2001: Northern California

Lake Tahoe



After a two-month hiatus for repairs from our maiden-voyage accident, we finally ventured out on the road again in June. First stop: Mike's favorite place -- Pollock Pines! For those of you who don't know, it's near Lake Tahoe and Mike grew up here. But MY plan is to pry him loose in a few days and head for Oregon.

Our campground in Pollock Pines is Ghost Mountain Ranch, a members-only place that allows newcomers to stay for a few days as a try-out. They lobby us vigorously to cough up a membership fee, but we have a lot of country to see first. We did meet some nice RV neighbors who have memberships, and we enjoyed a civil war re-enactment staged at the campground on the week-end. But after a few days, it was time to move on.

Emerald Bay. A local resident. Some camp neighbors. Civil War re-enacters.

We spent a lovely week at South Lake Tahoe "boondocking" (no hookups for the trailer) on a vacant lot that belongs to a neighbor of ours. In effect, we were parked in our own private little pine forest on a quiet side street in town. Mike's solar cells kept us electrically charged all week so I had all the necessities -- computer, TV, and satellite dish! It's strangely invigorating to have a self-contained house on wheels, to dump your trash in the nearest shopping center can, to find ways to wash dishes (and yourself) with as little water as possible, and to watch TV on free electricity generated by the sun.

At the cyber-cafe.

We did some hiking to local mountain lakes, took a pleasant bike ride around the southwest edge of Lake Tahoe, and went kayaking in some rented boats. But not all the time was spent outdoors; we made a visit to Harrah's Tahoe, where Mike lost a few bucks at the crap tables, and we saw a great show called "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!". This is a tribute to the Beatles, performed by a group called Rain. They do a dead-on impersonation of the Beatles, playing and singing LIVE all their hits, complete with every vocal inflection and guitar lick we all cherish. It was a hoot to be among several hundred balding, graying, paunch-ing baby boomers who were all clapping, singing along, and dancing in the aisles. I kept wondering what all these people's kids would think if they saw us. No, actually, better not to know.

Emerald bay.  Loon Lake.  Geese, but no loons.

High above Lake Tahoe to the west is Desolation Wilderness, a rugged and spectacularly beautiful landscape seen only by backpackers and intrepid day hikers. It's a challenging hike to Susie Lake, one of many blue jewels here: five miles in, five miles out, 1400 vertical feet up from 6600 to 8000 feet, difficult rocky trails.

We'd planned a short trek to a nearby destination. While on the trail, we reached a fork with a sign pointing to Susie Lake, and I naively followed Mike's whim. Without a map or a sure measure of the distance, I thought we'd never get to the lake; and after we finally found it, I thought I'd never make it out! But I survived, and it was worth it for the fantastic view. Speaking of views, several backpackers passed us on the trail, and when we reached the lake we saw a couple of them -- at a distance -- enjoying (or enduring) a chilly skinny-dip. Ah, nature!

On the way back down, I took a dip of my own (fully clothed), cooling my overheated bunions in a crystal-clear stream that tumbled recklessly down the mountainside. If only my climb down could be so effortless, and so quick!

This year we became interested in kayaking, and we've even fantasized about how to carry a sixteen-foot boat atop the fifth-wheel, but for now it remains a fantasy. We rented kayaks on Lake Tahoe for our fourth paddling outing of the year. This time I got brave and took my own single, instead of going in a tandem with Mike the Motor. It was hard work but I managed about a mile out and back. Sore shoulders! Strangely enough, Mike found it easier paddling his own canoe.

In addition to having a great view from the water, it was fun to share the lake with flocks of Canada geese who seemed to think we were just big floating birds.