My wife Kathyann and I have been using bonus weeks at Gold Crown resorts that are usually offered on white or blue weeks. Many resorts refer to these periods as "Off Week" time and report that activities in the area may be limited. We enjoyed a great week, had several first time experiences, and would encourage everyone to keep using the "Red Weeks" whenever possible. In short, our stay at the Embassy Resort in South Lake Tahoe was luxurious and excitement filled.
After racing to our destination ahead of the forecasted snow storm, my wife Kathyann and I exchanged the usual "what do you want to do next" comments as we settled into our spacious accommodations. The Friday afternoon we arrived was spent taking stock of our surroundings and getting stock to fill our refrigerator for the week. Next we turned our attention to the night lights at the casinos and we left our regular donation at the slot machines before returning to the fireplace in our room for some snuggle time.
The next morning was a treat as we woke to falling snow which we enjoyed from the resort's workout room before jumping into the outdoor Jacuzzi and indoor/outdoor pool. There is something special about hot bubbles and falling snow that I just can't put into words (you will just have to try it for yourself). Next Kathyann threw me a curve as she insisted that I take control and arrange the entire weeks itinerary. Not wanting to disappoint I dove right into the task and employed the talents of the Embassy Resort's wonderful concierge service. Being an off week in Tahoe some activities were not open but with some help from Becky the concierge (and Mother Nature) filling a week with fun turned out to be a breeze. Having done some prior research, with the assistance of RCI and Sunset magazine, I knew of some local activities we had never tried before so I scribbled out a draft itinerary for Becky to turn into reality. In no time at all Becky had not only scheduled activities, she also arranged discounts and gave us directions to the unadvertised, unregulated, natural setting, hot springs we inquired about. The rest of our weekend was spent at the casinos and buffets where we monitored the snow accumulation levels before our first snowmobiling trip.
Monday turned out to be a spectacular blue sky day at 10,000 feet where we hopped on our snowmobile and toured the beautiful frozen landscape of Hope Valley. We thought Mother Nature couldn't have provided a better day for us to enjoy but we hadn't experienced Tuesday yet!
Half past 4am came early as we prepared for our first hot air balloon ride but the excitement of floating free over the Carson Valley carried us all the way to the continental breakfast at the launch site. The cold feet I expected Kathyann to have quickly thawed as the Captain ignited the burners and prepared our woven chariot for take off. Liftoff was almost unnoticeable as we quickly rose to 9,800 feet above sea level. The view of the valley on this calm clear sky morning was breath taking as we alternated viewing positions in the basket and rolls of film in the cameras. It was fun to watch from a distance as people started their work week without us. The part I liked best was seeing Lake Tahoe over the mountain range and realizing that the elevation level of Carson Valley was the same as the bottom of Lake Tahoe. The lake looked like nature's bathtub in the clouds. Our descent was enlightening as the Captain sought a friendly landing site to keep us all out of jail. It turns out that some people don't like balloonist dropping in unexpectedly hence the fine print in the paperwork we signed. Fortunate for us our three point landing was on the property of Carsonites who welcomed our unique arrival. In no time the balloon chaser crew began to stow the craft as we sipped champagne and listened to the Captain tell of the origins of the sport. The Captain concluded the experience by reciting the ballooner's prayer for us and he gave us champagne glasses elegantly inscribed with the prayer and the ballooning company logo! What a great end to the beautiful morning we had but then came the bad news as he informed us that the champagne glasses would cost us nearly $200 each. In the end everything worked out because they gave us the balloon ride for free.
Since our trip into the wild blue yonder started and ended early in the day and the next storm system was bearing down on the Tahoe area we moved our lake cruise up a day. After a short post balloon nap we were off to Zephyr Cove for a trip to Emerald Bay on board the M.S. Dixie II paddle wheeler. The cruise was relaxing as we viewed the sites in the company of new friends we made during our snowmobiling and ballooning trips. Between chatting and picture taking we met yet another interesting couple and swapped a few more tales before we ended our two hour cruise.
The rest of the week we decided to get some of the rest and recuperation we came to the lake for in the first place. We spent some quality time shopping for necessities like the crystal champagne bucket from the Mikasa store and the bottle of bubbly which we had to rush back to the resort to test. Thursday brought snow to the valley again but we braved the weather once more for some specialty coffee and rental movies. With all ours needs met, we retired to the comfort of our fireplace lit living quarters were we capped off the adventures of the week with more snuggle time.
In all we had a great week. This was our second trip to the area in what locals call the "slow period" and we find it is a great time to visit with more to do than time and energy allows. If you haven't yet experienced the uncrowed, Lake Tahoe off week season, take it from us it is well worth checking it out for yourself. Oh by the way we never made it to the "clothing optional" hot springs for some reason...