Our last hurrah before returning to the real world! Going with our theme of spontaneity, we just decided to pull up to the park and see what they had. I’d secured a reservation for Saturday night at Sugar Pine Point, but we had booked it through Nevada with enough time to get to Donner and out of the smoke and heat by Friday. That all worked perfectly. And not only did they have a site, they had one for two nights. We cancelled Sugar Pine and basked in Donner as though it was just another weekend out.
On our way, we passed by, but did not stop at, Thunder Mountain in Imlay NV. I wrote about this place three years ago and had intended to stop so Richard could see it. However, the smoke in the air was so bad, he was having a hard time even breathing. So we waved and drove by, on our way through Reno and to higher ground.
Saturday, I wanted to do some reconnaissance while Richard did a ride up Barker Pass. I really have never just gone around Lake Tahoe, so my plan was to check out the roads and scope out other potential campgrounds. Wow, was my thinking waaaaaay off there! First off, about half of the 39 million residents of California had decided to go to Lake Tahoe this weekend. So I hit some crazy traffic jams with tons of people trying to make their way along single lane highways while events were blocking off streets and taking up every conceivable parking space along the lake. Next, wow, ok, I’ve never driven the part of Highway 89 that goes along Emerald Bay. I will officially say, that is not my favorite thing to do. There are definitely steep deathy drop offs along there, and with so many people in cars, or walking next to parked cars, it was dodgy at best getting through. I was super glad not to have accidentally had Dory with me for that drive. I made it, partly on the power of the promise to myself that I would not have to drive it again since my plan was to go back up on the eastern side of the lake.
Plan thwarted. Once I got to South Lake Tahoe, I discovered all the rest of the 39 million Californians, on the road, completely stopped, in South Lake Tahoe where 50 meets 89. I sat in a parking lot of cars for a loooonnnggg time. Eventually, I started getting hungry and realized this lake loop plan was going to take at least triple the time I had allotted. So, I reluctantly turned back, deciding to cut my losses even if it meant driving the deathy road again. I wasn’t happy about it, but having immersed ourselves in Donner Party history the past couple of days, it just seemed like a more rational thing to do. I mean, I didn’t have food in the car, it looked impossible to pull over and park to get food anywhere along the way, and I didn’t want to have to end up eating someone. “No see, Your Honor, I’d only had a protein shake for sustenance and it was super hard to park, so I had no choice but to eat that guy.”
I was able to get enough service to text Richard, who procured a nice sandwich and some water. I picked him up in Tahoma and managed to snag a parking spot long enough to eat lunch. Then we got the hell out of the chaos and went back to Donner. I do like that park. I got to sneak in one last paddle and we had dinner outside in our swinging chairs. That is just much more relaxing. I know lots of people who love Tahoe, and I’m willing to learn how to do it, but so far I must say I do not have a good impression of the place. Too crowded, too hard to get around.
Sunday we trudged home. Richard was not a happy camper about the whole idea. I had intentionally made reservations for the next several weekends, specifically as a way to fend off post vacation depression. That helps. And I must say, all things considered, the twentysomethings did a pretty good job not trashing the house. The bathroom sink seems to not be draining, but everything else is. Also, the cat was full of burrs. So many burrs. But she endured brushing and only batted at me every three or so strokes. So I think she knew it was bad.
And you gotta hand it to home on a couple of fronts: the wifi is fast, the laundry is free, and the grey water tank is simply amazing.
Total miles: 205.4, 15.1, 4 hours 21 min. Total miles to home: 176.4, 17.1, 4 hours 38 min. Site 67. No hookups and no dump, but you can dump in the nearby Chevron station. Slight solar, but it’s fairly shaded. Water spigots and nice bathrooms and showers. Good LTE for both, but around Lake Tahoe, service drops out sometimes.