Saturday, January 2, 2010

Our NON-trip to Lake Tahoe

Fernley, NV
Let me start by saying that YOU DO NOT WANT TO VACATION HERE! Now, the rest of the story.

Two years ago, I purchased a little get away vacation package through some time share place. (Side note: this really is the way to go. Very inexpensive room, usually with kitchen, a dinner or tickets to some local what-not all in exchange for 60 minutes of my time to listen to a well rehearsed sales pitch. To save hundreds of dollars, I’m willing to sit for an hour.) Anyway, we didn’t take the trip because life happened, and we’ve been trying to save up the money ever since. Well, they called and it was set to expire at the end of December. Our choices were Lake Tahoe or Vegas. Since we both hate Vegas, we decided to go to Tahoe.

We had to re-schedule since the boys both got bronchitis, but finally we were off on our 8-ish hour drive. I had checked the weather beforehand, and even though it is December, I figured that we could easily drive through the flurries that were forecast. Note: flurries in the Sierra Nevada mountains are definitely NOT like the flurries in Tooele.

About three hours from our destination, Bub asked me how much warmer it would be in Tahoe than in Tooele. I just looked at her incredulously. SHE had been the one to choose the destination, so I assumed that she had at least done a little bit of research. Nope. So, after a few seconds of mouth-open puzzlement, I said “It’s a ski resort. Why do you think that I brought the boys’ snow pants and gloves and boots?” “A ski resort?!??!?” she practically screamed. “We’re going to a ski resort?!?!?” Not happy…..

About an hour later, we hit the “flurries,” which meant that all traffic was crawling along the interstate at about 35 miles per hour with blowing wind and very limited visibility. Even less happy….. The boys become increasingly restless and the moms become increasingly agitated. We learned long ago that we are not one of those couples who can drive together happily for days on end. Eight hours is our limit. At that point, we are each ready to strangle the other. Add toddlers and bad weather to that mix, and life becomes increasingly unbearable.

So, we finally exit I-80 so that we can head South to Tahoe. The only thing (besides snow and bitter cold) standing in our way: a round-about with six different possibilities. We didn’t have good directions because, yes, I forgot to print them off. So, after going through the round-about a couple of times, we returned to the gas stations right off of the freeway where some very nice women described to me the route that we should take. They hadn’t finished long enough for me to say “Thank You” before Bub had popped her head in the door and informed me that we weren’t going any further. In addition to the horrible weather, we could hear plenty of sirens outside and occasionally an ambulance or police car would pass us. Yeah – probably a good idea to wait until morning even though we hadn’t budgeted this way.

So, we pulled into the first hotel that we found which also boasted a swimming pool. Ah, a pool. We can stay busy for hours in a pool. I checked us in while Bub tried to keep the boys from squirming out of their seats. We were thankfully on the ground level, so we whisked the boys into the room, changed diapers, and immediately started jumping on the beds to release some pent up energy. I headed to the casino restaurant to get some food and hustled over to the Wal-Mart for some wine and beer. More bed jumping and running around the room capped off the night. Finally, everyone fell asleep.

When I awoke the next morning, I quickly slipped on some clothes so that I could get something from the complementary continental breakfast. As I opened the door, I was greeted by sub-zero temperatures and a lovely view of three cars parked next to ours with front end damage. They hadn’t been there when we arrived. Yes. It was a good decision to stop when we did. Very good. The weather was televised as I walked into the lobby. “It’s cold.” Duh. “Roads are treacherous.” Well, that’s a newsflash. The gal at the counter had a printout of all road conditions in all directions. The message was, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Cannot proceed west. Not a good idea to return east. No reason to go north or south and you can’t even if you wanted to.” As I collected some apples, bananas, a bowl of dry Cheerios, and some mini-muffins, the news folks let me know that the snow is so bad that all schools and government offices have been shut down in a three county area.

Swimming, by god. The pool will save us!

