Where does one begin when blogging about one of Nakayoshis biggest event of the year? Well like any classic journey involving: organizing a mass group of people, unforgiving weather storms, dead stop stalls, a beautiful cabin and a combination of good times and fond memories; it all starts at the beginning.
It was the last Friday of February (26th) an already cold and windy overcast day. I looked to the skies and couldn’t help but to worry about the storm coming in that night. To be honest, I was a bit afraid that the trip up to the cabin would be unbearable. I imagined driving and not seeing three feet in front of me, with heavy winds and snow barraging my windshield. I imagined hydroplaning, losing control and crashing my van over a rail, tumbling down the mountain and exploding at the bottom of a canyon, like a car chase out of a 007 movie. With my mind on other things, needless to say I locked myself out of my company car only to MacGyver my way back into it. After work I came back home and prepared my seven seater Toyota Sienna.
I checked the tire pressure, H20 level, cleaned out the entire van, refueled and prepared for the worst. With no experience on how to put snow chains on, my Dad had to teach me. With the van looking in good condition, I needed to pull out of the garage and assemble the “RocketDog,” a seven foot storage case which attaches to the roof of the van. I hopped in the van, stuck my keys in the ignition and cranked over the transmission…only the car wouldn’t start. The battery was died. After jumping the car I was now ready to attach the case. Pressing the garage door opener, I watched the door rise up like a horizon, and I caught a glimpse of what I would be driving in. Outside, rain wasn’t just pouring, it was slamming against the cement ground. The apocalyptic sky was a shadowy grey looming over the soft sunny suburbia I thought I lived in. The wind desecrated my trees, tearing its leaves straight off the branch. I stood there in awe at the power and ruthless fervor of Mother Nature.
Instead of setting up in the heart of the storm, I decided to wait and check the weather and traffic reports online. I began to wonder if our caravan should depart Saturday morning instead of Friday night. This way we could avoid traffic and the storm and more importantly, night driving. After a few more traffic and weather reports things started looking clear, so we all stuck with the original plan. I ate dinner and my passengers slowly but surely arrived at my house. We packed five snowboards in the Rocket Dog and everyone pilled into the van. We finally headed up 680 north, our next stop would be in Downtown Sacramento.
We zigzagged our way into heart of “Sactown” to a Vegetarian friendly burger joint called Jack’s Urban Eats. There, we met up with the San Jose carpool. We exchanged hellos and sat down to eat dinner. Everything was peachy keen, until I got a phone call from a carpool that left a lot earlier then we did. They were half way to the cabin, nearly there, until they were told that I-80 would be closed for the entire night. An accident had occurred and they were to turn back immediately and head back down the mountain. After spreading word that the 80 would be closed till morning, we kicked around plans to stay somewhere in Sacramento for the night. It was getting late but we decided to make the most of it, we stopped at a small retro desert diner called Ricks Desert Diner. The SF carpool was also held up somewhere in Sacramento killing their time at a Dive bar. We opted to meet them after desert, but we soon got word that i-80 was back open. We all came together for a quick Pow-wow and agreed that we would be traversing back up mountain. A quick bathroom break and a refill on gas, we were back on the road.
Luckily the snow storm that was supposed to happen never happened. It was raining and it was a bit windy but thankfully Mother Nature made it a lot easier to navigate in. The ride was nice and easy, until we came around a right banking turn and there it was. Hundreds of solid red lights which lit up the entire cabin of the van; it was a dead stop of parked cars, four lanes across. We sat there, in the traffic, waiting. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, we decided to play some word games. Surprisingly, it actually passed the time quite well and before we knew it we started moving again. After the traffic cleared after an hour, we came across a ‘Chain Checkpoint.’ Knowing we had to put on the chains, I decided to pull off to the left side of the road behind a few other cars who were also putting their chains on. While I pulled off on the WRONG side of the road, my co-pilot “Mika” and I hopped out of the van and scrambled to get these chains on.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of assembling snow chains made from the late 1980’s, I bless your young and innocent heart from the tremendous fear and finger lacing pains you’ll never experience. Luckily for us, it wasn’t raining nor snowing which made it a lot easier to put together, mind you, it was difficult as these chains have to be tied on. There isn’t an electronic snapping device or a buckle or a clip, these chains literally need to be tied on. What makes it even worse is the strap that has to be tied on, is stupidly short. Co-pilot “Mika” and I worked on the passenger side first; getting those down after a few minutes wasn’t an easy task. After that, I worked on the driver side. I struggled with it as I didn’t have enough rope to tie the thing. In order to make matters worse everyone started yelling in the van. They were warning me about an Ambulance coming up the left side road! With time running out and pressure to get out of the way, I somehow magically looped, swooped and pulled a knot together and jumped back in the van. Only to witness the ambulance wasn’t an ambulance but a police car, which passed us, anticlimactically. So we reached the checkpoint, the workers checked out our tires and let us pass. As soon as we passed it, they immediately took the checkpoint down and let a whole flood of cars pass us by.
After driving at a pathetic maximum rate of 30mph, while cars whizzed past us we decided to pull off the road and take the chains off. Again, it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t snowing. Taking off the chains felt like a good idea. It was a relief not only to our ears but our maximum speed limit nearly doubled! Feeling good about our speed, we would probably reach the cabin by at least 3:00am! That is until; we came across the second chain checkpoint. We again, pulled off (this time on the right side of the road) and slapped the chains back on. Thankfully it didn’t take nearly as long as the first time. With those strapped back on we traveled all the way up to Truckee. With a departure time of 6:45pm we finally reached the cabin at 4:30am, Saturday morning. We greeted the stragglers who were still awake and we all went to sleep knowing we’d be up in four hours for a day of boarding and skiing.
Four quick hours later we all got up ate a quick breakfast with orange juice and pastries and headed toward the mountain. By some sort of miracle, the storm that threatened the entire trip never happened. The snow was great, there was a lot of powder and we carved both the backside and front side of the beautiful mountain. After the lifts closed, we all went back to the cabin for some rest and relaxation. The cabin was a two story four bedroom and two bathrooms with three HD TV’s, a PS3, a fully equipped kitchen and Pool Table! With so many things to do inside the cabin, we barely got started on dinner. Master Chef “Ushi” whipped up a massive 6lbs of Thai curry, complete with a separate vegetarian Thai curry, a side dish of eggplant and basil and a shredded cucumber carrot salad. With food drinks and good times we all hung around and enjoyed the night.
Sunday morning came too quick as we all packed our things, said goodbye, took a group picture and left the Truckee cabin. Traveling down the mountain that gave us so much trouble that dreadful Friday night, seemed like a walk in the park that Sunday morning. A majority of us decided to stop by the local Japanese Market Ikeda’s in Auburn. There we feasted on burgers and shopped at the market. From there, we said our final goodbyes and all headed back home.
Nakayoshi’s 2010 ski trip was a memorable, exciting journey from start to finish. What could’ve been a disastrous storm, turned out to be fair and perfect weather for the avid snowboarders in our group. It’s rare that we can all take a small vacation from the routine of everyday work in the month of February, but Nakayoshi can make anything happen. A big thanks goes out to everyone who attended, to those who couldn’t and those who helped out. A lot of people stepped up and made this trip possible and without them, it never would’ve happened. A massive thanks to Surreal, A sushi, Megan, Squirrelly Em , Sammy Davis Jr, Q, Spike Spiegel, Co-pilot Mika, and everyone in the Speeding Matrix Rabbit. I hope you all had fun and I hope to see you next year!