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19 September 2013

Wake-up Tahoe!

I've stolen the name of this post from a show that's filmed in Tahoe. I'll reveal the inspiration and talk more about this shortly. First, I want to let you know that I'm coming to the end of the holiday snaps. I could go on and on, but I won't... I'm only planning to do one more set after this post. Normal service will resume soon!

Today's theme is loosely based upon people...

Always be vigilant!

I don't know who he was, or what he was doing... but it involved a bloody drill. HIDE!

As we drove into South Lake Tahoe on that first day I spotted a sign outside the Horizon Casino advertising "Illusion Fusion". I thought nothing of it until a couple of days later as the jet-lag started to wear off and we were firming up our holiday itinerary. Illusion Fusion is currently the only "family" show in South Lake Tahoe. If my memory serves me right, Alex Ramon was originally booked for an 8 week slot and almost 2 years later, he's still playing to a packed house! Well done that man! Of course, I didn't know this at the time. I was just thinking that it might be a treat for the kids to stay up late and experience something they've never experienced before. Yes, and there's also the fact that I'd watched "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" on the plane. What a great film! Check it out.

The show turned out to be a huge success. Alex Ramon is in parts magician/illusion artist/sleight-of-hand/charmer/all round great guy. His show was a lot of fun to watch (although he had me worried for a moment when I thought that he might get me up on stage). I want to give him a big recommendation: If you're in Tahoe then check him out - you won't be disappointed. Here's a link to the Illusion Fusion facebook page where you can find out more.

After the show Alex took the time to talk to the kids and as you can see above, he signed a DVD for my son J-Uke. That was a nice touch. See this picture below as Alex performs a routine called the "conjoined twin". (actually... I made that last bit up)

Yes! I know!

You can't go to Nevada without visiting a casino. It simply can't be done. I heard an interesting story whilst in Tahoe which claimed that Nevada is what it is today because of one event: the world championship boxing match between James J. "Gentleman Jim" Corbett and Robert Fitzsimmons in 1897. The fight was meant to have been held in California, but anti-fight campaigners managed to get the bout quashed. Nevada recognised the opportunity and relaxed state laws, bringing the fight to Carson City. Gentleman Jim lost his crown to Fitzsimmons. The real winner however was Nevada who's eyes had been opened to the benefits of liberisation. The rest is history.

What do you reckon? Do you think it's true? Whatever... it's a great story isn't it!

When you're inside a casino, it's as if the outside world doesn't exist. I love the shot below that I took looking out through my bedroom window at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. It was a "new-awakenings" moment. After all the travelling, we were finally here! I was desperate to get out into the sunshine and leave all the flashing lights behind. My destiny lay somewhere out there in that desert!

It really can't be over-stated how much of an impact casinos have had on the Tahoe Area. It's a source of income for a number of the locals and a magnet for tourists from miles around. The picture above is of the State Line in South Lake Tahoe, long before the casinos were built. The landscape has changed a lot today from when this picture was taken.

Instead of trees, now you see things like the sign below. When I posted this picture on Google+ I joked that I was going to enter in the GoGo Contest. Of course, I would never do that, but then, how do you explain the trophy? ;-)

Here's something I spotted in an empty pamphlet holder in Tahoe City. The leaflets it was supposed to hold had all run out and this sticker was hidden inside... a secret prize to be found by me! I love the design, but I didn't have a clue what it meant at the time, and to be honest, even now I'm not sure. If you know, then please drop me a comment. My guess is that Choppy Omega is a skater and that he likes beer!

"You'll like the special French Flavour of skiing in France"

We had a lot of fun with this picture when I posted it on Google+ . It's taken from a vintage magazine celebrating the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley.  What on earth was the photographer thinking? Ha ha.

I've only ever skied once and that was in France. I can't remember this move though. :-P

Remember that reference I made to Wake-up Tahoe earlier?

I've known for a long time that Google+ is a pretty special place. There are some fantastic people on there. One person I'm going to call out right now is the talented +Jack Durst. Jack is a Tahoe resident who I hooked up with a long, long time ago when I first started to hatch my idea of returning to Tahoe. I figured that it would be great to have my man on the inside; He could tell me all sorts of things that only a local could tell me. We've been in touch on and off ever since. Whilst I was in Tahoe, Jack was on hand to kindly answer questions and give me suggestions for things to do. It was greatly appreciated. Then, one morning out of the blue I got a message from Jack saying that he was recording an episode of his show Wake-up Tahoe at the Montbleu Casino and why didn't I go down and see how it's all done! That was all the encouragement I needed to pack up the family and head down to State Line.

Wake-up Tahoe is a show recorded in Tahoe, covering all things Tahoe. Dreu Murin is the usual host of the show, but on the day I joined the team, Dreu was elsewhere and Jack was standing in. Usually, Jack sticks to the video editing but as I was to learn, he does a great job of interviewing too. I got to meet producer Adra Fenstermaker and guest Gary Bowen. In front of the camera, the topic was "Sustainability". Behind the camera, we talked about all sorts.

The session was a big hit with the family. Personally, I got a great insight into the whole interviewing process and it was a real pleasure to meet the team. What a wonderful little surprise for the family. Thank you Jack, Adra, Gary!

The beautiful ladies of South Lake Tahoe 

Mark Twain was not from the Tahoe region, but he did try his hand at mining and made a bit of a name for himself as a journalist for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. That explains the above snap I captured in Virginia City. Below is a picture of McAvoy Layne a Mark Twain impersonator I had the pleasure of meeting on the MS Dixie II. Who's this odd-looking character? I was thinking to myself as he greeted me. Very soon, all was revealed as McAvoy began a commentary for our trip. He was very good. In fact, I think I might have got the Gentleman Jim story from McAvoy!

Later on I started to see McAvoy's face popping up in all sorts of tourist literature. It seems that he talks at most placed in the region at some point or other throughout the year. Check him out!

Finally, I want to tell you a story of a family of weary travellers, horribly jet-lagged and fresh off the plane.  These are the guys who waited at the wrong travelator for their luggage, stumbled blindly through Customs and then got on the wrong bus to pick up their car. Against all the odds they made it back to their hotel and then, rather than sleep, they jumped into a taxi and made for Her Majesty's Theatre for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Phantom of the Opera! How cool is that!

I want to give a big thanks to +Graham Hendrick who was kind enough to take the time to show some pretty sleepy characters around this beautiful theatre. Once again, I have Google+ to thank for letting me hook up with Graham. I couldn't believe my good luck when Graham floated the idea of a look around. It was a fantastic insight into this wonderful old theatre, but best of all, I got to meet Graham and talk sushi.

In case you're wondering, I fell asleep on the tube on the way back to the hotel, but a vigilant Mrs Uke managed to hold it all together long enough to shepherd me back to safety. Having woken up at 2AM for snacks we then went on to sleep until 11AM missing breakfast and almost our checkout time!

You know what? I'd do it all again at the drop of a hat! ;-)

Thank you Graham!

I thought that this post would be the one where I'd start running out of things to tell you. It seems that I was wrong! I'll try and keep my promise... only one more post. The next one looks like it could be a random one. Until next time...

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