Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

July 31, 2014

July 2014 – Family Updates

Filed under: 2014 Lake Tahoe,Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 2:48 am

This month’s blog post includes 3 pages of pictures — click on the numbers above to see all pages.

July Highlights:

Returning to Lake Tahoe

Last year, we went to Vegas for our family vacation, but with temperatures consistently in the 112+ degree range, we weren’t able to do a lot of the “outdoorsy” stuff we would normally do. This led to a lot of hanging out around the pool with kids who quickly grew bored and wondered when we would be going back home again. So after a three year absence, we returned to our happy place: Lake Tahoe. Cathy and I have been coming here on and off, on our own, then later with the kids, for the past 20 years. We’ve built many memories here and this year we added a few more to the stockpile.

Ropes Course Adventure
Cathy “roped” us into doing the ropes course together as a family. Ropes courses consist of tall interconnected wooden beams you must traverse in many different ways — wires, ropes, moving wooden platforms, wooden beams, etc. They are meant to challenge your strength, balance, muscular coordination, and, in some ways, your bravery since you are traversing from heights of anywhere from 15 to 30 feet. Both Cathy and I marveled at how fast the kids were able to navigate through the ropes course. Cathy and I were markedly slower. Cat said she had to make sure she didn’t get injured so she’d be able to teach when she got back from vacation, and I mentioned I had to take it easy too because with Triathlon National Championships coming up and the last thing I wanted was to hurt something before the event. But even without those excuses, I think our kids would still have killed us in a head-to-head race — they just had no fear going across anything and that was cool to see.  In addition to the traversing we also had the opportunity to free fall while we rappelled down the posts — that was definitely a blast. In all, the course took about an hour or so to complete and left us all feeling good about our accomplishments.

Zip Lining
On our 2011 trip to Lake Tahoe, the kids found out about the Blue Streak Zip Line at Heavenly Valley. This particular zip line gives you a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe as you zoom down the 3,300 foot wire at speeds of up to 50+ mph. In 2011, the kids both wanted to do it but Luke was nowhere near the 75 lbs. minimum weight requirement so we skipped it and told the kids we would save that adventure for another year. Well, three years later, it was looking like Luke would still not hit the weight requirement as he was only about 72 lbs with about two weeks to go before the trip. But about a week before the trip I received this text from him (keep in mind Luke rarely texts anything longer than one or two words):






I thought Luke had resigned himself to not being able to ride the zip line this year, but unbeknownst to me the little guy was trying to increase his food intake so that he would make the cut. Just the fact that Luke sent me a text this long was a telling indicator that he was excited about his prospects of riding the Blue Streak and when he crossed the 76 lbs threshold (about a day before the trip) we were all convinced that Luke would get his opportunity.

So after our ropes course adventure we proceeded to take the ski lift to the top of the zip line with our tickets in hand. When we got off the lift and walked to the entrance for the zip line, I could tell the kids were a little nervous, especially Luke who got a little quiet. But that didn’t last too long as we were greeted by a young and outgoing employee who cracked a few jokes and told us and the rest of the people waiting a little bit about his background and how he grew up in a town not to far away where his graduating class had only 9 students. With the introductions out of the way, he asked all the people participating to follow him to the scale to make sure they were all the right weight. Luke was the first on the scale. “Oh no, 72 lbs. little buddy,” yelled out the employee for all to here, “you should have eaten a cheeseburger, fries and a drink…ah man that’s not going to do, I’m sorry little buddy.”

Luke was a little bummed, but I also think he felt a little relieved. However, after the big let down, other parents in line told Luke how sorry they were and some old timers also tried to cheer him up by making suggestions on how Luke could have added more weight to his frame: eat more, put rocks in your pockets, wear pants and a jacket with weights in them, etc.. They all meant well no doubt, but I did not get the impression Luke liked all the fanfare and being the center of attention in that way. He definitely needed a little quiet time after that but recovered an hour or so later and was back to his old self. The good news is Cat and Lilah got a chance to ride down the zip line together. Luke was okay with it all and knows that his time will come.

Luke’s low weight turned out to be a blessing in disguise in another matter. The kids were looking forward to parasailing. Given the cost of $60 per ride, Cat and I figured that we’d let the kids go up while I road along in the boat and took pictures. Well, because the combined weight of both kids was under 200 lbs., the kids needed another person to travel with them — that person ended up being me. I had only parasailed once before with Cat in Lake Tahoe (before the kids) and I remembered it was a good experience. A friend asked me if it was a crazy experience and I told him not at all. I think he imagined something wild like sky diving where you fall through the sky at incredible speeds before releasing the chute. Parasailing is quite the opposite — the chute helps you gradually travel upwards until you reach cruising altitude at which point it’s almost completely noiseless, allowing you to float weightlessly in the air and take in the birds eye view of your beautiful surroundings. The only thing that snaps you out of your peaceful contemplative state is when the captain brings lowers you for a quick dip into the lake, but that’s only for a few seconds and it feels really good.

