Lake Tahoe 2018 Day 7 – Lake Tahoe

Woke up late at 9am, not sure if that was due to fatigue or if the bed was too comfortable. After I managed to get out of bed to check the breakfast timing, I was shocked to find that the buffet was ending in the next 30mins. I quickly brushed my teeth, and went down to the ground level after turning on the tv for K. It was a small buffet section tucked at a small section away from sight. I asked one of the staff there if I could bring up the food to consume them in the room and was quite surprised that it was possible! (never tried that before) I filled 2 empty plates with whatever I think my family wanted to eat and brought them to the room. One of the plate had a waffle that I had to grill myself right from the batter and I found it interesting as this was the first time I was doing this. We had out breakfast in bed.

Small breakfast section
Waffle making machine



Breakfast back at the room

After getting dressed, we left for the drive to Lake Tahoe, about 1hr drive away. The most part of the drive was the expressway and nearer to Lake Tahoe, the many lanes converted to smaller roads. Our first visit was to the Heavenly gondola. The google maps brought us to somewhere mid-hill near residential areas which was not correct. Then when we finally arrived at the carpark just behind Heavenly Resort, we found the gondola stationary – Not in operations yet! Frustrated about the time wasted efforts of driving around, we next drove to Eagle falls in search for a picnic area some 30mins away.

Farms along the way to Lake Tahoe
Smaller roads to Lake Tahoe
Road next to the giant lake.

The road brought us through a town and then back to curvy mountainous roads as we got closer to our destination. I wasn’t really sure where it was and after passing through a view point, I parked my car at a location where there was a parking lot. We got off to explore but the temperature didn’t felt like what it seemed in the sunny day – it was bitter cold! We thought that maybe if we could get a spot under the sun to sit it would warm off but we couldn’t make it to the location before calling off the idea and returning to the car as the wind was mercilessly blowing continuously. While doing so, K took interest in the giant size pine cones which he would pick up from the road and throw them towards the grass.

South Tahoe town
Hanging gondolas overhead…
…but they were not in operations.
View at the carpark of Eagle falls

I drove down to Emerald bay viewpoint called Inspiration point, the place where we passed by while on the way to Eagle falls. There was a car park that was tiny and very full but fortunately we were able to get one slot after going around once. K ate lunch in the car  to stay away from the cold while I went outside to take photos of the beautiful bay view with the island in the middle. After my short walk about, I returned to join them in the car where I finished up the remainders (of K’s lunch) for my lunch while mommy ate last night’s sandwich, toughing it out due to laziness to find some decent place to have lunch. We all got off to check out the view and to walk off the lunch. Though it was still cold but it was much better without the wind that we encountered at Eagle falls. There was a restroom without water that K used, a first introduction to the concept of what we ate returns to nature.

Inspiration point

Since there was time, we decided to just drove around the huge lake in a clockwise direction, during this time, K fell asleep. We went past a few towns before arriving at Incline village and drove to town center to explore a bit. Unfortunately, it was small and had nothing much so we proceeded on to drive to Sand Harbour.

Buildings at Incline village

There was a road before the actual road that I thought led to the Sand Harbour but it was meant for those who would be releasing their boats. Backed out and turned into the actual entrance to find that there was a need to pay for parking. There was some instructions about putting the sum into somewhere since there weren’t any personnel manning the counter so I thought it was too difficult and just went into the car park. It was almost empty parking place and after stopping the car at one of the slot, I got out quickly to take a few shots of photos before returning to the car and driving off to our next destination, the Safeway supermarket.

View of lake at a certain spot. Waves created by wind.
Welcome to Sand Harbour
Sand Harbour panoramic view

The Safeway supermarket was a huge supermarket at the South Tahoe town that was also closed to where we were staying. After about a 30mins from Sand Harbour, we arrived at the carpark of Safeway with K waking up coincidentally. Mommy spent some time to buy groceries to make dinner that night. While I pushed K around in the trolley, K met a 2year old baby boy and was having a little chat with him (which he enjoyed talking to other kids around his age) and was trying to find him while we go around the different lanes. After an hour  in the supermarket spent on shopping and kiddy talks, we left with 50ish foodstuff.

Safeway supermarket
Inside the supermarket

Our accommodation for the night was booked from Airbnb but located at Lakeland Village which was managed like a resort management. I carried out the checked in while the family stayed in the car and was given a Townhouse facing road. I didn’t realised under I checked with mommy whom had booked this accommodation because it was supposed to be facing the lake, as per the description from the Airbnb. I called to clarify with the reception but they mentioned that it must have been a wrong description because for Townhouses, there weren’t any around that had lake views, only the bigger 3 to 4 bedders had. Disappointed but there wasn’t much we could do even when mommy tried to message the Airbnb owner, there was no reply.

The accommodation however was pretty nice, 3 stories including the loft with a beds. I entered the apartment first to turn up heat and also the electric fireplace before having the family come in. We spent most of the time in front of the TV especially K, while mommy cooked dinner that was made up of pasta, egg omelette and salmon teriyaki, in which salmon fillet had to be recooked as it was too thick!

