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Christmas trip to Gold Country: Q on distances & day trip to Lake Tahoe

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I'm trying to plan a trip with my elderly (but mobile) father from 23-26 December in the Gold Country. We will be driving out from SF. I could use some advice on what's realistic and advisable as far as covering distances and handling weather conditions in a rental car.

I am thinking of staying somewhere like Folsom (just east of Sacramento) or Auburn. That's because we prefer something more like a full-service hotel than a B&B, and because if the weather is bad I'd like to preserve the option of us going easily to the movies.

If we stay in Auburn, is it realistic to:
- spend a day driving down Route 49 to Columbia and back (question is about distance)?
- spend a day driving over to Lake Tahoe on Route 50, and either take the drive around it or just go someplace pretty on the shore (question is about distance and weather and crowding over Christmas holidays)?

I've checked http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ , California's online guide to road conditions. Nothing there shows chains required or bad weather on any of the roads in question -- now. But I don't have a sense of whether that's more likely than not to persist.

Any recommendations welcome.

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