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Camping: Kaspian Campground at Lake Tahoe

by VM Brasseur on August 8th, 2008

Last weekend was a day longer than normal so I could go camping with Eric and Anneke. After an extensive search we located the Kaspian Campground along the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe. It met all our requirements for car camping: walk-in campsite, no RVs, flush toilets. Added bonus? It’s directly across the road from Lake Tahoe. Nice…

More after the jump…

Before I get much farther in this post and forget about it completely, here’s the Flickr album of the trip. Alas, my camera was without batteries for much of the time so there’s not a lot of photos.

We left town around 11am on Friday. Three adults and all of their stuff, neatly and comfortably settled into a 2007 Honda Fit. Not only did the entire lot fit well (we could even see out of all of the windows after packing), that little car toted the load up mountains, air conditioning on, accelerating past vehicles with engines twice its size. Honda Fit? Gets my enthusiastic vote of approval. If only it were as cute as my Mazda 3… 😉

E&A are great people with whom to travel. They’re easy-going and open to reasonable suggestions. My suggestion on Friday was that we take the CA-50 route towards Tahoe so we could stop in Placerville for lunch. Years ago a then co-worker (now a vital part of maintaining our burger heritage) raved about this little place in Placerville and said, in no uncertain terms, that I could not miss any opportunity to stop there. This was my first chance since then (I don’t make it up to Tahoe often) and I was very glad that E&A were amenable to the idea. We pulled off of CA-50 and into Z-Pie and we were very glad we did. The pot pies were really good. They were tasty, reasonably priced and just the perfect size. The service was friendly and helpful and the entire experience left us wanting to return. Eric mentioned wanting to mail-order some pies from them and I have to say I’m considering it myself. Nice call, Al! Thanks for the tip!

Locating our campground took a wee bit of doing (signage? fail!) but eventually we did. We set up camp and soon thereafter started the fire to prep for dinner. The evening’s meal was to feature a whole bass, stuffed with herbs, lemon and onion and roasted over the coals. We also had heirloom tomatoes (salted, peppered, EVOO’d), salad and coal-toasted garlic bread. Oh, and two bottles of red wine. Dessert was chocolate-covered, truffle-filled figs and port. Yes, we really do know how to rough it, don’t we? At sundown we went down to the lake, waded a bit (brrrrrr…) and watched the reflection of the sunset on the lake.

Though the days in Tahoe are in the high 80’s the nights drop down to just above 40°. As almost an afterthought I’d grabbed a spare wool blanket on my way out the door and I’m very glad I did. I never sleep well when camping/backpacking but I wouldn’t have slept at all without that extra layer of warmth on top of my down sleeping bag. E&A were doing a trial run of some new sleeping pads over in their tent and were sleeping in enviable comfort. Well, mostly…

The thing about Tahoe is that it’s about 6500 feet higher elevation than where we live. That sort of elevation change isn’t usually a problem for any of us but as any mountaineer can tell you, elevation sickness can hit at any time. That time, for Eric, was Friday night. He wisely spent much of Saturday morning resting up in the tent (on the fabulous sleeping pad). In the meantime Anneke and I had a splendid breakfast of toasted baguette, cream cheese and fresh strawberries (plus coffee and tea, of course) and had a lot of very relaxing time reading down by the lake.

Eric and the elevation came to a pleasant agreement in time for lunch. We had charcuterie (bresaola, Boccalone salami, duck galantine, Boccalone mortadella), five different cheeses, various pickles, two kinds of bread (baguette and walnut levain) more heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions. Oh, and a nice bottle of rose. And chocolate for dessert. Again, hard livin’. It builds character.

In the afternoon we piled back into the car and drove down the road a few miles to rent a canoe. We spent about an hour and a half paddling around the lake, successfully avoiding the wakes from the many speedboats which were zipping around pulling water skiers. The experience reminded me how much I enjoy paddling so I might investigate kayaking classes. Afterward we returned to camp and spent a large chunk of time reading and otherwise relaxing before dinner.

As much as I enjoyed the bass on Friday, the lamb on Saturday managed to be even better. It had been sitting in the cooler since Friday morning, soaking up the flavor of the spice rub (Ethiopian chilis…mmm…). There were three waves of lamb chops, allowing Eric to finesse the timing such that the final wave was dead on perfect (though they all were very good). The lamb was accompanied by more coal-toasted garlic bread, grilled corn on the cob, more heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers and, of course, two more bottles of good red wine. Dessert was chocolate followed by port down by the lake. Again, an outstanding evening.

Sunday morning was spent reading, having a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal with fresh peaches and packing up the camp. Eventually we finished those things which naturally meant it was time for lunch. As we were mostly packed already we just drove down the road to a lovely lakeside spot for round #2 of charcuterie, cheese, bread, veggies and wine. Aside from the stiff breeze coming off the lake the entire scene was downright bohemian and entirely enjoyable.

Though traffic was dreadful on the way home (backed up all the way past Sacramento? what the hell is up with that?) the weekend was still one of my favorite in recent record. I really enjoy camping and spending time with E&A and, despite my tent-induced sleep deprivation, I ended up feeling pretty darn relaxed and happy by the time we returned.

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6 Comments
  1. Sounds lovely! We will be car camping (probably) in another week, somewhere between Salt Lake City and Bozeman, Montana. Hopefully in the Yellowstone area, but it’s all first-come, first-served. I really should be making plans of some sort by this point!

  2. Mom & Dad B permalink

    Oh, so THAT’s what camping is. And to think I wasted all that time sleeping on the ground wrapped with a poncho, eating MRE’s and drinking water that I had to treat myself with iodine tablets.
    Dad

  3. Anneke permalink

    My idea of roughing it is getting more and more corrupted each time we go camping. Here are the few pictures I took on that trip (should have taken a few of the lake — I think E has some on his iphone?).

    (Your Flickr album reminds me I am vain, since the pictures of me make me cringe! 🙂 All weekend long I didn’t care about mirrors… oh well. 🙂 But, I get to point you to my own photos, after all.)

    http://picasaweb.google.com/anneke.floor/LakeTahoeCampingTrip

  4. We’re all vain then since I cringed at some of the ones in your set. 🙂 Then again, it’s a rare day when I find a photo of me that I actually like.

  5. tomspartan16 permalink

    I really enjoy the phrase “down by the lake”, and Bohemian.

    So, will you be getting your own comfy camping sleep pads to ease your sleep troubles when, ahem, “Roughing” it?

    Tom

  6. tomspartan16 permalink

    I also have fond memories from Summer 2001 and my van breaking down at the Donner Pass. I’m thankful I didn’t have to eat myself to survive. Instead, I got to eat an apple fritter and other goodies in Truckee awaiting the bus to Vicky’s place in Berkeley. Ah…has it really been 7 years since I’ve been to CA?

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