Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


Lake Tahoe

Ever since our visit to Switzerland in 2012, I've been dreaming of the blue/green Alpine lakes and having the chance to visit them again one day. This last weekend, while we didn't make a trip across the Atlantic, we did make our first trip to the next best thing; Lake Tahoe.

For whatever reason, I wasn't too excited to go to Lake Tahoe when we first moved here. I had heard there were lots of casinos and figured it would be a sell-out type of place around a big lake but, after hearing more and more about it and doing a little research on my own, I quickly learned the error of my thinking and started planning a short trip over our 6th anniversary weekend. My birthday was just a week earlier and Adam surprised me with the best birthday gift ever; A kayak which couldn't have come at a better time. Having wanted a kayak for awhile now, and coming within inches of buying one last year, we were super excited to take it to Tahoe and try it out. Can you tell?

Getting ready to head out.

Family shot on the water.

It turns out, we don't really like this kayak and will probably be returning it for an upgrade, but we still had a great time out on the water. How could we not with a setting like this?

The water is so clear, so clear in fact that they say you can see objects 67 feet below the surface and I believe it. We stayed in the shallow waters and spent less time kayaking than we planned due to the tracking issues we were having, but it was still a blast and awesome to be out on the water. After a short trip, we packed it up and decided to go over to Fallen Leaf Lake. 

Fallen Leaf Lake is much smaller than Tahoe and at an elevation about 160 feet higher. The waters, if possible, seem even clearer. 

It's a quieter setting than Lake Tahoe even though its only a few miles away and I could have spent the entire weekend there. Instead, we walked around for a bit and then had an awesome lunch at a nearby lodge. They had the world's best hamburger! Next time, we will be going back and spending more time there. This lake especially had a lot of dogs enjoying the water and we've already decided to bring Kaiser along the next time we visit. He will love it! And, if I ever strike it rich, this lake might have to be my new home. As you can imagine, some of the area homes are something to see. I can't say I blame the wealthy either, this place is truly paradise.

After lunch, we might have been overcome in a food coma and taken a short nap... But, afterwards, we quickly headed back to Lake Tahoe and over to Baldwin Beach for some fun in the sun.

The water was cold, but the sun was warm and since it was very shallow, Landon loved playing in it. He has a new habit of going under over and again as you can watch below. He started at swim class and was more than happy to show off a bit in the Lake although I think the chill of water made him really have to amp up for it.

Eventually all that going under must have gotten to him though because we had to bring out the wet suit. Adam even got in a bit and threw Landon and played with him. It was all fun and games until we realized his phone was in his pocket, completely soaked and ruined. Still, Adam said Baldwin Beach was his favorite part of the weekend despite the loss.

After the phone was ruined, we decided it would be best to go back to the campsite, make some dinner and relax. We stayed at a KOA  and, unlike the one in Santa Cruz, it was much more sparse with bigger campsites and more space between neighbors. It was really enjoyable which made the $60 per night fee a little easier to swallow (camping should never cost that much!). We also tried out a new tent this weekend which we will be using for an upcoming trip to Oregon. Our tent only holds 3 people, but this beast is rated for up to 8 people. We are convinced it can hold more, but there is no doubt the five us will have plenty of room. Landon loved the bigger tent and was sure to point out Taylor could come with us  camping now, little does he know he will be soon!

Saturday night, we had a hair brained idea to go out around 10pm and try to see some stars. We headed over to a famous rock about 40 minutes away, but when we got to the spot we realized 11pm was not the time to make an inaugural trip down to it. We scrapped it and tried to head back to Baldwin Beach only to find out they close it off at night. Just before 1 am we pulled back into our campsite, not a single picture taken. Being a passenger though allowed me to enjoy the orange crescent moon and start the entire time. You win some and you lose some, but it was still fun and another thing we will be adding to the list to do next time.

We woke up Sunday morning, packed up all our gear, got some breakfast and headed to the other side of the lake in search of peaking lupine. I had heard it was in full bloom, but we had been having trouble finding it. After trying to research a spot with no luck, asking multiple people with no luck, and not being able to find it in one sure spot, we had one last shot at a spot on the west side of lake. Heading that way, we drove up and around a large section of the lake and stopped at the overlook in Emerald Bay. It was a beautiful vantage point!!

Emerald Bay is where we were trying to kayak the day before. Now we realized it would have been quite the large undertaking even with a better kayak, but we decided that next time we visit, we will go in closer to the bay and be sure to make our way there. After all, there is only one way to explore Lake Tahoe's only island, Fannette Island.

Another item for our next visit. We continued around the lake and over to Lake Forest to see the elusive lupine. Once we got there we were greeted to a beautiful purple field of lupines growing just a few feet from the waters edge.

And it is impossible to show, but there were huge! Some towering over Landon who thought they were too pretty and was afraid to damage any of them. This is one of only a few pictures Adam took with his camera this weekend, The iphone takes great pictures, but nothing can bring out the color like he can..

Believe it or not, they were even more vibrant in person, and the most spectacular shade of purple.

I could have stayed in this lupine field all day. The view of the lake from here wasn't half bad either. I love how the mountains form a perimeter all around the lake. It really helps to give it that Switzerland feel.

As much as I wanted to stay forever, we had to get home and before too long we were headed back on the road toward San Francisco. I can't believe it took us almost a year to visit Lake Tahoe, but I know we will back many, many times in the future. We've already planned to bring the dog, family and friends. We've decided to make a new tradition of camping over our anniversary since we've had such a good time doing it the last two years and we love any excuse to get out and camp. I think as long as we live in California, our anniversary camping trips may have to center here. California is stunning, but Tahoe is it's gem. 

See you soon Tahoe- Love the Lewis Family!


Fort Funston: The Doggie Beach

It's been on our radar since the beginning, but for some reason we've never made the trip to Fort Funston until Sunday. I first heard about it on Pinterest and told Adam we would have to take Kaiser there as soon as we got him out to San Francisco. Despite being only 10 minutes from our house and taking Kaiser to numerous beaches in the last 10 months, we never made our way over to what we planned to be Kaiser's first beach. Well, Sunday all that changed. We loaded up the family and decided to hit the popular doggie beach once and for all.

Landon was sick the last few days so we told him this was strictly a day for Kaiser to play. We left all the sand toys at home including the swim shorts and wetsuit while grabbing only the chuck-it for Kaiser we headed to the beach.

Part of the Golden Gate recreational area, and like many other parts of San Francisco, Fort Funston has a military history, which aptly explains the name. We were thrilled just to be able to find a parking spot and see that the heavy fog was dissipating somewhat over the area just as we arrived. Fog or no fog, Kaiser was just excited to get out and see where we were.

 A number of sand trails with ice plants on either side led us from the parking lot towards the ocean. Not having any idea what to expect, we were a little surprised when we came to the edge to learn that we were on top of a massive sand dune and the beach was quite a ways below.

Not only was it unexpected, but it was also much prettier than any other area beach. We could see all the people below playing on the waters edge with their dogs and excitedly hurried to join in. Landon, Adam, and I had a blast running down the sand dune toward the water. It's almost like you have a little less gravity as you can sort of make gigantic leaps without a hard landing. The only member of our family who wasn't so sure was Kaiser, who kept stopping, sitting down and checking on where everyone was and if they were ok before proceeding slightly hesitantly.

Of course, once he got down the beach it was a different story, he was in doggie heaven.

If you have a dog that likes chasing a ball and you don't have a chuck-it, then you need to get one! There is no toy Kaiser has ever enjoyed as much and the beach is the perfect place to throw the ball for our water loving dog. Even Landon loves to throw the chuck-it for Kaiser and does a pretty decent job.

And, speaking of Landon, despite telling him to stay our of the water, we should have known better. The boy just cannot help himself and ended up having to ride home without pants on. It's not the first time and you think we would have learned by now. Some things just never change.

He was little annoyed that he was soaked, I honestly couldn't blame him. The dogs were running all about having a great time and he just wanted to join in. Kaiser even made some new friends. When we first arrived, a meetup group of French Bulldogs were all together and it took everything I had not to steal one. If I was going to get any breed other than a German Shepherd, it would be a French Bulldog. Kaiser played with one for a few minutes and then moved on to a few dogs more his size including a number of German Shepherds and an adorable Great Dane puppy.

Of course we were at the beach for our furry son, but Fort Funston is also the most well known hang gliding spot in San Francisco.

Not only is the terrain much better for hang gliding than anywhere else in the area, but the air currents allow for them to almost suspend themselves in one spot for an endless amount of time. It was fun watching them glide and, no surprise to us, Landon voiced his desire to try it himself. Maybe in a few years...

Down on the beach, there was a lot of new things as well. I'm not sure if it is jellyfish season or something about this spot causes a lot to wash up on shore, but there were thousands of them washed up on the beach. 

Having been stung by a jellyfish before, I made sure they were not a threat to any of us, including in the water, before I felt comfortable with my family and so many jellyfish being so close. I picked a few up and noticed their tentacles were gone. After a while, we didn't even notice them. Walking over them, they kind of felt like thin, slippery plastic bottles.

We also managed to find a number of crab shells. Which explained what a few of the fisherman on the beach were looking for.

We explored the beach, watched the hang gliders, and most importantly, let Kaiser play until his little doggie heart was content.

Well that isn't entirely true...eventually we made him take a break, drink some water and rest. Of course, he kept an eye on his chuck-it just in case we decided to throw it at any second.

Since the dog is a complete machine and would have played all day, we eventually decided he had a enough and called it a day, but not before taking a picture of the two kids in the namesake fort.

We all came home dirty and wet, but not regretting it a bit. Landon was immediately put into the bathtub which looked like this once he was done.

Beach life problems I suppose. Kaiser spent a few hours on his cot in the kitchen drying off, but stayed in the horizontal position for the remainder of the day. I think it is safe to say, Fort Funston was a hit! We will back, in a few weeks once he's had time to recover.


Sailboat Cruise on the Bay

Way, way back in March, when my Dad was visiting, we planned a special birthday gift for him; A sailboat cruise around the San Francisco Bay!

My Dad is the hardest person I know to get a gift for, but he has always loved sailboats. After seeing the hundred of sailboats in the bay everyday, I knew just what to get him this year since he was spending his birthday here with us. We booked a 90 minute Catamaran ride with Adventure Cat Sailing Charters. There were about 25 other people aboard the large catamaran, but given it's size it never felt crowded. Landon was super excited to go out on a boat, but once he got on, he wasn't too sure about the nets at the front that were open to the water below.

But, after watching some other people move around, being encourage by us, and after getting bored enough, he ventured out and discovered that all was well. Before too long, with the way he was enjoying it, you could be forgiven for mistaking the whole trip as a present to HIM rather than my Dad.

The San Francisco Bay has to be the best place in the US for a sailboat ride. As we headed out of the harobor, we passed the seals lounging and talking on Pier 39, then made our way around Alcatraz. Although we had visited the day before (see that post HERE), it was neat to travel all around the island and take it in from the other side. We were able to pick out places and spots of the prison from a different perspective.

 The highlight for me though was traveling under the Golden Gate bridge.

It is such an iconic structure and one I've become quite smitten with. Despite having traveled across the bridge many, many times and seeing it from a number of beautiful vantage points, there is something even more magical about the bridge viewed at water level.

We lucked out and the weather was gorgeous for our 4pm cruise. Karl (the fog) was no where to be seen and visibility was wonderful. Despite the sunshine, moving at fast rate of speed on the water made it a little chilly. Luckily, we had all brought our jackets and the 90 minute ride was just the perfect amount of time to enjoy everything and not get too cold.

We took lots of pictures, played on the nets (trampolines if you ask Landon), and enjoyed the sunshine and beautiful views. They even let the birthday boy take the wheel for a few minutes.

The captain made sure to take over before we got back to the pier and as we turned back to the harbor, we were afforded great views of the city.

Since the boat took off and departed right from Pier 39, we left the sailboat and headed to one of the many nearby restaurants right on the pier. We had a special birthday dinner planned the next night, so we kept it a little more low key with Bubba Gunp Although a chain, the food is actually pretty darn good, and I keep going back for the Far Out Dip alone.

Like I said, the San Francisco Bay must be the best place in the US to ride on a sailboat. There are many options and tours to choose from. If you have the nerve (and the cash), you can even go out on a racing sailboat like THIS. Living Social and Groupon are constantly having deals for boat tours as well. If you are planning on a trip, I would highly recommend getting out on the water. It was something was something we planned especially for my Dad, but it ended up being an awesome experience for us all and a great way to see San Francisco.