Lake Tahoe by Kayak, Part Four

Yes, folks, I am still working on paddling my way around Lake Tahoe.   It’s a whopper goal so I didn’t really expect for it to be easy.   And, it hasn’t been.   To make it 72 miles, a strong paddler has to break it into at least six or seven segments.   And, well, that’s just not possible all in one shot for me.    I knew from the get-go that we would be making multiple trips to the lake and there would be issues.  Last year, we started in July and thought it was manageable to expect at least a September finish.   Wrong.   All sorts of things got in the way; road construction, a massive wildfire, bad weather, bad timing, a sinus infection and life.   Oh, well.   There’s always next year …

tallac reflections

Welcome to 2014!  There’s no time limit to this kind of goal so we are still paddling!  If you are just tuning into my little adventure here are links to my previous kayaking segments: PART ONE PART TWO and PART THREE so you can get your paddle up to speed.

the view from the south shore ... paddle style
the view from the south shore … paddle style

Today, I am going to share my first kayak of 2014.   My paddle buddy and I decided to pick one of the most scenic and popular routes on Memorial Day weekend.   Why?   Well, why not?   And, I think we might have been hoping that going early in the season (albeit during prime time opening day) that some of the crowds would have forgotten to back their boat for a weekend at Tahoe.   We might have been right and just a little lucky.   It turned out to be a gorgeous warm day and not too crowded.  (Lucky us!)

We put in our boats at Lester Beach at Rubicon Point in D.L. Bliss State Park early in the morning, paddled through Emerald Bay and around Fannette Island then on to south shore’s Pope Beach.   No small feat in nearly 9 miles of paddling on out of shape arms, let me tell you.    Including our stop at Fannette Island in Emerald Bay at the “Tea Room” for photos, our boats spent about five hours on the water.   No joke, I was tired.   I think I am still am.   My arms are telling me that last statement is just all too true.   OUCH.

Of course, there are too many stories to tell from kayaking for that long but I don’t want to bore you with stories of eagle watching and calling seagulls in Emerald Bay “bagels.”   (Get it??   Bay-gulls.  Har-har.)   I know the real reason that I was out there was to get some awesome photos.   And, that I did.   How about a look?

First, we set out from Rubicon Point at Lester Beach, found the old lighthouse and got an osprey surprise:

 

Then, we entered Emerald Bay.   Vikingsholm Castle and Fannette Island are located here.    We didn’t stop for the castle but we did make it around the island and up to the “Tea Room.”   I have been to Emerald Bay many times and always wanted to get out on the island.   This was a big deal for me!

Just based on the number of photos alone, I should have split this post into several.   But, I can’t hold back.   There was just too much awesome.

Did I mention I fell out of the kayak at Fannette Island?   Yup.  Cold, cold water.   I didn't mind, though.   It was still a good day.
Did I mention I fell out of the kayak at Fannette Island? Yup. Cold, cold water. I didn’t mind, though. It was still a good day.

For the record, all photos were taken with my Nikon CoolPix AW100.   It’s a good, waterproof point-and-shoot.

Please leave me a comment with your feedback or just a “like” to let me know that you stopped by the blog.   Thanks!

The McKeen Motor Car

Saturday, May 10, 2014, was National Train Day.    The Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City celebrated this occasion by honoring a very special train (and guests) with some runs on their short track.   The museum offered tours and rides on the Virginia & Truckee Railway’s McKeen Motor Car No. 22.

engineer on the line

The McKeen Motor Car originally entered service on May 9, 1910, and was retired in 1945.   This special beauty is now 104 years old.  And, it is the only restored and fully operable McKeen Motor Car in the world.   No. 22 was granted National Historic Landmark status by the Secretary of the Interior in 2012.

