If you’ve been following along for any substantial amount of time, you’ll know two things about me:
- My mother and I are Lorelai and Rory. Or Donna and Sophie. Or whatever combination of extremely close, best-friends-level mother and daughter duo you want to insert there. She’s my rock, to put it simply.
- Tahoe is my (our) happy place.
So, naturally, combining these two things — my mom, and that magical mountain lake, namely — gave way to the sweetest five days I’ve had pretty much all year.
Now, I won’t lie to you. There was a part of me that was, admittedly, a little nervous about going back to the lake. I hadn’t been since the very last Christmas we spent up there, the year my grandparents sold their condo. That condo was like a second home to me, something that remained unwaveringly consistent, no matter what happened. While I understood the reasons behind selling it, that hardly made it less heartbreaking. In fact, I don’t think there’s a single member of my family that isn’t still a little sad about it, but honestly, I think that’s a good thing. It’s a sign of a loved, cherished, life-altering place, and that’s exactly the kind of place Number 14 was.
Still, for some reason, I was a little antsy about it.
Mostly excited, though. The boy can attest to this (and so can pretty much anyone else I saw in the weeks leading up to the trip). I barely talked of anything else. One thing, and one thing only, was getting me through the crazy couple of weeks that preceded the trip to Tahoe: that being, of course, the trip itself.
And, as I expected, the second I saw those crystal blue waters, any nervousness I did have dissipated quicker than a sand castle in high tide.
I was home.
My mother and I rented a condo a few down from ours, one that my family has stayed in many times before, particularly when a big crowd at Christmas caused overflow in Number 14. The boys couldn’t make the trip, so it was just the two of us… which, frankly, was perfect (no offense, boys).
Where We Ate
Food is a big part of Tahoe for us. We frequent a plethora of places, to the point where we know, and have coffee with, the people who work there.
This, of course, is the place where we know everyone so well, and it’s also the number one spot I recommend whenever anyone says they’re staying on the North Shore. You can’t go wrong with the garlic bread, the salad (extra gorgonzola), and the eggplant parmigiana. In fact, you so can’t go wrong with it to the point where my mom and I have ordered that for so long, our waitress, the sweetest woman on the earth, knows our order by heart… and put it in before we even sat down, it feels like. Oh, how we love and cherish this family joint.
Jake’s on the Lake
Another iconic Tahoe spot, nestled in the sadly fledgling Boatworks mall. (Is there someone I can speak to about starting a petition to revitalize the Boatworks? This is a serious inquiry. I’ll back that initiative.) Still, Jake’s boasts a beautiful view of the marina, all glass walls facing the water, and, perhaps best of all, Kimo Pie! Of course, my grandfather wasn’t there and my mom is allergic to macadamia nuts, so I didn’t enjoy the latter, but I did have a delicious pair of crab cakes and they brought me a bowl of ice cream with a candle in it once we told them it was a — very — belated birthday celebration. Oh… and we tried something new this time, something we dreamt about for days afterwards… Baked. Brie. Do I even need to say anything else about it? Didn’t think so.
This one is, yet again, a tradition. You just can’t beat their zucchini sticks, their fish tacos, or their view. Their deck is literally as iconic as their Wet Woody cocktails, as it’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy the latter. We got lucky, too, and the weather was absolutely perfect as we lounged and drank and ate and drank some more. The weather is a good thing, too, because responsible citizens that we are, we utilized the TART bus system for the very first time in our entire lives (Ubers are few and far between at the lake). We thought it was a genius idea… until, of course, the bus home was over an hour late! So what did we do? Well, what any sensible person would… we walked home. The full 2.6 miles, through the construction zone.
Hey, like I said, the weather was perfect.
What We Did
Let me preface this with a disclaimer: we weren’t there to do much. We were there to relax, to stare at the glorious blue water that stretches out from the end of the pier, to reminisce, to bond, and to drink a lot of wine. However, one of my mom’s favorite things to do is kayak, and I’m a pretty big fan of paddling, too, so we took advantage of our rental’s boats and the couple of not-so-windy mornings. There’s something about sitting atop a still lake, looking back at the September shores, which are decidedly less crowded than the summer ones. It’s simultaneously peaceful, powerful, and perfect.
Besides that, we walked a lot. We had to, with all that baked Brie we were eating. 😉
And we read. We’re both avid readers — being raised by a bookworm tends to make you one, too, oddly enough — and there’s nothing better than sitting by the water with a good book. Now, I let my mother read a particularly special book, but more on that later.
Each night, we’d take our happy hour to where we spent most of our day… the deck. We’d sit out there as long as the sun and the wind allowed it, before the temperature dipped below what even the most warm blooded Arizonan can handle. (Or maybe it’s cold blooded? I’m not particularly knowledgeable about reptiles.)
We’d enjoy dinner — which, after lunches the size of what we ate at Jake’s and Gar Woods, was often just popcorn, hummus, and salad — and watch a movie. Or, rather, I’d talk through one while my mom tried to watch. Whoops.
We’d last as long as the wine did, say our goodnights, and sleep so well in the Tahoe beds. There’s something about the mountain air that makes sleep so, so much more restful.
Each morning, I woke up a little after my mom, we put on a pot of coffee, and read our books until it was warm enough to brave the water or relocate to the porch to start the whole day over again.
It was, in a word, perfect.
And, frankly, it was harder than ever to come home.
So, thank you, Lorelai/Donna/Mamma. I know I’ve said this a million times before, but I also have no doubt you’re reading this, too. Thank you for the most perfect return to our happy place. I can’t wait for so many, many more.