Postcard: Lake Tahoe

Scenes from vacations past

Trees appearing to grow out of rocks, as frothy water rushes down a hill into a bay down below

Eagle Falls above Emerald Bay, South Lake Tahoe, California. May 2011

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April 30th at 3:32pm

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Gina and I were married in March, 2011.

A few months later, we went to San Francisco, Alameda, Lake Tahoe, San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, and Carmel for our honeymoon.

This is a postcard from South Lake Tahoe, California, and Stateline, Nevada, just across the border.

Arrival

We flew into SFO, picked up a rental car, and had a Damned Good Day™ in the city (San Francisco).

Turquoise blue water and snow-capped mountains in the distance

The stunning view from Logan Shoals Vista Point in Nevada.

Obligations

My brother, who lived in Alameda at the time, graduated from USF School of Business. After a few days on Alameda Island, we came into the city for the ceremony. We attended a graduation party the next day, then left for our honeymoon proper.

Along the way, we stopped in Davis so I could show Gina my old stomping grounds. The financial crisis had hit the University of California hard; the campus still looked a bit rough around the edges. Regardless, it was good to be back. I also did a drive-by of my old apartment and the Davis Food Co-op.

Ferociously attractive couple standing on rocks high above Emerald Bay

The newlyweds at Emerald Bay.

It had been thirteen years since I was last there, but it seemed like a lifetime ago. I was such a different person.

First stop

Before checking into our hotel in South Lake Tahoe, we made a detour to Emerald Bay and its sublime view. That was Gina's introduction to the lake. It was late afternoon, and the air, as it always does in Tahoe, smelled clean. Faintly of pine.

Dinner in a casino

There is no ambiguity to the boundary between California and Nevada, where gambling is legal. Casinos line the border. We had a coupon for a prime rib dinner at one of them (I don't even remember which one), then waddled to the casino for ten minutes of slots.

Big pine trees, yellow-brown sand, and the pristine water of Lake Tahoe

Kiva Beach. I think...?

What looks like a gentle stream: rocks, trees, and water

The water heading to Eagle Falls.

Exploring

The next day, we started with breakfast at the original Red Hut Cafe, a small place with old signs and black and white photos. Good food, great atmosphere. Apparently there are now five locations!

We walked along Kiva and Baldwin Beaches, stopping to enjoy the Taylor Creek Boardwalk a little inland.

I had been to Tahoe at least five or six times, both north and south, but it was Gina's first time. We could see snow-capped mountains in all directions, we smelled fresh pine breezes, we needed sunglasses thanks to the dazzling light, and we admired the bluest water ever. Standing on the beach, she was, as she liked to say, gobsmacked.

Ferociously attractive couple in front of a helicopter, with mountains in the background

At the South Lake Tahoe airport, preparing for our tour.

The bumper stickers say, "Keep Tahoe Blue." It would be criminal if that gorgeous lake turned green or gray from pollution or mismanagement.

I have no recollection where we ate dinner. We were exhausted from all the hiking and turned in early.

The most beautiful

The next day we had breakfast at the Driftwood Cafe - although it sat in a shopping center, the food was fantastic. I had the huevos rancheros.

Boring airport runway, surrounded by pine trees

Coming in for a landing - and a steak dinner at the airport restaurant.

It wouldn't have mattered what we had for breakfast, though. The next stop was Logan Shoals Vista Point on the Nevada side of the lake. It shuffled things around for us and made us forget trivialities.

We climbed down and around boulders, then followed a path to the edge of the lake.

Sunlight shimmered on the turqoise water with mountains covered in snow and pine trees in the background. It was the most beautiful, breathtaking view either of us has ever seen. We sat there for at least an hour, just taking it in.

Among the clouds, looking down at the lake, as well as two casinos in Stateline, Nevada

Casinos in Stateline, NV, and one the most beautiful lakes in the world.

Later that evening, we took a helicopter over Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake, Tahoe Keys Marina, Logan Shoals, and the casinos on the Nevada side. The winds kicked up and the pilot decided it was time to head home. We didn't argue.

A steak dinner at the airport restaurant came as part of the tour, so we sat at the window - ostensibly to watch planes land - but the only aircraft we saw at the tiny facility was the helicopter tour after us.

If you have never been to Lake Tahoe, make plans now to go. It's one of the most beautiful places in the world. Just spend three days there. It's all you'll need.

 Voyage au Brésil Baedeker's United States 

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