So, we ate breakfast (and by “eat,” I mean that the boys glanced at it and continued to run around like maniacs), and got into our swimming gear, then our clothes, then our coats and snow boots. We trudged back to the lobby and quickly stripped poolside. Bub and Peanut were the first in, and at about her thighs and his ankles, she informed me that it was cold. COLD. No biggie – let’s just play in that little hot-tub next to the icy pool. No go. It was boiling hot. FOR THE FRIGGIN’ LOVE, PEOPLE! We swam for about ten minutes; we decided to go back to our room when the boys’ lips were purple….

After getting everyone dressed and watching more of the weather, I returned to the lobby to get the room for another night. We weren’t going anywhere. While there, I asked what we could do for fun. Answer: “There is a bowling alley, and then there’s the Wal-Mart.” Oh god.

When the snow had stopped falling for about three minutes, we piled into the car and took off to find the bowling alley – which was closed. So, we stopped to grab some sandwiches where I was only allowed to use my debit card since the manager couldn’t get through the snow with the money for the cash register. Back to the bowling alley – still closed. Back to our boring hotel with the frigid pool. Nobody could tell us how to get to a park or anything – and we totally would have gone because we had snow pants, snow boots, gloves, the works – after all, we were supposed to be staying at a ski resort….

After napping, we returned to the bowling alley which was finally open. When we walked in, it was like the angels in heaven started to sing because there – immediately to our right – was the biggest indoor play land I had ever seen. Oh, it was a thing of beauty. Balls to throw. Slides to fly down, ladders, chutes, tunnels, games, and even cool gun things that we could use to shoot the balls. Lovely.

We started with a game of bowling which the boys loved immensely. They liked pushing the balls, watching the ball return, running, climbing on the seats, cheering when the pins fell. And, we weren’t trapped in a hotel room. It was great. Peanut even got a strike – a very slow strike, but a strike nonetheless. Then, we went to the play land and started out small while the manager turned on the air compressor (for the shooting of the balls). We played, we rolled balls, we climbed, and then someone bumped a button on one of the air compressor do-hickeys which let off a very loud release of air.

Our time in the play land was done before it even really got started. The noise was so scary that both boys cried and refused to go near anything. We bought some fries and two beers and watched them while they pushed buttons on the ATM machine (which is a lot like a slot machine since nothing ever came of it in our favor). Back to our hotel prison, but not before making a stop at Wally’s. Yes, we did actually stop there as “something fun to do” as recommended by the desk clerk, and honestly, it was better than the stupid swimming pool! We finally got back to the room with some Chinese take-out in tow. Throughout the day and our hotel parking lot, we saw many more accidents and damaged cars. What a mess.

We jumped on the beds more, and I allowed the boys to splash as much water out of the bathtub as they possibly could. We also drew pictures, watched movies, and tried to make decorative Christmas trees out of M&Ms and ice cream cones. Yeah – that wasn’t successful. Apparently, 2 ½ years just isn’t the right age for that kind of crafty project. They are more into abstract art anyway. And, the M&Ms distracted them from the overpriced fried rice.

The next morning was still friggin’ cold, but it had finally stopped snowing. We couldn’t get out of that town fast enough. The roads were decent although three hours were single lane behind semi trucks. The other lane just wasn’t passable. Oh, did I mention that it was on this trip that our wiper fluid pump decided to stop working? Yeah. So, we’re driving behind a convoy of semi trucks and cannot clean our windshield unless we stick a water bottle our and squirt the windshield every ten minutes.

Did I mention that this trip sucked?

The company that I purchased the trip through was generous enough to extend the vacation until April since we were detained by the weather. Our choices? Tahoe or Vegas. Bub's choice? Vegas (yuck) because "We're never going back to Tahoe. EVER!" Which I feel is unwarrented and unfair to the beautiful city/lake/people of the Tahoe area since we never actually MADE IT THERE!

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