This week, we had two main plans for our weekend, the first of which was a visit to the Google headquarters, and the second was a trip down to Lake Tahoe!
As we typically end classes pretty early on Thursdays, we decided to head down to the Google headquarters. We had a contact at Google who was willing to bring us in to some areas that typical visitors to the complex are not permitted to unless they had a staff member with them.
Our contact is a hardware engineer with Google who used to work in Japan, and he provided us with a lot of insight into the workings of Google, and more generically, life as an engineer. One of his most notable projects at Google was the chip being used in the Pixel lineup of phones. We were really lucky to have had connected with him, and that he was willing to bring us around.
He informed us that Google owned most of the buildings in the area, and we walked quite a few blocks to the main hub, where it was nothing like what we imagined an office to be. It was almost like a school, with its colourful building facades, bicycles free for anyone to use, random beach volleyball court, one-man swimming pool, gym etc. We were informed that every cluster of buildings has its own cafeteria, and food is FREE. On top of that, the washers and dryers in each building cluster are free to use, and staff often do their laundry at Google on the weekend, and take the waiting time as an opportunity to clear some emails. He also brought us into the lounge of one building, and we were shocked to see a Dance Dance Revolution machine that one often finds in an arcade! The pantry also had a whole host of snacks free for taking. It was quite extravagant with different flavouredsyrups in the pump bottles one often sees in Starbucks free for use to customize your coffee. Of course, this food and the facilities are for those who choose to work on the Google Campus, there are others who choose to work remotely, according to their own schedule as long as they finish their assigned tasks. It’s not hard to imagine why so many people long to work at Google what with its numerous perks and benefits.
\After touring the Google campus, we had some time, so we decided to checkout the Apple headquarters on the recommendation of our Google contact. As we didn’t really know where to go, and we had no contact at Apple, we ended up at the Apple Store and browsed the exclusive items that could only be bought on site. While we did not get to see as much as we did at Google, the Apple store was still stunning with its iconic clean, minimal design, and extensive use of glass.
To end of the night, we had Korean BBQ! We stuffed ourselves to the brim and could barely walk to the car to get ourselves home.
The next day, we headed for Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe borders Nevada, and we were excited to add Nevada to the list of states we have visited. As we reached the Lake Tahoe area only in the evening, we did not yet manage to get a glimpse of the lake. Instead we headed to the nearby supermarket to stock up on some brownie mix, as we wanted to bake brownies, and ingredients for breakfast so we could whip up some breakfast over the next two days.
On the way to Lake Tahoe, we decided to stop by Battery Spencer Park to try and get a better glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. As luck would have it, it was another gloomy overcast and foggy landscape that greeted us as we approached San Francisco. Karl the fog, as he is affectionately referred to, did a cheeky photobomb in all our pictures. It was mighty blustery up there.
On Saturday, our first actual day of exploration in the Lake Tahoe area, we headed to Crystal Bay, known for having the most beautiful beach around the Lake Tahoe area. However, we didn’t set off early enough, and the car park was full by the time we got there. We initially had plans to kayak there but those plans had to be shelved. Instead, we saw many other people swimming in the lake and decided to follow suit. We parked along the road some distance from Crystal Bay, and trekked down to the coast. The water was glittering in the sunlight, and it was a vibrant blueish green. Upon closer inspection when we reached the water, we noticed how clear it is. It was so clear and refreshing as the water was cold in contrast to the sweltering heat! The heat was one of the most intense that we have ever experienced throughout summer. Do take note, and remember to pack appropriately and lather on the sunscreen if you come to Lake Tahoe.
There were many little rock formations, and clusters of rocks, and people were sunbathing on some rocks, or simply taking a rest on a rock after kayaking or swimming. We too went out to a further cluster of rocks to soak in the summer sunshine, and laze around as befitting of summer. It was so relaxing, as we felt like we had no care in the world. Often, we are rushing our assignments or busy with something, but on this trip, we really took time off, and slowed down our pace. Unlike the Yosemite trip, we weren’t rushing about trying to see as many things as we could, but we just really wanted to enjoy the lake.
After some swimming, we headed to Emerald Bay State Park, which is said to have the best scenery, and best vantage point of the whole Lake Tahoe. While there were hikes available, we were tired from the swimming, and just took in the views from the state park, then headed home for an early, and restful night.
The next day, we were determined to kayak, as Lake Tahoe is a water body afterall. While we do enjoy our hikes, we felt that we could only do water sports at a location like Lake Tahoe thus, we were insistent on kayaking. Having visited Crystal Bay (which is located at North Lake Tahoe) yesterday, we decided to explore a different area- South Lake Tahoe. It was convenient that there were several kayak rental services in South Lake Tahoe as well.
We got two double kayaks, and a dry bag which we filled with brownies baked the night before, and spicy cassava chips, water etc. and set off on our water adventure not forgetting to lather an extra layer of sunscreen! The waters were a bit choppy, so it did take extra effort to kayak but the exhilaration of being on the open water, more than made up for it. Maybe because we were so excited, we were energized, and paddled hard, passing by King’s beach along the way. We had no end point in mind, and we simply loved being on the water, so we kept kayaking further and further away from our start point without regard for where we were going. It also helps that with every turn, we would come across picturesque scene after scene. It was surreal howblue the sky and water are! At times, you almost couldn’t tell where they met in the distance. Besides that there was lush greenery bordering the lake, which broke up the scenery a bit.
Eventually, after about an hour and a half of kayaking, we decided to stop for a snack break on a random cluster of rocks. While it sounds rather dodgy, there were in fact many other children and teens climbing said rocks, swimming around it, and catching fish in the water.
As our kayak rental place had told us we should try to head back by about 2 as the water was due to get a lot choppier after that time, we decided to head back after our little break. But, upon consulting the map, we realized we were actually very near the California-Nevada state line! To add Nevada to our list of states we have travelled to, we kayaked to a point we believe to be the state line before turning back. A fun fact is that due to some laws and regulations, casinos are typically built in Nevada and not California. Thus, at the state line, it is common to see one side full of higher rise buildings which are luxury hotels with casinos, and lush greenery and vacation homes on the other. We self-proclaimed the end of a jetty as the state line as there was no clear demarcation. On one side of the jetty was a holiday home, while the other had a hotel.
The sun was searing that day, and the effects were instantaneous. Upon returning the kayaks, and getting off the water, we realised our legs felt a little funny. They were sunburnt, and it stung so bad. Previously when we were on the water, the cool water masked the ache but after we were back on land, it hurt to even stand in the sun!We didn’t know it yet, but this sunburn would come to haunt us over the course of the next few weeks….
As we wanted to get some souvenirs from Lake Tahoe to remember the wonderful trip we had, we headed to the main strip where most of the shops, and eateries are located. It was surprisingly crowded when we got there and you would hardly guess that you’re near Lake Tahoe, as the vibe was similar to any downtown shopping mall. Famished from exertion during our kayak expedition, we decided to grab some pizza from Basecamp Pizza! The thin crust pizza was devoured within minutes both because it was delicious, and because we were so hungry!
Initially, we planned to visit Folsom Premium Outlets on our way back to school, but, just before we set off, we realised that the outlet actually closes at 7pm on Sundays. It was already 5.30pm by then, and including the drive to Folsom, we would only arrive past 7pm at best. Thus, we abandoned our shopping plans, and grabbed dinner around Lake Tahoe before heading back to Stanford.
written by: elizabeth