Since 2008, Thanksgiving has been a holiday that J.O and I have broken away from our family traditions and we have started our own way of celebrating. More often than not, our day of giving thanks and turkey is spent skiing. Except for last year; there wasn’t very much snow in Hawaii. That year we went to the beach
This past Thanksgiving was no different. We had decided back in September that we would make a trip to one of our favorite places on earth for their opening week: Heavenly Resort in South Lake Tahoe, Ca.
The first time we ever skied at Heavenly was on Thanksgiving in 2011 and even though there were only a hand full of runs open, it was fantastic. J.O and I both come from a family of skiers; J.O’s dad was an instructor in Keystone, CO and my dad did both alpine skiing and completive ski jumping. We both started early too. J.O was up on skis before he was up running around in shoes (he was 13 months old, to be exact). I had a bit of a later start and went down my first bunny hill when I was 3. We both did competeive racing in high school too (although, my racing career was nowhere near as admirable as my talented husband who was off achieving national medals while I was still learning how to set gates). Needless to say, we both have always loved to ski and Thanksgiving has kind of become our traditional kick off to the season.
J.O’s family had thrown around the idea of coming out to join us for the holiday week, so we decided to rent a home through VRBO.com If you haven’t discovered this site yet and want to have a more relaxed atmosphere on your next vacation (i.e not staying in a hotel room) check them out. We have used them before for other vacation’s and are always happy. We ended up finding a great 3 bedroom, 3 bath home with a fenced in yard, hot tub and fireplace nestled back in the keys. The Keys are an area in South Lake Tahoe that are manmade inlets. It’s a nice and quiet development that is close to Heavenly Village. We have become familiar with the area over the years and knew that that is where we wanted to stay; it was perfect.
Our weekend before departing was originally filled with getting ready (packed, shopping,etc) and a little pre R&R, but, this was changed on Thursday night after J.O got home from a 12 hour work day. We then received the standard holiday storm call. If you’re a line-family, you know what I’m talking about. It happens 9/10 times when getting ready to go on vacation or start a holiday: there’s a storm call. (life of a lineman!) Luckily, it wasn’t anything that was going to completely change our plans. J.O was called out at 9:30pm on Thursday night and worked straight through until noon on Saturday. He toughed it out and stayed awake until around 6 and then hit the hey, getting his much needed rest for the week ahead. We were up and out the door by 9 o’clock Sunday morning.
It was a beautiful week up there. J.O and I had our first night there alone. We spent it going out to eat, getting the house set up, playing Yahtzee, drinking cold beer, watching football and relaxing by the fire. There’s something to be said about the first night of vacation; it’s a feeling like none other.
We woke up early the next morning to head up the mountain. The resort had opened 2 days prior for the season and we were excited to see what the conditions were like. The weather was beautiful at the base, highs in the mid 50’s and the sun was shinning. The temps had been dipping into the teens at night and we knew that they had been blowing snow in addition to a small front that had passed through a few weeks prior. We had purchased our Epic passes months before, so we didn’t have to worry about standing in line for lift tickets! Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, I recommend taking the gondola up the mountain in Heavenly Village. The views are, well, heavenly.
The first day was great! It always feels good to shake the cobwebs out of and find your stride again for the season. Because there was only 1 run open that day, we didn’t last too long. The snow started to become really choppy and dodging people left and right takes a toll on my anxiety! But, that was ok, because we had to get back to greet our friend, Nick who had flown in to San Francisco from MN that morning and was driving out!
The next few days we relaxed, took Nick up to the top of the gondola, drove around, warmed up in the hot tub, played poker and Yahtzee, ate and drank at some of our favorite places and enjoyed each other’s company.
Our next fun set of visitors came on Wednesday when we drove to Reno to pick up J.O’s brother, Erik and his girlfriend Alexa. What is it about reuniting with loved ones at an airport? It’s just so FUN and emotional! Anyhoo, it was a nice drive back into Tahoe with them, catching up and all of us happy and giggly with the excitement of seeing each other and the days ahead.
On Thanksgiving, as tradition would have it, J.O, Erik and I went skiing (more runs were open too!) and then we all went back to the house for dinner. We had brought up a bunch of food to cook though out the week, and our Thanksgiving dinner was sure to not be forgotten! A nicely sized 9 pound organic turkey from a local farm (Diestel Farms in Sonora, CA) would be roasted with herb butter, filled with stuffing and become the center stone for our meal. We also made salmon spread, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted asparagus, a pecan pie and a french silk pie. We were set, and by the end of the night, very full! There was wine and beer and football too. Even the long dog got in the spirit and dressed up for the occasion 😉
All week the weather was gorgeous, low to mid 50’s and sunny! It was perfect for walking around town and yet cold enough at night to make snow so that the skiing was still possible. By the way, today (a few days after we left) Tahoe received 8″ of snow with a high of 28, how fast things change!
Friday and Saturday were filled with more relaxation, laughs, meeting up with other friends, eateries, breweries and sadly, goodbyes. Just like our first night in Tahoe, our last night was spent between just J.O, the long dog and myself. We laughed about all the good times in the past week and how blessed and thankful we are for the amazing people and experiences in our lives.
Sunday we packed up and came back to reality. After all the amazing food and drinks we had, reality also is including a bit of a detox before the next round of fun! J.O is out of town for work for awhile and even though I’ll be able to go visit him a few times, I’m mostly taking the time to get prepared for the next holiday: Christmas! This one will be just as grand since we’ll not only be driving back to Minnesota to see all of our friends and family, but there will be skiing involved too (our Epic Pass now includes Afton Alps, only 10 min away from my parents home) ! So, get ready Minnesota, we’re coming to see you soon!
Some of the places we went to while in town were:
- McDuff’s: an Irish style pub and restaurant
- StateLine Brewery
- The Beacon at Camp Richardson
- Whiskey Dick’s Saloon
- The Brewery at Lake Tahoe