Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ten tips for enjoying your Northstar holiday vacation

I saw this on the Northstar website and thought it was very useful information if you are planning to come up over the holidays. Some good tips so that you can navigate the Village and plan your time efficiently. Check it out.


Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Manzanita at The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe

Well, it is now my running joke that I should just camp out up at the Manzanita restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Highlands property here at Northstar.

All of my friends and clients want to go eat up there so it seems I have been almost a permanent fixture there. And, I have at least 8 more lunch and/or dinner appointments up there in the next 2 weeks. I am getting spoiled and loving it.

The food is amazing. A few days ago, a friend of mine said to order the "Warm Bread Salad". I said, "will do" but in my head was really questioning what a warm bread salad could be. When given the opportunity, I went for the "safe bet" Dungeness Crab Sliders and our table shared a macaroni and cheese side. (I will get back to the mac and cheese later...). The crab cakes were wonderful, my husband Brad had the Manzanita Sandwich and was in food bliss. Topped off with some Butternut Creme Brulee (yum)...we could barely walk out the door.

But, I still had to wonder. What is a Warm Bread Salad?? (Pictured on the left from the Manzanita website go to www.manzanitalaketahoe.com for more info and menu )

Well, I had one yesterday, and I can say it is like heaven. Everyone should try it. I can't do it justice to try and explain the perfect blend and array of flavors. Just trust me......Hopefully I have made you curious enough that you will want to order it. It is the ultimate taste symphony.

Oh, and yes, the mac and cheese is out of this world. I happen to consider myself a bit of a mac and cheese connoisseur, and Manzanita has made theirs scrumptious.
(On a side note, the mac and cheese at Schaffer's Camp is phenomenal as well).

I'll be anxious to hear what your favorite dish at Manzanita is....let me know! In the meantime, I will be diligently working on trying everything else on the menu.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Positive Article on Bay Area Housing Market

This was an interesting article that was in the Mercury News recently regarding rising Silicon Valley housing prices.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cheers to Northstar, Good Coffee, and a Grand Opening!

The powder day arrived...finally! Like winter in a can. Everything is covered with white gold and in the blink of an eye we are in fresh snow bliss. The mountains received about 3 feet of snow with the last storm.

Props to Northstar. I have to say, I am completely impressed. Not only have they been working tirelessly to open more and more terrain on the mountain, they were prepared for this past storm. Northstar has been diligently blowing snow and grooming the terrain that they could prior to the storm so that we could ski!! Most of the other local resorts did not open at all or had very little open terrain. Thank you Northstar. Thank you for having 9 lifts and 17 trails open yesterday, only to open an additional 11 trails today! AND thank you for having great people who are very friendly and considerate running the mountain and lifts. It is no surprise that Northstar has emerged in the Tahoe area to be the best all-around ski and resort experience.

On to the next exciting topic......new coffee place in Truckee! Elijah Bleu's opened recently in the Jackass Ridge building downtown. We had heard that they had the best coffee anywhere so decided to check it out. The atmosphere is very cool with a New Orleans twist, the food was good and the menu looked diverse to include organic items suited for the preferences of vegetarians, vegans, raw food eaters, etc... Most importantly, the coffee was amazing. I had a mocha that was magnificent. Check it out, it is fun to see a new good place in town. They serve breakfast and lunch.

Coming up....the time has come!! The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe is opening this week and it looks amazing! One more reason to come to Northstar over the holidays. This picture is of the bar at the Manzanita restaurant. Can't wait to try it out! I'll be up there several times this week and will report back to you all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let it snow, Let it snow!!

I ventured out to Squaw on Wednesday to ski the lone run that was open on Red Dog and really, it wasn't bad! I will say that it does not appear that Squaw has run their snow making equipment one time this season but they are getting away with it.

Northstar is undoubtedly the place for early season skiing. They have been diligently blowing snow and opening as much terrain as possible. I believe it because the riders are sure looking happy when they come down at the end of the day.

Fortunately, we won't have early season conditions for much longer.........

There is some serious hype going on up here this week about some inbound snow. Nobody seems to be able to tell us exactly how much we are going to get. I have heard as little as 2 feet and as much as 15 feet. That is quite a swing...

I haven't made the move to stock up on survival supplies at the grocery store yet, but that may be a mistake. I might reconsider tomorrow when hopefully the weather people can decide what is going on.

We are under a Winter Storm Watch, looks like about 2 feet possible Sun-Mon and then the next storm seems to be the doozy. They say "significant snow amounts possible" (15 feet??).

Weather Vane Brad?? Regarding the next few days??

Temps will be so cold that what does fall will be of the light powdery stuff they always brag about in Utah, and Colorado thus it could pile up faster than most storms do in our area. Early estimates are 12 inches up to 2.5 feet. I know very vague but for whatever reason these changes are puzzling the experts. Because this system is associated with such a strong cold front coming out of the Gulf of Alaska if skies clear by Monday evening (which they should) we could have some record low temps for the Truckee area, easily below 0!

Wednesday brings more changes. The Jet-Stream takes aim at California this time with several systems lined up. Most are packed with sub-tropical moisture so we should see more precipitation and higher snow levels. Two model solutions out there one is colder and drier the other being warmer and wetter due to it being influenced by the remnants of a tropical typhoon. What we want is the drier solution as it will still have plenty of moisture and snow levels should remain below our resorts base areas.

Either way it all looks fun. Love the changes! Go get your fat skis and boards tuned it looks like we will need them for the next couple of weeks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Existing home sales up...Thoughts on N. Tahoe Market

This was an encouraging headline today on Bloomberg.com.

I can tell you that in this North Tahoe market, we have definitely seen increased activity in the past 4-6 months and in some "sub-markets" the inventory has been absorbed and the prices are coming up again. There are some good deals still out there, but they are getting picked up very quickly by savvy buyers (often advised by good local real estate agents) who have been watching this market like hawks.

Also of interest -Martis Camp has sold about 40 developer sites since January of this year with nominal (10%) discounts off of the list price. The average sold price has been $715K and a good percentage of these buyers intend to begin construction within the next year.

Builders and architects having more business = higher cost per square foot to build. In fact, I have recently spoken with a couple of local builders who are quoting higher prices now than they were in the summer (~$25-$50 psf higher). On a grand scale this increase may translate into a $200K difference out of pocket on a 4,000 sf. home (from $350 psf to $400 psf).

The developer at the Village at Northstar sold through 41 condos and 10 Village Walk townhomes in the last 12 months totalling around (+/-) $30M most of which were cash transactions. The market in The Village at Northstar has jumped from some comps hovering around $500/sf to some more recent closed resale transactions at over $720/sf.

The Hyatt Northstar Lodge has just released some amazing whole ownership ski in/ski out condos that are priced very comparably to resale condos in the Village at Northstar and have the advantage of the Hyatt brand and enhanced owner services in the building. Turn key, fully furnished, high end finishes, Tahoe Mountain Club Membership, etc...starting at $865K which is $728/sf....very in line with the resale market.

Just some interesting tidbits. If you are one of those people who have been "watching" it may be time to make a move.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ski season is here!! Big snow on the way...

