Grace decided to spend the night with us in the RV, so she came out to HMB with bags of supplies. Ann, Jeremy, Emme and Elsen were in town for the weekend and we met them in HMB for dinner. They were curious about the Airstream and came over for a visit before going home. The kids started watching Harry Potter before bedtime and finished the following morning after having our first meal in the RV (pancakes and sausage).

Clara saw we were in HMB and said she had a photo shoot on Sunday morning at the hotel. I told her to have Mike bring the boys down and we could all hang out. All the kids had fun in the RV park before we went to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at Moss Beach. This was our first time there at the tide pools, which were teeming with sea life. Afterwards we went to Moss Beach Distillery, which was also a first time for us.

Grace decided to stay a 2nd night with us and go straight to work from there on Monday, so she went home again for gear and supplies. In the spirit of roughing it, we had dinner at the hotel. We enjoyed the seaside fire for a bit before heading back to the RV to sleep.

On Monday, Grace took off early in the morning and the kids slept in a bit. We went into HMB for breakfast before returning to the RV to pack up and pull up stakes. We were on our way to Tahoe by 11:30am. I let them know that I didn’t plan to make any stops, but by Pinole, Olivia said she needed to potty, so I pulled into a Target parking lot. I explained why we had to park far away and that it was going to be hike to the store. Olivia pointed out that we could just use the RV, which was indeed our mobile rest area. After some chilled refreshments, we got back on the road and both of them took a nap.

They woke up about an hour from Tahoe and Olivia needed to stop again (tiny tank?). We were just passing Ikeda’s so I got off and circled back. I hadn’t stopped there since the 90s and was a little unnerved to pull the trailer into a street that says “No Outlet,” not knowing if I was going to be able to park the rig. Miraculously, there was one spot that didn’t have a concrete divider, so I pulled in and through and just fit. We had a quick lunch and picked up a Razzleberry Pie (Marionberry and raspberry) and wine for the Patches.

From there, we bombed up the 80 into Lake Tahoe and settled into Coachland RV Park in Truckee. We were a little behind schedule, so I didn’t even set the landing gear on the Airstream before we headed over to the Patches place on Donner Lake for dinner. The Rantas were there, too. Even though they only live a couple streets over, it had been at least six months since we last saw them. 

On Tuesday, we spent the day with just us. We went into downtown Truckee and had breakfast at Squeeze In. After, we gathered our gear and headed over to the Nevada side (state #2) to go back to Sand Harbor. We went there exactly a year ago with the Crowthers and had a great time. This year, being a weekday late in the summer, we almost had the place to ourselves. We had lunch and spent about four hours there. The water was a little chilly, but it didn’t stop them from exploring and having fun. Of the 20 things I ordered from Amazon in the days preceding the trip (my bear spray didn’t arrive in time), the kids’ swim shoes were the most appreciated.

We stopped at Mountain Hardware on the way home to get some local knowledge for fishing the following day. After a long day out, who had the energy to cook? We went to the familiar Manzanita at the Ritz-Carlton, which was nearby (coincidence?). It was nearly deserted so we had a nice quiet dinner together. The kids have been into Harry Potter this summer. They are allowed to watch the movie after Olivia finishes each book. She finished Goblet of Fire in the car on the way to dinner, so we watched the movie when we got back to the RV (while I squeezed in a couple loads of laundry). They finished a little past midnight.

Despite being up late, we got up (relatively) early to catch the fish. After stopping to buy bagels, Starbuck’s and nightcrawlers, we had our lines in the water by 10am. Morgan, Mason and Ben came and met us at the piers on the West end of Donner Lake. They learned a life lesson that fishing takes patience and is hard. We didn’t even get a nibble, but it’s the process that matters.

We went back to the Airstream for our second RV-cooked meal: 신 Ramen. Then we gathered more gear to spend the rest of the day back on Donner Lake at the Patches. The Rantas brought a variety of meats and Eric did the grilling. The kids all kept themselves busy and played so well together, which allowed the adults to have a very peaceful evening. We headed back at a decent hour and the kids wanted to watch Star Wars Episode II (having seen IV, V, VI and I, in that order). Lucas made it about 20 minutes and Olivia lasted a lot longer, but eventually chose bedtime over Clones. It was a great last day in Tahoe.