The train car has a gas powered engine and was used for mostly passenger traffic between Reno and Minden, Nevada.  It was sold by the railway in 1946, spent a short time as a diner and then a plumbing supply office until 1996 when it was donated to the Nevada State Railroad Museum.   It has taken over $1 million dollars and countless man hours of work to restore the motor car.   But, ooooh, it was so worth it.   This is a spectacular train.

coming into the station

Inside the engine room at the front of the train
Inside the engine room at the front of the train
sleek "wind splitter" lines
sleek “wind splitter” lines
looking out the back windows
looking out the back windows
from the back of the motor through to the engine room
from the back of the motor through to the engine room
a conductor enjoys the ride
a conductor enjoys the ride
all aboard!
all aboard!

front light 22passengers tree viewwabuskaold windmillfront at the platformwindow details

and, a selfie ... from inside the motor car
and, a selfie … from inside the motor car

 

 

Mystery Rolls of Film

 

 

If you have been reading my 52Rolls adventures, you probably already know that I happened into a big, box of vintage cameras and been having all kinds of fun figuring out which cameras work or what they do.   It has been a big inspiration on getting through a roll of film each week.   It has also increased the price of this little project significantly.   But, it’s all for the love of film, right?

image
just a portion of my camera loot … I’m a lucky girl

A bigger bonus in the box of cameras was the discovery of FOUR rolls of exposed film that had not been processed.   If you are a film geek like me, this is a Christmas treasure.   Just imagine what wonderful images could possibly be on those rolls of film?   Treasures from the past.

It did not even remotely occur to me that I didn’t know who had taken the photos or that they might be weird/obscene/ruin my perfectly normal relationship with the film developer that I have been sending film to this year.   Not, that is, until AFTER I had sent them off.   A twinge of worry set it at that moment and did not go away until I got the email.   This could end up very awkward.

The Darkroom sends an email when they receive your film and then when it has been processed so you can see it online.   They also send prints or your negatives back to you in the mail.   I love this place.

The email came that two rolls were blank.   I was bummed.   Disappointed.  Then, I waited another day before a new email arrived.

“Your Images Have Been Processed.”

THE OTHER TWO HAD IMAGES!   I was so excited.   It really was Christmas for me.

Thankfully, the photos were perfectly normal and probably boring to most people.   What.A.Relief.

And, since I do actually know the person who knew the people (his family) that the cameras had belonged to, we went on a mission to discover what/who/where/when for the following photos.   Enjoy!

This came off a roll of 120 film in one of the older cameras that I found.   No clue on actual photo date but it is a shot of my friend's great grandparent's dining room.
This came off a roll of 120 film in one of the older cameras that I found. No clue on actual photo date but it is a shot of my friend’s great grandparent’s dining room.
Same roll of 120 film, same house.   We have not yet identified the woman.   I was impressed by the relatively lavish furnishings.
Same roll of 120 film, same house. We have not yet identified the woman. I was impressed by the relatively lavish furnishings.
San Francisco trolley car in the late 1970s, shot on 110 film.
San Francisco trolley car in the late 1970s, shot on 110 film.
San Francisco Court House,  same roll of 110 film.  The fountain area was removed after the 1989 earthquake and is now grass but the rows of trees are still there.
San Francisco Court House, same roll of 110 film. The fountain area was removed after the 1989 earthquake and is now grass but the rows of trees are still there.
Albeit blurry, this is a shot of south Reno from above Windy Hill looking down to Bartley Ranch and the Harrah's Ranch.    Same roll of 110, probably late 70s.
Albeit blurry, this is a shot of south Reno from above Windy Hill looking down to Bartley Ranch and the Harrah’s Ranch. Same roll of 110, probably late 70s.

The following shots are of a 1967 Ford Mustang.    My friend still owns this car and it is his favorite.   I think it tinkled him to discover the photos of the car on the old camera.   Partially, because the camera was his mom’s and … well, you know how that stuff goes.   The best part of this story is that THIS car in THESE photos was how I met my friend in the first place.   He ran into the back of my 1987 Suzuki Samurai with this beautiful Mustang.   I was so mad at him that I was speechless.   The damage was minor, we were in a parking lot at the time.   I was pissed that he had scratched my car but even madder at him that he had scratched it with such a beautiful Mustang.

919442011919442062919441993

And, now, the photos have made it a full circle from my friend’s family all the way back to my friendship with him.

I believe there’s a little bit of kismet in these photos, don’t you think?

 

 

Butterfly Sculpture

An interesting tidbit about Reno, Nevada, is that there is a nice art thing going on in “The Biggest Little City in the World.”   Do you think of art and culture when you think of Reno?   Hmmmm …

Reno is home to a month long summer celebration of art.   Every July, Artown takes over and there are tons of daily activities from world-renown musicians to hometown heroes with all kinds of creative talents.   Then, August swelters into September and Labor Day weekend is the pinnacle of the Burning Man festival on the playa of the Black Rock Desert not too far from the casino lights of town.

