Dreaming About Lake Tahoe

Ahhhh….Lake Tahoe!  I now have such wonderful images in my mind that will always be there — thanks to Lake Tahoe.  The Washoe Indians, the original residents of Lake Tahoe’s shores, definitely have it right–there are many mystical and wonderful places on the shores and waters of Lake Tahoe–and those places can change minute by minute so you are never seeing each special place exactly the same as it was before.  That may be hard to understand but after seeing some of my pictures you may get an inkling of what I mean.

As we were crossing the pass into Tahoe valley, we were shocked to run into (not literally) a bona fide wagon train. We Still don’t know what that was about…
Fields bordering the Tahoe Keys in Lake Tahoe.
Mountain view near Tahoe Keys.


Walking through the Tahoe Keys.

Prior to arriving in Lake Tahoe, we saw a whole bunch of bears.  The neat thing is that Justin told Ashley that he saw the same family when he was a kid and vacationed in Lake Tahoe.  Go figure!

The Black Bear Diner on the way to Lake Tahoe is a tasty California establishment. We could agree with that. We ate three meals in 2 days there.  Servings of delicious food big enough for a …….BEAR?
This bear family has their name on the list–but can they really wait until their name is called? Better steer away from these hungry bears!
Somebody was baddddd….or he has his face in his soup!
Maybe he was caught snitching one of the berry pies?

I picked up Bob in Reno late this afternoon–he was pooped out from all his travel.  He missed his connecting flight in Los Angeles but was lucky enough to catch a last flight out so was several hours late getting to Reno — then had to ride back to Lake Tahoe with me before finally falling into bed a while ago.  But mission accomplished!  Now we leave Lake Tahoe tomorrow morning and head to Jackson, CA and then on to Yosemite National Park where Lisa, Mike and the kids are meeting us for a few days of adventuring into the Yosemite wilderness during the day and “roughing it smoothly” at night in our RV.  Can’t wait to roast a few marshmallows with the grandkids!

We left Plymouth, CA early last week and meandered our way through Gold Mining country to South Lake Tahoe where we have been settled down for almost a week–probably almost a record for us!  Bob headed to Virginia last Wednesday leaving me to face the Lake Tahoe wilderness.  No joking here–my RV neighbor (who spends all her summers in this campground) told me that bears, coyotes and wolves frequented our campground.  I never saw them–perhaps because I  usually am snug as a bug in a rug with my PJs and a good book by the time the wildlife come out.  However, I did hear a little snuffling about last night as if something was circling the RV a few times.  Didn’t bother me though–I went to bed and ignored all the shuffling around!  I was at a good place in my book so a little shuffling wasn’t going to stop me from reading my next chapter!

I did a darn good job of filling my days productively, i.e., by being as totally lazy as possible while looking busy.  Lisa helped a lot by sending a list of her favorite things to do at Lake Tahoe.  She and Mike had spent a summer here back in the good old college days, so I think they must have explored every nook and cranny around here.  Let’s see–the week went by so fast I can barely remember what I did.   Hmmmm….ok, it’s coming back!  Here goes:

Day One:  I took Bob to Reno Airport and then explored the shopping potential of Reno and Carson City on the way home.  After getting back to LT, I headed over to Camp Richardson to see where Lisa and Mike worked during their summer on the lake….could that really have been about 20 years ago?  That sounds so impossible!  Camp Richardson sits on a gorgeous bay in the lake and every conceivable water sport conveyance uses it as home base, along with families laying on the beach and digging in the sand, young 20-somethings partying hardy on the deck and dancing to the local band, and many folks just coming for a super dinner on the deck of the restaurant called the Beacon.  I had (of course I had to try it!) the clam sauce and linguine and it was garlicky and fabulous, just the way I like it.  Then back to the RV for some computer work and to bed with my book,  yummmm…..

