Tahoe Revisit

Us at Tahoe
A nice man took our picture for us since we don’t have one of those selfie sticks. It’s the way we’ve gotten many pictures together over the years.

It’s time to wrap up this series of trips for the season. The trailer is clean, all water pipes drained, and it is stored for the winter. We’ll have many nice days ahead but not only am I done traveling for a while I’m still processing all the adventures, sorting pictures, and organizing my notes for future novels. I like juggling a full cast of characters in my novels which justifies lots of research trips to write those characters stories.

Looking west from the deck of The Dixie II
Looking west from the deck of The Dixie II

It’s only 18 days since our return, and not only do we have another grandson already but there’s been a plethora of changes and activities in my home and with my family, near and far, that are claiming my attention as fodder for novels and more! I love when using the word “plethora” is the right word.

The tea house on top of the island.
The tea house on top of the island.

Lake Tahoe is still abundantly scenic as the water is pristine and the shoreline dramatic. During our visit in 2003 we were amused that the south eastern section (in Nevada) was like a tiny version of Las Vegas with casinos, tall hotels, wedding chapels, but also with mountain ski resorts. Back then, as soon as we crossed Stateline Road into California the street surface narrowed and was more worn. The buildings were suddenly only one or two stories and surrounded by trees. The roadside/lakefront motels and inns were aged and rustic. It amused us every time we crossed from state to state because we stayed in CA for the night but our activities were in NV.

Maria at Tahoe City shows the water level is down about ten feet. It was lower at the northern end of the lake.
Marina piers at Tahoe City shows the water level is down about ten feet. It was lower at the northern end of the lake.

Now there is no drastic difference as to which part of South Lake Tahoe is part of NV or CA. This was explained to us as the area is now governed from a national parks/politics level so neither the gambling laws or water resources are subjected to a potential feud between the states.  It caters to international tourism and is a stunning place to visit for the architecture and landscapes, even for us who don’t gamble or ski.

Tahoe City is charming with shops and street dining. It smelled really good but all we ate was heavenly ice cream.
Tahoe City is charming with shops and street dining. It smelled really good but all we ate was heavenly ice cream.

We now have two photos of us taking the lake cruise on The Dixie II, a dozen years apart. We still look the same, except we were both wearing sunglasses and darker clothes the first time. Our visit in 2003 was about seven months after Ed was in a nasty auto accident and he was still on meds that messed with his personality almost as much as the impact had misaligned his body. As his caretaker and pack-mule at the time it was during that trip when I began to doubt his potential for recovery. There was a dark cloud hanging over us at that time so revisiting Lake Tahoe this summer was significant. We made fun new memories that override the old ones and without it being planned, the pictures reflect the difference and smiles and eyes are bright now.

We watched this Chinook helicopter with a full fire fighting bucket of water from the Deschutes River during our final lunch before heading home. I’m glad I had a camera!

For our trip home we didn’t have a reservation anywhere but knew we would have to stop at least one night so would be open to whatever looked interesting. Our route was farther east in CA and OR than our trip south and we had a list of potential places to explore if they looked interesting. Alas, the years of drought meant we passed by deserted resorts along dry lake beds and extremely low reservoirs. We just kept driving until we got to Sunriver and the same resort we’d been to in May as our first full trial trip before Yellowstone. Our traveling really had a full circle finish this way.

We took an extra day clearing out the trailer before heading for home. It was amusing to see how we over-prepared and over-stocked as novices for these RVing adventures.  We’re already discussing destinations and events for next year.


Reno and Ribs

Reno signOur travel adventures are probably done for at least a few months but with this Reno-Tahoe trip we realized how much we like it. As we planned this trip I looked through our map cupboard (I love maps) and pulled out the Drive America road atlas. This is three books featuring maps for the entire country, separated by East, Central, and Western states. The date on the copyright page is 1981 and the Eastern book is a bit tattered as we lived in NJ for 15 years. Now we’ve creased the binding of the Western a bit more.

Decorated town
Virginia City Nevada

We quickly visited Reno and Lake Tahoe about twelve years ago and decided it was time to do so again. Our first stop was Ashland, OR and the biggest change, since daughter #3 attended college there ten years ago, is the air quality. Students and artisans tend to gather on the streets as the town is vibrant in the evenings, and recreational marijuana is now legal in Oregon. All smoking is banned in buildings and city parks but there are plenty of public smoking areas.

