Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lake Tahoe

The van's packed and we're ready to go. We've got the sleeping bags, wood for a fire, clothes to keep us warm and a full tank of petrol to get us there.

We take Hwy 70 through the crispy dry landscape of Yankee Hill and Parkhill. Last year's wildfires are evidenced by the spindly skeletons of trees and the attempting to recover brushes and bushes.

Soon the dry and dead give way to the lush and green. There's an obvious drop in the sweltering temperature as we leave Butte County and enter Plumas. Feather River follows the road, sometimes pooling into what looks like little lakes. Even with the lowered temperatures it's still cooking hot.

"This'd be a great place for a swim. And the road's paved," Rohan says, referring to our recent mis-adventure to Whiskey Flats.

We're hungry though, so we keep driving. We've decided breakfast will be in Quincy, so we push on reading the road signs as we go: 35 miles to Quincy, 24 miles, ten miles and then we pull into town. The streets are lined with stores that have shop-fronts like something out of the 50s. They're clean, with large oaks and junipers to break the monotony of human construction.

We park behind the "old Courthouse", though it looks like it's been recently painted and is as clean as the rest of the town. Breakfast was at the Courthouse Cafe, a smallish place with more American flags lining the walls than seems strictly necessary.

As we climb in elevation out of Quincy the pines, firs and oaks, share space with the thin, white trunked and broad-leafed Quaking Aspens.

Our first view of the famed Lake Tahoe is shrouded by pine trees, but through them we catch glimpses of the deep, sparkly blue. Through the haze of late summer we can see the surrounding mountains.

We pull into the campground, find my parents who are camped next to our family friends, Dick and Di. After setting up camp quickly, we rush off to dinner with friends who have a condo directly lakeside. Fresh cherry tomato salad, pesto pasta, potato salad and green salad were on the menu. As we ate and drank topics around the table included backpacking at 60 years old, teaching in the 90's and mothers/mother-in-laws. The sun sank slowly behind the mountains.

The next morning after copious cups of tea, I went with my parents and Di to the casino. Lake Tahoe spans the California, where gambling is illegal, and Nevada, where gambling is encouraged, border. We hopped over the state line and lost too much money. Should've stayed in California. Rohan did more useful things with his time and went for a bike ride around the lake.

The next morning it was already time to pack up and head back down the road that brought us here. We're back in the life of weekend jaunts, but in area as beautiful as Northern California, these short trips are enough to sustain us.