Marina at Camp Richardson
Camp Richardson beachscape
Dinnertime at Camp Richardson’s Beacon Restaurant
Lisa’s workspace for a summer
Sunset–quiet time at Camp Richardson
Beacon Restaurant

Day Two:  Looking at Lisa’s list of her favorite things in Lake Tahoe, I decided to hit the road for North Lake Tahoe.  I had initially thought I would drive around the entire lake and check it out, but I was hearing that would take one long full day of driving and I was lazy (again!) so did not get out as early as I had planned.  So I decided to go as far as Tahoe City which takes at least an hour or so since there are steep, narrow roads that hug the cliffs with sheer drop-offs with no guard railing in places.  The road passes Emerald Bay and Inspiration Point on the way to Tahoe City; the breathtaking views at those two points on the road make the harrowing drive more than worth it.

Emerald Bay:  A previous owner built a tea house on the tip top of this tiny island and invited her friends over for elaborate tea parties.  Can you see the tiny tea house?

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Construction crews were busy directing traffic into one lane along much of the way and, as I was leaving South Lake, the Renaissance Festival was also very much in full swing with some very interesting characters walking along the road.  Or maybe I was in a time warp?  What is it with those long bushy “raccoon?” tails that many of the characters, especially the women, tie around their waist next to their metal tankards? The Renaissance Period must have been one heck of an interesting era as manifested by the array of characters parading by while I sat in construction traffic.  Anyway, I was entertained and didn’t mind waiting too much.  By the time I got to Tahoe City it was lunch time so I stopped at a grill overlooking the harbor which was pretty and peaceful with beautiful views of the lake around the harbor.

Having lunch lakeside in Tahoe City.

Afterwards I walked around town, visited some of the cute shops and wound up at the dam that parcels the water into  the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe.  It’s the only stream that flows out of the lake–all others flow into it.  The dam was built to stop the flow outwards when the lake reaches a certain level so it helps to maintain the relatively consistent water level of the lake.  A nice display explained how this all works and a man was busy working on repairing parts of the dam mechanism which he explained was a multi-year project and consisted of a lot of hard manual labor.  He looked beat in the hot sun as he shoved big logs back and forth in the dam mechanism.

Lake Tahoe water flowing from the lake toward the dam.
The dam that controls the water level in Lake Tahoe.

A multitude of sport-related activities gives Tahoe City a hum–bikers, canoes, rafters, boats of every description–you name it and they were there.  Lisa said she and Mike liked to bike along the Truckee River so I could almost see them flying by on their bikes!

Heading back down the road toward South Lake Tahoe, I stopped at Inspiration Point to admire the fabulous views of Emerald Bay.  Random rain clouds floated overhead dropping little teaser drops of water.  In a place under a severe drought with signs posting “HIGH” fire danger at every turn, it seems so weird to see the massive lake with incredibly clear, cold water just a few feet away.

In the early evening I went in search of a sunset. And found it at a public park, with children playing on a playground, a volleyball game in full swing, families strolling along the beachwalk, and the sun slowly melting behind the mountains providing a gradually unfolding  light show for all who slowed down enough to enjoy it.

A tranquil sunset along the shores of Lake Tahoe.

Day Three:  Today I saw the lake up close and personal.  I sailed into the bay on a catamaran and saw firsthand the fickleness of the lake.  By the time we sailed at 3:30 pm, a bright sunny day with no sign of a cloud in the sky had turned stormy with occasional thunder and lightening in the distance.  The Captain of the boat was totally unconcerned and when I pointed out the lightening behind us she said no problem–that’s on another part of the lake (as if it was another continent).  Then she said the boat serves as its own lightening rod but only if it is in fresh water–it would not work if it was in salt water.  I guess I was out the day we had that science experiment in school so I need to think about that!  But she was right that the storm never hit us –but it did send some fantastic clouds and special effects our way.  We laid on the deck on big puffy bean bags staring straight up at the clouds.  We did manage to move long enough to get a close-up view of the cave rock–a large rock where two tunnels were punched through to build a primary road around the lake.  However, the Washoe Indians were not too happy about that since they weren’t consulted beforehand and they consider the rock caves in that location a sacred place.  Now the controversy continues with rock climbers wanting to climb up the rock surface and the Washoe protesting.  So far a stalemate.

