Friday, October 5, 2012

Aunt Judy Visits Tahoe

The day after we returned from our Idaho trip, my aunt Judy arrived.  A week earlier she and her friend Elon had traveled from Michigan on the Amtrak Southwest Chief to Los Angeles.  Elon was attending a class reunion and staying with friends in (I believe) Costa Mesa and Judy stayed with my brother Doug and his wife Janis in Granada Hills.  She spent the week visiting with Doug, Janis, their daughters Becky and Mandy, and my parents (my mother is Judy's sister).

After her visit in Granada Hills she took the Amtrak Surfliner to San Luis Obispo where we met her.  My aunt Judy has always been more of a cousin or sister to me than an aunt as she is only a few years older than me.  We always have a good time together so Val and I were looking forward to her visit.

Dave, Val and Judy at Novo's in San Luis Obispo for lunch.
After a few day of visiting and catching up, it was off to Lake Tahoe.  Originally Judy had planned to take the train up to Sacremento to meet up with Elon (who had traveled north to visit relatives) and take the Amtrak California Zephyr back to Michigan, but since she had never been to Lake Tahoe, we came up with a better idea.  We would drive up to Placerville, CA, pick up Elon who was staying there with relatives, and then drive on up to Lake Tahoe for a couple of days and then put them on the train in Truckee, CA which is just north of Lake Tahoe.

As usual we were staying at Harrah's which is next to the lake right on the California / Nevada border.  We arrived in late afternoon, got checked in and settled and then met Judy and Elon in the casino for a little pre dinner gambling.  Harrah's was sold out for the weekend so it was very busy and noisy in the casino and Judy seemed a little overwhelmed; I think she had expected a quiet lakeside retreat.  We had a good Mexican dinner at the Cabo Wabo Restaurant across the street at Harvey's and then it was showtime.  As part of the weekend, we had gotten a pair of comped tickets to see Penn and Teller which we gave to Judy and Elon.  They said the show was very good and they both got their picture taken with Teller after the show, here's Judy.

Judy and Teller of Penn and Teller.
We all slept late the next morning and didn't do much of anything until lunch.  Here are Judy and Elon next to the waterfall in the American River Cafe in Harrah's.

Judy and Elon at lunch.
After lunch we had made reservations for a lake cruise on the Tahoe Queen which was a paddle wheel boat that was actually propelled by the paddle wheels.  It was a beautiful afternoon with warm, mild temperatures and perfect weather.  Here are some pictures of our lake cruise.

The marina with the Tahoe Queen.
Elon, Val and Judy before boarding with the Tahoe Queen in the background.
A beautiful day on Lake Tahoe.
Judy and Dave as we get underway.

Harrah's and Harvey's among the trees.  There's a reason they won't allow any more large hotels to be built.
Judy enjoying the day.
Judy again.
Emerald Bay.
Leaving Emerald Bay.
Perfect clouds added to the beauty of the day.
After our cruise it was back to the hotel for a little rest and free time before dinner where Elon's aunt and her friend John would be joining us.  We ate at the buffet which is on the 18th floor with beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains.  It was a good dinner with good company and we all had a great time.  This was Judy's and Elon's last evening in Tahoe as their train leaves tomorrow from Truckee.

We left for Truckee mid morning so we would have enough time to visit the Donner Emigrant Trail Museum in Donner State Park, but things didn't work out as planned.  We decided to drive to Truckee on the west side of the lake because we thought it would be more scenic, but what we didn't know was that the road was closed about halfway up due to a marathon being run.  So we turned around and retraced our route and started up the east side of the lake wasting about 45 minutes.  This wasn't the last of our missteps; despite driving this road many times, Val and I both missed the turnoff to North Lake Tahoe and ended up on Highway 50 headed for the Carson Valley.  Now it should have been an easy thing to just turn around and get going north again, but unfortunately, there are no places to turn around until you get all the way to Carson Valley.  Another 45 minutes lost.  

After our comedy of errors, we finally made it to Truckee where we no longer had time to visit the museum, but we did have time to have lunch and walk around and look at the shops.  The area around the Truckee train station is the old part of town so there were lots of places to eat and interesting shops.

Elon, Judy and Val having some ice cream for dessert at the old soda fountain.
Judy and Elon in the station waiting for the train.
Judy and Elon made it on the train without problem and we were on our way back to South Lake Tahoe (without all the mishaps this time).  Val and I decided to stay and extra day so we didn't leave until Tuesday.  As always, we had a great time in Tahoe, you couldn't have asked for better weather especially when you consider there was a heat wave going on at home with temperatures over 100 degrees.  

One note here; for some reason I was fascinated with the mirrors in the elevators at Harrah's.  When you stood on one side all you could see was your head and feet which I thought looked odd so every time I was in the elevator (alone) I tried to take pictures.  Here's one of many.

Dave's elevator self portrait.
We really enjoyed Judy's visit and meeting Elon, they were both a lot of fun to be with and we all had a great time.  When we came back from New Orleans on the train a couple of years ago, we had a layover in Chicago and after a seeing a little of the city in the short time we had, we decided we would like to spend more time there and see the sights of the city.  Judy, Val and I agreed it would be fun to meet in Chicago and see it together.  We haven't set a date yet, but I definitely think it's going to happen; see you in Chicago Judy.

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