More of what six feet of snow in four days looks like: pictures from Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River (and a life-sized snow walrus).
In case you haven’t been following the drama on Facebook or Twitter (and if not, why not?!? Be my fan! I’m way funnier in fewer words…), I hurt myself pretty badly while running recently, which means I’m getting to know the German healthcare system pretty intimately. I mean, if I’m going to fork over 70,000 goddamned Euros for insurance, I might as well use it, right?
To be clear: I still don’t know how I hurt myself. My self-diagnosis is that I am old and was stupid for thinking I could both run a 5k and go snowboarding in the same day and my body is just reminding me of my age by refusing to work. My doctor is insisting that I tore my quadricep and will feel better in 3-5 days with a healthy daily mixture of ibuprofen and exercise.
It started two weeks ago in Tahoe when I ridiculously decided to run the lakefront right after a snowstorm. I had just been snowboarding and though I didn’t injure myself, there is something to be said about jumping off cliffs into rocky crevices and landing on a slope with a 75 degree incline. (What’s to be said: Weeeeee! Then: Fuuuuucccck! Then: Ouchhhh!)
I may have overdone it that day by going for a run, too, but since I was about to have two mandatory rest days because of travel, I did it. I noticed a niggling in my knee, but that had become common, especially after running on an ice pack, where, I read later, you change your gait significantly to avoid slippage. Instead, at the time, I attributed the pain to lost fitness by not running as often or as far in the altitude.
Then I flew home, still paying attention to the pain, and decided to do a spinning class instead of run. When I finally ran about four days later, I noticed the pain at first, diminishing as the 7k run went longer, then flaming up so badly afterward, I couldn’t walk. Did weights the following day, careful to not do anything that would injure my knee but didn’t notice any pain except when I went from sitting to standing or when I tried to run.
Finally, after resting for four more days, I tried to run and felt such immense pain, I started to cry. So… off to the doctor. Here’s the fun part:
I got to the first doctor, who, after I took off my pants, asked me if I was an athlete. When I grinned and said, yep, I’m a runner, she replied, “Oh that’s strange. I thought you might be a kickboxer with all those bruises on your leg. Are you sure you didn’t get beat up? Or fall down?”
Nope. Normal wear and tear (jet lag is a lot like insomnia – I run into shit and have no idea because I’m so overtired).
Got referred to a sports doctor, who, immediately after I walked into his office, said, “Hey, I’ve got a kid from the local high school here who wants to be a doctor and is shadowing me for his career training week. Is it okay if he sits in on the visit?”
Yeah sure, why not? I said, forgetting that in Germany, the next sentence is:
“Take off your pants, please.”
Thing about Germany is, there are no paper gowns and no curtains to step behind.
I don’t think I turned red but the 14-year-old boy sure did.
And of course, as with any time I take off my clothes in front of strangers, I start the litany of questions in my head: When did I last shave? What underwear do I have on? Should I keep my socks on? I held my tongue and didn’t crack any of the stupid jokes I used to do when I first arrived and just took off my clothes like it was just another fun old thing to do.
And then I realized, oh fuck, I may still not have fully Germanized. I may have walked down the hall of the labor and delivery ward naked and bloody, but this, this nudity in front of a kid is too much for me. If there were a blanket, I would’ve tried to cover my ass up but as it were, there was only that thin paper sheet on the examination table.
Poor kid, I don’t think he expected his first in-real-life glimpse of a woman’s bottom to look anything like mine, with cellulite and bruises and old cotton underwear. I hope for his sake, actually, that it wasn’t his first glimpse, but with the distance he kept, I think it was.
I’ll spare you the details of what happened next, but let’s just say, I never expected to be lying down with my pants off, legs in the air, writhing around and gasping while an adolescent looked on. I’m trying to be adult about it and pretend this is just “normal” human behavior but I’m not that German yet. It is fucking embarrassing to be naked with complete strangers.
Even more embarrassing was when another doctor had to come into the office to check me out and they concurred that there really wasn’t anything wrong with me and that, you know, runners get injured all the time and I should just wait it out.
So that’s what I’m doing. Keeping my pants on and getting, as my spinning instructor noted yesterday, a little aggressive from not running. Which I suppose is better for me, given that all the snow on the ground means I shouldn’t be running outside anyway. But I’m going to need a punching bag pretty soon if this moratorium on running keeps up. And I’m afraid, if it gets to be too much longer, this dimply middle-aged bottom is not going to be seen by anyone, doctors included.
This is the third time in the last decade I’ve gone to Lake Tahoe in the winter. I grew up with cold and snow, and though I hate the cold and what it does to my skin, I love snow in the winter. LOVE IT.
It’s one of the reasons I don’t like where I live in Germany. If I were in Munich, I would be in the Alps every winter weekend. Instead I stay in the rainy central valley, where snow is an abomination, dirtying things up for a day’s sprinkling, then melting before the cold sets in and makes me hate hate hate winter. Snow is great while it’s falling because it has to stay around freezing, not colder.
I wanted to instill this love of snow in my kid, which is why we high-tailed it to Tahoe this year (see also: The List, which included cliff jumping on my snowboard and wintering in the mountains). This year, we were soooo in luck.
Right after we arrived, and just in time for Christmas, a storm that brought six feet of snow in four days hit and I was in heaven. The storm came in spurts… a foot, then an overnight pause, then two more feet, then a day’s break. Chain controls over the pass between my sister’s house and my cabin meant we had to plan in advance where we’d be doing all the Christmas stuff so we wouldn’t be separated. But life in the Sierras goes on, snow or non. There was even a surfer out on Lake Tahoe at the beginning of the storm (which, considering the lake is freezing even at the height of summer, is some serious NorCal hard core surfing):
We snuck out during the storm’s lulls, me to cross-country ski since I couldn’t get my running fix, the babe to build a snow fort and snow bear and to learn how to sled down a big hill (which had her rollicking with laughter — ever need a laugh, grab a kid, they’ll remind you of life’s awesomeness). We frequently ended up in waist-high powder so when the storm cleared, I grabbed my snowboard and headed down to Squaw Valley. The adventure there is another story for another post, but from 8,200 feet, I got a new view of the lake (which, at an elevation of 6,200 feet is the highest in North America)
When the the storm settled, it left a lot of beauty in its wake. Here’s a few final shots of the pretty stuff to hold in memory (as it’s now all become black slush, just like the junk that falls from the sky in Germany, and that snow, well, that’s not nearly as gorgeous).