Lake Tahoe July - August 2007
David Guerra

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Lake Tahoe 2007
There are so many reasons Tahoe holds a special place in our hearts. Sure there's the deep-blue beauty of the lake itself, the pine-scented air, the towering mountain peaks and dramatic vistas around every corner, but perhaps the biggest reason it appeals to us so much is the fact it's the first big vacation trip Cathy and I took (in our college years well before we were married) followed by a few more return trips. We also took Lilah when she was a baby and again when she was 2. But it had been 5 years since our last trek there.

Getting there is the toughest part as it's about a 9 hour drive for us. To help shorten that drive somewhat I went out and purchased a portable DVD player to entertain the kids in the car for part of the way and we also planned a stop in Folsom to see my good friend Johan. There were still plenty of "are we there yets," "how many more minutes," and "how many more miles" from the kids along the way, but that's all part of the fun, right?

When we were driving through the mountains,  Luke fell asleep but Lilah didn't. I think her fascination with the scenery kept the sleep at bay. She remarked that it was beautiful here in the "forest," and for the most part she looked out the window and took it all in.

Vacation Rhythm
There is a fine line between having fun and overdoing it on vacation. Overdoing it is usually the result of planning so many activities that by the time you're finished with them all you feel you need a vacation just to recover from everything. I think we managed to strike the right balance. You know you're doing it right when you don't feel rushed.

For the most part, we kept things simple, cooking our own breakfasts and preparing picnic lunches for the middle of the day when we were usually at the pool, at the beach, or partaking in a special activity such as rafting, miniature golfing or riding a boat. At night, we would go out to local restaurants which had two advantages: we got to eat some good food and Cathy got a break from cooking.

The highlight for the kids was going river rafting on the Truckee River. Cat and I both did our best at paddling and navigating through the few minor rapids. We messed up a few times and argued with each other as to who was supposed to paddle and who was supposed to steer, but we go through it. We did get stuck on a rock once but I pushed off the rock with my foot and we were on our way again.

During the journey we had a picnic along the river's edge, Lilah hung out the back of the boat and used her legs to "help us" go forward, and Luke and Lilah both practiced rowing. At the very end of the trip (5 miles later) is a real tricky section where you basically have to make a hard right otherwise you pass the pick up station and keep going down a little bit scarier section of rapids. There was definitely a little adrenaline induced yelling back and forth about what to do, but we made it through. Lilah later commented that the rafting was great except for the part where mom and dad were arguing with each other. "I didn't like that part so much," said Lilah.

The other thing that Luke really wanted to do was go on a boat so we all took a trip on the M.S. Dixie II, a huge paddle boat that takes you from Zephyr Cover on the East side of the lake to the emerald green waters of Emerald Bay on the West side, and back. The kids enjoyed it, but Luke later confessed that the boat he really wanted to go on was a speed boat. But at $150/hr I told him that we'd probably have to wait until next year or later for that ;-).

Franciscan Lodge
Once again, Cathy found a great spot for us to stay during our time in Tahoe. We stayed in the small town of Tahoe Vista on the North side of the lake and this particular lodge was ideal in that it had it's own beach and a pool. There are lots of hotels with beaches, mind you, but not all of them have nice soft sandy bottoms. The last thing you want when you have kids is to have to negotiate a rocky uneven bottom. The only thing I think we would change if we go next year is to get one of the beach front cottages. They're a bit more, but it would be nice to just walk outside your door and have that great view of the lake every morning.

Our lodge was also close to some good restaurants, including a great Mexican place named Las Panchitas, and an ice cream place we walked to several times with the kids.

Anyway, there are lots of pictures here that probably do a better job of telling the story than I'm doing. Enjoy...