Vote Charlie!

Tahoe, Yosemite

Posted at age 34.

Friday was a strange day. I went to bed late the night before, working till almost 01:00 to wrap something up. Then I woke to a text from fellow Fitbitter Tom D. asking if I am doing OK. I then glanced at the headlines and saw Google laid off 12,000 people. Checking my work phone, I saw my manager scheduled a team meeting for right then, so I got up in a hurry and joined. It was immediately clear my whole team was “affected”, as we have started saying, but strangely we all were given a delayed exit date of October 27. It turned out dozens or maybe hundreds of Fitbitters were in the same boat. The rest of the day was about as productive as can be expected. I finished some work I didn’t want to have to pick back up the following week, as I was planning to take time off Monday through Wednesday to spend with my friend Harry, who was visiting from Taiwan that night.

Alan and I cleaned up somewhat Friday afternoon and then dropped Remi off at Zack and Keita’s house on our way to the San Francisco airport to get Harry and his friend Vivian at 19:00. Their luggage was delayed a bit, so we didn’t meet them till around 20:15. We weren’t going to make it to a restaurant in Albany by closing time, so we stopped instead at a place in Oakland Chinatown, the New Gold Medal Restaurant. Alan and them ordered a lot of food, and I was quite full upon leaving. It was good though!

Saturday we planned to drive up to Tahoe in the early afternoon. Alan was able to teach a couple students in the morning, and then we left around 14:00. We stopped for a late lunch at Lorenzo’s Mexican Restaurant in Roseville. It was decent, but very bean-heavy and targeted more toward older white ladies than Mexicans – not spicy at all, even with their hot sauce.

We drove directly to our nighttime activity, snow tubing for an hour at SnoVentures Activity Zone at Palisades Tahoe, a ski park. We got there just in time for our 18:00 appointment time. I used my new MARMOT Precip Full-zip rain pants outside my jeans as “snow pants”, and it worked well and was plenty warm. The “heated gloves” I got were also decently nice, though annoying to keep taking off so I could take photos with my phone. The tubing was pretty fun. There was a moving escalator that took you up the hill, which wasn’t as large as I was expecting, but it was still fun. I did wish it were easier to go down at the same time as friends, but the nature of the varying line lengths made that not worth the hassle.

Then we drove the hour and a half to the other side of the lake to the Coachman Hotel in South Lake Tahoe, stopping first for gas at North Tahoe Station. I didn’t realize the Nevada border ran halfway through the lake, and we’d be driving in Nevada quite a bit over the next two days. I also couldn’t believe how much snow was in the town; most of the streets were cut through 6-10 feet of snow with straight vertical walls on the sides. It was a bit hard to navigate around the neighborhood and find the hotel due to most of the signs being obscured. Once we found it, I parked in the only open spot. Checking in was painless, and our room ended up being right next to where we parked. It was a pretty sparse room with waterproof floors clearly targeted for people with snowy boots and skis. Once settled, we walked a half mile to the nearest grocery store, Raley’s, and got some snacks and breakfast food. The woman who checked us out told us she was the manager for many years and it was her last night working there before retirement due to health issues.

Sunday morning we got out the door a little late and headed to attempt to feed some chickadees at a place known, fittingly enough, as Chickadee Ridge. We drove about an hour north around the lake on Nevada highways 50 and then 28 and 431 to an open stretch called Tahoe Meadows. There were many cars parked along the street, and I parallel parked between two. The snow on the side was almost twice the height of my Jeep, it was pretty interesting.

As soon as we started getting out of the car, people started realizing it was much colder than they expected. I insisted we bring along the two pairs of snow shoes I purchased specifically for this hike, as well as the trekking poles. Harry had some Yaktrax cleats for his tennis shoes, and Vivian just had normal leather boots. When we climbed up the side to get to the flat area, we saw the snow was somewhat walkable but also very deep. Vivian put on the smaller snow shoes, and then Alan put on my larger pair. I made due with my snow boots and rain pants. Harry was sinking quite a bit at first, but we eventually found a pretty pat down path to walk on. It took a while to get oriented toward the Chickadee Ridge, as the paths did not show up on Google Maps. We walked for probably 30 minutes before it seemed like some wanted to turn back, but we kept going. Eventually I found a ridge that I thought had to be the right area, even though it wasn’t where the marker was on the map. We went off the path to the edge, took some pictures, and looked around for birds, but didn’t see any. We almost gave up and started heading back, but after checking with Harry if he wanted to hike more, I convinced Alan to come back. We walked up the path some more, further away from where the marker was on the map. But soon it became clear we were actually headed the right way, as we started seeing people up the hillside with birds flying around. We hiked up that way and managed to attract a small swarm of chickadees with the pine nuts we brought. We stayed there feeding them for about 30 minutes before heading back down. Once we were almost to the car, we passed some girls who also attracted some birds with a seed mixture. It was worth it heading up to see the view of South Lake Tahoe though, and getting some winter hiking in. It’s been a long time!

On the way back, we stopped at Crosby’s Grill Pub & Casino. I had fish and chips, and Vivian got some waffles that she ended up not liking much. She thought they are much better at IHOP. Then we stopped at a couple more attractions along the lake, including Sand Harbor Beach and a vista point I think. We wanted to go to something called Monkey Rock, but it was going to be closing soon and we encountered a stuck SUV on the route. I stopped to ask them if this was the path to Monkey Rock, and more importantly, if they needed help. They said they didn’t know what they were going to do but were going to try to call a tow company. I said I’d attempt to help, using the rescue rope I bought when I got my Jeep. I had not had the chance to test it yet, so I gave it a try. I didn’t know exactly how I was supposed to attach it to their car, but managed to loop it around their trailer hitch assembly. I pulled them out as they reversed, which went fairly smoothly after pulling him out of a pile of snow when he went sideways. Overall it was pretty fun, and they were very appreciative.

Then we went back to the hotel and rested a bit, and eventually headed back out to get dinner before places closed. We went to Thai On Ski Run and got spicy food. The soup we had at the start was the spiciest, and I got fairly red. I had to eat my pad thai slowly at times as I was still overheating from the chili. It was great though!


  • New Melones Bridge
  • Chinese Camp Store Kiwi Tavern in Chinese Camp, California.
  • Mar-Val Market in Groveland
  • drove into Yosemite on Big Oak Flat Road and stopped at a few vista points along the way
  • Yosemite West, Scenic Wonders


  • stopping at various points in the park, some of which ended up being closed due to the winter or construction
  • star gazing at El Capitan base


  • check out airbnb and stop at a couple overlook spots
  • Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in Livermore
  • drop Harry/V at BART, get Remi, laundry from cats