It was a long time coming. On the calendar for months, teasing us. We were all getting together for a week in Tahoe. Timeshare trade put us up in the Ridge Tahoe on Kingsbury grade. Kate, Frank and Parker arrived Thursday night at SFO. Long day and late night for the North Carolina crew. Up Friday morning to pack the car and truck and head to the hills. Kelly flew into Sacramento airport around lunchtime. We picked her up and went to lunch in El Dorado Hills before we headed over the hill and to the lake. Stopped and shopped at the Stateline Raley's before we headed up the grade for our late afternoon check in. LET THE VACATION BEGIN!!
Its always a bit of a gamble when you are checking into a timeshare. Especially when you are checking into a place you have never been before. We were not disappointed. The units at the Ridge were perfect for us. Nice big two bedroom unit with great kitchen and super balcony with views of the Carson Valley way down below. The unit was recently upgraded with new furniture, flat screen TVs and kitchen appliances. Gas fireplace too! There were 6 units in our building. Each building had a roof top hot tub. The views from the roof were awesome. Kelly and Barb even did a sunrise hot tub one morning and Kate took some great pictures up there.
I hate to let Kelly and Kate and Frank know this, but the vacation was all about Parker. We miss everyone of course. But only being able to see Parker a few times a year is hard for Barb and I. When we do get our "Parker time" we want to take full advantage and enjoy every minute (every second!) of that little guy. Needless to say, Parker melts our hearts. At two and a half years of age, he is coming into his own, with his own little personality and everything. Parker is a wonderful kid. Full of love, and all boy. Parker and I spent some quality time together and I loved every second of it. Whether it was looking through the "noculars" on the balcony, or digging in the dirt with his toy trucks, it was fun for Parker and it was fun for me. We took tons of pictures and videos (Go Pro too) and shared them with each other along the way. We even hooked up the laptop to the TV so we could watch our vacation videos real time!!
In addition to Parker time, it was also a Fit Bit vacation. We all had fit bits and have been working together to provide encouragement to meet our daily goal of 10,000 steps a day. We were always comparing "stats" and encouraging each other. In addition to steps, the fit bit also tracks calories burned, stairs (or flights of stairs) and active minutes. In addition to fit bitting, we were also eating healthy this trip. No bags of chips and cookies and Ice creams. We cooked most of our meals in the condo. We cooked a big turkey breast and after eating off that a couple of days made a nice turkey soup. We brought the crock pot and made chili verde. Also did a good pot of turkey chili. I even made a frittata. That wasn't too healthy but it sure was good!!
We did a lot of walking and hiking this trip. Since we were up on the Ridge, I had checked and found that there were dozens of trails up there where we could literally take off from our front door and hit two legs of the Tahoe Rim Trail and many other. And we did! We even rented an "all terrain" stroller from some guy so we could take Parker and not have to carry him when he got tired. And, fyi, he rarely got tired.
Our first hike was Frank, Parker and I heading to Castle Rock. The Girls woke up with a bit of jet lag and elevation headaces so for this hike it was men only. There was a Tahoe Rim Trail (Kingsbury North to Spooner Lake) trailhead just one block down Kingsbury grade. We drove to that one and set off on a nice 5 mile round trip. The perfect distance for Parker. We were there early enough so we were pretty much the only people on the trail. About half way to Castle Rock, we did run into a lady with her dog coming the other way, but other than that it was just us in nature. Peace and quiet. Ahh. I pushed the empty stroller most of the way while Parker either walked (and ran!) with us or got carried by his dad. I parked the stroller at the castle rock junction and we all hiked the final leg to "the rock". The cool thing about Castle Rock is that you can see it from almost anywhere in south Lake Tahoe. So for the rest of the trip we were always eyeballing for Castle Rock, not only for landmark status but to be able to say, "we were there".
Hike number two was on a small part of the Kingsbury South leg of the TRT. Fortunately for us, the trailhead was walking distance from our condo and right next to the Heavenly stagecoach ski lift. So as we were starting our hike we could see skiers heading up and down the slopes! Auntie Kelly joined Parker, Frank and I for this hike. Since we were above 7500 feet elevation and it was the end of winter, even though we are in the middle of a drought, there was snow on the ground and on the trail as we headed up up up. It was so beautiful walking deeper into the high sierra wilderness. There was ice and snow everywhere but it wasn't that cold. We found a nice bench that someone had made ( I can appreciate!) so we took a short break there. We ventured further up the trail and went up far enough to where we could see Lake Tahoe in the distance!
