If I had lived near Lake Tahoe in my adolescence, I would have never graduated from high school, much less college. In this beautiful spot there are fun things to do outside literally year round. Although the lake is surrounded by high desert, the mountains that ring it are snow covered much of the year. There are numerous resorts for downhill and cross country skiing as well as snow boarding. In the warmer months people come here to camp, mountain bike, hike, fish, golf, kayak, windsurfing, canoe, horseback ride, snorkel, water ski, boat and swim. The lure of the out-of-doors would have kept me away from my books. But since we are old, we had a great day taking a boat ride on the lake and driving around much of the perimeter. The lake shore has a schizophrenic identify, depending on whether you are on the Nevada or California side. There are none of the traditional "welcome to..." signs. But whenever you are driving past casino after casino, there's no question where you are.
Even though it is in the desert, Lake Tahoe has enough water to supply everyone in the US with more than 75 gallons of water per day for five years. It holds enough water to cover the entire state of California with fourteen inches of water. The average depth is 989 feet and the water is 97% pure. The lake never freezes and the water below 700 feet is a constant temperature of 39º because it is fed by underground springs. Since it is 6,200 feet above sea level it is considered an alpine lake.
The only island that pierces the surface of the water is in Emerald Bay. In the 1920's a very rich woman bought Fannette Island and the nearby shore line. She had a tea house built at the top of the island and a rustic great house built on shore. Thanks to overenthusiastic partying, all that remains of the teahouse is the stone walls after the rest burned down. It's hard to afford an ancient great house located off the beaten track these days, so it was donated to the state. During the summer you can hike a mile down to the house for a tour, but we are here during the off-season. Even so, the perimeter road was busy enough. At one overlook, we had to use my expired handicapped sticker once again to find a spot to linger long enough to take a photo of the island from above. All along the shoreline we saw white buoys. If we had been in Maine, we would have thought they were markers for lobster pots, but here they were spots for boats to tie up. At the southern end of the lake, the sky looked noticeably white, rather than the deep blue this area is noted for. It was smoke from the forest fires southwest of here, creeping over the mountains the way fog usually does. A sad reminder of all the suffering gong on not too far from here.