Ground floor bedroom
Separated bath and sink
A spare toilet
Huge living room
Dining area
Loft beds

The bath was on the first floor but the entire place had their own and good heating so we didn’t have to rush to get dressed or else catch a cold. Then when we were finally done with TV, it was lights off as we huddled at the loft to sleep. I shared the single size bed with K as he had the inspiration to sleep on another bed from mommy but was too afraid to sleep alone, while mommy enjoyed the entire Queen bed to herself.

Grand Canyon 2018 Day 6 – From Grand Canyon to Reno

Woke up at 8 plus to a very cold morning, in the desert where the temperature is known to be very harsh. Thankfully the bed was very warm and all of us had a really good sleep. I struggled to get out of bed, worried that I would freeze to death the moment my feet touch the floor. I wanted to generate heat and thus tried to get ready by moving quickly but the limbs froze much faster than being heated up. To prevent K from catching a cold, I dressed him under the thick quilt and kept him warm. When we were finally done, including brushing the teeth with cold water, we proceeded to the reception for breakfast.

Bed… after sleeping in it.
Chill corner…literally
Space within the tent. oven on the left
Shower and sink
Our tents…and luggage
Our neighbours

The warmth of the reception was welcoming and we got ourselves a simple breakfast of oat bar, muffins and banana with drinks choices of hot choco and coffee. We checked out at the same location after the breakfast and before leaving, we caught sight of a corgi wearing a vest, cuteness overload!

Breakfast at reception tent
Fireplace where we had mush mellows

The helpful staff had brought the luggage from outside our tents where we placed them to our vehicle while we were having breakfast. They continued to extend their help by loading them up into our vehicle and bade us goodbye. Then we were off to Grand Canyon once again. This was an impromptu trip and estimating the time to get back to Las Vegas for our flight, we needed to leave by 11. I wanted to save more time so I drove a little over the speed. Then from the corner of my eye, I spotted a police car parked by the side of the road. I knew that was it as I tried to slow down immediately but hope turned to despair as the stationary vehicle got onto the road and followed behind. Once it was a close, the lights on the car turned on and I obediently turned to the side and stopped. As I have heard of ugly stories of encounters with the cops, I just stayed in the car, wind down the window and follow instructions. He asked for documents and my license and told me that I had travelled over the speed limit. Went back to his car for a pretty long time before returning to give me a warning letter only. I was thrilled for his magnanimity and apologised before driving to Grand Canyon within the speed limit.

Speeding ticket

Grand Canyon was huge and had many places that can be visited on foot or by vehicle. We didn’t have the luxury of time to do the whole circuit and so could only choose one place to drive to, Yavapai viewpoint. It was a good choice as it wasn’t too far from the main road. Parked at the parking and walked into the observatory post, an enclosed area that was isolated from the cold. We spend a good 10mins there, reading some of the geological data and admiring the view. As the time ran out, we then took some photos outside, use the toilet before hitting the road for the trip back to Las Vegas.

3D model of the place
The station had come a long way
Exhibits on display
View from Yavapai point

The drive back was just a drive, to say the least. K and mommy slept while I just drove. We arrived at Williams and I pumped $40 gas before continuing the journey. Then we arrived at Kingman and I paid another $15 for gas just so that I could return the car with the same level of gas.

View along the way
Getting close to Las Vegas

We finally arrived at the airport at around 230pm, there was a time difference between Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, and going towards Las Vegas earned us an extra hour. I drove following the road signs that pointed to rental car return and there was a area for Enterprise cars. The staff came over almost immediately and the check was done very quickly, no issues. We had to do a little repacking of the luggage before proceeding to take the shuttle bus to the airport, which was around 10mins drive. I loaded all our luggage onto the storage onboard the bus but as it was relatively empty, the luggage moved a bit while the bus moved. Thankfully one kind passenger helped to hold onto K’s sports car luggage before it slipped off the shelf. Another also gave up his seat for me just so that I could sit together with K, we were thankful for all these kind gestures.

Rental car return entrance
Shuttle bus entrance

Once we disembarked the shuttle, we rushed to Allegiant counter to check in, which was located all the way at the end of the building. Unfortunately our luggage’s combined weight was over the limit by 17lbs which we had to pay $50 additionally. After dropping off the luggage, we completed the check in with our downloaded tix on the Allegiant app.

Allegiant counters

Before boarding, we wanted to get something to eat for lunch. We visited the Starbucks (where else right) at the main public areas but no sandwiches were available and the staff advised us to proceed through the gate to visit the branch inside. Then we went through the security checks which was quite strict as both of our carry-ons were requested to be opened for checks. After a quick toilet visit, we went to a Flatbreadz restaurant and we got ourselves ham and cheese and turkey bacon sandwiches to go, for about 21ish.


Walked to gate 18 and sat at the waiting area to have our sandwiches and as much as we tried to keep it tidy, it turned out quite messy as the sandwiches items fell out and everywhere. There were a bunch of slots machines nearby just out in the open catered for the last min gamblers and anyone could actually wandered into the area (K did and was asked keep out of the area by one of the staff). As we munched away, boarding was also started, it was all in a rush.

