Saturday, December 09, 2006

Lake Tahoe - PArt 2

continued from previous post...

I decided to split this Lake Tahoe megapost into two parts, because people were complaining that they don't have the patience to read the long posts (aka Έλλη). So after we ran away from the bears in the previous post and reached Emerald Bay, we took a few interesting pictures. Here's a nice picture with me and Dora:

and also here is a group picture (it was right before the other 3 guys were to join us):

After that we decided to travel to Tahoe City, a small town in the north and west side of the lake. Nothing too fancy, but there a couple of nice stores and restaurants. It was dawn at that time and I manages to take the following pic overviewing the lake and the clouds:

Incredible photo in my opinion... you can only get the reflection of the clouds if there is a lake (due to the fact there are no waves), and also you need a lake large enough to reflect them, and at the same time it has to be the right time of the day. I got all these 3 requirements here.

When we went back to our house, we started preparations for the big BBQ with steaks and salmon (wtf?) that we had planned. Here is the steak tower:

Here is a group picture with everyone around the fire:

The fact that we had to grill the salmon also was disgusting (to myself at least):

Later that night we played taboo, and then gathered around the fireplace and played Mafia (palermo) for over 4 hours... It was great fun as it has become one of my favorite games ever. There is just so much into this game. It is a must for groups of around 10 people (preferably if they know eachother!).

On the next day we had to decide how to spend the 3 hours of daylight we had (since by the time that everyone has to wake up, have breakfast, shower, prepare for the car trip and actually get there it was 1pm). We visited Emerald's Bay again, where I took some more beautiful pictures:

Then we decided to go for the hike that is exactly opposite of the bay. I hoped it would be a good choice since I failed to pick a trail without bears the day before:-) And in fact it was a great choice. It was the second best hike I have ever done (after the memorable Vernal Falls trail in Yosemite in May with the falls pouring water at full power!). The most original thing was the snow. Half of the path was covered in snow or ice (making it extremely hard to walk), plus as you go and climb up you get great views of lake Tahoe, plus the other smaller lake that is nearby (it was the first picture of the previous post), and at the same time the mountains are slightly covered in snow thus presenting extraordinary views. At the end we reached some half frozen falls...

Here is a view of the south shore of the lake as we saw it from up there:

After the hike we travelled to Tahoe City again for a few souvenirs, and we also went for dinner in an excellent restaurant called Jake's (on the right side of the road after the shops, ~$30 a person) by the lake. Over there we got our second to last group picture:

My only complain from the trip thus far was the fact that although there was snow in the ground, it didn't snow at all while we were there. This is a good thing on the one hand because we could go outside and play and walk and have fun and see around (yes, all 3 hours every day!). But on the last day, right when we were about to leave, it started snowing! We had to return the house keys by 12:00 noon and at 11:51 we took this great picture in front of our house:

We left at noon but it too us 12.5 hours to cover the 500 miles back to LA! The 5 freeway that connects California in the North-South axis has two lanes per direction but it was completely jammed around 6pm on that thanksgiving Sunday. It is an amazing feeling when you look around and all you see is dark and no lights for miles around you, however the freeway is completely packed with cars that barely move at 10mph! Despite California's 44M population, it is vastly empty...

The way back was not a waste of time. The fact that we had a minivan allowed us to have fun inside the car for almost all the way. People moved around, we told jokes, discussed, and ate. At some point, 6 hours after we had left Lake Tahoe, we realize we are still 300 miles away from LA! So we said "ok guys, we need to find something to discuss for the rest of the trip or else we will be bored to death". And then we had some of the most insightful discussions of the trip, with three main topics:

1. Do you believe in God?
2. Do you think there are alien life forms?
3. What is the difference between a scientist and an engineer?

I will return on the ideas put forth regarding these topics in a future post.

All in all, Lake Tahoe is a great place to have fun when you have good company. USC people traditionally went to lake tahoe in large groups over the past 5 years at least, and now it was our time. The minivan, the good company, the great house, plus the fact that we all were of similar attitude (for example no one wanted to sleep early or wake up too early for activities) helped in the creation of a most unique atmosphere. The place is not as beautiful as Yosemite (which still holds #1 for me in terms of physical beauty), but it is much more fun. I would like to visit in the summer too to watch the difference, although the cold and the fact that we had to gather inside the house with the fireplace made it an excellent short vacation. Everyone left happy!

(This is the huge matrix I created the day after we returned in order to divide and share the different costs of the trip...)