Category Archives: California

Crazy Powder in Tahoe

Three friends and I decided to take a boy’s ski trip to Lake Tahoe in March and it was a blast. By early March 2017, Tahoe had received 443 inches of snow and the powder was fantastic. Spending 15 years in Denver skiing the western slopes, this was the first time I had skied Tahoe and it did not disappoint.

Lake Tahoe

If you’ve never been to Tahoe, it’s right on the border of California and Nevada. In fact, the ski resort we visited is partly in California and Nevada.

Lake_Tahoe_Map

Lake Tahoe is the 2nd deepest freshwater lake in the USA, created over 2 million years ago and forged by the ice age. The area around Lake Tahoe was previously inhabited by the Washoe Native American tribe.  Tahoe was the epicenter of their territory. Here are some fun facts about the lake:

  • If you were to pour Lake Tahoe out onto an area the size of California, the water would still be 14 inches deep.
  • The amount of water in Lake Tahoe (39 trillion gallons) is enough to supply each person in the U.S. with 50 gallons of water per day for 5 years.
  • The amount of water that evaporates from the Lake each day (330 million gallons) could supply a city the size of Los Angeles for 5 years.
  • The water is 99.994% pure, making it one of the purest large lakes in the world. For comparison, commercially distilled water is 99.998% pure.

Reno, Nevada

We stayed in Reno because it was less than an hour from the ski resorts, lodging was less expensive and it offered lots of casinos. This gave us a chance to ski during the day and visit the casinos at night. We all came out pretty well in the casinos, I came back $40 richer and one of my other friends (Tom) won over $700 in 3 pulls of a slot machine! In hindsight, South Lake Tahoe may have been a more convenient place to stay and much closer to the ski resorts.

Lake Tahoe Boys

While in Reno, we found an incredible breakfast place called Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs. The plates were huge, prices were reasonable, and the taste was amazing. If you’re ever in Reno, check that place out!

Heavenly Ski Resort

On our first day, we skied Heavenly Ski Resort. The snow was soft, powdery and easy to carve through. Once you get to the top of Heavenly, you are rewarded with incredible views of Lake Tahoe in the background.

Lake Tahoe from Heavenly

Joey was definitely the best dressed. Check out his Rasta hat.

Joey at Lake Tahoe

Pat at Lake Tahoe

Tom at Lake Tahoe

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

We also skied Squaw Valley. Heavenly is a bit bigger than Squaw Valley but Squaw offers some more technical and challenging runs. The snow at Squaw was a bit icy and the winds were brutal on some of the upper ski lifts.

Squaw Valley

As you can see from the snowy trees, Squaw creates lots of snow drifts but the view is spectacular.

Squaw Valley Trees

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this post on our trip to Lake Tahoe, we are already talking about making the ski outing an annual event. If you are not subscribed to our blog and would like to subscribe so that new posts come directly to your email, scroll up to the right top section of this page and type in your email address.

I’ll leave you with a final picture of me getting ready to slay the mountain.

Steve in Tahoe

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Slideshows of California trip

We recently visited California for almost 3 weeks.   We blogged about the visit as we went along.  Although a bit overdue, I compiled the visit into a series of slide shows.

We started our trip by visiting the awesome national parks of Sequoia and Yosemite.  Below are some slide shows for that part of our trip:

Then we spent a few days in the wine country.  We started in Napa and made our way to Sonoma.  Below are slide shows for the wine country:

We then made it to San Francisco, visiting more national parks, Alcatraz, the city, and Haite Ashbury, the birthplace of the hippy movement.  Below are slide shows:

We then headed south to see the Hearst Castle, built by William Randolph Hearst.  Upon leaving the castle, we drove the Pacific Coast Highway up north through Big Sur to Carmel, the hometown of Clint Eastwood.  The next day we drove the 17 mile road through scenic Pebble Beach.  sideshows:

After leaving California, we made our way through Nevada, visiting the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas.  Here are slide shows from that visit:

What’s Next?

In a few weeks, we are planning a 3 month trip to the Northwest USA.  We plan to see Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Titans, Oregon, Washington, Vancouver and Victoria Island.   Talk to you soon!

