GrindTV Guide to Playing Hooky

The view from Emerald Bay. Not a bad spot to spend a sick day. Photo: Courtesy of Matt Andrew/LifeProof

Whether you’re an adolescent student daringly skipping school or a middle-aged employee calling in “sick” to work, there’s some beautiful, indescribable thrill that comes with playing hooky.

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With that in mind, the inspiration for the GrindTV Guide to Playing Hooky was born.

At my desk in Carlsbad, California, I received an email from LifeProof inviting me to South Lake Tahoe for a day of wakesurfing and mountain biking.

I wondered, would it be physically, logistically and fiscally possible to spend a day playing hooky some 500 miles away from home and still get back in time for work the next day?

Here’s what I found, and how you can replicate my results:

GrindTV Guide to Playing Hooky

A slightly more scenic commute than a congested freeway. Photo: Robert Pursell

Sunday, July 10. 5:00 p.m.: I grab a ride with a friend from my house in North County San Diego to San Diego International Airport to board a 7:15 p.m. flight for Reno, Nevada. My roundtrip flight costs $251.96, and to kill a few minutes while waiting for takeoff, I buy a $8 beer.

Sunday, July 10. 9:00 p.m.: My flight into Reno was delayed a half hour, but after a quick 90-minute flight I arrive in one piece.

Sunday, July 10. 10:30 p.m.: The South Lake Tahoe Airporter shuttle, which will provide my transport to and from Reno-Tahoe International Airport, only departs every couple hours or so, so I wait for 90 minutes for my ride to Tahoe. It’s a nuisance, but it’s also only a $53 roundtrip fee for the ride.

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Monday, July 11. 12:00 a.m.: I arrive at my hotel in South Lake Tahoe and pass out. I stayed at Harveys Casino, which for two nights, costs $315.27. But if you want to spend less, Priceline shows that for a normal Sunday-Monday stay in the summer, you can get a room at a local motel for about $80.

GrindTV Guide to Playing Hooky

Our fearless leader, Brian Walker, looking out over the lake. Photo: Robert Pursell

Monday, July 11. 6:30 a.m.: Wake up and head out for a quick breakfast and coffee at Starbucks. An egg sandwich and a coffee runs me $9, and I enjoy breakfast while breathing morning mountain air.

Monday, July 11. 8:30 a.m.: Arrive at Action Watersports at Lakeside Marina in Tahoe to rent a boat. A half-day rental of a 20' Regal boat costs $567, but I was in a group of four, so it’s a cool $141 per person.

Monday, July 11. 10:30 a.m.: Begin wakesurfing on Lake Tahoe. Enjoy the sun’s golden glow on the glassy water. Marvel at the towering mountains of Tahoe. Realize the lake is a hell of a lot colder than I thought it would be.

GrindTV Guide to Playing Hooky

Lake water in the early morning makes for cold hands. Photo: Courtesy of Hillary Federico/LifeProof

Monday, July 11. 1:30 p.m.: Having regained the feeling in my extremities, after a few hours of wakesurfing, it’s time to refuel. Head to Sprouts Cafe in town. Grab a turkey melt and a smoothie for $15.

Monday, July 11. 3:00 p.m.: Arrive at Tahoe Sports Ltd. to rent a mountain bike. Spend $80 to rent a Specialized Stumpjumper for the day.

GrindTV Guide to Playing Hooky

This is leaps and bounds more fun than answering emails. Photo: Courtesy of Matt Andrew/LifeProof

Monday, July 11. 4:00 p.m.: Head to the Corral/Sidewinder Trail just outside of Tahoe in the town of Meyer, California. Sweat my way through a 3-mile uphill climb before letting the beautiful power of gravity take over while bombing down some singletrack. The rocky hairpin turns at the top of the trail transition into a smoother, flowy section at the bottom, filled with whoops and dirt jumps.

Monday, July 11. 7:15 p.m.: Return the bike to Tahoe Sports Ltd., walk into town for some grub.

Monday, July 11. 7:30 p.m.: Stop at Base Camp Pizza Co. for pizza and beer. Try something called “Thai Curry Chicken.” Enjoy it more than I thought I would. Spend $22 for everything.

What to do in lake tahoe

It sounds crazy, but Thai curry pizza is absolutely delicious. Photo: Courtesy of Base Camp

Monday, July 11. 9:30 p.m.: With a full belly, crawl back to Harveys.

Monday, July 11. 10:00 p.m.: Try my luck on the slot machines. Apparently, I’m not very lucky.

Monday, July 11. 11:00 p.m.: Pass out.

Tuesday, July 13. 2:30 a.m.: After three hours of sleep, it’s already time to get up. My flight home out of Reno departs at 6:45 a.m. and the only way to accommodate that is by getting on the 3:05 a.m. Airporter shuttle. Next time, I’ll rent a car.

Tuesday, July 12. 4:30 a.m.: Arrive at Reno airport bleary-eyed and looking for sleep. Find an open section of floor to nap on.

GrindTV Guide to Playing Hooky

When you have to be at the airport at 4:30 in the morning, you take any opportunity to nap you can find. Photo: Robert Pursell

Tuesday, July 12. 6:45 a.m.: Take off for San Diego.

Tuesday, July 12. 8:15 a.m.: Land at San Diego International. Spend $25.57 on an Uber headed north toward home.

Tuesday, July 12. 9:10 a.m.: After grabbing my car and speeding up the freeway, I arrive at the GrindTV office about 10 minutes late. I’m tired and a bit worn down from the lack of sleep, but nobody really notices I’m tardy, and my day begins as usual. Mission complete.

Would it be possible for you to recreate my day playing hooky in some faraway locale, only to return to work the next day with your boss and coworkers none the wiser? Ultimately, yes.

While the $920.54 spent to make it all happen might seem steep, remember, you can easily save about $230 on your lodging alone, meaning that for just under $700, you can have a 36-hour vacation, mountain biking and wakesurfing your heart out, blissfully removed from the office.

And that feels so good.

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