Leaving Sugar Pine, California, we drove through the town of Mariposa which seemed like it would be a great base for exploring Yosemite. The town sprung up during the California gold rush when people came from far and wide to pan for gold in its stream beds.
We noticed there were two museums about the town’s mining history, which I think would be worth a visit. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to stop off.
On our travel through Mariposa County, we saw a lot of trucks heavily laden with logs. This continued on our whole drive to the West Coast and we saw a lot of tree felling too.
We also saw great stretches of burnt earth and trees, which were a very sorry sight. The area is susceptible to forest fires, as are all the forested areas in the country.
We crossed the Merced river and travelled a very windy road through the mountains.
We passed through Oakdale, California, which is dubbed “The Cowboy Capital”. There were certainly many ranches with hundreds of cattle, and plenty of horse corrals.
and once again we drove past miles of farming land with fruit and nut orchards and sugar cane and cornfields aplenty. As I mentioned in my previous posts, the scenery is so varied on our long journeys.
In the early afternoon, we entered an area of pine forests, which led us to our destination of South Lake Tahoe, California.
Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine Lake in America and the second deepest at a whopping 501 metres deep at some points! South Lake Tahoe is the biggest city on Lake Tahoe and is both a summer and winter playground. This beautiful lake area is enjoyed for its watersports and hiking trails during the summer months and skiing and winter sports, in mountain resorts like Heavenly, during the winter months. There is always a lot going on and a good nightlife scene. South Lake Tahoe straddles California and Nevada.
We were staying in a residential area on the Californian side in a very cosy cabin, with so many lovely touches, we felt at home right away 🙂
There were fairy lights around the girl’s bedroom – so cosy.
We counted 42 bear ornaments
and 16 deers, not to mention squirrels, pinecones etc. This is just a tiny sample!
On our first day, it rained the whole morning – as was typical of our trip thus far! so we spent the morning inside playing, sewing, reading and dressing “Burford Bear” in the different accessories that were provided for him 🙂
As you can see, the girls enjoyed dressing up too!
By the afternoon, the rain had stopped and the sun had dried away any traces of rain, so we seized the moment to walk to the lake for a swim in the crystal clear waters. Great swathes of the beach are private property, but there was a small public beach which was absolutely fine. I assume there are further beaches along the coast that we did not get to explore.
The water was a little chilly (it being an alpine lake!) but it was very refreshing 🙂 and good to be outside. There is nothing like lake swimming – so relaxing. Our daughters found it a bit too cold so didn’t stay in long enough to take a photo, but they still fancied an ice cream afterwards! 🙂
The area is really pretty, with alpine huts and a friendly relaxed atmosphere.
In the evening, we went back to the coast for a meal. It was lovely to sit outside and was by far the best food we had eaten on our trip so far (except at our friends house in Colorado). The area is very expensive – an ice cream cost $5, so as usual we parents did not qualify! But it had a lovely holiday feeling which we appreciated – since we were on holiday 😉
We got talking to some ‘mature’ lady visitors at the restaurant who were delighted that we were playing cards whilst waiting for our meal. We always do this to pass the time or we play “guess the animal” (someone thinks of an animal and we ask lots of questions with yes and no answers, to find out what animal they have in mind. Requires no props so always good at any moment!) I do think from our observations, that people of our age rely more and more on gadgets to amuse their children in restaurants, so I think they found our set up familiar and refreshing 🙂
On our second day, we had planned to visit the incredibly beautiful Emerald Bay and walk one of the trails, but unfortunately a couple of us weren’t in the mood for driving anywhere and needed another day close to home (by this time we were over half way through our trip and flagging a bit from all the moving around). My husband and our daughters went for another swim whilst I sat at home and did some knitting and reading (first time in the whole trip!)
Later in the afternoon, we enjoyed watching the wildlife on our doorstep – chickarees (see above – so sweet!), Stellar’s jays, tree creepers and a woodpecker pecking away at a neighbouring house!
We really enjoyed being in the area and would have liked to have stayed longer to explore South Lake Tahoe further, but we had a tight schedule for our trip and needed to move on.