Upon walking up to the tubing hill it was a bit more intense than I anticipated, I was thinking it would be like a bunny slope but low and behold it was a fairly steep incline with a few rolling mounds on it and a massive 90 degree turn...to say the least it was intimidating at first glance. I figured what better way to make sure it was good to go then sending the Mrs. up first, he he. I was shocked that Amber even did it, let alone go first. I could see the fear in her eyes but Dylan was looking to her to make sure it was ok. Amber made her way down the hill and by this time Dylan was already welling up with tears, I looked at Amber and gave her the "were you scared look", she quickly responded with "Yeah that was great, you ready to go Dylan"...I then asked her if she wanted to go again and it was promptly a no. So I decided it was my turn, how bad can it be, its a fully inflated tube and its like 20-30 secs long at most. So I made my way to the top of the hill and looked down...WOW this was higher than I thought and it was very icy but I had to save face for my kid was watching me from below. I was launched down the slope and began to pick up more and more speed, just in time to take the hard banking 90 degree turn (I literally thought I was going to go flying out of the run) but before I knew it you come to a halt...it was over and I knew there was no means of convincing Dylan that he wouldn't be scared. So I decided I would take another run and the guy who releases you at the top thought it would be fun to spin me as he sent me down the hill...I went into the 90 degree banking backwards and by the time I had come to a stop I was dizzy and wobbly. What a fun time, not sure I could do it over and over for hours but I'm glad I got to do it and have that memory. As for Dylan, he was brave enough to pose for a picture in the tube, that was the extent of his tubing adventure for the day. We headed back to the hotel to figure out the rest of our day.
When we got back to the hotel we still had some time to kill before the live entertainment on the back patio was to happen, so I decided it would be a good time for me to go exercise in the hotel fitness center. This fitness center is unlike anything I have been in at a hotel, it has state of the art machines, refreshments, staff, and fantastic views of the mountains. I spent a little longer than I had planned to but I couldn't get over how nice this place was. I took full advantage of working out and jogging 1.5 miles on the treadmill. I have been exercising more and more lately to prepare for the upcoming surgery, the only thing that bummed me out was that I didn't do this days ago when we arrived.
We headed out to the patio to listen to Chuck Grossman but first we made a pit stop at the food cart/grill the Ritz has outside at poolside. We ordered our meal and before I could even pay for it, we were told that its on the house, courtesy of management. I know I won't do a good enough job explaining this but here goes. The people who are in charge of this Hotel; the General Manager, Assistant Manager, and the folks whom work alongside them are truly amazing people, everywhere we go we are always greeted, welcomed, and just asked how we are doing and if there is anything that we need. The staff is unlike anything I have ever experienced anywhere, and its never in a manner that is fake, or forced, it truly feels like each and everyone of these people are adamant about the hospitality that is portrayed here at the Ritz-Carlton and the feeling is really good, these guys/girls like there jobs...you just can't be the way these folks are if you didn't care for what you do. The best part is, they aren't this way with just us, its everyone! We sat in the sun and soaked up the rays, as well as Chuck Grossman (Whom had a very Blues Traveler/Dave Matthews feel to his voice). It was a beautiful day on the patio. Next thing we knew Martina had showed up and said its time for Dylan's snowman.
We headed out about 10-15ft off the patio and "attempted" to build a snow man but the snow was just too icy. Dylan at this point was starting to breakdown a bit, he had been asking when we would build a snowman for days now. I just assumed oh well, as there was not much we could do, but this didn't stop Martina. Within 15 mins a gentleman from engineering was outside and digging out the snow to make it usable snowman building material. I felt so bad and even apologized to everyone many times, at no point in time did this nice guy digging the hole ever act like he was unhappy or annoyed, honestly he made it seem like it was for a good cause to boot. Oh and did I mention that Martina was in the thick of it all this whole time as well, she had even gone back to her office to change into snow gear to help us do all this. One of the Chef's from Manzanita came out and dropped off a carrot for the snowman's nose, Dylan acquired some rocks for eye's and quick scavenging found some sticks for arms, I found a branch with some shrubs on it for hair, and another person from the hotel staff brought out a bag set, which had gloves, a scarf and beanie (although we didn't use the beanie b/c the branch/shrub hair looked pretty cool). And there we had it, Dylan's very own snowman...wish come true. But it wasn't over, the GM came over to launch a snowball attack on his assistant and us. How cool are these guys, in suits and willing to get down and dirty in the snow, all for the sake of a child...and not just any child but ours. What an amazing time.
We headed back inside to swap our clothes, not so smart thinking us were wearing jeans at this point and we were all wet. Once we got cleaned up we headed back down to the Arcade room, saying Dylan loves this room is an understatement...he asks about it daily and just wants to play in it at all hours of the day. From there we headed out to dinner. We opted to take the Gondola for a trip down to Rubicon Pizza in Northstar Village, we had heard great things about this place so we figured we'd give it a shot on our last night here. The wait was about 45 mins, so during this time we watched the ice skaters outside on the rink and just relished in what we've been through over the last few days. We ate our pizza and shot the breeze amongst us, oh and everything everyone said about this place was true (even though we eat cheese-less pie, it was still every bit as good). Our stay was coming to an end, so we decided on our way back into the hotel we'd sit by one of the many fireplaces and just relax.
We grabbed a nice cup of coffee and just hung out by the fireplace. For 45 mins or so we hung out on the couch and kept warm, we got to speak with our server, the night shift manager, one of our waitresess from last night at Manzanita, and even got to spend 15 mins or so with Chef Reylon Agustin (even though he was catering to a jam packed restaurant, he was even gracious enough to extended an offer for us to join them at breakfast in the AM...just goes to show what a wonderful person he is). I feel so honored that each and everyone of these people we have come across have taken time out of there lives to get to know us. I can't help but feel that each and everyone we crossed paths with over the last few days have forever changed my families life; its amazing how far a simple gesture, a smile, or stopping to get to know someone can go. To everyone here at The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, thank you for making my son's wish a reality, and thank you for just being you...you're what make's this place what it is and I'm forever grateful for the compassion and support you have shown my family. I don't have the words to express my gratitude fully. Thank you again.
It's hard to believe in just 7 days we will be in the hospital for what will be the most challenging and trying time of our lives. Such extreme ends of the spectrum from what we just experienced to what will be. Even though its mentally hard for me to even think about what's to come, I have an enlightened sense of understanding that if everything were to come to a close in my short lived life that I at minimum got to see how good people and other aspects of life really can be. I once read and recall a quote by the Dalai Lama:
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive"
*As I just finished typing this, it has begun to snow, it had been the only thing missing on Dylan's wish and one only mother nature could dictate/grant. What an amazing few days for our little boy, I can't wait to see his eyes when he wakes up to see the fresh snow and just maybe by chance it will still be falling from the sky.
***The images below are in a slideshow format, you can hit the "Play" button on main image or click on individual images to have them enlarge. To get more images put your cursor over the last picture shown on the right, it will scroll to more images***