Scenic drive from Pebble Beach to the Hearst Castle

We drove the scenic highways on our way to Hearst Castle in California.  During the trip, we saw the iconic 17 mile road through Pebble Beach and Hwy 1 that runs through Big Sur.  The scenery in this area is breath-taking.  We stayed a night in Carmel but never got a sighting of Clint Eastwood – bummer!

Hwy 1

Hwy 1

This curious guy was pictured in Carmel

This curious guy was pictured in Carmel

Carmel

Carmel

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

17 mile road

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Monterey

Hwy 1

Hwy 1

Hwy 1

Hwy 1

The Hearst Castle was built by William Randolf Hearst, a newspaper icon in the early 1900’s.  The castle took 28 years to build and because he owned over 30 homes, he only stayed at it a few weeks per year.  But he spared no expense.  It is now a national park.

Hearst Castle - pool anyone?

Hearst Castle – pool anyone?

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle - large dinners

Hearst Castle – large dinners

Hearst Castle - pool anyone?

Hearst Castle – pool anyone?

This home theater was state of the art for 1938

This home theater was state of the art for 1938

Three days in San Francisco

We decided to spend three days in San Francisco because it has so much to offer.  As we drove into the town, we were taken aback by the price of gas.

Want to pay over 5 bucks a gallon?

Want to pay over 5 bucks a gallon?

On 0ur first day in San Francisco, we visited the Point Reyes National Park, we blogged about that here: https://webetripping.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/cool-lighthouse-at-point-reyes-national-park/.

On our second day, we visited the hippie area of town called Haight Ashbury.  This is where the hippie movement started and is where Jimmy Hendricks, Janice Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Hells Angels and many more groups dwelled in the 60’s.

The hippy movement

The hippie movement

Our tour guide

Our tour guide

Our tour guide

Our tour guide

We visited The Grateful Dead’s home during the 60’s.

The Grateful Dead's house

The Grateful Dead’s house

Haight

Haight

This was funny — during our walk we saw this flyer at this house.  I guess this homeowner had hit the limit with people urinating on his doorstep.

No urinating!

No urinating!

On the third day of our trip, we took a city tour and then visited Alcatraz.   Here are some pics we took along the way.

7 painted sisters - Victorian architecture

7 painted sisters – Victorian architecture

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fresh crab in Fisherman's Wharf

Fresh crab in Fisherman’s Wharf

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Cable cars

Cable cars

Lombard Street -- curviest street in America -- we drove it!

Lombard Street — curviest street in America — we drove it!

Cable car museum

Cable car museum

China town

China town

Beautiful museum

Beautiful museum

This swam was nesting -- notice the eggs

This swam was nesting — notice the eggs

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Mossed over roofs at Alcatraz

Mossed over roofs at Alcatraz

How would you like to stay here?

How would you like to stay here?

The wardon's home at Alcatraz

The warden’s home at Alcatraz

Cool Lighthouse at Point Reyes National Park

About an hour north of San Francisco is Point Reyes National Park.  Once you arrive, you can drive about 30 minutes more to the Point Reyes Lighthouse.  During the drive up, you cannot see the lighthouse.  In fact, you have to hike to the top of the point and ascend down the backside of the point to see it.  The only other way to see it is from the Pacific Ocean.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes Lighthouse

As we hiked up to the lighthouse, we shot some incredible pictures.

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

 Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

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Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

To reach the lighthouse, you have descend down 400 stair steps.  That’s the easy part, coming back up is more of a challenge!

400 steps

400 steps

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

When we reached the lighthouse, we saw several whales swimming around.  I was not able to catch any great pictures of it, but it was really great to see.  You could hear them blowing through their blow holes.  Incredible!

Whale

Whale

After visiting the lighthouse, we took a couple of hikes in other areas of the park.  One of the things we saw as we were driving to the hikes was something that looked like a cross between a kangaroo and a deer.  Jackalope perhaps?

Deer? Kangaroo? Jackalope?

Deer? Kangaroo? Jackalope?

We first hiked the Earthquake Trail.  This is set right on the San Andreas fault.  This was a little unnerving!

Earthquake Trail

Earthquake Trail

Our second hike was the Kule Loklo trail, a brilliantly reconstructed Miwuk village that sheds light on the daily lives of the region’s first inhabitants.

