Where's Tim been tripping?                                        MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN




There are three ways to get to Mammoth Mountain. You can drive (between 4 and 5 hours from Los Angeles); fly commercially to Reno, Nevada and then drive (roughly 2 hours), or you can rent a private jet and fly into Mammoth Yosemite Airport. If you have the means, I highly recommend a private jet. I spent several hours driving. Yet if I had to ride a camel to enjoy what Mammoth Mountain has to offer, I would do it any day of the week -- and twice on Sunday.

With over 3,500 skiable acres and 150 trails of some of the most spectacular skiing anywhere, your time in Mammoth will be well spent. For example, beginning skiers or snowboarders can take lesson (private or group), or grab the bull by the horns and hit the bunny slopes on their own. More experienced downhillers will find trails that challenge most Olympic hopefuls. (In fact, several Olympians came from Mammoth this year). I could go on and on about time I have spent skiing there with friends, slicing through waist-deep powder while periodically taking breaks at one of the mountainís many outdoor patios, sipping wine and recounting memorable falls. However, this time I want to write about what impressed me even more than the vast trails of endless snow and breathtaking views. The Village at Mammoth at the base of the mountain, and the various activities offered really caught my eye. I was there for only two days, so I tried to pack in as much possible. Where to begin?

Itís the end of the day, and youíve made it down the mountain for the last time. Youíre exhausted, and tired of walking heel toe/heel toe in your boots while your skis head off in every direction. Or your wrists and backside ache from your first attempt to snowboard. How to relax? Dodge the crowded main lodge patio warriors, and head straight to the Side Door Cafť. This little charmer, tucked away in the village, is a must for any aprŤs-ski aficionado. From the extensive wine and cheese list to the European buckwheat crepes, owner Shields Richardson has done a great job bringing a little slice of Europe to the States. If you have questions regarding any of the wine or cheese on the list, just ask. Wine manager Annie McDonnello and the staff at the Side Door are well-versed and eager to please. From a $15 Ladybug organic red to a $625 2001 Chateau Sauteynes DíYquen, the Side Door has 300 bottles on its wine list. And donít forget the crepes. Made with buckwheat batter on a creperiere flow in from France, these delicious treats are real crowd-pleasers (kids go wild for them).

From the Side Door you will probably head back to you hotel for some R&R, before heading out for the night. The Village at Mammoth offers several options for you to lay your weary head after a day on the slopes. I stayed at the Grand Sierra Lodge, in a one-bedroom with den at a cost of $375 per night. Other Grand Sierra hotel winter rates range from studios ($285 per night) to deluxe 3-bedroom suites ($780). Amenities for all three hotels located in the village include parking, housekeeping, gas fireplaces, high- speed Internet access ($10 per day), televisions with DVD players, ski and snowboard lockers, fitness gyms, and heated outdoor pool and Jacuzzi.

If you stay for an extended period, there are rooms available with full functioning kitchens. While the Grand Sierra and its staff have created a warm, homelike environment, I feel there is a more valuable reason to stay here while visiting Mammoth Mountain. As any realtor knows: ďLocation, location, location!Ē Itís a one-minute walk to everything you need, including the free mountain gondola. So stay in the Jacuzzi for 10 minutes more, or have another glass of wine. Who cares? Itís almost impossible to be late when youíre minutes away everything the village offers.

From sushi to pizza, the Village At Mammoth has something for everyone. But one thing is certain: the Restaurant Lulu is a must. Located in the center of town, this extension of Luluís in San Francisco packs people in every night. And there is a good reason for this. Executive Chef Robert Murphy pulls out all the stops to make sure your stay at Luluís is memorable. Try the iron skillet roasted mussels with drawn butter ($14.95) or the rotisserie rosemary scented chicken with warm potato and lettuce salad ($17.95). The next morning at 8 I was back at Luluís, packing down ricotta pancakes. ($11.95) Served with candied pecans and sliced pears in a pear syrup, these show-stoppers are a great way to either start you day or send you right back to bed. I did the later of the two. To top it off, everything at Luluís is handmade daily. But donít forget to make a dinner reservation -- they go fast.

If youíre looking for adventure, check out the restaurant Parallax. ($150 per person all-inclusive) This unique experience is worth the trip. You and your party will travel to the restaurant via Sno-Cat (included in the price), and dine in isolation at the middle of the mountain. Executive chef Job Carderís unique five-course French Mediterranean dinner is an interesting mix of courses that leaves you always looking forward to the next one. Donít be intimidated, though. The servings are small enough so youíre not looking for a wheelbarrow when itís time to leave. On the other hand, donít go on an empty stomach. I did, and found myself wiping out the breadbasket. The menu constantly changes menu; hereís how it read the night I visited.

