Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stevo Visits Tahoe and Conquers It!

My very very good friend from college, Steve Zander, just came for a lovely visit to beautiful Lake Tahoe. I owed him a tour of the place after all the bike rides he gave me to the bars when I had torn my ACL in Boulder =) So here's the recap:

I picked Steve up at the Reno Airport and we immediately went to California's famous burger chain, In-N-Out. After scarfing down a Double Double and shake, we headed back to Tahoe and went to a free Bluegrass kinda Funk show at the local casino, the Crystal Bay Club. The band, Blue Turtle Seduction, is one of my local faves and it wasn't crowded so there was plenty of room on the dance floor!

The next day I made pancakes (that were excellent if I must say so myself) and Steve asked where a good coffee place is, so we biked to Tahoe House that serves a rich strong coffee that is often nicknamed crack cocaine coffee because of the strong after effects. We enjoyed some tasty pastries and caffeine and then biked up to Squaw Valley where we began our steep hike to Shirley Lake and then up to High Camp. My 8oz coffee kicked in on the hike and I was in the zone not stopping for anything, even a steep slab of granite that we had to scramble up! We swam in Shirley Lake and then continued to High Camp where we took the Cable Car back down to the base, climbed on our bikes, and made the 9 mile trek back home.

The one great thing about Steve coming out to visit is that he already lives at altitude in Denver and is an active person, so I didn't take it easy on him in Tahoe. I feel I just need to defend myself here in case you think, as you read on, that I'm pushing Steve a little too much with the local hiking and biking Tahoe lifestyle =) He was ready for it!

That night we made a big delicious dinner with my roommates and played a little drunken Jenga, the original wooden block game! We stacked it up pretty high and then Matt pulled the wrong block and Steve captured some good shots with his highly expensive very nice Canon camera. A bunch of friends came over and then we biked to the local bars in a Tahoe style typical bike gang. It was a great night on the town!

Saturday, we had a delicious breakfast at the Old Post Office, saw some of the classic old wooden boats (Cris Crafts and Gar Woods) at the marina and visited a "Huge Yard Sale" that was disappointingly small only offering 10 VHS tapes and a bracelet. Steve fixed our shower because the water pressure in the shower head was awful, and then I made Steve get back on the bike to stroll down the West Shore. We got some great views of the lake and all the mansions that border it and hiked up to Eagle Rock which shows a nice elevated view of the lake, as you can see below. (Steve takes great photos!)
Then we met up with Katie and Bradford, packed up our overnight bags, and hiked down to Chimney Beach on the East Shore to do a little sleeping under the stars. So you're not supposed to camp down there and when we got to the beach some guy jumped out of the bushes at us and said with authority, "You guys are busted." It ended up being another camper who thought we were rangers and he was hiding from us. He and his pal were a little strange, but they made a fire in the Chimney and didn't bother us too much.

We all got a great nights sleep, including Bradford who was all cozy in his sleeping bag after going for a late night swim in the cold waters of Tahoe. We woke up to a beautiful sunrise and Tim Tam slams, which is a little chocolate snack brought over from New Zealand. This is the wonderful part about Tahoe: camping, star gazing, beautiful blue waters, endless bike paths, hiking trails and friendly outgoing people are all in your very backyard. You have to travel nowhere to experience a lifestyle that people in the city and suburbs travel hours to get to only to emerse themselves in Nature for the weekend. I love it here.

After eating breakfast at the local cafe, Bradford, Matt, Stevo and myself headed out for a gnarly hike starting from Emerald Bay, heading to Eagle Lake and then to Velma Lakes, crossing over to Maggie's Peaks and then back down the Bayview trail to a vista piont of Lake Tahoe. About 10 miles overall. Again, Steve is already aclimated! And it was a wonderful hike with a refreshing jump into Velma Lakes and delicious sandwhiches that were previously purchased.

We ended up at a different trailhead than where we started from, so the gang nominated me to hitchhike down the hill back to the car. It was logical: a girl should get a ride quicker than a guy. I hitchhike occasionally in Tahoe City and get a ride pretty fast, but this was a tourist's parking lot and NO ONE was picking me up. I even confronted a couple and said that I just needed a ride down the road and they looked at each other like I had a gun in my backpack and then replied, "We don't have room." Finally, a truck pulled over and the driver was from can always rely on the locals! He gave me a ride down the hill as Steve took photos of his liscense plate with his mega zoom just in case =0)

My roommate made dinner that night and then we pretty much just passed out.