White Water Rafting
Our other big adventure this year was upping the ante on our rafting experience. In the past, we had traveled down the mellow portion of the Truckee river where you do very little paddling and simply let the current float your raft along the river while you taken in the sights. This year, Cat looked into Irie rafting, a company based out of Truckee that leads expeditions on more active sections of the Truckee river. We opted for the option of going down the section that included class 3 rapids. On these tours, everyone in your group works as a team to navigate and paddle through all the rapids. The cool part is that you also have a guide who is there to steer the raft and instruct you on when to paddle, how fast to paddle and which direction to lean. Our guide also put the kids in the front of the raft which I don’t think they were expecting judging from the scared looks on their faces.

But the fear did not last long. Our expedition was perfectly paced and had a nice progression to it, starting off tranquil waters, then slowly progressing to class two rapids before eventually presenting us with more challenging class three rapids with cool and menacing names like Bucking Bronco, Pinball and Jaws. Having a guide definitely makes all the difference on an excursion like this because he helps set the stage by telling you what’s coming next and tells you exactly when to paddle and how fast to paddle, which pretty much eliminates all the conflict that would occur if you were doing it on your own. Cathy and I know this all to well as we’ve had a couple of rafting experiences where both of us paddled just fine in the calm waters, but then would fall apart in the crazier sections with us paddling out of sync and each blaming the other for “paddling wrong.” When you have a guide, you don’t have to stress over who is “paddling wrong.” Instead you focus on the task at hand and it becomes a lot more enjoyable. It was an awesome experience and a great way to get the family working together as a team and feeling good about the whole process. In addition to the frenzy of the rapids, there are also tranquil sections where you have the opportunity to take a dip in the river and let the current float you along effortlessly before resuming your oaring duties. The entire journey takes about three hours. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something fun to do with your kids.

Squaw Valley, JAX Diner, & Other Notable Things We Did
There is really so much to do in Tahoe. One week there really flies. Here’s a few other things we managed to accomplish:

  • visited Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Olympic games. They have a nice pool, roller rink and eating area up there. Not to mention the rock wall and hiking trails. This year, thunder storms were expected so we decided just to hang out by the pool. That was a good call as we were able to enjoy a beautiful afternoon of swimming, relaxing and watching the thunderheads build. Because of the early start we managed to enjoy the pool and the rock climbing wall before heading back down on the tram, which was taking it’s last set of passengers down before the thunderstorm hit. Not only did we get to experience a thunderstorm, we actually got caught in a massive hailstorm that reduced visibility down to almost zero, forcing us to pull off the road for about 20 minutes and “enjoy” the spectacle.
  • ate at Jax Diner in Truckee. One of Luke’s favorite shows is Guy’s Diners, Drivins and Dives on the Food Network. Jax was one of the restaurants featured on the show so Luke was really excited to eat there. We all sampled some of Guy’s favorite items including the ribs, kobe beef meat loaf, and pulled pork sandwiches.
  • walked to Mourelatos ice cream shack three times for dessert — one of the simple pleasures the kids look forward to the most given the proximity to the Franciscan Lodge (the place we always stay)
  • watched close to a dozen episodes of Modern Family, something we got into this year. I love this show and I also love that you can’t get all the episodes on Netflix because that means we record them and watch them all together. It’s one of the few shows that gets Lilah out of her room and into the living room with us to watch.
  • spent a day a Sand Harbor — the most beautiful beach in Lake Tahoe. The kids weren’t that into it this time however as we made them wake up early for this as it was the last thing we did before heading out of town. Cat got a great shot of the kids at the beach refusing to have fun…
  • in addition to our time in Tahoe we also spent the night in Mammoth on our way up and Bishop on the way back to break up the 8+ hour long trip. That meant taking in the sights and scenery of the beautiful 395 highway which includes the majesty of the eastern sierras, beautiful meadows, the lunar landscape of Mono Lake, rivers, and, this year, a lightning storm (you know you’re from southern California when you get excited by lightning storms)….

Definitely a great trip. Hope you are all enjoying your summer. More next month…

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