Spooky, Snowy Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe’s local community college put on a spooktacular trick or treat fest, where hundreds of kids and parents lined up to tour the decorated classrooms and collect as much candy as possible from the college and community volunteers. We thought the kids might miss the traditional trick or treating in the streets back home but they seemed to have a great time and accumulate enough sweets to do their typical sort-n-trade once we returned home.

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Home. This week we have a home with Gloria and Rick at their idyllic cabin in Tahoe, tucked into a neighborhood with a wooded backyard that dips down to a stream and a trail. The trail is perfect for a ride or a run, unless you go out for a jog at dusk, stop paying attention, go too far, get lost in the dark rain, and need to call for help (Glo and her flashlight came to my rescue). The rest of the night made up for it: a hot shower, Thai take-out, plus the chance to spread out in a house big enough for the kids to hide out in back bedrooms watching movies and sneaking Halloween candy while we learn a few new high-comedy card games.

The weather our first day was perfect for sightseeing so we toured various spots around Lake Tahoe. We started at the shores of the lake, which feels a little like Lake MacDonald in Glacier with its rocky beaches and calm blue waters. The third deepest lake in North America, Tahoe is 1,600 feet down in some places, 95 feet below the elevation of nearby Carson City, NV. Driving up the mountain, past 10,000 feet, the view down is either thrilling or terrifying depending on your comfort with heights. Either way, it’s stunning, with Tahoe’s red-brown Jeffrey pines jutting out from granite boulders all the way to the blue bottom.

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We also visited the Rainbow Trail, which passes through a wetland area with tree stumps gnawed down by beavers and aspens losing the last of their golden leaves to the winter winds. All of this seems out of place at 6,500 feet, where the last of Tahoe’s bright red Kokanee salmon can still be seen swimming in Taylor Creek.

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The next morning it began to snow, just as it should when you are snug in a cabin with the Woodebago secure in a driveway (she is plugged in with an extension cord so we can heat her and avoid frozen pipes). We watched the snow falling through the windows of the community college, hoping it would accumulate and stick.

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The next day brought even more snow and the chance to call it a snow day and cancel school. Building a snow penguin and a sled run down the back hill seemed more pressing than fractions and grammar for the day. Fifty yards long and with a slope that we napkin-calculated at 20+ percent, the sled run required some risky maneuvers. After a treacherous death-run by Rick, who gained way too much speed and plowed past the trail into a tree, we stood in pairs at the bottom to catch and save each sledder. Some of us have more bumps and bruises than others but we all survived to enjoy hot drinks by a warm fire.

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School was necessarily abbreviated this week, so we could all enjoy playing with our friends in this winter wonderland. But we did manage one important school-related task:  school photos 2015-16 (6th and 3rd). Free Tahoe backdrop and no Lifetouch forms or fees.

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We’ll be here for a few more days, enjoying the space, warmth and company of Gloria and Rick’s place before we head out on our own for the next month. We had planned to go down the eastern side of the Sierras but have reconsidered that plan after checking a few weather reports (more snow, high winds). Up here, we pass signs for Donner Pass and others warning that all vehicles must carry chains (what would it even be like to put chains on the Woodebago tires?). We are reminded that we shouldn’t mess with the Sierras in winter. We’ll stay west instead, passing through Fresno and Bakersfield on our way to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. From there, we’ll cut east to Death Valley and then over to try our luck in Las Vegas.

UPDATE:  We will not be going to Death Valley! 

About Elena Silva

Out here on the road, trying to make the most of a year in close quarters with my three favorite people...
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