“Do you feel like you’re in a Bob Ross painting?” I asked Jake as he steered our vehicle up and down steep mountains thick with towering trees. “I feel like I’m trapped in a Bob Ross painting on drugs,” he replied, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles. “I bet the woods are full of bears, too,” he added as we passed a Rock Slide Area sign followed by another featuring a truck tumbling off the side of a mountain.
The waters of Lake Tahoe are crystal clear and the sun beats over the mountains like a flaming, angry saucer.
Early in the morning, the sun rises over Lake Tahoe; it seems to rise much earlier than it does in the Midwest. Before seven a.m., the lake radiated so fiercely with white light that I had to look away.
For two Midwestern kids, the drive to Lake Tahoe felt nerve-wracking. We’re used to driving long, flat distances through corn fields on auto-drive, only pausing it to pass semis. You can’t do that here. The highway winds up through the mountains and around sharp curves hugging drop-offs that make your palms sweat.
I don’t know a lot about wine, but I sure like to try it.
When I first began culinary school, I enrolled in the Wine Certification. I found our first textbook reading overwhelming. It delved deeply into clippings and grapes and soils and weather. I quickly decided that a career as sommelier was not for me, but loved becoming more literate about wine terminology and having a clearer idea about what wines I like. I also developed some mad wine-swirling skills which make me look like I know what I’m doing. It was also really fun to take home a couple bottles of chardonnay that we made in class, even if they needed time to mature.
“Can you recommend a Sonoma winery?” I asked our Airbnb hostess.
“I want to be a wine baron,” Jake stated as we sat at Buena Vista’s bar illuminated by the glowing picture of Count Agoston Haraszthy.
“Who doesn’t” I replied.
The evening before, our flight landed in San Francisco, thus beginning our road trip weaving east to Tahoe and then up to Portland.