Heaven Sent

I am by no means religious. I do not believe in a higher power, and I don’t believe that an unseen “being” has control of every single person’s destiny. I don’t knock it, though. I’ve discovered that having faith in something can bring a lot of people peace and purpose.

I DO, however, believe that there is Heaven on Earth. And it is known as Lake Tahoe.

I am blessed and fortunate enough to have a beautiful home on the east shore of Lake Tahoe (the “Nevada Side,” as those who frequent the lake deem it). Our three-story townhouse is nestled among many other homes and condos along a private beach just north of Zephyr Cove. My dad’s family has a place as well – an old, large cabin just down the beach that comfortably sleeps 15-20 people. This past week, my family and I rented the “Big House,” as the cousins call it, and spent a week in the glorious paradise of Lake Tahoe.

If you aren’t from California or Nevada, and you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe before, you are probably wondering what all of the hype is about. After all, there are lakes EVERYWHERE. While this may be true, Tahoe has a certain aura about it that locals just can’t get enough of.

First of all, it is only two hours from Sacramento. In two hours I can go from a stifling 100 degrees to a comfortable 80 with an offshore breeze. In that same two hours, I can go from miserable, wet rain to beautiful, white snow. Winter or summer, the weather in Tahoe is ideal. And the place is just beautiful. No matter where you are on the lake, the views are immaculate.

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The picture above was taken last week in Glenbrook, Nevada at sunset.

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The above is a photo taken from the famous Thunderbird Lodge, located off highway 29 between Sand Harbor and highway 50.

Another wonderful thing about Lake Tahoe – there is SO much to do!

I’ve been going to Tahoe my entire life. My grandparents bought their condo in the late 1970s, and before that, they brought my dad and aunt up to the cousin’s house every year since as far back as they can remember. I can safely say that the magnetism of Lake Tahoe runs in my blood. It’s beauty and how I’m drawn to it are ingrained in my being. However, because of this, I have spent little time playing tourist. I drive straight to my house in Glenbrook, and then I don’t leave until it’s time to drive back down to Sacramento.

Recent new developments have made South Lake Tahoe a prime tourist trap. In the summer, wandering the strip, window shopping and trying all of the fancy restaurants in the Heavenly area are fun things to do. These options are also available in winter, but it is significantly colder and much more uncomfortable. Guests all around Lake Tahoe can rent anything from jet skis to boats, paddle boards to paddle boats. Anything water-related can be rented and used for pure enjoyment.

There are various restaurants scattered around the lake that, in addition to regular access, also have boat access. Boaters can float right up to the dock and tie up their boat while they enjoy a “Wet Woody” (a famous Tahoe cocktail) and a fantastic brunch in the beautiful Tahoe sun.

Various other activities include camping, zip-lining, riding the gondola at Heavenly in South Lake, horseback riding, paddle boat cruises, and tours of historic points around the lake.

Just a short car ride down the road from my place in Glenbrook is the historic summer home of George Whittell, also known as Thunderbird Lodge. It is best seen from the lake side, as it is completely invisible from the road, but once on the property the views are breathtaking. The home tour itself is not so spectacular – but learning about its original owner and his weird “quirks” is definitely worth looking into.

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The two above photos were taken from the property of Thunderbird Lodge, overlooking Lake Tahoe from the east shore. The top photo shows the gazebo, which allows an almost 360 degree view of the lake. The bottom photo is of a well, which was built for fun, not for actual purpose.

The Thunderbird Lodge gets its name from Whittell’s famous and beautiful wooden boat, which can sometimes be seen cruising around the lake with a boat full of people. The Thunderbird can be rented by anyone for the price of probably your first born child, but jetting about the like in a pristine and classic wooden craft is an experience unlike any other, I am sure.

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The top photo is the entrance to Whittell’s house (or Thunderbird Lodge), and the bottom photo is taken in the boathouse on the property – a rear view of the famous Thunderbird. This summer, the boat is out of commission – the lake water is too low to launch it, and, conveniently, its engines broke down and cannot be repaired without funding and donations.

Although Tahoe offers a wide variety of entertainment options, my favorite thing to do when I am there is just relax. If you’re fortunate enough to stay somewhere with beach access (ahem, the California side is heavily rock-ridden with only dock entrances to the lake), I highly recommend a comfortable beach chair and a good book (and a large bottle of sunscreen; the thin air will fry your skin in no time at all). There is no better paradise than lounging on the beach and just letting time go. And, of course, a cocktail in one hand doesn’t hurt, either.

Whatever your choice of entertainment may be, Lake Tahoe is without-a-doubt one of the most beautiful places that America has to offer. While pricey, it is worth every single penny to be able to enjoy the wonders of nature and a truly serene and wonderful place. I highly recommend a stop in Lake Tahoe, if you ever have the opportunity to come out this way.

**To donate or visit Thunderbird Lodge, visit http://thunderbirdtahoe.org/.

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