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Lake Tahoe 2010

Lake Tahoe Rally, 2010

Tahoe, NV  (September 16-21, 2010)

Zephyr Cove Resort on the southeast shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada saw 10 Treks and an Alpha arrive for a five night  NWTFC rally September 16-21, 2010.  The rally’s intrepid organizers (Lynne and Terry Baker, and co-hosts, Janna Caughron and Wayne Vandergriff), presented us with an itinerary complete with interesting, educational, and diverse activities.

Thursday, friends gathered for happy hour, made new acquaintances and renewed friendships.  The Zephyr Cove Resort is a clean, well groomed campground with campsites arranged under large Ponderosa and lodgepole pine trees.  We were blessed with fabulous Tahoe fall weather – clear sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.  Lake Tahoe was as spectacularly beautiful as it always seems to be, and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains delighted the eye with emerging fall colors in the sumac and aspens.

Friday morning we drove around the south shore of Lake Tahoe across Stateline to visit the Taylor Creek trails, stream profile, and the Tallac historic site.  The dogs were all excited to be out on a lovely trail, and Lynne’s Newfoundland dogs (aka ponies) stopped people in their tracks.  A few of us spotted a large pileated woodpecker hunting on downed wood.  Everyone enjoyed viewing the trout and other stream dwellers in the underground stream profile chamber, where a glass wall separated the air breathers from the stream.   Unfortunately the kokanee salmon had not been apprised of our visit, and waited until Saturday to begin their spawning run up Taylor creek.

After spending some time touring the historic Tallac mansion and support buildings, we hurried home for a quick lunch, and carpooled up to the Thunderbird Lodge on the east shore of Lake Tahoe.  We were treated to an excellent tour by a humorous and seemingly all-knowing guide.  We learned all about George Whittell – he had owned 40,000 acres – essentially the entire east shore of Lake Tahoe.  The tour included a trip through the tunnel from the main house to the boat house and card room “cottage”.  It turned out to be our lucky day after all, as the 73 year old Thunderbird yacht went out for a spin.  Some of our group were trying to figure out how to come up with the $5,000 per hour operating costs, so they could have cocktails at 70 mph too.

On Saturday we drove an hour east to tour Virginia City.  The tram and train tours were fun and informative about the Silver Rush in the1860s.  Visiting the old historical buildings, saloons and shops completed the visit.  Lynne and Terry had discovered an excellent Basque restaurant in Minden, and the entire group met for a typical huge delicious Basque meal.  The drive home up the Kingsbury grade at sunset was glorious.

Sunday turned out to be a more leisurely day than planned.  Due to the highway being closed for a race, our plans to hike down to Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay were scuttled.  We took a late morning boat ride on the Tahoe Queen stern wheeler from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay.  During the two hour cruise we experienced a few different Lake Tahoe moods, from sunny, warm, and clear, to wind whipped rain, blue water to gray water.   The squall brought chilly temperatures to the campground, yet the rain cleared in time for our special guest, Margaret Breen.  Mrs. Breen talked with us for two hours, explaining what happened  to her and her family during the fateful winter of 1846-1847 at the west end of Donner Lake.  Her tale and presentation were enthralling.  (Thanks to Nevada Humanities for sharing Prof. Doris Dwyer.)

Monday morning found the group driving around the east and north shores of Lake Tahoe admiring the play of light on the lake.  We stopped at the Gatekeeper’s cabin in Tahoe City to ooh and aah over Dat So La Lee’s extraordinary baskets, and we were mesmerized by Mark McLaughlin’s presentation concerning the weather history of Lake Tahoe, Donner Party history, and the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics.  Lunch was the best pizza on the planet at Villager Pizzeria in Truckee.  After lunch we toured Donner Memorial State Park, and drove up old Highway 40 to view the railroad’s China Wall and marvel at the view to the east of Donner Lake, Truckee, and Mount Rose.  Watching the cars and trucks zoom down the mountain from Donner Pass on I-80 was a poignant contrast to the ordeal the pioneers suffered 163 years prior.