The day started with promise at Oh Dark Thirty (not to be confused with Zero Dark Thirty—S.E.A.L. Team 6 was nowhere in sight) and ended with a hoar snow (not to be confused with a snow whore—I’m not that hardcore).
I headed up the hill towards Northstar ski resort before dawn to connect with Number Two Daughter, and figured with the Christmas – New Years holidays past, how crowded could it be? Yes, how crowded…
I even had journalist support of my premise, to wit, an article in the Sacramento Bee was claiming that high costs were reducing the number of skiers and boarders, in a big fashion. The story said that $90 lift tickets had a chilling effect on those skier/boarder numbers.
Here’s me covering my mouth and only partially muffling the word…
My first clue, was that as I headed up Highway 80, out of Sacramento, I was passed by many more than usual utes—as in sports utility vehicles—topped with loaded ski racks.
My second clue, was as I got onto the road to Northstar, the vehicles—many of those same utes—were now in a long, barely moving procession, going nowhere, fast.
After that, the number of additional clues were almost superfluous: they were directing vehicles into an already packed overflow lot, miles away from the mountain, there were huge crowds of people waiting for numerous full-sized busses to shuttle them to the resort, the string of traffic was continuing to back-up in all directions…and, all this before the lifts were even open yet.
After contemplating for just a moment, how all these clues would relate to the eventual lift lines and crowded ski slopes, I made a hasty U-turn and headed towards Reno, where Number Two Daughter and I could meet up and re-group.
We opted to grab our cross-country skis and made the short drive to Prosser Lake, where we were greeted by a fantastic winter scene of a cobalt blue sky and glistening hoar snow in a vast open meadow.
Ironically, the ski slopes you can see off in the distance is Northstar resort, and my guess is, if I had a better telephoto lens, you would see ski slopes that look like this.
When the dog insisted we go back home (see the next picture), as we skied back to the truck we came upon about half a dozen yutes (the My Cousin Vinny variety), who were mostly standing around three utes (the vehicle variety), which were apparently stuck about a hundred yards further than they should have ventured on a snow-covered road.
As the sun was slowly setting—which does so fairly fast in the wintertime—the yutes were mostly yucking it up, and by all appearances, having a grand old time. I was not sure if it was youthful exuberance, alcohol, or possibly some form of recreational pharmaceuticals that put them into such a good mood.
Back to the Bee article, there was one quote I found fascinating,
“Once [one guy] added up the costs of lessons, lift tickets, lodging and food for his family of four and their nanny, the trip was ridiculously expensive.”
First of all, the $90 lift ticket mentioned in the story is actually low. The price listed on the Northstar website is in reality $109.
And, even that obviously did not deter the thousands who still came up that day.
Oh, even worse, the wife-person wouldn’t even consider letting me bring a nanny along for the day.