Wow. Just wow. How perfectly lovely Tahoe is. Well not perfectly. There are several particularly horrible casinos blotting the landscape on the south eastern shore just over the border in Nevada (Tom: "God, it's like Birmingham" - West Midlands not Alabama, obviously). But otherwise, mostly wow (see pictures in previous post).
We drove up on Boxing Day and had a pretty good journey in our unfeasibly large SUV which turned out not to have four wheel drive despite a specific request for it. Hurrumph. And also, what the hell is the point of making a car look like it can drive niftily up the Himalayas if it actually struggles outside suburbia? Anyway, we were heading to South Lake Tahoe and a cabin at the foot of Echo Summit just off the 50. There was snow but not too much and our cabin was warm and comfortable.
On our first day, we headed off to a local brunch place (Ernie's) for a huge plate of waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon etc. and some really not that bad Americano coffee. Good enough to be refilled which is in my experience saying something. Then we drove back up the 50 to Echo Summit and Adventure Mountain, which is a large sledging park. Lottie briefly refused to try sledging but, after a relatively persuasive conversation with her mother, joined in and so we all had a great time whizzing down the hills in circles on plastic disks.
Tuesday we spent snowshoeing on the edge of Lake Tahoe in grey light as the weather looked like it was about to close in. Very Ansel Adams. We knew snow was due that night and on Wednesday. I don't think anyone had quite imagined we would have as much as we did. The next morning there was at least a foot and a half more on the ground and the trees. The trees being relevant as one then fell over and hit the cabin roof leaving bits of itself up there. Luckily it missed a window by inches. It was one of those events where you have no idea what is going on while it is going on and only afterwards think "Shit that was close!". And carry on thinking that every time you go past the window with the forty foot trunk lying right up to it.
We also had no power for most of Wednesday. So we stayed in as it was snowing all day, we couldn't get out of the driveway and we wanted to stay warm and tend the fire.
Thursday was glorious. And bloody cold - below -10 centigrade. We drove carefully and nervously off to Camp Richardson by the Lake to try cross country skiing. My first time ever on skis of any kind. It was lovely. I could have gone on for ages and much faster than my children were prepared to let me. Poor Millie found the cold too much and felt faint and dizzy - she is very skinny and although wrapped up warmly just couldn't cope. Lottie managed better with the temperature but less well with the poles. Still we did a short circuit on the tracks and then Tom and I took turns to babysit and ski on our own. I am sure I looked lousy but it was fun and so stunningly lovely being out amongst the trees under brilliant blue skies and all that gorgeous fresh powdery snow.
Friday we went sledging again. And then we drove around the lake - yes, I have now been briefly in Nevada - to stay the night with friends. We managed to stay up past midnight by playing stupidly long hands of Uno and then a slow game of Trivial Pursuit - an American version which was also fortunately full of questions about James Bond so the Brits weren't left entirely behind. Lottie fell asleep by the dog who took a fancy to her (feeling probably not entirely mutual).
The next day we had to dig ourselves out again and from down our lane it looked like the drive back to the other side of the lake might be a difficult one. So we put our snow chains on and prepared for a slow and traumatic/argumentative trip. Instead the roads were clear, the light was lovely and we had an easy run of it, aided by fresh coffee and really nice danish pastries from a fortuitously placed bakery. We got back to no power again but it did come on and in time for us all to watch Love Crazy with William Powell and Myrna Loy on an enormous wide screen television. The girls loved it. Which is odd as generally they hate films. However this one had just the right amount of silliness (we're talking 30s screwball, with WP falling naked out of a tree while trying to rescue his watch from a cockatoo, and then cross-dressing pretending to be his sister, using balls of yarn as breasts which unravel later) and E and L didn't cry. So this weekend we're introducing them to Bringing Up Baby (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant in a negligee and a leopard).
Sunday we drove home easily though with lots of rain.
Another wonderful trip away. Tom and I have reached the conclusion that while everyday life here can be pretty tiring and demanding - what with commuting, school issues and work - America is bloody lovely for holidays.