Road Trips: Knee Deep Brewing

People know Auburn, CA for many things: a gateway to Lake Tahoe and a multitude of ratable rivers and some great local camping spots. My kids know it for the last In-N-Out before Tahoe. I know it as the place where my friends Jane and Troy live!

But, what many may not know, is that Auburn is also home to a great brewery called Knee Deep! I recently stopped there when I was traveling back from Tahoe to meet up with my friends and a have quick drink. I loved it!

They have an extensive list of beers, corn hole, and picnic tables inside and out. There is only snack food, but they do have a food truck that is occasionally parked out front.  

The Brewery itself is a family-run independent Microbrewery founded in 2010. It has tasty beer that is unique in its style. They recently won an award for an IPA, and have multiple award-winning beers. And, as a bonus: the tasting room is both pet and kid-friendly!

It’s been cool to see a small, local brewery like Knee Deep gain in popularity so heavily that it’s now sold in 30 different states and six foreign countries! I’d highly recommend stopping by next time you want a break on the way to and from Tahoe, it is just a mile from off the freeway exit of Bell Road – you won’t regret it!

Road Trips: Carmel

For all the beautiful, picturesque landscapes in California, it seems like the Central coast can often be overlooked. Everyone knows about the National Parks, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, the SoCal beaches, etc. But one of the best gems of the entire state is just a couple hours South of the East Bay!

If you’ve never taken a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to reach the 17-mile drive through Carmel and Monterey, you don’t know what you’re missing! You’ll hit miles of stunning coastline, as well as some of the cutest inland towns you can imagine.

One of my favorite day trips is a jaunt down to Carmel. I love all the little shops, restaurants and the beautiful beach to enjoy the Pacific Ocean at sunset. Carmel is also very dog-friendly – it seems that everybody has a dog and they are free to run on the beach (where most gravitate to the right side). I have even gone to a Weimaraner gathering here. Anybody who has rescued a Weim from NorCal Weim Rescue gets an invite. It is a fun sight to see: a bunch of Weimaraners playing and frolicking in the waves.

Monterey and Carmel also have a great wine scene and amazing golf. It’s such an easy trip, and so close to home. I recently did the 17-mile drive; that was a first for me after all these years and definitely worth the money and scenic stops. Now might be the perfect time to go, too. It is Fall, so the leaves will be brilliant and the weather will be perfectly crisp…a perfect day for a stroll on the beach, as long as you are bundled up and there is no fog!

 

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Another La Nina this year? Start with Warren Miller …

According to multiple weather reports, La Nina is expected to strike certain parts of the U.S. this winter – the Rockies are on the path. Though after a big season for snowfall in Northern California last year, they are predicting it to be less wet and snowy in the upcoming months, without so much that it’ll be difficult to get to like last year!

With the season turning and snow on the mind, let me recommend a really cool annual event coming up tomorrow. Warren Miller’s “Line of Descent” is the latest in a series of snow documentaries that brings a traveling event to towns across the world. Last year I watched it at Squaw with Johnny Moseley as MC.

This year? Walnut Creek! You can see the show at the Lesher Center’s Hofmann Theater at 8 p.m. tomorrow night. There were a few balcony tickets left last I checked, but they will go fast. Tickets are about $23 right now, but it’s well worth it. The movie itself is always really awesome, and you can win free snow swag at the show!

If you love to ski or ride like me, make sure to check out this year’s trailer above. Then, once you’re thoroughly pumped up for snow season, go buy a ticket and meet me at the Warren Miller show! As you can see in the trailer, they’re featuring Squaw Valley in part of this year’s movie. How cool is that?

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Time for this summer to get in-tents!

Hah, get it? It’s officially summer in the Bay Area (if you couldn’t tell by the triple-digit heat…), which means it’s time for you to plan some fun camping trips!

Luckily, we live in one of the most serene, nature-filled parts of the country and dozens of great campgrounds are just a short drive away. That brings me to this list of local campgrounds provided by Placer Title Company.

Some you’ve probably heard of, some you haven’t, but either way you can’t beat the Northern California summer. Some of my favorite areas are Tahoe (of course) and the Redwoods.

On this list, I can’t recommend the Tahoe State Recreation Area, Big Basin or Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite, so get reservations like…yesterday!) enough. I’ve also found that Desolation Wilderness near Tahoe is an amazing, remote spot for hike-in camping.

If you have kids, Angel Island is a simple ferry ride (also fun for the kiddos!) and close enough to home that you can do an easy one-nighter. Obviously, if you want to be extremely close to home in the East Bay, hit up Mt. Diablo. They have pretty great campgrounds and almost every single one has a great view of the entire East Bay.

I love camping, whether it be in a car or a tent, in the warm NorCal summers. Check out that list, pack your car, and take a weekend off to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Our natural surroundings are some of the best parts about living in California, so take advantage of it soon!