That was fast! Northstar and Squaw are opening this Saturday, November 21st!

AND we are expecting our first major storm of the season tomorrow. I hope you all are ready!

From Northstar's Website:

Open Saturday, Nov. 21
Northstar® Resort opens for its 37th ski/ride season on Nov. 21 with four lifts turning, access to beginner/interm. trails,
affordable lift tickets, more big storms in the forecast, & some of the best early season conditions since the 1994.95 season!

** Also take note that the ice skating rink in the Village at Northstar will be opening on Saturday "weather permitting"**

From Squaw Valley USA's Website:

It's snowing at Squaw! Make plans to get here this weekend for skiing and riding as well as our Opening Day Celebration.
We'll have
snowtubing at the Papoose Discovery Center this weekend, 10am-3:30pm, just $12.

I have got my ski quiver prepared to bring to work: The BIG powder skis, the "groomer" skis, the "in between day" skis and of course the "rock" skis (the pair I don't mind trashing). AND, I have picked up both of my ski passes, this year the mountains of choice will be Squaw and, of course, Northstar. Can you tell that I am excited?

Looks like about 2 feet of snow up on the mountains on Friday. Weather Vane Brad?? What's the word?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vacation Raffle for the Boys and Girls Club

This is a great deal! Please read below to find out how you can win a vacation and help the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe as well...Please contact me or call the Club if you want to purchase a ticket.

Dear Friends:

If you are interested in supporting the Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe and also a chance to win one of 7 Grand prizes in our Vacation Raffle-Check out the following information and let us know so we can get you a ticket. Your odds are great in this local raffle and as you can see the prizes are also terrific! Tickets are only $25 and all proceeds go to support the wonderful programs at the BGC. The drawing will be on November 18th so you will have time to wrap up your prize and give it as a gift for someone special at Christmas. Check out the info below and send me an email so I can get your ticket to you. GOOD LUCK!!




1-week stay in 2 BR/2.5 bath home in San Miguel Allende, Mexico

1-week stay at Olympic Village Inn

1-week stay in a 1 BR/1 BA Marriotts Canyon Villa in Scottsdale 5/22/10-5/29/10

2-night stay at Granlibakken for 4 + 2 days of skiing at Alpine Meadows for 4

3-nights lodging in 2 BR Village at Northstar condo + 1 day lift ticket for 2 people

2-night stay in a lakefront room at Ferrari's Crown Motel + two 2-day Ski Tahoe North

2-night stay at Tahoma Lodge for 4 including 2 days of skiing for 4 at Homewood Mountain Resort


BOYS & GIRLS CLUB -(530) 546-4324

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spa Membership Program - The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe

This is a fantastic perk for property owners in the area...

The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe Spa is offering a "Spa Membership Program". There are different levels of Membership Classification (Single membership, Couples membership + Additional Family members) and there is an annual fee and a monthly fee, or you could just pay a one time annual fee. For example:

Single Membership: $750/year annual fee + $100/month OR One time annual of $1,755

Other benefits include:

  • Complimentary valet parking

  • Unlimited access to wellness center equipment

  • Complimentary equipment orientation + nutritional consultation

  • Unlimited access to regularly scheduled fitness classes (Yoga, Pilates, Spin, etc...) and spa pool classes

  • Unlimited use of spa lap pool, locker rooms, steam, sauna, whirlpool, verandas, relaxation areas

Additional benefits include:

  • 20% discount on regularly priced spa services Sunday-Thursday

  • 10% discount on retail merchandise in the spa boutique

  • 20% off personal training sessions

  • One complimentary 50-minute treatment of choice per year

  • 2 complimentary physical fitness evaluations and personal training sessions per year

  • Specially priced guest facility fees for non-members guests of $20 (+tax), members must accompany guest

  • 1 night complimentary stay at The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe (subject to availability)

This is a phenomenal way to take advantage of the luxurious Ritz-Carlton spa as a property owner in the area without having to stay at the property or own one of the condos there. I am sure that this is a limited opportunity, as I think many people will sign up for this program.

See you there! I'll be the one with the cucumbers on my eyes, so you may not recognize me at first.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ski Swap info...

With the first snow of the season, I wanted to make sure and let you know about the ski & Snowboard swaps, where you are able to get some great deals! Mammoth Mountain opened October 16th this year!!! It has only opened this early once before. El Nino!!!

Ski Swaps :

October 25 - North Tahoe Ski & Snowboard Swap, Tahoe City 9am to 3pm at the North Tahoe Middle & High School Gyms in Tahoe City. The 44th annual Ski & Snowboard Swap is your ticket to affordable ski and snowboard gear. This huge ski swap offers loads of gear, including new and used skis, snowboards, boots and poles, clothing, helmets, goggles, kid’s stuff and much more. For more information, please call (530) 581-7070 x4344.

November 7 - Truckee Ski Swap11am to 4pm at the Truckee Community Center, Church Street. Great deals on downhill, cross country and snowboarding equipment for the entire family. http://www.tdrpd.com/ or 530-582-7720.

This info thanks to Jessica Pyne, one of my colleagues. Thanks Jess!

Monday, October 5, 2009

California Dreamin? Wild weather...

There has been some wild weather these past few weeks! This will be my 6th winter here, and I have not seen such a long "cold" snap that I can remember in October. I took this lovely photo of the first snow on Northstar the other day on my way to work.

Check out this blog from Porters about the waves on Tahoe the other day. 2 boats capsized and there is a guy surfing!

And, we can't talk about the weather without some commentary from Weather Vane Brad...

Nice warming trend in our area will continue through the weekend. Nice cold mountain nights and crisp, slightly cool fall days with the warmest temps just shy of 65 degrees and bright sunny skies.

Everything changes dramatically Tuesday or Tuesday night. The models are still very inconsistent. Lots of disturbances in the Pacific due to the remnants of an Asian Typhoon. Many of the models have the high pressure staying in place and pushing all systems and moisture just to our North giving us nothing more than increased cloud cover and some stiff breeze.

Some, however, have the ridge flattening out which would allow the moisture to hit us dead on. The first system is fueled by the old Typhoon with two large sub tropical moisture plumes. Because of where the moisture is coming from (the tropics) and lack of a cold front snow levels would remain very high. My best guess would be 8000 feet. We are talking inches of rain with this baby and feet of snow above 8000 feet. Some websites are predicting 4 inches of precipitation!

I always like to stay somewhere in-between. I would be happy with a couple inches of rain and maybe a quick shot of snow on the end if we can get lucky with a late arriving cold front.
This would be a great start to our water year as October is the first month for the 2010 water year. A nice heavy rain would knock down all the dust in the basin making it ready for a good heavy blanket of winter snow and in the mean time our trails would become hard and tacky rather than slippery and dusty as they are now. Great for mountain biking until the first big snow does come.

El Nino is still fizzling. Don’t get overly excited about this.

(I thought we were supposed to get 800 inches of snow?!?)

