Day 20 – Driving from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe

Day 20 – Driving from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe

I woke up in the tent at 6:45 a.m. to the smell of charcoal.  Someone was up early cooking breakfast – overachiever!  But I do love the smell of a charcoal fire.

Today, our goal was to make it to Lake Tahoe.  This is Seth’s pick for our trip.  He wanted to fish at Lake Tahoe.

Did I mention that Nate did get a chance to fish at Yosemite?  Fishing, not catching.

We didn’t let “fishilitus” set in.  What doctor would you take him to for that anyway?


But first, we had to get all the camping gear packed up and put back in the car top carrier.

We woke the kids and got started.  One son (the sleeper) wouldn’t budge so we just packed up the tent.  He’d have to go in the car top carrier.





On the way out of Yosemite, we promised the boys that we’d let them fish.  The problem was that we’d have to find our way out of the park before we could find a fishing spot.  We were trying to travel northeast out of the park.  We had no signal on our cell phones.  We asked bus drivers and other tourists to no avail.  Finally, we asked a road construction flagger at the park and he told us to head out on 120 and take it over Tioga pass to get on 395.  After a short fishing break (and a catnap for me in the car), we found our exit and headed out.

The drive out of Yosemite was my favorite of the whole trip.  The views of the trees, the mountains, the river, the snowcapped peaks, and the crystal clear lakes were magnificent.


First, we traveled up the mountain, having to pass through a tunnel or two.


The landscape was littered with stick-straight evergreen pine trees.


Among the living were many dead, blackened trees.


You could tell that at one point in time not long ago, a fire had raged through this beautiful part of the country.



As we descended the first mountain, we had gorgeous views of the snow-capped peaks on the horizon. At first, we saw Tenaya Lake in the distance.


Then we drove next to the lake and admired its crystal clear water.





More gorgeous views as we passed Tuolumme Meadows…

We were getting closer to the snow-capped peaks.  At the Tioga Pass gate, the sign said that the elevation there is 9945 feet.  At the peak, it was 63 degrees.  How is the snow not melting here?

At this point, it was around 10:30 or 11 a.m. and we’d had no breakfast.  The kids were starting to complain.

One child said from the back seat, “We need to stop and get some food.”

Me – “Hello, we’re 10,000 feet up.  Should I just drop you off to get some food?”

The above child, “No, I’m Gucci.”  (slang for no – I’m good.)

We got out our car stash of snacks to hold us over.

As we passed more water, we saw fly fisherman sitting in tubes and casting as they floated in the river.

Nate again, “I’m gonna die!”  (A reference to the fact that not getting a chance to fish when he sees water is life-threatening for him)

In the same breath, he had another idea, “Mom, since Dad froze his phone, his battery never dies.  Emma, you should freeze your phone.”

I wouldn’t recommend it.

Next, the kids tried to compare who was the dirtiest.  We had hiked through dirt the day before and then we camped outside.  I was reminded quickly how dirty you can get when camping.  I certainly had some dirt on my ankles and legs from hiking.  Emma Grace had hiked in sandals so her feet were black (and she slept next to me last night).

Nate, “I have so much dirt on my legs that my soccer sock outline is gone.”

Seth, “You should see my face.”  Oh boy!

We finally made it down out of the mountains and to Mono Lake – another gorgeous lake with beautiful blue water.

Soon after, we found a restaurant called Walker Burger.  It was one of the only places to stop but hey, the local sheriffs were there so it couldn’t be that bad.  It was good, not like the Tiger burgers we had in New Mexico.  So far, no burger has topped that one.

While planning our road trip, I had this crazy idea that we would go to Lake Tahoe, then drive through the night (12 hours with no stops) to Grand Tetons National Park.  What was I thinking?

Instead, we decided to find a hotel online as we drove to Lake Tahoe.  Thankfully, we found Bluelake Inn in South Lake Tahoe.  It was sufficient.

At the hotel, Emma Grace told us that she could not go out this dirty.  She “had to take a shower.”

Jimmy said, “This is a town of rich people, maybe someone will feel sorry for you and give us some money for dinner.”

I thought that was funny – Emma Grace didn’t.

One great thing about the hotel was that the shower water pressure reminded me of a power washer.  We all needed power washing at that point so it worked out.



After cleaning up a bit, we headed out with two goals – to ask the locals about fishing and to find dinner.

About a mile down the road from our hotel, we found Tahoe Sportfishing.  The party fishing boats (they take out a lot of fisherman at once) started at $145 per person – definitely not possible.  We then asked the two ladies that worked at Tahoe Sportfishing where the best spots were to fish from shore.  Let’s just say that they hooked the boys up.  They gave us a list of great fishing spots around Lake Tahoe and told the boys exactly what type of fishing gear they needed.  At one point, these two ladies broke into the fishing language that only Jimmy and the boys understand.  I was impressed (and so were the boys).

Jimmy, Luke, Nate, and Seth left there excited about the Tahoe fishing possibilities.  From there, we went to get the fishing gear they needed so they’d be ready to go early in the morning.

Then, we tried to find a place to eat dinner.  The first option was IHOP.  We were craving some breakfast for dinner – the only reason you go to IHOP at dinnertime.  When we arrived at IHOP, nobody was there.  We reasoned, “Who goes to IHOP in Lake Tahoe?”  Nobody – except the Stoppers.

We walked in and looked at the menu.  $10 for French toast!  $15 for pancakes with bacon!  Never mind!  If we were going to spend that much money, it wasn’t going to be at IHOP.

From there, we found this obscure restaurant just over the Nevada line in the Lakeside Inn called Latin Soul.  There were only a few people there too and the restaurant was adjacent to a casino.  We had to roll the dice because the troops were restless (and hungry).

The décor said “casino” – tables with a psychedelic metallic finish.

Oh…but the food…

Amazing!  The kids each shared a $19 huge plate of various Latin meats and sides.  It blew a $10 plate of IHOP French toast out of the water.

I had steak fajitas and honestly, I just enjoyed eating the steak by itself after all the hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches we’d had.  Jimmy had this to-die-for chicken quesadilla with balsamic glaze on top.  It was the most packed and delicious quesadilla I’ve ever tried.

Bart, our waiter, was fantastic.  He was so personable!  He taught me how to say Nevada – with a short a, not a long a (Nevaaaada).  Then, he not only gave us his fishing recommendations but he also drew us a map to a great family picture spot on Lake Tahoe – Cave Rock.  By the end of dinner, Bart had shared his life story with us and told us about camps he started for Down Syndrome adults (Jimmy’s brother has Down Syndrome).  We were able to encourage him to make seeking the Lord a priority.   We really enjoyed our time at Latin Soul – the food and the people.

Time to get to bed so we can get up early for fishing at Lake Tahoe.

Thank you, Lord, for all the food you provided and the people we’ve gotten to meet along the way.

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