Monday was the day for Steve's departure, so we ate at the BEST local breakfast joint, Fire Sign (we had tried to go Sunday but it was a hour and a half wait!) It was nice to have that morning to just hang out with my old college friend. The whole weekend was jam packed with adventures with some of my closest friends here in Tahoe. Everyone is always up for anything and I'm psyched that Steve got to hang out with everyone so much. Everyone wanted him to move to Tahoe, including me! And I'm still working on a persuasion plan.

So we went to Secret Cove on the West Shore to swim in one the the most amazing spots on the lake. Then it was time to head to the Airport. I was very sad to see such a good friend go, but also in life, we must travel and see all there is to see and meet good friends along the way. In a perfect world, I would create a community in the mountains where all my family and friends from all stages of life would live. But until they all turn into hippies and are willing to uproot from home, I will just have to settle with great visits to all the wonderful places where all my wonderful friends reside. And know you always have a home in Tahoe too!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Wedding in Chicago


Chicago is one of the coolest cities in this world, and we had the opportunity to check it out with a wedding perspective. My mom's best friend, Gail King, has a beautiful daughter who met a wonderful man and they tied the knot in complete style and class.

Sarah, the bride, and I used to set up lemonade stands at the top of Surfside Dr. in Kentucky and we would sell cookies and snacks too. I remember one guy emptied out his coin tray into our tip cup and we thought we were rich. But now she's all grown up and our family was able to participate in the big day, with Michael Fay, an old neighbor who now lives in Chicago, as a date for 3 lovely ladies.

Michael works at the Hyatt and hooked it up with a very nice room with a stunning view of downtown and the Chicago River. We heard a knock at the door and in comes room service with chocolate strawberries, local beer, cheese and wine and a nice note. Michael was raised well!!

We then headed to a little Polish place to celebrate a birthday for Greg, Gail's boyfriend. We enjoyed Polish beer and tons of meat, fried and delicious! And mom took home the bottle of port she's holding in her hand with her new Polish pal, the owner. =)

The next day included shopping on Michigan Avenue and meeting up with an old high school friend, Denise. We used to be lab partners freshman year in Physics and we haven't lost our sense of humor! Shelley's pants ripped getting into the cab, which was a hilarious episode, but luckily she had a nice shawl to tie around her waist to hide the rip. The sushi was great and it was so fun to catch up with old friends and enjoy some stylish nightlife! A little different from what we've got in Tahoe. And we're pretty sure our waiter was jacked up on steroids and Red Bull, which made the evening even more humorous.

The next day was rainy and gloomy so we enjoyed the Field Museum and walked passed Lalapalooza that was happening in Grant Park. It was entertaining to watch kids scout out the concert, jump the fence and run like hell and then watch a security officer take off after them.

That night Sarah and Adam arranged for a cocktail hour at the Drake Hotel, a classic of Chicago. My grandparents on my dad's side used to dine there occasionally and it was like walking back in time going through the Hotel. Shelley and I even slipped into the closed Cod room where a bartender was cleaning up. He ended up telling us old stories about the place as he showed us where Marilyn Monroe and the like had carved their initials into the bar top. It was a very tasteful evening.

And now, the wedding day. Sarah got married in a Cathedral right on Michigan Ave. The ceremony was short and sweet (so it was not a Catholic wedding) and then we all headed to the Alder Planetarium for the reception. Michael was a good date and hailed the cab for us while the wedding party took a cute little trolley.

The planetarium was an amazing place to have a reception. It is located at the end of a point that juts out into Lake Michigan. The result: an incredible view of the city. We were able to enjoy the setting sun with a cosmo in hand (and a beer for Michael) and a delicious meal. There are also fireworks that are set off from Navy Pier every Saturday night in the summer. And of course, the wedding was on a Saturday and we all were able to enjoy an uninterrupted view of the bright show. The band was a lot of fun and Sarah's friends are even more fun. The dance floor was pumping and even a Sarah's half brother, who is 4, couldn't stop break dancing! Sarah even had a photo booth set up to take group pictures like you would with all your friends at the movies in middle school.

(In the photo: Shelley, Sarah, Gail, Kathy, Kim)

When the party was over 2 city buses pulled up to the planetarium and we all loaded on. Some of Sarah's friends grabbed some bottles of Kaluha and downed shots like champs! It was very entertaining to hear all the sorority songs being sung by all the Tri Deltas on the bus!

We were drpped off at the Hyatt and Michael and I went out to the bars. City life is so diverse and entertaining with every type of person and bar imaginable around. Don't get me wrong, I love my mountains and being able to see the stars in the night sky, but if I could live in a city, it would be CHICAGO!!!