OK. So let's be honest, the weather is still beautiful, this is perfect hiking and mountain biking weather, and I am just complaining that the nights are getting a little chilly...Undoubtedly, snow is on the way and we are all very excited for a big winter...start those ski conditioning classes now!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why I love The Ritz-Carlton...

Ok, I know this seems pretty self-evident. Of course I love the Ritz-Carlton. But I had an experience in the past week that reminded me how much I love the Ritz-Carlton...AND made me very excited about the new Ritz-Carlton Highlands property that will be in N. Lake Tahoe at Northstar.

My husband Brad and I went to the Half Moon Bay property this past weekend in celebration of our anniversary. We had been there before and requested a room with a firepit that looked out at the ocean. They could not promise us this when we booked, but made a note to "try". (You have no idea how important this firepit and view were to me...)

We arrived at the property and were enthusiastically greeted with a "Good afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Tyler, Happy Anniversary". How did they know who we were before we got out of the car?

Anyway, checked in and went to our absolutely gorgeous room that had a firepit and looked over the golf course greened cliffs to the ocean below. They couldn't have made me happier. In addition, during the afternoon turn down service, rose petals were strewn all over our room and a "Happy Anniversary" card was left for us. Nice, thoughtful "touches" around every corner.

The plan: Apps then to dinner, next morning spa, then a walk on the beach, then twilight golf, then cocktails and out to dinner again. A good couple of days, right?

The spa was very relaxing and our treatments were some of the best that we have had. The beaches were gorgeous, the marine layer gave you the feel that you were in a mysterious timeless place from a storybook. For a moment while we were playing golf we thought we might be in Scotland. The lounges and gathering areas at the Ritz-Carlton were charming and the service was impeccable.

Bottom line: The Ritz-Carlton "experience" made us feel like we were the only people staying at the property and that the property was there just for us. I would not have changed a thing about our stay. (And that is saying something).

The beach may always be pretty and there may always be good restaurants, but having an amazing hotel resort to return to at the end of the night makes everything taste and look better.

About a month ago, we spent a weekend at a five-star very well-known resort for a wedding. I won't name names, but the experience was three star at best. While we were there, we said: "Every time we have stayed at the Ritz-Carlton it has been perfect". Or "This would have never happened if we were at The Ritz-Carlton". You get the point. And, we were right.

I truly believe that nobody has quite grasped the significance of having a Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe property at Northstar is going to have on the North Tahoe area. There is NOTHING even remotely comparable to The Ritz-Carlton anywhere in the Tahoe area, and there are plenty of people who want to be treated the way that we were in Half Moon Bay, and in fact, only travel to places where they will get that treatment.

Sking in itself is the perfect day, coming to Tahoe has been a Bay area tradition since the beginning of time, but adding the Ritz-Carlton experience to the equation will change everything.

I can't wait for the property to open in early December and be one of the first people to be greeted in their lobby. Maybe I will figure out how they know who I am before I get in the door.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

North Tahoe Resorts Ranked in Ski Magazine Article

This is a "Reader's Pick" list from Ski Magazine about the top 30 ski resorts...

You will of course see Squaw in the top 10 and Northstar is climbing its way up at #16! The Ritz Carlton will be opening in December and will no doubt boost the rankings for 2011....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fall Tahoe Article in Sunset Magazine

Sunset Magazine featured Lake Tahoe for August, beautiful cover shot and a fun article.

Also scroll down to the bottom of the Sunset page to "Related Features". There are spotlight articles on activities in the area.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Flipping real estate again?

Surprised? I am. Could it be?

Yes. It is so. I have seen 2 cases of this in the last couple days. Investor-Buyers have come in, purchased a property on a short sale deal or some other situation, and they are turning the properties to sell for a profit in a fairly short time frame.

It was inevitable, I suppose...

In both cases the properties are unique enough that it may actually work, and each new seller could make anywhere from $100K-$500K more than what they paid for the properties. Or they may not be able to find buyers. Who knows? Both properties were purchased for just over $1M and are going to be listed north of $1.6M.

Now I am not suggesting that we all go out and buy low and flip....I am simply sharing the observation that some folks are doing that again. Which we have not seen up here in quite some time.

It takes patience to get some of these short sale and REO deals done, but patience (and cash liquidity) could pay off. I will be interested to see the outcome and will share with you what happens.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weather Vane Brad Returns... Big Winter Ahead??

You may have been wondering what ever happened to Weather Vane Brad (WVB)?

Well, fear not. He has been having a lot of fun sailing, surfing, mountain biking, hiking, and playing golf. I haven't put him to work in his usual weather forecasting position because the weather is pretty fabulous and predictable all summer.

However, WVB has a new favorite thing to talk about... how we are going to have a BIG winter this year. So I thought I would share what he has to say. Enjoy the very detailed speculation!

"LETS HYPE IT UP! The word of the year is... EL NINO! For those of you that don’t “hable the espanole” that means… THE NINO!! Just kidding. You may have all heard we are currently experiencing a weak El Nino out in the Pacific Ocean right now. So as follows the real definition of El Nino...

So what does it all mean Basil? El Nino’s typically have large effects on the California winter weather patterns. Weak El Nino’s such as the one that is occurring right now typically only affect weather in Southern California- Causing winter weather to be warmer and much wetter than the average. They have however (on some years) changed weather for Northern California as well. We can say that with a weak El Nino the weather in Southern California will most certainly be affected and that our weather here in Northern CA has a 50/50 shot at a wetter than average winter. (Don’t get caught up in all the HYPE!!) That being said, how 'bout this tidbit: The sun is experiencing an unusually low period of activity or lack of sun spots. This is typically associated with periods of global cooling. The only time period in our history of keeping weather records in which we have had both a weak El Nino along with a period of low solar activity was the winter of 1950-51. That winter the Lake Tahoe basin recorded 800 inches of snow, almost twice as much as last season. (Don’t you love it! Don’t get excited! Don’t hype it up! Don’t start rumors! But look it could snow 800 inches!!!)

Just look at the facts just the facts. A strong El Nino (which is still possible)... will most certainly mean our weather pattern will change for the wetter. We will keep you updated. Lastly, El Nino winters almost always come early. So get your boards waxed! You don’t want to miss this one! (But don’t get caught up in all the hype! Unless of course you are lucky enough to own that crystal ball I look for every day on craigslist)!"

Wow. So there you have it. Enough said.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tour de Truckee - Shop local!

I had some friends in town recently that were absolutely charmed by downtown Truckee. They thought I must spend so much time and money there because it is just so darn cute. The architecture is kind of western/old style quirky, there is a train that runs right through town, there are funny dark bars and cute boutique shops, what more could you want?

I am embarrassed to say that I really spend very little (non dining) time in downtown Truckee. I should, I know. I technically live in Truckee. But the reality is, I just don't have a ton of spare time. Except for when my shop-happy sisters and mom come into town, we definitely peruse the main drag. Shop local, they say. So, I am going to commit to buying at least 5 of my next 10 purchases on the main street of Truckee. I will let you know what goodies I find and any tidbits of helpful info to share.

