My hotel room had a drip coffeemaker. I am not fond of the pre-made coffee packets that work with hotel coffeemakers so I brought some Starbucks Via packets from home, as well as a small bottle of flavored coffee creamer, and a mess kit with a plate, 2 bowls, cup, utensils. I also brought a Grayl personal water filtration system because…well you never know the quality/taste of local water. So I filtered water, filled the coffeemaker reservoir, and removed the coffee basket and lifted the lid of the coffee pot so that the heated water would fall into it, as opposed to a more precise, but coffee-flavored drip via the basket. I used the heated water for 1) instant coffee 2) instant oatmeal. This was great for me to make a quick and healthful breakfast. I also brought some individual containers of diced pinneapple, so coffee, fruit, oatmeal…and I was ready to go.
It’s really something waddling across a casino floor in full ski attire while carrying skis and poles. But I’m certain I wasn’t the first person to do that. In fact, the bellman advised me that for multi-day stays, the bell desk will valet your skis so you don’t need to drag them through the halls. I did not take advantage of this because I liked to touch up my Base Boost each night due to slushy mid-day conditions that week.
It is a short walk to the gondola entrance from Harrah’s. The gondola is included with your lift ticket. I highly recommend ordering your lift ticket online ahead of time so you can save a small amount of money. If you have an existing EPIC pass or day ticket from a previous season, you can add the additional tickets to your EPIC account and load it to the card you have with you. It’s not difficult. Worst case, you can pick up your newly-purchased ticket at the guest services window before getting in line for the gondola. The line wasn’t too bad on a Wednesday morning and it moved quickly. The views of the lake from the gondola are lovely – make sure to turn around if you are seated facing uphill! Once you arrive at the Tamarack Lodge area you can queue up in line for the Tamarack chair which will take you up and from there choose to ski Nevada or California side OR you can do what I did: scoot over to Big Easy chair and roll right on, no line, and either do a few warm up runs there or keep heading forward toward the Nevada side where you can pick up Comet and Dipper chairs to head toward California or ski the quiet runs mid-mountain on the Nevada side.
I took my time running some green and blue warm up runs then a pretty run overlooking the Carson Valley, and headed to Dipper Chair. That took me to the top of the mountain where I headed to California Trail and insanely gorgeous views.
California Trail and Skyline Trail are both very scenic and seemed to have more traffic than anywhere else on the mountain that day. They are “must sees” in my book for the view it affords you. But for really fun skiing, I enjoyed a pocket of trails and lifts in the middle of the California side. The lifts weren’t the fastest but the lines were very short and I liked the variety of turns needs to execute them. Some were forested and narrow, some wide open. “Mombo” was my favorite and I must have done it 3 or 4 times. It has a swooping bowl at the bottom so you take a big turn and feel like you are nearly parallel to the ground when you fly up the side wall. Really a fun layout and I felt like I had it all to myself.
I stopped for a light snack; it was Ash Wednesday so a lunch was not in order for me. I had some dried apricots in my pocket but ordered a beverage so I could sit at the outdoor tables and catch up with some work (Yeah, I know…) I chatted a bit with the bartender who told me good things about a local restaurant I brought up. More on that later. I think he felt bad about charging me $17.50 for an adult beverage so he dumped a ton of booze in there, it was pretty wild.
I skied another hour or so, and then headed back on the gondola. My original intent was to get back to the room, do some work, then head to mass for Ash Wednesday (even though it is NOT a holy day of obligation) and then get a vegetarian dinner somewhere (I am allergic to all seafood.)
Before ending for the day, I took advantage of the free professional photo opportunity offered by EPIC resorts. You need to have the EPIC app on your phone to access them and the pics are free to share on social media. I appreciated the nice souvenir.
The gondola ride back was wonderful, especially since I was alone.
Finally back to my room, I was wiped out after a full day skiing in the sun plus an overly-ornery Mule drink mid-day. I did some work then actually laid down in bed for a “disco nap” before rallying to get something for dinner. I actually walked a mile to Lakeside Inn and immediately signed up for their players card, played a few games and was winning, before heading to dinner in their restaurant, The Timbers. Though the casino has a tell-tale cigarette odor, the restaurant does not. I liked the atmosphere which was something of a mash-up between California 50’s diner and old-time woodsy supper club. There are both booths and tables available, plus a cocktail lounge area. As a lover of vintage-everything, I was thrilled that they played pop and jazz hits of the 1940s on their sound system.
I knew from talking with the bartender at Heavenly that this was a “locals” place and he gave high marks to the food, which was accurate. Everything I had was delicious, different from the usual, and very reasonably priced. I started with a homemade leek-potato soup and a warm bread basket that included a house-made whipped garlic butter with parm and balsamic. Oh, myyyyyyyyy. Then a veggie burger piled high with more plant-based toppings on a brioche bun. Finally, (thought I shouldn’t have since it was Ash Wednesday) a silky creme brulee with fresh berries. Y.U.M.
After dinner I went back into the casino to learn that they were having a promotional drawing, so I entered and kept playing, hoping to hear my name called. And…I won! $100 in free slot play or as they call it there “Cool Credits.” Overall the slots that night were looser than anywhere else I’d tried in Tahoe and the food was excellent. I strolled back to my hotel, up a few bucks, and picked up a can of a wine for the next night from Dart Beverage. They have an extensive selection of microbrews/craft beers by-the-can, although some of them are quite pricey.