South Lake Tahoe, NV: Watery Wonders

Our only other Nevada stop of this 11-week trip was at South Lake Tahoe.  It was almost Not-Nevada, as the California state line was only 3 miles away, and a great majority of Lake Tahoe is actually in Cali.

Lake Tahoe is the second-largest Alpine lake in North America, behind Lake Titicaca (which nobody can say without giggling) in South America. If you drive all the way around the lake, it is 72 slow miles of beauty.

We spent a soggy four days under the spell of Hurricane Hilary, the first to hit the West Coast since the 1930’s.  It did make for cozy days in the RV with the electric fireplace blazing, and some beautiful skies over the lake.

Because of the weather, we had limited time for adventuring, and thus accomplished only the two most touristy-things you can do in South Lake Tahoe in the summer. One was a narrated tour of the lake on the MS Dixie 2 paddle wheel boat. We were glad we had rain jackets and were shocked they let us stay outside on the upper deck, with thunder and lightning strikes all around.

Lake Tahoe is perfectly round except for exactly one sparking bay: Emerald Bay. It is here that a very wealthy widow built her Scandinavian-style summer home, Vikingsholm Castle. The paddlewheeler cruises into the bay and around Fannette Island shown below, with the remains of a stone “tea house” perched atop, to which she would row with her guests for afternoon crumpets.

Lake Tahoe in the summer is a popular destination … a little too popular for us, really. The one sunny Saturday before the storm hit had more than 100 boats clogging Emerald Bay and/or unloading passengers at Vikingsholm. Compare the photo above to the one below. That’s a lotta boats in a small area. Ugh!

Another morning, still under cloudy, rainy skies, we took the steep mile-long hike down to the bottom of the bay to tour Vikingsholm.

Because of the cold, wet weather, there was hardly anyone there, vs. a “regular” day when 500-1000 people clog this tiny stretch of beach. We will gladly suffer poor weather to grab a little solitude!

Mrs. Knight was not Scanidavian, but had toured abroad and loved that style, so had her home built with all the classic details, including grass growing on the roofs.

The other excitement of this stop was having President Biden’s motorcade buzz right by our RV in the campground. He had been vacationing at Lake Tahoe with his family, but had to leave suddenly to go to survey the Maui wildfire aftermath. He didn’t wave, but we did learn that an ambulance is always part of the motorcade, just in case.

Our final two -week stretch of this Northern California trip takes us along the Eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada range, along the beautiful Scenic Byway of Highway 395.  There’s hot springs, and ghost towns, and whiskey festivals, and historic war interment camps, and so much more … a little for everyone!

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