Monday, August 06, 2007

Lake Tahoe

It’s funny how our experience of living in CA is being sullied by the fact that we live in a suburban void. What our weekend trips have shown us over the past few weeks is that this is an incredibly beautiful state—and we are, oddly, perfectly situated to visit some of the most stunning parts of it with minimal effort and time.

This weekend, we drove a mere hour and a half and found ourselves at Lake Tahoe. The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide; the water, in some places, is 1,645 feet deep. There are 71 miles of dramatic, pine-lush shoreline. The lake is in a basin within the Sierra Nevadas, and the high altitude was palpable—walking across a parking lot was enough to make me short of breath. And the color—Lake Tahoe is an otherworldly blue, deep and rich. Set as it is against the pine forests and mountain ranges, it is a breathtaking sight.

Thanks to Priceline and a strategic upgrade, we stayed the night at the luxurious Resort at Squaw Creek; we had a suite with a mountain view, with a fireplace in the living room. Indescribably cozy. When we arrived on Saturday, we reluctantly left our bags and set out to explore. We drove north from Squaw Valley, along the lake, stopping now and then to admire the views, walk out on a pier, sit on the sand. Dogs played in the water. A breeze rustled through the pines. The sun was warm, but there was a coolness in the breeze. The sky was a clear blue. It was truly a mountain paradise. We stopped once along the way and walked along a road high above the lake, collecting pinecones—large cones from Jeffrey and Ponderosa Pines; there were so many along the road and in the woods that we could have scooped them up with a shovel.

We’d gotten tickets for the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s performance of Romeo and Juliet that night, so we set out for Incline Village. The performances take place at an amphitheatre that has Lake Tahoe as its backdrop. We sat in the “upper gallery,” on a sandy hill; everyone rents low beach chairs to sit on. People who bring their own, too-high chairs stand and call “Shovel! Shovel!”, and a theatre worker comes over to dig a trench in which to nestle their chair. We brought a picnic and a bottle of wine; and as the play—which was very well done—went on, and the sun set over the lake, we drank the wine and listened to the rustling pines and, during scene changes, looked up at thousands of stars in the clear sky.

The man sitting next to us, also a former New Yorker, said he was sure we’d realize that we’d arrived in a place far superior to Brooklyn and everything else we’d left behind. Sitting there, overlooking the lake, we couldn’t agree with him, of course, but it was easy to see why his conviction was so ardent. Perhaps we’d feel the same if we, too, owned a home in Tahoe.

There was a long line of traffic leaving the parking lot after the play, so we turned on the headlights and scavenged in the woods for more pinecones while we waited out the rush.

Sunday, we sadly left our alpine retreat and headed south, ready to round out our Tahoe experience by going to a casino. We soon crossed the state line into Nevada and were confronted by two mammoth ones—Harrah’s and Harvey’s—that are connected by an underground tunnel. We spent a few dollars on the penny slot machines; Andrew played a couple of hands of electronic poker. He decided against joining a table in the poker room—he wasn’t feeling it, he said—and we left more or left unscathed, secure in the knowledge that neither of us have a gambling addiction.

We stopped at a state park on the way home to collect more pinecones (bags of pinecones now fill the outdoor storage closet off our deck). Gathering pinecones from a woodsy trail is just good for the soul.

And so our Lake Tahoe weekend came to an end. It was a wonderful trip, definitely a place the warrants a repeat visit—perhaps when the snow comes, if we’re still here.


bridget said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bridget ( said...

wow, so i just found out about your blog from the geibel newsletter! congrats about the move, i suppose.. i am not sure whether you are excited about it or not.. :) and congrats on the engagement! i just wanted to say hi and see how things are going since it's been an awful long time since i've run into you in person.. i hope you are getting settled in okay and getting used to living in the suburbs.. i bet the green is nice, even though i can tell you DO miss the city. we have just moved from pittsburgh to boston and i am getting used to where everything is and being cranky about driving here (ugh) since the stores with the groceries we need are not easily reached by T or bus unless we want to take the better half of an afternoon to get there and back (we don't). but otherwise it's lovely (except for the oppressive heat, at the moment). anyway, this is a very long comment. i just wanted to say hello and now i've rambled a good deal longer than i meant. anyway, take care :)

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