Crossing the border into California, we saw the lake peak out over the horizon and happily settled into our home for the night. For an extra $20, we got a 7th floor tower room in Tahoe City (the north end) which had a freaking amazing view of the lake and a shared balcony. The room had no AC but boasted a comforting cross-breeze between windows, and a continuous lack of humidity. Our plan was to stay on the north end of the lake the first night, and the south end the next. Since we settled in later than we had originally planned due to the large amount of detours we chose to take, we made dinner reservations across the street and grabbed a bottle of champagne to christen our balcony with. After sipping our bubbly cups for a few minutes, Katie gasped out loud and pointed a shaky finger down towards the parking lot across the street. There was a bear, casually sauntering past cars and people, right next to the busiest road in town. We stared in disbelief for several minutes until it moved out of view (followed by curious onlookers). I have no idea where it ended up, but it wasn’t there when we crossed the street an hour later for dinner…
We decided to splurge on our meal a little that night, as the realization that our trip was nearing an end became all too real. We ate at Christy Hill and got a little outdoor table which looked over the lake. We decided to share a few small plates which included kimchi pancakes with prawns and sweet dipping sauce, venison and bacon terrine, and pan-seared gnocchi with port wine sauce, duck confit and a poached egg on top. Everything was absolutely amazing, the gnocchi in particular, which had a perfect soft chew, combined with the tender and juicy shreds of duck, a touch of the velvety egg and a drizzle of sauce made for the perfect bite. Sometimes all you need is one perfect bite to make the evening…but port and sticky toffee pudding for dessert doesn’t hurt. We chatted with our server about road-tripping until the restaurant was empty and received free espressos for being “fellow road adventurers”. The love of the open highway has a unique way of connecting people.
The next day, we bought some Lake Tahoe towels (after realizing we hadn’t brought any towels at all) and drove around the lake heading south, until we found a public beach. We settled into the gravel-y sand and alternated between baking under the hot sun and splashing into the cool, refreshing water alongside kayakers and kids floating in blow-up tubes. The water was gentle, relaxing and a perfect bright shade of blue. Can’t.beat.that.if.you.tried.
That evening we stayed in South Lake Tahoe and signed up for a sunset dinner cruise that sailed through Emerald Bay (which we failed to hike down earlier in the day due to laziness). We boarded the ship and were sat with a nice couple around our parents’ age for the dinner portion. We had read online that you don’t get your own table and are often sat with others, but it ended up being nice to chat with them over the course of the evening. Dinner was buffet style, but contained a tasty combo of beef, cheesy potatoes, seafood pasta and fresh mozzarella salad. We sipped wine and stepped out onto the windy deck to watch the sky fade into shades of pink and purple, and get a close-up view of the bay as we circled through the water. A cover band played oldies and around halfway through the cruise (like clockwork), the alcohol must have hit everybody because suddenly there was an abundance of super enthusiastic dancing, and an extra enthusiastic, arm-waving sing-along at the adjoining table. At one point they played “on the road again”, which was more than a little ironic. As we neared the shore, our dinner couple made us promise that we wouldn’t miss the shuttle bus back to our hotel as we grabbed one last glass of vino to end the evening (we didn’t miss it). Slept like a sun-burnt log, pretending I was still in the sand.