Last Monday we departed from Berkeley for a week’s vacation in Lake Tahoe. On our way there we stopped in Sacramento, the capital of California, and I posed outside the capitol in my most patriotic t-shirt.
On Tuesday we woke up to splendid sunny and hot weather and spent the entire day soaking up the sun at the beach on the eastern – Nevada – side of Lake Tahoe.
I came across this wonderful vintage poster in the restroom of the restaurant in Incline Village where we had dinner. Yes, we’re here to test the waters!
On Wednesday there were some clouds in the sky but we drove to the beach for a few hours of sun in the morning anyway.
When the rain came we drove over to California and visited the Olympic Village which we suspected had been more of a happening place in the winter of 1960…
Lake Tahoe doesn’t only have amazing beaches for the summer and lots of slopes for skiing in the winter, but also plenty of beautiful trails to hike all year around.
We walked one trail while the train was coming down softly on the lake.
On Wednesday evening we went out for drinks at some of the casinos in Nevada – our hotel was located right on the state line. After living in California for three years, Nevada feels more like a different country than a different state: gambling, smoking inside, and an everlasting party. It felt almost like visiting another decade!
On Thursday we hit the beach again and got some unexpected company: a family of geese turned up to interact with us!
The wildfires raging in Yosemite and the wind blowing north-east made the air around Lake Tahoe more smoky and hazy by the hour. This is how apocalyptic it looked like when we drove into Nevada in the afternoon: the sky was yellow and the sun red.
After a failed visit to a deserted lake in Nevada, we stopped in Carson City to have lunch. As one of my friends in Russia used to say when we passed through small towns in the Urals, this is certainly a place not to be missed.
With all the haze in the air all of our clothes started to smell of smoke – but the sunset over Lake Tahoe was still stunningly beautiful.
After a day wondering the highways of Nevada we sure were happy to see the sign that we were about to return to California.
During the last week of teaching a summer course – while I was so infamously freaking out about everything [see my previous post for more details on the agony and anxiety of being a graduate student] – I suddenly decided that enough is enough and booked four nights at a hotel in South Lake Tahoe for the following week. The fiancé was happily surprised when he learned we were about to go on vacation after coming home one afternoon. Since we didn’t go anywhere this summer, except for a weekend in Monterey and Carmel at the end of June, I decided that we needed a break and in the very same moment I received my tax return so this meant we had the financial means to go away for a while. I do not take vacations like this one a lot – usually whenever there’s a break in the academic year I go to Sweden to visit my family or to Russia to reconnect with the Motherland for personal and professional reasons; or maybe even worse I think that a break [like Spring Break, for example] means more time for undisturbed work… This time I had a different approach to time off and also I think deep down I knew that the fiancé and I needed to spend a few days on our own away from the everyday life we live in Berkeley. Also the summer months here in the Bay aren’t really much to call “summer”: we have to wait until October before we get any real heat around here. November is usually a nice month here too. It was very nice to spend a week away from it all even though this also meant that we were leaving of comfort zone of all sorts of equality and political liberalism and organic food; we basically entered a “food desert” as soon as we drove beyond the hills… Since we’re fasting [the Fast of Theotokos lasts for two weeks in the end of August], we had to make do with the vegetarian options and fried seafood we could find which was not always easy. Traveling when fasting isn’t pleasant – I know this very well now since we went to Canada during Holy Lent in April and we grabbed everything vegan we could find – but we decided that cheese was okay under the circumstances. But I have to confess that I was so happy to come back to Berkeley and especially to come back to the wonderful food of Berkeley; I don’t know how people live elsewhere in this country, but I sure could not last more than a week on the dietary options served elsewhere… I suspected I had gained a good five pounds [the breakfast at the hotel was mainly donuts] and was therefore a little bit afraid of trying on my wedding dress this Sunday afternoon as I’m having the hem shortened – but it turned out that I must have lost a little bit of weight since I bought it three weeks ago. Now the tricky part of buying a dress this far in advance – this day marks five months until our wedding day – is not gaining or losing too much weight before it has to fit exactly as perfectly as it did on the day I bought it. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, comrades.
In other news I found out a few weeks ago that I received a scholarship from a Swedish organization which supports Swedish graduate students in the US. It does not include money but what it does include is a year’s worth of free living with free food at Berkeley’s International House. I accepted only half of the scholarship – since I’ll be moving elsewhere in January – but next week I’m moving to a new place. Despite everything that has happened thus far in my graduate school career, I’m still excited about what’s coming up next during my fourth year. My fourth year! Wow. I think I’ll have to let that one sink in…