The fractured tooth that came out has been acting up for a little while. And of course, it really had to start acting up on a Friday, when my dentist wasn't in his office and when we also happened to be on our fall getaway in Lake Tahoe.
We were planning on going to the Disneyland of the Sierras this fall, you know, Yosemite. We had such a wonderful time last fall touring Yosemite's Red Headed Step-Cousins we thought we'd give the real deal a go go. Autumn in the Sierras is generally nothing short of spectacular.
We also just got our lifetime National Park Pass and wanted to give that some use. But apparently you now need to book a room or campsite near Yosemite a year or two in advance, even in the off-season. When did that happen?
You can get a room a hundred or so miles away, but who wants to do that? Might as well just stay in Kansas.
So we ended up staying at a five star lakeside resort in Tahoe for less than a three star Best Western motel near Yosemite would have cost. I mean...it was kind of like, London or Cabo?
And even though high mountain hiking is quite relaxing (at least the way we do it), I can also handle room service. It has been a frantic summer and fall here, when this little fall getaway comes around I really enjoy not doing much. This old body needs a breather.
Folks wonder why I enjoy this time of year so much. Frankly, it's cause I can finally relax a bit. Talk to anybody that lives in the country. Once summer and the heat hits, it's sun up to sun down, twelve to fourteen hours a day. Once we get a little rain and the days shorten up a bit we country folk can catch our breath. And go to Tahoe.
I found this deal on Expedia. Not my usual travel site, but what the hell. I'm a tramp, I'll go anywhere that can save a few bucks. Anyway, we ended up at The Landing Resort and Spa and are we ever so happy we did.
Before I forget, I MUST mention that on the scenic couple hour drive to Tahoe we played our two new Mikel Paul CD's. We had the pleasure of dining with Mikel at my sister's house a couple weeks ago. Besides being a very engaging and funny soul, he's also a very talented musician. His music and style remind me of Michael Franks and Randy Newman. Here's a nice tune by Mikel: The Way a Woman's Body Goes. Check him out.
When we pulled up to the resort we were greeted by one of the hardest working Bellman-Valet-Driver and nicest all round guys at Tahoe, Jason. He grabbed all the bags and then ushered us inside where my lovely wife was offered a complimentary glass of champagne while we checked in.
The room was a king suite with a gas fireplace, fridge, fifty-five inch TV, Jacuzzi tub, heated bathroom floor and toilet seat and complimentary bathrobes. With a lake view. And room service.
And no where to go with nothing to do. For four days. I was in heaven.
That evening we decided we wanted burgers. We got a great referral to the Lucky Beaver bar and grill. We shuttled on down to the Beaver with Jason, who also gave us instructions to simply call the resort for a return shuttle trip back to the resort when we were ready to return.
We were seated quickly and ordered almost twice as quickly. There were burgers and sandwiches galore. I chose a burger with Applewood bacon, an onion ring, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a pickle. Only, you know, since I'm lactose intolerant I told our waitress specifically to omit the cheese. I'm pretty sure she wrote it down on the ticket.
When my burger came, with me silently salivating all the while it was being made, I noticed it was smothered in cheese. Well, aargh.
A minute goes by before I can get our waitress over and tell her there is cheese on my specifically ordered no cheese burger. She takes it back to the absolutely apathetic kitchen where I am certain the lazy schmuck simply scraped the cheese onto the floor and it was good to go. Only when she brought it back it was now missing the bacon and onion ring, cause, you know, he left that shit on the floor too. Another minute or two later I was able to get her attention to the very important missing ingredients.
She comes back with a side of cold brittle bacon and an onion ring with the consistency of Elmer's Glue. I suppose maybe it was an off night for the cook, but what the hell? You never know when a critic with a large following of two might be a patron. They get a star. The beef was good. And no tip, since something should have been comped. A soda? A beer? Something.
The Lucky Beaver, by the way, is located at Stateline near Harrah's and right next door to Dotty's and Trapped in Tahoe. Why, just what the heck are these two interesting places I've just mentioned, you may ask? Well, I just can't wait to tell you.
Dotty's is a casino of sorts. It's really small compared to Harrah's or Harvey's, like about the size of a Denny's or Ihop or other chain type coffee shop, more or less. However, it may be a formula that works. I just discovered there's like a hundred "Dotty's" scattered throughout Nevada. I wonder if they're all the same?
South Shore Dotty's might just be the only place on the planet where I witnessed four addictions being fed simultaneously. Meth-addled chain smoking four toothed human silhouettes drinking cheap vodka while pressing buttons or pulling the handle on one cent slot machines. Which I think was all Dotty's had on hand to play. One cent machines. No tables, no dice, no quarter slots. No Keno. About a hundred one cent machines. For the BIG spenders. The place reeked of stale smoke and alcohol, but was certain to be a place where you could score speed if you needed to.
