I need to fill TheVan’s propane, let me take a shower!
I laughed when my neighbor told me she made a home gym as she could be done with her workouts faster than the old days: she told me she would shower and look pretty before going to workout at the gym.
Driving TheVan is much like that for me. Several years ago I was washing my hair too frequently, so it would be oily. Thankfully, with COVID shutdowns I can go longer now, but like growing out my gray, there was an awkward stage. I am not sure how my mom’s generation washed their hair once a week, but I am more self-conscious when I drive TheVan to look clean.
I got over my bad hair day and, thankfully, as I was on my hands and knees with my cheek to the ground to read the full level on the propane tank dial…I learned there was an automatic shut off at 80% full. Apparently, it can cause leaks with overfilling and I just had the valve replaced. So, I wanted to keep an eye on the dial while the teen filling the propane tried his best to convince me he had done this before and…luckily I didn’t shower as I got dirty.
I read that I should push myself outside of my comfort zone frequently. TheVan is like a security blanket “Binky” pushing me to try new things every trip we take. When I hear Bigfoot in the bushes (rabbits on leaves sound BIG), I make a beeline for TheVan and quickly lock the doors. I swear I heard Sasquatch in Bishop, CA flopping into the water like a hungry alligator.
It is helpful not to read thriller novels. Fantasy. Fantasy is good camp reading.
I think because my Dad grew up on a farm and my brothers’ summer jobs were working on farms, the men in my family tend to be handy. My husband’s father was an engineer, his brothers are handy and engineers…my husband is Mensa like Albert Einstein and should only be allowed to wear loafers. The $0.99 cent store is your friend in assembling waist/backpacks.
My Dad’s parent’s family farm was in Winton, California off Mercedes Avenue which, in hindsight, is probably why he loved owning Mercedes sedans. A Public Accountant (PA before CPAs) later in life, school started as a one room schoolhouse where the teacher taught him English for the first time. He would tell stories of swimming in the Merced River growing up, which we slept next to during our recent Yosemite trip. I believe Mom and Dad even honeymooned in Yosemite which was about a 2 hour drive from the farm where they married in the backyard Japanese garden.
From the farm it is about a 3 hour drive to South Lake Tahoe (SLT), where my Aunt holds family reunions every 5 Years. She divides up the family into 4 family day groups that plan a meal and an activity. As our vacation home is in SLT, I was able to come up with a few activities. The last time I spoke with my Aunt she was game for a few more. This post is the blueprint to our last Family Reunion and maybe the next?
Day 1: was arrival and dinner at Forest Suites Resort. My Aunt and Uncle would always rent the big, stand alone, suite that could hold us all. Forest Suites in SLT units come with kitchens which is nice for potlucks made by the day group. They are located right behind the Heavenly Gondola which allows you to walk to the casinos, shops and restaurants at Heavenly Village. Their price point is more affordable than Lakeland Village as they are not on the beach. Lakeland Village does have a free shuttle to Heavenly Village Transit Center and also the Transit Center at the “Y”. We ate dinner and shared an update of ourselves.
Day 2: was a morning hike from Van Sickle Bi-State Park to a waterfall. Some of the Aunts and Uncles needed to turn around before the falls because of the incline. I believe dinner was a potluck with the day’s group providing the meal and the elders shared about their time spent in Japanese Internment Camps.
A good alternative is the Lam Watah hike to Nevada Beach.
Day 3: was the Tallac Historic Site with tours of the Baldwin Estate and Pope House.
Good alternatives would be Vikingsholm Castle, Taylor Creek Visitor Center or a lake cruise from Ski Run Marina. The hill up and down to Vikingsholm could be a deal breaker for seniors, but there is a Nifty 50 Trolly/South Shore that will take you from the “Y” to Vikingsholm as parking can be a problem. I couldn’t find a Nifty 50 schedule for this year, which is hopefully just a COVID problem.
Day 4: was a beach day at Lakeland Village. As owners we could reserve the Lakeshore Room for the entire day instead of hourly. It was a huge success with families bringing games and puzzles. A full time resident let us use his SUP paddle boards and kayaks, so we didn’t need to rent from Ski Run Marina (walking distance) which also has boat and jet ski rentals. We did catering from Baja Fresh which closed, but now SLT now has a Chipotle that does catering.
Day 5: Travel Home
My Aunt really has this down after several sucessful family reunions…ENJOY!
We got an early start this morning and we are trying to beat rush hour traffic in Los Angeles on the 5 Freeway on a Friday…wish us luck!
I wasn’t able to use the digital mapping app (Relive) this trip as I tried a GPS tour app called “Just Ahead” which I highly recommend! For someone who lacks spontaneity we stopped at every pullout finding where John Muir camped; where Ansel Adams took his first Yosemite picture; the most popular photo spot of Yosemite: “Tunnel View” with all the surrounding mountains and a waterfall; etc.
See the below photos for some web screenshots and web description of “Tunnel View”. John was the photographer this trip as a long day in Yosemite with “Just Ahead” drained my battery.
You almost need 4 days in Yosemite: (1) Yosemite Valley (2) Tioga Road, we turned around at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center (3) Wawona Road, we turned around at Mariposa Grove (4) Hetch Hetchy Road, saved for our next trip. We did get a Yosemite 3 Day Pass in addition our National Park Pass.
