Lake Tahoe Trip — Day Two“Just got back from a pleasure trip: I took my mother-in-law to the airport.” — Henny Youngman
Day two of our Tahoe trip did not turn out as planned. We were going to take a day trip west along U.S. 50 to Placerville and the Gold Country in California. I wanted to look for a few of the remnants of the Lincoln Highway, which followed the trace of present day U.S. 50. I had mapped a few things out so I thought I knew where we would be going and what to look for.
The day began with perfect weather and we were looking towards a great day traveling the U.S. 50, enjoying the scenery, looking for Lincoln Highway remnants and taking photos. Well, so much for planning and anticipation. After our breakfast at the local iHop, where the food was the same as we had yesterday but the service was much better, we headed west on Lake Tahoe Avenue (US 50) towards Placerville and the Gold Country.
The first thing we came upon was one of those flashing roadside information signs that give you information of road conditions or missing children. this sign told us U.S. 50 was closed at Echo Summit (about 15 miles outside of Tahoe) from May 11 to May 25 and to tune into 1680 on the AM dial for more information. Obediently I tuned to 1680 and heard a garbled message about the closure with the additional information that we should take CA-89 south as a detour around the closure at Echo Summit.
We did as the sign told us and began our detour on CA-89 realizing we would be going almost 150 miles out of our way to get to Placerville and U.S. 50 again. After a brief stop to check the map we discovered a shorter route that took us to CA-88 and CA-49. We decided to take this alternative route so we plugged Placerville into the GPS navigation unit and headed on.
The roads we traveled were typical mountain highways with the numerous curves, no passing and passing lanes. The scenery was great as we eventually climbed to over 8,000 feet and saw snow everywhere. At one point our GPS instructed us to leave CA-88 and take this secondary county road as a short cut to Placerville. The road took us through forest and vineyards and had more curves than Marylyn Monroe. The pavement was irregular and the width of the pavement was barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Finally after wondering when this road would end we reached several other county roads that brought us into Placerville after some 158 miles of detour.
We stopped for a spot of lunch in Placerville and a review of the maps we had to see what we could do in Placerville. There was really nothing we wanted to see except a replica of Lincoln Highway road marker in the wall of Tortilla Flats Mexican Restaurant on Main Street. After navigating our way though old town Placerville we found Tortilla Flats and the marker. We finally had some success in our quest.
After taking photos of the marker we decided not to return to Tahoe the way we came. We just did not want to negotiate all of those mountain curves again. So, we headed north on CA-49 to I-80 and a return to Tahoe via Truckee. The drive along CA-49 was not too bad and it took us past Sutter’s Mill where in 1848 James Marshal discovered gold on the banks of the American River and started the California Gold Rush. Too bad there is no longer any gold there as the state could use it to pay down the enormous debt of California.
The scenery along CA-49 was quite spectacular as we followed the American River north to I-80. At one point I had to stop and take a photo of a bridge in Auburn over the river. It was a perfect blend of nature and engineering. At Auburn we found a trace of the old Lincoln Highway and historic U.S. 40.
After joining with I-80 we headed for our hotel in Tahoe. I had not driven I-80 in quite a few years and I was appalled at the condition of the pavement. The concrete was raveling and very rough causing the car to shake and vibrate. I was wondering what this pavement was doing to my car.
We returned to our hotel about 5:00 p.m. and I was due for a nap before going to dinner. While I took a nap Kathy went to the casino to see if she could win some money, which she did.
That night we decided to go Italian so we went to the Vila Roma where we had a great dinner at a reasonable price. Tomorrow we are planning to go to Carson City to avoid the bike races they will be having in Tahoe.