Our anniversary celebrations have been, literally, all over the world. For our first year, we visited good friends in Phoenix, Arizona. Our second year we headed to Paris, France where we were lucky to be able to stay with family and visit a friend. Our third year was in Sydney, Australia, where we were living. And our fourth year was at Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe has been a mystical place for me since I was young. It was a place I knew I wanted to visit, even though I didn’t quite know why. It was also a place that was far, far away, just like in the fairy tales. And then we moved to California and this storybook land moved reachably closer. Thanks to an excellent GroupOn find, we planned a weekend trip away to celebrate four years of marriage. Four years!
Tahoe is spectacular. We fell in love and started planning our return trip on our first morning there. We stayed at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, located right on the border of California and Nevada in South Lake Tahoe. It was also conveniently near the little “downtown,” with shopping, restaurants, and the Heavenly Ski Resort gondolas. (They were under repair, so that’s on the list for a future trip.) Thanks to our GroupOn, our hotel room was larger than our current apartment and featured more sinks than in our current apartment. It also included a buffet breakfast and two complimentary cocktails each night.
After sleeping in and enjoying a large breakfast, we set out for the day, originally heading toward Vikingsholm, a Viking-style castle built in 1928. Spoiler alert: we didn’t make it there, so it’s also on the list for a future trip. And here’s why we didn’t make it there:
Inspiration Point was totally worth the scenic view stop. And, because we had landed an actual parking spot at the Point, we decided to maximize the opportunity and head out for a hike. Our choices were to follow a longer path toward “Desolation,” complete with hiking registration, in case we got lost, or a shorter path toward “Cascade Falls.” We chose the falls.
Although the hike was only 20-25 minutes, and a gentle hike at that, we spent over two hours exploring around the waterfall.
In our infinite wisdom, we had also assumed the hike would take us through tree covered paths and so had neglected sunscreen. We know better. But sometimes you just do silly things. And this was one of those silly things. I shall carry these odd tan lines that resulted from my serious sunburn with me throughout the summer as a reminder of our beautiful time in Tahoe.
We got back to the car and headed toward Vikingsholm along with all the other mid-afternoon tourists who think the same way about the idea of visiting an intriguing Viking-style castle. That meant the parking lot was full. So, we decided to save the castle in favor of a trip to Baldwin Beach and some time out kayaking on the lake.
The water is clear, blue, and absolutely sparkles. And that’s even more true when you actually get out in the water. The water, however, was still quite chilly, so I was thankful to be able to enjoy it in a kayak. I couldn’t believe the people just swimming around in it when I got goosebumps just from being splashed a few times (thank you, husband).
By this point it was already 4:30 and time for happy hour at the hotel. But as we started our drive back to the hotel, we both realized we weren’t ready to head in for the day. The sky was blue with hardly any clouds, the temperature was just right in the upper 70s, and we had a State Park Beach Access pass that was begging for more use. So instead of heading back to the hotel, we headed to Nevada Beach so that I could check off “visit Nevada” from my “40 things to do by the time I’m 40” list. Yes, weak, but we spent several hours on the beach in Nevada, so I count that as an activity that allows me to check it off my list.
After our second beach trip, we ate a later dinner at the Base Camp Pizza Co. and enjoyed one of our free hotel cocktails outside on the desk of the hotel.
Our second morning was just as lazy as the first. Sleep in, big breakfast, then head out for the day. We shopped around the stores in South Lake Tahoe for a bit. We headed past the Renaissance Fair that happened to be that weekend and on to Tallac Historic Site, a collection of homes on three different estates from the turn of the century.
We had fun wandering through the homes, imagining what it would have been like to be a guest, the servants, or the owner of one of these homes. One of the estates has set up the guest homes and the servant homes so that you can peer in to see what it would have looked like and read a bit about the time. For example, at the nanny’s room I learned that toys were not just toys, they were miniature versions of tools the children would need to learn how to master as adults. Early practice!
As we walked up to the kitchen, a dog started barking. Well, the sound of a recorded dog barking. Thinking this was designed as part of the experience, I exclaimed (when my heart started beating again), “Well, that’s unnecessary!”
Turns out it actually IS necessary.
I contend that the unexpected mannequins in many of the rooms are not. Watch out visitors – I nearly jumped out of my skin several times. Aside from my mini-scares on the property, the area is beautiful and was a nice cultural addition to our trip.
The only bummer part of our trip was our drive home. Again, in our infinite wisdom, we timed our drive home in the hottest part of the late afternoon…in a car without a functioning air conditioner. Let me tell you, even with the windows down and the air rushing in, 95 degree wind does not cool you down. We were jonesing for Jamba Juice with 90 minutes to home and we didn’t pass a single one on the highway. Perhaps, perhaps, we missed one, but it was a surprise. And then we got to Stanford only to find that the JJ had just closed (early). So thank you to Fraiche for meeting our smoothie craving.
It was a fantastic trip and a loving time to connect, talk with, laugh with, and learn with the person I am, more and more with each day together, so happy to have as my partner in life. I love you, Dan!