During the summer, the ski resort opens up to the hikers and mountain bikers, with free gondola and ski lift tickets for hikers (I think the bikers had to pay a little). If you're not up for a hike or bike, you can stay in the Sweden-style (or so I imagine, having yet to go to Sweden) miniature town that is the Northstar resort, where you can roller skate in the rink, trampoline jump a la the first Tomb Raider movie (hooked to ropes and doing flips), shop at some very expensive stores, or dine at restaurants you'd only expect to find in cities. Since we were appareled like hiking pros (ahem, dorks--see the picture), we headed straight for the trails.
Free of charge, we road a gondola lift and two ski lifts to the top of the mountain, to promptly discover that at approximately 8,000 feet, we couldn't breathe as well as normal. So we took a nice, slow hike through the woods on the plethora of designated trails, stopping occasionally to snack on the gourmet selection of snacks Cody had packed.
I was eager to see wildlife. It's become a goal for me on the walks we take around our home (the best sighting last week was an adorable gaze of raccoons), and I figured in the great outdoors of the Sierras, I'd see some pretty amazing creatures. Like this mule deer, that is nibbling on Cody's finger:
While all mule deer ended up hiding from me, we did spy a few adorable ground squirrels that posed very nicely for the camera. (Well, one looks like a glowing angel of a squirrel--the other might be doing something naughty.)
I can't say that I didn't think about writing while we were traipsing across the tip of the mountain. There so many story ideas yet to be written! I also thought a bit about heroes and what it takes to be one, which is a post for another time, but something that has been on my mind for quite some time now. But for the most part, I breathed in the clear, clean air of the mountains, admired all the hardy trees and bushes that thrive despite being buried under pounds and pounds of snow during the winter, and enjoyed Cody's company.
When we were done hiking, we were far too dirty to comfortably hang out in the swanky Northstar/Sweden village, so we headed back to Truckee. On the way, we passed through a huge valley that buffeted the car with wind. On a whim, Cody pulled over and got out his kite. (Apparently, it was less of a whim than I first thought, since he had the kite packed.) We played in the wind for a while before finally deciding we needed dinner.
It was such a pleasant, fun, refreshing getaway, that even after two hours of editing Madison today, when I realized that instead of only having one more chapter to edit, I actually had three, I was pleased and not upset.