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Lake Tahoe/Reno Trip

The assortment of people that currently run our lives allotted us three days to spend somewhere else recently and our requirements sounded simple enough until we got to thinking about them. The place had to be new to us, feature reasonably cool weather, and there needed to be some water around. The proximity of golf, gambling, and girls would be a bonus of course but you can find some semblance of those three things just about anywhere these days. Let's see, it's hot anyplace below 6000 feet or that's not within a mile of the ocean. The west coast was out since we'd been everywhere along it numerous times. The Great Salt Lake? No. Been all over Colorado. The east, sweltering in a humid miserable cloistering mosquito fog. Wait a minute what about Reno/Tahoe?

What about Reno/Tahoe? If it was worth a damn, why hadn't we ever been there? We'd driven through Reno once some time ago but had trouble enjoying it since it was a trip where all our worldly possessions had come along with us in the back of a rental truck not to mention a nest egg sized bunch of cash that we didn't feel comfortable walking around with or leaving in the fleabag motel. And if we'd ever wanted to go skiing in the past, we'd usually already been in either Vermont, Colorado or Washington so there was no real reason to make the long trek to Tahoe or at least if there was it was never presented to us. So the time was now. We booked a Southwest flight into Reno, zipped our clubs, rafting shoes, sunscreen, and a wine opener into a big rolling bag, and showed up at the Tucson airport at six in the a.m. ready to climb up out of the heat and experience a new place.

We didn't really have a plan when we landed but since it was already almost 100 degrees in Reno we looked into accommodations up the hill. After making some reservations we decided to drive until we saw the lake. There was a long line of cars winding up that way and traffic came to a standstill as soon as we hit the California line. It hadn't occurred to us that we'd be going to California for some reason and we were bummed out about it sitting there in the bumper to bumper traffic and even more so when we pulled off into a simple parking lot and an attendant demanded twelve dollars. Is the whole state like this? The fact that we had suddenly joined hoards of folks next to an expanse of blue water and were paying money and sitting in a line of SUV's for the privilege seemed to indicate that it was. The water looked cold and refreshing however so we tried to forget about all that and wasted no time plunging in. It was cool but not cold and we stood their looking across as little fish nibbled our toes and watched some Para sailors and kayak renters go by. We thought about joining them but it seemed a little too much like manufactured fun for some reason so we got back in the car and headed up towards Squaw Valley where our lodge was located.

Winding up along the Truckee River towards Squaw we could see a flotilla of rafts down in the water and folks seemed to be enjoying themselves although it didn't look like very challenging rafting since you'd often catch glimpses of people just standing in the middle of the river drinking beer and shooting the breeze as if they were at a 4H picnic. We weren't really sure where we were going but we knew the turnoff was nigh and suddenly came to a big torch burning the Olympic flame in front of a multinational display. Only then did it occur to us that we had booked a room in the old Olympic Village from the 1960 winter games. We should have realized before probably the history of the place we were going and definitely knew at some point that the Olympics had been held in the US in 1960 since it was the last time our hockey team won before the Miracle on Ice but it hadn't registered for some reason and because the trip was sort of half assed and last minute, we hadn't done much research on the area. Pulling up to the lodge in the former Olympic village added satisfaction to our destination choice however even though it didn't really make it look much different than any other ski town does in the summer. A little history is always a good thing though and we enjoyed reading about the games over the course of the weekend and looking at the pictures of how it had been back in a more black and white day.

We threw our bags in the room planning to hit the golf course immediately. We were staying at The Squaw Valley Lodge which was nice enough for the likes of us and probably is really sweet in the winter since you can walk to the lifts right out the door. There weren't many people there on this day and once in the room we went to the thermostat since one of our goals for the vacation was to stay as cool as possible. No air conditioning was the condition of that room however and we suppose, since 99 percent of the time they don't need it, that made sense. We just happened to be there on the one day when the temperature inside was approaching 80 so we threw open the windows and headed over to someplace called the Resort at Squaw Creek to take advantage of their late afternoon golfing special.

We teed off and noticed that while the elevation did indeed seem to add length to some of our drives, it did nothing to straighten them out. The starter/club boy had told us that we were free to tromp around in the marsh all we wanted looking for our errant balls but that nobody had ever found any ball hit out there. He had explained that the whole course winds through these wetlands and doesn't use any fertilizer or unnatural products. Most of the cart paths were on elevated wooden tracks and it was pretty marshy. One of us dropped a ball out of their pocket and it disappeared at their feet never to be found so it was kind of like playing on island fairways because when you missed on either side you had to drop a new ball. It was a nice cloudy day though with temperatures in the seventies so we weren't too worried about our scores or how many balls didn't make it back out of the marsh. Some of the holes hugged up next to the mountain and horses would often trample by as trail rides snaked along so that was sort of a nice change. It wasn't crowded at all either and we could see a twosome ahead of us by a few holes when we teed off but were expecting a pleasant relaxing round.

By the turn however we had come to a grinding halt as if it were a weekend February morning in Tucson. We saw the couple ahead of us just sitting on a bench waiting for something and the next hole over there was a lone craggled figure who seemed to be leisurely playing a round alone. We watched him come up the adjacent fairway and he would hit his ball a few feet, drive up to it, take a long stretch and many practice swings and then hit it a few feet more. We had been told it was cart path only but he seemed to be ignoring that rule altogether. He saw us looking at him and seemed to glower back although it was hard to tell across the expanse. It soon became clear however that he was the reason for the hold up and didn't seem to give a good goddamn about it even though there were five holes open in front of him and behind us. We had nowhere to go anyway and didn't really mind waiting except for the sheer absurdity of the scene and when we finally did finish the round teh cart boy asked us how the it went out there and we said a little slow and he said "Ahh you were probably behind old so and so. He kind of owns this place." We found out later by place the guy had meant the whole valley and not just the course or the lodge.

We learned this from a bartender working a small bar at the top of the gondola. You can take a gondola up to a swimming pool and restaurant and ice rink located near the top of the ski area. Nobody was skating but the pool looked nice and there was a big deck with Olympic rings hanging in front of it so we went to get a beer to relax and enjoy the sights. The bartender stood with his back to a window with a view of the whole valley and proceeded to fill us in on some of the local color. He said that one man had purchased Squaw back in the day and still owned it and this was why they didn't have to adhere to forest service rules and such since they weren't leasing the land from the government like most resorts. When we said we thought we might have been golfing behind the guy earlier he said that we probably were. We watched a thunderstorm rolling in from the distance and were told that the gondola shuts down when the lightening gets too close so we hustled to make the next car and rode it back down with a bunch of Serbian girls.

To be continued........

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