Tahoe Dave’s has some local secrets to keep you in the loop with activities and fun things to do while you’re at the lake!
Send Lawyers, Guns and Money - by Robert "Fro" Frolich (1955-2010)
A Word About Snow
Winter sports are a wry comment on the endless optimism and adaptability of our species. If horse manure fell from the sky six months a year, people would find a way to ski and toboggan on it, and build forts with it. They’d even say it was pretty. Snow is so popular with Eskimos that they have 70 words for it. The Eskimos of Greenland, for, example, distinguish between snow that is falling, ganik, and snow that has fallen, aput…
Because of a single cosmic quirk, the tilting of the Earth on its axis, we pass through seasonal fluctuations, including winter and snow, and although we at Tahoe may not have 70 words for snow, we still know it in all its forms and textures, in all its beauty and danger. And just like an Eskimo, in genuine blizzard conditions, wind chill 60 below, when every other rational human is huddled by the fire drinking bourbon and cursing they day he was born, there’s always some guy out in the garage tinkering with his bindings or some kind of invention that will propel him down snow drenched mountains better or faster. We at Tahoe Dave’s Skis & Boards are kind of like those Eskimos. No matter the weather, we guarantee over night ski and board repair, and we promise, no matter how Hung Chow, to be open at 7:45 am each day throughout winter months.
Winter Season in the Tahoe Basin typically begins some point in mid-November and lasts until the end of April. Every once in a while a resort with top gun snowmaking capabilities like Boreal atop Donner Summit or Heavenly on South Shore can get a run or two open by Halloween. But don’t kid yourself, early season coverage is enough to cover the cigarette butts and say, “look at me, I’m open!” but skiing on it is like carving on a Sierra Nevada Bottle. After a couple of runs it becomes about as boring as Nigel’s comments on So You Think You Can Dance.
Most resorts feel themselves lucky to be operational Thanksgiving thought Easter. Christmas is everybody’s hope chest. Lose the Holidays for lack of snow or some other meteorological catastrophe and merchants, ski resort operators and restaurateurs might as well go home and play online poker.
Hotel, retail and restaurant prices vary with the time of year. December to Easter is obviously high season. After Easter some of the best lodging deals are certainly discovered, but to tell the truth, Tahoe is a season long fire sale. After Christmas, most ski shops discount clothes and equipment, and almost every resort offers some sort of deal on tickets. Even mid-season it’s not unusual to discover restaurants offering two for ones and happy hour specials. Compares with the pesos spent for fun in Hawaii, Europe or Sun Valley, Tahoe is a deal.
What to Bring
Nearly all visitors bring too much luggage. Life is very informal at Tahoe and even in the best eating-places men can often get by with a pair of slacks and sports shirt. Most Tahoe women dress like guys, displaying little cleavage and spending a year’s salary to look like a forest ranger. Instead, reserve space in the suitcase for on-slope wear. Most people at Lake level are more concerned about freshies than fashion statement. That’s not to say people at Tahoe don’t look sharp. The days of duct taping rips in Gore-Tex or wearing wool sailor pants is long gone. Most folks sport the functional layered look to adjust to changing Sierra mountain temperatures. All-mountain micro fleece/mesh lining jackets with removable hood can be worn over thermal and water repellant pants. The younger set likes to steeze out with bright colors and baggy fits. A neck warmer or bandana is a key on-mountain face-saver when it’s snowing. If you forget your skiwear or any accessory, Tahoe Dave’s Skis & Boards rents outerwear and we sell non-used underwear too. Dave’s can completely outfit you for the mountains.
Health Is Wealth
Goggles and sunglasses protect the eyes from most ultra-violet rays. Ya gotta have ‘em. Foggy goggles can drive a person nuts, besides lead you off a cliff. Double and triple lenses help alleviate the problem. Much the same way a defroster works in a car, many goggles come with air vents to keep air circulating.
The sun is your worst enemy, no matter how much we enjoy it. Sun protection is critical at upper elevations. Zinc based sunscreens are best. For most pilgrims, an SPF of 15, which blocks 90 percent of the sun’s rays, does the trick. Fair-skinned wimbley-wombleys might opt for an SPF 30 sunscreen (blocks 87 percent.)
There’s nothing like hot tubing to revel in a meltdown at the day’s end. Remember, heat causes the body’s blood vessels to dilate, so even though you are not moving, your heart has to pump more blood in response to the dilatation of the blood vessels. Same goes for the glass of red wine poured tub side. Plain water is better. Plenty of water allows the heart rate to return to normal; not that being normal is fun, but hey, we’re doing the ski thingy tomorrow, and, as any skier will tell you, health is wealth.
Food for Thought
Snowsports are a high energy, high-altitude activity. For most enthusiasts, skiing or snowboarding is a high-intensity, short duration workout. As a result, the recreationalist who can get away with poor eating habits at work might not be so fortunate on mountain slopes. Carbo-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and pasta are vital to your on-slope performance. But don’t go too light on protein. Protein makes you feel fuller for longer than carbohydrates and it’s essential to the repair of muscle tissue. More than anything, feed the body with lots of water. Water is vital to the digestion of food and the transportation of heat throughout the body and it also mitigates the symptoms of altitude sickness. Moreover, water is free. “Drink Tahoe tap.”
