Welcome to the second part of our honeymoon trip. It's been a while since I posted the first part as I've been busy working my way through the photos. I also had to wait until the end of October to upload them as we were really close on using up our monthly broadband bandwidth allocation for the month.
Anyway, here it is. It carries on from the end of the first post, so you may want to read that first to put this one into perspective. You don't have to though, I think you'll get the gist of things easily enough.
The next morning it was back on the road and off to Lake Tahoe. This was pretty much a constant uphill drive on Interstate 80 - one of the worst motorways I've every driven on in terms of ride comfort. First it was just in a bad state of repair on the Napa end, though a section around Sacramento was being relayed as we went through, and then it was gouged to pieces (probably from the snow chains people put on in the winter months) on the Lake Tahoe end.
Aside from the road quality, it was a good drive with relatively little traffic and we made our way to our lodgings in Squaw Valley, situated between Truckee and Tahoe City, in pretty good time.
This was definitely the luxurious part of our trip. The Squaw Valley (actually called Olympic Valley after the 1960 winter Olympics) is actually a ski resort (the 2nd largest around Lake Tahoe), but it's open all year round for hiking, biking and other crunchy side activities. There was no snow when we were there (we hadn't planned on there being any either), but it was still a beautiful setting and the accommodation was amazing.
We opted for self-catering for the 3 days we were in this neck of the woods and it's just as well we did. We were both getting a bit fed up of having to eat out all the time and were really just longing for some good ol' home cooking. It was also "between" seasons: summer officially ended on 30 September and most things were closed or deserted.
The apartment itself was a well designed and beautifully furnished studio apartment with everything (except the bathroom) in one room. It was all very well laid out and didn't give the feeling you were sleeping in the lounge or had a bed and kitchen in your living room. You can see this in the pictures I took.
As we were self-catering and had now checked out what we had at our disposal in the way of kitchen facilities (the works), it was off to Tahoe City for a bit of lunch and shopping. Tahoe City is a beautiful little town right on the edge of the lake and really doesn't live up to the "City" part of it's name: it's no where near big enough to be a city. Anyway, we soon found our way over to the Safeway to do a bit of shopping.
On the topic of Safeway and shopping: if you're ever in the US and plan on doing a bit of grocery shopping, you need to head over to Safeway and get a club card. This will save you a fair amount on your shopping straight away. I think we ended up saving in the region of $80 in the whole time we were in the US courtesy of the club card. The checkout lady who offered the card said we could use it straight away and just had to fill in the form and drop it off the next time we were in a Safeway store. As we don't live in the US, we didn't bother with this, but we certainly took full advantage of the savings. :-)
Anyway, back to our honeymoon. We spent the next 2 days just relaxing and taking in the sights around Lake Tahoe including Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe. One thing is for sure: Lake Tahoe is HUUUUGE and the area is very pretty. I bet it's amazing in the winter with a thick blanket of snow on everything.
On the morning of the 4th of October it was back into the car for the long drive down to Mammoth Lakes. Now we could have gone round the western side of the lake on Highway 89, but we'd already covered that route several times over the past few days so thought we'd go round the eastern side which took us into Nevada and on a slightly different scenic route. It had also snowed in high regions the night before and there is a section on the east side that is very steep and windy and could quite possibly have been closed or only open to cars with snow chains, which we did not have.
I'm glad we took that route too. It's quite amazing how different the general landscape in Nevada is when compared to California in the Lake Tahoe region. On the Californian side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains it's all lush and green and hilly, but the Nevada side is dry and flat, flat, flat and all within about 10 miles of each other. Going though Nevada also allowed us to drive along side the mountains and see their snow peaks without having to negotiate too many winding roads or mountain passes. It was really quite amazing.
After about 4 hours or so we started getting close to the Mammoth Lakes area and soon spotted a sign for the Mammoth Lakes Scenic loop. We were a bit ahead of schedule so we took it thinking it would drop us right into the middle of town or nearby. Nope. It's certainly a very scenic route and was a very pleasant drive, but it actually bypassed the town completely, though we didn't know it at the time. As we didn't know we'd missed the town, and the maps we had didn't actually details the scenic loop we just took, we guessed and turned right onto Minaret Road which was on our map.
Well, it's just as well we did. We were soon high up in the mountains in an area blanketed by snow. It was sooo beautiful. As we were looking for our hotel, we didn't stop, but vowed to comeback as soon as we'd checked in. We turned around and headed back down into town, found our hotel, checked in, popped into town for a quick bite of lunch and headed straight back up the hill to the snow.
If you know me, or any other Africans, you'll know what we're like around snow. If not, imagine it: I was like a kid in a sweetshop and was soon out in my shorts throwing snowballs and taking photos.
Once I'd had my fix, and Claire was half frozen to death, we jumped back into the car and headed back down the hill, right through town and back down to Interstate 395 to see what we could find down there. I'd read something about some hot springs in the area and wanted to go find them. One thing was apparent straight away: what a difference in weather. At the top of the hill it cold, foggy and cloudy. At the bottom of the hill it was was dry, warm and very sunny. You'll be able to see this in the photos I took.
After a short drive I saw some signs for Hot Creek, but nothing that explicitly indicated there were any hot springs. We drove on a bit to see if there were some more "touristy" signs for them. We didn't spot any, but we did spot a sign for Convict Lake and paid it a little visit. What a pretty little lake hidden in a valley. We had a quick mosey along the edge of the lake and jumped back in the car in search of the hot springs. We decided to head back to the sign we saw earlier and see what we could find.
After turning the hire car into a 4x4 - all hire cars are 4x4s, you just have to drive on dirt roads to enable that feature ;-) - we soon found the hot springs, or at least some of those in the area and I got all happy snappy with my camera again. We couldn't get too close as parts of the area had been closed off for safety reason following some recent "activity" in the earth's core in the area, though they didn't enlighten us with how recently.
The day finished off with a lovely HUUUUGE Italian meal in town and an early night. We had to be up early the next morning as the length of the next day's driving was heavily dependent on the weather, which I'll detail in my next installment.
For the time being feast your eyes on the slideshow of the photos I took on this leg of our honeymoon.