Our annual ski trip has come and gone. This is the 8th year of this event. The conditions were very nice, not a single cloud in the skies over the entire weekend. This year, the core group was treated with alot of new faces. There were six complete newcomers; and in usual fashion, the law of averages suggest that one of them has to be “the one”; but more on that later.
Click here for pictures and videos taken during the trip.
Click the following to read about the entire trip:
Clementine and I rented a Nissan Murango and left the house around 5:00 AM, which put us into Sacramento around 10:30. Having nothing to do and no where to go, we headed over to Joe and Cameron’s place to hang out for a bit. Once Cam and Monica got in, we headed back out to lunch at Tower Cafe. The food didn’t seem as good as we remember, but it wasn’t bad. The sac crew headed towards bevmo and costco for supplies while we went to pick up Brian and two newcomers Nancy and Diana. At costco, we picked up some large shrimp, 3 packs of rib eyes and a few other food items. The drive up wasn’t overly exciting. Prior to climbing the mountain, I asked the newcomers if anyone was prone to car sickness, as it would dictate my driving style up the mountain. Getting the negative response that no one was susceptible to motion illness, I proceeded to aggressively climb the mountain. Apparently, there were some folks in the Murango that didn’t fully understand the definition of “motion sickness” and a few started to feel sick. Luckily, I was pretty much up the mountains by then, so we avoided getting the folks already feeling a bit woozy from going into full internal volume ejection.
Lisa and Jess (another newcomer) were already in Tahoe when we started driving up the mountain. The sac crew didn’t drive as aggressively as I did, so they headed to the house and got there a little before us – as we went to check in and get keys and lift tickets for the following day’s run at Kirkwood. There are three cars at the house now. We park two of them into the garage and leave mine outside. Terry is already on the way from San Francisco with Justice (a friend of Brian that I had met on my last trip out to Maryland). Finding the best tv in the house, I immediately go and start setting up the PS3 and the Rock Band instruments. Much to Lisa’s chagrin, apparently we had left her off the email where we discussed bringing up the game. Lisa too has the PS3 version and could have very easily brought up a second guitar so we could have a bassist.
However, this isn’t the worst of things for the game. As everyone around was excited that we had brought up rock band, most of the folks have played it, have it, or very much enjoy it; we ran into another lovely problem. Having initially set the system up connected via the HDMI cable to my home tv, I did not know that the display settings do not change on the fly. Meaning, that to change from HDMI to component, one needs an HDMI ready TV so as to visually see the configuration from HDMI to component. The catch 22 here is that the PS3 will not display on a component connection if it was already configured for HDMI. And having no HD tvs in the house, this made for a completely useless PS3. Solution options were coming from everyone. We even called up Terry, who was driving up, and asked him to go buy us the cheapest HDMI capable tv just so we can reconfigure the PS3. But we ended up giving up for the evening in hope that the following day, Clementine can go to the local Audio Video shop and just plug the system into one of their display tvs and make the configuration changes there. This was done while we were skiing, so when we returned home from skiing, the folks at home were busy rocking out.
Aside from the PS3, there were plenty of other things to keep us occupied. The house we rented this year came with a full size pool table. A very nice pool table too. There was alcohol to be had as well. We ordered pizza and shot pool and drank while we waited for the pizza to get here. Terry and Justice showed up. The beers started flowing. While playing pool and drinking, Keith calls to check in with everyone, as he’ll be flying in the next day. Keith then tells me to “put my thumb on the table”, for which I paused for a second to comprehend the request. I walk up to the pool table and just put my thumb on it. People all around the room start throwing their thumbs onto the nearest table, be that the dining table or the decorative small room table – Cameron has Keith to thank for that one. Eventually, Brian Y, another friend that Brian brought out shows up with his friend Marissa; the last two newcomers for the trip. They had spent the day at Squaw and were already tired. Pizza arrived shortly. In hindsight, we should have just gone to KFC… we won’t be breaking with that tradition for next year.
