Skiing in Squaw Valley

I didn’t think I could enjoy a ski area as much as I’ve enjoyed Mammoth, but, think again, because my dad and I found another outstanding competitor a few weeks ago. Spring skiing in Squaw Valley has made it’s way to the top of the list of best trips ever. I mean, Spring skiing almost anywhere is my favorite kind of skiing—60 degrees, blue skies, and soft ice-free snow—but an early May weekend at Squaw really made me feel spoiled.

Squaw Valley gondola

Ok, this is coming from a mainly Northeastern skiier up until last year, but I was amazed to find that there was still SO MUCH snow! Most of the mountain was open and stayed open until 1pm, when it would get a little too slushy to carry on, but the highest part would remain open until 4pm, i.e. the entire day… in May!

Squaw Valley skiing

The Saturday that we were there was the day before Cinco de Mayo, i.e. Cuatro de Mayo, so there were a lot of other fun happenings going on (like the annual pond skim) and tacos to eat. We were hesitantly ok with calling it quits around 1 o’clock, but it would have been easy to keep going. However, we had to move on to partaking in one of the other benefits of Squaw Valley—its proximity to Lake Tahoe!

Lake Tahoe

Wow, wow, wow! Check out these aprés ski vistas! I’m beginning to think I could consider living in other parts of California besides the southern third.

Lake Tahoe

Birthdays

I turned 31 this month. I know, can you believe it?! Life is always rushing past at full speed, and I’m doing what I can to make the most of all these moments. Since a birthday is really a reason to go BIG if there every was one, I decided to do a very SoCal particular thing and try to ski and visit the beach in the same day. Of course it’s possible, the mountains and the beaches are a little under 3 hours apart, but in reality with LA traffic, you can never be too sure. I had to test it out for myself.

On April 9th, I rose before the sun, tucked my skis into the trunk of my car, and drove up into the mountains. Well, actually drove an hour on the highway and then a steep and windy hour and a half to Big Bear. One of the most important reasons for attempting this feat was that Big Bear Mountain offers a free lift ticket on your birthday. I had a birthday that blissfully coincided with a day off work, so I HAD. TO. GO.

I made it onto the mountain by about 9:30am, minus a brief stop for second breakfast since I’d donated blood for the first time the day before and was feeling a little woozy. There was not a tremendous amount of snow left this late in the season, but there was certainly enough to ski on. I’ve definitely seen less snow on other ski trips in my life.

Big Bear spring skiing
Big Bear Spring skiing

This was my first time going skiing by myself, but iPhone & headphones were there for me, and it was a truly excellent morning. At around 11:30, the snow was getting pretty slushy, so I decided it was an appropriate time to make for the beach.

I stopped for lunch (an egg salad bagel, naturally) from what used to be my favorite bagel place but is now my second favorite bagel place since this one opened a few weeks ago. It’s really kind of unfortunate because the new one is way closer to my house and my bagel intake plus my waistline have probably both quadrupled or more. Anyhow, egg salad in tow I carried on my way.

One of my friends is a high school teacher who had a half-day field trip, so she kindly agreed to meet in Venice to make the day extra special. We grabbed a beer and scurried to the sand as fast as we could. It was still kind of breezy for LA spring, but that didn’t stop us from dunking in the water. I always try to get in the ocean as much as I can whenever I’m near the beach, even if it’s chilly, just so I don’t take it for granted.

Venice beach
Venice boardwalk

My view had changed from snow to sand in a matter of hours. Unreal! Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember that I seriously live here. I wouldn’t say the ski & sea voyage is completely reasonable for a regular day, unless you feel like LA driving for 6 hours, but for a special occasion with plenty of free time it was perfectly doable.

Ben & Jerry’s must have known it was my birthday, because on the walk back to our cars to try to beat the wild rush hour traffic, they were giving out free ice cream cones for no reason at all!

Ben & Jerrys Venice Beach

What a sweet ending to a perfect day! It was followed by a night of loungey cocktails with lovely friends and then a very satisfying sleep.

Winter Wonderland

If you’re at a standstill wondering if you should go on a ski trip or be practical, stay home, work, and not go on the ski trip, I’m here to tell you that you should most definitely go on the ski trip. Even if you just got back from Mexico City and are leaving three days later for another continent, just go on the ski trip.

