Other than a quick 36 hours together in LA for a work trip last year, Justin and I haven’t had a single “get away”! That’s mostly motivated by my deep hatred of leaving the boys, but after a busy year and with the boys getting a bit older, I was feeling like it was a good time to take a little trip.
The night before we left I was texting my friend Jenna about some anxiety and worry I was experiencing about leaving the boys. She reminded me about how valuable this time investment is in my husband, and that he needs my full attention (as I need his) without the kids sometimes. It was the perfect mindset to go into the trip. I missed the boys terribly, but the time together with zero schedule and zero to do lists was incredibly rewarding.
A motivator behind this trip too, other than quality alone time, was sort of an intentional goal setting trip. My friend Ashlee Proffitt told me that she and her husband do that at the end of each year and I loved that idea. I asked her for a rough outline, and she shared it with me, but I also encouraged her to write a blog post about it in more detail so if she does I’ll share that with you!
Essentially, Justin and I covered what worked in 2016 and what didn’t work. We talked about what events we have already planned in 2017, and what we want to add into the calendar. We talked about lifestyle goals, marriage goals, family goals, and personal goals. We spread it out over a handful of our meals, and also while we were in the car, so it didn’t feel like it was an intensive week together with homework. It was a perfect, guided and intentional conversation, that led to a lot of good discussion and planning. He’s a good man, and I’m very thankful!
So, we picked Lake Tahoe because we wanted a real winter escape, and that it was. Olympic Valley, where we were, had just gotten 12 feet of snow the week prior to us arriving. It was the most snow I’ve ever seen in my life. The trees were covered, and the sidewalks had to be carved out separately from the street. Every 20 seconds, as we were driving into the resort, we would say, “oh my gosh look at all this SNOW!” It was like the thickest blanket of heavy, sticky snow. Perfection, in my mind. I wouldn’t want to deal with that on a daily basis, but for a winter escape it was so much fun.
We stayed at the Squaw Creek Resort, mostly because I found a great Black Friday deal last November. It was very nice, but we agreed we wouldn’t stay there again. If we were to return, and we’ve talked about returning in the summer sometime, I think we would stay in more of a village place versus a separated resort. We craved an area to walk around in and window shop, and also a greater variety of restaurants.
Again, it was super nice, but a little bit too quiet for our taste.
Upon arrival we learned that Monday and Tuesday were the only clear days that week, so we immediately pursued a Helicopter tour in the valley. I mean, we dropped our bags, put on winter boots and ran down to the helicopter as fast as we could. Ricardo took us up and showed us the valley and the lake. It was stunning. Justin and I had never been in a helicopter before and it was very, very cool. It’s much smoother than I thought it would be!
The next day we went snowmobiling, which was the best part of the trip for both of us. It was a 2 hour tour, which was enough time to really get a feel and have some fun, without it being too long. The views from the top of the mountain were amazing, and I’m so glad we were able to go on a clear day and see everything!
The last full day started out with rain, so we went out to breakfast and had plans to drive down to the Heavenly Resort on the south side of the lake. After about a 45 minute drive, we discovered that the road was completely closed. They didn’t plow it past a certain point…and so it was closed! We turned the car around, and headed back to the resort. The time in the car was nice, though, and we got a lot of talking in before a migraine hit me.
Back at the resort, I went to get a massage which was so relaxing especially on a migraine day, and Justin relaxed in the room.
That afternoon we were aware of the snowfall heading our way, and were keeping a close eye on it. We headed back out to town to see a movie, but after getting 85% of the way there, we decided it wasn’t very wise and decided to drive back to the resort. The snow was coming fast, and there were checkpoints every few miles on the road of safety officers checking for chains on tires as they became a requirement due to the crazy weather. The roads were mostly wet, but the snow as getting stickier and heavier, and we weren’t sure what we’d be walking out to after having seen a movie.
So, we drove back to the resort and started planning options to make sure we wouldn’t get snowed in at Olympic Valley and miss our flight home the following day.
Back at the room, we decided after much deliberation to go ahead and leave town before the snow got worse. So, we packed as fast as we could, checked out a day early, and hit the road. Right before we left, a staff member at the resort mentioned that she had heard that the freeways had just closed.
Justin and I looked at each other, and decided to press on as safely and efficiently as we could to see if we could make it out!
I felt completely safe, as there was just a lot of slush and snow, but we knew the following morning would be much much worse with ice and vehicles that were spun out and stuck on the road.
We got to the freeway, and literally the exact point of where it opened up from being shut down was exactly where we needed to enter. Had we been one single exit to the west, we would have been stranded. We drove onto the freeway, and headed east to Reno. Snow turned to rain, and we breathed a deep sigh of relief that we got out in time! It certainly wouldn’t have been the end of the world to get stranded, but we did our best not to-and we succeeded!
Driving into Reno, we were just going to book a cheap hotel until Justin, sweet husband of mine, remembered seeing this grand casino and hotel off the side of the road when had left Reno on Monday to head toward Tahoe. And he taught me that Casino hotels are super super cheap because they want you to spend all your money in the casino! So, we decided to #yolo this trip finale and stay at the Atlantis Casino and Resort in downtown Reno. I read some reviews online before, which were very positive, and we booked a cheap room en route.
Upon arrival, I couldn’t stop laughing about the absurdity of how our romantic winter getaway had morphed. From quiet, snowy Lake Tahoe we were ending in a smokey casino with huge flames and 70’s style fluorescent lights on the building. It was a sight to behold.
We dropped off our bags in the room, and went down to the casino, because when in Rome. . .
We got $20 out of the ATM and settled in at the penny slot machines. I gambled all 10 of my dollars away, and Justin ended up making about $2.43 cents on his $10 bet. It was hilarious, and we had so much fun looking like complete morons in the casino.
That night I couldn’t sleep well, for a few reasons. The pillow was about as thin as 3 sheets of computer paper, and the walls of our room were extremely thin as well and we heard some adult activity going on next door if you know what I’m saying. Justin was asleep, and I was laying there listening to the events next door, rolling my eyes and still laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Finally, 4 HOURS LATER I fell sleep for about 2 hours until it was time to wake up.
Travel day home was long and hard, but I was so very excited to see my boys! This was the longest I’ve ever been away from the kids, and I missed them terribly. I got photo and video updates from my parents every day but I felt like they aged 5 years while we were gone!
Justin and I spoke excitedly about bringing the boys back to Lake Tahoe in the summertime for a vacation one day. It’s so beautiful there, and there are so many things to do!