Between Thanksgiving and Christmas it’s my pleasure to research and plan our ski vacation. This year it was easier because Thea had already said that she wanted to go back to Mammoth and Mammoth already had more snow than they did last year. And it was harder because the flights out didn’t line up as nicely as they did last year. Since Alaska Air only hops over to Mammoth twice a day, once at 9:30 and again at 4:30, one would think that it would be easy to get into LAX from OKC to catch the latter flight. But since I didn’t want to start my vacation by getting up any earlier than normal, American couldn’t get me into LAX before three something. That’s not a lot of leeway for delay and changing terminals. Southwest left at nine and got to LAX around one. That would leave plenty of time to spare. I wound up planning on using Southwest flights instead of American to get us into LAX. When we started making our plans a reality, Thea looked at our Rapid Rewards and found that it would take roughly nine thousand reward miles per flight, OKC to PHX and PHX to LAX round-trip. So two people, two round-trip flights, four times nine is thirty-six, so thirty-six thousand reward miles needed. And how many did we have. Ninety-five thousand. So total cost of getting to LAX:$22 each in fees. And Alaska Air was running a come-fly-with-us special of $80 to ski at Mammoth. So our total cost to go round-trip once all flights are booked was almost $350 for both of us.Lodging. I need to do my due-diligence. Rooms at The Village next to the gondola, $350 per night. Rooms at the Alpenhof Lodge across the street from the gondola, $130 per night. That’s a no-brain-er. Planning done and reservations made. We’re all good to go.
And then a week later…Shel calls.
“Hey, what’s going on?”
“We’re going skiing.”
“Can I come?”
“You can use up more of our Rapid Reward miles..Can you afford $22 to get to LAX?”
“Can you afford $105 to hop over from LAX to Mammoth?” (The plan-early special had expired.)
“Can you make up the difference of $40 a night for changing to a double/double room?”
“Sure. You can come.”
And that’s how we wound up sharing four nights and three days of fun.
Fun, in this case, can be broken pretty well into eating and skiing. We wanted to prepare for a day of skiing by making sure that we had eaten well. And we wanted to ski hard enough to work up an appetite. In my usual doggedness, I had already decided on places that I wanted to go to dinner based on our last visit. And since both girls were on vacation, the fact of the act that someone had pre-decided things was just bonus.So this was how the vacation went.
Since I already knew that we would be meeting up at LAX and they had pretty good burgers the last time, Lunch was at Ruby’s Diner in the Alaska Air terminal 6. If you’re like me, you’ll ask them to leave off the Ruby dressing (like thousand island dressing) from the hickory cheese burger. Following our flight and after securing our room and unpacking, Shel wanted to be a carnivore. So, we went to The Smokeyard Chop House where I pigged out on some ribs and shared a wonderfully large piece of cornbread filled with sweet-corn and covered in honeyed butter.
There’s an app that you download onto your phone for the resort. It sucks the life out of your battery but it gives some fun data. When I tried it last year, it kept dying and losing all its logs. This year;’s version was much better. For the time that I ran it, it seemed to give accurate results.
Day 1: Up at 7am. The really irony of our ski vacationing is that we get up at the same time as we would for a normal work day. We ate breakfast in the lodge to save some time. Once we had our rentals, we could have a little more leisurely breakfast. There’s nothing fancy about the breakfast fare here. Toast, oatmeal, hardboiled eggs and sliced ham or salami. No scrambled eggs or waffles. But it’s enough.
None of us wanted to push ourselves too hard. Shel did anyway because she didn’t want to feel like she was slowing us down. After all, she’s ten years younger. I need someone to slow me down though. The only times that we were skiing apart from each other, I managed to have two spectacular falls. It was the same reason, the same place on the mountain, and the same result both times. I just could not turn my heels together on a really blue-diamond section. Both falls, I back-flipped onto my right shoulder and then whacked the back of my head. Those were the only hard falls I took the whole trip.
Our reward for a good day’s skiing was to go the consensus best pizza joint in Mammoth: Giovanni’s. And I must say, they didn’t disappoint. The girls split a pie and I had a small Eggcentric pizza to myself. The menu said nothing about the artichoke hearts that were on it.
Day 2: Breakfast at Toomey’s. This is where I did Thea’s trick of just asking for something they might have. I got a big pile of carne asada omelet with potato and pepper hash. It’s not on the menu.
Our feet were all under us today. But Shel was still exhausted from day 1. She took to the schoolyard runs and Thea and I headed off to Stump Alley. I decided to keep the app running from after we had stopped at noon until we went back around to the Canyon Lodge side of the mountain. No falls today but the pad of my left foot was on fire. Either my boot was too tight or I was avoiding being on my weaker right knee. Either way, we stopped before anything could happen.
And after a rest we went to Gomez’s Tequileria. Here, like last year, I had one of the mightiest tamales ever; full of meat, cheese, and potatoes. It’s almost a stew in a corn masa wrapper. And their relleno’s aren’t shabby either.
Day 3: Breakfast at the Old New York Deli and Bakery. I had a decent breakfast burrito but a really delicious bagel with melted asiago crusted on the top.
Shel opted out of skiing all together. I ran the app for a majority of the morning. By our noon-ish break, I had the desire to go to the top of Mammoth on the Panorama Gondola. Skiing down would have meant skiing single or double black diamonds but the gondola from McCoy Station carries passengers both ways. They have a nice Eleven53 Interpretive Center where you can look through tubes at the different peaks around you and read a little of the geological history. After a few final hours of skiing, we were done.
After resting, then packing, we spent our final dinner at Sushi Rei. To prevent embarrassing myself and others, I asked. There is no proper way to eat a bowl of udon with a Japanese spoon and chopsticks. As long as you eat more than you wear, it’s all good.