We left Virginia City behind after a morning walk around and a good coffee too. We drove down the pass and then through Carson City and faced yet another pass ahead of us. We got to an elevation of 7,000 feet and at the crest, ahead of us, we saw this enormous blue which could have been mistaken for the ocean. NO, it was Lake Tahoe. So much larger than we had anticipated as was the town we drove through, which was so much larger than we had thought, we expected a small town, not casinos and miles of shops.
Tahoe Valley RV resort is a large area. Had a pleasant book-in and got a lovely site, with no neighbours, which was a great bonus. Booked in here for four nights. The lake was about 3 miles away, which, considering the vastness of this place was fine.
We had space all around us - loved it!
🎶🎶🎶....If you go down into the woods today be sure of a big surprise, for every bear that ever there was...🎶🎶🎶.....were deep in the woods at this park and it was in bear territory! We hoped not to encounter one lurking in our backyard. There were signs telling us what to do in case we should encounter any ....there's no way you would catch me out in the open park in the dark of night!!
Excitement on day two of our stay here. We were headed to the town of Lake Tahoe when we saw the traffic lights flashing and heaps of police and traffic directors around. We soon found out that Obama was in town, one highway had been closed for his cavalcade and other roads were being manned, so that he could get through with ease. What lengths people go to, to see us is amazing! Oh, we later found that he was there to praise environmental efforts, and not to see us.
Had a great sundowner at Camp Richardson's Beacon bar situated on the beach. A plus is that a band was playing so we sat and relaxed watching the sunbathers.
Some drinks at the bar - Beacon Bar at Camp Richardson
We took a long leisurely drive around Lake Tahoe. Emerald Bay, where I had hoped to do a hike, was so busy with tourists, that unfortunately there was no parking for our RV. Perhaps Chuck had organised said tourists, he's not that keen a walker!
Allways a Bear - this one in Tahoe City
At Meeks Bay, we sat on the beach for a while before heading to Tahoe City to investigate. Here we found a very nice beachfront park and had lunch. From there we decided to continue around the lake. We were travelling west to east and stopped at Sand Harbour, which had a lovely outcrop of rocks, not dissimilar to Bakoven or Camps Bay. The beaches and coves around the lake reminded us of both Majorca and Mauritius.
The yellow jacket bees were out in full swing during our time here. They are more elongated than our bees, they also like to give one a little nip and Chuck can tell you, that the after effects of a sting, last around 4 days!
There are lots of them - here is one of many Bee traps in Tahoe city
Our last day at Lake Tahoe, we moved camp to Zephyr RV resort. We decided to have a change of scenery and also we had booked a dinner dance on the MS Dixie paddle wheeler boat, which departed from Zephyr Cove. It all made sense to us, to change parks. We were able to see the lake across the highway and it was a short walk to the beach. The Steller Jay birds, also known as long-crested Jay are what we have been seeing since arriving in this area, but way too quick for me to photograph. They are a beautiful blue with a dark almost reddish brown crest. Just gorgeous.
Stellar Jay Bird - example from the internet. They would not sit still for me!!
The dinner cruise on MS Dixie was wonderful, although it almost never happened.....more excitement! Early on in the afternoon of departure, we went to validate our tickets. At which time we were informed the 'MS Dixie lost the use of one engine on the afternoon cruise, they are working on it at present, but no guarantee that she will go out this evening'.
The MS Dixie - going again
Fortunately all turned out well and by 5.30 pm she was set to go. We were seated at a table of six; the other four were already seated when we arrived. We thought they were one party; Mom, Dad, son and his girlfriend, but it turned out they were two separate couples. We all got on so well and they shared with us, places to visit, down the Californian coast, which were off the tourist track.
Our friends for the evening - Kayla, Colton, Jaime, Debbie, us. The passer by who we asked to take the pic had had a few drinks - you can see!
We had a lovely three course dinner together, then headed to the upper deck to get photos of Emerald Bay from outside, here we split up and Chuck and I went down a level (I know what you are thinking - so to speak - not in degrading, but a few steps down) - to listen to the band. All in all a very worthwhile trip on the lake, beautiful views.
There was plenty to see and do around Lake Tahoe, we figured many people were attracted here by the casinos, it was Labour Day long week-end and the parks were full.
Emerald Bay at Sunset
We had good news on our Esta/visa debacle. Charl, (had to use his official name here being a government department), finally managed to track down a supervisor at Phoenix airport. He informed us that as we will only be two days over our stay, which is within the 'grace period', we should have no problems. Our problem may be if we try to enter the USA at some other stage, they may then query why we overstayed our visa. Me being the pedantic one was not happy enough with this answer. So I asked Chuck to photocopy each and every document and reference we have on trying to have this visa extension done, so that we have proof if we are asked at customs when we leave. Some 25 pages later, this should cover any queries that may arise!
The drive from Lake Tahoe to Lee Vining/Mono Vale Lake - (we will be 'all laked out' by the time our trip is complete), was scenic and up and down two passe;s Devil's Gate summit and Conway summit which brought us up to 8,143 feet.
We went through yet another inspection station during this part of our trip, as we had left Nevada and re-entered California again. They didn't get anything from us as we had learnt from the previous stop; 'all our forbidden goods had been purchased in Susanville, California' which made the very nice gentleman at the station happy. Not all true, but both parties were happy campers.
The town of Bridgeport was quaint and they even had a rodeo happening. On top of Conway summit, we stopped here to overlook Mono Lake (one of the oldest lakes in North America, a salty lake) and basin. It was just beautiful! To the right of the hillside was an outcrop of Tufa towers, which were towers of limestone rock. The view towards the lake was lovely with different colours in the foreground and outcrops of rocks within the lake.
Mono Lake from lunch stop
The camp site we were in was full of campers in tents, large RV's, smaller RV's similar to ours and small caravans and larger ones too. In the early morning there was a bustle about with car boots opening and closing, eskies and gas cylinders being packed in, and off they went. Everybody taking a different route to find whatever they could, to play in and on out there. Hikers, mountain bikers, bird watchers and some setting off for a day in Yosemite; they were all doing their thing. It was quite beautiful being amongst the volcanic craters which were in this area, adding to the beauty of Lee Vining area.
We took a drive down to Navy Beach on Mono Lake to see the Tufa Towers. The Tufa towers are outcrops of very interesting stone formations, (towers), from limestone which have formed over the years, from freshwater springs which bubbled through the carbonate rich lake water. The towers were of varying sizes, some with spires, and some with knobs. Some peeping out from the lake water and some on the dry land. We could look at them and make our own forms....one looked like a poodle, another like a couple of Meerkat, quite fascinating.
Tufa Towers in the lake
I was in total awe of the landscape and 'lakescape" in the area and my photos don't do enough justice; also been having a few problems with my wide angle lens. In The foreground was the yellow, green and brown colours from the scrub (fynbos) and sagebrush, leading ones eye up to hills, craters and mountains, setting off hues of green and blue and a touch of white from snow on the mountains, and also the lake, which had its own colours of blue and white, just spectacular.
Close up of Tufa Towers
After visiting Mona Lake and South Tufa at Navy beach, we drove a few miles in a loop around the various lakes in the area. June, Gull and Silver lakes on our right hand side, with mountain and some ski lifts to our left, tree lined with poplar and pine trees. The towns had wooden chalets both as lodges and small motels. Chuck and I both agreed that we preferred this area to Lake Tahoe; 'different strokes for different folks'.
So far we have driven 2,077 miles since leaving Seattle. And now over the Tioga Pass, and on to Yosemite....