Sunday, October 7, 2012

DAY 46- Lake Tahoe...

I always knew that Lake Tahoe was a lake that was on the border of Nevada and California but I never really thought about the size of the lake.  It’s just a lake, I always thought.  I had no idea of how big it was or anything else about it.  I was surprised to see how big it really was.  It measures 12 miles wide at its widest and almost 22 miles at its longest and has almost 72 miles of shoreline.  Now that’s a big lake!  I was also surprised to know that Lake Tahoe was the second deepest lake in the US; the first being Crater Lake.  Gee, now I can write off visiting number 1 and 2 on the deepest lakes in US. (Maybe I should find out who’s in third? Hmmmm…. I would really laugh if it ended up being Utah Lake.)
Photo- Lake Tahoe as seen from a city park along the beach.

Lake Tahoe promotes itself as a great place to play year round.  During the summer a great deal goes on the lake and in the winter there’s skiing.  There’s also a fair amount of activity that goes on yearlong at the casinos on the Nevada side too.  It’s climate I’ve been told is very nice too.  But it does get cold enough for snow in the winter and it gets a fair amount of that; as witness by the tall red FH signs, near all of their fire hydrants.

I got up in the morning, grabbed a quick bite from the hotel’s breakfast bar, and off I was on my bicycle roaming the streets of South Lake Tahoe.  I first ventured down to the beach near my hotel.  From there, I slowly started to make my way around the lake clockwise.  The night before I had found a Lake Tahoe bike ways map at a local visitor’s center.  I was using this as a guideline but there wasn’t a great deal of detail and the map was not to scale in quite a few areas.  I wondering through neighborhoods only to discover dead ends or the road would dead end but there was a bike path that connected to it. 

There actually was quite a system of bike paths combined with bike routes through neighborhoods that helped avoid the heavier traffic roads.  It just took a bit to figure it out as I went along.  Unfortunately, there was that construction on Lake Tahoe Blvd which affected a nearby bike path too.  It got a bit hairy there for a few blocks but after that it was fine.
Photo- Rustic neighborhoods of South Lake Tahoe.

It was fun going through the neighborhoods.  A great deal of the houses looked like rustic cabins; all sizes and shapes.  All of the properties had large trees on them and sometimes I would even go by a neighborhood street where there would be a large tree in the middle of the road.  I came through to a neighborhood called Tahoe Keys.  The back of most of these homes had access to water for the owner’s boats.  It was kind of cool because I could see the lake here and there between the houses.  I bet some of these houses had some amazing views.
Photo- An area in the Tahoe Key's neighborhood where there was space between houses.
Photo- An example of some of the open spaces in Lake Tahoe.

I went further west along the Lake Tahoe there were pockets of open space land.  Some of it was marshland, some was National Forest land, some were beaches, and others were park areas.  The bike paths went through quite a bit of these areas and quite often there were wooden bridges that I cycled over.  It was some wonderful scenery. 

I eventually came to where the bike path went along Hwy 89 going north on the west side of Lake Tahoe.  I went through an area known as Camp Richards where tents were being set up for an Oktoberfest they would have in the next couple of days.  There were pumpkins set out all over the place and it was looking really festive and Fall like.

I continued heading north on the bike path.  There was more and more National Forest land.  It was beautiful but you couldn’t really see the lake at this point.  There was however a bridge area that I came to where people were stopped and watching over the railings.  It was here that I happened upon the Lake Tahoe’s red salmon.
Photo- Lake Tahoe's red salmon.

I was told the night before that I should come see these fish because this time of year in their cycle they really did turn red.  It was cool watching them swim around in circles.  There were a lot of them.  Periodically a leaf would fall on the surface of the stream and one of the salmons would jump up out of the water towards the leaf. 

I continued north to where the bike path crossed Hwy 89.  I decided to turn around because that would put me at 35 miles.  That was enough for one day.  But before I turned around, I admired some quaking aspen that just had a hint of yellow.

After a quick shower, I headed out in the car with the idea of a possible hike but I was really just interested in seeing more of the area.  I ended up driving north on Hwy 89 past where I had turned around.  From there the road started to climb and got curvy; and yes, of course, scenic.  The road had a fair amount of traffic and there were a few brave cyclists along the stretch too.  There was virtually no shoulder on the road and a metal road guard in only a few of the places.  It was hair pin turns for the next 7 miles. 
Photo- Emerald Bay with an older mansion on the beach.

I came to a viewpoint that overlooked the Emerald Bay part of the Lake.  It was beautiful and kind of reminded me of Crater Lake with a little island in the middle.  I stopped.  It was here that a guy was standing next to a loaded up bicycle with a turned up hat singing America the Beautiful while everyone was taking pictures.  It looked like he had a fair amount of money in his hat.  Hmmm… that’s an idea to supplement my trip money.  Not sure if my voice is good enough for that though.

