We continued driving north in California. We spent the next several hours on State Route 49, also known as the “Golden Chain Highway” and the “Gold-Rush Trail.” SR 49 is a north-south highway that passes through many historic mining communities of the 1849 California gold rush. Highway 49 is numbered after the “49ers”, the waves of immigrants who swept into the area looking for gold. Some of the towns we passed through were quite small and many had closed-down businesses. It was exciting, though, to think about how rich some people became as a result of finding gold in this area a long time ago.
Lake Tahoe wasn’t on our original list of places to see while in California. We thought that if we had extra time, we would drive by and check it out. Since we were not able to find a campground at Yosemite, we decided to head north towards Lake Tahoe, and we were happy that we did. Here is a map of the area.
We entered from the south from Route 50 to 89 N. There are only a few RV Resorts on Lake Tahoe that can accommodate trailers longer than 15 feet. We were able to get a site, #162, at Fallen Leaf Lake Campground, but just for one night. Without a reservation, they can only provide walk-ins with a one night stay. We set up camp for the night, and off to sleep we went. We got up early the next morning and took our bikes down to the Fallen Leaf Lake to do a little exploring before we had to leave. You can see more snow-capped mountains off in the distance. It was quite beautiful.
Afterwards, we hooked up the trailer, got back in the truck, and took a ride around the western shores of Lake Tahoe in search of our next spot. One of the first state parks that we passed was the famous “Emerald Bay” obviously named for the crystal clear blue-green water. This picture taken from the car does NOT do it justice.
We continued farther north and found Sugar Pine Point State Park, which could handle larger RV’s.
Some government parks only accept on-line reservations 48 hours in advance. They do, however, save a few spots but you are only allowed to stay one night. I guess the concept is that they don’t want to turn away desperate, tired drivers. They had a group spot, #44, available for one night only. We were told to check back the following morning after 9:00 a.m. to see if we could have that site (or possibly another site) for a second night. This process continued for each night we stayed. Luckily, we never had to move from the first spot.
We got settled and then took a drive north to get our water toys inspected. The inspection is free and mostly for boats with engines that can easily collect species from other waters in their motors. They looked at our watercraft, asked where we were last, and then gave us the okay. We stopped for a cold drink at River Ranch Lodge in Tahoe City before heading home.
The following morning, I had my second bear encounter. It was very exciting!! The first video shows an adolescent Black Bear wandering outside our trailer. I was inside our trailer taking the video. He was meandering his way over to us when a noise startled him and he ran off. Watch the video to see what scared him.
Soon after, the bear started back towards our site. If you zoom in, you can get a better look at him. He was so close to the trees that it was difficult to see him.
Scott was cooking pancakes and the smell must have been drifting outside of our window. The bear was just outside our door, about ten feet away. Scott suggested that I open the door to get a better video. My heart was racing with excitement and a little fear. I knew if he started at me, I could just jump back into the trailer and close the door. The bear appeared to be docile and non aggressive. I opened the door, and began filming my conversation with the bear. It went something like this, “Go bear. What do you want? Why are you here? This is my breakfast, not yours.” The bear was tilting its head from side to side as if to say, “What are you talking about?” After a very long 30 seconds, I shut the door with excitement not believing that I had just talked to a bear! Only problem was that I did not have the recorder on. I must have hit it twice. No video of my never-again-to-be-had experience with a friendly, real bear. Gosh, I wish I had that video to share. I will NEVER forget that moment.
Later that morning, we drove south from our campground to Baldwin Beach.
We parked our car in the lot, which was about a two-minute walk to the water.
We had to walk over a wet pond area in order to get to the beach to launch our kayaks.
Scott and I carried my kayak together first, and then I waited by the water’s edge while he went back to get his. Some locals offered to take my picture since I was struggling with my selfie.
It was a perfect day but we don’t have any more pictures from the water to share. Scott had the GoPro but our footage is not post material. The water wasn’t very calm as we had to deal with wakes from passing motor boats and jet skiers. Scott did well on the Stand Up Paddle board. I did not fair as well. Not only did I lose my balance, but when I fell, I landed on my bad knee, and then I fell into the water. We kayaked as far as Emerald Bay, only to realize that it looks so much prettier from up above. The water, however, is clean and clear. It reminded me of Lake George. Below is a picture of Emerald Bay from the road above.
We would like to come back to Lake Tahoe. Next time we will make a reservation in advance. Our next stop is Olema Campground near Point Reyes National Seashore.