The Mystery of the Disappearing Silver Bullet

A few weeks ago we headed to Squaw Valley in Tahoe. We were pumped to do our favorite hike to Shirley Lake, so we hopped on the tram, which in eight minutes, whisked us to the top o’ the mountain.

As much as we love Squaw’s snowy peaks during winter, the mountain is gorgeous during summer.

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The chair lifts sit silent and still.

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The ski runs are carpeted in wildflowers.

Double blue squares are silhouetted against a cloudless azure ski.

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Before hiking to Shirley Lake, we decided to climb the steep face of the Emigrant chair lift, which was still covered with patches of not so fluffy, brown snow. Nonetheless at the top, we had a snowball fight and made dirty snow angels~is that not the perfect name for a cocktail? I’m thinking Kahlua over shaved ice garnished with chocolate shavings. YUM!

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Until we trekked down the backside of Emigrant, we had yet to see another soul. Most folks, once they debark from the tram, venture no further than the High Camp swimming pool/restaurant/ice rink.

But at the top of Granite Chief, we ran into some locals on horseback. When we happened upon them, the group had tied up their steed and were chilling on some rocks, enjoying the view.

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One guy, a photographer in his late 20s, was kind enough to snap a few pics for us…

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He also gave us advice on how to connect with the Shirley Lake trail. We thanked him and took off down the mountain.

Saxon ventured away from our group traversing along a treacherous cliff completely covered in icy snow. I wondered how we would get him airlifted out after he plunged over the side.

As we made our way down the dirt path, a voice rang out on the quiet mountain.

“Hey! Any of you see a Coors Light? I buried one in the snow right by where you just walked.” It was our nice photographer calling from above.

Jimmy, Tanner and I looked at each other and shook our heads, “Sorry. We didn’t see it!”

We yelled to Saxon, who was attempting his Into Thin Air expedition 200 yards away. “Did you find a beer?”

“No-ooooooooo,” his voice echoed back.

“Sorry,” we called up the mountain, “No one saw it.”

At the top of Granite Chief the man began kicking furiously through the snow, searching for his brew. “Are you positive?” he called, more agitated.

“Yes, we’re positive!” My dry, parched mouth could feel his pain. Our Sigg water bottle drained, I imagined how refreshing an icy Silver Bullet would have tasted right then. “But thanks for the pictures!”

We soldiered on, down the wider, dirt trail for another thirty minutes until we reached emerald green Shirley Lake. We dipped in her hot and cold pockets, sharing the water with only one other family and their dogs.

We had heard there were amazing waterfalls just twenty minutes from the bottom so we decided to hike the rest of the way down the mountain. “Just follow the blue arrows spray painted on the rocks,” our friends by the lake told us. And so we did.

Of course after 10 minutes, Jimmy (aka Helen Keller) got us lost and the kids started freaking out and begging us to turn around and head for the tram. But we righted ourselves, and before long caught a glimpse of Squaw Village, a tiny toy train town far off in the distance.

By then we’d been hiking four hours. Exhausted, we gingerly side-stepped down the sheer granite cliffs until finally, our ears perked up at the sound of gurgling water. A series of eight-to- ten waterfalls cascaded over rocks and boulders. We stopped at one and jumped into a bubbling pool,  re-energized by the chilly snow melt water…

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As we curved through a dense section of forest toward the bottom, Saxon said, “Hey, guys, I have a confession.”

“What?” we asked.

“You know that guy’s beer? I kicked it off the cliff.”

“What? What were you thinking?” we chided.

“I’m sorry,” Saxon said sheepishly .

“Well, please tell us you drank it first,” Jimmy replied.

“No, I thought it was buried like you do at the beach with an empty can,” Saxon explained.

“Man! That poor guy. He was probably so looking forward to that ice cold beer before his ride back down the mountain,” we chided. “You should have come clean.”

We limped the last mile back to the village, and scored a table at the sushi restaurant where we pounded Arnold Palmers, and frosty Sapporo, and all the water we could drink.

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Sorry, nice photographer guy. Saxon owes you a 12-pack of Silver Bullets.

Or at least a Dirty Snow Angel.

The Curse of the Cussing Skier

Every New Year Jimmy resolves to stop swearing. Alas after 21 years of marriage I’ve come to the conclusion that my husband is powerless to profanity.

