Rockies | Nevada | California
We set out late Friday after work, because the first rule of vacation is that nothing ever goes according to plan. Nevertheless, we still made it to
the edge of the Rockies before calling it a night.
We awoke early the next morning and headed along US 34 up into the Rocky Mountains, through Estes Park and then on into the National Park. We lucked out as it was apparently "free day", meaning they waved the $20 entrance fee. Unlike our previous trip to the park in 1999, Saturday was a bright, warm, sunny day and although there was no snow falling from the sky there was plenty still on the ground to play with. The wildlife was also out in full display, from fat little marmots scurrying around the tundra to grazing elk and moose.
Driving through western Colorado we took too many stops to pee and so failed to get to Dinosaur before it closed. With plenty of daylight left though, we headed westward through Utah, with the goal to get past Salt Lake City and then camp for the night. We discovered that there is no camping past Salt Lake City; at least not until you get to Nevada. In the dark our comedy of errors continued as we were unable to find the campsite marked so clearly on the map just off I-80. So it was another night at the Motel 6.
The next day we were up bright and early and in Reno by lunchtime, when calling Dell we learned that they had no water. A waterfall had spewed from Bob's
office ceiling that morning so they had turned it off to try and get the problem fixed. We spent the evening catching up and Bob pulled some excellent
wines from his cellar.
Monday, our first full day in Tahoe, we planned to hike in the morning and then go to one of the lovely beaches in the afternoon. Julie and Kristen enjoyed their time off at home by sleeping in however, so we didn't make it out fro the hike until around 11. The kids and I all love waterfalls, so when Dell suggested one as a destination we of course jumped at it. The devil is in the details ... This 5 mile hike was set at over 9000 ft with picturesque views of Lake Tahoe and Reno on the other side of the mountains. The waterfall was also beautiful as advertised. (video)
Tuesday morning I woke up in excruciating pain from the fall I'd taken on the hike the day before. Both wrists hurt, but the left which had felt the brunt of the fall was far worse. When you're a kid falling down hurts, but then you feel better the next day. When you're an adult the next day is worse. We went down to the lake to go swimming for the afternoon, I with the children and Cara with Dell and the cousins. Somehow we never managed to meet up, but we did have fun all the same.
Wednesday we spent winetasting in California's Shenandoah Valley, which has been chronicled
and we also panned for gold in the American River at the site of Sutter's Mill, where it was first discovered. We
then headed on down to Berkeley to spend the rest of the we with Kate, Howie and Eliza Jane. Unfortunately, a
close friend of theirs had just died but we were able to help take care
of little Eliza while Kate and Howie celebrated his life.
On Friday Kate was able to take off work so we headed across the bay to Muir Woods, where we hiked through the morning, and then Muir Beach, where we picnicked and put our feet in the Pacific. It is still as cold as we remembered. On the way home with just Maxwell & Zara in our car we detoured across the Golden Gate Bridge and through downtown San Francisco since neither of them remembered it from when we lived there.
Saturday morning we packed up the car and began the long journey homeward across Nevada and then the salt flats. We dined that night in Salt Lake City were the kids ran off their energy in Olympic Park fountains, a smaller replica of the ones in Centennial Park in Atlanta. Just to make it interesting, after we were unable to find camping we also couldn't find a hotel with vacancies until the wee hours of Sunday morning. When we finally got home we were all very tired.