Dodge Ridge is where I learned to ski in the 70s. It’s the closest snow to where I grew up in the Bay Area, and if a recent storm had dumped snow at the resort (it’s the lowest elevation of the Sierra resorts, opening later in the season and closing first) my father would take us skiing! He’d bundle us all into our mustard yellow station wagon at 6 in the morning and drive three hours to get there in time for the 9 am opening. We’d ski all day, and then head home when the resort closed in the afternoon, stopping at McDonalds for dinner and falling asleep in rush hour traffic.
We’d bring bologna and peanut/jelly sandwiches, chips and sodas and have a picnic in the car park.
I got to be quite good at skiing, and loved whooshing around to the resort, which offers a really good variety of trials from beginner to double black diamonds. Even waiting in the lift queues was quite cool – listening to Stairway to Heaven and AC/DC blasting in the background. Oh how I wished we lived locally so we could do this every day after school!
My girls are now 8, 9 and 10, and we hadn’t been skiing for a few years so we were keen to get them on skis (apparently skiing is making a comeback).
Skiing’s a sport that you either really love, or hate, and it’s all based on your experience and memories.
We picked Dodge Ridge over Tahoe for a few reasons: it was the closest resort, it’s smaller than Tahoe (and less expensive), and it caters well to families.
We arrived on a Tuesday at lunchtime in time for half day lessons for the girls. Midweek is a great time to go, there were just a handful of people there and we got a price break on lift tickets. We could ski up to the lifts and get right on.
The kids ski school option is very economical, you get rentals, lift ticket, instruction and snacks/lunch. We ended up taking this option over the three days. The girls fell in love with their instructors, who took them from level 1 beginners to level 4 mastering the mountain in just two and a half days!
After skiing, we headed to our accommodation, McCaffrey House Bed & Breakfast, which was about a 20 minute drive. Stephanie and Michael McCaffrey quit their Silicon Valley lifestyle nearly 18 years ago to move to the Sierras and open their B&B. The guest house is a great find, and my new favourite place to stay! Think staying at your grandparents house, including two kid-friendly pet dogs, Blue (pictured at right) and Finnigan. The five of us were in a family room that was partially separated by a wall, with a double bed on one side, and twins on the other. Stephanie brought in an air mattress to accommodate our third child. We settled in just in time to catch the 5 pm wine hour, where you can sip a glass of red or white, nibble on cheese and crackers, and chat with the owners.
Stephanie and Michael have menus from the local restaurants, and after a glass of wine, we settled on The Rock, a pub that served ribs, burgers, fish & chips. On Tuesdays they have an all you can eat rib special, unfortunately they ran out of ribs as we arrived, but not to fear, we opted for El Jardin, a Mexican restaurant that was just across the road.
On Wednesday we woke up to our “skiers breakfast” which the girls loved: Bread pudding, local sausages, and lots of fresh fruit including apples, bananas, strawberries and oranges. This set us up nicely for a full day of skiing, wine hour, and The Rock for ribs (they had plenty this time).
We dropped the them off at ski school, headed back down to check out of our accommodation, and then stopped at Alicia’s Sugar Shack in Sugar Pine, to get a cappuccino and pastry. What a find! The place was packed with locals and Alicia explained how she made everything from scratch, including the lemon curd (don’t miss the lemon sweet cheese, it’s her favourite).
We headed back up to the resort and checked in on the girls and were thrilled to see our youngest going down Gentle Ben, a Blue run. We picked up lunch (I got a Chicken Burger and my husband got clam chowder, it was OK) and settled in the sun on the deck that overlooked the slopes. I smiled when I heard the 70s music blasting in the background. The resort has free wifi, and I called my parents via FaceTime, reversed the camera and gave them a tour of the resorted we visited as a family all those years ago.
What a trip! By the end of the three days, our girls moved from beginners to level 4 and were skiing the same blue/intermediate slopes as mum and dad!
We had varied weather, everything from sunshine, to rain, to sleet, snow and hail! Thankfully it was mainly sunshine.
Snow coverage was patchy in areas, but very ski-able and very fun.
The girls skied until the lifts closed, and were high on skiing when they greeted us.
Our youngest proclaimed skiing her favourite sport. The only problem is, she noted, is that you need snow to do it!
They quickly commited us to going again next year.
Here’s a short video of me and hubby skiing:
IF YOU GO:
Dodge Ridge, 1 Dodge Ridge Rd Pinecrest, CA 95364 (209) 965-3474, www.dodgeridge.com Follow them on Twtter @DodgeRidge
McCaffrey House Bed & Breakfast, 23251 Hwy. 108, Twain Harte. (209) 586-0757 or (888) 586-0757; www.mccaffreyhouse.com. Bed and breakfast rooms start at $139, including a fabulous breakfast
The Sportsman Coffee Shop, 22978 Joaquin Gully Rd Twain Harte, CA 95383, (209) 586-5448 www.sportsmantwainharte.com Old fashioned diner with bacon, eggs and hot chocolate with whipped cream that will make kids eyes pop.
El Jardin, 2297 Joaquin Gully Rd,Twain Harte, CA 95383 (209) 586-1898 Menu Mexican food with daily specials, including fish tacos.
The Rock, 23068 Fuller Rd Twain Harte, CA 95383 (209) 586-2080 www.rockoftwainharte.com Ribs, burgers, fish & chips and lots of beer.
Alicia’s Sugar Shack, 24191 Hwy. 108, Sugar Pine, (209) 586-5400; www.aliciassugarshack.com. Coffe bistro style cappuccinos, homemade pastries and sandwiches.