With all the day’s guests present, food eaten, crappy movie completed by part of the group; the drinking games begin. Two initiates threw some nickels, and we were ready. We skipped out on asshole and three man and went straight into beer-a-mids. Most of the women folk retired while the men play childish games as an excuse to drink. Prior to retiring, Nancy runs around looking for tape. She wanted to tape a little message to the door. Earlier in the day, when we picked her up from the airport, her snowboard bag didn’t arrive, or was just missing. So the airline was going to drive someone up to deliver it that evening. I guess she was afraid that a house full of people wouldn’t hear someone knocking at the door so the note was needed. We ignored the idiocy of it all and drank until about 12 or 1 and then everyone went to find a suitable sleeping space. Her bag did arrive, and we were still awake to receive it. The problem I run into every year in the initial planning stages is selecting the correct size house. As the initial emails are sent out, only a few responses are given, or that some folks drop out, even when they were undecided, or had stated they were coming up until a week prior to the trip. This year, I went with a smaller place than the previous year – and we ended up with 15 people. This happens, after 8 years, I’m used to this. Folks are pretty gracious about not complaining about sleeping arrangements.
Eight people went up to Kirkwood the following day. Brian Y grabs his gear out of the garage, we load up his car with gear, and my car with most of the people, and head up. Apparently Brian forgot to load Marissa’s skis which were also in the garage. At Kirkwood, those who needed rentals rented, those who needed lift tickets got them. We then split into two groups, Diana and Justice as beginner-intermediate boarders and the rest of us – Brian D, Brian Y, Marissa, Lisa, Nancy, and me. Our first warm up run is a nice blue with an option for some blacks to reach the next lift. We all make it down and take the next lift to a black. Nancy tumbles her way down the mountain, and while riding, she’s just dropping down at break neck speed. I’m taking my time as this is the first time since last year that I even saw snow, and I’m playing caboose for the group. We get down and Brian Y, who had already skied the previous day didn’t feel he could keep up with the rest of the group so he opted out.
Now my group was down to 5, and this group stayed together until the second to last run of the day. After I warmed up a bit, I started to ski a bit faster, much to Brian D’s relief. But it was clear that Nancy wasn’t at the same skill level as the rest of the group. Granted she blindly followed us and went where ever we went; whilst keeping up with us – she was clearly not an in control boarder. This is dangerous for people out there and us. I and others give her props for keeping up with us, but are completely baffled by the complete lack of sensibility. The phrase stupidly fearless comes to mind. Note: this little excerpt and some other information is very important come Sunday. The second to last run of the day was “the Wall”. A few of us have taken this before. I think the single survivor was Marissa. Brian had a bad start, as did Lisa. Nancy sorta tumbled down. And then there was me.
I hit something and one of my skis popped off which sent me sliding down this 75-80 degree wall. As soon as I see that my ski was gone, I yelled to Brian to grab my ski. My body position wasn’t in the best for stopping. I clipped Nancy on my way down and lost one of my poles in doing so. My hand wasn’t able to grab any snow to slow or stop my decent, so I flipped my body over so that my remaining ski was on the outside and only then was able to dig in and stop. After a nice 75 yard drop, I stopped and waited for Brian to get to me with my ski and pole. Popped them back in and finished the run. That was my one and only fall. It was funny because I was in full control, just couldn’t stop, even the ski patrol guy wasn’t paying attention to me. After this, we lost Lisa at the bottom. The last remaining women folks needed to expel some liquid, and we were off on our last run – where we lost Nancy somehow. I went to return my skis and to swap out and move the car closer to the lodge where I found Brian, Lisa, and Marissa, blue moons all around.
While drinking at the Kirkwood lodge, Nancy and Diana find us. Having no word from Justice and Brian Y, we pack up and find Brian Y’s car were I finally get a call and we meet up for the trip back. We open the house doors to the sound of rock band playing. I get a couple of drumming sets in as well as a few sounds horribly belted out on vocals, and it is almost time to start preparing dinner. Rock band was a good choice to bring up as most folks start playing. The sac crew start playing a sort of rpg card game. The steaks are getting to room temperature, so grabbing the various spices that came with the house, I made a quick dry rub and started cooking the 14 steaks. I made a quick shrimp dish using some butter, lemon, white wine, and herbs. Nancy helped get the salad ready, and Marissa decided to drown the mushrooms. The sac crew set the table up, and dinner was ready within about an hour from the cooking start. Much quicker that last year’s cook time. Dinner was a good time, Brian D pulled the wasabi flavored cheddar and melted it on a few of our steaks. A very nice touch. A few jokes were thrown around the table. Nancy’s attempt at calling me out failed miserably and only led to the merriment of making fun of her. For which I must clearly state that our core group of people are pretty rough when it comes to poking fun at each other, so it is important to be quick witted and have fairly thick skin to play, otherwise, you’ll just get completely bowled over and utterly destroyed for the sake of our own twisted idea of enjoyment.
