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15 September 2013

The Panoramification of Lake Tahoe

This has the potential to be my most boring post yet on Lake Tahoe. Today's collection of holiday snaps are predominantly of the landscape of this beautiful part of the world. Whilst it's impressive when seen with your own eyes, photos rarely manage to capture the magic. You've just got to go and see this for yourself! I'll try and mix it up a little to add a bit of variety.


While we were in Tahoe there were something close to 50+ forest fires burning across America. Forest fires are a fact of life in many places (including Tahoe), but this year has been unusual in as much as we haven't reached forest fire season just yet! Until this holiday I'd never seen "smoke" as an option on a weather forecast.

What it does mean, is that some of the photos in this post are not going to be what you'd usually see taken in this area. There were many days were it was impossible to see across the lake. Personally, I think it adds a certain charm to a couple of the shots I'll show you below.

To illustrate the point about the smoke, check out these snaps. The above shot is of South Lake Tahoe down by the State Line. Those larger buildings in the background are casinos on the Nevada side. We're standing on the California side. See how the sky is murky. The picture below is what I woke up to most mornings... a thin layer or ash covering everything.

There were health warnings almost daily and people were to be seen wearing masks about South Lake Tahoe. Unless you had some sort of respiratory ailment, I don't think that it was bad enough to really warrant this sort of precaution.

Nobody could agree on where the smoke was coming from. At the time we were there, there were two major fires burning in the vicinity: one sort of westish at Forest Hill; and one to the south at Yosemite. Actually, I think that both were to blame and really, it depended upon which way the wind was blowing as to which one was getting us. It didn't stop us from doing all the things we wanted to do, so I won't complain.

"Some of the best photography is accidental."

I really believe this. You can spend far too much time lining stuff up and framing your shot. Sometimes you've just got to click and see what you get. The picture above was even more radical than that... I didn't even realise I was taking it. Ha ha. It breaks all of the known laws of good picture taking... and this is why I love it! It's of a car park overlooking Emerald Bay. Why do so many people stop here to take photos. Check this out...

I'm going to remind you of an App I'm using called PhotoSynth. I've written about PhotoSynth before, but I'll call it out again in case you're wondering how I've managed to achieve some of  the wide-angles in this post. When used to its extreme you can end up with psychedelic shots like above. This is actually a shot of the kid's room on holiday the night before we left for home. They'd told me that they'd packed everything and I went to check. Yeah, right!

Finally some shots of the scenery! These are from the Pope Estate, which is a tourist spot near to Camp Richardson. These shacks were built in the early 1900s to house the staff of the Pope family who were wealthy visitors to the Lake. Each has been kitted out with items of the era and act as sort of museum exhibits. What a beautiful setting nestled in amongst the trees.

A little further on as part of the Tallac Historic Site is a small circular walking path called the Rainbow Trail. I've noticed a lot of work being done in the area to open up the countryside since my last visit here. There are cycle and hiking trails in a number of places. And around a number of corners you can find scenes like this...

Up on the north-eastern shore of Lake Tahoe is a small lookout called Memorial Point. As you can see, the smoke was particularly bad the day I visited. This part of the lake is famous for the boulders that make up the shore-line.

See what I discovered below. I love graffiti as much as the next anarchist, but at Memorial Point? Why do this? Shame on you.

One place that I was was keen to visit for the first time was Squaw Valley. All I really knew about the place prior to going was that it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960. Of course, we were off-season for most of what Squaw Valley is famous for, but it was still definitely worth the hour's drive north-west of South Lake Tahoe. Above is a shot of the car park at the Squaw Valley village. See the mountain? That's were you need to go if you want to see the magic. And this is how you get there...

In case you're interested, the animated GIFs I've been creating this holiday have all been done using an iPhone App called Giffer. I'm getting better at using it, but as you can see above, my skills are weak. The App itself is pretty nifty and I'd recommend you checking it out if this sort of thing excites you. It took me a long time to realise that I could remove the giffer logo, and even longer to realise that I didn't have to have this sort of sepia look. It was a positive age before I realised that I could do video burst rather than snapping each frame. I'm still persevering.

Once you get to the top of Squaw Valley, this is what you find. Yep, there's a swimming pool. I sampled the hot tub, but the pool was way too cold for me! It was a real treat to get to stretch my legs and wander across the ski slopes.

These shots are of Zephyr Cove, which is on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe. This is where the paddle-cruisers depart from. There are two: The MS Dixie II (pictured) and the Tahoe Queen. We were going to celebrate a birthday with an evening meal-cruise, but unfortunately we just couldn't line everything up. Instead we made do with a day trip on the MS Dixie that took us across to Emerald Bay and back again. It's a pleasant little trip.

Mount Tallac from Valhalla Beach 

We went on a couple of bike-rides whilst we were in South Lake Tahoe. The final trip saw us venturing a little further from the standard track as we headed towards Fallen Leaf Lake. The map seemed fairly easy to follow, but it wasn't long before we'd decided that we were lost and headed back.

This was when my son stumbled across the snake. I think that was the final straw for Mrs Uke. She later told me that she was scared that we were going to meet a bear. The signs warning us to turn back were the decider for me.  I loved it and in different circumstances, I'd have explored a bit further. It was fantastic. See the stream we stumbled across above. I can't be sure, but I think that this is a bend in Taylor Creek, a stream that wends its way from Fallen Leaf Lake down into Lake Tahoe. It was so peaceful, and we were the only people there!

In the picture below, you can see Fallen Leaf Lake through the trees. As soon as I saw this, I knew that we'd travelled too far. What a fantastic adventure. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief once we'd made it back to the main track. Don't tell the kids, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat ;-)

This must be my favourite of the shots in this post. It's one of the first landscape photos I took when I arrived in Nevada and was taken from Geiger Lookout on Geiger Grade Road en route from Reno to Virginia City. Davison M Geiger was a a local doctor who commissioned the building of the Geiger Grade Road in 1862 in order to provide an easier way to transport silver from the Comstock Lode. Here, we're looking out west and it was hot, hot, hot. Me and J-Uke spent some time lizard-spotting and listening out for rattle-snakes ;-)

I leave you with a sunset. Here's the sun setting over Lake Tahoe. One thing with all the smoke was that we were often treated to some spectacular sunsets. This was taken from the top of the Horizon Casino.

Okay, although this might have been a boring post, I've enjoyed reliving some of the wonderful things I've seen. I've maybe got a couple more posts up my sleeves, but I'm losing patience working through all the photos. I want to tell you a little bit about my new ukulele project to build the "Grand Poobah". It'll have to wait I'm afraid. Until next time...

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