Second Hike

Kule Loklo Hike

Second Hike

Kule Loklo Hike

Lynn almost stepped on this!

Lynn almost stepped on this!

We stopped by Drake Beach and stumbled on to a beautiful seagull.

Drake Beach

Drake Beach

Drake Beach

Drake Beach

After a long day of hiking, we made it back to San Francisco to find that the fog had settled in. What a great way to end a day!

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

Driving the Sonoma Coast

The Sonoma Coast is north of San Francisco, about a 4 hour slow ride along scenic highway 1.   We began our trip at Bodega Bay — this is where Alfred Hitchcock shot the iconic film “The Birds“.  There is not much evidence that the movie was shot here but you can recognize the area.  As you can see below, the coast is beautiful.

The Sonoma Coast

The Sonoma Coast

As we drove the twisting roads along the coast, it reminded me of Maui, Hawaii.  If you have ever driven the road to Hana and kept driving past Hana to the other side of the island, it looks a lot like this.  You will see cows sunbathing and enjoying the day.

Cows on the coast

Cows on the coast

Cows on the coast

Cows on the coast

After about 4 hours, we made our way to Point Arena to see the famous Arena Lighthouse.  As you can see, the views are incredible.

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena – Ski Jacket and Flip Flops!

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

Point Arena

As we made our way towards the Sonoma wine country, we saw a lot of really cool farms.

Cool farms

Cool farms

Cool farms

Cool farms

After an hour on a long and winding road, we made it to the Navarro winery.  This is a cool winery that has some great white and red wines.  When we got there, we were famished, so we bought some wine and cheese and had a little picnic.

Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Picnic at Navarro Winery

Picnic at Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Our final stop for the day was Yorkville Cellars, a winery that uses sheep to groom their grass and fertilize the grapes.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen sheep in a vineyard before but hey, if it works…

Sheep providing fertilizer

Sheep providing fertilizer

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Yorkville Cellars

A couple of days in Napa Valley

We spent the past 2 days in Napa Valley seeing the awesome landscapes and visiting the wineries.  Anyone that knows me knows that I like wine but I am not a sophisticated wine drinker.  But I did learn more about wine during this trip.

We made it to Napa!

We made it to Napa!

First of all, I learned that when you go to dinner and order wine and they allow you to taste it before pouring a full glass that it has a reason.  I always thought it was to determine if the wine tasted good.  Nope.  Wine that has a cork can actually have a fouled cork which causes the wine to go bad.  If that happens, it tastes like wet cardboard or wet dog.  Yep, I said wet dog.  So the small pour is to allow you to detect if the cork was fouled and if so, you can send it back.

Robert Mondavi Winery

Our first tour was the Robert Mondavi Winery.  Here we learned how making red wines are vastly different than white wines.  With red wines, they ferment with the grape skins which gives them the red color.  They normally ferment twice in oak barrels for a time span of about 18 months.  With white wines, they press the juice out of the skins and they are also fermented twice, once in oak barrels and again in steel canisters.

Mandovi Winery

Mondavi Winery

Red wines fermenting

Red wines fermenting

After visiting Mondavi, we were famished. We had lunch at the iconic Mustards, the food was incredible.

Mustards

Mustards

Inglenook Winery

Our next stop was the Inglenook Winery.  It is owned by Francis Ford Coppola, the creator of the movie “The Godfather”.  The winery has a museum that is free to visit but the wine tasting was spendy — $50 per person.  We decided to just visit the museum, but the grounds were incredible.

Inglenook Winery

Inglenook Winery

Inglenook Winery

Inglenook Winery

Sterling Winery

We were told that Sterling was the Disney World winery because it sits atop a mountain and you must take a gondola to visit.  It met that criteria and also had incredible architecture.  It has a very Mediterranean look, you feel as if you are in Greece. Their tour is self guided and really well done.  Because it is audio/video, it puts images to the stories told by other tours.

Sterling Winery

Sterling Winery

Sterling Winery

Sterling Winery

Sterling Winery

Sterling Winery – shot from the gondola

Beaulieu Vineyard

This was probably our favorite winery in terms of taste, their reds really have a nice flavor.