I saw this great article recently and am going to consider some of the authors advice as I embark on this self-imposed shopping challenge. Check out the link below:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just like the good old days

Last week at Northstar there was so much activity in the real estate market that I thought maybe I had gone back in time. Back to a place where real estate was hot and people were excited to contemplate a second home in a resort area.

No joke in our office alone we had about 7-10 offers on condos and 5 offers on Village Walk Townhomes. This week left the developer of the Village at Northstar with only 1 two bedroom condo and 4 or 5 one bedroom condos left. All the Village Walk Townhomes are sold. Just like that!

Buying frenzy? What does it mean?

Maybe nothing but I spoke with a local builder friend of mine yesterday and he is swamped with bidding on new construction projects, both residential and commercial. He said that people are recognizing that they had better take advantage of these low building costs in combination with the ability to get great deals on land. He also said that contractors in general are still "hungry" but new jobs are lining up for them quickly.

I also spoke with several clients of mine who are entrenched in the financial world on both coasts. They are saying it is time to invest in real estate again...they are seeing more confidence.

I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal the other day, and I am hoping it ties in. I would rather be on the "recovery" side of the recession, I think.

Well, maybe we don't want the "good old days" because that is what got us into this mess. But we will take "better days", right??

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wake Surfing in Tahoe

A friend took some video this weekend of us wake surfing.

Check out the links below....

1. My husband Brad surfing

2. Me surfing. (I think he has much better form...)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's a dog's life...

What to do with your pooch in Tahoe? Having 2 canine children myself, I have some ideas on dog friendly places and other useful information. (Jasper is the big gray one, Lily is the spotted one.)

If you are going to partake in the fun at Northstar or Squaw, both villages are very dog friendly. Don't be surprised to find water bowls outside stores and treats inside. Leashes are a must! Your animal friend will think the these Villages were made just for them.
Most hiking and biking trails are dog friendly. You will want to make sure you know whether it is a "leash required" trail or a "voice command" trail (meaning that your dog does not have to be on a leash but must be in control).
The beaches around Lake Tahoe are fairly restrictive regarding dogs (for obvious reasons). Check out this link and scroll down to "Lake Tahoe" to see where it is ok for the pooches to play.

For a more laid back water experience, try Boca or Stampede reservoirs, just off the Hirschdale exit on I-80. These are both beautiful reservoirs with warmer water and nice views. Bring your beach chairs and an umbrella while your dog frolics in the water. You can drive right down to the waters edge in some places.

Staying in a pet-unfriendly place, but still want your dog in Tahoe? Try the Truckee-Tahoe kennels. I have not boarded my dogs there but know a lot of people who have. All good reviews.

Need a vet? I have recently discovered a place that my older dog Jasper LOVES. (Yes, you read that right. My dog loves the vet...just this vet though). The Animal Outpatient Care Center, Dr. Brooks Bloomfield 530-587-5144. They have been amazing with my dogs and me...they have a whole new spin on how you treat dogs at the vet that is VERY refreshing and good for the dog. Not to mention that the waiting room is full of nice plush dog beds. Sierra Pet Clinic is a good place too.
Squaw hosts the "Bark Fest" not to be missed by dog lovers. Click here for more info. This is a benefit for the Truckee Tahoe Humane Society on Sept. 19 and 20.
And some dog quotes to leave you with...
We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. In return, they give us their all. it’s the best deal man has ever made – m. acklam
If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise – unknown
My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog thinks I am – unknown
Bark on..!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Good Life...

Someone asked me what I had been up to lately, and my answer made them say, "pretty rough life...". (Sarcastically, of course).

Let's see...

Last week, I tubed the Truckee, swam in Donner Lake, went wakesurfing on Lake Tahoe twice (which means that I also went to Garwoods and Sunnyside), went for 4 trail runs, one 20 mile bike ride, a mile swim at the pool at Old Greenwood, and a 2 day camping trip with friends near the Stanislaus river.

This week is shaping up to be just as stellar...I have already been out on Lake Tahoe surfing (Garwoods), on another 20 mile bike ride, several trail runs, and am all set for more swimming and a concert at the Truckee Regional Park tonight, back out to Tahoe tomorrow evening for more surfing.

It really makes a difference when all of these options are right out your door!


1. Tubing the Truckee is very fun, but can be quite a scene. If you are looking to do it with kids, rent a raft in Tahoe City and use the shuttle service. Also weekends are much more crowded and crazy.

2. The bike trails from Tahoe City are GREAT. You can ride on a paved trail from TC to the Village at Squaw for a shorter loop that follows the river (~14 miles) or you can ride from TC to Sugar Pine State Park (~18 mile loop)-this ride has some road crossings and sections where there is no bike path, but is very scenic and fun. You can rent bikes for very reasonably at Porters Outlet in TC ($10 for 2 hours).

3. Open water swimming is hard!! If you are swimming for recreation, stay towards the shore line and try to pick a day that is not so windy. I went on a weekday so there were less "big" boats out on the water.
4. There are some really great trails for running and mountain biking all over this area! Again, check my link to http://www.truckeetrails.org/ but also ask around in outdoor shops. Some of them have great maps and recommendations.

5. Wakesurfing is amazing. It is easy to learn, low impact, and a lot of fun. If you know anyone with a boat who has the right stuff and will teach you how, give it a shot! It can seem intimidating, but really is great. My husband Brad's parents brought some friends out last year and one of their friends surfed on our boat, he was probably 60+ years old and had a blast. My mom has tried it too...so don't be afraid!
6. Truckee Regional Park- Town Concerts are on Wednesdays through August 27th from 6:30-8:30 pm. They are free! Bring a blanket and some snacks and enjoy...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Know Your Real Estate Terminology 101

Most of the folks I talk to every day are pretty real estate savvy. However, it seems that in the past year or so (since the market has gone crazy...) some new language has surfaced that not everyone is familiar with. Here are the terms I get asked about the most and what they mean in today's real estate market.

Short Sale:

A sale of a house in which the proceeds fall short of what the owner still owes on the mortgage. Many lenders will agree to accept the proceeds of a short sale and forgive the rest of what is owed on the mortgage when the owner cannot make the mortgage payments. By accepting a short sale, the lender can avoid a lengthy and costly foreclosure, and the owner is able to pay off the loan for less than what he owes. This process can take a lot of time. If you are submitting an offer on a short sale property, expect a 2-4 month time frame and have a lot of patience.


The legal process by which an owner's right to a property is terminated, usually due to default. Typically involves a forced sale of the property at public auction, with the proceeds being applied to the mortgage debt. Auctions can be conducted by the county or by a company that the lender has hired to handle the auction. Auction notices have phone numbers that you can call to get more information on where the auction will take place, what type of funds are approved, etc...When my clients have questions about auction properties, I do a search on the property, pull up the title report to examine any liens, etc...on the property and call the party handling the auction to get the best information.


Real estate owned or REO is a class of property owned by a lender, typically a bank, after an unsuccessful sale at a foreclosure auction. After repossession and the property becomes classified as REO, the bank will go through the process of trying to sell the property on its own. It will remove some of the liens and other expenses on the home and try to resell it to the public, either through future auctions or direct marketing through a real estate broker.

