My thoughts on a 10 day vacation to South Lake Tahoe, written by one exhausted mom who is probably too tired to think straight.
First let me get the vacation platitudes taken care of. Yes, it was fun. Yes, Lake Tahoe is beautiful. More on that later. Yes, the weather was nice. Yes, the travel was safe. Ok then, moving on to the beefy parts of a vacation . .
Planning a family vacation is no small undertaking. When you are the planner, nothing really goes unconsidered. Timing of departure, flights, airport snacks, carry on contents and what to pack. Even the number of ounces on the face lotion doesn't go unnoticed. I found a grocery store on line and checked prices of sunscreen and bug balm as I contemplated . . to pack or to buy once we arrive? Six people on a vacation eat a lot of food, ask endless questions and are otherwise out of their wits. I want them to HAVE FUN on vacation, not worry about buying bug spray or pinching their pennies. Turns out on this vacation, I probably did that all wrong. Lessons learned, eh?
Ten days in Tahoe . . . Three with MOTH at the helm and the rest with just me, the mommy-in-charge, as MOTH came home to work. Things at work, after all, have been crazy and they "couldn't do without him." Bright sides: it saved us money in kennel fees and house-sitter cash. Also on the bright side, I actually missed my husband for a few days. It seems funny to type that out loud, but I must admit, after 18 years of marriage ... missing my spouse isn't a common emotion. It was kinda nice to miss my man (a little.)
Ok, vacation paraphrasing, in list form, because that is how I think:
* We stayed in a beautiful place, courtesy of a smart timeshare investment years ago. I will never tire of checking out of a gorgeous hotel with a zero balance on a hotel folio. It makes me happy.
* We rented a boat from a small marina and went power boating around the lake for a day.
* We rented a tube from the same marina and pulled the kids around the lake at top speeds hoping (deviously) to spill one off into the frigid waters of Tahoe.
* We hiked a 6 mile round trip hike to the world's most pitiful waterfall. Oh, I know . . . the concierge told me "it's not waterfall season". Still, as we stood on the bridge taking it the reason we'd be hiking for the last three hours, the comical look on the kids' faces as they said, "this is it?" will stick with me forever.
* We swam and we swam all over the land.
* We hot tubbed.
* We shopped. We bought hoodies and shirts, stickers, nail polish that changes color in the sun and tiny bullets that have knives inside. We bought a Christmas ornament and a couple of trinkets for grandma.
* We ate a couple of meals out. California Burger Company & Base Camp Pizza.
* We went to the beach -- two different ones, to be exact. Lakeside by day and Ski Run (or was it Ski Hill?) both in the day and for sunsets.
* We tried to hike Vikingsholm but the trail was closed for a search and rescue and parking was nil, so we took a scenic drive, talked a bunch, made a list of hopes and dreams as we drove the scariest mountain highway on record. 10 mph hairpin turns coupled with no guardrail rail and lots of tourists driving like maniacs had my butt cheeks clinched tight until we were safely back at lake side.
* We went to a magic show. It was amazing. The performer was part magician, part comedian and was a terrific showman. The kids had a blast!
* We binge watched season 5 of the Gilmore Girls.
* We collected a giant pinecone, lots of little black rocks and tons of tiny shells from the beach. In our quest for knowledge, we learned that Lake Tahoe is being invaded by rapidly reproducing invasive Asian Clams. Speaking of quest for knowledge, we also learned about Vikingsholm, lots of stats on the lake and area stories and trivia from a live performer named Mr. Tahoe.
* Two words: Heavenly Donuts.
Summary, emotions and wrapping up the rambling:
I think the summary of Tahoe may best be caught with the icy words of MOTH, upon our return. Remember that he was there for 7 days less than we were, and his summation went like this: Been there, done that. I'll be honest when I say that it kinda stung. While I don't really want anyone to lie and say they had a great time if it sucked, I also constantly seek a tiny sliver of "getting away was awesome", "thanks for planning all of that", or "that was the bomb." A "been there, done that" review from the family who hasn't done anything more than say "what ware we gonna do next, momma" stings just a tiny bit. Let me go back and see if I can capture the "I missed my spouse" emotion again. Kids summary: the lake was amazing, especially the pure amazing, vivid blue. Boating and tubing were the highlights, followed by beach time, collecting shells, hiking and pool time. They also enjoy walking around and shopping, people watching, seeing things that aren't like home.
In my own personal review, I would say:
* Lake Tahoe is an amazing lake, especially if you haven't done a lake vacation. Having said that, it is NOT a particularly accessible lake and everything is set (at least in South Lake Tahoe) to absolutely rape your pocketbook. There are charges for everything from parking to parking to parking. And then the parking! Really, it's a wee bit too spread out to NOT need a car and having the car is something of a pricey hindrance.
* On cost, I found it very pricey. All in all, vacation for a family of 6 came in comparable to Hawaii. Let that sink in for a bit. I had sticker shock and we choose to not do several things because of price. Most powerful example: Heavenly Gondola and fun park. Pay $45 per person to ride a gondola. Then pay $100 per person for fun park at the top. Bottom line: Breckenridge is our second home and you can ride the gondola for free and play all day at the fun park, which has near identical attractions, for half the price.
* Ten days in Tahoe is probably too long.
* If Tahoe is your spot, go through the motions to find a VRBO and stay lakeside or somewhere with immediate lake access. Our beautiful hotel was advertised as a "short 10 minute walk" to the beach. Reality: short 10 minute hike through winding side streets and constructions noise to a public beach littered with straws and maxi pads where 90% of other Tahoe visitors were also there. Also, ouch! The beach is manmade and has GRAVEL, not sand, so take your flip flops for sure. (This is Lakeside Beach . . . the other was much better!!)
Emotions: I am rested. I logged 5 nights with 100% sleep ratings in sleep cycle. I was able to unplug on one or two days and I accomplished life's greatest gift of all. I completely, 100% engaged with my kids while we were there for the extra week. They were amazing, I felt strong and capable and I bonded or played was present for all of them. I didn't ask for "one more minute" and have it turn into 30 minutes. I didn't say "when I'm done with this work stuff . . . . " and I didn't put anyone off, so I wind up the vakay feeling much like Wonder Woman.