Today was our last day in Tahoe, so we got up early, ate, dressed, and jumped in the gondola at 9:00 for the nearly 30 minute ride to the top. Fresh corduroy awaited! I was able to get in 5 great runs down the mountain, with beautiful Lake Tahoe staring me down each time. I'm getting
more comfortable & confident on the steep blue runs, and my only falls today were from losing my balance while getting a little overzealous. And for a snowboarder, that's probably a good thing.
One treat today: upon sliding off the Dipper Express lift, I saw two huge, happy Golden Retrievers prancing around the ski patrol station. They looked very proud in their red vests with white crosses, & their names emblazoned on their front shoulder. I tore my board off & ran over there with my camera, & asked one of the rescue team to take our picture. Madeline & Boulder were happy to oblige:
This, of course, made me really miss my 3 pets back home, and also made me nostalgic for my childhood with these dogs. They were so funny and totally lit up, getting to come to work out in the snow. I'd really like to try training a search & rescue dog someday...
We sneaked in nearly 2 full hours of riding before we had to catch the gondola back down the hill, to change, pack, check out, walk to Embassy Suites, & meet the shuttle.
It was an hour and a half ride back to the airport, and we talked excitedly the whole way about getting together again for hiking & trail running, & what our next big adventure might be. Brett suggested that we might each host a trip to a place we've been before. Banff in September with Brett? Spain & Europe with Rafael? Japan in 2013 with Jen? It's fun to dream about what might be next, and incredible to meet like-minded people who are
amazingly easy travel companions. Brett is an expert planner and has great ideas of where to go; Rafael speaks Spanish and is very funny and easygoing; both of them are very knowledgeable about the outdoors, hiking, & backpacking. And I speak some Japanese, can talk to animals and am picking up the backpacking stuff as fast as I can. We make quite the Musketeers, and between us I believe we can go anywhere. W need our own TV show!
We had lunch/dinner at the airport before we parted ways (the Southwest gang vs. the Delta gang) to head home. My favorite part was talking about
how lucky each of us are: to have our health, some vacation time, and some money to travel. And not just that, but the DESIRE to see the world. And the desire to share it with people who would appreciate it equally (and perhaps in different ways). The guys talked about the need to have a plan,but also the need to be flexible: like on this trip. We didn't plan for the lifts to be closed at Heavenly on Wed-Thurs-Friday, but that gave Brett & me time to walk on the sandy shore of the Lake together. And hitching a ride to Northstar allowed us to see another resort, and for me to dramatically improve in my riding on easier runs first, making Heavenly possible.
I quoted something I'd read long ago, and whole-heartedly believe: "Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out." Like that wrong turn in Alaska that led us to see our first black bear, "mistakes" or seemingly bad things may lead to even greater things thatcouldn't have been anticipated. And although I'm sad that my trip to Africa fell through this fall, I was lucky to spend this time with two great guys who I feel will be good friends forever. And what more can you ask for? Every person I get to know has led me to even greater knowledge, greater experiences, greater adventures. And I'm just getting warmed up...