Ski trips are an especially ugly trigger.

Over break we headed to Lake Tahoe for a few days. There we were changing in the frigid Sugar Bowl parking lot, only to discover that Sax was busting out of his old snow pants. They were two sizes too small, total floods. He couldn’t even zip them.

Already exhausted from packing, driving and unpacking our equipment, that snafu set off Jimmy’s cussfest. “Dammit Kim! I told you to have Saxon try on his pants before we left!”

Oops.

“Come on, dude!” he yelled, shoehorning the kid into his puffy polyester Daisy Dukes. “BUTTON that F***ER!”

“I can’t!” Saxon whined.

“Um, dad, where’s my ski jacket?” Tanner asked sheepishly from the back seat.

“What do you mean, where’s your ski jacket?” erupted Jimmy. “You F*CKIN’ forgot it? You’re 16! What the F**K, man?”

In calmer moments, Jimmy has admitted the reason behind his pyscho-ness. He says it’s because our teenagers have a case of pussitis. He has a point, I thought, as I watched Tanner wrestle his foot into his new-used ski boot along with two pairs of socks and the bottom six inches of his sweatpants. “Dad!!! This boot is too small! If I shove it in, my ankle’s literally gonna break.”

“Well, why are you wearing two pairs of effing socks?” Jimmy yelled, violently ripping a pair off Tanner’s feet, “and get those sweats the hell out of there!”

By now people in the parking lot were staring. I was mortified. When we finally got up the mountain, the weather was windy and freezing, but we toughed it out until the last lift closed. Then per tradition, we warmed up in our toasty car with apres ski brie and brews, sparkling Clementine Izzes for the dudes. “Ahh,” sighed Jimmy. “Maybe skiing is worth all the hassle.”

After crashing at our pricey one-star hotel, we got a late start the following morning, and SKI NAZI was raging. “This trip is costing me BANK! Why can’t you guys get your A$$ES out of bed earlier?”

I felt bad that we slept in, but I was wiped from the holidays. Plus I was dreading the single digit temps. Thankfully it turned out to be an epic day at Squaw Valley, sunny and gorgeous and…

…Uh-oh. There was Jimbo, lumbering across the frozen tundra like a rabid polar bear. “Guess how much 2-day passes for a family of four cost?” he bellowed. “Seven hundred and forty-eight F*CKING bucks!”

Oh shoot. It was 11 a.m. and we were just now hitting the slopes. Plus the mountain was packed. It was practically costing us $10 a run. Jimmy and Saxon left Tanner & me in the dust. Just as well.  I needed a reprieve from the cuss-a-thon.

That night we met friends for dinner at Village Pizzeria. We had a great time, that is after Jimmy made it back from Sports Exchange in downtown Truckee to buy some used ski poles for Saxon. Unfortunately, we neglected to take into account that when your kid sprouts five inches in one year, he’s probably going to need taller poles. Saxon’s were so short, they looked like he stole them off Verne Troyer.

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I googled the store’s address and offered to Map it on his iPhone, but Mario Andretti  peeled out of the parking lot before I had a chance. I shrugged and went in and added our name to the 45-minute wait list. Five minutes later, my phone rang. “WHERE is this place?” Jimmy screamed. “What’s the EFFIN’ address?”

The next morning we rallied and hit the slopes by 9:30 a.m. SKI NAZI actually sweetened up: he tightened our boots, reminded us (nicely) to bend our knees and treated us to warm chocolate cookies from Wildflower Bakery. The four of us skied together and had a blast.

At 4:30 p.m., we trekked to the car, pounded a post-sesh Modelo, packed up, and headed home. Or at least we tried to. It took 35 minutes just to inch out of the parking lot.

“This traffic is SUCH a Cluster F**K!” yelled Jimmy. “The equipment, schlepping, packing, whining, crowds, everything!!! I F*cking HATE skiing!!!”

Look on the bright side, Jimmy, all those coins in your New Year’s swear jar will buy us another trip to Squaw Valley.

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"Seriously, Granite Chief Ski Shop, two hundred bucks for these Electric Blue Boogaloo powder pants? That's an EFF you to me!"
“Seriously, Granite Chief Ski Shop, two hundred bucks for these Electric Blue Boogaloo powder pants? That’s an EFF you to me!”