Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cali trip report - Part I

Day 1
Thursday morning was a mad dash to get out the door. I knew there were a ton of chores to get wrapped up while Kat was at her last day of class, and not much time to waste. I almost succeeded with having everything ready by the time she returned, and we managed to get on the road shortly before 2pm. By the time we were south of Portland it seemed like we had traveled back in time about 3 months. The sky darkened and the clouds dumped rain on us as if it were early March, not June. We found a Motel 6 in Medford around 11pm to crash at after traveling nearly 500 miles our first day.

Day 2
Left Medford, OR just after 8am after getting some crappy coffee and filling up in the state of cheap gas. Crossing into California on I-5 was pretty uninteresting to start. Kat and I pointed and joked at the palm trees along the highway that certainly weren’t indigenous. Mt. Shasta was a welcome sight for us however, which looms over Northern California much like Rainier. I was more and more uncomfortable the further south we got. I think it was following the highway pointing us in the direction of Los Angeles.

When we reached Sacramento, we headed East on US-50, and the trip completely changed. After hours of dry hills and commercially placed palm trees, now that we were driving towards the Sierra Mountains and Tahoe the scenery was much more pleasant and familiar. Suddenly we were deep in the woods and beginning a climb into the mountains, following the South Fork of the American River. South Lake Tahoe reminded Kat of Aspen, Colorado – a resort town that lies right at the ski slopes. We checked into our hotel to change and quickly had to leave for scheduled wedding festivities.

We toured the Lake for 90 minutes on a modified yacht. Family stories were told, drinks were served and pictures were taken. The highlight of the cruise was circling Emerald Bay, small cove at the corner of the lake that was at one point privately owned, but now a State Park and National Landmark. Afterwards, the wedding party and guests met at the casino for clubbing and gaming. We walked 2 blocks across the Stateline to Nevada where the Casino strip beckons tourists to lose their money. Eventually, I sat with the boys at a blackjack table and donated $140 to the casino over the course of a few hours. Kat was most amused by being able to order a beer after 2am and be able to walk the streets of Nevada with a drink in hand. We finally headed back to our hotel in California at 3 in the morning.

Day 3
In the morning, we found a diner for breakfast a few blocks west we could walk to. This walk also helped us find a Starbucks in the area, which ended up being the only places that had anything than drip coffee or Folger’s for most of our time in California. After breakfast we made our way back to the hotel and prepared for the early afternoon wedding.
Lake Tahoe
The wedding took place on the shores of Lake Tahoe. It was small and lasted no more than 30 minutes. The weather was beautiful and helped for a very memorable day. After the wedding and pictures, the guests made their way to the Port House for the reception dinner. I had the lobster tail, which was very succulent and enjoyable. We were also able to enjoy some decent beer here, New Belgium’s 1886, a dark Belgian ale.

Later in the evening we all gathered again at the casino for more clubbing and gaming. Kat is a reluctant gambler, but she had some fun at the Wheel of Fortune slots. We played $20, and at one point she had run that all the way up to $170. We ended up cashing out for $100, which was a nice win after my previous night’s blackjack loss. The entire group was tired from the Friday night party, and we ended up going to bed soon after.

Stay tuned for more to come!

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