June 16, 2024

Tying the Knot in the Sierra Nevada Mountains


Tying the Knot in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 16, 2024

Last weekend we had the good fortune to fly to California to attend a wedding near Pioneer in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We were excited to witness the young couple start their journey towards living Happily Ever Altitude.

My sister and brother-in-law, Tracy and Dave, joined us for the trip.  They're always up for an adventure!

My step mom and step sisters moved to California years ago so unfortunately we don't get to see them very often.  Grandma Joyce suffered a nasty heart attack early in May and couldn't attend the ceremony.  It was quite deep in the mountains and there were fears it would be pretty risky in case anything happened.  That being said, we were excited for the opportunity to see her and Martha even if our time together was pretty brief.

We flew into Sacramento and drove to Pioneer where we were staying.  It's a beautiful drive going into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, so we made many stops along the way.

The wedding was near Pioneer, California, so we rented a VRBO for our stay.  It was a beautiful cabin in the mountains and quite isolated.  It honestly made me nervous driving there.  There was very scant cell phone coverage and I kept being paranoid about something bad happening and us having no way to call for help.  I mean there's bears and mountain lions and all sorts of scary creatures just waiting to pounce on us!

When I saw this guy high up in the dead tree near our backyard, I just knew he was waiting to chew on me after the attack.  I tried yelling at him to go away, but he refused to listen.

After a couple of days staying there, we hadn't seen crap for wildlife.

I posted this video on TikTok to express my frustration:


♬ In the Forest - Lesfm & Olexy

The wedding was on Saturday and we had to drive another 15 miles deep into the mountains.  We eventually found our destination and could see why they chose it.  It was so beautiful and secluded.  Such a perfect location for an absolutely beautiful wedding!

We were celebrating the wedding of Austin and Kristina Ormonde.  It was our first time meeting the bride and she seems to be very sweet.  They both are so happy and we're ecstatic for them that they've found each other and have such a bright future ahead of them.  Congratulations!!

We've known Austin since he was a baby since he's the son of our sister, Lori.  She moved to California nearly 30 years ago, but this was our first time for us to be around all of her friends and family.  It was so much fun to get a glimpse of the life she's built and all of the amazing relationships she has created.  There were so many heart warming stories being told and we all cried many times throughout the day hearing some of them.  Good times.

After the ceremony. they had a massive beer pong tournament.  I knew right away that these are my kind of people!

Eventually we journeyed back to our cabin and saw our first large mammal of the trip.  A deer was on the side of the road, so we pulled over and took some pictures.  The next morning after breakfast I was sitting on the back porch and suddenly a mule deer appeared out of the woods to join us.  I was hoping for bears and mountain lions, but this guy looked like he could be pretty vicious as well.

  Things really started getting crazy when five of his friends followed him out of the woods and all of the sudden we were having a Big Buck Party and I was ready to dance.  Here's some of the videos we took of the event:
@toddswank We are under attack! #deer #pioneer #sierranevada ♬ original sound - teeharpo

On Sunday we drove to Lake Tahoe and saw this ferocious beast.  We were pulling into a park entrance and he was walking out I'm sure after causing some serious havoc.  Here was  the video I posted after this encounter: 
@toddswank Coyote Deep in the El Dorado National Forest. #coyote #eldorado #dangerousanimals ♬ The von dutch remix w addison rae and a. g. cook - Charli XCX

After we fought off the Coyote, we hiked up into the woods a bit through the snow packed terrain.  We're pretty rugged people.

Eventually we made it to South Lake Tahoe and were mesmerized by the beautiful blue waters.  It is the second deepest freshwater lake in the United States and has 72 miles of shoreline.  We only had a few hours to visit, but determined this is a place we'd like to come to again sometime.

We drove over to Emerald Bay which is a breathtaking drive.  One of those without a lot of guardrails, very narrow roads, and steep cliffs if you accidentally veer off the road.  I felt pretty relieved when we arrived at this site where we could get out and take some pictures and allow me to change my pants.

Emerald Bay is beautiful and contains the only island on the lake called Fannette Island.  There's a stone teahouse on top of it that was built in 1929 by some wealthy heiress.  I'd like to be a wealthy heiress some day.

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