Lake Tahoe, Nevada (Sep 07/14) – Hobbes adorned with “Newlyweds” on the back window, “Love”, “N+J” on the sides… passerby’s honk, and others intrigued stop to hear the love story. Excited to share the fairytale over and over again like it is the first time… never tiring of the smile that it brings to people’s faces. New found friends along the road eager to hear more… every detail pronounced.
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The “Honeymoon Suite” while attracting much attention, affords the newlyweds definitely more privacy and no room for guests (couch-surfers… LOL! ). When the moment arises to find a place for the night, the choice of a cozy, hideaway is very spontaneous. Of course the prime consideration for choosing such a stopover, is it is FREE!!! May it be a side street in the nicest part of town, a mall, a pullout by the lake… or at a 9,980’ summit watching the full moon rise… the options are endless.
Coming into Lake Tahoe they came to the town of Truckee, California; named after a native chief who led the first Caucasian settlers over the Sierra-Nevada passes in their wagons. This quaint railroad town is filled with shops & restaurants housed in historic buildings. It was there they rewarded themselves to a great Mexican dinner. A good jumping off point to the numerous activities of the Lake Tahoe region. Later that day N&J would settle down for the evening in Tahoe Vista rural cottage area.
The next day they stopped at a viewpoint just south of Incline Village, Nevada, to check out the lake for the first time. An amazing feast of colour & clarity. Swimming in crystal blue water, the visibility is unsurpassed. The signs warned of ‘Extreme Cold Water’… it was found to be most refreshing (tough Canadian roots are showing).
At Spooner Lake further south, checked out some trails for biking, single track around the lake, then a gruelling climb up a trail (7 kms return) that tested the lungs at the 6220’ elevation that Tahoe is situated. Interesting that there was little or no signs warning of black bear activity, unsure if it is because black bears are limited in this area or that Nevada doesn’t take bears too seriously. That evening found a park in Zephyr Cove, Nevada along the lake for a swim & dinner in the van (Butter Chicken & Basmati rice… amazing meal!!!). Ended up for the night in a mall parking lot, very quiet & dark (thanks Safeway; nice parking lot with huge trees adorning; felt more like a park).
Proceeding next day to Tahoe South, the business end of the lake. Casinos dot the Nevada (east) side, while the California (west) side is mainly resorts. Yes Lake Tahoe is shared by those two states. Traveling up the west side of the lake, stopping at D.L. Bliss State Park (Calif), settled into a lakeside camp spot (probably the best spot in the entire camp; yes paid for this one)). The view from the campsite down to the lake stunning! The following day a long 4.5 mile hike to Emerald Bay was amazing, with beautiful views of the lake and its incredible clarity & colour. The hike took you along the rocky cliff that drops straight down to the lake, the depth in this area is reported to be 1000’. Of course more swimming was in order, a perfect way to cool down on this hot summer day (30+ Celcius). N suffering from a previous foot injury resulting from the 2013 van accident had difficulty on the return, J quite willing to run the trail back to get Hobbes but fortunately a couple of biology researchers from Tahoe South (working in the park) offered a ride back to the camp, thus avoiding a 3-4 hour return hike.
Heading north, encountered many incredible views of Lake Tahoe, a never ending supply of wonderment. Squaw Valley, California was the next stop. This is the site of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. Just so happens that a food & music event was happening (‘Guitar Strings & Chicken Wings’ – 7 venues, 7 bands, 7 different chicken wings). After enjoying the festivities N&J overnighted in the ski resort parking lot; free wifi, and free camping!!!. Next day ventured west to the Donner Pass, site of a terrible tragedy involving early settlers (1850’s) who got caught in a winter storm in their wagons. Many men, women & children died from starvation unable to traverse the deep snow conditions. Half of the camp that remained resorted to cannibalism to survive out the winter. Hiked part way to the Donner peak, great views of the valley which now is home to the Sugar Bowl ski resort. Also able to walk through some dark and spooky tunnels left over from the early days of the Southern Pacific transcontinental rail line (they now use a tunnel much lower in elevation to avoid the intense avalanche conditions). On the way back to Squaw Valley stopped for lunch & a swim at Donner Lake, another gem.
After a second night at Squaw Valley, retraced south along the west side of the lake. Checked out Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay involving a strenuous 1 mile hike to the lake to view this home constructed in the early 1900’s. Although it was closed for the summer (why? so many visitors still around), we managed to get a glimpse of the privileged life of the wealthy. Of course another swim was in order in that ‘extreme cold water’; managed to get a few strange looks from onlookers aghast that jumping in was that easy.
Next a stop at the Tellac Historic Site which encompasses the Baldwin, Pope & Vahalla Estates. Another look into the lives of the wealthy who populated the area long before the average person could enjoy the beauty of Lake Tahoe. Thanks to the many public parks making it accessible for all. Lake Tahoe definitely a place to return to on the next trip.
More honeymooning to come!!!