With dinner done, the attention was turned towards the hot tub, the pool table, and rock band. A few folks helped clear the table and get things washed up. We miss having Laura, as her OCD would have her kick everyone out and the kitchen, dining room, and everything else would be spotless and cleaner than before we even entered the house. Folks are unable to get the hot tub up to temperature, so we end up giving up on that front. While I was out, Brian and Clementine started to tickle attack Terry, which end up putting them on the floor, apparently Joe gives Hugo the command to “hump Terry” and he does just that to Terry’s head. I cannot believe I missed this little gem. It is utterly sad that this wasn’t captured on video.
About 10:30 and Keith calls, so Brian Y and I head out to pick him up from Mont Bleu. Stopping off at the KFC, as we see folks inside, only to discover that the door was locked, we just missed their closing time. So Mickey Ds it is for Keith. Another note for hindsight, Clementine and I should have split a Steak, and then Keith could have had one…. but I figured he would have already eaten by 11 PM that evening. Sucks to be him I guess. We arrive at the house and proceed with the drinking. Note that Nancy and Diana headed up to their room pretty much after dinner was complete, or some time after. The rest of the folks join in the drinking fun. The randomness of thumb masters, the accusations of cheating called on me and Brian D, even after they forcefully separate us to opposite sides of the table. It could be that Brian and I are just great liars. We stay up until 3 AM.
Marissa comes out of the closet and Brian Y goes in. 4 hours later, the alarms goes off, and I set it to go off in another hour. Brian D gets up and tells me to wake up so that I can go wake others up, apparently most folks just ignore Brian when he goes around waking them up. Heading downstairs, Beanie goes and noses around some of the sleeping folks. When he comes up on Marissa, she pops up quickly and loudly exclaims something completely incoherent. For which Joe is laughing uncontrollably. Apparently, 4 hours ago, he planted the thought that Marissa was going to wake up to him cuddled up with her on her inflated bed. Funny stuff. We wander around asking who was going to hit the slopes. Nancy’s knee hurts, Diana is too tired, Lisa is going to gamble with Keith, Joe only got 2 hours worth of sleep because he was kept up by Brian Y’s amazing ability of breathing loudly whilst sleeping, so that left Marissa, Brian D, and Justice. Brian Y took them to Heavenly. Keith, Lisa, and Jess went off to the Casinos. Nancy came down showing her extremely swollen and warm knee. Terry took her to the local urgent care – which should have been just taking her there and dropping her off. She has a cell and can call us or use the land line to call us up for updates or to pick her up when she was done. The sac crew took off to the casinos. I went to take a nap. Waking up, the house is empty except for a sleeping Brian Y and Clementine asleep. I call Terry and get no answer.
They return to the house at about 4 and we are told that Nancy must get some minor surgery to fix her knee, and explore it to ensure that what ever virus she has in there does not go on to infect her bones. Nancy’s initial injury happened a few days or a week prior to the ski trip when she fell down some stairs. Based on what we know of her, and her personality, this surprises no one. Prior to the ski trip, she was also telling us that she will be taking it easy on the mountain. Black and double black diamonds at Kirkwood is not what I would consider taking it easy – even more so at her skill level. So A) she really should have been skiing, and B) had she been skiing, she should have taken it very easy. There’s a lesson to be learned somewhere in all of this.
Brian Y goes out to pick up the folks from Heavenly, and I take Diana out to get some food. We all wait around at home for word to pick up Nancy. The boarders and skier return with Brian and everyone changes to get ready for a night at the casino and dinner. Brian Y, Marissa, and Justice pack up as they need to leave after dinner because Justice has a convention to attend and Brian flies back to Maryland on Monday. Terry returns with a Nancy on vicodin. Hard to imagine her loopier, but I’ve been wrong before. Terry isn’t happy, and needs a serious drink. The sac crew needed to head back to sac so they returned to the house as we arrived at Mont Bleu. They pack up and take off. We head over to the 24 cafe and a nice dinner for 12 using Lisa and Keith’s comps only cost the 10 of us less than 5 bucks each.
