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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 26
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Lake Tahoe Photo Outing
Thursday 15 September 2011   —   Category: Outings






I used to go to Lake Tahoe with my family every summer during high school and junior college, but I have not been there much since then. So it was a real treat when my parents invited us for a week’s vacation there at the beginning of the low season shortly after Labor Day.

We started the week getting up early to go to Finley Refuge, and we ended the week getting up early to head out to Tahoe! In order to cut down on the travel time, we took some back roads, from Weed, California on State Route 89 and State Route 44 through Susanville, and then on U.S. Route 395 through Reno, Nevada — a route we had never taken before. After taking Interstate 80 from Reno to Truckee, we made it — in ten-and-a-half hours — to the rental house in Carnelian Bay, on the north shore of the lake.

We had a pretty full week there, and each outing was a new photographic adventure. The weather was not the greatest — almost every afternoon there were thunderstorms. But we were able to go out in the morning and early afternoon before the rain hit. And the thunderheads definitely made for great backgrounds in the pictures we took!

Besides hanging out around Tahoe’s north shore, we also visited other popular sites in the area. One day we drove down to Emerald Bay. There is an excellent view from the parking lot of the bay and the surrounding area. We walked the steep, one-mile road down to Vikingsholm, a magnificent Scandinavian-style mansion on the lake shore, which is now a California state park. The mile-long walk back UP hill to the car sure made us realize how steep the path really is!

The next day we made the 50-mile drive to Virginia City, Nevada. Because of the daily thunderstorms, we decided to take the longer, safer route via Nevada State Route 28 and U.S. Route 50, rather than the potentially-more-dangerous, curvy Nevada State Route 431. Better safe than sorry!

We spent some time walking around town, and after a while had a so-so lunch in one of the restaurants. The highlight of the visit was having our picture taken at Priscilla Pennyworth’s Old Time Photos.

Exactly twenty years earlier we had an old-time photo taken of us family members, dressed up in old-west-style clothes. So it was fun to go back and have another photo taken, this time with my kids, and more gray hairs! In the photos to the right, the top old-time one is from 1991, while the bottom was is the new one from 2011. In both photos, I’m on the far right. Looks like the family has deteriorated into a gang of outlaws! I guess that’s what happens from hanging around the saloon too much!

If you’re ever in the area, you’ll have to be sure to stop by Priscilla’s and have your picture taken — it’s great fun!

We made it back to our rental house just as the mid-afternoon thunderstorms were breaking. For the first part of the week we were happy to stay inside and watch the final days of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

The next morning I woke up with a very, very sore and stiff back. I’m not sure what I did, but it was pretty painful. But I didn’t want to be a wimp and just lay in bed all day. So I forced myself to get up, and on the way to our planned outing at Donner Pass, I stopped at the CVS pharmacy in Truckee to buy a back support. That definitely helped!

From Truckee it’s just a short drive up to Donner Pass. This is a gorgeous place — another photographer’s delight! Even though I have been to Tahoe many times in my life, this was the very first time I had gone to see the pass. On the way up we stopped at the Donner Summit Bridge — also known as “Rainbow Bridge.” It was completed in 1926 as part of the original Lincoln Highway, which was the first automobile road that crossed the U.S. from coast to coast. Later, the section of the highway in the West was renamed US Route 40.

After Interstate 80 was built in the early 1960’s, the California portion of US Route 40 became obsolete and was decommissioned. The section of the old highway here is now called Donner Pass Road. The bridge was in the news a few years ago when a 250-pound bear became stuck at the top of the arch underneath the bridge. We didn’t see any bears, but we did enjoy the awesome views from this spot.

Next, we drove a bit further and parked near the top of the pass. From there, we walked past the Donner Ski Ranch — there was no snow, but just five months before this, in April, there was 21 feet of snow on the ground! It was a short hike north to nearby Lake Angela, where we stopped for a picnic lunch. This is a tiny but stunningly beautiful alpine lake, at 7,200 feet (2,215 meters) in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

The next day it was time for the long trip back home, which seemed even longer because of my bum back. I’m happy to report that we got lots of great shots — as usual, I took hundreds of photos, which I have narrowed down to the best 76, including a handful taken by my wife and daughters. Check them out in the Tahoe 2011 photo album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 26
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 26
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