Monday, May 15, 2006

Lake Tahoe, Day 5

Death at 6500 feet.

From the time we knew we were going to Lake Tahoe, I started investigating the area using Google Earth. If you look at the lake from above, you'll see at the 12:00 position is a little isthmus that juts into the lake. The California/Nevada border runs vertically right through it, plus there's a bit of a hill on it, just behind our hotel.

I also noticed a trail or path of some sort that runs from just behind the hotel to the peak of the hill. Before we got there, I knew I wanted to find that trail and get to the top of the hill.

And find it we did. Granted, we could've walked to the peak right from the hotel parking lot, but it was really steep. The road, which was blocked off to cars about halfway up, was an easy walk, and it turns out that there's a little park, benches, and a nature trail at the very top. No one we had talked to knew about this awesome little vantage point. Thanks Google Earth!

Here's a self-timer portrait of the family, looking due south

Here's the parking lot behind the hotel, with the tip of my finger on the cottage we stayed in.

From there we went to Chimney Beach, a few miles up the road from Incline Village. The big empty parking lot was locked off, so we parked on the street in front of it, and hiked about a half mile down to the beach. It was a cool park area, with some big boulders right on the water.

A DOT worker or some other quasi-official person came down, asking if we had parked in front of the closed parking lot gate, and that the tow trucks were on the way. Crap. I threw the camera in the pack, and took off at a jog back up the trail.

If you'll remember the Day One post, a short walk up a couple hundred feet (when we're already over a mile up) almost seemed life-threatening. Now I was running, and it was a lot farther than a few hundred feet. I knew this would end badly.

I was able to keep up my pace for longer than I had anticipated, but as the trail got steep, a bad piece of Engrish from a roughly translated Kung Fu movie kept running through my head; I am damn unsatisfied to have been killed in this manner. By the time I got to the top, the official was giving me more crap about my parking, and how I was lucky the tow truck hadn't gotten there yet. He didn't remember I was the same person he was giving crap to at the bottom. I'd like to believe that I was too mature to make the comment, "Sorry I parked there. Too bad there isn't a HUGE EMPTY PARKING LOT THAT'S MYSTERIOUSLY LOCKED OUT DESPITE THE FACT THAT PEOPLE OBVIOUSLY WANT TO PARK THERE," but in reality I didn't have enough air to get that many words out without losing consciousness.

I moved the truck, everyone else eventually caught up, and we, along with Jonas, consolidated into Laura and Graham's minivan and headed out for a clockwise circumnavigation of Lake Tahoe. There were quite a few interesting spots along the way. Not least of which was Emerald Bay. We had a picnic there, and did a little hiking and picture taking where some river descended to meet the lake.Now to completely change gears. . . .

Jonas and Jordan had told us about a favorite burger place of theirs in Carson City. In-n-Out Burger. So off it was to Carson City.

This place is pretty unique. They've been around since 1948, have always been family-owned, never franchised, and never taken public. They have a number of restaurants in the west, particularly California and Nevada. There is not a single freezer in any of them. The meat is never frozen, the fries enter each restaurant as whole potatoes, and there are no preservatives in the rolls.

I could write a whole bunch on the details of In-n-Out Burger, but Wikipedia does a much better job of it. Make sure you read the part about the "secret menu". Needless to say, this is now our new favorite burger place, and wouldn't you know it, there isn't a single one within 2,000 miles of our house.

So now we're planning future vacations around a great cheeseburger.

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