Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmas in Tahoe

Lexi and I celebrated Christmas in Tahoe this year from the 24th through the 27th. Before we left we bought our Prius a ski rack, which we put together in the dark on the night of the 23rd. I'm a little nervous about driving the Prius through any severe snow storms, but I'm determined to show the SUV crowd that you don't need a rugged 4 wheel drive vehicle to drive the well maintained stretch of highway 80 between the Bay and Lake Tahoe. We ran into another Prius with a ski rack at Alpine Meadows, which either means it is possible to get around Lake Tahoe in a prius or that there is at least one other driver out there as crazy as us.

Though there hadn't been snow for some time, we still managed to ski all four days. Whether it was the weather or the holiday, there were few people on the slope until it started snowing on Monday. We spent two days skiing Northstar. Then we went to Homewood and finally Alpine Meadows on our last day. Here we are at the top of Homewood, which has a magnificent view of the lake.

Under Lexi's expert tutelage, I managed to ski my first blue runs. She was very patient with me, skiing with me down the green runs and the easier blue ones and giving me pointers.
It took only one day of work with her to finally get me the ability to turn left. Though I look far from elegant going down the slope, I'm a whole lot more confident about trying new runs and I'm having a lot more fun skiing. Here's some footage of me cutting off a snowboarder.

Lexi got some black diamonds in each afternoon too. The moguls were a bit icy though. There were also a lot of runs that were upgraded from black diamonds to orange exclamation points because it had been so long since there had been snow and a lot of obstacles (stumps, bushes, rocks, etc.) were poking through.

We ate well each night, which cancelled all the calories we burned on the slopes. There was this great steakhouse near our hotel. It was a classic, no frills steak house with huge cuts of meat served on their own with sides served separately. My pork chops were so huge that the one of them we took home was enough to feed us both for breakfast. The next night we went to the Crystal Bay steak house inside a small casino in Crystal Bay Nevada. It was a lot better than I expected from a small casino. My turkey and Lexi's prime rib were both great, but the decor was based on a confused concept to say the least. I even recognized one of the murals as a photo from the photoshop classroom in a book curriculum. The last night we were there, we went to the La Fondue in Incline Village. It was the worst fondue experience I've ever had. There was even glass in my salad! It's nothing like the great La Fondue in Cupertino, which I highly recommend.

We also got some card playing in. We spent our first day at the only card room in Crystal bay at the Nugget. We both ended up losing at that table. We should have known better than to play at a place that has only two tables and a group of experienced locals playing. It's like Amarillo Slims first rule of poker, if you can't find the sucker at the table after 30 minutes of play, you're the sucker. I was also kind of tired that night, so I wasn't putting the same energy into observing the interactions between the other players during the hands I sat out. As most of them had were better than the calling stations, maniacs and rocks I'm used to running into at low limit tables, I couldn't peg there betting patterns or tells as quickly.

The third night we were there, we discovered the card room at Harvey's Casino in Stateline Nevada. The card room there had tons more action. Phil Gordon was even there and was commenting to some women about the table we were at for a short time. Unfortunately he happened to come in right in the middle of the most ridiculus hand of the night (3 re-raises before the flop then everyone checked to the river). He was apparently waiting for the no-limit table to become a little more inviting so he sat in on some 3-6 games (luckily not mine). I learned a few lessons at Harvey's as well. First, you need to listen to the rocks at your table. When they re-raise they mean it. I had trip fours on the flop and watched as the calling stations were all raised out of the hand. I didn't notice that the rock was reraising me at every turn and only gave him credit for a king and a high kicker (giving him top pair). At the end of the hand his 8's full of 5's beat my 4's full of 5's and there went my $100. The other rule that I managed to follow correctly is Daniel Negreanu's rule that you should keep playing a table as long as it looks like it's going to pay off. There were so many calling stations at our table, that I broke our rule of not buying back in after we've been busted out. My decision payed off though. I changed my play to avoid challenging the rock at our table with anything less than the nuts. I was able to make back my first $100 and an extra $23 in about an hour. We're totally going to come back to South Lake Tahoe and Harvey's the next time I go skiing.

All in all it was the best Christmas I've ever had. We got to share our favorite hobbies. We got in a lot of exercise. We ate well and got plenty of sleep. We'll have to set up another trip sometime this February during ski week.

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