Saturday, September 18, 2010

192 miles.

This is the distance between our Bay Area house and Tahoe.

The first hundred miles are flat and boring freeway driving. Benicia Bridge. Vacaville. Dixon. Sacramento. Roseville. The second hundred miles are more and more interesting as we drive into the mountains: Auburn, Colfax, Nyack, Emigrant Gap, Donner Summit, Donner Lake.

When we drive to Tahoe I start to breathe slower around the 2,000 ft elevation mark. The big trees start appearing. There are train tracks and the occasional train spotting. There are fewer towns. Less concrete and more forest. We see animals. The foothills become bona fide mountains.

I love when we reach Donner Summit because Donner Lake, so gorgeous with cabins clustered around it, is next. The last 30 miles on I-80 are beautiful. It's snowy in the winter and if I'm lucky, there's fresh snow and it's clinging to the trees. The mountains are majestic. The last 10 miles are along the Truckee River and then we spot the Olympic Rings at the entrance to Squaw Valley and we've arrived. The air is pine scented and crisp. Ties are replaced with Teva's. Prada gives way to Patagonia.

Labor Day weekend we saw Hayley and Gordon and we talked about the drive. Until they mentioned it, I hadn't thought that other people shared the drive phenomena.

I'm sad when we leave Tahoe. The trees give way to the flatlands and my mood plummets as we pass Auburn, knowing that just ahead are 100 miles of uninteresting freeway peppered with the occasional McDonald's. My chest tightens a bit and I start thinking about the mail waiting at home.

More of you must feel this way.

2 comments:

Postcards From The Hedge said...

Leslie: My ex in-laws live in Davis, and I love the way the sky gets bigger when you cross the bridge, the sweet smell of things growing and fertile soil, the farms and the wide open spaces. I have had dinner in Dixon with people who farm the same land their grandparents did - and have for decades. Watched the sun go down over the hills and the sweet grassy evening smells come out. It's fall and that flat land is the Pacific flyway- it's a world class place to go bird watching. I love it - especially the sky. Look up the next time you go. The sky is really bigger out there.

Ron Hutzul said...

I always feel the same on that drive - probably just moreso since for us, it was at best an 8 1/2 hour drive from Orange County AND it always felt to me like being back in a familiar "Canadian" surrounding...

trying to figure out a way to justify/rationalize heading up there this season...