I've had the pleasure of a couple of trips to Lake Tahoe in the last few months, which I realize I failed to write about here.
For the first trip, 4 of us booked a long weekend away in a cabin on the west side of the lake. Despite our best intentions, we didn’t end up leaving home until 5pm on Friday, not a good idea on a bank holiday weekend in the Bay Area. It took us almost 4 hours to reach Sacramento, usually a 2 hour drive, but we entertained each other in the car and the trip didn’t feel as long as it was. We arrived at Lake Tahoe in the dark and popped into South Lake Tahoe (town) for a quick supermarket trip before heading on to the cabin. Driving up the road towards the cabin we were amused by all the signs advising people not to stop on the side of the road under any circumstances. The signs seemed excessive, with barely 3 meters between them. Once at our cabin we settled in, opening beers and munching on tortilla chips, relaxing until bedtime.
The next morning we were up and, after a breakfast of French toast with bananas, bacon & maple syrup, we headed out. Tracing our route back down towards South Lake Tahoe we were stunned by the views we’d missed the night before. Suddenly all of those signs made sense – it was almost impossible not to stop to drink in the spectacular vistas across the lake to the snow-capped mountains on the other side. We stopped at a National Park and walked a couple of miles through the forest to an old lighthouse, before continuing our drive into South Lake Tahoe, stopping again at Emerald Bay and Eagle Falls. After an extravagant lunch of burgers and milkshakes in South Tahoe, we figured that since we were so close to the Nevada border we would nip down and take our photo at the “Welcome to Nevada” sign. We drove to the border only to discover it was marked by casinos but no sign. We looked at the map and discovered that we were almost exactly the other side of our lake from the cabin, so decided to circumnavigate the lake. After a slight side-trip to Carson City (it turns out that when you are circumnavigating a lake counter-clockwise you should keep left at all intersections), a brief stop at a beautiful deserted beach, and a trip to the supermarket (where there were slot machines for gambling – we were definitely still in Nevada!), we made it to the border and discovered to our delight that there was in fact a “Welcome to Nevada” sign at this one.
Photos duly taken we piled back in the car and returned to the cabin for drinks, a good soak in the hot tub, dinner, and some board games.
We woke up on Sunday to clear skies. The weather had been unstable so far (we’d been caught in a couple of downpours the day before and it was generally quite chilly) and we had more rain forecast for that afternoon. Making the most of the morning we headed out and 3 of us rented kayaks for an hour, paddling on the beautiful clear and calm lake.
After our paddle and on the advice of guys at the kayak rental, we drove to Chambers Landing: a cool bar on a pier overlooking the lake, where they make their own signature cocktails of slushy frozen peach drowned under a generous serving of rum. We had two each. It was definitely a bar with a view, and as we relaxed we watched as people tossed footballs and played with drones. It was clearly the local rich-kid hang out.
Deciding it was time for lunch we headed back to the car, and suddenly the heavens opened. We took it as a sign, and decided to spend the afternoon at the local Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company, trying their beer and eating their food (for me: an amazing dish of Ahi Tuna served raw over crispy fried wonton strips and drizzled with a wasabi aioli sauce.) In deference to our driver we didn’t stay in the pub ALL day, and drove back to the cabin in the late afternoon where we carried on as we had the night before: nibbles, drinks and hot tub.
We awoke the next morning to cold grey skies and a forecast of more rain. This made us less enthusiastic about going for a hike, so instead we drove out to the North to a sweet town called Truckee. Truckee is very much an old Western Frontier town with a heritage main street full of adorable buildings and craft shops. I was devastated when the heavens opened, pelting us with a soaking rain, and we had to spend our time ensconced in a coffee shop before running back to the car and driving on.
As we were in no rush to get home, we decided to stop in Sacramento for dinner and sightseeing. We admired the gorgeous state capitol building, and had dinner at a great café right on the river. We were all surprised by Sacramento: no one had ever mentioned to us how lovely it was. It was also MUCH hotter than Tahoe had been, and we were sweltering in the 30 degree heat.
We got home on Monday evening, tired and satisfied after a lovely 4 days.
State Capitol Building in Sacramento