Tahoe: 4 Resorts in 4 Days (Part 1)

Introduction:

To a lot of people it probably seems silly to leave NYC in the dead of winter to visit somewhere that is possibly just as cold, if not colder. Most of my friends here in the city¬† go somewhere warm to take a break from the cold during the winter months. Those are my friends who: all winter long wear Canada Goose jackets (even when it is like 40+ degrees) and only go to bars that have fireplaces. Don’t get me wrong, I like bars with fireplaces too. But I also think that there are better ways to enjoy the winter than holing up and ordering Seamless between the months of October and April. I like winter sports. Maybe it is because I grew up in Salt Lake, where the outdoors are very accessible. Whatever the reason, I enjoy flying down a mountain on a piece laminated wood just as much now as when I was a youngster in SLC. It is just my luck that my lady friend does too.

Snowboarding trips can pose some challenging logistics for New Yorkers. There are no “real” mountains (sorry, Appalachians/Catskills) for a couple of thousand miles. Even for those riders who don’t necessarily care about riding big mountains, Vermont is still a 5 hour drive, only to deal with the prevalent “east coast hard pack” snow conditions (AKA, ice).

Ever since Jetblue added a direct flight from JFK to Reno, I have been jonesing to book a Tahoe trip. Flying for 5 hours to real mountains and good snow > driving for 5 hours to ride small icy hills. “Why not just do Denver?” you may ask. Because depending on when you land and which resort you are going to, you may end up doing 4+ in the air and then another 4 in the car. If you want to go to more than one resort.. forget about it. Not the ideal way to spend a long weekend, IMO. Then there is Salt Lake. It is awesome and will most likely always be my “home” mountain. But because of that, it rarely seems like much of a getaway. So last weekend B and I finally made the Tahoe trip happen. This is the story.

Day 1

I guess that I should actually start with day -1. Thursday evening after work I took the E train from midtown to the Airtrain and met B at JFK. B works from home a lot of the time, so she was able to grab an UBER XL and meet me at Terminal 5 with all of our gear. She is gangster. I watched a couple of movies on the flight, she mostly worked. Free in-flight WiFi is a gift and a curse. When we landed in Reno, we picked up a rental jeep at the airport and drove for about 30 minutes to North Lake Tahoe’s Hyatt Regency at Incline Village, where we would stay for the first two nights.

After checking in, we sipped our complimentary glasses of champs while chatting up the weather to David, the bell hop on duty. In this case, “weather” meant the 20+ day snow storm that had just come through the Sierra Nevada range leaving a very deep blanket of fresh snow for us to explore over the next four days. Even though the Hyatt isn’t ski in/ski out, it made sense for us to stay there since we would be riding two different resorts at north lake. Both were a quick drive from Incline Village.

It wasn’t difficult to wake up before the sun on Friday, since we were still on New York time. In the daylight we caught our first breathtaking glimpses of the lake in the winter. The sun was just cresting the eastern ridge as we made our way to Squaw Valley. We rolled into the parking lot about 30 minutes before the lifts started running. The meadow at the base of the mountain was still socked in with overnight river fog. It felt otherworldly.

B and I picked up our lift tickets and met up with our North Face Mountain Guide, Karl near the base of Squaw’s funitel. We were lucky enough to grab one of the first cars and arrived at the mid-mountain lifts before anyone else. Powder was abundant and the corduroy groomers squeaked against the ptex. All of this, plus bluebird skies to boot got my blood going. Conditions were dreamy and so was the terrain.

Having Karl to show us the mountain was a game changer. Squaw is huge. Trying to learn this mountain on my own would have taken 3 or 4 days of riding. We ended up riding all of the mid-mountain lifts, the funitel and the tram. My favorite terrain was the Headwall zone. There were wide open steep turns and pow in the trees, all packed into a single run.

We rode until the lifts closed, then hit Le Chamois for apres. It has basically everything you need after a long day of riding: pizza, beer, fire pit, classic rock. We made our way back to the Hyatt in time for sundown and went straight into the outdoor hot tub. As we watched the steam rise up toward the stars at the end of our first day, B and I were already questioning to each other what exactly it was that we loved so much about NYC.

De La Weekend: SLC Jaunt

I was unable to do any winter sports last winter because of ankle surgery. As a result, I’m attempting to double up this season. We got a jump start on the MLK holiday weekend by heading out to SLC. Since I have family out there it was an easy and dual purpose trip. I had been monitoring the snow situation via the Wasatch snow report, and via my family’s instagram feeds.

We had two excellent powder days last Thurs and Fri, then sneaked in some snowshoeing over Guardsman’s Pass on Sunday. I wish that I would have been a little more vigilant about lugging the camera around. But honestly, Thurs and Fri were so snowy that it would have been a total pain to break it out. I did manage to bring it along snowshoeing though. While the valley was totally socked in with clouds and lake effect flurries, up on Guardsman’s it was bluebird skies and no wind. Dreamy, actually. I included a few shots from below and above the cloud line, on our way up the canyon.

