Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Lake Tahoe, 2005

Filed under: — stan @ 5:08 pm

Here’s the story of our family vacation at Lake Tahoe this summer. I have links to some of the photos here, but if you want to see all the photos, they are here.

Saturday, August 20

We decided to do something a bit different this year, and fly out of Ontario airport instead of LAX. It turns out it’s actually a bit closer to our house, and Southwest Airlines has a one-stop, no-plane-change flight to Reno from there. And they were running a special, so it was cheaper than LAX.

In the airport gift shop, we saw a romance novel, Gone with the Nerd. Yikes. When did nerds become characters in romance novel, and why wasn’t I notified of this?

After a brief stop in San Jose, we took the short hop over the Sierras and landed in Reno. We stopped for dinner at Carrow’s near the airport, and then we drove over the mountains to South Lake Tahoe. We got to Grandpa’s house there at about 8:00. I made a quick run to Raley’s to get food for breakfast and that was the end of our day.

Sunday, August 21

We woke up this morning and had to take another trip to Raley’s to get some Orajel. Lucinda’s six-year molars are coming in, and she needed some help. Also, we had realized that we had forgotten to bring books for her bedtime stories, so we had to find a few of them, too.

After that, we went to do our favorite hike up to Cascade Falls. As always, Lucinda didn’t really get interested in it until we got to the part of the trail that was on the rocks. But she enjoyed it after that.

The chipmunks came around while we were sitting up at the falls, but we made sure that they couldn’t get into the pack this time. Last year, they got into the pack and ate our chocolate chip cookies.

When we were starting back down, my phone rang. Turns out Sprint has a good signal up there on the mountain, so Lucinda got to talk to Aunt Maggi while we were hiking back from the falls.

After the hike, we went to the pool, and Lucinda showed us what she had learned in her swimming lessons this summer.

That evening, we had dinner at The Broiler Room at Caesar’s. The food was good, as always, and they had the usual flourish at the end with the chocolate-covered strawberries and dry ice.

Monday, August 22

Today we made a trip to the Attic, which is the local hospital thrift store. We cleaned up the owner’s closet a bit and donated some old clothes and other items. Then we had lunch at Carrow’s. The staff at this particular restaurant seemed really quite lax for some reason. But it was all right. We were on vacation, after all.

After that, we went to the K-Mart to buy some new bathroom rugs and other furnishings for the house. While we were there, we heard The Cure, and we reflected on how strange it was that a band that was considered so alternative and edgy when we were young was now being played at K-Mart. And we felt a bit old. Then we went back home and went to the pool for some more swimming.

Dinner tonight was at The Horizon casino’s Josh’s restaurant. We remembered this restaurant as having a great dessert cart, but they didn’t have the cart this time. The desserts were still good, but we missed getting to see them before ordering. Also, while we were there, we noticed that the music in the restaurant was almost completely easy-listening versions of ’60s standards. Again, we felt a bit old.

On the way out of the casino, I had a look around the blackjack tables. The last time we were there, they didn’t have anything for less than $10 a hand, which is just too much for my taste. This time, they had several single-deck tables for $5 a hand. They’d even loosened up the rules a bit by allowing double-downs on hard 8 and 9. But then I noticed that they also changed the rules and only pay 6-5 for blackjack. Years ago, I wrote a program to play blackjack and figure out how the game works. Turns out the player who uses basic strategy wins something like 42% of the time, the house wins about 56%, and 2% are ties. If the house pays 3-2 for when the player gets blackjack, it all works out that then the player is almost even with the house. By changing the blackjack payout, they take a big bite out of the player’s expectation value. So I didn’t play this trip.

Tuesday, August 23

This morning, Cathy did some more cleanup in the owner’s closet in the house, and we made another stop at The Attic.

We also did some exploring around the house. The neighbor’s house had a bird’s nest built underneath the deck. Lucinda also found a lizard on one of the rocks.

Next, we went to Anderson’s Bike Rentals and rented some bikes for a ride along the lake. We got a little trailer for Lucinda to ride in. The bikes were worn, but well-maintained, and they provided helmets, a map, and a lock. Normally, Cathy and I don’t ride bikes together, since I tend to go a bit faster than she does, but having 50 pounds of trailer and kid attached to my bike slowed me down a bit, so we were almost evenly matched.

