Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom flew to northern California for a week of mother-daughter adventures. You can view all the posts about our Thanksgiving in Tahoe by clicking here.
I moved to California from Michigan only three years ago, and it's sometimes hard to be away from my mom (and really, almost all of my family). I'm an only child, so when I first moved I dealt with a lot of guilt, knowing that it would be much harder for me to spend quality time with my mom while living on the opposite side of the country.
Over time, we've settled into a schedule that allows us to see one another at least a few times a year. Aside from weddings and work (both of which bring me back to the Mitten State on a fairly frequent basis) I also head home at least once in the spring and once for the Christmas holiday. Mom, on the other hand, makes the trek to see me over Thanksgiving - enjoying the California weather at a time when snow is sometimes already piling up in the Midwest.
1. Emerald Bay & Rubicon Trail Hike
Mom's first full day in town didn't disappoint - we had beautiful sunny weather, even in the mountains. We took advantage of the opportunity and headed out for a hike on the Rubicon Trail, where it passes Tahoe's Emerald Bay.
A popular tourist destination, I'd seen Emerald Bay from above, from a boat, and from a raft - but never from the trail. We dropped the car at Emerald Bay State Park, took the 1 mile trail down to Vikingsholm (which we saw on the loop back), and caught the Rubicon Trail nearby. The trail snaked right next to the water, providing some awesome views.
We walked until we didn't feel like walking anymore, and then turned around. That's the beauty of vacation, right? Doing whatever you want.
On the way back, we stopped at Vikingsholm, a 1920s Scandinavian-inspired home made of materials from the Tahoe Basin. According to California State Parks, 200 workers were brought to Emerald Bay to complete the construction - carving designs, hand planing wood, and forging hinges - some sections of the home don't contain any nails, pegs, or spikes. The photo only captures one of the home's multiple wings.
Above: One more look out at the water before trekking back in the car. (Oh, and my hat? It says "SPARTANS" - I'm all about Michigan State University - Go Green.)
Below: A view from the State Park vehicle drop off area.
2. Evening Views
What can I say? Lake Tahoe has views that just won't quit.
This particular spot was a turn-off spot along Highway 28 in North Lake Tahoe (near one of Nevada's Lake Tahoe state parks). We pulled off to the side of the road to enjoy this beautiful view on one of our first nights in town.
3. A Snowy Drive
It dumped a ton of snow during the middle of our trip. After kitchen cook-offs and a day of road-tripping, we decided we earned a chill night at the movies. With the neighborhood theater only showing one movie (which my mom planned to see with girlfriends back home), we decided to take a scenic drive to South Lake Tahoe.
Given that I've spent most of my days (lately) in California's Central Valley, there was no windshield scraper in the car - something that was simultaneously bewildering and hilarious to my Michigander mom. (Some elbow grease and work gloves left over from vineyard pruning did the trick.)
Curious about what a drive around Lake Tahoe looks like in the summer? This post from Traveling 9 to 5 can give you a pretty good idea.
4. Donner Lake
The snow stuck around for the drive back from Tahoe, and made for some beautiful views at Donner Lake - home to Donner Lake State Park, complete with campsites and beach access
Donner Lake is also home to a museum memorializing the ill-fated Donner Party. Their story, while morbid and fairly well-known, is still pretty interesting. (I know this because I once had a passenger once read me the entire Donner Party Wikipedia page, in an attempt to keep me awake on a drive back from snowboarding.) The Party wintered (unintentionally) by the lake in 1846 - hence the name Donner Lake.
But enough about tragedy and cannibalism in the Sierra Nevada - how about this gorgeous lake?!
An easy stop off the highway I-80, Donner Lake is beauuuuutiful. There is a scattering of some seriously dreamy cabins on both sides of the lake, plus a marina and restaurants nearby.
Interested in the rest of our Thanksgiving in Tahoe adventures? Click here to view all related posts.