On Thursday, I got up early to start cleaning and packing. Eventually I stirred the kids to get dressed and ready. Our neighbors at Coachland were all very friendly, and one helped me back up to the trailer, which was helpful. We headed out before 10am and after a quick stop at Starbuck’s (with the Airstream in tow), we were on the road in earnest and drove non-stop to San Jose to return the rig.

This was defintely a different kind of vacation for us, but it turned out to be one of the best ever. When I picked up the RV, Chris at Elite asked me why Grace wasn’t joining. I said two bosses are better than three, and he completely understood me. Despite this, I’m very glad Grace decided to join us and now she’s sold.

Everyone along the way seemed pretty interested in the Airstream, so there was a lot of talk about renting a fleet and meeting up somewhere. I hope they’re serious, but I know for sure we’ll be there, probably in a 25′ next time. In my head, I’m ready to go North and South, and probably won’t wait until next summer to do it again.

Who’s coming with us???

Northstar at Tahoe with Julie and Albert

This past weekend was our “rain check” trip to Northstar with Julie and Albert. We had rented a house earlier in the season, which we couldn’t get out of. Albert was traveling, so they almost didn’t make it, but we’re really glad they did. On Friday after we arrived, we had dinner in the village.

On Saturday, the Olivias had a half-day lesson together as did Ellie and Lucas. Theo skied with Julie and Albert and I skied with Grace. I peeled off for a bit before lunch to do my regular runs on Burnout. After lunch, we all skied a few more runs before heading back to the house.

The house was definitely the nicest we’ve ever rented up there. There were plenty of bedrooms. Somehow, the sleeping arrangements on the first night were the same as the ski lesson groups. I’m not sure how long Albert will allow Ellie and Lucas to bunk up. They are two peas in a pod at school, which is super cute.

On Saturday, we braved the hot tub (who knows what’s in there?). We ordered out food from the village and just ate at home. Everyone was pretty tired from the day and even the adults turned in early.

On Sunday, the Lees were going to head home. We were open to skiing but decided not to. It only got down to 43 overnight, so it was probably only going to be good in the very early hours. It also turned out to be a very windy day, so I’m glad we just hung out before heading home. We took the gondola up to the Ritz-Carlton to have brunch at Manzanita. There were very few people at the resort, which made it nice and quiet (until our crew came along).

We all headed home in the early afternoon and were home before dinner time. I’m glad it all worked out and we were able to take this trip together. The kids and adults all had a great time together. Until next time!

Tahoe at Northstar with the Moons

Last weekend, we made our first trip to Tahoe for the season. We met the Moons at the resort. Unfortunately, Lucas and I were not feeling great, so he took the day off on Saturday while Olivia went to ski school. I got some runs in with Olivia, Nicholas and Mike at the end of the day. After a little aprés, we met for dinner together.

On Sunday, everyone rallied and we all skied together. This was our first time riding the lift as a family. Olivia and I went to the backside while Lucas and Grace stayed on Arrow and Big Easy. (I’m skipping over the traumatic experience of Olivia’s first attempt at a black diamond run). After lunch all together, Olivia and I got in a couple more runs before packing up and heading home.

While the snow wasn’t great, the weather was beautiful and we had a great time with the kids and the Moons. Hoping for some fresh snow before we return in a couple weeks.

Family Trip to Northstar at Tahoe

After our awesome ski trip last weekend, the kids were excited to head back to Tahoe. Grace was up for making it a family trip this time. We didn’t commit to go until Thursday because of the weather and schedules. I spent Monday and Tuesday negotiating with Lucas about ski school and he finally said, “okay, but just two more days,” which was the number of days we planned to ski.

Last weekend, I was sandwiched between Olivia and Lucas on a murphy bed in a studio condo, 2 flights up, and a bus ride away from the mountain. With Grace in tow, we somehow ended up at the Ritz-Carlton. There were so many conveniences of staying there that I have no idea if I could ever go back:

  1. It’s mid-mountain, where the snow and ski school are located
  2. The point about the ski school is actually moot, because they have classes that meet right outside the “Mountain Concierge”
  3. Said “Mountain Concierge” is where they keep your boots, shoes, etc. and place your skis and poles in the snow for you
  4. We never even made it down to the village the whole weekend, which saved me from the horrors of the bungee trampoline sideshow and the skating rink

Grace took it easy on Saturday. Julie, Albert, and Albert’s brother’s family were all at Northstar, too, so we had dinner together on Saturday night. Super apologies to the other parties sitting in our area. One party only lasted until their water was poured before requesting a different table.

