Have Snowboard Will Travel

My family and I live in Colorado. Previously, my kids have only been snowboarding in the Rockies. This year we decided to get everyone out of their comfort zone, increase the level of adventure, and travel to California for a week. Luckily we got some fresh snow and had ourselves a grand time in South Lake Tahoe. There are an abundance of resorts around Lake Tahoe; we chose to ride at Heavenly and Kirkwood. The kids were thrilled to fly to California, drive around in a Ford Expedition, and explore new mountains on their shred sticks. I was excited to repeat a trip with my kids that I had taken over 20 years ago.

For sentimental reasons, I’m going to share some old photos from the first time I went to Tahoe. My uncle Dan took my sister Michelle and I to South Lake Tahoe sometime in the early 2000’s. Michelle and I both owe our love of snowboarding to Uncle Dan. If it wasn’t for his enthusiasm, support, and dedication to winter fun we may not be in the positions we are in today; still snowboarding every chance we get and sharing it with the next generation.

Michelle and I grew up riding the northeast; Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Jersey. I remember hitting the snow in that California sun and feeling an extreme amount joy. It was springtime, and little did I know I was riding what is described as Sierra Cement. I didn’t care. I was happy to have traveled across the US to snowboard. It was a big change from the Ice Coast we called home. Now I live in the land of Champagne Powder and I’ve learned that there is merit in all conditions.

This Tahoe trip was the first time I ever snapped a photograph of a chairlift. I was in art school at the time so I took a bunch of weird photographs on this trip; rusty trucks, roadkill, interesting motel signs, people on escalators. Luckily, chairlifts remain the subject matter I return to most in my photography.

The first chairlift portrait I ever painted was from a photograph on that trip. I’m glad I didn’t paint a portrait of a dead squirrel. (what an art career that would have been)

Your home mountain is where you’re most comfortable. It’s your favorite. You know where to park, where to stop for lunch, and which lifts to ride based on certain conditions. Then you travel to a new resort You’re back to the beginning. You know how to ride a snowboard, but that’s it. You are forced to conquer new territory in new conditions. It has its difficult moments, its frustrating moments, and its moments of glory.

Things go wrong on every vacation. Persevere and you will absolutely have a good time. Your flight will be delayed. Your rental car will not be ready. One of your bags will be lost. You’re definitely going to dislike at least one of the restaurants you dine at; despite the long wait for a table. One night the fire alarm in the hotel will go off and terrify your kids. It will rain one day. And it will be windy. And they will close lifts and gondolas and skiers will bottleneck at any open lift causing long wait times. Someone will get an ear infection. And someone will lose a glove.


You will see things you have never seen and do things you never do. The outdoor hot tub and heated pool will be awesome. The kids will get a mini fridge in their room and be stoked to watch movies in bed. There will be sun. The rocks and trees will look different than they do at home. You will find the chairs on the lift hang low enough for the kids (including the 5 year old) to hop on and off without trouble.

The highlight of our trip (if you don’t count the Sicilian dinner at Izabella or the beverages at Drink Coffee Do Stuff) was Kirkwood. Kirkwood took my kids’ riding ability and mentality to the next level. Every snow experience from February 20th, 2024, and beyond is now relative to riding at Kirkwood. It’s a fun and challenging resort with quite a few bowls, cliffs, chutes, gullies, rock faces and trees. My kids are young and fearless and saw the entire place as an absolute playground. (As do most adults) If you are looking for the perfect description of Kirkwood read this.

One afternoon, late into the trip, we ended our session early. We grabbed coffee and chai and headed down to the beach lake front in town. It wasn’t too chilly. The sun was reflecting beautifully on the water. We took some family photos. The sand filled our shoes and the kids climbed the playground. It was a momentary vacation from our vacation. With a listless mind I watched as the kids wrote in the sand with a stick. And whether or not he was on my mind; I couldn’t help but think that, completely unaware, Nina had written a message to Uncle Dan…