Squaw Valley (3)

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Ski, Sled and Slide

Day 16. After the storm comes a rainbow.  In our case, after the snowstorm came CHRISTMAS DAY!!!01

It was December 25 and waking up to a field of fresh snow, gorgeous mountains, handsome evergreens and presents by the fireplace, was Christmas indeed!

We secretly got Benjamin and Joaquin Starwars Legos at Disneyland two weeks before.  Starwars: The Force Awakens was the hype that winter so the kids were very excited about their gifts.  They hung their woolen socks by the fireplace the night before and Santa gave them US$20 each and Harry Potter bookmarks! Both of them are Harry Potter fans and somehow Santa Claus knew that.02

And what’s my gift to Euben? A Christmas card with a pop-up Santa on a road trip, with Rudolf in the red car traveling on a road with snow-dusted trees.  I saw this card at Barnes & Noble during our stop in LA and I immediately thought it would be a nice present for my husband.  Just like Santa, we were on a road trip, with Euben (our very own Santa) as the driver and driving in a snowy place on the last leg of our adventure.   03

That year-end, our family was blessed to spend time with each other in Tahoe in northern California.  We stayed at the enchanting Resort at Squaw Creek and it was our 3rd day in our winter wonderland.

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Resort at Squaw Creek

After breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Squaw Valley where we would be learning how to ski.   We were hoping to ski every day during our four days in Tahoe but because of Joaquin’s stomach flu, we ended up skiing only on the 3rd day.

Squaw Valley has age group ski classes but we opted for the family lesson so that could learn together.  Private lessons are for up to 4 people and the instructor will cater to the least experienced member of the family (soon enough you’ll know who it was).

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Ready to go

We have our own ski pants, jackets and gloves so we only had to rent the skis, boots and helmets.  Rental was pretty pricey so if you can borrow, just do so.  We were advised to arrive 30 minutes before our lesson at the rental area for registration and fitting of our equipment.   This is important, you wouldn’t want to waste your lesson time especially if it’s just for half a day like ours.

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Base Area down there and High Camp up in the mountain

There are two beginner ski areas at Squaw for family lessons – one at Base Area near Squaw Kids and the other one at 8,200 ft above sea level at High Camp.  The instructor will decide which venue is appropriate for the family on the given day, I suppose, considering the wind and snow conditions and the age of the family members.   I was crossing my gloved fingers that Susan, our native Californian instructor, will bring us to High Camp because I was thinking if I can’t ski, at least I would still see the panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada.  She asked for Joaquin’s age who was 6 then, and said, “All right, the weather looks great and I think your family will enjoy the upper mountain.” Oh yeah!

To get to High Camp, we took the aerial tram, which was crowded that early morning.  Everyone seemed upbeat and excited so I guess it didn’t matter that we were packed liked sardines. 08

The view from above was spectacular. Magical, for people like us who live in the tropics.

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Squaw Valley Lodge as seen from the tram
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If you look closely, you could make out some people skiing down the mountain
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Eyeing the possibilities

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We could already see High Camp and the Olympic rings from the tram.  At 8,200ft above sea level, High Camp has a swimming pool, a skating rink and restaurants.

But this was what we went up there for…13

Fresh, dry, powdery snow and gentle slopes.

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And with the clouds clearing up, I couldn’t help but feel optimistic.

It was going to be a lovely, lovely day!

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We got ourselves a locker and put almost everything in except my almost-out-dated phone and a video recorder.  I realised that my iphone kept shutting down, something to do with the battery and the cold, but it’s good that I brought it anyway ‘cos I managed to snap some pics although many were quite blurry.

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Ah, all set!
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Joaquin doing a ‘pizza’ braking maneuver
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Benjamin getting ready to do some serious skiing
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This was Susan teaching me to go down that bunny slope

Susan brought us to Bailey’s Beach, which is a beginner’s slope.  She patiently taught us the basic moves, the dos and don’ts, and allowed us to have lots of fun.  Well, that’s until she started teaching us the C and S techniques.   The boys learned them fast but I, I found myself stuck on top of the hill.  My skis just wouldn’t move.  I was terrified because after 2hrs into the lesson, I realised we were not in a very gentle slope anymore.   I was just too afraid to fall and in my mind, nooh, I didn’t wanna slide 8,200 ft down.

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Joaquin successfully skied down the slope and behind was Benjamin with Susan doing the C – technique

Anyway, I decided to just enjoy the view and the tiny flakes of snow that had started to fall.  The boys, on the other hand, continued their lesson with Susan and after that did a few runs on their own.

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Benjamin and Euben enjoying their time on the slopes
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Benjamin and Euben on Bailey’s Beach lift

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I’m proud of these two. They really enjoyed themselves.
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Joaquin looking for his skis so that he can have a go again

We were back at Base Area around 3pm.  I didn’t ski much but it still felt great to hang around the fire with a crowd that shares the same love for snow and adventure.26

We had hotdogs, crepes and hot choco on those red chairs and we just chilled there till our shuttle arrived.27

We took the free shuttle back to our hotel, which was less than 10 minutes away.

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Behind that fence, in the forested area, was our lovely hotel, Resort at Squaw Creek.
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Entering the resort was like stepping into Narnia.
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The resort was alive with some people skating and others swimming in the hot pool behind those tall trees.

But we were not ready to go in yet.  Because just outside the hotel was their heavily snowed golf course-turned-winter-playground.31

It was a wonderland out there.32 (3)

The setting sun, the golden sky, the serenity of the mountains – they all came together beautifully.

It was peaceful amidst the high-pitched voices of the children. 33

There, the parents could laugh at their tumbling kids.  Everyone, especially the grown-ups, can be carefree.34

Even Euben and I competed against Benjamin and Joaquin for time on the sled.35 (2)

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I will always remember the genuine thrill from riding that little sled, how it made our family even closer.  It made up for the days that we couldn’t ski.  Or the snowmobile and snowshoeing that had to be canceled.

And here Joaquin was asking for a few more minutes in the snow.

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“Please?”

But the sky was already turning purple, it was getting too cold.40 (3)

We gave the kids the few more minutes that they’d asked for.  Euben and I headed to the outdoor fireplace.   The cold had started to sting.

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Conveniently located fireplace

We looked around us and contemplated on how blessed we are to experience that place. 42 (2)

We were silent for the most part as we took it all in – the light reflecting from the skating rink, the noise coming from the swimming pool on the other side, the shiny Christmas balls on the railings, the towering Christmas trees, and our two kids approaching us with the biggest smiles on their faces. 🙂43 (2)

We had our Christmas dinner at Cascades restaurant at the hotel.  It was a buffet and it was good! Benjamin said it was biggest dessert set-up he had ever seen.   I couldn’t remember how many slices of cakes he had that night, what I do recall was telling him to eat and drink anything that his heart desires.  I try not to spoil our kids, but I thought what the heck, it’s a happy day – it’s Christmas, our favourite and truly the most wonderful day of the year.

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Christmas dinner at Cascades

Before we ended the night, we visited the gingerbread village set-up that the hotel is also known for during the holidays.46

And we had our family picture taken by the Christmas tree – a family tradition we would always try to continue…

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Us and the Christmas trees inside and outside the hotel

Cheers to family!

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Our last hurrah in the snow and our drive back to San Francisco are up next…

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Click here for Day 1, Day 2 or Day 4 at Squaw Valley

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9 comments

    1. Hi! We were thankful to the ski instructor who brought us up to the High Mountains for our first ski lesson, that’s how we got to see the beautiful landscape. Really unbelievable for us.
      And for a family like ours that live in the very tropical Singapore, being able to experience a white Christmas is just so wonderful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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