Hike number three was just Frank and I. The night before we had decided to try the Van Sickle Trail. This trail runs from right near our condo down to Heavenly Village on Stateline. The map said about 3.3 miles. perfect distance. We would hike down to the lake, then call the girls have one of them come get us. Although weather forecasts called for possible snow, we were real surprised and excited when we woke up to find it snowing. Just a light snow but snow none-the-less. A little snow on the ground didn't stop us from hiking. When we got onto the trail it was so cool. Freshly fallen snow on the trail. Pristine beauty. And ours would be the first footprints of the day. The early start is definitely the way to go. Beat the crowds and have the "alpine hiking experience" all to yourself. We did! We took pictures and Go Pro videos all the way down. The views were awesome. We saw Castle Rock and views of the lake that not many tourists see. As we made our way further down the trail, the snow started to disappear. We hiked through the burnt trees from the 2004 Gondola fire. Life is returning but the message is clear. Only you can prevent forest fires! It seemed like more that three miles, but eventually Frank and I made it down to sunny Heavenly Village. Grabbed a Starbucks to celebrate. We sat at a table near the Gondola. There is a web cam there that shows the world what is going on at Heavenly village. Barb and I always check out the "gondola cam" whenever its snowing. Today the girls checked out the cam from our condo and saw Frank and I there drinking coffee.
We even got some time with Staci and her crew. When we told Staci of the upcoming vacation, she booked a couple of days at the "beach and ski" so that we could all be together. Staci's mom and dad even joined in the fun. We had a great dinner (table for 12 please!) together at the Lakeside Inn and a great afternoon on the beach at the beach and ski. Even though the water was cold, the kids wanted to swim. Parker and Colin were all in! Auntie Kelly and I were in up to our knees! Fortunately for us. the water is so shallow at this part of the lake, you can walk out 1000 yards and still be in water up to your knees. Still ice cold though!! Dinner that night at Barb's sister's Sarah's new place. She moved to south shore and is working at the Hard Rock. She cooked the whole crew a great dinner. We love her place and her cats, who put up with three little kids and a lot of commotion.
Finally got the family together for a hike to Eagle Falls and Emerald Bay on Wednesday. Again, the key is the early start. When we pulled into the parking lot of Eagle Falls trailhead, we were the first ones there. Again, nature all to ourselves! It was a short hike up to the falls and the bridge, the view of Emerald Bay from up there is spectacular! As part two of the hike, we made our way down to Vikingsholm Castle at the shores of Emerald bay. Took a little break and watched Parker chase a goose around the beach. And watched Kelly chase Parker who was chasing a goose on the beach. When we hiked back up to our car, the place was packed with tourists!! People everywhere? Hiking on the rocks that we had to ourselves just a couple of hours earlier.
The Tahoe part of our vacation was coming to an end. On the way out on Friday, we stopped at Horse Trail falls for a final hike in the Tahoe wilderness. Parker fell asleep on the way there so Grandma stayed in the car while the rest of us did a short and quick hike up the HUGE granite boulders to check out some of the falling water. We said goodbye to Lake Tahoe.
Fortunately we still had a couple of days together in Fremont before everyone went home. When we all got home on Friday night, we had the final batch of "Christmas enchiladas" that had been in the freezer waiting for this moment. We scarfed on Enchiladas that night!
Saturday was the day that Frank, Kelly and I hiked Mission peak. It was a great day and and a great day for a hike. Sunny and warm. Wild flowers in bloom too. Spending a week hiking in Tahoe really expanded our lungs, so, even though hiking Mission Peak is always hard, it was a little easier than usual. Saturday night dinner was Toto's Pizza! Kelly and I made the drive to Belmont and got two large pizzas which we pretty much devoured that night.
Sunday was departure day. A sad day. Frank and I did get in one last bike ride. We did a normal (what I would do on a"Saturday bike ride with the boys" route, 23 miles and a heart attack hill). Then early afternoon we took Kelly to San Jose airport and said goodbye. Then later that night we took Kate, Frank and Parker to SFO for their red-eye back home.
It was so good to spend some quality time with the family. Parker is a blessing for our family. Such a smart and happy kid. He melts my heart when he calls me papa. Whether its looking through the "noculars" with him or just digging in the dirt with his toy trucks, the time we spend with him is precious.
There are tons of videos on all of our YouTube channels. You can also check some of the pictures by clicking here.