So in practical terms, when I look on the MLS to provide my clients information on homes that are listed on the market, there are categories to tell me who is selling the home. I can see if it is a short sale or an REO.

If there are 2 properties that fit my clients' needs, but one is a short sale and another is a "clean" seller, I will know how to set my clients' expectations with regards to what the offer process will be like with each seller.

There are some shocking deals out there right now, it is important that you know what you are getting into when making an offer on a property. Have your bases covered and work with someone who knows what they are doing!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Furnishing your mountain home? Here are some tips...

I found this article while helping one of my clients make a list of interior design companies that he was going to call to furnish their new construction home. I thought it was interesting and had some good tips about "Tahoe" decor... Enjoy!

Next up....
Know the difference between a short sale, REO, foreclosure??? You will soon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Glass half full?? Thoughts on the real estate market...

I talk to a lot of people every week. The main question I always get asked is, "How is the market up there now"?

My immediate answer is: Much better than it was 6-9 months ago.

How could that be? Well, the Tahoe area was feeling the impacts of the market/banking crash way before the national media was reporting a crisis. Probably 6-9 months before most areas were . So, if this is true, it would make sense that things have been looking up. I don't want to jinx us all, but I also am an optimistic person.

I have talked to a lot of folks who have been around here 25 years + and they say, "Northern California will feel economic impacts first and will be the first to recover". I am hoping this is true.

Here are my main reasons for my "glass half full" attitude:

1. I have personally been swamped with emails, phone calls, appointments, etc...related to real estate, in fact, more so than when the market was "hot".

My take on this is that people want to know what is going on. Where are the good deals? Are things turning around? Are values going up again? And so on...and many of these people are toying with the idea that now IS the time to buy! In a lot of cases, it is! It would be crazy not to buy at 50 cents on the dollar, right?

2. The lending world has loosened up a little. About 9 months ago we could not get ANYONE to lend money to our very well qualified clients on certain properties. Now there are lending groups emerging to get back in the game AND they have proven themselves by actually closing some transactions.

3. I watch the MLS daily, and while prices are still very good, the inventory is getting absorbed. Case in point is Old Greenwood, where 6-7 homes sold at VERY low prices, and now there are few options for folks who come in and say they want "the deal of the century" at Old Greenwood. That "deal" was taken advantage of by other families who are now enjoying their homes over the 4th of July weekend.

4. Sellers are not necessarily desperate. I have noticed in my conversations that there is a general perception that all sellers are desperate and will take anything they can get. Not true. While there are certainly some sellers who are more motivated than others, I have seen increased instances in negotiations where sellers have hit their bottom and are not negotiating below that number. Period. There is some confidence there regarding values that was not there 9 months ago.

5. A lot of people still have money that they want to invest in real estate. I talk with many of them daily. It is just a matter of finding the right situation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer is here...

Well, I have to say that it was easy for summer to sneak up on me since I spent the last 3 weeks in the Grand Canyon and all of a sudden we are almost to the 4th of July weekend...

The Grand Canyon trip was too amazing to even try and summarize here. I can say that it was life changing and that if you ever get an opportunity to go, it is worth every second.

The weather in Tahoe has turned! Our fabulous summer days are here again. There really is nothing like it. I was out on the lake the other day and it amazes me how every time I am there, the lake looks different and I am in awe of its beauty. I have attached my artsy photo for your enjoyment. Yes, it is rough to live in such a beautiful place.

There are a ton of events and activities going on this coming weekend. I would recommend you go to the http://www.tahoe.com/ link and plan your visit.

A couple of new items, if you are wondering where you should go hiking or biking, go to http://www.truckeetrails.org/ . The best thing about Tahoe is that you can always find a trail or a ride that you have never done before.

Please take a look at the link on the side of my page for the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic link. This event will be held at Gray's Crossing and there are still some spots open if you want to put a team together and sign up.
Also, I have recently heard of the "Wanderlust" music festival coming to Squaw, I will leave the link on my page for that too. Sounds like a good line up.
The real estate world is on fire. This time in a good way... I will give you the lowdown in my next edition.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Katie is back!

...to civilization, at least.

Katie and Brad debarked the raft yesterday and are on their way to Las Vegas, then home to Truckee. Katie sounds great! Exhilarated! A small excerpt from her "I'm home" email:

"We have returned! What an amazing experience. We are re-absorbing into society now and it is rough. Everything is bright and loud and busy. {hello - Las Vegas? Megan's comment}

The trip was a spectacular adventure. We were very fortunate. we only had one "incident" and that was one boat flipped in a rapid (not ours) but the people jumped on it, flipped it over-no gear was lost and the people were fine. It is amazing that was all there was to report because the ingredients were all around us for more incidents. No sicknesses, no injury, no fights, no drama, no sunburns, - just sore feet and lots of bruises and scratches was all. We had plenty of food, water, beer, sunscreen, etc..."

Yay! We are so happy she is happy - and safe :) I am looking forward to hearing and seeing about all of their adventures - I'm sure she will share them here as well.

I will hurry and post my "Best of Tahoe - Visitor Edition - Part 2" before they get back home and Katie takes the blog keys away ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Favorite things to do in Tahoe - Visitor Edition - Part 1

Megan here again (Katie's sister). While Katie is taking on nature during her three week adventure down the Grand Canyon, I have been putting together some of my favorite things to do when visiting Tahoe. We go up a couple times a year and I have to say, while snow sports would be the obvious #1 attraction in Tahoe - there are many other fun things to do - even when there is no snow on the ground. Here are a few from the 3 - 4x a-year visitor. As I started putting this together, I realized I am going to have to break this up into two parts - so many great things to do! So here goes -- Part 1:

1. Sunnyside
Katie has already mentioned Sunnyside in a previous post - but it bears another mention. Go for the best deck on the Lake - a beautiful, peaceful setting on the West side. Ahhh... makes me a little more relaxed just thinking about it... You can also stay at the lodge there, which I've never done, but heard is also very nice. A short drive away from Tahoe City.

2. Horse back riding at Squaw ...er, I mean Northstar
While I am sure there are many horse back riding outfits around the lake, our favorite is at the base of Squaw Valley. If you have little riders, like we do, you can pay a small fee for them to sit on a friendly pony and ride in a ring led by an adult for 30 minutes. Kids love it - at least under the age of six. So, as I search to find a link to the stables - there is a notice that there is no longer horse back riding in Squaw Valley. Go figure. So without having gone to these other stables - try the Northstar stables.

3. Appetizers at Lone Eagle Grill
The food is amazing, but even more amazing is sitting on their patio next to a fire pit watching the sun set with a good adult beverage. This is a must-do every time we go to Tahoe, regardless of the time of year. You will also get to see the famous "Tahoe Luke" - or as we call him in my family - Luuuuke! (love those leather pants!) He can play just about any song you request - he is especially good at the Dan Fogelberg/James Taylor/Eagles tunes. (Note: There are many photos of Luke to choose from on his web site - and this one seemed nice enough. Looking at the photo today - I just noticed , is Luke sitting on a guard rail on the side of the road, playing his guitar, posing for a picture?)

