Sunday, 1 January 2017

Christmas in Tahoe

This is a continuation on my last post on our Christmas holiday in California...

Upon arriving in San Francisco we immediately left for the four hour drive northeast to Lake Tahoe, in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. The lake straddles the border of California and Nevada and the surface sits at just under 2000m. We arrived on Monday night, the same day we left Australia. Travelling back in time 19 hours makes for a very long day! 

We spent the first three nights in South Lake Tahoe, which, as you may have guessed, is located on the southern shore of the lake. We had an amazing Airbnb that looked like a typical Swiss ski chalet:






On Tuesday Andy, Ella and I had a very lazy first day. Ella had a three hour nap after a fairly rough night, and Andy and I spent that time cozied up in the chalet: reading, eating and generally just relaxing. Perfect start to the holidays, in my mind! (My activity loving husband may have had a different opinion on that.) Once Ella woke up we took her for a walk, checking out all of the other chalets. Ella loved these deer lawn ornaments:


Definitely an animal lover, that girl!

On Wednesday we woke up to a light sprinkling of snow, giving the area a very Christmassy feel:


We took a walk down to the lake and stopped for a drink at Jimmy's at The Landing Resort. The location was perfect, right on the lake, and even though it was cold and lightly snowing we decided to sit outside around the huge fire pits out on the patio. We ordered some hot cocktails - coffees and hot chocolates spiked with whisky and liqueurs, and enjoyed the view of the lake with snow covered mountains in the background. The picture below does not do it justice:


I have a book called The Wish List, that I’ve had for nearly 20 years. It is basically a checklist of cool things to do in your lifetime. I haven’t looked at it in years, although it is still on my bookshelf at home. Mike somehow remembered that one of the "things to do" in the book is to drink wine on a beach while gazing at snow covered mountains, or something to that effect. So we got some wine and plastic cups from the grocery store, ignored the sign saying “No alcohol” on the beach, and drank up (quickly, as it was bloody cold), toasting being all together for the holidays.  


On the walk back to the chalet we stopped in some of the shops, checked out the Christmas displays in the centre of South Lake, and watched the ice skaters. I can’t wait until Ella can try ice skating! 



Once we got back to the chalet Mike, Ashely, Andy and I went for a dip in the hot tub while the sun set. Sitting in a hot tub in sub-zero temperatures while the sun sets over a lake surrounded by mountains… priceless. I’m gutted I forgot to take a picture but it probably wouldn’t have turned out that well anyway.

That night my dad, Mike, Ashley, Andy and I went out for Mexican and then out to see a comedy show at the Improv while my  mom stayed home with Ella. It was fun to have a night out without the baby! 

Thursday morning we packed up our chalet and headed to the north side of the lake to our next Airbnb in Truckee. We stopped at Emerald Bay, which is located about 30 minutes west of South Lake, at the southwest end of Lake Tahoe. The bay is a gorgeous deep blue colour. We went on a short hike (about 3.5km roundtrip) to Cascade Falls. We couldn’t quite make it all the way as there was too much snow and ice and Andy was carrying Ella in the baby carrier, so it was a bit too dangerous. We did have a view of the falls from afar and the scenery throughout the duration of the hike was stunning. One of those places where you take millions of pictures even though they are all pretty much of the same thing.










We stayed in a super cute Airbnb in Truckee which looked like a log cabin on the inside. The living area was double story and had full length windows giving an epic view of the huge Pine and Fir trees outside.


Thursday night and Friday morning we had huge amounts of snowfall. Cue fun winter activities: sledding, building snowmen and snowball fights. Friday afternoon we headed over to Resort at Squaw Creek in Squaw Valley. This is where Mike and Ashley usually stay when they visit Tahoe. A few years ago Mike was training for the Tahoe Ironman and needed to do a lot of high altitude triathlon training. They fell in love with the area and now visit quite frequently. The resort is gorgeous, and inside there were lovely Christmas decorations that we all enjoyed. 

Resort at Squaw Creek
Life size gingerbread houses


Winter wonderland!
Saturday Mike and Andy spent the day snowboarding at Squaw Valley. The rest of us met them there for their lunch break and then spent some time walking around the resort, which was home to the 1960 Winter Olympic Village. The snow was falling pretty heavily so my mom and dad took Ella home, while Ashley and I waited for the boys to finish snowboarding. I was much happier that we were sitting in a bar drinking a hot buttered rum than snowboarding.


We spent the evening the same way we have spent most of our evenings: playing games Mike has introduced us to. I can highly recommend Secret HitlerMonopoly Deal, and Love Letter if you are looking for any new games to play. 

Christmas morning was a smaller affair than we are used to. We had agreed on no gifts, just stockings for everyone. Ella was the exception of course! Although she is not yet old enough to be anticipating Santa's visit, she has definitely got the hang of opening presents. She got her first doll from my parents, a baby Cabbage Patch Kid complete with it’s own dummy. Ella keeps trying to take the doll’s dummy to give to her bunny, so I guess she still loves her bunny more for the time being! 




We had Christmas dinner at Ashley’s grandparents in Reno, Nevada, which was about a 45 minute drive from Truckee. We arrived in the early afternoon and took advantage of the clear blue skies to go for a Christmas day walk. There were some pretty awesome Christmas decorations on people’s lawn. This is something about Christmas I really miss in Australia. We also found a really fun park to play at with Ella - working up an appetite for our dinner! 

Christmas Day walk in Reno


The next day we headed back to Mike and Ashley’s, returning to warmer weather and saying goodbye to the snow. 

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