Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tue 21 Oct - South Lake Tahoe, CA

This morning, we made a futile attempt to enjoy the breakfast at our motel, but we just couldn't. Just to illustrate how bad it was, when we drove off for today's hike, we stopped at... McDonalds.

The Egg McMuffins we ordered were heaven compared to the hotel's sugar breakfast of chocolate iced danishes. Here is Di queuing up...

On the way to our hike today, we suddenly saw a bunch of people on the road, looking up into the woods. What was going on? We stopped the car.

Oh yes, it was Mama Bear with her not so young anymore cub having an "all you can eat" termite feast. Just next to the road. Totally ignoring all the punters nearby (less than 10 metres away).

As Mama Bear was ripping through the termite infested tree, the sawdust (for want of a better word) kept flying.

Amazing. Hans has twice seen bears in the wild before, but never as close as this. And not more than one. It was Di's first time, but we were both excited and very pleased to have experienced this.

We continued the drive around Emerald Bay where there is a vista point with the most amazing views.

Fannette Island in the picture is apparently the only island in Lake Tahoe. It is a granite outcrop that survived the glaciers being pushed down the valley.

From the sign boards we learned more about Lake Tahoe, including that it is about 500 metres deep, making it the 3rd deepest lake in North America.

Some of the mountains on the northern side of Lake Tahoe had some early snow on their tops.

And this house down on the foreshore of Emerald Bay is Vikingsholm, our destination for today's hike. More on Vikingsholm later.

Today's hike was part of the Rubicon Trail in the D.L.Bliss State Park.

Unfortunately, the camping ground where the trailhead was had closed for the season and we had to park outside the gates which made our hike 2 miles longer as we came back the same way.

The hike turned out as per below, 16.8km in total, along the western edge of Emerald Bay

Plenty of post termite eating damage around from those "cuddly" animals we saw earlier...

We soon arrived at the trailhead and as noted we were hiking to Vikingsholm and back the same way.

The trail started off very wide with very soft underlay for our feet. Such a difference from yesterday's very rocky path.

Fantastic views almost all the way and we are not referring to Hans here.

Looking south along the western shore of Lake Tahoe before heading along Emerald Bay.

The day started off overcast, but the clouds soon burnt off and we had a sunny hike for most of the time. Also very different from yesterday was that there was hardly any wind today, very calm.

The rocks were closing in on Di... Can she get out of there alive...?

Yes, she did.

Along the way we passed Boat Camp, which was also closed for the season. Below is one of those lock boxes to keep food away from bears. As you may see on the sticker, they take this seriously as you can get fined up to $1,000 if you leave food around and it attracts the bears.

The reason is that bears then very quickly associate humans with food and keep coming back for more, creating a nuisance for subsequent visitors.

Unfortunately that means the poor bears suffer as they get moved to another location or destroyed.

The southern side of Emerald Bay had a landslide at some point, partly across the road we just travelled on. Hardly any risk of that today in drought stricken California.

After 8+km of hiking, we arrived at Vikingsholm.

A selfie seemed almost mandatory...

The story of Vikingsholm can be found on this board (as can the reflection of Hans taking the photo).

Vikingsholm was commissioned by a lady named Laura Josephine Knight who thought that Emerald Bay reminded her of Norweigian fjords. Mrs Knight had a Swedish nephew by marriage who was an architect and she asked him to create an old Scandinavian homestead for her.

Hence the Swedish name of the place and use of old building techniques and features. Vikingsholm was completed in 1929.

You find this quite often in the U.S. - wealthy eccentrics build amazing homes which eventually are left to the State. Hearst Castle is a classic example but this one is very nice.

A few external pictures around Vikingsholm which of course was closed for the season so we couldn't go inside.

This would have been the main entrance from the road and away from the water.

Timber everywhere just as in old Scandinavian houses. Hans thought it was pretty authentic from what he saw.

Yes, we did check out what we could.

Vikingsholm of course had a jetty and since it is today owned by California State Parks, events like weddings and so forth are held here. Pity the poor bride who is trying to keep her balance on this twisted Boardwalk.

The sign is self explanatory... Mrs Knight had a tea house out on the island and you could still make out its structure from the shore.

Clearly people thought it as an attraction worth attempting the swim. The surface layer of the water never gets warmer than about 19 degrees but below...brrr...

Suddenly we see a paddle steamer approaching the shore. It didn't anchor, but we could clearly hear commentary from its loudspeakers.

After eating our tuna and crackers lunch that we brought with us at a picnic table on the beach, we started our return hike. This made us laugh. We hadn't seen it on the way there, but now it was very visible...

And in profile... Somebody had a bit of fun there.

The one and only place with a sort of waterfall along the trail. It is dry in the California nature otherwise.

When we returned to where we had parked our car, we had an imposing visitor parked right next to us. Di had room to get in to drive (on the left) but no chance for Hans. After a bit of maneuvering, we got out of there, but the RV punter kept it close.

On the way back, we drove into Nevada a little bit, with the expectation that gasoline would be less expensive there as California is known to be a high taxing state. It wasn't so and after a bit of interstate touring, we filled up the tank just around the corner from where we are staying.

A quick visit to Raleys for some provisons for breakfast followed (we can't do Maccas or donuts again!) then we went back to base to chill.

Just before 7pm we opted for dinner out again, this time at Base Camp Pizza which was highly rated by TripAdvisor.

Good choice - Base Camp Pizza was full and we had to wait 15 minutes for a table.

This was not a chore because we were able to try the Base Camp Golden Ale and Base Camp Alcoholic lemonade - both pretty good. Drunk through glass jars.

Our server showed us to a booth (excellent as we love booths) and we already knew what we wanted - Base Camp all the way with Base Camp house salad and Base Camp house pizza (with extra garlic of course).

Cheers while we waited.

The house salad and pizza were both excellent and really good value. Thankfully we only ordered a medium pizza - see photo below - it was loaded and still a struggle to finish.

We took our time as the atmosphere was great and Hans tried a new beer - Ballast Point Sculpin IPA - which was one of the best IPAs he has tried in USA (and last year he tried quite a few!).

Di asked for a shot of Grand Marnier (a nice dessert treat) and instead for 2 shots in a tumbler. Plenty to keep us going.

Feeling mellow we got back back to our motel just before 9pm, happy after a great meal and great day at Lake Tahoe. We could easily spend another week here.


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