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MKTG Rewards Winner Andrew Leubner: Hiking & Dining Around Lake Tahoe

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The MKTG Rewards program is designed for MKTG employees to recognize and nominate fellow team members each quarter for their outstanding work at MKTG. At the end of the year, quarterly nominees become eligible to win an all-expenses paid international or domestic experience. 2015’s winners were announced in June, and lucky recipients have spent this summer taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Andrew Leubner is a Regional Director based in Scottsdale, AZ, and was the lucky winner of a domestic trip. Andrew and his wife decided to spend their 5th wedding anniversary making the most of Lake Tahoe’s beautiful vistas hiking- and dining their way throughout this unique terrain. Read on for Andrew’s recap….

Looking for a change of pace from our usual major city destinations, my wife and I thought it would be nice to relax and celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary in the mountains, so we decided on Lake Tahoe. Our goal was to explore as much ground as possible and experience Tahoe from a local’s perspective.

On Thursday we made the quick drive from Reno Airport to Lake Tahoe. As we descended the peak of Mt. Rose, we drove into a snow flurry that followed us all the way down to Incline Village. We found our resort, toasted with a glass of champagne and got settled at The Hyatt Regency. It was the quintessential “luxury mountain lodge” experience. Excited to get as much hiking done as possible, we found a couple of short, close hikes to start with. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Diamond Peak and Stateline Lookout’s very different trails.

After a long day of hiking, we were ready for some good food. We discovered a favorite local spot, T’s Rotisserie, which we ended up revisiting throughout the trip. They serve up deliciously massive burritos stuffed with rotisserie chicken, tri-tip, rice, beans and everything in between. Sitting at the counter and watching the staff work their magic in close quarters only adds to the fun, laid-back vibe.

The next day we got up early and had breakfast at the lodge’s restaurant (which boasts amazing views of Mt. Rose). To our relief, the freak cold snap that followed us from Reno the day before was gone now and the weather was perfect. We decided on a scenic coastal hike to Secret Cove and then Chimney Beach. This was a definite highlight of the trip. There was so much to take in, from the crystal clear water that went on for miles, to the massive pines towering over us. There were blue jays, squirrels and chipmunks at every turn. It was like stepping into a fairytale….a fairytale that ended with a lot of naked strangers! It turns out that Secret Cove is a nude beach- and a very popular one at that! Suffice to say, our shore side lunch ended quickly.

While on the hike, we fashioned a pair of hiking sticks, smoothing them out on a granite boulder and left a pair at the trailhead for any future hikers that might have needed some extra stability. Once we made our way back, we drove to Crystal Bay on the California side of Lake Tahoe and stopped at Mellow Fellow Pub for some local-made elk sausage and pulled pork nachos. For dinner that night we chose a local tapas-style restaurant called Bite. We were quite impressed with the spinach and brown rice arancini and Indian spiced chickpea butter lettuce wraps.

On Saturday we drove to South Lake Tahoe, which is about 30 minutes from the North side, with stunning lake views along the way. We found ourselves in a bustling ski resort town with lots of touristy shops and a big gondola transporting visitors to the top of the mountain. Once we were full from a burger lunch we made the drive back to the much less touristy North side and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and walking around the resort’s beaches and parks. One of our favorite things about the Hyatt were the nightly massive fire pits throughout the grounds. We met so many interesting, friendly guests over campfire s’mores and nightcaps under the stars.

The following morning, we were eager to get out on the lake and quickly headed to Sand Harbor beach. We rented a tandem kayak and got paddling. This was for sure our favorite activity of the week, with breathtaking views from the middle of the lake. We kayaked away from home base for a good 90 minutes until the wind picked up and made it comically difficult for us to navigate. It doesn’t matter if you’re married five or 50 years- co-piloting a tandem kayak does not come any easier, or so I’m told!

Later that day we scoped out a local brewery called Alibi Ale Works. Any dog-friendly brewery is going to be at the top of our list, and after giving Abby (their resident pit bull) some well-deserved belly rubs, we were able to sample an assortment of their expansive beer selection in 4oz. offerings. Our favorite brew was the “Evil Jungle” Saison, followed by the “Dog Day IPA,” which donates a percentage of sales to their local Humane Society.

On the final day we said our goodbyes to the staff and the grounds, then made our way up the mountain for one last hike around Spooner Lake before driving back to Reno. It was such a great trip, we spent much of the last day discussing our plans to return. To MKTG and everyone who participated in the rewards voting- I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the opportunity to discover such an amazing new place. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this unforgettable experience.

 

–Contributed by Andrew Leubner, Regional Director, Scottsdale, AZ

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