One of the great things about AbilityFirst is the summer camp program they run. We’d just dropped Tim off for a week at Camp Paivika and headed north on highway 395.
Continuing on , it’s not long to Dunmovin…great name, Lone Pine, and Independence – which hosted the trial of Charles Manson. Past Independence is Manzanar, the relocation camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. It’s a beautiful area but, still, who would want to be in confinement here?
On to Bishop, where we make a lunch stop at Schatt’s Bakery, famous for their squaw bread…which just tastes like regular wheat bread to me.
Across the street is Bishop’s beautiful park with its gurgling brook. A momma duck and her ducklings swim about in the water.
Back on 395, we keep up a steady pace northward…we see several more Panteras going the other direction, beautiful cars. There are many towns here that would warrant some more time in. Mammoth, June Lake, Lee Vining/Mono Lake, Bridgeport, and Topaz Lake to name a few. Our next stop is in Gardnerville, just a bit south of Carson City, where we stop to have a Basque dinner at the Overland Hotel and Restaurant.
It’s a by-the-book Basque dinner, except without the communal tables. No menu, just food. A small bottle of red wine it put on the table, along with a bread basket. A large tureen of soup, followed by a salad. The waiter then asks what you want for an entre; lamb, fish, steak, chicken? Next come the beans, followed by a dish of pasta. Your entre then arrives with a plate of fries. All followed up with dessert.
Bellies distended, we leave and play a quick game of Frisbee with some local kids in the parking lot before heading up the Kingsbury Grade to Lake Tahoe. Half an hour later, we’re cruising by the casinos of Stateline before crossing over into South Lake Tahoe.
This is where you Tahoe purists will come in and say “south? The north shore is the ONLY place to be in Tahoe.” Yeah, it’s nice, quiet, relaxed, and uncrowded on the north shore. It was also hard to find a decent room there. More on that later…
South Lake Tahoe is the “big city” of the lake. It has sprawl, traffic, shopping centers, and abuts high-rise casinos but it’s still a pretty place and you can get some good deals on great rooms. Our lodging will be the Best Western Station House Inn, a block away from the lake and within walking distance to the casinos and the Heavenly Valley gondola.
The room is a large, 2 room suite with a king-size bed, large bathroom with Jacuzzi tub (transfer seat available), and queen-size sofabed in the living room. The walls are a dark wood grain, so the room feels a little on the dark side but other than that, it’s a great room.
Also available onsite is a heated pool and outdoor spa. A free, full breakfast is served at the LewMarNel’s restaurant behind the pool. This is no ordinary hotel breakfast bar. It’s real restaurant food. You are seated, waited on, and can pick anything on the menu. It’s delicious too. The hotel’s website claims that it was voted one of the top 100 breakfasts by Esquire magazine, I don’t doubt that is true.
A good night’s sleep and one of those great breakfasts prepares us for our next adventure, hiking down to Vikingsholm…a Scandinavian style castle built on the lake’s edge in Emerald Bay by Lora Josephine Knight in 1929. There is a parking lot at the top of the trail and it’s about a mile down to the beach. It’s paved and smooth enough for wheelchairs but remember… you must come back uphill the same way. Although there are marked handicapped spots at the bottom, neither the park’s website or the docents on site say you can actually drive your car down there.
It’s a half hour to the bottom where we unpack a light picnic of fruit, cheese, and juice to eat on the beach. The castle is suitably spectacular and the water is sparkling. Just offshore is an island where Mrs. Knight built a teahouse on the peak. Lupines and daisies are in bloom and scrub jays try to steal our food. It’s a steep hike back up but not as bad as I thought it would be.
After a bit of a break back at the top, we head across the street to do some waterfall hiking. At the road itself, Lower Eagle Falls cascades in a spectacular drop into Emerald Bay. We are going to hike up past Upper Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake.
Many call this an easy, novice hike but I found it much more difficult that the trek down to Vikingsholm. Many long stretches along this 2 mile (roundtrip) trail require climbing stairs built into the mountainsides and rocks. It is definitely not wheelchair accessible, although there is a short, accessible boardwalk trail adjacent to the parking lot.
You reach the upper falls pretty quickly but the lake takes much longer. Although the trail is about the same length as Vikingsholm, it feels about three times longer.
Once you reach the lake, there are plenty of large rocks on which to rest. We have another snack of power bars and water while watching a couple of families swim and play fetch with their Labradors. There are also a lot of squirrels and woodchucks up here, so guard your food.
By the time we get back to the car, we’re exhausted after the two hikes so we head back to the hotel.
Stay tuned for part 2...
Copyright 2010 Darryl Musick
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