Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Come with Us on These Two Road Trips in Eight Days!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Come with Us on These Two Road Trips in Eight Days!

on South Lake Tahoe, just beside Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort

We love road trips. It is the best way to see the grandeur of the US, through its massive road network, stopping by places you planned to visit as well as just because they suddenly come up inviting you for a brief look-see. The sense of freedom you get is absolute. Our five-year crisscrossing of the North American continent in an RV (49 American states, 9 Canadian provinces, and 6 Mexican states) was the subject of my book, Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream, released in May 2015.

My last post was on the road trip from Seattle, after flying in from Anchorage, Alaska, to Northwest Oregon and the day trips from our base in Seaside. This one and the next are about the four road trips we took down the West Coast from Oregon to California from where we flew to Mexico, our last vacation before going back to our base in Phoenix for the winter. The two road trips featured on this post took us to Livermore and Lake Tahoe, California in all of eight days.

scenes on our road trip to Livermore
Road Trip 1: Seaside, Oregon to Livermore, California

It's eleven hours on the road from Seaside to Livermore, through all of 717 miles on US 26 East and then Interstate 5 South. After eight hours of driving, we stopped at Red Bluff, California for the night. The following day, in just three hours, we were at the new home of my daughter Trisha who had moved from Seattle for hubby Deejay’s new job with the City.  Interstate driving is not as fun as the back roads, but I found a few bright yellows spots, including a factory, hot-air balloons, and the sunburnt fields.

Livermore's tree sweaters
After a tour of their new home and the amenities of their apartment complex, we met my son-in-law Deejay for lunch at First Street Ale House, home of the largest collection of beer cans in the world. Before lunch, I was busy with a treasure hunt. Trees in front of small businesses in downtown Livermore were wearing colorful knitted sweaters! What a cool way to protect them from the winter cold that’s coming. We found 15 of them!

After lunch, Trisha took us to the south side of the City, a wine valley that is closing in on Napa and Sonoma fame. We visited the supposed best, Wente Vineyards, to sample their wines. The city has a population of more than 87,000 and is the home of the Livermore National Laboratory for which the chemical element livermorium is named, placing the city name in the periodic table!

the vineyards of Livermore
scenes on our road trip to Lake Tahoe

Road Trip 2: Livermore to South Lake Tahoe, California

It was a short but sweet visit. We arrived at 11 am and left at 4 pm which was, unfortunately, rush hour. So we feared our 3-hour drive to Lake Tahoe would be a lot more. We got caught in the traffic on Interstate 508. People were going home to the suburbs from the San Francisco Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Wind turbines rising out of the golden “desert lands” kept us interested. They seemed to make a bold statement. But Interstate 5 was a drab six to eight-lane highway that offered no excitement. Neither did we get the scenic drive we hoped for on US 50 because, sadly, it was already dark when we got there. And it was raining.

scenes around South Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America with depths up to 1,645 ft, the second deepest in the US after Crater Lake. It is also the sixth largest by volume at 122,160,280 acre·ft, just behind the five Great Lakes. More than 75% of the lake's watershed is national forest, so mountain scenery is as cherished as those around the lake throughout the year. Of course, there are numerous ski resorts and other winter places as well as beaches and other summer spots.

our timeshare at South Lake Tahoe
For a week, we stayed at a comfortable 1 BR suite at our timeshare, Diamond Resort International's Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort. It became frenzied when Trisha, Deejay, and their son, 10-year old Kenji joined us for the weekend. We frequented the heated pool and hot tubs and the recreation area with table tennis, billiards, foosball, and air hockey, And there was a lot of good food at the Bear Moon Bar and Grill aside from what we cooked in our kitchen.

downtown South Lake Tahoe with Kenji
Downtown South Lake Tahoe  offered lots of shopping and sight-seeing opportunities. It is the most populous city (over 21,000) in the Sierra Nevadas. The city extends about 5 miles along US 50 (also Lake Tahoe Boulevard). The east end is right on the California-Nevada state line, next to the town of Stateline, Nevada which is where the shops, Heavenly Mountain Resort and casinos like Harrah’s are, taking advantage of more favorable taxes. Kenji and I had so much fun having our pictures taken around the shops.

In my next post, I write about the two road trips we made to two other exciting cities: Reno, Nevada and Capistrano Beach, California.

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