Road Trips: Mt. Rose

Have you been to Tahoe this season? It is absolutely breathtaking how much snow has fallen! Check out this panoramic picture from my ski trip to Mt. Rose a couple weekends ago:

My research confirms what I’ve heard: that Mt. Rose has the most snow in the nation (more than 600 inches this year alone!). Because of its elevation (base elevation: 8,260 ft.), Mt. Rose was still getting snow when places like Squaw were getting rain. Check out this picture from the Mt. Rose website:

Right now, Rose has the best conditions in Tahoe by far. They have 53 feet (!!!) of snow already. It’s a record-breaking year. Here is a chart from Weather.com to give you a good idea of the snowfall on the West Coast:

Pick up a lift ticket and check it out before the season ends. This is a once-in-a-lifetime stellar snow season!

The Ultimate Guide to Tahoe

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! You know what all this Bay Area rain has meant for Tahoe, right? Take a look:

Diablo Magazine has written an “Ultimate Guide to Tahoe” for those who are planning trips to the area for some winter fun. And given all the fresh snow over the last couple weeks, who wouldn’t want to take a weekend to Tahoe? I know I will!

I grew up in Reno and two of my favorite ski resorts are Mt. Rose and Kirkwood – both get more snow than the rest of Tahoe, and Mt. Rose has some really challenging runs with the development and opening of the chutes.

If you want to stay at a great resort with short walks from the lift to the lodge, Sugar Bowl is your spot (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the easiest resorts to get to from the Bay Area). If you’re not much of a skier or snowboarder, head to Old Town Truckee for some shopping.

No matter what you do, get up to Tahoe this winter and take advantage of the epic snowfall. It’s a beautiful place to spend a few days! 2017 is shaping up to be a stellar ski season, and I am off to Mammoth soon to celebrate my birthday!

East Bay New Year’s Eve events

This New Year’s Eve, there seems to be a ton of fun events at local establishments for you to ring in 2017 with.

nye-2017

For me, New Year’s is a time to reflect on the year that has just passed and to focus forward with new resolutions – what can be improved, how to get into shape and what can I do better. I tend to struggle with the idea that one has to have a special celebration for this event, as I always find the hype does not live up to the expectation, and I am left with disappointment.

My best New Year’s celebrations have always been the unexpected. My favorite was a last-minute ski trip to Sugar Bowl where we scored a small room due to a cancellation. Our kids had the run of the lodge because the only way in was by gondola, and we could walk out the door to the lift.  To our surprise, they had night skiing, champagne and sparkling cider at the hut atop the hill. Then, at 11:30, those who wanted to participate did the torch run, and when all were safely down, the fireworks exploded! So as the clock hits midnight, we all turn the page and start looking forward to new adventures in 2017.

If you feel that you have to do something and have made no plans, but don’t want to venture all the way to San Francisco, take a look at a couple of local events taking place on New Year’s Eve:

  1. The Groove Doctors at San Ramon Marriott (8:30 p.m. for $77/ticket)
  2. Phantom of the Opera Masquerade at Nica Lounge in Concord (8:30 p.m. for $15-50/ticket)
  3. New Year’s Eve at Jack’s in Pleasant Hill (9:00 p.m. for $40/ticket)

Of course, you could always do something unexpected and maybe have the best New Year’s ever! No matter what you choose, I wish you a delightful evening and a prosperous 2017!

It’s beginning to look a lot like ski season

Good news for all you skiers and snowboarders out there: a few resorts in Tahoe have opened up recently and more trails and lifts should continue to open as we get into the coldest part of winter!

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I am excited to use my Mountain Collective Pass, which gives me two days at various resorts like Squaw, Mammoth, Sun Valley, Aspen, Whistler, etc. Last year I had a season pass to Squaw, but my best friend had a pass to Mt. Rose, so I decided to go for a more flexible pass (she got the Mountain Collective pass too).

Below is some information on the main Tahoe ski resorts. Most are already open for business due to all the snow-making and cold nights, but it has actually snowed and more is on the way!

Here are my comments on a few of my favorites:

sb_logoSugar Bowl, quick to get to for a day trip from the Bay Area, challenging runs and a great cozy hotel close to the lift. They have a great New Year’s celebration and a wonderful bar!

 

mt-rose-ski-tahoeMt. Rose – I know it like the back of my hand.  It is where I really learned to ski.  Now that Rose & Slide combined and they built a new lodge, it is a great place to be – all the locals from Reno come here and it feels like home to me.

 

230be84695740b32b2293ff6195b7cacKirkwood – a bit off the beaten path and in need of a few new lifts, but I love the runs and bowls. It’s not crowded and worth a day trip if you’ve never been.

Things to Do in Tahoe if You Don’t Ski or Snowboard

TahoeUp until this winter, recent ski seasons had been unseasonably warm and extra frustrating for those looking to shred powder around Lake Tahoe. As anyone who has read this blog knows, I love to ski, so I’ve been taking full advantage of this winter’s El Nino storms and going up to the Sierra’s as often as possible.

