My husband and I just got back from our end-of-summer vacation. We had a blast! We are timeshare owners, having a great one in Breckenridge, Colorado. We opted to trade our week for another we had never been to before. We chose Lake Tahoe and we were NOT disappointed. We landed in San Francisco on Saturday, September 6 and immediately I began to take it all in. I reminded myself of Johnny Five in the movie "Short Circuit". He always said he needed more "input". Well, I got enough input to last me until at least next vacation. I had such a great time that I cried ontakeoff when we got in the air coming back to Colorado. But I am WAY ahead of myself.
Let me begin by saying I had never been to California before this vacation so I didn't know what all the fuss was about. We have a lot of California transplants here in Colorado who always talk about how wonderful it is "back home", etc., etc., etc. I had no idea that I was about to become the next spokesperson for vacationing in Northern California.
We picked up our rental car at Fox Rentals, which was, by the way, the most awesome experience I ever had at a rental car store IN MY LIFE. We even got an upgrade because of the length of time we were spending. (10 days total).
I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a mental checklist of things I needed to see and do while there. The first thing was to drive down that curvy little street you always see on television when people go on high speed chases in San Francisco, but we had not eaten since about 5 a.m. so our stomachs had other plans. We drove past Chinatown and into the Gaylord District and stopped at this little dive of a pizza shop. Never judge a book by its cover. This place had fantastic pizza (and it wasn't judge because we were starving and ready to pass out from low blood sugar) and the slices were so HUGE I couldn't even finish ONE.
After lunch we drove around and, yes....we drove down Lombard Street. How cool was that!?!?! We got in line behind several other cars because if you come to San Francisco you have to drive down that curvy little road. My life is complete! Well, maybe not totally complete, but it was on my to do list. Something must have been going on because everywhere we went there were huge crowds. Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square were so crowded we just couldn't get too close, but at least I got to do a drive by.
Second on my list was to go across the Golden Gate Bridge. I must be one of those embarrassing kind of tourists because I hang out the windows, yell and scream and get all excited at just the site of something I've waited my whole life to see. When we got close enough I started snapping pictures and didn't stop until we got completely across the bridge. Could it possibly have gotten any better than that?
Well, yes it could have because it did. We then went to Muir Woods, which is a fantastic state park with a wonderful walk through and lots of trails to hike. It is a awesomely beautiful and spiritual redwood forest. Now remember, I had never been to California before. I know there are people who see this stuff everyday and maybe they take it for granted, but I was awestruck at the beauty and complete majesty of the Redwoods. I don't believe I could ever get used to seeing those magnificent testaments to the majesty of God.
After that, we went to Highway 1 and drove to Stinson Beach and I put my feet in the Pacific Ocean and watched the sunset. (See picture) I spent a lot of my time in California crying because of the beauty and splendor of the scenery, the fresh fruits and vegetables unlike anything I had ever tasted and lots of water. Here in Colorado it is stupendously beautiful but we don't have much water to look at.
We stayed in Santa Rosa the first night and got up bright and early and drove over to Luther Burbank's Gardens and House. What an amazing thing he did for us! Horticulture is something that mystifies me and to think one man spent his entire life working with plants, flowers, foods, etc. and we get to reap the benefits.
Santa Rosa is also attributed as being the home of Charles Schultz (Charlie Brown). But did you know that he originally lived in Colorado Springs. Friends of his here say that when they used to get together and play cards or whatever he would always be doodling on a piece of paper making his characters. Anyway, there are statues all over downtown Santa Rosa of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, etc. It was so much fun to see.
We got back on Highway 1 and headed up the coast and stopped at Bodega Bay. That's where the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds" was filmed. It was kind of cold and dreary, but it was fun to see, to get to experience it all. Right on the pier between and fishery and a restaurant there was a huge old jawbone of a whale that someone found about 40 or 45 years ago. I've never seen such a thing! Gross!!!
And it seems that the seagulls love me. I was standing on a cliff a little further up the road feeding gulls some cheese crackers and before I knew it there were about 25 or 30 of them all gathered around. All at once I started hearing this hideous bird-like sound and this huge bird runs right up the middle of them all with his wings all spread out and stopped right at my feet just yelling at me. All the other birds were quiet and were watching that bird and me to see what would happen, I guess. I reached in my cracker box and dropped one in his mouth. He ate and left. Then the others proceeded to talk and push each other out of the way as my husband and I threw crackers up in the air for them to catch. When the box was almost empty, we started back to the car, because it was a little chilly and the wind was cold. Don looked back and said, "Honey, look." I turned around and all those birds were following me. When I stopped they stopped and sort of looked around like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. You know, "what? I didn't do anything." So I started back to the car again and they followed me again. They followed me almost all the way to the car. It was really funny. Something I will always remember.
Next we went to Fort Ross, a little further up the coast. It was an old Russian Fort back in the 1800s. It was awesome to see how well built the buildings were. We picked up some eucalyptus leaves off the ground and put them in our car. It smelled like Vicks Vap-O-Rub in our car for the rest of the trip. Oh, well..at least we didn't get stuffy noses.
After a bit, the fog lifted and the temperature climbed to the mid-seventies and we decided it was time to make our trek to Lake Tahoe. So we followed a road that went along the Russian River and saw beautiful country until it got dark outside. We arrived in Lake Tahoe about 10:30 that night and what a place it was. We stayed at the Olympic Valley International Lodge in Squaw Valley (site of 1960 XVIII Winter Olympics). What a great place. So pristene!
Like I said before, we traded out our timeshare for this lodge and it was the best. There wasn't a coffee shop or restaurant with it, but across the parking lot was the Olympic Village and that was good. We visited a local farmer's market and bought some fruits and veggies to get us through the week (we are vegetarian) and we had a little kitchen in the condo so I was able to cook. I was in heaven! The produce was outstanding.
The lodge, which shall herein be called OVI, because that's what the locals call it, had mountain bikes free of charge for the guests/owners to use. So one day we took bikes and rode the bike path along the Truckee River and had lunch at a local place. Great food. We met a young man at the restaurant who had moved out from Boston less than a year before. He had lost somewhere in the range of 60 pounds since moving there. He was in training for a long distance bike trip and apparently is quite a skier as well. Kudos to him for shaping up. He looked great! He was in love with Tahoe and Squaw Valley and I can certainly understand why.
Lake Tahoe....what can I say about Lake Tahoe? Well there isn't enough I can say about it. I've never seen such beautiful water. And such history! We learned all the history about the Washoe Indians who called it home in the summer way back when. We learned about settlers and early "cosmopolitan" tourists who frequented the area. We saw pictures of Model A vehicles that tried to trudge through 12 foot snow drifts. We learned about the Donner Party. (One night at the resort we had movie night: guess what the movie was! That's right...it was a documentary on the Donner Party! UGH!)
The rest I'll show to you in pictures. We spent a glorious week in Tahoe right after the big summer season ended so it wasn't too crowded. The best vacation of my life.