On Sunday, Grace rallied for an “Ultimate 4s” ski lesson, but she was the only one, so it was effectively private. I spent the weekend skiing the same two runs on the back side. After a quick stop at the room to get my goggles, I made it back to the same lift on the back side. I was a single all weekend, listening to music, and in my own world. I got on the quad and noticed the person on the end had the same skis Grace rented. Then I noticed this person was also named Grace Rhee. Hey! I didn’t expect to see her back there, so it was a funny coincidence.

Grace called it a day at lunch time and we met up with the Sutarias, who we ran into the day before. We cleaned up, packed, got the kids, and were on the road by 4pm to make it to Lafayette to have dinner with Dave at Addy and Charles’s house.

It was a short but wonderful family trip together. Both kids have turned the corner on ski school and even Lucas is enjoying it and can’t wait for our next ski adventure. I’m hoping for a late season so we can make it happen.

Northstar at Tahoe with the Kids

Last year the whole family got a lot of days of skiing in, including Grace who started lessons at the same time as Lucas. I might have been overly aggressive when I bought passes for the whole family over the summer. Between the drought and being busy at home this winter, we hadn’t used our passes at all. Last week was “ski week” at Olivia’s school, so she had the week off (along with many schools in the Bay Area).

Grace has been “working” a lot on weekend and I anticipated that last weekend would be similar. So, rather than try to keep busy at home, I decided about mid-week to take the kids to Tahoe myself. I was a little apprehensive about being outnumbered, but we had to get these guys back on the snow.

I started out in a weak negotiating position with Lucas, who has been reiterating that he doesn’t like ski school. Somehow, he bargained me down to half a day, but they don’t really have half-day programs. I really didn’t think they were ready to ski together with me (or was it that I wasn’t ready to ski with both of them?).

The first day, I hired one instructor to take Lucas in the morning and Olivia in the afternoon, while I skied with the other. It worked out okay, but I realized that both of them just needed to be in ski school all day. Mustering every negotiating tactic I had (but no bribery), I convinced Lucas to do ski lessons until 2:30pm (instead of 3:20pm) on Saturday. Addy and Charles brought Cameron and Delaney up on Saturday morning, so Olivia did a half-day of lessons with Cameron, which she enjoyed. I skied with her the rest of the day. We went to pick up Lucas, but he wasn’t there. Apparently his instructor wasn’t feeling well and didn’t pass along the early pickup to his replacement. We skied a little more and then were held up getting down the mountain (helicopter medi-vac shut down the Gondola and the only trail down – yikes). I was quite concerned that Lucas was going to be upset with me, but he turned out to be a very good sport about it (despite being the last one).

Brian and Katie were also at Northstar all week, so we skied together that morning and then met up again for aprés ski in the village. It seemed that half of Olivia’s school was there, too, so we ran into many friends on the mountain and in the village. Lucas and Olivia capitalized on dessert before dinner, which we enjoyed with the Sugars and Kowals.

We were supposed to leave that evening, but Olivia really wanted to stay and was motivated to keep learning (she wanted to go to ski school). I had my work cut out for me to convince Lucas, but somehow I Jedi mind-tricked him into another 2:30pm pickup and he agreed to ski school. We had already checked out and packed that morning, so I had to find a new place to stay that evening.

I won’t go into all the gory details of the logistics involved in getting them to and from the mountain with all their gear. I’ll just say that if sherpas were available, I would have hired one or two for the weekend. I learned my lesson Saturday morning that you can’t get up and ready too early, so Sunday was a very early start in order to get to ski school by 8:00am. The kids were both great and I ended up picking them both up at 2:30pm so we could try skiing together.

Olivia kept telling me that she could ride the lift herself. I thought she meant get on herself, which was great because Lucas needed a hand. We all go to get on and Olivia just stays behind. She was determined to go it alone. Later I had to explain that I wanted us to ride together, which resulted in the failed selfie.

We all skied down to the bottom together (foregoing the gondola). Olivia really wanted to ice skate, so she did that while I gathered our things. After a couple of bags of Cheetos, we were on our way. I was expecting the worst to be driving back on the Sunday of ski week, but it seemed everyone had already left and we didn’t have much traffic. I broke up the drive with dinner in Sacramento and we were home by 10:00pm.

We all had a really great time together and the kids were awesome traveling buddies. Aside from the skiing and experience, I also managed to get several buddy shots with Olivia and Lucas that I hope they will appreciate for a long time. I know I will.