Monday, July 8, 2013

4th of July in Tahoe (Part I)

I've always wanted to spend a 4th of July in Tahoe. 

Fireworks are one of my favorite things - the sound, the smell, the bright colors in the sky... So seeing those over the most beautiful lake in the world just got me too excited to even think about.

The two summers I lived there, I was gone for the 4th.  One was spent in Chicago and one back home in KC.  THIS was my summer to experience the holiday.  I just counted it as an extension of my 30th birthday, since it was the following weekend. ;)

I had to work hard to get the time off.  I worked for a few hours Sunday morning, and worked late Monday and Tuesday nights so we could leave early on Wednesday to catch our flight.  It was worth it to get to wake up in Tahoe on the 4th of July.

We had to actually drive ourselves and take the shuttle to the airport.  I think that's the the third time I've ever had to do that, haha.  (Spoiled, much?)  

Waiting for the shuttle bus to pick us up
Our flight out was delayed - seems to be the norm these days.  Grabbed some healthy airport food in Phoenix, and eventually made it to Reno.  Late. 

As soon as we landed, we went to pick up our rental car -- which happened to be the smallest automobile known to man.  I wasn't even sure it was going to make it up and over the mountain!    (It did -- but just barely, and with lots of shaking.)

The cheapest rental car we could get for the holiday weekend -- and it was still $200!
 On our way to Wal-Mart, flashing lights lit up my rear view mirror.  Was I seriously getting pulled over!?  I had no idea what the speed limit was, but I guess the car was shaking as I was driving down the highway.  No, not speeding.  I just didn't have my headlights on, haha!

Grabbed plenty of food for the long weekend - bread, peanut butter, jelly - you know, the essentials, and made it over the mountain and to Shannon's house in no time.  It was late - especially for us with the two hour time difference - and we were all tired.  No sitting up and chatting for hours like we did last time.  Just sleep.

Woke up fairly early Thursday morning, and were so excited to rock our new red, white & blue swimsuits!  Well, I was excited anyways.  Matt was worried his first article of clothing from Wal-Mart was going to fall apart.  (Ridiculous.)

Happy 4th of July!
Packed a cooler and bag of food and set off for a day on the lake.  We had to be there bright and early (like, 8am) because that was the only time the boat company could launch us.  And there was no way we could do it ourselves.  Plus, early morning is the best time to be on the lake anyways.  Before all the drunk crazies get out there...

Pretty  much in heaven right there

Our first stop for the day was in Emerald Bay.  Which happens to be on the complete opposite side of the lake from where we launched.  It took about 45 minutes to get over there, but it's such a cool spot, we had to check it out.  It's the deepest spot on the lake (over 1,600 feet), and the water colors vary so much there.

Emerald Bay

While we were there, Matt decided it was time to test out the waters of Lake Tahoe for the first time.  He got a rude awakening to just how cold it is, haha.

He didn't last long in the water.  It was freezing!

From there, we cruised up the west shore over to Chambers.  It looked like party central, so we decided to tie up to a buoy and hop on the little dingy water taxi to the shore for an early lunch.  

Party central was right.  It was so jam packed with 20-something Bay Area college kids that we could barely even get on the dock!  Apparently Chambers has some amazingly good alcoholic drink that everyone was getting .  So we made our way up to the little restaurant where it was a little less hectic and ate some lunch.  (Matt still had to wait in line for like 20 minutes just to get a drink though!)

We spent the rest of the afternoon just making our way around the lake, and ended up over on the east shore where we tied up with another boat with one of Shannon's friends.  I finally decided it was time to get in the lake...for the first time in a couple of years.  It's cold, people!  And unless it's really hot, I prefer to just hang my butt off the side and pee to count as my "getting in."

(Screaming in pain in the first picture, haha!)

8.5 hours on the water was about enough for us for day one.  Especially since I forgot sunblock on my legs for about the first 5 of those hours.  My hip now looked like this:

Now that's a sunburn.  Yikes!

We went back to the house to relax for a little bit and cool down.  With a little time to kill, we decided to take Matt up to an awesome view point just up the road from Shannon's house.  Doesn't get much better than this, does it? 

This is literally about a 2 minute drive from Shannon's house. 

I asked the lady taking the picture to cut it off at the waste...
because I forgot my shorts and was just in my swimsuit still!