While I was on my photowalk with film a couple of weeks ago for the 52 Rolls project, I found a butterfly, a BIG one.

butterfly wf

 

What on earth is a big, steel, butterfly thing doing next to the temporary ice rink in downtown Reno?    Well, back to all of that stuff about art and Burning Man.   This sculpture piece by Bryan Tedrick was part of an installation at Burning Man in 2008.    The downtown renovation project brought the sculpture to this location last summer and the website lists it as temporary but I hope it stays.

If you think this looks interesting black and white, you should see some of the other artist’s photographs in color by light of the moon in the desert.   Bryan’s website has several photos but a quick Google search shows how well photographed this sculpture is.    There are a couple of interpretations on what the butterfly and flower-type petals represent but I’ll let you soak it in and decide what you see.

downtown butterfly

 

butterfly sunflower

 

The Clock

Throughout my childhood, this wonderful, old clock was always at the main shopping mall in Reno, Nevada, known as Park Lane Mall.   The times have changed and that mall is long gone, now demolished and an empty parking lot.   The clock, however, was saved and recently re-installed in downtown Reno.   As a child, I had no idea how much history this clock held but, now, I know there is a storied past to this timepiece.

the clock

I took this photo as part of my film project with 52 rolls.   This set was all taken with my Nikon FM2.

Back to the clock, there is a nice engraving that was added to the base of the clock that gives a good bit of information:

clock engraving

 

And, the photo turned into a little bit of a selfie for me, too.   Bonus.

nevadan clock

 

Downtown Reno isn’t the grandest of locations for such a spectacular clock but there is a renovation/revitalization effort in the area.   I think this is a great place for the clock and a good reminder of the history that has happened in “The Biggest Little City.”   I hope that it is well-taken care of in this spot and that people respect it.

Just look at the inner workings on this clock, they don’t make them like this anymore.

inside the clock

 

 

New Year, New Toys

Santa was pretty good to me this year and I acquired a new DSLR for Christmas, the Nikon D5300.    Let’s just say it is a pretty significant upgrade from my Nikon D40x, which served me well.    So, it has taken a few weeks for me to get the hang of the new controls and software adjustments.

I went for a nature walk today with my family near my home and here are some of my results from the first photo walk with this bad boy.   I think you will agree that I am lucky in more than a few ways.   I live in an awesome area with beautiful blue skies, the Nikon captures that blue nicely and, more importantly, I have an pretty darn cool family that spoils me (and will let me drag them outdoors for fun with my camera).

This first image is completely SOOC (Straight Out of Camera):

wetland SOOC

I didn’t adjust these two much in post-processing but I think they all came out nicely.

slide mountain with trees     nature trail

The camera came with a kit 18-140mm VR lens that I am loving.   It is really nice.  The camera feels great, not too heavy.   Nikon added some ergonomic touches that really make the camera feel like part of your hand.   I love that.  On the technical side, I stayed in AUTO.  (I know, I know.)   I’m working on getting a better grasp of the focal points in the viewfinder before I worry about how to use the manual controls.   That’s a bigger goal for me this year — get out of AUTO and really figure out that whole exposure triangle.   I’ll post more about that later but, I will be heading back to school on this one.   Nikon School for me this summer!   I’m pretty excited about it.   Never hurts to learn something new!

Here’s one more from today … a full panorama of from Slide Mountain to Washoe City.   Boom.   Pretty stunning, huh?

washoe lake pano from wetlands

Bristlecone Pine

The bristlecone pine trees of Great Basin National Park are some of the oldest known trees in existence.   These high-altitude, gnarly trees have been dated to more the 4,900 years old.   From the Wheeler Peek campground at over 10,000 feet in elevation, there is an easy, 3-mile round trip, hike to the tree grove.   My four year old managed the trek and, if it hadn’t rained on us the entire way back, it would have been a perfect adventure for him.

I think the trees are extremely beautiful.   Let me know in the comments if you agree.

Vacation Days

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is but vacation days are better than regular days.   You know, those ‘going to work days’ or even just the ones where you stay home on the weekend aren’t the same as official vacation ones.    I have a ton of new photos to share but thought I would give you a quick peek into some recent vacation days.    We made the drive across all of Northern Nevada to Great Basin National Park which borders on Utah.   You can expect to see more in the upcoming days … enjoy.