I was invited to go skiing with a group of friends last month, and I immediately wanted to go, because Mammoth, of course, and what a dream it was to be there last year. As the trip got closer, I started having doubts because 1.) all this travel means I haven’t really been working (ie. earning money) that much, and 2.) I was feeling wildly disorganized by the lack of time between trips. I couldn’t make up my mind about going, but I guessed that it had been made up for me since we’d already purchased lift tickets and booked the Airbnb.

June Mountain

Then, sort of miraculously, a * normal * person from Craigslist decided to sublet my room for the month. She came on the last day of February—she was the only one I showed the room to and mine was the only room she looked at, but we were both ready and it seemed like a good fit (and still does). Around the same time, I got an offer for a new freelance writing job to bring in a little side income while I flutter around teaching yoga for two hours a day. Two loads off my shoulders. Whew!

(I’m sure many of you who read this wonder how I can afford to do the things I do, and the answer is somewhere between my grandma giving us an early inheritance along with my being a bit reckless and very resourceful when opportunities for adventure present themselves.)

So all that could’ve fallen into place did, and the ski trip was happening. We drove the 5 hour trek up to the snowy mountains (not a problem for Suzie’s Suburu Impreza) , checked into the very 80’s ski condo, and sipped some cocktails, because, well, of course. There were four of us in the first car, waiting until later in the night when the rest of the group would arrive. Once the second car made it to the condo area, they got stuck at the bottom of the hill, and we had a bit of an exciting time putting chains on their tires (ie. me holding my phone flashlight while the guys did the work).

The first day of skiing was hampered by the biggest blizzard I’ve seen in a while, so many of the lifts were closed. We drank Irish coffees in the lodge and almost called it quits, but as we were about to pack it in, we found an open chair with great conditions and did laps there for the rest of the afternoon.

Mammoth Mountain

On Sunday, we decided to avoid the crowds and possible windy conditions and opted to check out June Mountain, which is still as much of a gem as the first time I saw it. What a perfect day!

Anyway, the moral of this story is to stop all of your non-skiing nonsense, expect everything to fall into place, and go on the ski trip.

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Mammoth Lakes

Last weekend was about as good as it gets up in Mammoth Lakes, CA. On Thursday, my dad picked me up and we drove to Mammoth for a ski weekend and my early 30th birthday celebration. What a dad! He left home in NY at 5am, drove down to NYC, flew across the country, then scooped me up in a rental SUV with 4WD to take us 5 hours to Northern California. We weren’t sure if we’d need the 4WD, but were glad to have it as we drove into Mammoth in a snowstorm. I probably should’ve driven the California leg of the trip, but my dad is very strict about rules and my name wasn’t registered with the rental company. Who knows what could have happened. So I just stared out the window as we went from rain to sun and back again. I saw a bunch of rainbows, Joshua trees, and interesting rock formations. 

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We skied an amazing day at Mammoth Mountain on Friday, and another at the well kept secret June Mountain on Saturday. Sunday had us back at Mammoth in a morning blizzard, but it all cleared up by lunchtime to return us to these beautiful views. 

Mammoth Mountain
June Lake

My head has been pretty clear, and I realize how lucky I am to be on this life vacation where I don’t really have anything to worry about back at “home”. It feels strange calling it home since I’ve only lived there for two weeks, but I'm definitely enjoying the transition. I can't think of a better way to explore my new state and celebrate the onset of a new decade of life!

Woolly the Mammoth

New Mexico True

After the 12-14 hour first day road trip, I woke up in Red River, NM. It was a ski day where the sun was shining and the tickets were half priced for me, since I was there to visit my friend who is working as a ski instructor. I was thrilled to have ski friends because I hadn't had any of those since at least early college. I was on my own on that first morning while everyone else clocked in for work. The chairlift was slow and quiet. The trails were uncrowded and groomed. My headphones were back at the apartment, so it was just me and my thoughts.

Skiing in Red River, NM

I got a satisfied feeling like when you gaze around and life looks the way you used to dream of it looking. Here I was skiing at an almost-empty mountain on a warm day, my friend is working at the resort and she knows all of the ski crew and bartenders in town. 16 year old Cori would be proud.