I continued driving around the Lake.  There was more climbing hair pin turns but at least these had a bit of a shoulder.  It was getting pretty high.  The landscape was turning rocky with pine trees; mostly big rocks.  Then, there were large sized houses with several floors looking out over towards the direction of the lake.  You could see the lake here and there through the trees. 
Photo- Lake Tahoe as taken from an eastside overlook area.

Then came some smaller communities where there were houses and a few businesses.  They were rustic and quaint.  I continued on and the road opened up to views of the Lake.  The bike path was back along the roadway and several cyclists were out enjoying it.  There were people in boat and others playing with their dogs along the beach area.  It was a slightly overcast day but it was still a nice day. 

I drove around the whole Lake.  The north part had a small old dam area.  There was more business and quite a few smaller and more expensive hotels or at least they looked expensive.  The west side of the Lake was disappointing.  The road turned into an Interstate and there just wasn’t as much going on along that stretch.
Photo- A cyclist out on the bike path along the beach of Lake Tahoe.

Now I was ready for a late lunch or an early dinner.  I stopped by a place I had seen earlier while biking.   Riva’s Grill had a nice outside back deck area that over looked the Lake and the Tahoe Queen docked there too.   It provided plenty of people watching and scenery.  It also happened that I was 4 minutes away from the Happy Hour. Yeah!  Half price well drinks and half price pizza or appetizers.  I ended up talking with a retired couple next to me that were celebrating his 71st birthday.  We toasted and chatted.

Next, I went in for a quick look at some local art galleries next door.  One was a wonderful photographer where I ended up talking with his wife who was manning the shop.  They liked to travel and he liked to take pictures.  One thing led to another and his travel hobby became a business.  I really liked his photos and there was some wonderful combinations matted together that were very reasonably priced.

Next, I was in bad need of a manicure.  Back at the hotel, I decided to walk across and along Lake Tahoe Blvd.  There were all kinds of shops and I saw a couple of nail places but they were closed.  Another salon told me they had already sent home their manicurist.  I finally found one that was open.  Sure, they could help me out.  Lisa a cute Oriental woman cheerfully helped me.  She said she liked my laugh and that I seemed happy.  She talked me into getting a pedicure too.  Sorry Cousin Kimmie!  I’ve been thinking of you every time I look at my toes but for only $5 more I could have both.  I also would be matching too!  I hope you’ll forgive me.

Lisa was in the middle of my manicure, the closed sign was turned over.  Now, I felt bad about her staying late to do my ugly feet.  But Lisa said it was no problem and was asking if I was going to go out to the casino tonight.  I said I was thinking about it.  She said that now I would have to because I had lucky nails.  Crack me up!  Well, how could I say no to that? 

She finished my feet and gave me these disposable thongs to walk over to the drying lights near up front.  After a bit, she mentioned that if I wanted to I could walk with those to my hotel if I wanted to.  I’m like 6 blocks away at this point.  But she said that it would be no problem for me to stay and wait while they dried.  Now, I felt guilty so I said that I should be okay to walk.  I walked down 1 block to the corner, along busy Lake Tahoe Blvd for 2 blocks, and waited for the light to change in the crosswalk.  All this while shopping stores and what not are open.  People are walking by on their way to the casinos a couple blocks further along.  I felt strange carrying my shoes and running around in disposable thongs but no one else seemed to give me a second look or said anything.

I got to the hotel which was 3 more blocks and now I just HAD to go to the casinos.  I had to give my lucky nails a shot!  Off I went to the casinos.  I walked through the first casino, Harrah’s; but I didn’t like the feel of it or their bar areas. I had heard that the other casino, Montebleu, had the loosest slots.  Not that it really makes a difference.

I got to Montebleu and found the Center Bar; which I did like.  I ordered a rum and coke.  I sat at the round bar and people watched.  A majority of the people looked to be just barely 21.  In fact, the bartenders were checking quite a few of the ID’s to make sure.  I ordered another drink and continued to people watch.  A rowdy noisy bunch of kids came in and sat next to me.  I moved my chair over.

As I was getting ready to order my third drink, a young cute guy from LA starts chatting me up.  We talk for a bit and he mentions about the dance club in the casino having a Ladies Drink Free Night.  So I heard the rumors, I said.  He asks my name shakes my hand, says his name, and says I’ll see you later at the dance club.  I just smiled and thought Nope!  I wasn’t in the mood to dance tonight and I was just planning on doing a bit of slots and then heading back to the hotel.

I put in $15 in various slot machines and it lasted me over 2 hours.  I was getting tired and finally cashed out having only lost $12 but having consumed about 6 smaller free rum & cokes.  It was time to call it a night.

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