Where There’s Smoke …

Where there’s smoke, there is no kayaking.    Ugh.

In case you haven’t heard, there is a huge fire roaring on the edge of Yosemite in California aptly named The Rim Fire.   Normally, a fire more than 100 miles away wouldn’t be that big of a deal.   This is no ordinary fire.   Currently, it has burned more than 250 square miles and all of that smoke is landing on Northern Nevada.   It is so gross that there are major health advisories to stay indoors and, seriously, it is hard to breath.   We are talking worse than Beijing air quality here, people!

So, that means I did not go kayaking last weekend and I will probably not go this weekend.   And, ultimately, that is killing my summer goal of making it around Lake Tahoe via kayak.   The weather and the water are cold.   That’s not good for kayaking, either.   Well, not when you don’t really have cold weather gear.   My kayak buddy isn’t that into cold weather kayaking either.   This is turning into a big bummer.

Let me show you how bad the smoke is.  This is a comparison from my backyard:


And, here’s the sunrise:


And, for good measure, here is a shot taken by someone on a flight to Los Angeles.   Those NASA people can even see the fire from the International Space Station:


Another one from the local newspaper, this is just how smoke-gross it is in downtown Reno.  Photo by Marilyn Newton, RGJ.com:


Lake Tahoe by Kayak, Part Three

We’re almost half way around the lake!    In case you are just tuning in to my kayak adventures, here’s PART ONE and PART TWO so you can get your paddle up to speed.

This weekend we added another segment to the circumnavigate Tahoe journey:   Rubicon Bay to Sunnyside on the west shore of the lake.   The goal was originally to make it another two miles to Tahoe City where we left off last paddle but the winds and boat traffic picked up and just made it miserable.   So, we took the opportunity to meet some friends on the beach and call it a day.   We added 10 water miles to our total, putting us at roughly 30-ish of the total 72 miles around the lake.   And, yes, my arms are sore!

My kayaking buddy has several boat options so this week’s paddle was done in a double-seater.   We were a little worried about our mileage and thought we could make better time in the double.   Last time, we averaged about 2 miles per hour and this week we brought it up to 3 miles per hour.   Pretty good, eh?

5 tyak feet

And, in case you were wondering, Lake Tahoe is notorious for its cold water.   I think the average summer temperature of the water is usually high 50s, maybe 60 degrees.   Brrrrr.    This is a common beach sign:

1 a tyak extremely cold water


So, take notes, water peeps.   It’s chilly out there!   We’ve gotten lucky and had decent weather but, even on the good days, let’s not pretend this is the warm Caribbean or anything.   I can’t imagine what 80 degree water actually feels like.   Weird.

What’s your favorite water spot?   Is warm or cold?   I’d love to get some water time on Tahoe this winter because I love the snow but I’m not sure that I have enough gear to protect myself from the icy water.   And, some of the portage points are not available in the winter.    I might have to reconsider that idea.

Stay tuned … more adventures and photos will be posted soon!

Roadside Sunflowers


I take pictures all day.   While I’m driving, I see things that would look good on real film.   I see things that would be fun to Instagram.   When I’m at work, I imagine how everything would look with a digital filter.

These sunflowers grow wild on the side of the road every summer.   They are wild and free.


Now, they are mine to share with you.

Get outside and enjoy some summer.   Maybe, take a picture or two.

Morning Kayaking

This past week, I have been at the annual camping spot.  My husband’s family has been setting up shop in the same spot for the last few years and it’s always a ton of fun to get everyone together.   Most of us live in the Reno area but there a few Californians that travel up to visit and Stampede Reservoir is a nice mid-point for everyone.   We are a good group so there’s lots to look forward to at big, family mealtimes and lazy afternoons on the lake shores.

But, my special treat is to wake up ridiculously early and kayak.   It’s just me and a few early bird fishermen before the water skiers that drank too much around the campfire the night before manage to roll out of their campsites and fire up the ski boats.

And, now, thanks to a waterproof Nikon, I can share some of it with you:

glassy waters


the peninsula

So, where is this oasis?   Stampede Reservoir is just outside of Truckee, California.   I did a little homework and discovered that the man-made dam was built in 1970 as a Bureau of Reclamation project.   For more info, click HERE.   If you are interested in the local fishing report, click HERE.  I’m not into fishing but was impressed by the Mountain Hardware site.   It’s a pretty neat store for all kinds of stuff in Truckee, too.

Back to kayaking …

if you look really hard, you can see some of my family’s campers … sorta

tree reflection

I wanted to lean over and do a selfie here but had the sense to not tempt fate and end up in the cold water.
I wanted to lean over and do a selfie here but had the sense to not tempt fate and end up in the cold water.