B snapped the photo of me below:

A timer shot which I will get in trouble for publishing. But I like it:

It snowed!

This little pooch loves running around in the snow! Saturday was the first real snow of 2017 for NYC. It was nice to be able to enjoy it for that brief window before it all turns to frozen grey sludge.

De La Weekend: Turkey Day in Boston

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In the days of yore, I spent many a Thanksgiving in Boston. After all of my friends there graduated and moved away, I didn’t really have a reason to visit. That changed again this year. B’s brother opened a resto with some of his friends earlier this year and they invited us up for the holiday. We did a lot of walking around in the city. B spotted an old Shepard Fairey, that is undoubtedly a relic from his ICA promo. Kind of cool because of the fact that his arrest for putting up promo pieces led to the artist being banned from Bean Town.

Anyway, the restaurant is awesome. The food was amazing. The company was fantastic. It is always tough to come back to reality after such a nice weekend away.

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Veterans’ Day

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Taking a break from the usual fare to pay tribute to the veterans today. As fate would have it, some pretty amazing photography work landed in my inbox earlier this week. The author of these photos is no other than my grandfather (and favorite veteran), Don Verle Breinholt, Sr., Tank Commander in Patton’s Third Army during WWII. My mom, who is currently working on a book detailing his life, has been scanning scores of original photos for the book. These four photos were taken from my grandfather’s transport ship in August of 1945 as he was entering New York harbor on his way home from the European theater. I heard him describe this event on a few occasions in my lifetime. Each time I heard him tell me the story, it gave me goosebumps. In part of a PBS special that a Salt Lake network produces about local WWII veterans, he recounted the experience again. If you scroll to the bottom of the post, you can listen to him fight back his emotions as he describes the experience in a clip from the PBS special. God bless all of those who served this country.

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This photo of lower Manhattan actually shows the building that I currently live in.

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De La Weekend: NYC Marathon Edition

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Sunday morning we had the pleasure of soaking in the energy of the NYC Marathon. Whether I’m running or watching, this race gets me every time. We posted up along the course in Brooklyn to cheer for our friends who were running (and for everyone else). The weather could not have been much better.

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B staying warm in her little spot of sunshine.

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View from the E. River Ferry on our way home.

Catskills Fall Jaunt

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Something that B and I have in common is that we like to get out of town for our b-days. For two years in a row we have seen our first snow of the season on the weekend between our b-days. This year we spent a couple of nights in West Kill, NY. It is a little town not far from Woodstock and Phoenecia. The place we stayed is on a dead end road on the back side of Hunter Mountain, called Spruceton Inn. The Inn is a cutesy (but not too cutesy) spot designed for exactly the type of weekend we were looking to have. Friday night we were able to build a fire and grill some burgs before the rain rolled in. We slept late on Saturday before hitting the Phoenicia Diner for brunch and exploring the town of Phoenicia for a bit. As we were headed back to toward the Inn Saturday afternoon, the rain turned to snow.

Saturday evening we dined at Peekamoose, which was a short drive from the Inn. Afterward, we stayed up late socializing and playing card games with some of the other guests in the Spruceton Inn canteen. Sunday morning the sun finally came out. B and I took a short hike (more of a nature walk, really) to Diamond Notch Falls before heading back to the city.

Despite the less than ideal weather, we had a really great time just relaxing and being off of the grid for a couple of days. I would definitely recommend all of the spots we stopped through. Although, be forewarned that the diner feels an awful lot like north Williamsburg. Even though we missed peak foliage, there were still plenty of colorful leaves on the trees. We may have to do it again next year.

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No. 11 and New Dec(k)or

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This was one of those times where I got so distracted by life that I didn’t even realize it was going to be a 3 day weekend until last Friday. I wasn’t at all upset when I realized that Monday was Columbus day. Saturday I completed my 11th marathon. My post-finish photo to the left is courtesy of B. It was also my first race since I had ligament reconstruction on my ankle. Even though I felt pretty good on Sunday morning, I was definitely happy to have Monday as a bonus recovery day.

B didn’t waste any time giving me a honey-do list on Monday since I was going to be around the house all day. One of the items on the list was to hang a couple of skate decks (above) that had been stacked in the corner for several weeks now.

One additional mention-worthy-item is that the weather has officially turned fallish. Driving back from Hartford on Sunday there were a lot of leaves that had already changed colors in western Connecticut near Danbury. Monday, the high temp in NYC was still cool enough to be deemed hoodie weather. I’m pretty excited about that. The in between seasons are definitely my favorite.

Lastly: my second favorite BBC1 DJ, Phil Taggart put on a fantastic session Sunday night. I’m linking to it here (avail for 30 days, only).