Monday, June 21, 2010

Lake Tahoe – the view that knocked the wind right out of us (June 7-8)

The drive from Napa Valley to Lake Tahoe was beautiful. The terrain changed from vines and open plains to dense pine forests and mountains. We climbed several thousand feet and descended a few more which meant we both had to pop our ears every 20 seconds or so……and surprisingly there were pops coming from elsewhere too!! Never knew altitude changes could have that affect! Or was it the food from the night before? Lol We started to see ice capped mountains in the distance and evidence that it had snowed not too many days before getting there. It was strange to see large chunks of ice on the side of the road even though it was about 25 degrees (Celsius)!

We had reached 10,000 feet and on the other side of a corner was a view that left us breathless and brought me (sal) to tears. It was literally like I’d been hit in the face, but instead of a tonne of bricks it was picturesque, awe-inspiring beauty! How do you even describe it!? A panoramic view of mountains sweeping down into a valley and there was the lake that sits around 6000 feet above sea level. Being as high as what we were looking over the view was what made it so spectacular. The only feeling I have ever had that is similar is when I jumped out of a plane. Along with hundreds of others we signed our name on the guardrail to mark our moment.

Driving into the town, we noticed every few miles there was a ski resort…there was no snow at the lower altitude, but it was obviously a big part of the culture here. We arrived around dinner time and managed to find the best cheap eat since we’ve been on the road – authentic Mexican food at Los Mexicanos! For under 25 bucks we got the biggest shrimp burrito we’ve ever seen and chicken enchiladas with rice, beans, salsa, guacamole and corn chips on the side. Sooooo good! We even managed to get a massive tub of guacamole & corn chips to take away for US$1.49. We cannot believe how good the Mexican food is in this country… authentic, fresh, healthy and tasty!! We’ve always excluded the Mexican restaurants in Oz as good places to eat, but now we are thinking we should really try them! They definitely have a lot to live up to!

We hung out and watched the beautiful sunset over the lake and following that decided to find our parking spot for the night. The area is heavily Policed and ‘no overnight parking’ signs were everywhere, so it was just as well we had organised to park in the driveway of someone’s holiday house. The guy on reception in a Napa Valley hotel (restaurant where we ate) who we happened to get chatting to told us about it…..the odd thing was he couldn’t give us a specific address for the property. He just told us it was on the corner of 2 joining streets and that it was vacant. We really had no idea what property it was, but we found one that looked like the only vacant house on the corner and decided to park in the driveway. We quickly got off to sleep and next thing we knew there was a knock on the window (at 7am)…our first one since being on the road. Ahhh! “Tim, Tim wake up there’s someone knocking on the window”. There was an older guy standing at the side of the van asking if he could get to his garage (in other words, can we move)! OH!! It dawned on us…we had definitely got the wrong house!! We had just slept overnight at the front of some random dude’s home! Ooops! We apologised profusely and although we could tell the guy was annoyed, he didn’t yell or abuse us with obscene language, which we were thankful for. So….what was definitely an interesting way of waking up, now makes for a funny story. As we drove away, we definitely had a bit of a chuckle to ourselves.

After we’d spent some time having breakfast at the lakeside, we drove to check out some of the views over Lake Tahoe. One of the most popular areas to visit is called Emerald Bay, a small cove of water that joins to the larger lake. This was where we did our first hike albeit small, but we did get to see some beautiful mountainous scenery, a waterfall and some solid ice on a 28 degree beautiful day! We returned to the town to have some food at a café called ‘Sprouts’ which had been recommended to us by locals in Napa Valley. WOW!! Really good, fresh organic food…mostly vegetarian with minimal dishes containing meat. You wouldn’t know it though! These guys definitely know how to prepare beans and make them taste soooo good! Yes, raving about food…..AGAIN!! Obsessesed much?? Uhuh!

That day, we were headed for Yosemite National Park….


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