Sunday, 6 July 2014

A Proper American 4th: South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a classic American 4th of July holiday spot. So we decided to make a pilgrimage with our Kiwi friends. We left on the second of July, and on the way up we stopped at the Nut Tree Plaza in Vacaville, which was perfect: a playground and a train for the kids to break up the boredom of the drive.

We made it.  Plenty of Bear kitsch in the house we rented.
View from the back deck
After much giggling the kids eventually went to sleep.

The next day we took a trip up the Heavenly Gondola, which was a little strange doing it with lots of sun and no snow.
Great views from the observation deck, and a picnic lunch
We continued on to the Tamarack Lodge where there was a playground, but most of the other activities were for older kids and it was crazy hot so we headed back to the house.
4th of July! Started the day with mini golf. the beach!  This is Baldwin Beach, it's a fantastic beach.  The water was cool but not crazy cold, we swam a lot.
Bikes are an absolute must at Tahoe.  Driving anywhere on the 4th was an absolute shitfight: huge traffic jams, not enough parking, lots of angry people.  There's cycle paths part of the way, and you ride on fairly quiet roads for the rest.

There's some bike parking, but it was all really full, we used a tree.  Could just fit all our beach gear onto the bike with one pannier and the sand toys bag tied onto the back of the bike seat.

Beautiful Baldwin Beach
The fireworks were too late for most of the kids, but Andrew and I made a mad dash with Adam on the bikes out to a spot where we could see them.  They were decent, but nothing amazing.

Adam with glowsticks
This was easily the best 4th we've had in the states, it felt so very very American:

  • People riding by on the bike paths were screaming "free high fives!" and high fiving everyone as they rode past
  • Everyone was drinking on their porch and would call out "Happy Fourth!" as we rode by
  • There was more beer and drunk people on a beach than I've ever seen in my life
  • During the fireworks "Born in the USA" was playing, and when it finished a drunk guy decided to sing the whole thing solo, despite his friends begging him not to

On the 5th we drove around the lake to Emerald Bay with lots and lots of other people. We had to triple park to take this photo.  Wish we were on a boat down there, it looked amazing.
Emerald Bay State Park was full, as was D.L. Bliss, so we continued on to Sugar Pine Point, which was almost full too, but we got in.  It was nice, but the beach is basically rocks, not great for the kids who mostly want to play in the sand.  So we got an ice cream sandwich and went back to the hosue.

Later that afternoon we jumped back onto the bikes and rode to Pope beach.  Not quite as good as Baldwin, but still a great beach, and it was a fair bit closer to the house.
The next day (Sunday) we started our horror trip home.  The traffic was horrible.  Really, really horrible, for the entire way home.  Prepared to try anything, we started looking for ways to get off the freeway, and ended up driving on this one-lane maintenance road over a mountain range in the middle of a windfarm.  I have no idea whether this was quicker, but it was certainly more interesting.

We eventually had to stop to let the kids out after about 4 hours, but it was 40°C, so we ended up stopping at a shopping mall.  Thankfully there was an indoor train and a pet shop, which kept them occupied for a little while.  On the way home we were amazed at the number of wineries around Livermore, and resolved to visit sometime.  I think it took us about 8 hours to get home, when it had taken 4 to drive there :(

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