Pipers Opera House
Pipers Opera House, Virginia City, NV

Route 66 was our choice to take from Ashland and as we started east on that historic road there was a warning for vehicle limits, and images of trucks and hauling trailers where banned from the road ahead. We calculated the length of our truck and 30′ travel trailer and were well under those limits, but the warning was enough to know to expect lots of tight turns ahead. That those turns skirted the edge of cliffs, on roads that were very uneven, meant that after a few gasps and comments about the contents of our drawers and cabinets shifting, we were rather silent for miles until the road leveled, widened, and had well marked lanes. There were quite a few vehicles using that road but for us it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Mark Twain
Mark Twain and the desk he used as a reporter, before he became famous.

The road on the OR/CA border was flat, level, wide and straight and  we arrived at the lovely Eagle Lake Resort early in the day and thought we’d have a chance to boat around the lake.  Except the lake has been drying up for the past five years and the view of water from the end of the dock was about a mile distant. We were assured the south end of the lake was large, deep and great for water sports but we just couldn’t get there by boat. This meant we relaxed instead as it was Monday and we were the only campers. The managers, Gary and Vicki, were very friendly and we had a lot of fun with them that evening. We left there expecting to be in Reno in two hours but chose a delay when we saw a Les Schwab in Susanville, CA. Ed wanted the trailer brakes checked and adjusted after our experience on Route 66. As we waited, Gary and Vicki arrived as they had tire issues and we had more fun visiting with them. I love when things like this happen!

Silver mine construction under the down of Virginia City. All lumber was transported from Tahoe.
Silver mine construction under the town of Virginia City. All lumber was transported from Tahoe.

When we arrived in Reno with the intent to explore for a few days, especially Virginia City, we learned our trip was timed with the opening days of a tenth annual week long Nugget Rib Cook-Off. This was a succulent bonus! We were at one of the top five RV resorts in Nevada bike, swim, and explore the history of silver mining and visit the Mark Twain museum but also sampled award winning ribs and sauces.

Reno Stead TowerOur final tour before we left Reno for Lake Tahoe was of the Reno-Stead Airport. This is where the Reno Air Races take place every year and Ed plans to attend that event someday. It is scheduled for this week, but we are home and “back to work” while also anticipating the birth of another grandbaby. However, for Ed, visiting the Reno-Stead airport was enough for now.

From there we only had a few hours drive to Lake Tahoe, and more days of fun.

Touring Coos Bay

Sunset Bay at low tide. There are two kayakers in the distance and numerous coves and bays around those cliffs and rocks.

We’ve recently returned from a few days in Coos Bay/North Bend, OR. We left the kayaks at home for this trip as it was more a nostalgic revisit and research trip. It was while kayaking at Sunset Bay about eight years ago that Ed realized the marine mammals in ocean bays are larger than our crafts. First there was a seal sighting and the realization the beach was a long way back, with only paddles to get us there. We’re familiar with the size and antics of seals from a few trips to Newport, OR and observing seals at sea level, in watercraft smaller than they are, is different than being on a tourist bridge while seals bark from the docks or rocks…

Then we looked out to sea and a humpback whale breached above the surface, rolling so the large fin created quite the splash. There was no more discussion, Ed has never paddled so fast for the beach.

This is only a small section of this massive event taken from the parking lot at the lighthouse.
This is only a small section of this massive event, taken from above. We had pulled into the the parking lot at the Umpqua River lighthouse on a whim, but got a whole lot more than a view of the ocean.

However, there were things about that trip to Coos Bay we wanted to revisit. We had no idea our spur of the moment trip coincided with Dune Fest, an annual event that features drag racing, motocross, and every type of all-terrain-vehicle designed or modified to race around and over the sand dunes. It was really loud but as it was the midpoint of the event when we discovered it, we didn’t have traffic issues and instead toured throughout Winchester Bay at its busiest weekend all year. Our youngest was into motocross for a few years and our grandsons are into dirt bikes, so we had a great time being spectators for this huge event. We know a bit about these vehicles; the motors, the wheels, the rider’s gear. I’m curious and Ed likes to figure stuff out, so we’re a good team when on an adventure.

We also sampled award winning clam chowder at a tiny deli in Reedsport.

Our lifestyle has been turbulent in recent years and it is significant for us to dwell on these changes because we’ve been married for 35 years. We’ve been through some major life events and now face choices of – what do we want to do now? Who do we want to become now?

We’ll be off again, on another adventure soon. I was raised under the Armageddon umbrella of Apocalyptic destruction. I never bought into the defeated-at-birth mentality. The future is yet to be written and I will write the stories I want to read.