After this relaxing cruise I went in search of another sunset.  I was told by the Captain that with all the clouds over the water that day it should be a fabulous sunset.  She could not have been more right.  I luckily found a little beach surrounded by mountains that was the perfect setting for the most glorious sunset I have ever seen and will probably never see again.  Please tell me if you agree/disagree.  And I was lucky enough to get some great pictures but not without a lot of angst!  I knew I had captured something special when I took the pictures but when I tried to download them that night I thought I had lost them all.  Thank goodness Bob was able to retrieve them tonight.  It was such a wonderful sight to behold and I so wanted to share them with everyone.  So here they are–I hope you enjoy them as much as I did just being there at such a special time and successfully capturing them!


Day Four: Another lazy day of trying to decide of all the many things to do which would be the lucky choice.  Hmmmm….  So I lazed around the RV for a while doing little housekeeping chores, re-organizing (Ash swears this is my favorite pastime), and thinking about all the things I could be doing.  I called Bob at the hospital where he and Ash were spending the day and they were sleeping, so I thought now that’s a good thing–so I packed my bag and headed for the beach at Camp Richardson’s, snagged the last beach chair, pulled out my book, and settled down to enjoy the peacefulness of the day.  And went to sleep.  My nap didn’t last long though–it was chaos of the first degree.  Boats of all kinds everywhere, boarders trying to stand on their boards everywhere, pedal boats chugging up and down the beach line, kids digging in sand, the band on the deck getting “down”, a hockey game getting everyone really wound up—as I said–chaos.  But I was committed and stuck it out for 5 hours with lunch on the deck thrown in.  And had a wonderful time with all 5000 other Lake Tahoe-ites doing their thing on the beach.  Another Lake Tahoe experience!  Now just think–there are dozens and dozens of beaches all around the lake and not all of them could have possibly been that crowded.  So Camp Richardson must be the hive of activity for that area–and maybe a little see and be seen for the teenies bouncing around the beach.  But the whole afternoon was fun up until I saw my Vera Bradley towel blowing down the sand while I was on the deck having lunch.  I had to actually move to get it safely secured on my chair again!

Day Five:  Today I decided I had to get out and move my body a bit.  Not one real Lake Tahoe resident ever just drives anywhere–it’s bike, hike, bike, boat, boat, bike, and hike.  It’s enough to make you nuts trying to not be envious of their skinny, muscled butts and thighs!  I was feeling increasingly guilty about being a lazy slob driving everywhere, laying on the beach, laying on the boat, etc. etc.  And of course I had those new hiking boots I bought back in Colorado and had had them on my feet only long enough to admire how cute they are.  So another item on the Lisa List was Fallen Leaf Lake.  She said it was like a  mini-Lake Tahoe without the crowds but with waterfalls thrown in.  So off I went with my shiny new hiking shoes.  Getting there  wasn’t very far away in mileage but “slow” was the mantra of getting there since much of the road was one lane and you had to be imaginative about getting 2 cars though a one lane road.  (I know–I’m sure all these Lake Tahoe people ride their bikes up there!  All the way up there!!!!)  The getting there was well worth it though–I could have spent a whole day just sitting by the lake.  I stopped at the general store, had a quick cheese and avocado sandwich (I’m really nuts about avocados lately–I think California is rubbing off on me!), enjoyed the view from the balcony of the clear, sparkling, jewel of a lake (and the much reduced level of traffic on the lake).  The cool breeze made me want to linger over my sandwich but I had a mission to accomplish and it was called WATERFALLS.  So I kept driving up and up and up until the road would go no further.  This is where I got a little confused.  I did remember to put on my hiking boots, but then when I got out of the car I didn’t know which direction to go in!  There were trails heading off in every direction and no one seemed to know where the easy trail that supposedly wound up at the waterfall was located.  I wandered around a bit looking for a sign (from above?) and found it.  A small family with lots of little kids were rubbing in insect lotion and preparing for their hike.  I asked if they knew where the waterfall hike was located and they pointed me in the right direction.  They pointed out that if I missed the waterfall it was only a 7-mile walk on up the mountain (and–go figure–7 miles back).