4. Brunch at Gar Woods
Another wonderful place to eat with an amazing deck overlooking the lake. The brunch is amazing - as well as the rest of their menu. If you are there in the evening, you might catch a Tahoe Luke sighting (see #3). Don't forget to try their famous drink - the Wet Woody.

5. Squaw Valley - summer

Buy a cable car pass to ride to the top of the mountain. It is a beautiful hike down. If you are ready to spend the whole day there, bring your bathing suit and swim in the pool at the top of the mountain/gondola. (Apparently, there is also a spa up there - I haven't check that out yet.) You will have never swam at a pool with a more breathtaking view :) Great lunch options served as well. There is also the Olympic museum at the top - very interesting - check out those wood skis from 1960!

Okay, that's all for today. I realize this was heavy on the eating and drinking. Next time we will go on to more important topics... like shopping!

Update from the Grand Canyon

Katie was able to use the ONLY phone in the Grand Canyon to call and check in on June 5th. Update from my Dad who got the call:

"They are having a lot of fun, everything going very well; they have run outof ice. Beer still in large supply. She sounds very energized and happy.

They are spending the night at Phantom Ranch on the Colorado River. You can see it if you download Google Earth and click the one that says "Phantom Ranch Colorado River" then click "mile 87.5". I suspect there are several other views but this one works.

There were a lot of people waiting for the phone and she sends love to all. Next point of contact will not be before the 15th--I think that is correct as the phone was sort of fuzzy."

Warm beer is better than no beer... ;-)

(This is not actually Katie and Brad, but these are rafters on the Grand Canyon...
so they could look just like this. This is called the
"Lava Fields Rapid" -
you can ask Katie about it when she gets back)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Grand Canyon Expedition

This is Megan blogging - I am Katie's sister. She has given me the keys to her blog while she is away. If you didn't catch the last paragraph of her last post - she is going rafting down the Grand Canyon for the next three weeks!

The first check-in from Katie came on Wednesday (also, her birthday) as Katie and Brad began their journey driving across the great state of Nevada to get to Las Vegas for the night. What a way to spend a birthday! After several days of traveling to the Grand Canyon, packing and repacking, meeting up with their group, they will hit the water Saturday morning. From then on, no cell coverage for 16 days! Could you do it? No way!- er, I mean, I'm not sure I could.

Katie has emailed a schedule and a couple updates before she left - and this has been my favorite update so far:
"Supposedly there will be a phone in Phantom Ranch on the river on the 6th or 7th day of our trip. If so, I will call mom and dad and they can let everyone know how it’s going. Don’t be alarmed if I don’t call on the 6th or 7th day as sometimes that phone is out of order. It is in the middle of nowhere so it may not work. Or sometimes there is not room for all of the boats to park there so we would have to pass it by. "

Hard core, is all I can say.

To better familiarize myself with where my sister is going to be for the next several weeks, I found a couple educational and cool sites you should check out - something we should all know about one of our own national greats!

> Fly-through Grand Canyon Animation
> Virtual Tour Map of Grand Canyon National Park
(click on the upper right red dot - Lees Ferry - where Katie and Brad will begin their adventure) I should also add - Brad is a certified boat guide on the Grand Canyon. I am probably not listing his certification correctly, but whatever it is officially called, it makes us all feel better that he has earned a living in recent history taking people down the Grand Canyon in flotation devices - he knows what he's doing : ).

So while Katie is gone, I will be the guest blogger, and will pass on any updates I get from her. I also have a few Tahoe-related topics to share too.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend is here!

I have spent the last week looking at real estate in this area. Literally every day I have seen anywhere from 5-20 homes (per day) and the values out there are just amazing.

There are a lot of options in every neighborhood, the prices are incredibly low and the sellers are very motivated. I wish that I would have waited three or four years longer to buy my house, that is for sure. And the lending market has loosened up. A garage full of cash just to buy real estate would be useful right now.

My favorite tour this week was the west shore Tahoe lakefront tour. My colleague and I saw over 20 lakefront properties just on the west shore on Wednesday, and I am here to tell you that there are some deals to be had. It was a perfect experience to have right before the busy weekend. So even if you are just mildly interested in property, take some time when you are here and just look...I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.

The boats are out, the decks at the restaurants are open, summer is here! There are a lot of events going on this Memorial Day weekend, make sure to click some of the links on my page to view event calendars, etc...If you are out on the lake or running around, please go to Sunnyside and sit on the most gorgeous deck in Tahoe and have a Mai Tai for me.

Now...get this. I will be leaving on Wednesday to go rafting down the Grand Canyon for 16 days. (Yes...I will be rafting and camping for 16 days...). My sister Megan will be my guest blogger, I am sure that she will come up with some fun topics, so check in! Megan lives in the Bay Area and I think she will be giving some insight on her favorite things to do when she visits me!

I can assure you that I will have some great stories and photos upon my return. It's a rough life. But someone must do it. Seize the day!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Top Fifteen - Tahoe events to put on your calendar this summer

There is a wide array of things to do in Tahoe in the summer. This post will address some events that you shouldn't miss if you are here...some of them you need to buy tickets in advance so make sure you stay on top of it.

1. The Concours d' Elegance Wooden Boat Show

June 19th -21st The premier wooden boat show in North America will now be the opening boating event of the summer, and the true kick-off to the wooden boating season on Lake Tahoe. This is one of the most popular summer events at the Lake. Tickets are on sale now.

2. 4th Of July Fireworks
North Shore Fire Works Schedule:
Kings Beach - TBA
Squaw Valley - TBA
Tahoe City - 9PM
Truckee (Donner Lake) - 9PM
Incline Village - TBA
West Shore Lake Tahoe - TBA

3. Edgewood Celebrity Golf Tournament
July 14-19 South Lake Tahoe

This event is a blast. You can take your boat right up to the course and watch the action from the beach.

4. Lake Tahoe Music Festival
Ongoing throughout the summer
Enjoy a variety of musical talent in some gorgeous venues all around the N. Tahoe area. Tickets are already onsale.

5. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

Ongoing throughout the summer
The venue is absolutely breathtaking and the performances such as "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Measure for Measure" will be featured this summer. Don't miss out on this. Tickets already on sale.

6. Tour de Nez
June 17-21 Try to watch part of the race or take part in some of the activities and parties surrounding these bike race events. Fun for all.

7. Northstar Beerfest
July 11 What could be better on a warm Tahoe summer day than Beer and Bluegrass??

8. Donner Lake Triathlon
July 19 Part of the Big Blue Adventure Series, this event is popular for locals and out of towners alike. If you are not up for the full race, try the sprint triathlon. Get ready for some great scenery and a fun day.

9. Art, Wine, and Music Festival at Squaw
July 19-20 Not ready for the triathlon? This is a good alternative. Art, wine and a gorgeous setting. Lodging packages are available.

10. Huey Lewis and the News
July 25 Part of the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, this concert should be a hit. The venue at Old Greenwood is fabulous for adults and kids alike. Plus, hasn't it been too long since you have heard "Power of Love"?