A couple of weekends ago, I went up to Tahoe to ski and attend a Wounded Warriors event at Alpine, only to find the recent warm spell had turned all my favorite runs into ice and slush. We were debating what to do, but we punted and instead went to yoga and then had a wonderful lunch at Dockside 700. Of course, with that name, we were right on the beach with a great view of the lake.

When I got home, I ran across this article about things to do in Tahoe if you don’t ski or snowboard. The author nails a few good ones, and I picked out the best five for those of you who find yourself in a similar situation as I did last weekend (or those of you who just prefer not to ski at all!). Now with the recent storms and more than three feet of new snow, I don’t think I will be doing much other than hitting the slopes. But for those who don’t ski or ride…ice-skating-235542_960_720

  1. Ice skating: at many large resorts in the Tahoe area, they have fairly inexpensive access to skate rentals and the village rink. It may only last a half hour or so, especially if it’s cold outside, but it’s hard not to have fun when you’re out there zig-zagging across the ice!
  2. Spa day: Many nice hotels around the Tahoe area have spas inside to pamper their guests. But even if you’re not staying at one, you can pay for a day pass to get your massage, hot tub and facial on while everyone else freezes on the mountain.
  3. Casinos: This is an obvious one, but why not try to make back the money your family spent on their pricey lift tickets by playing a few hands of blackjack on the Nevada side? It’ll be warm, social and entertaining at the very least. And who knows? Maybe you’ll win big!
  4. Other snow activities: snowmobiling, sleigh rides, sledding and snowshoeing are just a few of the fun activities casino tahoeyou can pay for at many of the bigger areas in Tahoe. You still want to be out in the powder, just don’t feel like strapping into a board or skis for the day? Here you go!
  5. Yoga: I’m biased, as yoga is my go-to relaxation activity, but it’s something you can find studios for all over the state; even up in the mountains. If you want to just take it easy and stay warm and dry inside, might as well stretch yourself out and enjoy a moment of zen while you’re at it.

Of course, if these options don’t appeal, you could always just enjoy a classic – laying by the resort fire with a good book and a hot chocolate, waiting for everyone else to finish up their day on the slopes.

Top Five Date Ideas in Tahoe

Attention! We have snow in Lake Tahoe!

While the main draw to a winter in Tahoe may be cozying up to the fireplace in your cabin or hitting the slopes at Heavenly, Squaw, Kirkwood or Sierra Ski Ranch (just to name a few), there are some fun ways to create a less traditional wintertime date. Inspired by some suggestions we came across, here’s a list of five fun date ideas in Tahoe:

The Landing
Photo credit: TheLandingTahoe.com

Dinner at The Landing

Tahoe’s newest top-ranked boutique hotel has brilliant lakeside views and a cozy dining room. This is the perfect place to warm yourself up with some wine and a good meal while watching the snow fall on the lake and surrounding mountains.

Hot Springs

The one time it’s acceptable to wear a swimsuit in the Tahoe snow is when you’re soaking in hot springs. At Sierra Hot Springs, a non-profit retreat and workshop center, you can dip into the springs at any hour of the day for just $20-25 per person (though we don’t recommend this for the first date, clothing-optional pools do exist here…). Grover Hot Springs State Park, where minerals turn the pools green, is also a good post-Kirkwood stop for a relaxing dip. For more of a resort feel, there’s always David Walley’s in Genoa, close to Carson City, which will pamper you with a full-service spa and dining options in addition to the pools.

Movie in Heavenly Village

Heavenly village
Photo credit: TheShopsAtHeavenly.com

Even if you’re a traditionalist and don’t always gravitate towards the new, upscale resort villages, you can’t ignore the beauty of Heavenly Village and all the amenities it has to offer. In the mood for a cheaper, casual date in a beautiful setting? You’ll find no shortage of showtimes at the cinema at Heavenly.

Dinner at Cafe Fiore

Another well-known dinner spot in Tahoe is Cafe Fiore – a small but vibrant restaurant in South Lake that has earned its reputation as a go-to destination. It’s not cheap, but the food and wine pairings will make for a memorable and delicious night out. Plus, there are only seven tables in the entire place, so you’re sure to get an intimate atmosphere.

Ice Skating

Northstar village
Photo credit: CarrLong.com

What is more “winter romance” than a couples’ skate on an ice rink? The best one around is at Northstar, where the revamped village boasts shops, restaurants and a huge, central rink area. Afterwards, you can have a drink by the outdoor fireplace too! If you’re craving the best view from an ice skating rink in Tahoe, Squaw Valley is the one you want. Panoramic views from the rink on its upper mountain are unmatched. And you can always take a break from the numerous distractions in Heavenly’s village to skate a few rounds as well!

There you have it – get up to Tahoe while the snow is still in town, but be sure to treat yourself to a date night out after skiing or boarding, too!