Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cross-country skiing at Kirkwood

Elena & I decided to get away this weekend and drive to the mountains in Lake Tahoe.  The weather has been ideal so we thought it might be fun to head up to Kirkwood to do some cross-country skiing.  Kirkwood has many great cross-country runs and on several of the runs dogs are allowed to join you.   Our dog Dexter spent his first day in the snow today.

Dexter had a great time in the snow. We purchased Mutt Luk boots for him so his paws didn't freeze in the snow & ice.  You can see the Mutt Luk boots in the photo above.  Dexter followed Elena & I  up and down every cross-country run, darted in/out of the trees chasing squirrels and ate snowballs when he was thirsty.  It was funny to watch Dexter run full steam to catch up with us and then slide down a hill as he tried to stop himself.  I think Dexter really likes the snow.

 We spent most of the day on cross-county skis checking out all the trails at Kirkwood.  There's a really neat trail called the "Meadow".  As you probably imagine the trail takes you through the middle of a large meadow.  You're surrounded by mountains on all sides and when you look up you can see the skiers & snowboarders on the slopes of Kirkwood.

After several hours of cross-country skiing Elena decided we should switch to snow-shoeing for a while.  I was a bit skeptical at first but once I strapped on the snow-shoes I had a great time.  Our pace through the trails was not as fast but it was nice to take a walk through the mountains and enjoy the scenery with my wife and dog.

Another great day to be in the mountains.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fun at Northstar....

Midweek at Northstar

I think I worked 9 weekends in a row before I realized it was time for a break.  I've been busy building and improving the McKay Brothers new high-speed network and I think forgot how much fun it was to to take time off.   I decided to take a day off this week and headed for Northstar at Lake Tahoe.  The weather in the Bay Area has been clear and sunny all week so I knew I was in for a "blue sky" day in the mountains.

I haven't been to Northstar at Tahoe in many years.  The last time I was there was with Elena's brother Andrei and we had a good time.  Last year I read the resort at Northstar was recently purchased by Vail Resorts and the company put a bunch of money into the mountain.   Hyatt and Ritz Carlton both have beautiful resorts at Northstar and the views are spectacular.   I knew I was in for a treat.

I hoped on the "Bay Area Bus" at the Rockridge BART at 5:30am Thursday morning and was on the slopes by 9:30am.  I was so excited to snowboard I must have done 10-12 runs before I looked at my watch.  It was almost noon and I decided to stop for a cup of coffee and a breakfast bar.   Northstar has this neat mid-mountain restaurant with lots of outdoor seating.  It was a great place to stop, enjoy my first cup of coffee and soak up some mountain sunshine!

The best part of going to Lake Tahoe midweek is the crowds.  That is... there are NONE!   It was a clear sunny day, there was plenty of snow on the mountain and there were very few people.  The lift lines were short (less than a minute) and I felt like I had the slopes to myself.    Northstar must get crowded on the weekends because you could tell it was set up for long lift lines.  There were 4-5 different lines... one for "Fast Pass" skiers, one for "Private Lessons", one for "Group Lessons" one for "Ski School" and another for "General Public".  Luckily I didn't need to worry about which line to get in... there was no line!

Honestly... look at the photo above.  How many people do you see skiing?  I see two... maybe three and they're at the bottom of the photo in the middle of the run.  It doesn't get much better than this!  It was nice to enjoy the scenery and not worry about the skiing around the people in front of you.  Elena told me she would pick up skiing and/or snowboarding again if she could ski in these conditions! 

Midweek at Northstar in Lake Tahoe...  I think this is one of the best ways to get away from the crazy lives we lead!  I look forward to my next trip!!  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sugar Bowl!

We had so much rain in the Bay Area over the Christmas holidays I thought it would never stop.  I knew the cold weather and rain at home was dumping feet of new power in Lake Tahoe.  I decided to make a day trip and hone my snow-boarding skills.  I found this company, Bay Area Ski Bus that takes people up to Tahoe and back in a day.  I took a day off from work and caught the bus a few minutes from our house.   It was so nice I didn't have to make the drive alone.  I've made several snow-board "day trips" in the past and dreaded the drive home each time.   

On the bus I took a short nap, enjoyed a simple breakfast and arrived in the parking lot at Sugar Bowl by 8:30am.  I was on the slopes in time for the "first chair" at 9:00 am.  I couldn't believe there were only 10-15 people in front of me in the lift line.  It was a nice surprise as I expected big crowds 2 days after Christmas.

It turned out to be my lucky day at Sugar Bowl.   I rode the lift with several people and heard stories of the foul weather all week.  One guy told me about his time at Squaw Valley on Christmas Day.  He rode down K2 mountain for just one run.  They put the lift on "wind hold" for an hour followed by an "avalanche hold".  Squaw then moved everyone off K2 and forced them to ski/board the same area of the upper mountain.  Following the K2 closure the guy told me he waited in several lift lines for about an hour each run... ouch!

I had so much fun on the mountain I went for almost 3 hours before took a break.  At around 11:45, I stopped at the mid-mountain lodge, grabbed a cup of coffee and ate a snack.  I didn't snow-board last year and my legs were a bit sore.  It was nice to take a short break and I was able to send Sasha & Elena photos of the mountain.  

