On Friday, Jared and I were planning to go to Tahoe for our last ski weekend of the season. As I mentioned in just about every post last week, it’s been raining HARD around here. And of course, Rain in SF = Lots of Snow in Tahoe. We knew it was going to be a slow drive up, so we both took a half day of work and left the city at 3pm. It normally takes 4 hours to get to the cabin.
4 random gas station bathroom stops
1 surprisingly tasty McDonald’s salad later……
It was 9pm and we were JUST reaching the base of the mountain. It was raining hard the whole drive and had quickly gotten dark. At our dinner drive-through stop, we thought about turning back, a little intimidated how our little two-door car was going to handle the upcoming snow, but decided we wanted to go and trudged on.
Half an hour later, the rain turned to slush—big, drops of slush– and the roads were slipperly. And then the slush turned to snow. On the already dark, curvy highway, the power was out and it was pitch black. The headlights were shining into the snowflakes and instead of making it easier to see, it was almost blinding. We couldn’t see the lane lines either.
We were going only 20 miles an hour…..and still had another 20 miles before chain control kicked in so we felt like we were going to slide all over…..and even after that, we still had 60 miles to go.
I know all you mid-western and east coasters are probably thinking we’re babies for being freaked out of snow, but let’s just say….it’s a windy, curvy, dark, mountain road and def not salted or cleared. And yes, we’re Californian and Floridian and def not used to driving in snow!
So after only 5 minutes of it, we both looked at each other and said, “let’s turn around.” I think I held my breath on the ride back. I should have taken photos, but frankly, I thought the car ride was going to be the least eventful part of the weekend and so wasn’t even thinking about it.
With Jared’s trust hotel.com app, I looked up hotels in the area and we found one sort of close by in Grass Valley. So Tahoe/snow/ski trip aborted……and off to an old-west gold mining town we went.
It was after 10pm by the time we got to the hotel….over 7 hours in the car and we were more than ready to relax. Turned into a spontaneous weekend trip!
We woke up the next morning to our free hotel breakfast. I absolutely love breakfast in the hotels. I have no idea why (and Jared thinks I’m crazy), but something about it all being free and so cozy, I just love it.
I had oatmeal with half a banana and two cups of coffee. Plus a glass of oj.
The weather seemed better and we considered trying to go back up the mountain now that it was light out, but realized we would have gotten into the same issues coming home on Sunday (which was when the worst snowstorm was going to hit), so decided that staying was a better option. So off to sightseeing we went!
We started at the Empire State Park, which is one of the oldest gold mines in California, established in 1850. It was a huge gold mine back then and now a preserved state park. They have a little museum and you can walk around and see how everything worked, even go down into the mines. Really interesting and such a big part of California history.
We went down into the mines
After our mine tour, we went to the little town of Grass Valley and walked around. It looks just like an old west town.
There’s the oldest hotel in California (filled with Mark Twain stuff), and cute little shops and restaurants. It’s nice to find a town nowadays with no chain-stores.
We had lunch at Main Street Cafe & Bar, which turned out to be SUCH a great choice. It’s Mediterranean and was really cute inside.
We had the best waiter. And we both loved our meals.
I got a grilled chicken salad with buckwheat noodles and a peanut dressing on the side. It was delicious.
After lunch, we drove over to the neighboring town, Nevada City (yes, randomly Nevada City and Nevada County are in California….not Nevada). It’s also a historic gold rush town and slightly bigger than Grass Valley.
It’s adorable—and my kind of town—there were 4 ice cream and candy shops within 4 blocks! We stopped for hot cocoa and goodies at the candy shop. I got a caramel and dark chocolate dipped marshmallow. It was AMAZING! Sorry, my pics of it didn’t come out.
And then, we started the drive home, which luckily only took 2.5 hours. We made bbq chicken pizza (recipe tomorrow!) for dinner and hung out on the couch watching Hancock (Will Smith is so great) and Outbreak on tv.
We were going to grab drinks for St. Patty’s day…..but as happens a lot lately, it was super late before we knew it and so we nixed our plan. We turned off the tv and played cards instead. I lost and am still mad about it! Now it’s Sunday and I must say, it’s been sooo nice to have the whole day with nothing planned (went swimming, caught up with long-distance friends on the phone, cleaned my whole apartment, and did a kajillion errands– feel so productive!).
Anyways, so that’s the story of how my ski cabin weekend in Tahoe turned into a random hotel-gold mining-old-west trip instead. Random!
Do you like hotel breakfasts too or am I the only one?
Have you ever changed plans mid-trip before?
Any green beer for st patty’s day?