After we spent two and a half minutes touring the entire casino, we went back outside and my lovely wife made the call to the resort for our shuttle ride back. Once that was done we had another ten minutes to hang out and explore. It was then we wandered next door to Dotty's and discovered Trapped in Tahoe.
Trapped in what? Who did where? Yeah, this is a place where you pay them money to get trapped in one of four themed 8x8 rooms. You get an hour to figure how to get out. That's like paying someone to beat you up.
We immediately thought of our Paris and Amsterdam traveling companions if we were to do it, they are both quite intelligent. But then we found out later these were NOT like Disneyland or Sherlock Holmes or even Gestapo themed rooms. They were more like Saw I through Saw 4 torture chamber rooms. And since my beautiful sis-in-law and I are both claustrophobic and all four of these 8x8 Saw rooms are underground, I'm thinking we wanted no part of this. Besides, who wants to give up a limb if we don't have to?
As we sat there marveling why anyone would want to pay forty bucks to be trapped in a closet and voluntarily cut off an appendage, I noticed a black SUV with tinted windows pull up to the curb close to where we were sitting. A tall, fit gentleman in a large black overcoat hopped out and kind of eyed us over. He looked like Jason Statham and had subtle black op mercenary written all over him. He was ten feet away.
My radar immediately went up. I silently wished I had my trusty terrorist stand-by with me, you know, my ruck sack full of orange marmalade. I had nothing but my wits. I kept my eye on him, casually yet warily.
Jason looked about, surveying the surroundings. Then he started fiddling with his phone.
"He could be setting off a bomb", I thought. "Or he's coordinating something with someone, somewhere. Or maybe he just pulled up to the curb, hopped out rapid fire and started playing a game for no reason at all, like Angry Birds II."
I can be cynical some times. Especially with me.
"If he pulls a gun I'll dive for his legs. Take him down. Put an elbow through his wind pipe. If he doesn't shoot me first. I'm a ninja. I'm a ninja."
I've found it helps to shamelessly lie when trying to bolster my confidence while I am mentally preparing for impossible physical body movement.
Just then my lovely wife's phone rang. She looked down at her phone and, not recognizing the number, exclaimed, "Who the hell is this?"
And then Jason turned towards us and said, smiling, "It's me, your driver."
"Or, maybe he was making a phone call," I continued. "Boy is he lucky I didn't have my ruck sack..."
Apparently Jason Statham was filling in for the real Jason, who was tied up elsewhere with the shuttle. No torture chamber pun intended. I thought Jason Statham was just a helper bee but it turns out he's the operations manager of the resort. We discovered this the following night when we ran into him and the GM, Henri Birmele, on our way to dinner.
We shared a laugh over the Trapped in Tahoe deal that we had discussed the night before and then he introduced us to the GM. We took that opportunity to let him know that every single employee we had thus far encountered at the resort was extremely gracious, caring and kind. Even the maintenance dudes. Henri was genuinely happy to hear this.
He then expounded a bit about the Trapped in Tahoe deal because he knew about it. Apparently it was a big hit and he wants them to open up a branch near another restaurant he runs in Mammoth Lakes. We had a lovely conversation and then went off to the resort's posh restaurant, Jimmy's.
Our server, Brittany was nothing short of marvelous. Knowledgeable and attentive, she educated us on the difference between pate and foie gras. Cause here in the states you mostly hear those two items together. Pate Foie Gras. And so it is that Foie Gras is the actual duck liver, pate is something that is many times made with the duck liver as well as other ingredients. So Pate Foie Gras is ground up duck liver with olives and onions and stuff. Similar to Spam, only different.
The meal was fabulous, the dessert even more so. Since Jimmy's is a Greek themed restaurant I simply had to try their Baklava. The piece of which was about two inches thick and five inches square. It was about four times the normal size one would normally receive for dessert. It was massive. I even commented on its massiveness, although I wasn't threatened by it. At all.
Brittany said she told the chef numerous times the portion was too big, she was always throwing some away. She'd never seen anyone eat an entire piece. She didn't think it was possible.
I proved her wrong. I may have broken up with Little Debbie, but I can still shimmy with sugar when the need arises.
Plus, half that portion was consumed for research's sake. I think I make better Baklava, but I did get a couple ideas from Jimmy's that I will incorporate this year to make mine even better.
Jimmy's also boasts a 2,000 bottle glass enclosed wine cellar featuring over 250 labels from around the world. The wine ranges in price from $35 to $2,500 and even features a couple of wines from Lebanon. Who knew they grew wine in Lebanon?
Jimmy's get five stars. They got it all.
We shopped, we hung out, we went on a couple strolls, we had no where to go and nothing to do. It was glorious.
We even had massages at the resort's spa. Let me say this; Carly, my masseuse gave me the best darn massage I've had in thirty years. She found and kneaded one major sore muscle on my back. I've only had one other masseuse be able to identify and work out sore spots with that kind of effectiveness.
