When I awoke on Tuesday morning I went about my normal routine for getting ready for a road trip. Rotate the tyres, oil change, random snack from the grocery store. The plan was to head to Lake Tahoe by car, stopping in Salt Lake City along the way to see more friends and ski. However, by the time the sun had set, everything had changed. My car was still empty, I had plane tickets in hand, and I was getting ready for another day in Boulder. Just another day in the life of traveling Andrew.
Finally, Thursday morning I was off to Reno, Nevada on a flight that once again had a layover in Las Vegas, one of my least favourite airports in the country. After another quick one hour flight up to Reno, I had made it, and in 11 hours less time than driving. And a lot less boring.
After retrieving my luggage, I headed for the rental car lot and got in my car. Much like when I visiting San Francisco, I got a new car. Except this one was newer. Much newer. The car had 3 miles, THREE, on the odometer. Literally, with the exception of the person that drove it off the truck, I was the first person in this car. Wee! After heading over to my ex-coworker Dave’s house to drop off my ski gear, we headed out for this birthday dinner at the Great Basin Brewery before heading home for an early night.
The next morning I got up at 6am, the earliest I had in years, to get some work done before heading up to Northstar at Tahoe for a day of skiing. The 35 minute drive from Reno to Northstar made me wonder even more why I live in Boulder, there must have only been about 15 cars on the road. After getting the 17 or 18th spot in the free parking lot, I jumped on the gondola and headed up the mountain.
Now you should know that I grew up skiing in Colorado, so the entire concept of rain in January throws me for a loop. Especially when you are at 9000 feet in January and it is pouring rain, as it was at the top of Mt Pluto at Northstar. Every few hundred feet I would have to slow down to wipe the rain off my goggles, I needed a fricking windshield wiper. However, with no more than maybe a 100 people at most on the mountain, I could not complain. That, and the rain had softened up the runs just enough to make them fun and fast all day long.
The next day I took off from skiing to participate in the Reno Beer Crawl, and all I can say is that it is amazing! It’s $5 for a glass and a map which leads you to 20-plus bars around the city that will offer you a $1 option to fill your glass (some of them have nicer beers for $2). And it’s not all Coors Light and PBR, some of the stops include the best local breweries and even Sierra Nevada’s tap room. Let’s just say that by about 6pm that I was feeling good and wandering aimlessly through a casino looking for food.
After an early night drunkly napping on a sofa, I headed up for a Sunday of skiing in some powder up at Northstar again. However, unlike in Colorado where chain law can be in effect, but you can drive up regardless, they actually check at the California border. My little rental car would not be up to snuff. So, instead of taking the morning easy, I rushed over to the airport in an attempt to exchange my car for one with all-wheel drive. I was told I could pay $150 more right then, or wait 4 hours and only pay $35 more. I decided to save my money and headed back home for a few more aspirin and coffee.
Funny as it was, by the time I got back to the house the snow had let up and I could drive up to the ski area. So I headed up to meet with my company’s forecaster in Tahoe for a day of skiing. As it turned out, by the time I got there most of the mountain was skied over and much of it was being closed for various races on Monday. So we headed for the mid-mountain bar (at 11am) and enjoyed beers and lunch in the crisp mountain air. I should add, we enjoyed quite a few beers. After a sobering run back down to my car, it was back to Reno for another night out eating in drinking in the city before turning in.
Monday was another ski day up in Tahoe with the groomers skiing hard and fast. Once again, the mountain was empty and there were a few times on the backside where if I fell, I am sure nobody would have skied by me for another hour or so. By around noon, I was already loosing feeling in my face, and my legs were feeling the wear of four days of skiing so I headed back to Reno to get some work done.
Back in Reno, things started to get interesting. There had been a lot of small projects I had been working on between skiing and beers and they all culminated in me having to get back to Boulder sooner than later. While I could have missed a few meetings back home, I instead started looking for alternative flights out of Reno that night, and in fact found one for cheaper than I had paid for mine originally. A few clicks later, I was packing up my suitcase and headed for the airport. Not only was I able to get more things done the following day, but changing my flight, returning the rental car early, and parking for less at DIA saved me almost $50 on an already cheap trip.
Once again, my flight home connected through Las Vegas, making it three times that I had been in Vegas in the month of January and had never left the airport. Finally landing in Denver at 11pm in heavy snowy Denver, my trip was not over yet. The luggage took almost 90 minutes to show up (apparently the luggage trolly it tipped over driving to the terminal) and the ride home was exhilarating to say the least.
Nonetheless, around 2am my trip was complete. Five days, four ski trips, and about 23 beers later.