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Lake Tahoe

View of Lake Tahoe from Emerald Bay

September 6/Day 51. Unfortunately my stay at Lake Tahoe will be short. I originally planned it as an easy access decompression camp after the rigors of Burning Man. Now I wish I were staying longer it’s so beautiful.

This morning I manage to get most of the dreadful dust washed from my car in South Tahoe. The attendant there says he’s seen many vehicles like mine and won’t guarantee a perfect wash the first pass. It’ll take several washings to remove all traces of the playa, but at least the worst of it is gone. My RV is another matter. I hope to find a truck wash, perhaps in Las Vegas, to clean the seditious, corrosive stuff off. Otherwise, I’ll spend many  hours at home scrubbing it.

Cold, clear water and sandy beaches

I spend a couple of hours at McDonald’s in South Tahoe borrowing their wifi. Consequently I feel obliged to buy a Quarter Pounder. At least the blog is caught up through September 5th. Tomorrow I head for Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows so I doubt I’ll see an internet connection for a while.

Today, just for the joy of it, I take a short drive up State Highway 89, which skirts the west side of Lake Tahoe. This is the road my friend Louie, a seasoned RVer, recommended I not attempt while towing the 5th wheel. That, plus access to a Ford dealer, just in case, is why I take the eastern route through Carson City. Louie is right. Toward the southern end of Hwy 89 are several 10 mph 210 degree hairpin turns, on steep inclines, where I had to lock the steering wheel all the way over to navigate the curve. It was fun in the truck; but I’m glad I wasn’t towing.

South Tahoe, the town, is a fascinating place. It has plenty of cozy old-style motels you could imagine Humbert Humbert staying in with young Lolita on their eponymous literary journey. There are lots of interesting-looking restaurants and burger joints, dozens of places to rent bicycles along with miles of bike paths, many old but upscale cocktail lounges and casinos, plus all the regular franchises you’d expect, only designed to look “woodsy” so they fit the local ambience. Many opulent summer “cottages” are nestled down by the lake near their owner’s yachts; others flow up the mountainsides and surely afford the uber-rich spectacular views of their gorgeous surroundings. Of course in winter these cottages are inaccessible because of massive snowfall. But so what? There’s always that little hideaway on the Côte d’Azure.

The lake itself is huge, the third deepest in North America. They tell me there’s enough water in it to cover the state of Texas 12 inches deep. The bottom of the lake is actually 95 feet lower than Carson City on the other side of the surrounding mountains.

I don’t think I could live in a resort town, no matter how beautiful. The transience of the population is discomfiting and the pace of life too hectic. On Labor Day as I was passing through town on the way to Fallen Leaf Campground, for example, I spent at least an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, reminiscent of the queues at Burning Man. And this is a small town!

No, I prefer the rustic to the ritzy. Give me Yachats. You can have Tahoe.

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