Once upon a time, I quit my job and chased a dream. Chased it all the way to Heavenly, South Lake Tahoe. I’d been to California before, a couple times actually, but 2013 was the year it would mesmerise me. It was also the worst snow year of the six seasons I would do – though was topped by the abysmal Alaska trip of 2014.
I don’t know what has spurred me on my recent drive to wade through the endless (mostly terrible) photos that captured moments of a life that now seems lifetimes ago, but, here are a few. I’m a different person now than I was then…thank God for that!
My time here may have been brief, this town may be tiny and I may not have managed to do any of the things I came here for. Nevertheless, even I can’t deny how pretty Girdwood is. Especially when the sun shines.
>> Pictures >>
Our one day excursion from Las Vegas turned out to be not for the faint of heart. We had, after much debate, decided upon renting a car and driving out to the Grand Canyon ourselves, because we also wanted to see the Hoover Dam.
There are a thousand and one tour options for either or both, and it might take a week just to filter through the differences between each operator, never mind each tour. Our primary criteria were price, being able to do both attractions somewhat meaningfully, and being able to do it in one day, out of the three we had in Vegas. With that in mind, we were still presented with a myriad of choices, which were very helpfully filtered out by one of the office locations on the Strip, advertising tour sales.
>> Pictures after the jump >>
We ended up in Santa Monica a lot sooner than expected.
The three day itinerary we had spent the best part of a month planning, ended up down the toilet, when, as previously mentioned, the rental car we took to get all our crap down the coast, cost us a ton more than expected. We had booked through Avis, and having done this a bunch times already in car crazy America, checked all the right boxes and selected the right vehicle type, but when we got to the rental location, the only compact car they had left was a Corolla, which wouldn’t comfortably fit our snowboard bags, and us, for what was intended to be a leisurely drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. So we got stuck with a behemoth of a Chevy Impala, that tripled our car budget, never mind the gas needed to make it move.
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All coastlines were not born equal. Don’t believe me? Take a drive down Route 1 in California, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway, and try to say differently. Sure, coastlines are just jagged rock meeting crashing surf and a great expanse of untamed ocean but, this particular coast is mesmerising in a way not really done justice by pictures. Of course, doesn’t mean we won’t try!
>> Keep reading >>
Word from the wiser – peddling your way around San Francisco’s 49sq miles is a great way to see it. But remember that it’s not a cruise in the park like most other major cities. Maps will deceive you in ways you can’t imagine when you suddenly find yourself face to face with a gradient you barely want to walk up, never mind peddle pushing. Needless to say, today has been a long day, what with being up at the crack of dawn to move the rental car from its precarious spot painted ‘NO PARKING’ with vague time references, to biking within an inch of our bum’s lives around San Francisco’s hills.
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Alas, another winter is over. The boards packed and the suitcases too. As unexpected as the season was in terms of snow fall and town vibe, we’re going to miss Heavenly. No doubt we’ll be back at some point – nobody does blue skies and sunny days quite like South Lake Tahoe.
We didn’t exactly skip a beat upon our departure either. The rental car was picked up at 9am and by 12:30pm, we were unloading into our temporary new home, in Pacific Heights. As far as rental cars go, definitely the worst one we’ve stumbled upon so far – Ford Fusion. Poor ergonomics in terms of seat comfort, no USB port for iPod and engine seemed to struggle with San Francisco’s steep hills. Good thing we’re giving it back tomorrow – especially because parking here is worse than London; and I don’t refer to the grades of the roads, but to space availability. >> Keep reading >>