Saturday, January 14, 2017

Snowboarding at Kirkwood

With wonderful, fresh snow in Lake Tahoe (and 48" of new snow at Kirkwood), I was eager to make my own fresh tracks at Kirkwood - one of my favorite Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

Since the drive to Kirkwood is long and tedious, I decided to try using the Bay Area Ski Bus, a shuttle service that provides transportation to one of many Lake Tahoe Ski resorts. I don't especially relish driving for 4+ hours to Lake Tahoe and 4+ additional hours back,so I was eager to try this out.

The price for Bay Area Ski Bus varies, depending on current offers available. Normally, the Ski Bus charges $179 per adult for a single day trip to Kirkwood, but I did manage to pay $173 for the bus ride and lift ticket (using the $6 coupon at Snowpals). Kirkwood  charges $99 online at $114 at the resort for one adult lift ticket. Sometimes, Groupon has deals for $55 for the ski bus, but I could not find deals like that.

Being a resident of San Jose, my closest ski bus pickup location was the Milpitas Park and Ride at 4:00am. When I arrived at Milpitas Park & Ride at 3:52am, the ski bus was loaded and mostly full. Before heading to Kirkwood, the bus made a couple of stops to pick up additional passenger in Foster City and Pleasanton (and to pick up fresh bagels). The drive to Kirkwood was fairly uneventful (taking about 5.5 hours). I did manage to sleep a little (or at least doze off using my night shades). I had my old Ipod Nano playing some music to block the sound of the road. On sunrise, I started listening to the Godfather audio book. At around 8:00am. we were offered fresh bagels and some pastries for breakfast. I ate a raisin bagel with cream cheese.

On approaching Kirkwood, the bus pulled over to put on chains. There was snow and ice on the road and it was deemed unsafe to proceed otherwise.

We arrived in Kirkwood at around 9:30am (a bit later than I would have liked) but the bus driver picked up all of the lift tickets for us, so we did not have to wait in the long ticket line. I had my Ride 162 snowboard and K2 Clicker boots stowed in my Dakine Tour snowboard bag which was needed to prevent the board from getting scratched (while on the bus).

Kirkwood looked very busy with almost no free car parking. I was relieved that I did drive there by myself, but was somewhat apprehensive about the large crowds. My worries were unfounded - the main chairlift that I used - Cornice Express - was never busy. The weather was fantastic, sunny, 32F with no wind - almost a picture perfect day.

I took fast quad chair - Cornice Express - to the top at around 10:00am. to begin my day. My first run was down the black diamond Zachary trail. The snow felt soft, but with a bit of snap and crackle - not quite fresh powder and not quite packed powder. The trail was already broken up by Friday's skiing and there were plenty of moguls. I was hoping for freshly fallen powder but only found unmolested powder in the trees, where I ventured quite often.

Here is a GoPro4 Silver video of my snowboarding session:

I mostly snowboarded black diamond and some double black diamond trails such as Zachary, Lookout Janek, and Olympic. The fresh snow was pleasant to ride through (but Friday would have been much better). In the morning, the backside was closed, so I mostly stayed on black diamond runs.

I also tried the famous double black diamond run - The Wall. It was much icier than I expected, so I did not enjoy it.

For some odd reason I got very hungry at Kirkwood, so after a few runs, I rode back to the resort and purchased some soup at Monte Wolfe. Since I was there early, it was not yet very crowded. Finishing soup, I also purchased a hot dog and fries, which helped to relieve my hunger. The food was tolerable (but it's not remotely in the same league as Whistler's Roundhouse Lodge ).

My AT&T iPhone had no coverage at Kirkwood but I did manage to get WiFi working at Monte Wolfe. When coming to Kirkwood with friends, it's probably necessary to have a walkie-talkie.

I continued snowboarding until 3:30pm, after which I get a couple of snacks at Monte Wolfe and headed back to the Ski Bus. There were some snacks, wine, and beer ready for us to much on. The ride back to Milpitas was pleasant and we got to watch two movies: War Dogs and The Core. War Dogs was enjoyable but The Core was terrible.

I returned back at around 9:30pm, a bit tired and sore. It was a fun day of snowboarding.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Bucket List

Is all of human knowledge found only in books?

As wonderful are books for representing, documenting, and expressing human thoughts, they are not a substitute for direct, personal contact that comes from seeing, hearing, feeling, and experiencing things for oneself.

Can any book truly capture the exhilaration of windsurfing on Maui, snowboarding on freshly fallen powder at Whistler, piloting an Cessna single-engine aircraft, swimming with sharks in Bora-Bora, racing a sportbike at Laguna Seca, or seeing Fiddler on the Roof musical on Broadway?

As part of of personal self-development, I have come up with a list of experiences and travel destination that I would like to see for myself.

Ideas to Do
  1. Visit Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
  2. Visit Machu Picchu, Peru
  3. Explore Tokyo and the temples of Kyoto, Japan
  4. Walk the Great Wall of China
  5. Hike the Trolltunga Trail near Bergen, Norway
  6. Attend Pritchard Windsurfing Camp in Baja or Maui
  7. Motorcycle around Europe with Edelweiss Bike tours
  8. See an Opera at the famous Teatra alla Scala and Vienna State Opera
  9. Explore Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls in Brazil
  10. See Northern Lights (in Alaska or Norway)
  11. Attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  12. Dive the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
  13. Visit Halstatt, Austria
  14. See the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
  15. Go on a Safari in Kenya
  16. See the Seven Wonders of the World:
  17. See the Seven Wonders of Nature:
  18. Visit Every Continent
    • Visited: Europe, North America, Asia/Middle East
    • Not Visited: South America, Antarctica, Australia, Africa

Places to Visit
  1. Greece
  2. Galapagos Islands
  3. Croatia (Dubrovnik, Plitvice National Park)
  4. Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin)
  5. New Zealand (Christchurch)
  6. Machu Pichu, Peru
  7. China (Beijing, Great Wall, Shanghai, Hong Kong)
  8. Switzerland (Geneva)
  9. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
  10. Southern Italy (Naples, Pompei) and Sicily
  11. Rio de Janeiro (and Iguaza Falls)
  12. Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
  13. South Africa and Cape of Good Hope
  14. Fiji Islands
Musicals to See
  1. Crazy for You
  2. My Fair Lady
  3. Gypsy
  4. Guys & Dolls
  5. Funny Girl
  6. Avenue Q
  7. A Chorus Line
  8. Wicked
  9. Anything Goes (again)
  10. Kiss Me Kate (again)
  11. 42nd Street
Operas to See
  1. La Traviata
  2. Rigoletto
  3. Tosca
  4. Turandot
  5. Otello
  6. Falstaff
  7. Porgy & Bess
  8. Nabucco
  9. Carmen (again)
  10. Madame Butterfly (again)
Restaurant to Try
  1. French Laundry, Napa (if I can ever get in)
  2. Pizza in Naples (supposedly the best pizza in the world)
  3. Sushi in Japan
Ski Resorts to Try:
  1. Telluride, Colorado
  2. Park City, Utah
  3. Revelstoke, Canada
  4. St. Anton, Austria
  5. Nozawa Onsen, Japan
  6. Niseko, Japan
  7. Meribel, France
  8. Zermatt, Switzerland
  9. Nevados de Chillen, Chile

100 Things to Do Before You Die
  1. Visit all 7 Continents (visited Europe, North America, Middle East)
  2. See the Grand Canyon
  3. See Northern Lights in Alaska or Norway
  4. Visit Australia
  5. Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef (Scuba dived on Wailea, Maui)
  6. Swim with Dolphins (Inna swam with Dolphins in Xel-Ha, Mexico)
  7. Go on a Safari in Kenya
  8. Walk the Great Wall of China
  9. See the Seven Wonders of the World
  10. New Year's Eve in Times Square, NYC (visited Times Square)
  11. Visit Brazil
  12. Visit Greece
  13. Visit Machu Pichu
  14. Visit Galapagos Islands
  15. Go to Mardi Gras, New Orleans
  16. Celebrate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
  17. See Iguaza Falls, Brazil
  18. See Amazon Forest and River
  19. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Ireland
  20. See Stonehenge (was nearby but did not stop)
  21. Sleep in a Castle
  22. Stand on the Equator
  23. See Victoria Falls in Africa
  24. Write a Book
  25. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
  26. Attend the Olympic Games
  27. Travel to all 50 U.S. States
  28. Attend Oktoberfest in Germany
  29. Visit Mount Everest Base Camp
  30. See the Pyramids and Great Sphinx in Egypt
  31. See a play at the Globe Theater, London
  32. Halloween Horror Night at the Universal Studios, Orlando
  33. Visit South Africa
  34. Mountain bike at Soquel Demo Forest
  35. Blackpool
  36. Dirt bike the Rubicon Trail, near Sacramento
  37. Be an extra in a TV Show or Movie
  38. Ride a Camel
  39. Ride an Elephant (Inna rode an elephant on Bali)
  40. Run a marathon
  41. Walk on the Edge of CN Tower (Toronto 2015)
  42. Surf on Maui's North Shore (Maui 1998)
  43. Windsurf on Maui (Spreckelsville, Maui, 1998)
  44. Race a motorcycle on a race track (Laguna Seca)
  45. Learn to ride an off-road Motorcycle (Hollister)
  46. Learn to Water Ski (Lake Tahoe)
  47. Pilot an Airplane (Cessna 172SP)
  48. Fly on an Ultralight (Birds in Paradise, Kaui 2008)
  49. Learn to sail a large sailboat (J/24 at OCSC Sailing Club)
  50. Hike Half-Dome, Yosemite
  51. Ride a Helicopter (Maui, Hawaii)
  52. Dive in a Submarine (Oahu)
  53. Go on a Road Trip
  54. Shower in a waterfall
  55. Travel to Italy
  56. Get Married
  57. Learn a Foreign Language (French)
  58. Go Whale Watching (in Alaska)
  59. Visit France (Paris, Niece, Lyon, Honfleur, Etretat, Mont St. Michel)
  60. Go White Water Rafting (Sacramento River, White Salmon River)
  61. Attend a Broadway Show (Chicago, Fiddler on the Roof, Cats)
  62. Go Camping (Vancouver Island, Olympic National Park)
  63. Kayaking (Lake Tahoe, Bora-Bora)
  64. See the Mona Lisa (in the Louvre)
  65. Visit Yellowstone National Park
  66. See an Iceburg (Alaska Cruise)
  67. Visit Louvre Museum
  68. Visit Sistine Chapel, Vatican
  69. Climb a Mountain (Mt. Tallac)
  70. Go to a Drive-in Cinema (Sacramento)
  71. Eat at a 5-star restaurant (Manresa)
  72. Ride a jet ski (Lake Tahoe, Bora-Bora)
  73. Float in the Dead Sea, Israel
  74. Visit Walt Disney World, Orlando
  75. Ride on the London Eye
  76. Fly First Class
  77. Play paint ball
  78. Rock Climbing 
  79. See Cirque du Soleil
  80. Ride in a Limousine
  81. Ride a Roller Coaster (Disney, Great America, 6 Flags)
  82. See NYC Times Square at Night (NYC 2016)
  83. Snowboarding (Whistler, Mt. Hood)
  84. Go to a Concert (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, History of the Eagles)
  85. Start Your own Business
  86. Try Paragliding
  87. Caribbean Cruise (Emerald Princess 2007)
  88. Get a passport
  89. Visit Spain
  90. Swim with Sharks (Bora-Bora)
  91. Attend a Wedding
  92. Ride a Horse
  93. Learn to play Piano
  94. Go on a plane/train by yourself
  95. Madame Tussauds
  96. Learn to Skateboard
  97. Learn to Dance
  98. Visit Las Vegas, Nevada
  99. See the Rock of Gibraltar (Celebrity Constellation Cruise from Dover to Barcelona)
  100. See Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada (Niagara Falls, 2015)