Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Lake Tahoe - Dream Vacation Part 2

I know what you're thinking.  "Damn, I just can't get enough of Kelly's vacation photos from four and a half months ago!"

Don't worry, I won't deprive you any longer of the continued torture excitement of re-living my vacation with me.

Since riding inner tubes down the ski runs and grabbing air on a waverunner wasn't really my mom's cup of tea, I needed to find an excursion that was more suitable for her.  Enter the Tahoe Queen - a genuine Mississippi paddle boat that was taken apart, shipped to Tahoe and re-assembled.  It departs several times a day for a tour of the lake and a visit to Emerald Bay.

Here's the kid posing next to a life preserver before we took off.

This is a view across the lake towards the Nevada side.  That beige blob in the center is Cave Rock.  It's an ancient lava flow that is hollow through the middle and was a sacred site for the local tribes of Native Americans.  We had a more up close visit to it later in our trip so you'll be able to see it in more detail.

I had to take a picture of the water color in Emerald Bay - now you can see how this area got it's name.  Usually you have to go the the Carribean to see water this color!

This boat dock is part of what is known as "Boat Camp."  The first time I ever was actually tempted to go camping was when I saw this set up.  You rent a boat, put all your gear in it and boat across the lake then tie up at one of the mooring spots here and take your pick of 25 campsites by picking a chit out of a box.  You then have this entire gorgeous bay basically to yourself for swimming, boating, fishing, etc.  Osprey, bald eagles and bears all frequent the area.
One of the places you can swim to is Fannette Island located in the middle of the bay.  The captain of the Tahoe Queen told us some interesting stories about the history of this island.  We learned about Captain Dick who lived on the island and built his own tomb on it so he could be buried there.  Fate had something else in store, though, as he was lost in a storm on the lake and never buried on the island.  The structure on the top of the hill is a Tea House that was built by the owners of the nearby Vikingsholme estate.
Here's a closeup view of the Tea House.  It used to have a lovely wooden roof, but some idiots decided to build a fire inside it and they burned the roof off.

Here's a view of the Vikingsholme estate.  If you look at the far left of the building you can see it has a completely round tower.  The woman who built the estate brought a fantastically expensive round carpet from the Middle East specifically for that tower.  When she got it back here, she found that the tower (which was nearly complete at that time) was too small for the carpet - so she had it torn down and re-built to fit.
On the way out of the bay, the captain pointed out this tree that had been hit by lightning - and nesting far out on the top branch is a pair of ospreys.  There was a similar nest of bald eagles on the other side of the bay entrance, but it was so far away from the boat that I couldn't get a good picture.
I did manage to get a shot of one of the parent ospreys in flight, though.
We had so much fun on the Tahoe Queen that when we got back we decided to explore the Ski Run marina where it docks.  We made reservations to do more water activities like renting our own boat and going parasailing.  Plus, I found this cute mermaid statue!  The brown building with the large blue and green map of the lake on the wall that's in the background of this photo has a fantastic restaurant with a deck looking out over the marina and the lake.
And here's the view we had during dinner on the deck of that restaurant.  Pretty awesome sunset!

While we were there, I took a photo of these funny birds the locals refer to as "Helldivers."  I asked around, but nobody seemed to know what they are really called.  They all dive together as a group and the water is so clear, you can watch them jetting around underneath the surface as they hunt for fish.

The next day, we were back at the marina to rent our own power boat and take it out on the lake.  I'm not sure what got into us, because none of us have ever driven a boat before and we had no idea where we were going or what we were doing.  And did I mention that Lake Tahoe is...LARGE?  I mean it is really, really, huge.  But I got behind the wheel of this boat anyway and based on our tour the day before on the Tahoe Queen, I navigated us all the way across the lake and back to Emerald Bay.  Mom wanted a closer look at Vikingsholme.  The kid just wanted to show how cool he looks with his sunglasses on his forehead :-)

The next day it was parasailing time.  Here's the kid getting strapped in. 

Why no, I do NOT have a deathgrip on that safety strap, why do you ask?


Almost ready for take off...3...2...1...

And there we are...800 feet above the lake!  We had an option to go to 1200 feet, but Ryan and I both agreed that 800 turned out to be quite high enough thank you very much.  Amazing view!  I wish I'd been brave enough to take my camera up there with me but since it doesn't have a neck strap (or even a wrist one) I was just positive I'd manage to drop it so I left it on the boat with mom.  This was her first time operating a digital camera and I think she did pretty well.

Then it was time for our last day in Tahoe.  Since we'd spent most of our time on the California side or out on the water, we decided to drive up the Nevada side.  Our first stop was Cave Rock (remember I said you'd get a closer look?).  The highway actually passes through the center of the rock and we drove through it later in the day.  This photo is taken from the boat launch ramp directly below the cave looking up.

This was a pretty little cove near the Cave Rock boat ramp.  I can't remember the name of it, but I just loved the scenery so I took a photo of it.



Here's my little social butterfly making friends with some guys who were fishing off the rocks.  I'm so glad he didn't inherit much of my shy streak - he just went over and introduced himself and within a few minutes they were letting him use their fishing rods and helping him catch fish.  I was glad he had the experience because I had taken him to a trout farm in Tahoe earlier in the week where we incident...which is worthy of its own blog entry it was so bizarre and I will write about it in a future post.  It was a little freaky at the time, but definitely one of those things you laugh about (and blog about), later.
After this stop, we went on up the highway to Incline Village where we checked out the Hyatt Resort (and all the rich people's cabins) and did some shopping.  Ryan had gotten a coupon from our hotel for a free stone arrowhead from a shop in the Village and he was determined to get it so we made sure to stop there.  They turned out to have gorgeous jewelry and lots of local crafts and food products (honey, various jams, etc.)  It was a great way to spend our last day.
Next entry...the trip home :-)


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