Anyway, I have some advice: take the fucking train. It is so much better than driving that you will wonder why you ever drove. We took the California Zephyr from Emeryville to Truckee. It continues on to Chicago. Yes, it takes a lot longer than flying, but if you're in no particular hurry it would probably be great. From here to Tahoe took about 6 hours, so not much more than driving. (It takes about 3 days to get to Chicago - if you leave on Friday morning, you get there Sunday afternoon.)
The regular coach seats are roughly equivalent to first class seats on an airplane. They're big and wide and there's maybe more legroom than first class. There's also an observation car (containing, for a time, my daughter, pictured above) and a dining car. The food is not very good but whatever.
For our trip back Sunday, regular coach was sold out so we pretty much had to buy a private room. It was kind of expensive but also it was really nice to have our own surprisingly large space.
And it was the only way we could have gotten out of Tahoe on Sunday, where it started blizzarding on Saturday and pretty much never let up. In fact, we had to stop up on the summit while they plowed the tracks.
In a remarkable bit of bad timing, another long-haul Amtrak train, the Southwest Chief from LA to Chicago, derailed last night in Kansas, about 8 hours after we got off the (completely different and uninvolved) train. A lot of people got hurt. Still, it's probably safer than driving. I'm sure there's numbers out there to back that up but I don't feel like doing the research right now.
I will say this: the whole experience is somewhat bumpier, for lack of a better word, than I expected. We took the train from Boston to NYC to DC a few years ago but I don't remember it being as bumpy. It kind of feels like low-grade turbulence on a plane a lot of the time. And sometimes when it takes turns fast, you can definitely feel the whole thing leaning to one side, which is mildly disconcerting if you're not used to it.
Still, I would enthusiastically recommend. Unlike air travel, everyone on the train seems pretty chill and relaxed and I didn't have that feeling like I wanted to kill everyone in sight like I do when I fly. Try taking the train.