It was a comedy of errors

Ben & I decided it was high time to get away and spend some time alone together. We didn’t have any grand plans this past summer, so we thought our anniversary was a decent excuse to head up to Tahoe and get away from it all.

We planned our trip a few months ago – scouting out a few different locations in both South and North Lake Tahoe, and finally deciding on Northstar near North Lake Tahoe. We found a stellar deal on the room (book 2 nights, get 1 free) which worked out perfectly for our four day jaunt. We were really excited about heading back up with our bikes and taking advantage of the bike (the summer use for ski) trails.

We got a late start on Saturday, packing up the car and leaving home around 1pm. We picked up a quick lunch at La Fiesta (burritos… yum!) and started down the road. Heading East on I-80, Ben drove and I sat in the passenger seat attending to tunes, reading my Trader Joe’s fearless flyer and generally keeping myself occupied. When Ben announced he was bored already, I suggested that I could read my borrowed copy of “My Stroke of Insight”… through the prologue and a few pages in to chapter one, I hear a strange noise coming from the engine…. a ‘whhhrrrr’ noise game from the transmission as Ben fervently tried to force the car into gear. In an attempt to take on the surrounding traffic and climb the hill, Ben popped the car out of 5th gear, trying to force it into 4th, but it wouldn’t go. 3rd? No workie. We were going too fast for 2nd or 1st, but as we slowed on the ascending hill, he desperately tried to force it in to any gear that work. Knowing this wasn’t going to work, and seeing an opening in traffic, I urged him to pull over. We coasted to a stop in seemingly the only alcove for a mile. It was, of course, also on a blind curve.

Now that we were at a stop, Ben tried to get the car into 1st gear. It went in, but whined horribly. Fearful that the car would slip out of gear if we tried to drive it (or never get out of 1st) we decided that it was AAA to the rescue. We were stopped in a shallow median – dangerously close to passing traffic. We felt the car shake every time a semi drove by.

The call to AAA was comical. First they asked what city I was in. Attempting to guess from the GPS display, I told them I was just outside of Colfax. That wasn’t specific enough. How many miles outside of Colfax? Ok, I have no effin clue how many miles – maybe I’m still in Colfax. I really don’t know. I DO know that semis are rolling by at high speeds and threatening our safety more and more with every passing moment. Do you know what county you’re in? County? Are you kidding me? I can give you my GPS coordinates… Sorry, our system doesn’t work with GPS coordinates. I need to know the city & county that you’re in. Are you near exit 140? I really don’t know. We’re on the side of the freeway. No exits in sight. Well do you think you’ve passed exit 140? I have no idea. Can’t you just send someone from Colfax heading east?

Ben finally found us on his iphone – we were 2 miles west of exit 140. We conveyed the message and then decided we would be safer outside the car and behind the guardrail

For once in my life, a towtruck arrived quickly. Within 40 minutes, the car was hoisted on a flatbed truck and we were headed back down the hill to swap out the car for the truck and get back on our merry way.

Arriving later than planned, Ben & I were pleasantly surprised by the condo that awaited us in Tahoe. It was modernly furnished, a full kitchen and a gas burning stove. We had a small living room, furnished with a comfy couch and tv/dvd combo. Perfect for the movies we brought with us and the RedBox down the street.

The condo was great – until we headed to bed and realized that the main heater had never kicked on. The place was cozy from the gas stove, but we shut it off when heading to bed and realized the mistake around 3am when a chill took hold of the night.

The next morning, we noticed that the toilet in the bathroom was rather slow to flush. I make the mistake of flushing it twice, which filled up the bowl nearly to the brim. It drained slowly… but definitely didn’t offer much in the way of flushage. Toilet paper wadded up in a ball at the base of the bowl, never quite making it down that snakey neck. Ben tried to fix it, but it was too far gone and ended up overflowing. Wow.

We called maintenance about the heat and toilet – they responded quickly and worked away on both problems. The front desk offered to switch us to another unit, but said that the one we were in was the nicest they had. We really liked the unit we were in (and we’d already unpacked) and, assuming they could get the problems fixed, we didn’t want to move.

Off to breakfast (at a delicious place in Truckee called Squeeze In), we had the most original omelettes I’ve ever tried. Mine was a combo of pastrami, cream cheese, salsa, and sour cream. It was mouth watering. Ben’s was more standard – a variety of breakfast meats (bacon, ham, sausage) and cheeses.

We made our way back to the condo – noticing on the way a big flashing construction sign that stated “Bike Park Closed for Season”… ummm… was that sign there last night? Ok, so we figured we could still find a suitable path somewhere else… it was dissapointing that our plan didn’t go quite as expected, but we could still make it work. (Also, they ended up fixing the heat and temporarily fixing the toilet, but we decided we could live with a mediocre toilet and didn’t move to a new unit).

The next day, we walked down to the village and decided to take a ride on the gondola up to the top of the hill. Walking to the ticket counter, it seemed to be desserted. Moving on to the gondola entrance, we saw an even less encouraging picture… construction tape and debris surrounding the building. It was apparent that the gondola was under construction (perhaps the reason for the bike park being closed).

The sad thing is, none of these closures were listed on Northstar’s website. I went to their page early Saturday morning and printed out biking trail maps and info about gondola rides. Until we actually arrived on site, we had no clue that these things were unavailable.

All of these things aside, the trip was actually quite fun. The lack of activities forced us to stay in and have quite a bit of quality time together. There was no internet to distract us, limited cable television (without Tivo), and lots of reasons to just relax. Ben discovered a 1,000 piece puzzle in the coffee table and we began to assemble it Sunday morning. We worked away at it dilligently and completed it late Monday. We were so immersed in the puzzle that we were actually having dreams about it. It was a different kind of challenge for us – working together to complete our sections and search out puzzle pieces for each other.

We went for a nice bike ride on Monday and enjoyed a picnic lunch. We had a lovely dinner at Lakeside (Sunnyside) on our anniversary – I now have a new favorite place for filet mignon. It was unbeatable.

Pictures to come soon…

Oh yeah, there’s more to the story once we got back into town, but I’ll save that one for a different day. Long story short, the shop thinks the issue is my clutch ($600), not the transmission ($2,000), so that makes me happy.


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Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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