So I may have mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2 that I am from the prairie. I don’t drive well in mountains. I tend to go slowly going down, which really pisses people off. All that said, the next 3 days of my west coast trip were incredible and most of the time I was driving in mountains.
We left San Fran Monday morning (of Labor Day weekend) and headed east to Reno. We had reservations for 2 nights at a nice casino hotel a bit south of downtown. Lisa really likes Reno and I had never been. Neither of us gamble – we just put a little bit of money in slot machines and spend the time people watching.
After we had passed Sacramento, we started noticing cars, trucks and RVs, usually with stuff bungied on top and multiple bikes on the back, coming toward us covered in a thick white dust. My daughter told me that they must be coming from Burning Man and she gave me a brief description of the event, which I won’t go into here. But there were so many and they were so dirty that I coined a name for them: The Dust People. The Dust People traveled with us the rest of our journey.
Even on Interstate 80, the roads are very steep and curvy. At times there are no guardrails between the road and a very sharp drop off. This photo from when we stopped at a scenic/historic overlook at Donner Lake shows that perfectly. I have a better photo of Donner Lake, but it doesn’t show the road. For other non-winter climate people, those sticks with a bit of orange at the top are to show where the road is when it is covered with LOTS of snow.
After checking in to our hotel, which was very nice, we were looking forward to spending a couple of hours at the pool before dinner. But, noooooooooo, the Dust People were having a “decompression” party. So instead we fed money into slot machines.
I talked with SierraSong, who lives over the mountains at Lake Tahoe, where we planned to spend the next day. She said she was going to send us over a 9,000 foot pass. I almost passed out! I’m glad we did it on a weekday morning. The sun was at our backs and there was very little traffic. The scenery was breathtaking, as was the road! But when we crested the mountain and caught our first glimpse of Lake Tahoe, it was all worth it.
After stopping at the tourist information center, we headed for a beach at the state park. Getting closer to the lake was imperative. The clear water and seemingly infinite colors were like magnets. The park was impeccably clean, with very few people. Remember, it was the day AFTER Labor Day. We weren’t prepared to lounge on the beach, but sat for a while and walked around taking pictures. The following two are from different sides of a point and had totally different feels.
Driving south, we were headed to Emerald Cove on the southwest “corner” of the lake, at the strong suggestion of the man I work with. We passed through South Lake Tahoe, taking in all of the new construction. After turning west, there was a sudden and drastic change. Bike trails and campgrounds were all over. The forest was close on both sides of the road. There were opportunities to see historic homes and also to take a trail ride on horseback that we didn’t take advantage of. Instead we drove to the overlook at Emerald Cove. Words simply don’t do it justice. An interesting note is that there is a castle built on the shore at Emerald Cove, Vikingsholm Castle. The lady of the castle had a smaller stone structure, called the "Tea House," is built on Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe, that was used only for serving tea.
We headed back to South Lake Tahoe to Harvey’s Casino. Not only did we need to buy a Hard Rock t-shirt for my goddaughter who collects them, but we were going to meet SierraSong for dinner!
The three of us hit it off almost instantly. During a very casual dinner we got to know and like each other very much. By the way, Freaky, we did not have cake, but had a bit of ice cream. But I did decline going back over the 9,000 foot pass “home” to Reno. We went through Carson City instead.
The next morning we got up early so that we could get the cop car back to the rental place at San Jose Airport by noon. We almost made it, did not incur additional fees and headed home to San Francisco on CalTrain.
This really concludes the vacation part of my trip. It was a wonderful time spent with my daughter doing really interesting things. I have a mental list of places I want to see and Muir Woods and Lake Tahoe were both on that list. Hopefully the list will continue to shorten as my days shorten.