When the cobalt waters of Lake Tahoe come into view through the mountains, I soak up the scenery and let memories flood my mind.
Those memories include lots of lazy days at the beach with picnics and barbecues, childhood summers spent fishing and feeding geese at the Tahoe Keys, and the year my family ran from a bear outside our condo in the mountains.
For as long as I can remember, my family has spent a week every summer enjoying the beaches around Lake Tahoe. The last three years, I haven’t gone. I’ve taken other trips or let work get in the way.
This year, Richard, my fiancé, and I went to Tahoe, just for a weekend. I’m glad we did. We visited with my family and spent a couple of days lounging on the beach.
Tahoe is one of my favorite places.
Tall pine trees stand like sentries guarding this precious piece of earth. Windy roads snake through snow-capped mountains. Salt-and-pepper beaches border a sparkling blue lake. Gentle breezes transform into whipping winds that send sunbathers scattering.
Tahoe is a place where many families come to enjoy nature’s beauty, where couples skirt the edge of the water and take walks along the shore, where children splash in cold waves and build sand castles to trample. A walk along a beach may reveal kids flying kites or hunting for penny-sized frogs hiding under driftwood.
When I was very young, my family went to the Tahoe Keys. I’ll always remember my aunt, who has since passed away, teaching my cousin and me how to fish on the dock there. She loved the outdoors and instilled that love in her son.
When the Tahoe Keys cabin got too pricey, my family moved to a timeshare condo in the mountains. We’re not campers and never have been.
During the summer, we usually spend our mornings and nights at the condo, and our days at Pope Beach, Nevada Beach or Sand Harbor. Sometimes we take my younger cousins miniature golfing or go souvenir shopping for Tahoe T-shirts. Whatever we do, we make sure we’re having fun.
Some summers we spend a day driving around the lake. It’s a gorgeous drive. Lookout points surround the water, such as one above Emerald Bay, where tourists can admire the view and take photos.
One of my family’s favorite Tahoe stories is the year we saw a bear outside our condo. It was about nine years ago, at dusk. My family – mom, sister, two aunts, two cousins and I – had just spent a day at the beach and stopped for dinner at a local burger joint.
Once we got back to the condo, we started unloading our beach bags from the car. My aunt discovered a bear next to the Dumpster. She ran back to the car, and frantically told us to get back inside. My teenage cousin almost got locked out.
When we thought the bear might be gone, we made a mad dash for our condo – it’s on a mountainside, up six flights of stairs. We made lots of noise and tried to look big to scare off the bear. We looked ridiculous, and as we ran from the bear, it ran from us.
I don’t know who we scared more that evening: the bear, my 2-year-old cousin who kept quietly asking about bears, or my teenage cousin, a high school football player, who slept on the floor in the loft that night rather than on the downstairs couch.
Tahoe is truly one of my favorite places.
Journalist Lauren Brooks lives in Chico. She is the editor of the Chico Enterprise-Record’s weekly entertainment guide, The Buzz. She is a CSU Chico alumna. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.