Not particularly surprising, given the number of people who do it, but it really is great, and I feel annoyed that I hadn't done it for so much of my life. You can pick up the basics in a matter of hours, and then the satisfaction of improving is great - almost as much as how fun it is to just go sliding downhill on snow. I'd been for a couple of introductory lessons on a dry slope before, but it just does it absolutely no justice.
We (Eben, Liz, Caroline and myself) went to Heavenly, on the South of Lake Tahoe, the California-Nevada border (plenty of casinos nearby), and the scenery is absolutely stunning (beautiful snow, skies, lots of lovely trees), and the scale of the runs just makes the dry slopes seem comedy. I'd always thought of Winter as dark and gloomy, but this was Winter at its very best - pretty much Summer, but not too hot, and with soft, fluffy snow everywhere.
Well, that's not strictly true. On our final day it snowed quite heavily, and Eben and I were determined to make the most of it. It was actually very fun, in a freezing cold white-out kind of way. The blizzards cleared briefly, giving an absolutely amazing view of Nevada. Anyway, rewind to the start of the holiday....
Lessons are well worth it. They're not cheap, but I suppose the whole holiday thing isn't particularly. On the other hand, they're a great way to get started quickly. In a week I got from pretty much nothing, through greens to simple blues, although my impression is that Heavenly is a fairly fluffy resort, ratings-wise. Myself and Caroline learnt to ski, while Eben learnt to snowboard. Liz planned to snowboard, but reverted to her skiing roots (yay).
I should probably also point out that winter sports are a great way of getting injured. Somehow (without any obvious instant where it started), my ankle started to hurt, so that I couldn't walk in boots. Skiing, fine, walking normally, fine, walking in boots, big pain. Fortunately, it didn't affect me too much, after a day off. Eben and Liz had their own accidents, and it seems Caroline, who seemed to have the most conservative approach, was the only one of us to come out unscathed. Although she did get quite tired quite regularly. :)
Having said that, so did I. After a day of skiing we couldn't manage much more than supper and bed. How people do apres-ski, I have no idea. On the other hand, Americans really know how to do food. Their steaks are just fantastic, and I'd recommend Echo at the Embassy Suites, Fire and Ice, and the Hawaiian sushi place whose name I've forgotten. Cecil's bar and grill was disappointing. Oh, and the food on the piste is pretty poor, too, but you'll be too busy skiing, won't you?
It was my first holiday in the US mainland, and Caroline's first visit to the US, and although there's probably some skew from the fact it's a holiday resort, the whole place was just so... American. Everything was bigger, the people insanely friendly, and everywhere there were little touches that just kept making us want to pinch ourselves, see if it's a dream. Ok, so maybe we're a little easily-pleased by that kind of stuff. :)
Finally, I think I should give a bit of a run-down of the runs I'd been down: