“The joy is in the journey.”
The older I get, the more meaningful that statement becomes. When you’re young you’re in a hurry to get “there”, wherever that happens to be at the moment.
When I was younger, “there” was Echo Lake, just above Lake Tahoe. My parents owned a resort, Echo Chalet, and we made countless trips up winding Highway 50 that parallels the American River.
Last September as I drove up to close our cabin for the winter I did something I’d never done before. I pulled over and took pictures. Like this one of the river in the early fall, quiet and sedate before winter’s snowfall sets in.
I’ll admit, it’s a winding drive with lots of turns that frighten many drivers. Not me, though. I know every twist and turn of the hour-long drive like the back of my hand and on this day I relished every single one.
About 45 minutes into the drive the road takes a turn to the left and you’re met with this incredible vista – Strawberry Lodge with Lover’s Leap looming high above. It’s this landmark that notes you’ve almost reached your destination.
Past Strawberry the highway snakes alongside the mountain and soon you’re atop Echo Summit. Right as I reached the crest I looked to the right where there a ski resort had been many, many years ago. A few miles up the road yet another hillside could be seen, overgrown with pines, camouflaging the mountain’s history of a Sierra Ski Ranch (where I learned to ski) that has now moved to a larger location, known as Sierra At Tahoe.
Soon the highway plateaus a bit right before it descends into the Tahoe Valley. If you don’t know what to look for, you’ll miss it. After 50+ years I’m on autopilot, as is our 10 year old Subaru.
There’s a tiny road off to the left of the highway, not well marked, yet somehow thousands of people find it all the time. The narrow road departs from the eastbound 50 and makes a sharp westerly turn. If you know where (and how) to pull over, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking view of Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe is majestic, it’s true, but there’s another gem on my journey.
Also known as “The Gateway to Desolation Valley” to many. To me, it’s where I grew up. Every summer from age 4 on.
This is Echo Chalet, our family resort. My dad bought it in the ‘40’s and we sold it in the early ‘70’s. This photo is an actual postcard from, I believe, from 1959.
By the time I came along Echo was a summer resort only, but it has a wonderful history for many as a winter resort, as well.
With an elevation of 7539’, snowfall is deep. There’s no way to reach the resort by car now. Which explains all the ski tracks in this old photo.
But ski we did, all of us. This is an old photo of Mom & Dad. I couldn’t resist sharing it.
There’s no way for me to separate the memories I treasure from the years of journeys to Echo, both summer and winter.
After we sold the resort, Mom & Dad kept a little cabin on the road, just a mile in from the highway. Mom and I spend as much time there as we can in the summers.
Marlon & I used to go to the cabin in the summers too, but never in the winter.
Yep, this is the cabin in the winter. No, I didn’t take this photo.
Our cabin isn’t set up to be used in the winter. Not only would it be quite a cross-country trek in, there’s no water or power either.
For the last three or four years, Marlon always said how he wanted to take our grandson to see the snow. Ugh, I thought. I was focused on the destination, not the journey. I didn’t want to be bothered with everything that driving in the snow entails, not to mention the wear and tear on the car. So we never took Santino to see the snow.
Now my perspective has changed. Now I focus on the journey, no matter where I’m headed. Time becomes a precious commodity when you lose your loved one.
This winter I’m making a point of taking Santino to the snow. Maybe not to the cabin or even to a ski resort, but we’ll just take a day to enjoy the drive and play in the snow. The Subaru is all-wheel drive which makes driving safe and comfortable for me. To protect the car I’m using a Winter Protection Kit by ArmorAll. Being on my own, I now have to do everything my husband did, that I took for granted.
Car maintenance is not high on my list of favorite things to do but ArmorAll has made this incredibly simple. They even have a video that shows how to apply the Custom Shield, so even this gramma can do it.
I want to thank ArmorAll for sponsoring this post, allowing me to protect my car and create new journeys.
If you’d like to protect your car for your own winter journeys, visit ArmorAll. Their Winter Protection kit, valued at $65, is available for only $49.99 with FREE SHIPPING for the first 100 purchasers until December 31!
Where does your favorite winter journey take you?