John thought driving Tiago Road and Wawona Road were just as hairy as Going to The Sun Road at Glacier National Park (narrow with no guardrails) but the cliff fall was higher at Glacier.
For driving convenience I would recommend a stay near Yosemite Valley for easy access to each direction/road. We stayed at Indian Flat RV Campground. Based on some of the reviews we read, we were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed our visit. With a drought there were not many green RV spaces, but you could hear the Merced River right across the street and it was 10? minutes to the “Yosemite Park” photo opportunity sign. Waterfalls are usually dry by August.
Our diet was pretty simple: I bought a wide foot long sub in Tahoe and it made 4 individual lunches. We also had lunch inside Yosemite at “The Ahwahnee” hotel and another at “The Wawona” hotel. Dinner was our boxed soups from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods with a roll(s).
Packing we did pretty good as we needed cold weather gear for Tahoe and hot weather gear for Yosemite, plus a selection for Hell’s Kitchen fancy dinner wear. Replacing Roadtrek pillows with pillows stuffed with winter jackets was a key space saver.
John thought my new summer “uniforms” of black, capri, bootcut, yoga pants and short sleeve tunic tops, both purchased on Amazon, made me one of the best dressed at The Ahwahnee hotel for lunch. John usually doesn’t like my uniforms, so Score!
Sigh, we just got down the Grapevine on the 5 Freeway and it is bumper to bumper traffic at 2:30 p.m. with a paramedic truck and a police car passing us.
I wasn’t sure how to meal plan while staying in Tahoe on our way to Yosemite. John calls Tahoe our NorCal “launch pad”, but we have no storage except a small owner’s closest; the refrigerator and freezer needs to be empty when we leave as we are on a rental program; we have nowhere to plug in TheVan; and we need to go to a campground to fill with water or empty the tanks. It is a nice “layover”, but all packing is done in SoCal. This goes back to my post that I need to work on my spontaneity.
I think I have our diet figured out for this trip. When in Tahoe, we revert to our college days of hitting all the Happy Hours. If we walk to the restaurant we feel pretty good about the calories. Unfortunately, the 55+ metabolism shift is real, so I have been cooking soups at our SoCal home hopeful to lose the “Quarantine 15” (pounds), the new college “Freshman 15”. Some spill prof containers should do the trick and, hopefully, we can then eat at restaurants and drink without guilt.
Saturday we have tickets to Pink Floyd’s Laser Spectacular show and we were lucky enough to score Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen reservations, 2 months in advance, for dinner and a show with former members of our SoCal cooking gourmet club who moved to Carson City, Nevada (about 45 minutes down the mountain.) If you want the lay of the land watch Bonanza and Big Valley TV reruns. A fun day trip is Virginia City (about 1 hour away).
If you are thinking of a trip to South Lake Tahoe checkout TahoeSouth.com for current happenings. GoTahoeNorth.com is geared more toward Incline Village.
We first started coming to South Lake Tahoe for family reunions where we would hike, tour some of the old mansions, boat, have a beach day, go to the casinos…something for each age group and we thought it would be great for retirement! I’ll try to write more about our past sightseeing when we get home. Cheers!
Friday we left SoCal for South Lake Tahoe, CA. I think we passed 5 accidents as people were leaving town for Memorial Day, on Monday, before we crawled onto the 395 Highway for six more hours of driving. It took over 10 hours this trip, usually we are a little over 8 hours.
We had Sirius XM Beatles top countdown playing in TheVan (our blind dog has taken a dislike to listening to audio books, the voices must confuse her), Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels, organic mozzarella sticks, organic apple slices and facilities….life was good as we sat in traffic!
A personal driving highlight this trip was me telling John to slow down his driving speed and with anger he said everyone was riding his bumper…they finally passed us and one was a Sheriff that pulled over a car that passed us!
I was also feeling happy that I went to the DMV and got a 2 month extension for our registration tags as I couldn’t pass the SMOG test with enough driven miles after the Sprinter emission recall work. Otherwise, we definitely would have been pulled over for expired tags! The video below is the 395 Highway when we hit the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
We thought about spending the night at a rest stop in Mammoth, but we realized we had George Thorogood tickets bought in 2019, before COVID, with a show that was rescheduled for Saturday. John didn’t want to be tired for his college years band with a poor night’s sleep at a rest stop.
In Tahoe, we rode the South Lake Tahoe, CA Lakeland Village shuttle bus, that had a sign to wear masks, about a mile to the concert in Stateline, NV and we walked to Bally’s casino where I was the only one wearing one.
Stateline, NV, where the Tahoe South casinos are located, and South Lake Tahoe, CA are like the old Coca-Cola commercials teaching everyone to live in perfect harmony. The political advertisements in Tahoe (from Reno, NV) are a trip with the bigger the gun the better… 2 weeks after 2 mass shootings.
It should be a fun trip. John is working remotely; the weather is cool for Summertime with the nights just dipping into freezing (TheVan isn’t winterized); the lake level is down, but the water level still looks pretty as the lake is deep and does not look drought desperate (which we are in California).
We will be here a few days before driving into Yosemite. As May is Mental Health Month: Peace Be With You.