BV Winery

BV Winery

BV Winery

BV Winery

Domaine Chandon

We started day 2 with a champagne tasting.  This was our first taste of bubbly and was a good place to start.

xx

Domaine Chandon – The Bubbly

Rutherford Hill Winery

Our next stop was at Rutherford Hill.  They store their wine in a cave for fermenting so it was really fun to visit.  They also have a link with the show The TopChef, so it was interesting to hear that they shot some episodes there.

Rutherford Hill Winery

Rutherford Hill Winery

Rutherford Hill Winery

Rutherford Hill Winery – The Caves

Rutherford Hill Winery

Rutherford Hill Winery – The Caves

They had a special class of wine called Episodes.  The cost is $200 a bottle, but you could taste it for $10.

Rutherford Hill Winery

Rutherford Hill Winery

Frogs Leap

Our final wine tasting for the day was Frogs Leap.  It had the best tour, as it is an organic winery where they don’t use pesticides or irrigation.  Everything is done naturally and very methodically.

Frogs Leap Winery

Frogs Leap Winery

The grounds were incredible, they keep their fermenting barrels in a barn.

Frogs Leap Winery

Frogs Leap Winery

Frogs Leap Winery

Frogs Leap Winery

Frogs Leap Winery

Frogs Leap Winery

Frogs Leap Winery

Frogs Leap Winery

The wine maker’s dog went along with the tour, she was very sweet!

Castello di Amorosa

Our final stop for the day (no wine tasting) was at a castle. It was really beautiful, we just visited the grounds.

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Discovering Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park.

After visiting the Sequoia National Park, we made our way to Yosemite National Park.  We stayed in the Yosemite View Lodge, right at the entry to Yosemite.  Our hotel was a bit dated but backed up to the rushing river. That was really cool because you could hear the river at night.  Makes for some great sleeping.

Our river view from the hotel

Our river view from the hotel

I have always been a big fan of Ansel Adams.  He is the world famous photographer that grew up in San Francisco but lived most of his life in Yosemite National Park where  he became famous for his black and white landscape photography.  His gallery is in Yosemite and we were able to schedule a 1.5 hour “camera walk” where a professional photographer from his gallery took us to some of the spots where Ansel took his iconic pictures and explained light and composition.  This was WAY cool.

In the spirit of appreciation, here are some pictures I shot in black and white during our trip:

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

The colors in the spring are incredible, so I can’t leave you hanging without some color.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

DSC_0175

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Giants in Sequoia National Park

As a kid growing up in south Georgia, I spent a lot of time hunting in the Georgia pines.  Spending most of adult life in Colorado, I’ve skied through forests of evergreens.  But I’ve never seen anything like this.  Sequoia National Park in California has incredible redwoods that defy logic. They are huge.  Incredibly surreal.

Huge redwoods

I look like an ant next to this Sequoia

The root system of these giants are large.  Notice the guy walking to the left of these roots.

Incredible root system

Incredible root system

We started our trip into Sequoia National Park by hiking up 400 steps to Moro Rock.  The reward for this challenging hike is the spectacular views of the western half of Sequoia National Park and the Great Western Divide.

Moor Rock

Moor Rock

Our next stop was the General Sherman tree.  The National Park Service lists the General Sherman Tree as 274.9 feet tall and 102.6 feet in circumference at its widest point. It is not the tallest tree, or the widest, but in sheer volume it is the largest tree in the world. Its trunk consists of 52,500 square feet of wood.   And the tree is over 2,000 years old!

General Sherman Tree

General Sherman Tree

After visiting the General Sherman tree, we took the Canyon Trail hike, a 2 mile hike through the giant sequoias.  Here are a few pics we snapped along the way.

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

Canyon trail

We finished our visit of the Sequoia National Park by driving through the log tunnel.

Tunnel Log

Tunnel Log

No trip to California is complete until you visit the world famous In-and-Out burger.

In and Out Burger

In and Out Burger

The cost of gas in California is definitely higher than Florida, check out the cost per gallon:

photo1

On  the way to Yosemite, we spotted this interesting tree house.  I would like to have one of these!

Your next house?

Your next house?