Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Visiting the "Former Alaskans" in Lake Tahoe

Ok, our friends who moved away from Alaska are not exactly IN Lake Tahoe (brrrrr!) -- they live in the town of South Lake Tahoe. It's situated on the South shore of the famous clear blue lake that straddles the Nevada-California border. Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America -- impressively beautiful!

Mike and Patty had moved to Alaska as newly-weds about a decade ago, built a beautiful log home in our valley here, and had 3 lovely children. Our youngest became friends with their oldest in Kindergarten, and we moms hit it off right away -- quilting, knitting, gardening, hiking, etc... But sadly for me, they decided to leave Alaska 2 years ago and move back to where they grew up, to be closer to their own families.

Sooo, we made good on our promise (threat?) to visit them in their new home, and for our mid-winter vacation we flew to Nevada right after the New Year. Our eldest daughter from college joined us in Reno, where we first spent 2 days at a Nevada ranch to decompress.

On the third day, we rose again -- and climbed up the road to the land of Milk & Honey/ condos & casinos/ ski-lifts & jetboats. It dawns on me just how much of a country bumpkin I am -- I've rarely seen such a display of expensive real estate as there is on the shore of that lake! WOW, if those mansions are "second homes", then what do the "first" homes look like?

But on to our friends, who're doing a wonderful job of raising their children in this land of contrasts.

We descended on their house, and doubled the # of inhabitants from 5 to 10! It was great to catch up, and the kids seemed to pick up right where they left off 2 years ago -- legos and chasing each other thru the house... The youngest, nicknamed Baby Zilla, was only a year old when they left Alaska. She eyed us a little suspiciously at first, but warmed right up to us -- she melted my heart when she dragged out the baby quilt I had made when she was born, and said "You made this for me!"

Feasts were cooked, long breakfasts lingered over, hot tubs soaked in and and sights seen. Patty and Eldest hit the slopes one day while we took the kids to the Nevada Beach -- there was a brisk wind, but our gaggle of kids had fun burying Liesl in the sand. Only Alaskans would play at the beach on such a cool day! But we loved the sunshine we got there EVERY day!!!

We had a great time, and our friends were wonderful hosts. We did move into a vacation-rental that opened up on the third day there (there's that old saying "Guests are like fish -- on the third day they begin to stink") -- we felt VERY welcome, but realized how big an impact it is to host a whole family! Plus, Peter's sister and husband flew in to join us for the remaining days. It was wonderful to see them.

It is amazing how difficult it can be for a LARGE group of people on vacation to get going anywhere -- just deciding on where/what to eat took a while, let alone organizing an outing!
We did drive around the lake one of the days with just the adults -- at that point it seemed easier to just let the kids stay home and play! I'm sure our friends breathed a big sigh of relief when we were gone and their lives returned to normal.

I think the visit was hardest on Eldest. She is now used to living her own life at college, and not used to having to be part of a family, let alone two and a half. It seems to me that she had a very hard time being flexible, which showed itself in how critical she was of her siblings and parents -- I was probably just as hard to take when I visited Germany during college (sorry Mutti & Papi!).
On top of all that rubbed her the wrong way, Eldest got news that her paternal grandmother died in Florida (my ex's mom) -- it was really a damper on the end of the vacation! But our family did pull through it all, and we're all still talking (of course)! We're looking forward to her moving back to Alaska after she graduates, but realize how much she needs her own place and be in charge of her own life...
Here's a picture of Eldest holding Baby Zilla (dare I point out how good she looks with a child on her arm?!? -- hush). I have more pictures of Tahoe to share, but that will need to wait until another post...


timekpr said...

they have grown so much since i saw them last!!!!! wow! tell them hi for me!

Kitchen Sister said...

I'm so sorry! I tried really hard to not be a turd (you know the word I want to use... it starts with a b). I guess it's true though, I'm no good at being a communal member of a family anymore. I'm pretty used to flying solo now. For the record, I love my family very much and had a great time in Tahoe with you guys, but I suppose my family report card now reads "Does not play well with others."