It's been a long time coming. This weekend - well, actually Wednesday to Sunday - we were in Lake Tahoe for a much-needed break. We toyed with the idea of going someplace farther away, like Montreal or Vancouver or England, but in the end we decided to save money and go up the Sierra Nevadas instead.

We rented a 2-bedroom cabin at this nice little place called Spruce Grove. Not deluxe accommodations by any means, but it was still very good. The cabin was cozy and spacious, with a full kitchen, dining area, living room, and bathroom. There was a cast iron fireplace in the living room, a nice deck, and rustic Native-American-inspired decor. The deck had a picnic table and a gas barbecue.

On the grounds of Spruce Grove, they had a few swings, a couple of hammocks, plenty of room for the dog to run, and an outdoor spa. Tall pine trees dotted the grounds, and flower beds ringed the trees.

My coworker Cathey spent most of the time with us. She stayed with us longer than she had planned because her car broke down. She had to bring it to the nearest dealership for service and was effectively stranded. It was time well spent, though.

It wasn't a hectic vacation at all. We barbecued, napped on the hammocks, dined out, played with Devon, drank wine (lots of wine), barbecued some more, relaxed in the spa, gambled, shopped for souvenirs, walked along the lake shore, and went kayaking at North Lake Tahoe.

At the casinos, I lost a couple of hundred dollars, mostly at the blackjack tables but also at slots and roulette. Cathey broke even, I think, while Bill won quite a bit at roulette (which shall henceforth be known as "spinny ball"). Bill ended up giving all his winnings back to the casino via the dollar slots, though.

Oh, wait. We didn't go gambling. We went gaming. Apparently, "gambling is for people from New Jersey."

The kayaking was the highlight of the trip. I had never done it before and was a bit apprehensive. After all, I can't swim.

Bill had arranged for the kayak trip. It was a three-hour guided "tour", which we got through Tahoe Paddle & Oar. Bill was in a solo kayak, the guide was in another one, and Cathey and I were in a double. It was a blast.

The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, and the waters were calm. Lake Tahoe's legendary water clarity allowed us to see the lake bottom almost the entire time, whether we were in water two feet deep or thirty feet deep.

Notice how I said "almost the entire time"? Well, at one point we went paddling through an area of the lake that was very deep. It was quite disconcerting. One second I'm looking at rocks strewn along the lake bottom, and the next second all I could see is a deep, dark blue. Then our guide says that we were above more than a thousand feet of water.

Egad! One thousand?! I kept waiting for my kayak to capsize and for Nessie to suddenly surface from the deep. Nevermind that Loch Ness was over 5,000 miles away. I have to admit that I was very nervous while we were in that area, even though I was wearing a life vest.

It was fun, though. I was actually surprised that almost three hours flew by so quickly. Before I knew it the guide was telling us to row back to our starting point. I was so sure I would be panting, winded, and wheezing by the end of the trip, but I wasn't. Must have been thanks to the cool, clean mountain air. It sure as hell wasn't due to my awesome athleticism.

Anyway, here are some pictures...