Weekend at Lake Tahoe

I just returned from a 5-day weekend getaway to Lake Tahoe, which straddles the border between California and Nevada. What can only be described as a breathtaking experience, is in itself an understatement.

Our journey started out last Thursday at 4:30am. We looked at the pros and cons of leaving at such an hour, it really wasn’t so bad in the end; knowing we wouldn’t hit any traffic in Los Angeles, and we would avoid most of the heat of the day from the Eastern Sierras. After a grueling 10 hours (driven entirely by yours truly), we made it to the pristine blue shores of Lake Tahoe at South Lake Tahoe, California. What lay before us is the largest alpine lake in North America and the second deepest in the United States; it boasts clear blue waters tumbling over large smooth granite boulders, surrounded by pine forests and snow-capped mountains…heaven.

If you’ve never heard of Lake Tahoe, the pictures accompanied by this post should be taken with a grain of salt, as it would seem no photo is worthy of capturing the awe-inspiring beauty that one can only truly experience in person.

Over the course of the next few days we kayaked, hiked, swam, walked, and circumnavigated this lake region. Each town, cove, shore, park and peak offered something different for the senses – a mix of sights, sounds, and smells. My favorite activity I think was hunting down the giant Sugar Pine cones. The Sugar Pine is the tallest and most massive pine tree, and has the longest cones of any conifer – some even being quoted at 26 inches long! I was lucky enough to find one measuring in at just 12 inches in length (and might I add in perfect condition).

Ending our journey, we took an alternate route, following the I5 south from Sacramento back home. We have seen a large area of our new state; not surprisingly, we plan to do a “Californi-cation” every year. Whether it be HWY 1/101, Redwoods, Big Bear Lake, Los Angeles, etc. we will be traversing our great state in some form to discover all of her many facets.

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The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range – Eastern side.

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Lake Tahoe as seen from Logan Shoals Vista Point.

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Chimney Beach area of Lake Tahoe’s Eastern Shore.

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Sugar Pine cone measuring 12 inches in length. 

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Kayaking at Zephyr Cove. 

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Emerald Bay on the California side – southwest corner. 

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Vikingsholm Estate on Emerald Bay 

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Secret Cove / Beach – a naturist/nudist local with crystal blue waters. 

 

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Vacation Season

June is literally around the corner and I think to myself it is that time of year again; I call it the fifth season – Vacation Season. Some might say that it coincides with summer, however I define this fifth time of the year from the beginning of May until the end of September. We are currently in the upswing as students are finishing another year of school, and us adults are thinking of far away destinations, or perhaps a stay-cation. June is when it really picks up and people really have vacation on their mind. 

For me this time of year comes after what can be months of planning. Flights are booked, hotels picked, the research has been done; and now it is time to just do. This year for me can only be described as a bumper crop of travels. Starting in February I returned to Germany for 10 days. The ticket was too good to pass up; for a short trip to Europe it was a nice needed break. This however fell outside my normal traveling time and so I will focus on Vacation Season and my travels ahead.

Looking ahead to July, my partner and I have a 4 day stay in Lake Tahoe planned. An 8-hour drive north of us, straddling California and Nevada is North America’s largest Alpine lake. This is a very unplanned vacation for us, as all it requires is the car and a hotel which we’ve already taken care of. For once we are playing everything by ear, no set plans other than when we will arrive and depart the Lake Tahoe area. What we need is some real nature again – having lived in Wisconsin and now San Diego, we are missing the outdoors.

August on the other hand is completely different animal; one that has required the last 6 months of planning. Originally planned for May of 2016, my trip to Sweden and Denmark was cancelled a week before departure (a fact I am still a little sour about) due to our moving to San Diego. However, that trip has been resurrected and we will now be spending a full month in Europe – from Stockholm to Munich. What I can only describe as the longest journey I have yet to plan (and yes I plan/research everything down to the detail), this was a bigger undertaking than any trip prior.

Once we have crossed the fly-over states and wide ocean; 10 hours later we land in Stockholm, spending a full 7 days in the Swedish capital (including Mariefred and Uppsala). Crossing the Oresund via train, Copenhagen gets 1 ½ days of sightseeing before we are whisked away to Berlin for 4 ½ days. After Berlin, we board a train bound for Munich and southern Germany. The bulk of our time (13 full days) will be spent visiting family and friends besides sightseeing (mainly for my partner, as I have been to Munich/Bavaria many times).

This may all seem straightforward, however think about the journey times between these destinations, coordinating trains, etc. It is a bit daunting keeping it all organized, and with a less-flexible itinerary; it requires a lot of research as to when everything is open, how much it all costs, etc. Nonetheless I am beyond excited, as most of the work is already done; and now one can truly enjoy a very stress free getaway (with hopefully very few unwanted surprises).