After some grilled kabobs and showers, we headed back down to the lake for the big fireworks display.  South Lake supposedly has the bigger and better fireworks show, but sitting in traffic for hours to get there and back was about the last thing I wanted to do.  So we settled on Incline Village's show.  The word was that people had lined up at 6am to get in the gates to the private beaches and lock down their viewing spot on the shore with blankets for the nights show.  Luckily, Shannon's neighbor had done just that and secured a prime front-row spot.  And they offered to share it with us in exchange for a boat ride on Friday!  Score!

I don't know where we would have sat without them.  The beach was insanely packed.  Unlike anything I had ever seen in Tahoe before.  It's usually a pretty laid back and quiet place.  But we had to park blocks away and walk with the hoards of people down to the shore. 


Beautiful Tahoe sunset

Pretty sure I took approximately 200 pictures during the 30 minutes of fireworks.  They were going off from a barge not too far from us, and I just kept pushing the button on my phone about every 2 seconds, hoping to get a good one.  Most turned out pretty blurry, but I got some keepers.  I'll just save everyone some time and only upload one on here. :) 

We made the trek back to the car after the show, and went pretty much straight to bed.  Turns out 8 hours in the sun will take some energy out of you...


Friday morning came a little too soon, but with this marathon training, I had to get up and go for a run.  Matt was nice enough to accompany me on the 3 mile jog along the lake.  The elevation was a little rough, but the scenery helped make it bearable.

Stretching before the run.

I decided on this trip that I really need some of the giant pine cones to bring back home.  And by "some" I mean like 7.  I mean, they're just so giant out there!  Matt kept making me choose and put one back every time I found a new one.  On the drive home from the run, we found the mother of all pine cones on the street.  You better believe I backed up and made him go get it for me...


With so much time sun on the boat we got yesterday, we decided to skip the morning session and check out a couple of shops around Tahoe instead.  I needed a picture frame and an ornament...and whatever else related to Tahoe I could find.  (LOVE that place.)  So after showering, we took off for Kings Beach, and then hit a few more stores along the way back to Incline.

New picture frame and Christma tree ornament

I found this awesome map of Lake Tahoe (in turquosie) on pieces of wood - it was just the coolest thing I'd ever seen, and I knew as soon as I saw it that I just had to have it.  So I walked out with it...and realized about 5 minutes later that I have absolutely no where to put it in my house in Kansas.  Lucky for me (and for Shannon), she loved it, too -- so before we left, I wrote a nice note on it and stuck it in her car to surprise her.  She said she screamed when she opened it, and had actually already gone back to the store to buy it, too, but they only had one!  :)

Anyways - back to Friday.  After some shopping, Matt and I joined the crew on the boat.  Unfortunately, it had gotten super windy and the water was way too choppy.  We went out anyways, but we couldn't do much in the waves.  We clipped on to a buoy on the west shore and tried to put the canopy up on the boat (I lost my favorite sunglasses in the process), but eventually decided to just call it a day and head back. 

Apparently everyone else was trying to get off the lake at the same time, because the boat company could not get us for an hour.  So we went to an open buoy at the Hyatt and tried to get on the water taxi thing...except they wouldn't let Punkin' - Shannon's dog - on the boat!  No dogs allowed on Incline's private beaches.  What a crock.  I was about to throw up for the waves, so we all got off and left Shannon on the empty boat with Punkin'.   

The only good thing that came of that whole experience was that the driver of the water taxi told us to come back to the Hyatt that night for another even bigger and better fireworks show.  Michael Milken, the junk-bond guy who spent some time in prison, was putting on his own show that night from his house...a couple of doors down from the Hyatt.  And not many people knew about it.  Yes, please! :)

Back on dry and non-moving land (thank goodness), we waited for Shannon.  Once she got off, we all decided to hang out on the beach and have a picnic / enjoy the gorgeous weather. (And finish off our second bag of Tostitos Hint of Lime chips in two days.  Kind of obsessed with those things...) 

Matt and I attempted to take a nap from this the shade.  No more sun for us.

 We eventually went back up the house to clean up and eat some pizza, and then went back down to beach for this private fireworks show we had heard about.  We weren't really sure if it was going to happen or not, because there was hardly anyone on the beach - or even on the dock at the Hyatt.  Quite the change from the night before. 

Lookin' pretty awesome in our glow-stick headbands...

But we waited it out anyways.  And sure enough, around 9:30, the most amazing show began.  Direclty in front of our seats we scored on the end of the Hyatt dock. 

There couldn't of been a more perfect way to end the day...

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