As it turned out they headed in the same direction and I followed–finding it not too difficult to keep up with the little 4-year old.  I followed at a discreet distance even when we had to wade through 2 creeks where my new shoes–and feet–got soaked.  It was a matter of pride at this point–surely I could keep up with a 4-year-old!

A mile and a lot of bugs (no bears, no rattlers–although I kept a close eye out) later I found the waterfall.  By that time I had passed the family and was chugging up the hill by myself.  It was quite nice to know I could out walk a 4-year-old.   I did meet a nice elderly English couple who asked me if they were getting close to the car park.  Another couple asked me how to get down to a another lake from the waterfall.  And someone else who looked like they should have known everything about those woods asked me how much further to the falls–so I guess maybe– just maybe–I looked like I knew what I was doing.  A park ranger came by and didn’t arrest me or anything for looking stupid so I guess I did all right.  The waterfall was beautiful, but as another elderly (what I mean by that is she was OLDER than me–I think!) woman said to me when I told her I was looking for the waterfall “Honey, you drove by the best waterfall to get here.”  I said I was aware of that but I wanted to WALK to a waterfall.  And I did–and got back in one piece!   My feet were soaked so I put my flip flops on right away.  Now I need to remember to ask Lisa how to dry out my new shoes without them getting too stiff….

Fallen Leaf Lake–a jewel in the woods.
Small marina–few people.
Hiking through the woods.
Top waterfall above Fallen Leaf Lake at end of hike.
Lower waterfall–kids were sliding on the rocks.

Day Six:  Today was Reno day to pick up Bob.  I started out this morning and he missed his flight in LA so I didn’t leave until later.  I did not stop and shop.  I didn’t even stop for lunch.  I did enjoy the scenery as I drove across the mountains towards Reno.  And of course that first glimpse of Lake Tahoe as you start down the mountain on the return trip is breathtaking.  Permanently, if you cannot manage to keep your eyes on the road!  We stopped at In and Out burger and were eating lunch when Anne called.  She was thrilled that we were lunching at such a distinguished burger joint–she said all the movie stars eat there after their Oscar night festivities.  Who knew?  That was so thrilling that we headed home for the evening–no more room for any more excitement after that!

Coming into Lake Tahoe, you get your first glimpse of Lake Tahoe–and it takes your breath away!
About to enter in the Cave Rock tunnels, the Washoe Indians consider this a sacred place.

Just as a note of interest, we learned a new camping skill at this campground.  Apparently since not many of the campsites are completely level, campers are forced to “nest” their RVs if they don’t want to prop them up on huge piles of blocks, a technique that makes us a little nervous with the size of our RV.  So what is “nesting”?  Here’s a picture:

The front wheels of Baby rest gently in holes we dug for her to level out the RV. There did not appear to be any complaints from Baby once she got comfortable, so it must have worked after a little sweating (on the diggers’ part) on a very hot day. Our campground host was very nice to come out and dig much of the holes with Bob’s help.
Now the next challenge comes today–can we get Baby OUT of her nests? She looks way too comfortable at this point!

That’s it for the night, folks!  Hope you enjoy my pictures.  I could not stop my picture taking here–the camera began to feel like a third hand there were so many things to photograph.

CONGRATULATIONS to our fabulous grandchildren–Sera Chloel, Ewan, Mikaela, and Sammy for doing such a fabulous job at school this year.  Since this is your last week of school, I just want to remind you what fabulous people you are and that we are so proud of you!  You make us smile, you make our hearts proud, and we love you very much!  Hugs and kisses to all of you!

A special SHOUT OUT to our eldest grandson, Ryan!  Congratulations to you on moving into your wonderful new place–I can’t wait to see it!  I know you are proud and will be very happy there!  WE LOVE YOU LOADS!

Good night, family and friends.  We miss all of you terribly!  Lots of hugs to all of you!  Happy trails and sweet dreams!





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