Trains, Truckee and TahoeSeptember 11 in the United States
The trip to Lake Tahoe was an event in itself. The scenery as we left the coast slowly changed. There is some drought here, so many of the fields at first were that dry wizzened NSW brown that we've all seen for far too long. But eventually, we got into the mountains to be greeted by mountain scenery that was different to anything we have in Australia. Large mountainous beasts would rise into the air, some with mobile phone towers on them, but mostly free and unforgiving. Lots of granite and pines and fur trees. A powerful and rugged landscape.
The train jounrey itself was comfortable and I became engrossed in the life of a physically disabled woman in our carriage on a motorised wheelchair who spoke to several people on her phone during the hours that rolled by. Her name was Cindy. She was a widow and the mother of two sons, one of whom was troubled and lived in a community care facility. Cindy's lease had not been renewed and she was desperately looking for some where to live. She was travelling to Colfax to stay with her brother for a few weeks. But on the way there, she had met a fellow traveller on an earlier section of the train trip with whom she hit ot off remarkably well. They had talked and shared their lives and felt they were both kindred spirits. Both of an age around 60s, they had decided to stay in touch when her new friend alighted the train at Sacramento. Later, the friend's adult daughter Rachel rang Cindy and they shared a whole lot about their lives together too. There was talk that maybe Cindy and Rachel's mother could get something together. When it came time to disembark the train at Colfax, Cindy got hopelessly stuck as she couldn't naviagate the aisles and doors with her belongings; her sugar starting to pour out onto the floor before the guard caught it in time. Her disembarkation was a complete fiasco, but she kept her head and although very stressed, she finally managed to get the chair onto the ramp and out of the train, whereupon those on the platform sprang into spontaneous applause for her. Needless to say, I accidentally put my psychologist's hat back on and thought through a number of different scenarios about the story I had heard. I was not silly enough to intervene, but Cindy's story did help me pass the time as I gazed out the windows at lofty escarpments, Chris with his earphones in listneing to music, and me listening to Cindy's incredible story she told not at not at all sotto voce.
We disembarked the train ourselves at Truckee, a small but very historic town from both the frontier days as Easterners travelled acorss the land to the West, and from the goldrush era. Truckee looked like it was still in the goldrush era, a movie set as men would ride into town, tie up their horses and head for the saloon. We caught the local bus the 40 minute drive out to Lake Tahoe where we checked in to the Sunnyside Lodge, a typical ski resort lodge full of timber, bear heads, antlers, giant fireplaces made of stone, you know the kind of thing. We've had a comfortable three days here, eaten several times out on the Lodge's deck that over looks the lake and the Sierra Nevada mountains on the eastern shore. It is picture postcard stuff and reminded me very much of Queenstown in New Zealand.
Lake Tahoe is huge. It is the third largest fresh water lake in North America and tenth in the world. It is 35km long, nineteen across and 114km in circumference. Its average depth is 300m or 1000 feet, but its deepest point is 1695 feet or over 500 meters. It's west of Carson City and South of Reno. The state line runs through it. Two thirds of the lake are in California and one third in Nevada. Tahoe City and the dotted towns/villages around the lake are all tourist towns. There is plenty of wildlife here, but I only saw one bear (see video). It is a place that Americans flock to in the summer for the natural beauty and copious outdoor acivities, and in winter for the skiing. Everything here starts to get covered in deep snow from November on, but I have read that Lake Tahoe has seen snow in every month of the year. There is old money here everywhere. The homes dotted through the woods, which runright down to water's edge, are unbelievable. This is no cabin in the woods scenario. Some of these homes would make the Kennedy Compound look like Lego Land. Needless to say, this is Republican country.
We had a bit of a muck-up with our car hire while here and so abandoned trying to ameliorate the issue altogether. We have been walking and bus-ing around instead. And that's been nice too. Today, to finish our time here, we went for a swim in the lake. We estimated it was about 17 degrees, so pretty chilly upon first entry, but we acclimatised quickly and managed to stay in for about 15 minutes. I swam out to the mooring boats and had a loll. The water is crystal clear. You can see to the bottom in the shallows. We had to have a little kiss while in the water too. The middle aged couple sitting on the shore watching us didn't seem to mind. They were very friendly. Anyway, how can you not! Tahoe is incredibly romantic.
It would have been wonderful to see some snow around its shores while here, but, maybe next time. Lake Tahoe is an extraordinary place for its sheer size, but also its matchless beauty. I am so glad we came here. Till next.Read more