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August 25, 2008

Trees! Water! Chocolate!


Oh, Lake Tahoe is beautiful! Once you get there.

I'd never been to Lake Tahoe before. My mom keeps saying that I have been there ("We took you there when you were little!") but then I called my dad and he said, "I've never been to Lake Tahoe either. She must have gone there with some other guy and his little girl!" which made my mom throw a shoe at him. I heard it thud in the background. I love being a source of family harmony and togetherness.

But getting to Lake Tahoe involved me hauling myself onto an airplane that had PROPELLERS. And there was no upgrading to first class, unless first class was hidden in the cockpit and I can tell you without a doubt they were seriously not letting me in the cockpit. I could tell they had warm cookies in there, too, I could smell them. Or maybe it was phantom cookies, I do not know! What I also do not know is why on God's green earth does every single airplane trip I take seem to begin with leaving my house at four o'clock in the morning? WHY OH WHY. Vacations are supposed to be fun and not horrifying things you want to stab with your curling iron at four in the morning.

ANYWAY. So I made it to LAX at the earliest possible time that wasn't the day before and the airplane was this charade of a flying machine piloted by Rocky and Bullwinkle. With propellers. And I started having a miniature freak out (because really, how large a freak out can one muster up at the buttcrack of dawn?) thinking, "Oh crap! Is this one of the scary airplanes all those commenters mentioned where they weigh the passengers with their luggage? And if so can I claim my luggage weighs 125 pounds?" but all was well and no weighing was required. And I managed to not fall out of the plane or barf on the way or get arrested for pounding on the cockpit door and asking for an upgrade. Yay me!

Also, how awesome do you think it is to have to fly with me? On a scale of like, zero to minus zero?


SO finally we landed in Reno, destination of said exotic airplane, and I got into my Budget Rental car and drove to... someplace not Lake Tahoe. One would think that a large body of water smack in the middle of the map would be rather more easy to find and one would be wrong, if one were me.

Now I do not think most people go on road trips the way I do. Not that you would call driving from the airport in Reno, Nevada to South Lake Tahoe (also on the Nevada side!) any road trip of real meaning. HOWEVER, I have great powers, amazing powers, powers that can turn a simple "Turn left and get on the freeway then exit at so-and-so") into hours of exploration of new territories.

Once when I was married, Mr. X and I went on a trip to Norway. I think we were on our way to Lillehammer one day, or someplace, and I was driving this leg of the trip. Mr. X fell asleep in the passenger's seat and the day was so perfect, it was snowing lightly and I was listening to the radio and thinking about living in Norway and how nice that would be and imagining myself in all sorts of coats and possibly in this fantasy I was a spy and also taller -- not important -- and that is when I noticed we seemed, after many hours, to still not be in our destination. And also, the little flag hanging outside the gas station I had just passed seemed... faintly not Norwegian. So I drove on a little further and saw another flag and tried to conjure up my eighth grade recollection of the flags of the world because that last flag had seemed really, very Not-Norwegian.

And I pulled into a little market and got out the map and a few minutes later Mr. X woke up.
"Are we there already?" he asked. Yawned.
"Hey! Guess what! I have great news!" I said.
"Uh, ok?"

Because really, what kind of great news could I have after driving in the car all morning?

"So! Don't you think IKEA is awesome?" I asked. Rhetorically.
"Uh, yeah, sure." He was confused. "We're going to Ikea?" he said.
"No! EVEN BETTER! Guess where we are! Someplace you always wanted to go!"
"Oh man," he said. "Are we in freaking SWEDEN?"

By the way, I would like to point out for the record that was only the first time I accidentally ended up in Sweden. The second time I managed to get us to Sweden, which is apparently calling to me on some magnetic visceral level, was several years after the Norway-Sweden adventure. We were in a rental car at the airport in Copenhagen where IN MY DEFENSE the signs were totally not well-marked or even in existence, and I somehow did not get on the entrance to the freeway but instead ended up in the tunnel under the ocean connecting Denmark to Malmo, Sweden. And in case you weren't sure about this, the answer is No, you cannot flip a U-turn in an under-ocean tunnel! So we drove all the way to Sweden where we promptly paid our many fancy foreign dollars for the pleasure of taking the tunnel and the man in the nice toll booth handed us a convenient pre-printed map for getting back to Denmark (which, if you think about it, only CONFIRMS my story of poor and/or missing signage) and we turned around and went back to Denmark through the tunnel. Really now.

And see, just when I think I have shared all my safe-to-tell-in-public stories with you, I up and remember the story of how I accidentally managed to visit Sweden. TWICE. That is just awesome because who knows what-all kinds of stories I may have forgotten to tell you?

So. Where was I? Oh yes, driving around Nevada.

The guy at the desk of Budget Rental Car offered to upsell me a navigational device and I know -- really, I ALREADY KNOW -- how much people love these devices and claim they are the greatest things ever invented since Tivo and Light Beer. And I truly respect and honor your love of GPS navigation systems, I do! I, however, am old school and I prefer the good ol' tried-and-true method of using a paper map and getting a little detoured and depending on the kindness of strangers and my Pilgrim spirit. Also I'm just not very good at watching TV and driving at the same time, which is what those GPS things are like for me, moth to flame.

And there is a greater precedence at stake here, because if we have read any amount of cheesy spiritual selfhelpery AT ALL, don't we know by now that it is the JOURNEY which matters and not the destination? Aren't we supposed to adventure through life? (By the way, if you need some self-helpy platitudes twisted to justify your own crazyass quirks, just let me know! I'll be here all week, be sure to tip your waitress!)

Also, if we're being honest here, I like old-fashioned road maps! I love them. I feel it is my obligation to buy road maps and road atlases (atlasii?) so they will not become extinct one of these days, like phone books and movie times in the newspaper.

In other words, no, I did not get the GPS add-on and no, I am not the least bit sorry. Because had I been listening to some computer voice say, NO NO YOU IDIOT!! TURN BACK THERE!! I would never have seen this:

Giant weird statue!

Or this:
There's gold in them thar hills!

Or this:

Ah, road trips.

My hotel room was beyond great, and I neglected to take any pictures of it. Room service was also fabulous and was what I needed to heal me and make me well and I also neglected to take pictures of that. I was too busy watching Saved By The Bell and re-toxing my body while lounging in the jacuzzi tub in my room which is also possibly the greatest invention ever, eclipsing both beer and Tivo.

I did actually leave the room at some point, where I bumped into these characters:
tahoe-drew.jpg tahoe-maggie.jpg
Drew and Maggie! What are you doing on my vacation? What a coincidence! Actually, I think you should always pick a mini-vacation spot by calling your friends and asking them where they're going on vacation and then just show up all, "Oh my God! What a weird surprise!"

I kept marveling at how blue the sky was in this land of "we don't have smog." Generally I prefer my air brown and crunchy because that's how I know I'm home. But there is something to be said for clean air and trees of the not-palm variety and beautiful mountains and pristine natural vistas that you can enjoy for hours and then remember peacefully from the comfort of your jacuzzi tub.

Mmmm. Jacuzzi tub.

Posted by laurie at August 25, 2008 8:44 AM