I went snowboarding at Northstar this past weekend with a bunch of friends… 12 people packed into a 10-person condo. Having been spoiled with a free a place to stay around South Lake Tahoe for the past few years, I have to say I wasn’t impressed with the drive along I-80. Route 50, though only two lanes wide, rarely had so much traffic that we get in anytime after midnight even in snowy conditions. Friday night was a zoo on I-80. It took us 7 1/2 hours to get from the South Bay to Kings Beach without even stopping for dinner. It was 3 a.m. by the time we got to sleep. All in all, though, the snowboarding was great.We got up at 7 a.m. so we could hit the slopes early and take advantage of the new powder. And let me tell ya, it was creamy. There’s nothing quite like the gentle whisper of fresh powder as it caresses the bottom of your snowboard. Okay, that almost sounded dirty. Not having learned my lesson from last season, I took to the gladed areas like a fly to fly paper. It was good to be back on the slopes for the first time this season. I definitely felt more confident in the mogule sections, though I’m sure the soft powder helped a bit. There were several runs that were pretty well carved up but no ice was showing, just hard packed snow.I was pretty impressed with the service at Northstar. Having accomodations on the south end of the lake has pretty much dictated going to Heavenly, Kirkwood, or Sierra at Tahoe. Not that their staff are all that bad, but at Northstar they went out of their way to help you. They had people taking trays and dishes off the tables when you were done eating. One guy who was picking up litter out of the parking lot signalled me as I was driving by to see if I had anything I needed to pitch. Nice.Traffic was terrible on the way back again, with back-ups around Roseville, Route 50, and Route 12. Oh, and there were a few psycho drivers talking on their cell phones going 95 mph. It took about 6 1/2 hours to get home, including the hour we stopped for dinner.