Day 83 – 11/21 Lake Tahoe

We did lots of driving today to visit Lake Tahoe, and it was worth it!

It was a bit colder morning today, cold and foggy outside, and inside I had one of the space heaters running since 3am to keep the temperature from getting too cold.  It worked well.  I don’t like leaving space heaters on “unattended”, but had to do it, so I left the nice one that has an auto-shut off and a few safety features. Once I woke up, I got both space heaters going on high and kept the inside nice and warm.  That’s pretty much what I do every morning.  I turn both space heaters on (usually on Low), turn off the furnace, get coffee going, and start working on the computer by the Dinette wearing shorts and a T-shirt 🙂

Carol and the girls woke up a little after 8, so we agreed we’d get going as soon as they were ready changing, eating, etc but no rush.  The girls had the TV on while they had breakfast, Carol cut up some fruit to take on the road, and I got ready to go outside get all our shoes, and get the propane tanks.  

To get to the propane tanks, I have to remove the bikes from the bike rack, and then remove the bike rack.  I knew that was what would happen since I installed it and don’t mind it, but with the bike rack installed, the black plastic cover doesn’t have enough room to come out, and that needs to come out to get the tanks out.  Once you get the cover out, the tanks are held in place by a butterfly type screw that hold them down firmly, and also has the valve connected to it.  This valve directs which tank it’s pulling from, and once that is empty, it turns red and automatically pulls from the other tank.  It also has a regulator that changes the propane from the big tank to a low flow.  This is the piece that didn’t turn red so I missed filling the tanks.  I’ll be watching to make sure I don’t need to replace this kit.

Once I had everything in the truck, everyone inside was almost ready, so we just finished up and left.  I put the closest “beach” at Lake Tahoe in the GPS, so the plan was to get there, check it out and decide exacts from there.  Plan was to go left, so west and north, then come down the other side. That way, all the views were on the right of the truck, and would be better for Carol to make videos and take pictures.  We had about a 1.5 hour drive to get there, so would be arriving right around lunch time as by time we were in the truck to leave, it was already 10.  We also did not plan on any activities there, maybe some trail.  Skiing is very expensive.  I looked it up last night, and for the four of us, it’d cost over $600, and double that if we took lessons.  We thought maybe sledding if at all, but no plans.

The drive to Lake Tahoe was good.  The road was pretty empty, and it’s lots of turns and hills to start, then we get into the mountain area.  We drove up to over 7000 feet (last marker I saw), then you drive down towards the lake.  There are some tight turn areas, but the roads are pretty good.  Once we passed the last climb, we could see the lake from up there.  Wow… what a beautiful view.  The lake is huge, and the snow on the peak of the mountains all around it made the view spectacular.  I had read that unless you have a 4×4 or chains, you are not allowed to pass a certain point of this path in the winter months, as the snowfall is quite big, and you can tell.  We went from maybe 50s and no snow, to 40s with many inches of snow within a 1 hour drive.  As we got closer, we could see some ski hills on the mountains.  Lots of trail areas even before you get to the lake.  It’s all very pretty, and again the combination of lake, mountain range around the lake, and snow at the peaks was just amazing.

We stopped by the beach in South Lake Tahoe first.  There was parking and clean bathrooms. 

There was also plenty of snow around. 

We went towards the water, took some pictures and enjoyed the view.  The water is super clear, and of course, super cold.

It is so pretty there, I can imagine plenty to do in summer and winter.

We were hungry at this point, as it was close to noon, so we looked for a place to eat and, lucky for me, settled on the Lake Tahoe Brewery.  As we drove there, I started imagining this place when it’s the peak of summer or winter, and it’s packed… it’s gotta be impossible to park. :). When we got to the brewery, the parking lot is next to it, in the alley, and there was room for like 6 vehicles. 

I’m glad we were the first people there for lunch, so we had a spot.  Overall, the place is nice, the beers were good, and the food was pretty decent too.  We had pizzas and Bella had a cup of clam chowder, which she didn’t finish and ended up helping Bia finish her pizza. 

