“I love Lake Tahoe,” my little one, 5 at the time, declared on the second day of our short vacation. It was a beautiful April spring morning in 2015. She was frolicking outside picking at the remnants of snow on the ground in our beautiful wooden cabin nicely tucked away in fir trees.
Her random declaration made me smile. I loved Lake Tahoe too but this was not my first time here. I had visited with friends 15 years before in my youth but we stayed in South Lake Tahoe, which is a little more suited for younger folks. North Lake Tahoe is a quieter, sleepier place that’s great for families.
Our short vacation almost never happened. My dad was terminally ill and had started deteriorating at the beginning of the year. I was torn between taking my kids on their much anticipated getaway (their first to Lake Tahoe) versus staying home and waiting to see how my dad’s health would fair.
It had been a stressful start of the year and mentally and emotionally I was struggling to keep it together. Deep down, I knew that the few days away (3 nights) would be good not just for me, but also for my family, especially my girls (who wants to be around a stressed out, short tempered, and miserable person all the time?) So with some uneasiness, I decided to book the vacation. As a precaution, I purchased insurance just in case something happened to my dad and we had to cancel or return home quickly.
Thankfully, my dad hang in there but only for a little while. He passed away on April 28. It was the saddest day of my life and tough to get through. It’s been a little over 2 years now and I still feel a deep sense of loss and miss him dearly. I believe that without the 4 days in Lake Tahoe, it would have been much more difficult to handle it because my mind, body and spirit were in the wrong place.
There are lots of things I can attribute to putting me in the right space. Maybe it was the lovely wooden cabin with a breathtaking lake view or the trip down memory lane to the stunning Emerald Bay where we were lucky to spot a brown bear roadside.
Perhaps, it was the scenic and relaxing horse carriage ride in South Lake Tahoe or our stop by Kings Beach to enjoy the lake view and snow capped mountains in the backdrop or our snow fight and visit to the Olympic Park at Squaw Valley. Maybe it was listening to my children’s laughter and feeling their excitement as they experienced this majestic place. Whatever it was, all I know is that it made us feel good. We left Lake Tahoe wishing we could have stayed longer and promised ourselves we would be back.
And sure enough, in the summer of June 2016, we returned to another beautiful lake view cabin. A few months before, I had asked my little one, now six, whether she wanted to go to Disneyland (which she had visited a couple of years before) or Lake Tahoe. Delightfully, she chose the latter!
This time, we packed our trip with more fun activities. From a one hour horse riding trail ride through the mountains (yes my little one rode on her own adult horse too!) to lazy beach days at beautiful Sand Harbor on the border of Nevada and Lake Tahoe where I knocked off a headstand from my bucket list (I’m easy to please!) and Zephyr Cove in South Lake Tahoe, we had so much fun that we extended our stay an extra day.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and we were right back to our most favorite vacation spot. A 6-day, 5-night stay in yet another beautiful lake view cabin this time in the quaint, picturesque, mountain town of Tahoe City. We’re veterans now and knew exactly what we wanted to do: repeat our one hour horse riding trail ride and laze around the beautiful beaches.
We added a couple of new thrilling adventures to our trip; a spontaneous 3 mile, 2 1/2 hour thrilling rafting trip down Truckee River (inspired by seeing other folks rafting down the river on our first vacation day) and a lunch cruise on the Tahoe Gal to the historic Emerald Bay (who knew that Tahoe had so much history!) Swimming in the clear waters was rejuvenating, almost spiritual. Taking a tour of Emerald Bay from the cruise was a surprising and mind opening experience that gave us a wonderful new perspective on something familiar.
It was during our third day and on the lower deck of the Tahoe Gal that I had my epiphany. I woke up as usual before everyone else, made myself a cup of tea and sat outside to take in the fresh morning air and lake view. As I looked out into the snow capped mountains and pondered the lunch cruise ahead, I realized that I had found my happy place.
Below deck on the Tahoe Gal.
Here’s how I discovered that Lake Tahoe was my happy place and how you can find your special place too:
1. Easy access to luxurious but affordable cabins with breathtaking lake views and lovely amenities.
2. Ability to find inner peace whenever you visit – your brain refuses to wander. You stay in the moment.
3. Can’t get enough of the beauty around you
4. Discover and experience an abundance of things you love – for us, it’s horse riding, beautiful beaches and rivers, breathtaking landscapes, snow capped mountains, sunny days, quaint little towns, and lovely hiking trails.
5. Endless list of adventurous things to do – from hiking, biking, festivals (theatre, dance, music), rafting, to kayaking, SUP, paddle boarding, and more, you name it and it’s there for you to experience.
6. Delightful culinary options from restaurant and cafes with breathtaking lake views that leave the foodie in you wanting more.
6. Extend your stay by a day or two because leaving is unthinkable.
7. Plan to stay more days the next time you schedule your vacation.
8. Get an overwhelming sense of sadness when it’s time to leave
9. No matter how many times you’ve been there, you can’t wait for your next summer vacation so you can return.
10. Tell all your friends and family about it and urge them to give it a try.
11. Leave with a souvenir or two to remind you of your time there.
12. Fantasize about buying and owning a place.
I took this trip to Tahoe with a bit of apprehension because, frankly, this is not the happiest time in my life. I was worried that the challenges I’m facing would not allow me to relax and I would transfer my stress during our vacation to my family (not fair and not okay.)
Little did I know it would turn out to be one of the most memorable times I’ve had. I found the happiness and peace of mind that had been alluding me for the past 3 months. I don’t know how long the feeling will last. All I know is that it’s given me the fuel, courage, and strength I need to carry on with my life with a renewed sense of optimism, hope, and positivity. And that’s all I can ask of any vacation!
Your turn gapmusers! What is your happy place and how did you find it? Share with us and our readers below so we too can be inspired.
I leave you today with these fitting and moving thoughts from my 13 year daughter about the first day of her Tahoe experience this year:
“A fresh start to a familiar place.
More time to let your mind escape
Adventures that lead you deeper
to the heart of nature’s finest keepers.
But what is exciting is to let nature find the new in you.” – WM