Monday, January 20, 2014

It's a Small World After All

Thanks to MLK, I had an extra day to play around with this weekend. It was going to be a road trip with a couple of friends, but when they both flaked out, I decided to just go on my own.

I actually like (and even love) traveling on my own. If I want to stop for a three hour run that may become a 1 hour run or a 5 hour run, I can. If I feel like taking photos of rocks, I can. If I am hungry, I eat. I never have to worry that I am putting someone else out or that they are not having fun or that I am making them wait.

Originally, I was going to go to South Lake Tahoe with two people. Person number one LOVES to gamble, loves to drink, but does not ski, doesn't really like to hike, does not run, does not love waiting for someone who is taking photos of flowers.

Person number two does not run, loves to hike and ski, does not love to gamble, likes to drink, and does not love waiting for someone who is taking photos of flowers. So, having the two people with me would have been interesting.

Why? Because I do not like to drink that much, am not a huge fan of gambling and would go to Tahoe mostly for activities (mainly skiing, hiking or running). But both people did not go. So, after a little consideration, I went alone. The main thing holding me back was the cost. A hotel room is a lot cheaper when you are sharing it with two other people! However, I threw away my frugal hat and decided to go for it, regardless of cost.

I left Oakland on Saturday morning around 7:30 am. My first stop was Starbucks (yes, it was) for a road trip coffee. You cannot have a road trip without coffee. It's just not possible. My second stop was an old favorite in one of the agricultural areas of California. It used to be a tiny fruit stand when I was a young child, and has now blown up to a fruit stand, snack stand, pit stop. They still have some of the cheapest and freshest fruit and veggies around! I got some dried fruit, some real fruit, and some nuts for the ride north. Again, a road trip would not be a road trip without SNACKS!

My plan was to stop somewhere for a run in the middle of my trip and then head north to Tahoe, where I would take photos of mountains and lakes and sunrises and then get some dinner.

So, first I stopped along the way near Auburn, where I ran on the same route as the Western States 100 mile race (WSER). I have to admit, I was not really in the mood to run, but it was a nice route all the same. The views of the American River are stunning.

ws sign
I went UP.

american river
Middle Fork American River

After the run, I ate most of my road trip snacks (dried strawberries anyone?) and headed up the road. I arrived at the lake about 20 minutes before sunrise and I checked into my hotel and took a shower at warp speed, so I could hustle back out to the lake to get some good shots while there was still light.

Afterwards, I was on a mission. As a lone traveler, I want a dinner place where I can eat at the bar so I don't have to sit at a table alone. However, I don't really want it to be ONLY a bar, or to have crappy bar food. I also wanted to find a brewery with local beers that I could try while also having fabulous food. I found 2 of my 3 requirements. I actually stumbled upon a nice pub where I found more than I could ever ask for.

First of all, I wanted to sit at the bar. When I got there, the bar looked full, but I said to the guy that I kind of wanted to sit at the bar and he not only made a place for me, but he introduced me to the guy I would be sitting next to. I ended up having not only a great conversation with my new friend, Dozer, but also getting a ton of great recommendations for hikes and food for the next day. In addition, it turns out he used to be contracted to the same company I used to work for, he grew up near where I live now and he has traveled to many of the same places as I have. Now, before you get the wrong idea, I would like to state that he is probably in his late 50s, so there was no romance there. However, I had a great time sitting at the bar chatting with him while having a great meal.

Speaking of a great meal, I got a hamburger that was ground in-house and was on a bun that was also made in-house. Not only was the hamburger delicious, but the bar staff was kind and the local flavor was top notch. Plus they had Pliny on tap. To top it all off, when I got the bill, I noticed that they had given me the local discount, which was 20 percent off my bill. Basically for under $20, I got a homemade hamburger, a couple of delicious beers and a great conversation. I call that a major win.

After that it was back to the hotel for some reading. Why is it that reading when you are traveling is so much better than reading at  home? All in all, it was a great first Road Trip day! 

Do you prefer traveling alone or with someone else? What kind of snacks/drinks do you like to have on your road trips? Do you go out to eat by yourself? If so, do you meet/talk to people or do you stick to yourself?