Brian Y and crew leave for SF, and it is now down to nine of us. We split off and go gambling. Lisa and Jess decide to leave so we tell them to grab little Ms Vicodin and Diana. They find Ms Vicodin drinking alcohol. Stupidly fearless comes to mind again. Keith, Brian, Terry, and Clementine find me at the Pai Gow Poker table up 4 bucks WOOHOO! We decide to leave. As we walk by one of the craps tables, the table changes to 5 bucks. *ding* we throw some money down. In 5 minutes, I drop 40 bucks. We decide to cash out. Keith gets some money from the ATM. The draw of the 5 dollar craps table is too much and he returns. I go to burn 20 bucks on a slot machine… and since Keith is back at craps, I make my return to Pai Gow. I throw down 40 bucks, and just start winning. Keith finishes quickly, winning back some money, and I finish my last hand with 139. Final for the 3 hours of gambling was +43 bucks. I was doing good at Pai Gow, I think I could have made much more, but there was some alcohol to be consumed and a bit of house cleaning.
We get back and have 1 beer each. Played a couple of songs on rock band, then cleaned up and crashed.
The drive down the mountain was uneventful. There were quite a few cars leaving Tahoe, so it took a bit to get down the hill, but wasn’t anything too bad. Diana was dropped off at the train station. Nancy was dropped off, we kept her board bag as she was in on condition to travel with it while on crutches. And then we dropped off Brian. A few quick goodbyes and we headed back to LA. Fairly uneventful drive down, but Clementine got to reflect on the trip, the shenanigans, and thoughts about next year’s trip. We definitely need to bring it back to a 5 day trip or possibly open it up to 6 days – depending on number of confirmed attendees. The 4 day trip is just too damn short and rushed.
Now, every year there is one. EVERY year, there is the “one”. The expand upon this, who becomes the one is decided by the core group. The one could be one of the members in the core group. The idea is that the overall fun or flow of the trip is impacted by some person on the trip. Usually, this person is an outsider to the core group – sometimes it was someone from the core group. Not every will feel the same about “the one”; some are completely unaffected – especially if they are the one. But on some level, a number of people are generally put off, by a common element. And by definition, that person becomes the one. This year, we pretty much have a tie.
Now this illustrious position is not necessarily a bad thing per se. It just our way of singling out folks that don’t really match up with the dynamics of the core group. With 6 new companions on this trip, the potential was just too high for one or more of the six to be the one. Having picked up Keith, and telling him that Brian D brought a few people along, the initial reaction from him was to question the level of douche-baggy-ness these two people were. Luckily Justice and Brian Y fit right in, and Marissa via proxy fit. So up on the wall of fame that includes names such as Wexx and Angry Rob, we get to add Ms Stupidly Fearless and her side kick Marcy, Peppermint Patty’s better half from Peanuts.
Anyone that recklessly boards on an injury that directly leads to minor surgery for which vicodin is prescribed, to which alcohol is then consumed, must be the absolute one. Marcy is either extremely shy, or just does not fit in at all. Nothing against her, but not fitting in gets her very close to being the one. Now, the different folks from the trip will feel more strongly about one person over another due to personal interactions, but on a general consensus, there is always one. This makes for some interesting stories, as if nothing eventful happened, the ski trip would fade into obscurity and nothing would stand out to discriminate it from any of the previous ski trips. Having the one is healthy; so long as we can laugh about it years later, after a bit of therapy.
The new folks brings about some fresh air to the group. I’m always up for meeting and having new people join up the ski trip. For one, we always end up with a new “one”, and second, which is much more important, we add people that potentially return and become core members of the annual gathering. It is also very interesting to describe the trip to someone completely new. To warn them of what could possibly transpire. To describe the various people.
With that, we have an interesting game of “telephone”. Brian D describes the trip and the people to Brian Y, who then describes this to Marissa. Brian Y has not met any of the people on the trip, so it is interesting to see what kind of impression Marissa gets. Coming into the gathering, she forgets the names and just goes by vibes and what she reads from the people in the group. She thought Terry and Clementine, and Monica and Joe were the couples at the gathering. She felt that Keith was too manly to be the gay guy; plus he wasn’t there the first night, so she picked whom she thought was the gay guy. Congrats Cameron, apparently, you set off her gay-dar.
All in all, I really hope some of the new folks come back. I have everyone’s email – some will be intentionally left off next year when the planning stage comes up; but for the most part, the list grows. I had a blast this year, and I’m still trying to recover. I’ll post up the few pictures I took, along with some of the videos tonight when I get home. Till next year.