Watch the booze. This is a very hypocritical statement coming from us. We at Tahoe Dave’s are far from party poopers. We’ve quaffed enough Jägermeister to fill the Grand Canyon. But alcohol contributes to fluid and heat loss. You should at least replenish lost fluid by matching your alcohol intake with water. A NOTE ON COFFEE: According to Gene “Topper” Hagerman, Ph.D. in exercise physiology, waking up with a cup of coffee in the morning can actually help performance. “Coffee releases stored fats that can be used for energy,” says Hagerman, a former trainer for the US Ski Team. “But drink down three or four cups and the diuretic effects of caffeine combined with the altitude may put you on the road to dehydration.”
Weather or Not?
Decisions, decisions. Weather too icky to go carve or not? Better tune into the Weather Channel. It provides hourly updates on ski area conditions and temperatures in the Tahoe area every hour, 24 hours a day. “Skier’s Forecast” on the Weather channel is also a great source of info for the latest in road and traffic conditions. Check out our weather blog or tune into 101.5 FM Truckee Tahoe Radio for daily ski reports that air throughout the morning.
Unlike intimate ski towns like Aspen, Park City and Mammoth, Lake Tahoe covers a lot of ground. No matter the traffic or weather it still takes 45 minutes to drive from the North Shore to Donner Summit. If Emerald Bay on the West Shore is closed due to snowfall, South Shore is at least an hour away. Tahoe has a transit system called TART that’s improving.
Every ski area offers plenty of free parking so most people drive. As a result, traffic can be unsavory as a dog’s breakfast. Five thousand cars pouring out of Palisades Tahoe-Olympic Valley and two thousand pouring out of adjacent Palisades Tahoe-Alpine Meadows on a Saturday afternoon is enough to make the calmest people go postal. Driving from Northstar into Truckee can sometimes resemble the retreat from Moscow. If you’re visiting Alpine Meadows on the weekend, forget the car and take their bus up Ward Canyon on the backside of Sherwood. The bus stops several times on the hour at Sunnyside, only two miles from Tahoe City, and is free. In the spring, it’s a blast to go to Homewood on the West Shore by boat. The resort sits lakeside and there are several deserted commercial docks to tie up next to. Several ski resorts have limited shuttle routes or shuttle systems that will come get you at your lodging location if you call them.
Hitch hiking is legal, safe and fairly easy. The best places to catch a ride in Tahoe City towards Olympic Valley is not in-town, but past the traffic light at the “wye” in front of Save Mart on Highway 89. In Truckee, walk out past the railroad tracks to the bridge, then stick out your thumb if going to Northstar. If you’re heading up to Donner Summits, it’s a lot easier to catch a life at Donner Lake and go up old Highway 40 rather than try your luck on the interstate ramp.
A final option is cabbing it. This is especially recommended at night, especially after partying. There are more cops in Tahoe than realtors and dogs combined and they do not hesitate to pull local or visitors over for the slightest of transgressions. Drunk driving is the number one revenue source for local law enforcement and coppers, especially California Highway Patrol, who resemble a Great Dane hearing the word “bone” when it comes to pulling over suspects. Another warning about the California Highway Patrol is that they love to hang our at the edge of Tahoe City and Truckee at the end of the ski day to pop people for seat belt and cell phone infractions, speeding and the like.
A tip on winter driving. Never put anti-freeze in the windshield wiper reserve. The stuff will dissolve paint. Use only the special windshield fluid with a high freezing point. There is a difference between summer and winter windshield fluid and you don’t want to discover that difference the hard way.
Dangerous and Friendly Inhabitants
Forget for a moment about chasing black bears away from your trash, fighting carpenter ants, Tahoe Tessie, Indian Curses, ghosts, creepy crawlers and hapless land sharks that can make you go belly up and flee the Tahoe Basin. You don’t have to be fresh off the boat to fall victim to the Tahoe lifestyle. Each year a record number of visitors flock to Tahoe eager to enjoy mountain life and its unbuttoned lifestyles only to go home feeling a bit stranded with subtle twinges underneath their dorsal, frustrated between indignation and laughter as if they weren’t coddled enough or something. And a handful of those eager visitors are caught in the allure of nature and decide to make Tahoe a year-round home.
Tahoe isn’t for sissies. There’s not as much back scratching at Tahoe as found at Vail, Aspen, Sun Valley, and Deer Valley, but that’s the beauty of the place. Unlike the above mentioned terrible alternatives developed elsewhere that has led the sport into a dead-end alley, the North Shore is a breath of fresh air that defies classification. The area contains our everyday super-rich and major hamster butt-eaters, (in the late ’90s there was actually a group of moral crusaders that formed a group called “the League to Save Decency at Tahoe” – LSD at Tahoe), but for the most part its social mix is unlike any other upper tier resort in the county. Unlike other mega resorts, full of glitz, high-profile Brahmins, poseurs and the swells of high society, Lake Tahoe is more a rarefied outpost where the rich and not-so-rich, bound by a collective independent spirit, happily rub shoulders and revel in the seductive vistas and beautiful wonders of nature. The mountains are less a place to see and more a place to ski. The area prides itself on being all things to all people. If you yearn for some smooth degrees longitude, some knots lat upon Tahoe’s social waters keep in mind the following advice: Don’t wear ties or dead animals around your neck. Be nice, even if you’re about to blow a gasket because the Tahoe carpenter you hired for a minor remodel keeps taking time off to rip fresh fallen pow pow. Running on “Tahoe Time” means that a complicated schedule of skiing, biking, yachting, travel and hangovers take precedence over many obligations. Be polite. We love the service industry, but no one likes being a servant. If you need to conduct a lordly existence by anonymous about it. Have fun, even if confused or teetering on being upset. Hey, bud, we’re confused too!