Cast of characters: Ichiro Matsumura, Elliot Wilen, Ashu Rege, David Cohen, Sarah Cohen, and myself.
Elliot purchases a water bottle as he and Zev set off from Berkeley. After picking up Ashu and Sarah (who was visiting SF from her home in New York), they drive up to Davis to meet David and Ichiro. (David had flown to the Sacramento Airport from LA.) On the drive up, Elliot drinks a whole pint of half-n-half on Ashu's dare.
Ichiro's brother Miko joins us for lunch in Davis at the fine Tex-Mex establishment Dos Coyotes.
Unbeknownst to Ichiro, the others have decided to purchase a CD-player boombox, as the Matsumura Tahoe house has no stereo system. The boombox will be donated to the Matsumuras as a thank-you gift, though Ichiro does not know this yet. The boombox is purchased at Long's Drugs, at which point it is not possible to keep its existence secret. Ichiro seemed concerned about the expense, and we jokingly say that the overall winner of the Dahimi game gets to keep the boombox. Later, in the car, Elliot tells Ichiro that we have a definite plan as to how to dispose of the boombox--it will be allocated by lottery, in fact. (What Elliot has in mind is a lottery involving one ticket, with Ichiro's name on it. So technically he wasn't lying.)
After a drive of several hours, we arrive at Ichiro's Tahoe house near at Alpine Meadows. For dinner, we have a delicious lasagna prepared for us by Mrs. Matsumura and carried up from Davis.
After dinner, much Dahimi-playing ensues. Part of the first night is also spent trying to recall elements of linear algebra, with applications to game theory. Elliot, Ashu, and David are the main recallers.
That night, Elliot's tossing and turning in the lower bunk keeps Ashu, in the upper bunk, awake. After that, one of the mattresses is moved onto the floor.
Wednesday, Dec. 31
The day is spent skiing at Alpine Meadows.
As we are all at different levels, Zev and David take the Advanced Beginner course with instructor Igor. Sarah, Elliot and Ashu take the Beginner course. Ashu rapidly becomes the goat of his class and develops a humorously adversarial relationship with instructor, who takes to directing patronizing comments to him such as: "Come on buddy, you can do it" and to calling him "Ah-SHOO". Ichiro, already a highly skilled skiier, takes Beginner Snowboarding.
The morning is spent practicing and learning. After lunch, Zev and Ichiro decide to try a higher, more difficult run, but don't get off the lift at the correct place. They accidentally end up on the other side of the mountain, and have to take a long, painful series of Intermediate courses--for which they are painfully unqualified--to get back. After being torqued into the hard snow numerous times, Ichiro's butt becomes painfully sore.
Exemplars of clumsiness, Elliot and Zev each lose a ski going up the lift. Also, on his first run on the slightly-above-rank-beginner slope, Elliot saves self by falling down before flying into a rocky gully.
After returning from the day's skiing, Ashu says, "I'm going to the can. That is the plan." Which Elliot reformulates as "A man, a plan, a can," to general merriment.
Soon after, on the news, we discover that Michael Kennedy has been killed in a skiing accident in Colorado.
After much discussion about where to go for New Year's Eve dinner, we settle on Pfeiffer House, which specializes in "Schnitzel and stuff". Elliot is quite pleased with his meal; the rest of us are somewhat more dubious. Especially Sarah, who is unable to eat her meal. Before the meal, it had been resolved by some of us not to let David treat. But when Sarah gave us explicit permission to allow him to do so, we acquiesced, thanking Sarah profusely for the meal.
We return from dinner just in time to watch most of the Christmas episode of "South Park". Champagne is drunk. Sarah retires; the rest of us play cards until after 2:00 am.
Zev had brought Hannukah candles to light the night before for the 8th night of the holiday, but had forgotten to do so. Tonight they are lit in celebration of the "9th night of Hannukah".
Thursday, Jan. 1
Slow start; we wake late after the long day of skiing and the long night of card-playing. Ashu decides to stay home while the rest of us set off late in the afternoon to go cross-country skiing. Squaw Valley turns out to be full up, so we take a long drive to Tahoe Donner. Most of our cross-country skiing is done in twilight amidst lightly falling snow.
After skiing we drive across the state line to Reno. We eat at the Italian restaurant La Strada, which seems to think it's one of the finest dining spots in the nation. Dinner is marked by a heated argument between Zev and Elliot about nutrition or nicotine or smoking, which becomes fairly rancorous. Zev complains that Elliot is only playing devil's advocate and being deliberately obtuse. Elliot replies that "somebody at the table is being obtuse". In the end Elliot agrees that Zev is right only if the argument is restricted to "absurdly extreme" cases. Zev agrees, provided the word "absurdly" is struck. Elliot agrees. David remarks that the final exchange resembled diplomats hammering out an international treaty.
Gambling follows at the Silver Legacy. We all split up, agreeing to reconvene at 11:30 and decide at that time whether to leave or not. Elliot, Ichiro and Sarah strike out on their own. Elliot, who has no interest in gambling, searches for a pinball machine and eventually finds one, but it malfunctions on the first ball. David, Ashu, and Zev pool $100 together to wager on craps. By 11:30 the pot had dwindled to about $60, at which point they decide to put the entire sum down on one last bet, then to keep doing the same until it's all lost or they make back the $100. They miraculously win the next four rolls, and walk away with $159.
That night everyone is too tired to play cards. But there is a general feeling that not enough cards have been played; at least not as much as was envisioned for the trip. This is disapointing. We attempt to light a fire. But there is a breeze blowing down from the flue, and each of the only three matches in the house is extinguished by it before anything can be lit. A fire is finally started with Elliot's special camping magnesium flint; the breeze blowing down the flue then floods the house with smoke. Fire goes out. Fire is eventually started again by Elliot, but wood is bark-side down and fails to catch. Additional attempts to start the fire fail. Nothing for it but to go to bed.
Friday, Jan. 2
It has snowed over night, about a foot or more. There is some concern about whether we will be able to drive home, as snow is still falling. Staying another night isn't an option, since David has a plane to catch in Sacramento that afternoon.
Ichiro installs chains on Zev's car; Ichiro, Zev, Ashu and David spend a while shoveling the driveway. (All for naught: the plow comes soon after and does it again. On the other hand, Ashu gets to play in the snow like a kid.) The short drive from Ichiro's house to Truckee and the Route 80 on-ramp takes an hour through the sludgy sleet and the awful traffic jams (not counting the time taken to pause for a photograph at Trapper McNutt Terrace). After a while on I-80 we remove the chains, but the going is slow. We arrive at Sacramento airport an hour after David's 4:30 flight; but he has already arranged to fly out at 7:40 using the cell phone. In the airport, we play a good, satisfying round of Dahimi until the flight boards. (Zev is particularly pleased, as in the last four rounds of the game he ascends one position each round, moving from Lower Peon to Grand Dahimi.)
Ichiro goes home to Davis from the airport; Zev drops off Ashu and Elliot and then drives Sarah into San Francisco, where a key has been hidden outside the empty apartment where she will spend the night. The location of the key, however, is behind a locked gate. Sarah has to returns to Berkeley and spend the night in Zev's apartment before departing for New York the next morning.
Note: A few days after this ski trip, Sonny Bono was killed skiing at Heavenly resort in Tahoe, when he ran into a tree on an intermediate slope.
This page last modified July 1, 1998.
Zev Handel / zev_web#namkung.com