Lake Tahoe by Kayak, Part Two

Today’s journey via kayak starts in Tahoe City, CA, and paddles to Kings Beach, where we left off in the last post.

I’m not worried about paddling in order clockwise or anything like that in order to achieve the full circumnavigate goal.   I’m fortunate to live close enough to just drive up to the lake when I have free time to do another section.    I have seen several websites dedicated to a full camping adventure via kayak around the lake.   And, I have noticed that several attempts failed for one reason or another because of the length, weather and access.   I’m hoping that I get to all of my sections before the summer is over and I would have to contend with snow.   Wish me luck!

I really like the Lake Tahoe Water Trail website that I mentioned in the first post.   There is a lot of useful information and great maps.   Here’s the full view of Lake Tahoe:

Lake Tahoe map

On the website, the map highlights sections for suggested routes but I am finding that the logistics for what I am trying to accomplish doesn’t work to use their day trips.    I do like the information that is available about parking and boat ramps.   Good stuff.   And, I also think it’s funny that Lake Tahoe looks like a foot with weird shaped toes.

This is the view from Tahoe City's Commons Beach where we started.   Nice morning.
This is the view from Tahoe City’s Commons Beach where we started. Nice morning.
All the public beaches are hopping with vendors renting kayaks and paddle boards.
All the public beaches are hopping with vendors renting kayaks and paddle boards.
I loved this tug boat looking 'yacht.'
I loved this tugboat-looking ‘yacht.’
Looks like a good place to have lunch, right?
Looks like a good place to have lunch, right?
My lunchtime view
My lunchtime view
My lunch buddy--this is as close as she will let me photograph her.   She's shy.
My lunch buddy–this is as close as she will let me photograph her.
As always, the water is mesmerizingly beautiful.
As always, the water is mesmerizingly beautiful.

After lunch, the wind picked up and the paddling was pretty choppy.   Carnelian Bay is a great place to visit on Tahoe so everyone was there, in a boat, kayak or on a paddle board.   It was crowded in the water.    I have a horrible video that I am opting to not post but it makes you seasick to watch it and there are boats buzzing by everywhere.   That tells you how the rest of the afternoon went for this trip.    I had a headache when we brought our kayaks into the truck and my paddle buddy felt worse that I did.   We accomplished 9.2 miles of  headwind kayaking and we looked like it.

See that guy?   He's wearing a fedora in a kayak.   Douchebag.
See that guy? He’s wearing a fedora in a kayak. Douchebag.
Hot Diggity Dog!   That kinda looks like fun.
Hot Diggity Dog! That kinda looks like fun.

And, last but not least, I found a dead balloon floating in the water.    I thought it was the right thing to do by scooping it up and throwing it in the trash.    And, it reminded me of a blog post from someone else who does the same … if you get a chance, go check out windagainstcurrent.com.   These kayakers know their stuff and seem to catch a lot of balloons along the way.

red balloon

Point Pinos Lighthouse, California

pp lighthouse

The Point Pinos LIghthouse in Pacific Grove, California, is about five minutes (depending on traffic) away from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.   If you are planning a visit, this is a great side trip and is much less crowded than Cannery Row or any of the downtown area.

I became a lighthouse nerd a few years ago when my family took a camping trip up the Oregon coast and we stopped at all of the lighthouse along the way.   I have a little lighthouse “passport” and the volunteers or tour docents that work the lighthouse have stamps and stickers for the book when you present it to them.   It’s a fun thing and we always buy a book or magnet from the gift shop.   Lighthouse restoration and preservation seems like a pretty decent cause to donate a little cash to, right?

Point Pinos is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast of the United States.   It has been flashing a Fresnel lens nightly since February 1, 1855.

pp light

There is even a golf course just outside the lighthouse with fantastic ocean views.   Oh, and the deer don’t seem to mind if you play through, either.   Wow.   Deer.   Right in the middle of a town.  (If you knew how crowded this part of California actually is, you would share my awe.)

pp light golfers

pp light deer

We weren’t there during the right time of year but, apparently, Pacific Grove is also known as Butterfly Town for the Monarch butterflies that migrate through during the winter.   Have you ever been there to see the butterflies?   I’m certain it’s nothing short of spectacular.