One evening we decided to hit Harrah's for dinner. But since the steaks were about eighty bucks at the top floor restaurant and the line for the buffet was four miles long, we went across the street to Harvey's and ate quite casually at the Hard Rock Cafe.
When we were done with dinner I put about four bucks into an old style quarter machine with cherries and stuff and pulled fifty bucks back out. My lovely wife put about ten bucks into some super whammy new fangled penny machine. Which are really kind of misleading. Cause most of the time you got multiple pennies on multiple lines and every pull is at least a buck.
There was all sorts of commotion going on with every pull, but we had no idea what it was. Lights and sirens, bells and whistles. Nothing made sense. It was all probably designed to keep an addict interested. I'm sure there've been studies. The bottom line was something really good soon happened and she pulled about a hundred bucks out. Being that far ahead and maybe not so affected by bells and whistles, we skedaddled.
But before we left we made another observation. The big casinos at South Shore used to be glamorous. I remember going there in my twenties and thirties and wearing a sport coat and carnation. I think my lovely wife wore a fur coat before it became fashionable to spray paint them. Now it just looks like the patrons at either of Oroville's two casinos made a field trip to Tahoe. Middle aged pokey folks in levis and tennis shoes. Gambling their lives away.
Thank goodness there's more to Tahoe than casinos. I like just sitting there and breathing in the fresh high mountain air. Luxuriating in Tahoe's glorious and scenic vistas and views. Tahoe has always been a go to place for us and always will be. And why not? It's one of the loveliest locations on the planet. And The Landing just may have become a go to spot at our go to place.
The only complaints I have are thus: there were a couple scuff marks on one wall. And a small stain on the carpet. Annnnd, that's about it.
The location and personnel are fantastic. Everyone we encountered from maintenance to the GM was extremely cordial and sincere. The staff at the spa quite competent and gifted. The on site restaurant is magnificent. And the room; quite comfortable, roomy and elegant. Plus the bathroom floor and toilet seat are heated. This is a very easy place to relax and let it all go. Five and a half stars.
Speaking of things that can go wrong, I'm pretty sure I already had my mid-to-later-in-life crisis. I think. That was a few months back, like a couple years ago, when I decided I'd like to go by the nick-name Kernel. You can read about that right thar. I think I may have entered a new phase, and if I'm not careful I'm going to be called Kernel Klutz for the remainder of my aging life.
A couple events have transpired over the last couple months that have led me to this potential conclusion. Careful, this isn't going to be pretty.
The first one had to do with my fantastic father-in-law's 85th birthday. He's a pie kind of guy and had about a half dozen available for this soiree. Since there were only a dozen or so family members present and since I have broken up with Little Debbie and can only realistically eat half a pie anymore, there was obviously a little bit of leftover pie.
One of them happened to be chocolate cream, and obviously not the biggest hit since about three quarters of it was left. When the last guests departed I was involved with the clean-up crew. I put myself in charge of putting the chocolate cream pie in the fridge. I have no idea why.
The only available space in the jam-packed fridge was on top of some can of something, a jar of jam and probably some Tupperware. Maybe even a jar of pickles was involved. It doesn't matter. Whatever I gently placed the pie on top of decided it did not want to provide a stable environment for said pie. No sooner had I backed away from the gentle pie placement that the pie decided to launch into a slow motion chocolate cream filled waterfall slide all the way to the floor.
Oh, did I mention the gentle pie placement was on the top shelf of the fridge? Four chocolate cream pie shelves later I had a heap of a mess on my hands and the floor.
I can top that.
About a month after that horrendous event I made some amazing tri-tip chili. It was so amazing I went in for seconds. After I filled the bowl I turned to make my way back to the table. It was on this turn that somehow the chili filled bowl decided it wasn't going with me.
I wasn't in a hurry. Most of my senses were about me. I'm certain. But somehow, just like a second baseman might lob the ball to the short-stop in the execution of a double play, the bowl went airborne in a soft arc and then, again in excruciating slow motion and detail, proceeded to crash to the floor.
It gets better.
It was upon this crash to the floor that most of the contents of the bowl, the amazing tri-tip chili, which was quite red by the way, proceeded to erupt like a volcano and somehow make its way three feet up in the air. While a miniscule half a cup landed politely on the counter top, the remainder of the bowl began a slow, deliberate descent down the face of our WHITE cabinets, eventually ending in a tri-tip and red bean puddle on the floor. The bowl was in eight thousand pieces and just about everywhere.
It took forever to clean that one up. Cause just like with a chocolate cream pie it's really not a good idea to vacuum chili.
Until further notice, I wouldn't let me near anything more fragile than a pair of socks.
I hope you all shared some great hugs for Thanksgiving.
Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Kwanzaa to you.