First course
Fire roasted peppers with marinated fennel
Plozner pinot grigio-2004
Second course
Braised porcini mushrooms with a saffron mascarpone
Cala Silente Santadi Vermentino-2004
Third course
Scallop and black truffle risotto
Dolcetto di Dogliani
Forth course
Grilled wild Russian boar over herb stewed tomatoes
Monte Antico Toscana-2003
Fifth course
Dark chocolate mousse with mixed berry compote & white chocolate ganache
Hardyís Whiskerís Blake-Porto

Sound great? It is. However, a few things work against Chef Carderís creations. The lighting leaves something to be desired. While Parallax has the potential to be one of the more romantic restaurants, the harsh lights may leave you wishing for night-vision goggles. And if you donít enjoy sub-zero restrooms on the mountain, you wonít like these -- theyíre the same. Bring a coat!

I spoke with Chef Carder about these issues, and he said that changes are being made. To whoever is in charge of seeing these changes through, get on the ball. Thereís black truffles and wild boar on the menu and the restaurant is barely lit. But would I go again? Absolutely. Next year I hope to find Parallax the romantic and unique dinning experience it should be. Kudos to Chef Carder for making this experience, in a location accessible only by Sno-Cat, worth the trip.

Sushi lovers should check out Sand Dollar Sushi. I had dinner reservations later that evening, but wanted to check out the only sushi restaurant in the village. With limited time I sat at the bar and ordered the two items I felt would best represent the restaurant: yellowtail sashimi and the recommended CAAT roll. You can usually tell from the first bite of any sashimi if the place has what it takes to be a sought-after sushi spot. Sand Dollar Sushi does. Although I am not a fan of many rolls, the CAAT was enjoyable. I donít recall all the ingredients, but it was different and good. Self-proclaimed sushi snobs who go in thinking theyíre at Nobu in New York or Sushi Nozawa in Los Angeles might be disappointed. Just remember: Youíre in the Sierra Mountains. So please, if you are a whining know-it-all like the one I had to listen to for 15 minutes, go next door to 5 Boroughs Pizza.

This is one of many pizza spots in Mammoth, but the only one in the Village. I popped in for a quick slice after sushi and before dinner, and was pleased to discover their option to simply call in an order. They donít deliver, but it is only a short walk from your hotel though the village. If youíre looking for nightlife, the village has plenty of hot spots. Dublins, Lakanuki Tiki Bar, Hennesseyís and Fever are all minutes from each other. So driving is not necessary if you staying at one of the three Village hotels.

I spent the first day snowboarding, so on the second day I decided to check out Mammothís other activities. Snowmobiling was presented, and I jumped at the chance. Taking advantage of this activity is a no brainier while visiting Mammoth. Two tours are offered: 90 minutes or 3 hours. Do yourself a favor: Take the guided tour. Going off on your own is an option, and it sounds great. But youíre sure to get lost, and miss all the great sites the guide provides. Speed demons need not worry. Youíll have plenty of time trying to catch the captain. Their snowmobiles do about 120 mph, while yours tops out around 70. TIP: Take the early tour. I did, and when I retuned to the base it was packed people eager to go. PS: They provide great hot chocolate upon your return.

The rates:

2006 RATES
Guided Weekday Tour
Adventure Tour Ė 1.5 hours, $90 (Single), $120 (Double)
Explorer Tour Ė 3 hours, $200 (Single), $260

2006 - Guided Weekend Tour
Adventure Tour Ė 1.5 hours $100 (Single), $120 (Double)
Explorer Tour Ė 3 hours $240 (Single), $260 (Double)

The Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center is another great chance for fun and adventure. Here you can put on snowshoes or cross country skis, and just go. Tamarack is located only minutes from The Village at Mammoth, and features over 18 miles of beautiful scenery. I did both snowshoeing and cross country skiing, and loved every minute. I only wish I had more time when I headed over to the Tamarack Lodge for spiced cider, and lots of laughs with friends around the fire.

A good option for kids can be found at Color Me Mine. I came across this spot in the village, and stopped in to see if it was the same as those in Los Angeles. Sure enough it was, and the kids appeared to love it. Hereís how it works. You choose from many different ceramics, then pick some colors and start painting. After the piece is baked, itís yours. If you leave before itís finished, donít worry; they ship it to you. This is a great option for kids who donít want to hit the slopes.

If real estate speculation interests you, look into properties in the Village at Mammoth. Not only will you constantly enjoy Mammoth, but also when the local airport starts allowing commercial flights your investment will go through the roof. Flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Reno and Las Vegas are projected to begin within the next year.

So letís recap. During my two days in the Village at Mammoth I went snowboarding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ate at great restaurants, (took a Sno-Cat to one) drank fine wine, had delicious crepes and imported cheeses, enjoyed a great room with a full kitchen, slept on a bed with great pillows, and took showers with great water pressure. I parked my car on Friday and didnít see it again until Sunday. Most importantly, I laughed with new friends until I was blue in the face.


PS: If you choose to drive, do not speed through the sleepy little towns. The police will pull you over for exceeding the speed limit by even 1 mph.

*Please tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!

Pictures From

The Trip


Tim Gaylord
On Mammoth Mountain





Side Door


Grand Sierra Lodge


Free Mountain Gondola



Restaurant Lulu



Snow Cat



First Course




Sand Dollar


Sand Dollar Sushi


Drinks On The Patio




View From Top


The Village


Kids School



Color Me Mine


Grand Sierra Lodge


A Room at the Tamarack Lodge

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