Few crowds and lots of powder!
It was great day to be on the mountain at Sugar Bowl.  There was so much fresh powder, the crowds weren't too bad and the weather was terrific!  I love it that I can make a day trip to Tahoe.  I started the day on the bus at 5am, snow-boarded until 3:30, enjoyed a BBQ with the bus crew and was home by 8:30pm.  I love winter sport! 

Black Diamond run on Mt. Disney

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hawaii 50

If you have to turn 50... I suppose one of the best places to do it is in Hawaii.  I remember a friend of mine turning 50 in Rome and thought... how cool is that.  To be away somewhere special helps ease the pain of "going over the hill". Elena & I spent the first two days of our week long trip in Honolulu visiting friends.  

We spent most of our time on the island of Hawaii at the resort of Mauna Kea.  Mauna Kea is a special place for Elena & I.  We've visited the resort several times in the past and can't get enough.  The beach, golf and aloha spirit of the hotel keeps us coming back.  Everyday is summer and the biggest problem we have is keeping the sunburn away. 

In 2005 the resort at Mauna Kea was closed for 2 years of remodeling after it sustained damage from a 6.7 scale earthquake.  During the 2 years it was closed they renovated the hotel and golf course.  The biggest changes I saw were on the golf course.  When I played the course in 2004 it had a total of 48 sand traps... now it has 96.  The traps are hard to miss and I took several strokes getting my ball out of the new steep & deep traps.  

The signature hole on the course is the number 3, par 3 hole.  The hole plays over the Pacific Ocean and if you leave your ball short you land in the water.  This hole is challenging and such a treat to play!

All good things must come to an end and it's back to the mainland tomorrow.   One last sunset (at Mauna Lani) will keep us coming back!   Aloha.... 

I blog with BE Write

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Summer's last days in Tahoe

Elena & I decided to spend her "Birthday week" in Lake Tahoe this weekend.   We took our dog Dexter with us and had a great time.  We've spent so many years hanging out in Homewood and we've really come to love the spot.

One of our favorite spots is the beach at Chambers landing.  The weather this year was great.  The photo above was taken early morning as we enjoyed our coffee on the beach.  The afternoon was sunny, warm and in the upper 70's.  People were swimming, boating and having a great time.  It was a good weekend to be in Tahoe... but then again every weekend is a good weekend in Tahoe.

We took a hike this afternoon to a place called "5 Lakes".  The trailhead starts very close to the Alpine Meadows Ski resort.  It was a great day for a hike... sunny & clear.... "shorts" weather.  This was Dexter's first Tahoe hike...

The hike to 5 Lakes was 2.5 miles... all up hill.  We climbed over 1,000 feet of elevation with great views of the Alpine Meadows ski resort.  Elena & Dexter were great... neither one complained about the hike up hill.

I decided to go swimming after the 2.5 hour hike uphill.  When Dexter saw me swimming in the water he came right in after me.  I got the feeling he thought I was trying to leave him.  Dexter jumped in the lake, came after me for about 10 seconds and then turned back to shore.  I think he must have realized he either couldn't swim that well or the water was way too cold for him.  Either way it was funny to watch him bolt back to shore!

After a long climb up hill and a day at the lake it was time to go home.   Dexter did a great job climbing 2.5 miles up hill in the morning and trying to swim in the lake but he was pooped on the climb down hill.  I carried him on my backpack halfway down the hill... too funny!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Holy Trinity Church Picnic

Fort Mason, San Francisco

The 2012 Holy Trinity Church Picnic took place at Fort Mason in San Francisco this afternoon.  Elena & I were selected by our priest Father John to be the "Picnic Masters" for the day.  We arrived early to set-up and start the BBQ.

Getting the onions ready
We brought our dog "Dexter" and he had a great time in the park.  He rolled in the grass, ate a burger I accidentally dropped on the ground and even had a little walk with Juliana (Deacon Kiril's little girl).  

Let's go for a walk
It was a beautiful day in the park.  Elena & I cooked hamburgers and hot dogs and we all played games and had a good time.  Father John enjoyed his kite and I think the highlight of the day was the water balloon toss.....

Juliana is so cute I couldn't resist taking my photo with her while she enjoyed her strawberry.  Check out the Golden Gate bridge in the background!

I just love strawberrys!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Lena & I did the "tour of the Mykonos" beaches today. We had heard the beaches in Mykonos were nice but we had no idea.  Celebrity Cruises wanted $125/person for a guided tour of seveal beaches.  Lena & I decided to skip the Celebrity tour and expore Mykonos beaches on our own.

We disembarked the ship around 9:30 and caught a bus into Old Town Myknonos.  From there we rented a Vespa scooter and started our tour.   It was fun riding around the island on a scooter, exploring the town and trying to find each beach.  Despite a few wrong turns and a bit of wind, Lena held on tight and we found some amazing beaches.  

We saw six beaches on our tour and went swimming at three.  The weather was in the mid 80's and the water was clear, clean and comfortable.  The beaches weren't too crowded and the "vibe" was definately European.  Several languages spoken, and many women sans bathing suit top.  Lena liked Rick Steve's favorite beach called Agios Ioannis beach.  We visited beaches called Paradise, Super Paradise, Psarou and Kapari.  Psarou was like being in Las Vegas with a fine hotel on the beach, music and lots of "beautiful people" laying on the beach.

We spent the entire day at the beach and were suprised the day ended so quickly.  We raced back to return our Vespa and caught the last bus back to the ship.  Lena & I agreed Mykonos was worth a return trip someday!