Slot machines in the public open spaces

Once onboard, it was a quick 1 hr flight to Reno and the plane had lots of empty seats. Once it was confirmed that there weren’t anybody taking those long legroom seats, people then took advantage of the situation by moving forward and occupying them for free. We kept to our seats, it was only an hour, and we spent our time finishing the sandwiches that we had started, while K ate his favorite biscuits.

We landed into Reno and proceeded to wait for our luggage at the luggage carousel and for some reason, it took quite a while before the luggage came out. While waiting, I managed to settle the car rental paperwork at Enterprise first, which was conveniently located near where the luggage carousel was. We retrieved the luggage when it finally came, used the restroom, then get across the street to rental car parking lots to retrieve the car. The staff from Enterprise was there to carry out the joint inspection before handing over a Ford Flex to me, something similar to the previous Ford Explorer in terms of size, but probably less advanced and lower in height. I enquired about how I was going to pay toll, hoping for something that was already inbuilt so that I just need to pay when I returned but was advised to pay by cash. The exact how was something that I needed to google for in the coming days for toll roads in San Francisco for example.

Rows of car rental companies next to luggage belt
Exit to rental car car park
Enterprise pick up point

We drove to Staybridge, our accommodation for the night, just some 11 mins away. After parking at the open air car park, we braved the cold with our luggage and checked in. This was a little apartment with a small kitchen under the IHG hotel brands and was both pretty homely and yet felt like a hotel. It wasn’t too expensive too! I would prefer these over Airbnb ones since the element of luxury and certain level of quality standards were still guaranteed by big hotel brands while Airbnb were more hit or miss.

Staybridge Suites Reno
Living Room

After our baths, we drove out for dinner to a place about 3mins where there was Smiths supermarket and a couple of restaurants. Decided to have Japanese food and thus walked over to Pisces Sushi, a small Japanese designed restaurant with not many diners. Ordered California roll, caterpillar, teriyaki salmon, tamago and Mickey Mouse, which didn’t looked like it but was delicious and paid $51 for the meal.

Inside Pieces Sushi
Salmon Teriyaki
Mickey Mouse?

We then proceeded for late night shopping at Smiths. There was a trolley with sports car cover and it was enough for K to be interested in going into the supermarket. Zooming down the walkways, we bought all the groceries and water that was needed for meals preparation for the next day.

Smith’s for shopping
Fresh fruits inside Smith’s

Drove back to hotel to find that there were no closer carpark slot to the entrance and had mommy and K alight first to avoid the cold while I parked further down. I had to get some hot water for milk and there was supposedly hot water available at the ground floor near the reception. But when I collected it from the flasks there, the water was only lukewarm, not hot enough to make milk. Ended up having to boil water using the pots since there no electric flask available.

The day finally ended after watching a few episodes of iPad video while using data due to location restriction, in order to satisfy the little K. Although there weren’t much activities, all that driving and transiting was physically draining. While Reno was known as the Biggest Little City in the World, or also known as small Las Vegas, we weren’t able to give it any attention regretfully, sleep was more important.

Escape Plan to West USA November 2018

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to West USA:

Total duration 15D14N
Singapore is 12hr ahead of California, USA.
Flight time is 15hrs on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Los Angeles and return flight is 17hrs on Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles to Singapore.

Friday evening flight on 2nd Nov at 845pm and arrival in Los Angeles in the evening of the 2nd Nov at 855pm. Return flight from Los Angeles on the 16th Nov at 1025pm and arrival in Singapore at 815am on the 18th Nov

Day 1 Flight and Arrival at Los Angeles
Day 2 Venice Beach, Venice Broadwalk and Santa Monica Pier
Day 3 LA, Hollywood and Griffith Observatory
Day 4 Las Vegas and Helicopter ride to Grand Canyon
Day 5 Drive to Grand Canyon and glamping under the stars
Day 6 From Grand Canyon to Reno
Day 7 Lake Tahoe
Day 8 San Francisco Golden Gate bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39
Day 9 Alcatraz cruise, Academy of Science and Powell Street
Day 10 San Francisco Premium Outlets
Day 11 Coastal drive to Prismo beach
Day 12 Detour to Camarillo Premium Outlets and Disneyland Pier Hotel
Day 13 Disney California Adventure Park
Day 14 San Diego Sea World and Gasclamp Quarters
Day 15 Citadel Premium Outlets and Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was an impromptu due to the availability of good deals. Singapore Airlines announced the revival of the direct long distance flight to Los Angeles and with premium economy seats going at just $1328, only $200 more than the economy seats, it would be a sin to miss!

Budget nature: Budget buster 

It wasn’t a fantastic time to be spending USD as SGD was weak near the end of the year compared to the earlier months. The savings from the tickets were gone in a flash due to travelling in the state with the highest costs of living in the USA, lots of shopping and Disneyland.

Complexity: Easy

Driving around was not difficult even in multiple lanes highways. Tolls can be a little tricky but reading it up on Google helped. Jams were common in cities but with patience, you would still reached your destination, albeit in the dark. Google maps worked like a charm and pulling to the side of the road by the police for speeding wasn’t too daunting too!