10 Days in California
Admittedly, my drive to keep this thing going has dropped a bit since I arrived back in the states. Even though I don’t have a daily routine, my time has been pretty full, notably when I was in Orange County and San Francisco. After arriving back at the shitshow that is LAX, getting waved through at customs despite $300 worth of alcohol purchased at duty free and declared at port of entry and finally reuniting with the ever-available and ever-supportive (and now both looking much skinnier), we made the drive home to Santa Ana in quick President’s Day’s traffic. That night, I had awesome mexican food, something I had really missed. And then, in the morning, I took mom to work so that I could use/load the car for the trip up i-5 that afternoon. Driving through downtown Santa Ana and picking up my mom like she did for me so many times throughout my childhood was pretty cute. Also, since it had been almost 10 years since I had been down to Washington Elementary, experiencing how to the latino community has evolved over the last decade had to at least inspire some lost confidence in America. And, the way that grandmothers and uncles and whoever else were walking from their homes to pick up their kids from school reminded me of parts of southeast Asia I had visited.
Once back in San Francisco, I had a bit of an agenda, some very important lunches, drinks meetings and the retrieval and roof addition of my Jeep. Thursday, I met up with my old team at Hotwire for lunch at Giordano’s and then took a tour around the new 5th floor and said hi to everyone who was around on the 9th. Sounds like everything is going well there, new additions and personnel moves have been successful, and everybody seemed happy, despite lackluster business. I had met up with Kane to get my keys, so I could retrieve the car from deep Union St. Knowing Billy would be home pretty early, I caught him in between work and activities, this time tennis. After some jiggering, we mated Thule with Yakima and Giuseppe got a box for the road. Thursday night, Pete, Tracy, mom and I had dinner at Uvo Enoteca and celebrated (to quote my mother) all those things that I had missed while away.
I had been going back and forth with a bunch of Zimriders wanting one-way rides to Tahoe on Friday afternoon. My car ended up getting two extra riders, Mike and Mandy: a 60 year old gay man going to visit his son who is on the Sugar Bowl team and a 26 year old Marina girl (said with the utmost respect) who works for NASDAQ. The drive was mellow, the conversation was good and after a couple stops, I arrived at a new munchkins house up in Alpine.
Three days in Tahoe went by extremely quickly, getting picked up in a hurry on Saturday morning to go ski some rough (but “good” by recent standards) snow at Squaw. Despite saying I was really just there to go to the Chammy, I ended up skiing until just about 4pm…arriving a little late to the Chamois party, with the sun almost behind the tram face. There were so many reunions and run-ins on that Saturday afternoon/evening and enough alcohol to make sure it would all blend together. I ended up at some dude’s house right on squaw valley road, hitting up his jacuzzi before heading back to the Alpine cabin. There was some talk of squaw valley prom, which I was trying to discourage, since its expensive and I’m broke. Sunday morning, I went into pursuit of soft turns at Alpine, being successful at least a handful of times before the day ended. For those who understand this, my day consisted of Roundhouse-Scott-Condo Lap-Summit-High Traverse-Sherwood-Lakeview-Munchkins gully to the house! It was basically a three run day with some groomering in between and was totally reminiscent to 2008 and 2009 when we had the Deer Park neighborhood houses. Stoked to get back into that area when it starts snowing again in Tahoe!
After a Sunday afternoon routine that I have gotten used to after a while, I said to goodbye to the last of the weekenders as they cleaned up and drove away. I was originally planning to go see Galactic in Cystal Bay, but it sold out before 5pm and then, discouraged, I passed out on the couch around 7pm watching a ski movie. Monday morning, I met up with Yim, who is now living in Tahoe, working for Alpine and loving the shit out of his life. He was on my way out toward Carson and offered a bagel and coffee at his place. Even though we’d seen each other both days of the weekend and even skied together on his ride break Sunday, we finally got to catch up and relish the underemployed (good) life. My drive home to Mammoth was painless and I even considered going skiing since it was only 1pm when I got there. Instead, I went to Von’s to get some supplies and then I started cooking up a few things to freeze for later use, like a budget fuel cell.
Skiing in Mammoth wasn’t much better than in Tahoe, so I used it as an excuse to ski groomers and not for very long everyday. One new cool thing is that they started putting a half pipe in Rollercoaster park, right on the way back home. On Wednesday I took something like 18 runs in three hours…gotta love a high speed quad and empty groomers to haul ass on. I spent a bunch of time resorting my gear and clothes and figuring out what I should and shouldn’t bring for a somewhat open-ended trip to the interior mountains of the continental US, not to be shorter than 11 days, likely to be at least 21 before returning to Mammoth, maybe longer. Thanks to the new box, I’ve got a lot of new space in the Jeep and packing it both on the Zimride journey and this one have been really easy.
This morning, I finished packing up and took off from Mammoth at around 7am, stopping at the Looney Bean for some coffee to go. The drive to the east of Mammoth out into and across Nevada is one I’ve done a few times, but never during the day. They call highway 50 in Nevada the “loneliest road” but who they are must have never even heard of highway 6. At one point, between Tonopah and Ely, there is a 165-mile stretch with no gas or services. It’s the desert and probably not a drive I would do in the summer. This time of year and especially with the cold snow this year, the landscape was lightly covered almost the entire way across Nevada. I’ve only been here a few hours, but Utah is weird.