11. Community Sale at Northstar
August 8 Come eat and shop for a good cause. The Community Sale benefits the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe. Live music, BBQ, kid art, and a raffle will be just part of the fun. Check out the website for more details and info if you would like to donate items to the Sale.

12. Brews, Jazz and Funk at Squaw
August 17-18 This is a a really fun event that benefits the Humane Society for Truckee-Tahoe. The music is groovy and the beer is great!

13. XTerra Triathlon
August 29 For all of you endorphin junkies...this is your ticket to one of the prettiest courses you have ever raced on...start training now!!

14. Alpen Wine Fest
August 31 This event sponsors the Huega Center for MS, and is in its 20th year! Over 30 Northern California vineyards will be represented. Come enjoy the good life.

15. Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Fest at Northstar
September 5-7 Come enjoy four full days of food, wine and festivals, grape stomp, wine walks, seminars, cooking demonstrations, grand tasting, culinary competitions, mountain chef cook off and more!

These are some of my favorite events of the summer. Keep your eye on local calendars for weekly specials, free concerts, and happenings. I recommend http://www.tahoe.com/.

Golf Course Update-
This is exciting stuff... some of the first courses are opening this Saturday, Old Greenwood and Gray's Crossing. Thanks to some rain and sun, the fairways are lush and the greens look great.

Weather Vane Brad says-
The weather in Tahoe doesn't change much from here until September/October. It just gets a little warmer and more fabulous.

But, don't despair. Brad is good for other things. Like strange and fun facts...
I asked him the other day, "What is the difference between a raven and a crow?" Apparently ravens are much larger than crows and have black eyes. Ravens also have a much more complicated vocabulary. Crows just "caw". And, if you see a black bird in the Tahoe area, it is most likely a raven. Not many crows here. Who knew??

Friday, May 1, 2009

Avoiding the "Money Pit"...

When my friends or clients and I go to look at homes together at the beginning of the buying process, we take a few hours one day and peruse a handful of homes. In the first visit, my clients' positive and negative impressions are usually a result of the "feel" of the home. Good space vs. bad space. Good layout vs. fragmented. Visual appeal vs. eyesore. Quality materials vs. cheap finishes. Light vs. dark.

Let me tell you some things that I look for on the first visit to a home during a quick 10-15 minute showing. Most of these items are easy to see in plain view. Of course, a professional home inspector is absolutely necessary before buying a home. These are just some little tidbits that may tip off some underlying problems, signals that there will be additional costs that may need to be addressed, or factors that may play in to the long term ongoing costs of home ownership.

Let's start outside...

1. Curb appeal- Is the home consistent in architecture/design with others in the neighborhood, or does it stand out? Does it look well maintained and inviting?

2. Driveway- We live in an area where it snows quite a bit. Heavy, wet, walls of snow. Most folks opt for a snow removal service (contracts $400-$800+/year depending on length and slope) or a snowblower ($2500 for a good one).

3. Landscaping-Is there any? Will the new owner maintain? Have defensible space measures already been taken care of? Will a landscaping service need to be hired? Landscaping can be very costly if you start from scratch or if the previous owner has not maintained their sprinkler lines, etc...Also be aware that strict BMP and defensible space ordinances exist, especially down by Lake Tahoe and get educated on them. http://www.tahoebmp.org/bmp_pdfs/DenfensibleSpaceBrochure.pdf

4. Home exterior/Fences-Does the home need to be stained or painted? Are the fences in good shape? This is a big deal if you have to shell out for this cost right away. The winters in Tahoe add wear and tear to the exterior and a paint/stain job may not last as long as you would think.

5. Roof/drainage-Sometimes hard to see, look for tiles that have fallen off, broken gutters, and in the winter, ice dams. Is there a snowmelt system on the roof? Where does the water drain from the gutters? Roof replacement and ice dam prevention can be very costly.

6. Windows-This is an interior and exterior issue. What type of windows were used? Are they double paned? Appropriate for a cold weather climate? Replacing windows is very expensive. Also good windows will reduce your overall energy costs.

Let's head inside for a quick tour:

1. Walls-Are there cracks in the walls? Any bubbling of paint or areas that look patched or repaired? If so, you may have water issues which are NO FUN. Subsidence (shifting of the soil under the home) is a big deal and causes cracks on walls near windows and doors. Also shifting will often cause doors to stick or be very loose. Stains on the walls or ceilings may indicate a leak in a bathroom or a roof leak. All costly repairs and potentially ongoing issues.

2. Smells-Is there a strange smell in the house? If nobody has been there in awhile, it may just be stale air. But be aware of strong rotten or musty smells. Could be plumbing problems or mold! An inspection would likely uncover both issues.

3. Kitchen and Bathrooms-Look at the tiles. Check for cracks, loose grout, signs of mold. Kitchens and bathrooms are very expensive to remodel. And, they are the most "used" parts of the home.

4. The bones-Is the space and layout of the home good? Does it have enough storage? Are the room sizes and configurations adequate for your needs? If you do need to remodel in the future, in most cases it is more efficient to change the space you have instead of add on or expand. Permits for additions are a pain and the process can be very pricey.

5.Beyond the walls-Try to identify what type of systems are in the home for heat, air conditioning, water heating, etc...The efficiency of these systems will determine how much you pay for energy in your home. These are big ticket items to replace and repair as well.

6.Flooring-What is the condition of the carpet/hardwood? Look at the trim around the walls/doors. Is the carpet fraying or loose on the stairs? Have any floor boards popped up? Replacing carpet is not a big deal. Hardwood floors are more expensive to repair/replace. You just want to make sure you know what you are getting into.

Looking for a new home is a very involved process, but it doesn't have to be hard work. All the information to make good decisions is out there. The catch is to not get too emotionally attached to the "idea" of a property before you see the full picture and what lies underneath. Asking the right questions and working with an educated Realtor that you trust as your advocate will insure that your bases are covered.

And, of course, don't forget to have fun!

Friday, April 24, 2009

If you build it, they will come...

A lot of folks ask me what there is to do in the spring in the Tahoe area. Spring is actually my favorite time of year. So is summer. And fall. And winter. Well, really, Tahoe is perfect for all seasons, I guess.

We have a very special new baseball team in the area, the Reno Aces. They are the minor league team for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Opening day was on April 17th and was sold out. We were able to get tickets for the 18th. What a treat! If you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the new ballpark for a game. http://www.renoaces.com/

Tickets were only $9 and the seats were great! There was a group of about 18 of us that went. We ate downtown, walked to the park, enjoyed gorgeous sunset and a warm evening participating in America's favorite pastime.

Ski report:

Squaw is still open and the conditions are unseasonably good! They have new snow as of today!

A group of us ventured down to Kirkwood and Mammoth this past week and had a blast! Kirkwood is closing this weekend, Mammoth does not close until Memorial Day... the snow was perfect in the morning, a little sloppy in the afternoon.

