Lake Tahoe


A few hours after leaving Burning Man in our truck full of dust-covered junk we arrive in Tahoe, impressed by such a massive, life-giving lake. Our dry cracked skin, fingernails and lips begging to be thrown immediately into its depths. We park the truck in an alley somewhere in Tahoe City and stumble onto a rocky beach beneath the low water line, the consequence of a long-standing drought. Let’s nap here.

We must look homeless to the wealthy Labor Day vacationers as we lay our ratty heads on a bed of pebbles, then crawl to a patch of grass in the sun, then the shade, then the sun again. We quickly give up on comfort and wade into the cold lake water. A seemingly infinite amount of dust bleeds out from our legs and shoes into the crystal clear lake waters until they’re opaque.

My parents arrive midday in good cheer, happy to see we’re still in one piece. “You look SO MUCH BETTER than you did last time you came back from Burning Man,” they tell me. And they’re right.

We have a warm and civilized lunch together and pour through stories of our recent adventures, then head back to the luxurious resort condos for much needed showers.

Shampoo, rinse, repeat. Shampoo, rinse, conditioner, rinse. Shampoo, rinse. Conditioner, rinse. Jesus, what’s happened to my hair? Is this a wig?

Can hair die??

The energy gained from fresh clothes and clean bodies is immediately invested in squirrels. Léa cannot get enough of them. Just look at how they stand on their hind legs, rubbing their hands together as if they’re plotting something really…cute while chewing bubble gum.

Wine, a few leftover dusty beers and a calm dinner on a porch overlooking the lake and surrouding mountain range as the sun sets. These comforts take hold and we crash early.

The next day we take off on a boat, courtesy of my parents’ friends who have a house right on the lake. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out there, and I’m quickly reminded of the gem-like spectrum of clear blues and greens this lake has to offer. We have an excellent lunch alongside the lake, in good company.

The third day is our beach day. With more energy now we hit the ground running and make our way to one of the lake’s nicest beaches, with plenty of sand and lots of giant, round boulders piled on and off shore. The internets tell me:

Current geologic theory suggests an earthen berm (moraine) on the Truckee River left by a receding glacier near Squaw Valley, or the glacier itself, acted as a dam. This caused the lake level to rise and then draw down rapidly when the dam catastrophically failed. The epic-sized flood washed boulders the size of cars past present-day Reno, Nev. Between 7-15 thousand years ago, a four-mile segment of the West Shore collapsed into the Lake. The cataclysmic event caused a massive submerged debris avalanche, producing a 300-foot high tsunami and widened the Lake by three miles.

That’s really cool, right? And now it’s our playground. Just look at those boulders:

So, we get to the beach and are settling into our new spot, with our picnic in a cooler and neat folding chairs with backpack straps for the parents, putting on sunscreen, laying down towels and all of a sudden my mother asks me, “Oh god, is that a nipple ring?”

I realize this is the first time she’s seen it since I got it two years ago, and I’m oscillating between amused, defensive, embarrassed, surprised…she asks me “Why did you do that?” and all I can think to say is “Well, that’s personal” which is true…I’ve got zero tattoos and no other piercings and this one meant going a bit out on a limb for me, but I have my reasons, and as I’m thinking about this the thoughts are interrupted by a follow up question: she asks, “Is it erotic?”

We both look at each other, equally startled by the question and the awkward yet comedic silence it provokes, and realize the conversation is over.

“Um, I guess so…sometimes?”

My mother smirks and leaves confused.

So that was pretty funny. Anyways, after staring at the extremely friendly squirrels on the beach for a while we decide to go into the lake, swim to the rocks, do a bit of climbing, and eventually rent a standing paddle board to take a little tour of the coves nearby.


As the sun gets lower in the sky I am reminded that there is just barely enough time left in the day to relive my childhood passion of fishing for crawdads near my uncle’s old house on the lake. I think back on the hours I would spend enticing the critters with a piece of bacon tied to a string and slowly pulling them out of the water hoping they didn’t let go, and I am skeptical if there is really enough time to catch enough of them to eat for dinner, “because then what’s the point?”

My doubts are met with stark encouragement from Léa and my parents. They want this to happen, so we head out. And man, I have to say that it is MUCH easier to catch those little guys when you are 31, armed with zip ties, a broomstick, a sieve, and extra fatty bacon. Wading out behind the dock where I used to fish them over 20 years ago, Léa and I drop our bacon strings into the water and OUT THEY POUR. It was almost literally shooting fish in a barrel. We scoop them up, sometimes two at a time.

Léa made a delicious creamy shallot sauce to accompany our lakefood. Stuffed from this first course, followed by italian sausage, we went to bed with bellies full, practically unable to speak to each other.

Our last day was a hiking day as we set off on the bliss trail towards Emerald Bay. We took loads of pictures, and we saw a duck.

Oh, and here’s the duck:


Categories: Posts in English

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