Tahoe or Bust!

Having dropped my parents off at the Amtrak station on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, I finally found myself with a bit of time to write about our trip to Lake Tahoe! My parents come out for a visit about once a year. They used to drive, but that drive has become longer as the years have passed. Flying might be an option, but my father has grown increasing intolerant of the TSA, being disinclined to smile, say “Yes, sir”, and bend over. So, the last few trips have been via Amtrak, which they have generally enjoyed.

On one of their recent visits, they mentioned how cute the town of Truckee looked from the train station and how they’d like to spend a day there. Being brilliant, I suggested they get off the train there on one of their trips; Steve and I could meet them in Truckee and we could spend a few days in Tahoe. My parents had never been to Tahoe before and it took a little convincing that there was more to it than rows of casinos. After looking at a few pictures from a trip Steve and I took several years ago, they finally decided perhaps there was something there for them after all.

Steve and I headed up to Tahoe that Saturday afternoon to get settled in our lodgings before meeting up with my parents early Sunday morning. After picking them up at the train station, we spent most of the day walking around downtown Truckee, stopping in a few shops to peruse their wares. The best stop of the day was at the Carmel Gallery, which displays the photography of Olaf and Elizabeth Carmel. We didn’t get anything, but only because we really don’t have anywhere to put something so lovely in our current home, the fairly minimal wall space already being taken up by other photos and paintings. Also, there was simply no way we could choose just one photograph in that afternoon. As I mentioned at the time, often when we go into galleries, I may see one or possibly two photographs I would be interested in hanging, but there I saw 10-15 that I loved. I was particularly fond of Elizabeth Carmel’s work. I have saved the gallery’s website to my “Someday” Pinterest board of home and garden ideas.

We drove back to the cabin in Tahoma around mid-afternoon and took a quick rest before heading out for a little walk up Eagle Rock. For future reference, the guide book is FOS (Full of Shit) about this walk. It was described as an easy walk for the whole family with about a 200 foot elevation gain. While it was right about the lovely views of the lake from the top, it was much more like 300-350 feet of elevation gain in a relatively short distance, making it less than ideal for all family members. My mom decided to sit this one out, and sat under the pine trees to work on a puzzle while Steve and I headed up with my Dad.

Eagle Rock

I was quite impressed with my Dad’s ability to make it up the hill and scramble up the rocks to the overlook; I think he was rather impressed with himself, too.

Dad and Anne on Eagle Rock

Steve and Anne on Eagle Rock

View on Eagle Rock

We spent a fair amount of time photographing and taking in the sights, including the lovely clouds off to the west, until I finally said, “If I’m not mistaken, I think the reason those clouds are so lovely is because it’s started to rain in that direction. Perhaps we should start down.”

It turned out to be just a drizzle in the drought-parched Sierras, but we were still glad to make it off high ground and down the slope before it reached us.

After dinner, we went to the shore to watch the sunset.

Mom and Dad at sunset on Lake Tahoe

On Monday morning, we had scheduled a scenic boat tour of Emerald Bay, figuring it would be a good way to see the area without too much hiking. We were booked and confirmed on the MS Dixie paddleboat and were rather surprised to get there at the appointed time to find her decidedly unready to launch and with the pier all torn up. After a rather angry phone call, during which I made it that we should have been contacted, we were re-booked to go out on the Tahoe Paradise yacht a couple of hours later. As many people know, I am a bit of a planner when it comes to vacations (and everything else), so this kink in our plans really threw my nose out of joint. Fortunately, after a few minutes, I was able to rally and we just shifted our day around a little.

Although it meant back-tracking a bit, we drove back up to the overlook of Emerald Bay where we had intended to stop after the boat trip, and began our views of the scenery there.

Emerald Bay

Anne and Steve at Emerald Bay

Mom and Dad at Emerald Bay

Then we drove over to Eagle Falls for some more scenic photography before getting back in the car to head to the boat.

Anne and Mom at Eagle Falls

Eagle Falls

The boat trip was okay. I think I would have preferred the paddle boat, but perhaps my nose was just still smarting from being so out of whack. While we got to see Emerald Bay, along with Vikingsholm and the Teahouse on Fannette Island, up close and from a different angle than we had before, the long trip there and back was a bit lackluster. However, I may be spoiled by our boat trips in Hawai’i where they are able to pause frequently to explore a sea cave or watch dolphins play while we drink as much POG as we’d like. The $3 half can of soda was a poor substitute.

In the end, though, it was a lovely day and I really have no right to complain.

Mom, Dad, and Anne on boat to Emerald Bay

Osprey nest at Emerald Bay


Teahouse on Fannette Island, Emerald Bay

On the drive back to the cabin, we made one more stop at another overlook of Emerald Bay.

Anne and Steve at Emerald Bay

Anne and Dad at Emerald Bay

Having driven south on Monday, we spent Tuesday driving along the north shore, stopping at Memorial Point overlook.

Memorial Point

After taking a few pictures there, we started back for the main attraction of the day: rock collecting! We spent a couple of hours beachcombing at Carnelian Bay. As we first approached the edge of the water, something caught both Steve’s and my attention, shimmering under the water just out of reach. Steve held my hand while I stretched out to try and grab it. I wound up with a sodden foot, but also the best catch of the day with an inch or so long piece of carnelian.

I also realized a) the water wasn’t as cold as I’d feared, and b) with one wet shoe anyway, I might as well take off both and make a real go of it. Steve, my mom, and I all ended up with bare feet and our jeans rolled up to our knees as we headed into the lake for rocks. Somehow, my dad stayed dry and shoed, pointing out rocks for us to fetch for him.

While the water was chilly, the rocks on the beach were quite warm, so I was able to sink my toes in and warm them up frequently. Even so, after about 2 hours, our feet were starting to get rather sensitive, and the sun was moving behind some incoming dark clouds, so we grabbed our plastic bags of rocks and packed it in. There are no photos for this section because I was so intent on rock collecting that I FAILED MISERABLY and didn’t get any pictures of my dad walking the beach or my mom knee deep in Lake Tahoe. I may never forgive myself.

But I must move on regardless. Following our foray into the water, we went for an early dinner at a Mexican restaurant. After being shown to our table, but before even being seated, I rushed off to the restroom to wash my hands. As soon as I got there, I realized I’d made a huge mistake: I’d left my mother alone with the wait staff on my birthday. Knowing there would be singing in my future, I ordered a margarita and awaited the inevitable flan.

Anne with birthday flan

At least I didn’t acquire a new sombrero.

Anne with birthday flan

Back at the cabin, Steve and I rolled the dice and watched Guardians of the Galaxy with my parents. While I know some of the genres they like, my parents’ taste in movies at the border of our taste in movies is still a bit of a mystery to us, and Steve and I have had movies practically ruined by the baffled boredom and dislike emanating from them as we tried to watch a movie Steve and I liked. This particular movie will not go down as one of their favorites, but we don’t think they actively disliked it either. It is probably the closest movie in the borderlands that we have watched with them without tipping too far over to either side of the like-dislike divide.

Their visits are not usually more than 4-days long, but Steve and I have adopted three new cats since my parents’ last visit, so Wednesday was time to drive down from the mountains to San Rafael for them to spend a couple of days with the new grandcats. Leaving Tahoe, we decided to take the 11-mile stretch of Old Highway 40 that took us around Donner Lake, over Donner Summit, and across the Rainbow Bridge, allowing us further photographic opportunities.

Mom and Dad at Donner Lake

Mom, Dad, and Anne at Donner Lake

Anne and Steve at Donner Lake

Donner Lake

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

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