A Year In Mill Valley

End of Summer Fun at Lake Tahoe

A good friend of mine from Intel days — way back in the early 80’s — invited us up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend. We debated about whether we should go this year, as Rachel and the boys were just recently back from the UK (and they’d been a little teary when we first mentioned it, worrying that Rosie and Kitty would miss them if they went away again). But realizing that we wouldn’t have the chance to get away again until after the soccer season, we found a house sitter, packed up the car, and started off on Saturday morning.

The drive up was easy — we left at 9:30 and made it to this side of Donner Summit in just under 3 1/2 hours (including a 1/2 hour supermarket stop in Davis).

There were four families there, Steve and Wendy plus their two, Tara and Michael and their two, Aaron and Julia and their two, and the four of us (I see a pattern here…). The kids ranged from Sebastian at 4 to Marcus at 11, with a lot of overlap in between. (They got along pretty well, though there was a little too much playing pool and watching TV around dinner time. It’s a tough balancing act though, with so many other children, each of whom has different rules around TV and video games — how strict should you be, how much do you insist on imposing your own values on other kids and parents — all those interesting parental questions.)

We had a really nice time. We spent most of the time at Serene Lakes, with kayaks, canoes and various inner tubes. We put life jackets on the kids, and they paddled around the lake, in pairs, or at times all tied together. The wind came up at one point and a teenager in a kayak had to rescue them, paddling them upwind for a 1/4 mile or so…nothing worrisome (we did have a canoe we could have gotten them with), but after it happened they stopped asking why they couldn’t go out any further than the diving platform.

Sunday morning Steve, Aaron and I went for a 2 1/2 hour mountain bike ride, off-road in and around Royal Gorge(*) cross-country ski area. Unfortunately I didn’t take my camera with me, because the views were stunning. We met the wives and kids at the lake at noon time, and the gals spent the afternoon hiking up the ridge.

Dinners were fun. We fed the kids first, had cocktails while the kids watched a movie, put them to all to bed, and then shared food, cooking and cleanup.

The only slightly-less-than-fantastic experience we had was a fishing trip on Sunday afternoon. Aaron had promised Marcus that he would take him fishing, and of course all the other kids shouted “me!” when asked who else wanted to go. I’ve never been much of a fisherman — when I was a kid and we’d go fishing I’d always ask if I could drive the boat instead of fish — but at 4 o’clock on Sunday afternoon fishing I joined the other Dads in bundling 8 kids into 2 cars, and heading for Jackson Meadow Reservoir. Not knowing where the good fishing places were, Aaron had called the local Ace Hardware store for a recommendation. I have no idea if the guy he spoke with was trying to send us on a wild goose chase, or really thought that he was making a good recommendation, but you the reader should learn from our mistake. The water level was at least 50 feet down, the shores were very rocky, the kids kept snagging their lines on the bottom (I don’t know how many hooks, bobbers and weights we lost), and it took almost an hour to get there. We stuck it out for an hour — though if we got 20 minutes of fishing in I’d be surprised — then herded everyone back in the car and headed home. Looking back we should have tried to find something a little closer to home…heck, the Truckee River had enough water to make it interesting for the kids, and with a 5 minute drive we would have been waaaay ahead. Oh well, live and learn.

We left mid-morning on Monday, and played “which cars have been at Burning Man”, all the way back as we passed cars, trucks, campers and buses coated with dust, loaded with bicycles, piled with tents, and stuffed with furniture. Hey, maybe we’ll try that next year!

We stopped once near Vacaville for lunch, and pulled into our driveway before 2 o’clock. It was a very fun trip. Thanks Steve and Wendy!

(* Royal Gorge has been purchased by Foster-Syme (that’s Foster as in Foster City), who are trying to get permission to build 3000(!) units. If you ski there, you might want to get involved with the Save Donner Summit group.)

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