We had a good time there, and continued, or really started our way around the lake from there.  South Lake Tahoe is at the bottom end of the lake, and we were going to drive clockwise (north west from there).

The drive around the lake was awesome.  Lots of great view points of the lake, many different beaches and small towns, beautiful mansions, many parks, etc.  The road goes up and down the mountains that are around the lake, and some times you were up and there was a lot of snow, and other areas you were lower by the beach and there was no snow.  Bella wanted to make a snow man, so we kept looking for a spot to park.  The parks and parking lots were all pretty full, so it was hard to find a place.  Bella then said she wanted her snow man by a park sign, so that got even harder. 

Eventually we found a pull out next to a park sign in an area full of snow, so we stopped there.  That was a nice stop. 

The girls were playing in the snow.  We threw some snow balls at each other, at the park sign, and at Carol (she was inside the truck and filming, so pretty cool footage of the snowball hitting the truck window).  The snow was not great for building a snowman, but workable… but I ended up finding big chunks that were on the side of the road, that had been plowed, and those were the main “body parts” for the snowman. 

Bella and Bia then did the arms, nose, eyes and buttons.  And there we had a snowman next to a park sign! Hahahah…. Bella was happy. 

We got some pictures, they made a quick video for Bob, wishing him a happy birthday…. Happy Birthday Bob!… and we continued our drive, more awesome views, and snow, and the lake.. just cool to see it all together.

In another 20-30 minutes we stopped at the last beach access on the California side.  It was more of a residential area with only walking access, so we parked up the street and walked there. 

Very awesome views from there, especially as the sun was setting behind the mountains on the west, which is where we drove through first. 

Good choice going that route first as now we’ll get the sun setting behind the lake.  That little beach was very pretty, super clear water, some big rocks, nice views. 

We stayed there a bit, walked around, took pictures and then moved on. 

Pretty much right after we left there we crossed to the Nevada side to Lake Tahoe, and pretty much right away you see a Casino… and the houses started getting bigger and bigger, and fancier and fancier.  Wow… some of those places were amazing. 

The views from that area, and pretty much the entire Nevada side were pretty amazing with the sun setting behind the other side.  We stopped one time to get some pictures, just very pretty. 

We enjoyed the views but didn’t make any other stops from there. 

We had a 1.5 hour drive from the last stop, and just wanted to stop one more time to fill up the truck, get two propane tanks, and the girls wanted some dessert.  We stopped the the gas station that was at the top of the mountain, before our long descent, and got everything we needed.  I still could get some nice view of the sunset from there, even though it was getting dark fast.

We had a good drive back, going down the mountain with the truck was easy, I almost did not touch the brakes as the Engine breaks were engaging and slowing the truck as needed, when needed.  There was enough traffic to be able to always have one vehicle in front of me, so following someone is much easier at night, especially because the road is not lit up.  As we got close to the campground, there was no-one around, so it was a little harder to see but it was fine.

When we got back, Carol and the girls went inside and I stayed outside unloading the truck and putting the propane tanks back and hooking them up.  It’s pretty easy to put the tanks back.  I had a lantern with me, and after I had them both connected, I tested the valve to make sure it’d turn red when empty.  I had Carol run the furnace while I had both tanks open.  Then, I closed the tank on the left, which is where the valve was pointed to, and the valve did turn red, so it is likely working and just maybe was stuck.  I’ll make sure I flip it to both sides now each time we travel to make sure it’s not stuck, just add that to the routine as I have to close the tanks before we hit the road anyway.  We all showered, ate something and then watched a movie.  Carol was drawing and doing arts with the girls while everyone got ready.  The girls wanted to watch Casper, the ghost.  I was not too interested, so I did some stuff on the computer while they watched it.  

That was it for today, lots of driving, but nice day seeing beautiful Lake Tahoe.

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