Golf Course Report:
Old Greenwood and Gray's Crossing open on May 15th. Coyote Moon opens on May 22nd. Old Brockway in King's Beach is already open if you need to hit some balls...
Weather Vane Brad says:
Mild and breezy until Tuesday (40's and 50's) and then a small system lacking moisture will move in Tuesday and Wednesday. Unsettled spring weather for the rest of the week.

On a Green Note:

In honor of Earth Day, Disney is planting a tree for every person who buys a ticket to the new "Earth" movie through April 28th. Good stuff.

Next time let's talk some real estate...

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Nephew Day - Part II

Well, many of the area ski mountains closed yesterday, so you will have to save these tips for next season...

1. Parking-there is a pay lot just below the bus turn around. On weekdays, it is usually $20 weekends can get up to $50. There is free shuttle in parking. I would recommend dropping the kids off first, locating a Northstar cart, and then driving back out to the shuttle parking. It is near the gas station right off Hwy. 267. It seems like a pain at first, but really the shuttles run all of the time and it usually doesn't take that long.

2. The Northstar Pull Cart-usually they stack them up right by the skier drop off area next to the real estate office. If you can't find one, look around or ask an employee. They wear yellow jackets and there are information areas designated with a white umbrella all over the Village.

3. Ski School Reservations-for Northstar go to www.northstarattahoe.com and the site will guide you through which age level class your child needs to be in and the various packages you can choose. Make sure you print out your confirmation code and bring it with you the day of the lessons. It is important to do this early as the classes fill up.

4. If you don't want to deal with renting equipment at Northstar, which sometimes can be a nightmare, I have 2 suggestions. One is Tahoe Dave's. Their equipment is good, you can reserve online, and they are used to dealing with a lot of people. They are also very reasonable. www.tahoedaves.com . The second option is Black Tie Ski Rentals. They actually deliver equipment to where you are staying so you don't have to go anywhere at all. They are a little bit more expensive, but the convenience may be worth it. Go to www.blacktieskis.com and choose the North Tahoe location to begin. I know the guys that own the company and they are awesome. One thing to note is that helmets are provided with ski school so you don't need to rent one.

5. Starbucks-Is located in the Village right by the ice skating rink.

6. Sunscreen-Can be purchased in the Northstar Logo store which is a few storefronts down on the left when you are walking from the skier drop off, or True North which is on the right after the skier drop off area.

7. Ski School Drop off-Is on the south side of the ice skating rink. You will see signs above the doors where you should go in. Once you get there, you will be greeted and shown which line you are to be in for the age group(s) of your child. From here it is a breeze. Just make sure that you give yourself at least 20-30 minutes before the drop off time. For instance, we had to drop the boys off at 9:30 and were there are 9:15 which was good but we could have used an extra 5 or 10 minutes.

8. Ski School Pick up-Is above the drop off area. There is an "upper deck" with seating, fire pits and a bar. This is where you pick the kids up.

9. Churros and Waffles-There is a churro stand near the ice skating rink, and the "waffles" (which are really like doughnuts but very tasty) are all located in "Euro Snack" stands. You will see these stands all over the place in Northstar, there are a few in the Village, one at mid-mountain, and even one in the shuttle lot out by the gas station.

10. The bus to the shuttle lot-is in the lower plaza area below the skier drop off. Your shuttle driver should have told you which post to come back to so you can get your car.

11. Margarita-Not mentioned in the last post, but for the record if you need one, the best margaritas in Truckee are at Casa Baeza, and they are not on the menu. Ask for the "Clay Pot Margarita" and you will not be disappointed. They are about $10 but totally worth it.

Squaw is still open until May 15th if you need to get some more turns in. I will say that 70 degree weather is making me lean towards running, biking, swimming, and boating.

Next post-our newest sports addition-The Reno Aces baseball team. www.renoaces.com

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Learning to Ski at Northstar - The Nephew Day Part I

Now back to my original post and the ski day with my nephews. This is a whole new spin on "working for your turns" if you ask me. This post will be in 2 parts. The "experience" is Part I, the "logistics" will be Part II.

Noah is 5, Nathan is 7. The day starts out early with a lot of not wanting to ski. Whether it be because it was their first and second times, or because it was just plain cold out, we'll never know. Off we go.

There are several keys to success with the kids ski day:

1. A parking spot. I am fortunate enough to have one through work, otherwise that would be a whole other adventure. Without a spot, you have three choices: to pay, to shuttle in, or to buy a condo.
2. Starbucks
3. Reservations for ski school and your confirmation code with you. (MUST do this ahead of time)
4. Favorite toys and/or snacks and treats for bribery.
5. Sunscreen
6. Camera
7. Starbucks
8. Last but not least, the EVER important Northstar pull cart. See picture above. This, incidentally, is the best improvement that Northstar made in the past year. You can tow kids, equipment, and odds and ends around. If you have to schlep, you have to have the cart.


The Northstar ski school is a machine. You get there, figure out what line you are supposed to be in, give them your confirmation info, equipment, slather the sunscreen on the boys, take a picture, and before you know it (or before any tears can be shed), the boys are whisked away to a day on the slopes. It is an intense 20 minute experience. (Hence the need for the second Starbucks).

My sister and I take a deep breath, a quick glance behind our shoulders to make sure they are safe, and then we (gleefully?) skip to the gondola for our adult ski adventure.

Our day was fabulous: sun, a posh lunch at Schaffer's Camp, no calls from ski school and a fine Tahoe spring ski day.

In the blink of an eye, 3:30 rolled around and we skied down to find the boys. There are TONS of parents and kids being reunited-the instructors are downloading their interpretations of the progress of their young skiers/snowboarders, the kids are looking ragged, the parents are anxiously awaiting a report about their little snow prodigies...it looks like chaos, but somehow the folks running the operation seem to know who belongs to who.

We find Nathan first, he had a great time. He had skied the season before and his interest and confidence are blooming. Then we find Noah and get a luke-warm report. He catches on quickly and appears to be bored with just "pizza" (or snowplow). He was ready for some "french fries" (going straight down). Both of their feet HURT from their boots. Should I tell them now that their feet will always hurt in ski boots? No.

The boys receive an oozingly sticky sugary delicious churro and waffle for their valiant efforts, we find a Northstar cart and tow "Team Ski Tahoe" to the drop off, get everyone in the car, and the naps are on.

The next day my sister and I took the boys up ourselves to Bear Paw (beginner ski run) and the magic carpet area at mid-mountain Northstar. We had a blast. The progress they made was amazing and the sense of pride and accomplishment that shone in their blue and green eyes made the weekend worth every bit of the effort. It looks like Nathan will be taking on the Big Mountain next time, and Noah may do a bit more of Bear Paw before he is ready for the Olympics.

There is something special about being a small part of the growth and development of a child's life, to see and feel their successes, and celebrate their victories... you parents know all about this and that is why you can't imagine your lives a different way.

Northstar has a great ski program for kids, but nothing beats getting them on the slopes with you and sharing the experience.

Next post will include details such as where to park, how to get ski school reservations in advance, where to get sunscreen, where to get equipment, where ski school is located, and most importantly, where to get the Northstar Cart.