First glimpse of Lake Tahoe

Reno and Lake Tahoe: Our First Visit

Surprise, surprise — Jason and I traveled to California for our Summer 2017 vacation!

Ok, this probably isn’t a huge surprise to those who know me or who have followed me for a while.

This summer we did change things up a bit. Instead of flying into San Francisco or Las Vegas en route to Yosemite National Park, we flew into Reno, NV and drove through the Lake Tahoe area.

After grabbing our requisite first meal — In-N-Out Burger — we headed to our hotel for the night, the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel. To say that I liked this hotel is an understatement.

Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel from the Reno Riverwalk

The decor at the Renaissance Reno mirrored the exact rustic, industrial look we’re going for in our own home. If we were looking for something to do, the hotel had a massive game room with bocce courts, arcade games, and a bar. There were amazing black and white photo murals of the surrounding mountains in the elevators. And had we been traveling with the dogs, the hotel is pet friendly.

The hotel’s location made it easy to explore downtown Reno. We walked along the Reno Riverwalk and down Virginia Street through a street festival among the casinos. You can tell that Reno has had a rough past, but you can see and feel the revitalization. After visiting Las Vegas a few times, I can honestly say that I prefer Reno.

Reno Riverwalk

The Reno Arch across Virginia Street

Jason made dinner reservations at Charlie Palmer Steak in the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino to celebrate our 9-year wedding anniversary. (And surprise! He also booked a massage for me the next morning at the resort’s spa as an anniversary gift!) Dinner was good, not great. My steak was overdone, which isn’t a good thing for a steakhouse. However, they managed the timing of our meal perfectly — not rushed, not slow, but just right.

The next morning, after my massage, we hit the road for Yosemite by way of Lake Tahoe. It was a beautiful drive from Reno up into the Sierra Nevadas. It didn’t take long to reach Lake Tahoe — maybe 45 minutes. And then came our first view of the lake …

First glimpse of Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe panorama

Just like our first view of Yosemite Valley seven years ago, the site of Lake Tahoe left us speechless … and left me a little teary-eyed. I was amazed by how huge and blue the lake is. And I’m a sucker for a big, blue lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains (case in point: my love for Tenaya Lake).

Because of the drive ahead of us, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the Tahoe area. At least we knew we’d have more time to stop on the way home. We drove along the west shore of the lake, grabbed lunch at a little place in South Lake Tahoe, and then continued on to Yosemite.

Before I wrap up this leg of the trip though, I have to share our drive from Sonora to Groveland. We popped into Sonora to pick up some food and supplies. Coming out of town, Google Maps told us that there was a route that could trim 5 minutes off our drive. Sounds good, right?

No, it was not good. The new route took us along Wards Ferry Road, possibly the most terrifying mountain road we’ve ever been on (and we’ve been on some doozies). At first, it was a beautiful country road … and then it narrowed into miles of tight turns with sheer drop-offs. Google it — it’s no joke.

Fool me once, Google, shame on you. Fool me twice …

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