We rode the bike path north along the lake, stopping at the Stream Profile Chamber for a look at the fish. Then we took the path south through town. This part went through the auto-body ghetto. Every town needs to have wrecking yards and auto-body shops, but they are usually pretty well-hidden in tourist towns. We even passed the very smelly refuse recycling building and an apartment with a warning sign about a hazard we don’t have at home in L.A. The bike route went past all of this stuff, and it was actually pretty entertaining. In all, it was about a 20 mile ride.

For dinner, we went to Harvey’s casino. They have a restaurant on the top floor called “19″, which is their ‘nice’ restaurant. When we got up there, the view was impressive. And I realized that I’d forgotten the camera. D’oh! The menu was a bit odd. It was high-priced, but they had things like french fries and macaroni and cheese as side dishes. The dessert menu included “warm doughnuts with two sauces”. For their after-dinner flourish, they brought out a ball of pink cotton candy big as your head. I hate cotton candy. The smell of it makes me nauseous, but Cathy and Lucinda chowed down on it, and I once again was infinitely irritated that I’d forgotten the camera.

Wednesday, August 24

Today’s adventure was over the hill in Carson City. We went to the Nevada Railroad Museum, where we got to try riding and pumping an actual railroad hand car, as well as seeing the preserved trains there. We also saw an exhibit about the role of the Chinese in building the railroads in the west.

Lunch was at Applebee’s in Carson City, and after that we went and did some more shopping for new items for the house. We got some long wood screws so I could repair the front deck railing, as well as a new stereo for the house.

After that, we went back home and went to the pool. Dinner was at Evans, which is easily our pick for the best restaurant in South Lake Tahoe. I had the Grilled tenderloin of beef on gratin potato cake with garlic compound butter, sauteed spinach and port wine sauce. Yum. Lucinda and I shared a dessert. We even came in under-budget this time, with a bill of $99.99. It was good.

Thursday, August 24

Today I did the repair on the deck railing. It wasn’t too hard to do, but it was still a bit of an adventure, since I was using unfamiliar tools.

We did another hike today. The Hawley Grade Trail follows the route of a wagon road from the days of the ‘49ers. The hike was 3.8 miles, which was a bit long for Lucinda, but I functioned well as a mule for her to ride most of the way.

As always, after the hike, we went to the pool. Lucinda is finally able to swim on her own with her pool noodle or kickboard. She was also able to swim almost all the way across the pool by herself with no floatation devices. So the swimming lessons were a Good Thing.

Dinner was at the Four Seasons at The Horizon. The sign in the lobby has a picture of a nice prime rib dinner, but guess what wasn’t on the menu. D’oh!

After dinner, we went back to the house and watched “Racing Stripes”. I had noticed that one of the couches was coming apart, so I got out the little sewing kit and sewed it back together.

Friday, August 25

Lucinda said that she didn’t want to do another hike today, so we rented bikes again. This time we went to Lakeview Sports. Their bikes were not as well-maintained as at Anderson’s, and the counter guy was kind of a doofus. I had to oil the chains on both bikes, adjust the brakes, and tighten up the pedal cages before we could ride. Then we did basically the same ride as Tuesday, but in the opposite direction. We went past the lumber yard, where some graffiti tells us a bit about what the locals in Tahoe do for fun. We passed the Moose Lodge and also saw a coyote. This time, I brought along my little GPS unit and measured the ride, which turned out to be 19 miles. When we got back, the manager gave us a good discount on the rental, since I’d had to fix the bikes for them. He was apologetic about it, saying that their bike mechanic had been taken ill. Since their season only runs through the summer, they were having a hard time hiring a mechanic for just a few weeks.

We always have our last night’s dinner at Evans, and this trip was no exception. We picked different items from the menu, and as always, it was all good. Lucinda and I also shared the same dessert.

Our final bit of house maintenance involved rearranging the couches in the living room.

Saturday, August 26

This morning, we all got up early for the trip home. We drove over the mountains to Reno. Along the way, I collected a picture of a new sign for my Animal Crossings collection.

When we got to the airport, we had just enough time to check in and get on the plane. The trip home stopped in Las Vegas, so the plane was full of rowdy people on their way to a weekend of debauchery. I also got to do a bit of atomic tourism on the way. We got a view out the plane window of Frenchman Flat at the Nevada Test Site. This was the site of the 1957 “Priscilla” test, where the AEC built a town out on the dry lake bed and then nuked it with a 37kiloton bomb.

After the stop on Las Vegas, we continued on to Ontario, passing over the Solar One power plant near Barstow. It didn’t look like it was operating at the time.

Finally, we stopped off at the kennel on the way home to spring the dogs.

All in all, it was a fun trip.

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