California Dreaming 2005

by Mick Ayriss

Tuesday 31st May

Tuesday morning, another day and a another journey and another hotel breakfast, which gave us an opportunity to count the pickup trucks with snow ploughs fitted. Did they know something we didn't? Irene was so much better today and after her 12 hour sleep finally the fever had broken. We took the short ride through the Sierra Nevada Mountain to Lake Tahoe, but what a ride. These mountains roads with highs of over 8000 feet are what this holiday is all about, with stunning views and super roads, except for a section with heavy over banding which caused the bike to go "wiggly" at times, (technical term) but generally, brilliant.

We took the 109 to Topaz and then the 89, and finally the 50 stopping for brunch at the 'Cut Throat Bar' so good they named it four times. Firstly it was built in 1862 as Fiske House, in Silver City, and then dismantled board by board in 1886 and brought to its present site. It was then renamed the Hot Springs Hotel, in 1900, and finally renamed the Alpine Hotel in 1972!

The Lake Tahoe Vista Point gave us our first view of this huge lake, staying just long enough to soak up its proportions and views before moving down into the town of South Lake Tahoe, and the Holiday Lodge Hotel, situated right on the State line of California and Nevada.

Nevada is a gambling state and just like Las Vegas the hotels, just a couple of hundred yards down the road from our Hotel, were multi-storey in order to keep the gamblers close to the one armed bandits, roulette wheels and the like, for 24 hours a day if they want it.

We took our evening meal on the 18th floor of Harrah's Casino, buffet style for $23 each, not as cheap as Las Vegas but still good value all the same. For my Sweet I had cherry pie but, alas, no waitress so I was foiled again. The view from up here was just great, looking not only over the lake but also to our red timber-built Hotel, and it solved the problem of what to do next? The sunset over Lake Tahoe beach was quite stunning, and watching sunsets is something we really enjoy doing, especially with the beach all to ourselves, except the three other people walking the tide line. I have tried many times to photograph sunsets and its not easy, you have maybe just a minute or less to get that perfect shot, and guess where these three people stood at the critical time on the half mile long shore line? Right in front of me, the one with the camera in his hand!! Could have been worse, of course, we went to the North Cape in 1999 to see the last midsummer sunset of the century, but after fifteen days of continuous travel by bubble car, all 9bhp of it, only to be foiled by low cloud.

Walking back in the quickly failing light gave Helen the chance to spot those cheeky Stella's jays once again and a northern flicker roosting in its tree hole. Once it turned its back on us the camouflage was almost prefect.

Now it was time to gamble, so back to Nevada to spend our money, for a short while, and then we pushed money into a different machine, back at our Hotel, as the last $1.00 wash and $0.75 dry of the holiday was due.

Wednesday 1st June - Lake Tahoe to Susanville