I did a little video of some morning zen paddling to share with you, check it out on YouTube HERE.   I haven’t figured out how (or paid for the upgrade) to embed the video into the blog so you’re just going to have to deal with clicking through to it.

Have you been out on the water this summer?

Now, for some artsy stuff:

bw feather in colorbw feather

There were tons of feathers floating on the water all morning.   This is a shot including the reflection.   Which do you like better: color or black and white?



Mountain Trails

One of the best things about Nevada is that there are tons of mountain trails into the vast open spaces.    This is a glimpse of one of the trails from my house into the woods.   I love the ATV tracks in the dirt.   It is interesting how much the desert changes when you get to the mountains–by far, the best part of having an ATV is being able to get to these places.

z quad trail closer tracks

Sometimes, it is a lot of work to get out to the middle of nowhere but the reward is always an incredible view.   This is Mount Rose from way back in the Virginia Range between Virginia City and Fernley.    Way out in the boondocks.

z mt rose full

Wild Horses

One of the best things about where I live is that horses run freely through the desert mountains.    It takes a little while to get accustomed to their nature but it is truly inspiring to see them be wild and free.  And, I don’t know about you but having snowy mountains and pine trees for a backdrop doesn’t hurt my feelings either.

As the stories go, the early pioneers had to set loose their livestock and that is how the first bands of wild horses started.   Today, there are many groups of feral horses throughout the state and the Bureau of Land Management still does horse roundups .  There is much controversy on this point.   For me,  I am happy to enjoy the ones in my neck of the woods for their true beauty.

All photos were taken just outside of Reno, Nevada, near Virginia City.

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Lake Tahoe is incredible.    I have lived near here my entire life and it still takes my breath away to look at this glorious jewel of the Sierras.

According to the United States Geological Survey, “Lake Tahoe is located along the border of California and Nevada. About one-third of the basin is in Nevada and two-thirds is in California. The basin is bounded by the Sierra Nevada to the west and the Carson Range to the east. The Lake Tahoe Basin was formed by geologic block (normal) faulting about 2 to 3 million years ago. The down-dropping of the Lake Tahoe Basin and the uplifting of the adjacent mountains resulted in dramatic topographic relief in the region. Mountain peaks rise to more than 10,000 ft (3,048 m) above sea level. The surface of Lake Tahoe has an average elevation of about 6,225 ft (1,897 m).

Lake Tahoe was occupied by the Washoe Tribe for many centuries. The Washoe Indians were hunting and fishing in the area long before General John C. Fremont encountered it in 1844 during his exploration of the Far West. Since then, public appreciation of Lake Tahoe has grown. Efforts were made during the 1912, 1913, and 1918 congressional sessions to designate the basin as a national park but were unsuccessful.”

The name Tahoe has an interesting and disputed history.   According to tales and Mark Twain-style facts, the lake has been called  a variety of names my map-makers and early settlers such as Lake Fremont, Mountain Lake and even officially named Lake Bigler after California’s third governor, John Bigler.

I prefer some of the tales that are outlined by http://www.rubiconbay.net/name.htm as follows:

John Charles Fremont, in 1844, had heard “Tah-ve” from the friendly Washoe Indians defined as “snow.” Henry DeGroot, who listened attentively to the Washoes and Paiutes, interpreted “Tah-oo-e” as meaning “much water” and “Tah-oo” as simply “water.” Other spellings of the word were given as “Taa-joe,” “Ta-ho,” “Ta-jo,” and even “Pah-hoe.” To complicate matters further a Nevada newsman voiced the opinion that “Ta-au” in Washoe dialect was pronounced “Was-soo” and sometimes even “Da-au” with the word meaning “lake.”

Clear water, deep water, big water, snow water, and fish lake were additional fist shaking translations argued back and forth with every interpretation actually the opinion of some white man.

One of the more logical explanations of how the word Tahoe came to be applied to the lake is that Spanish explorers preceded Fremont in the discovery of this body of water, possibly in the early 1800’s and noting its obvious resemblance to a deep chasm filled with water gave it the Spanish name, “Tajo,” pronounced “Ta-ho.”

As “Tajo” is variously translated “cleft,” incision” and “cut,” in addition to chasm, it is conjectured that “Tajo” could have entered the Washoe Indian vocabulary as easily as other Spanish words have entered native languages.

Pronunciation of the word Tahoe has also been the source of heated debate for nearly a century. Pioneer Lakers pronounce “Ta-hoe” as “Tay-hoe,” and the true mark of the early lake resident is the inflection he or she gives the word. One venerable gentleman, who had lived 80 years in the Tahoe region, insisted that tey always used to say “Tay-ho” and “Tellec.” Another old-timer with a background of seven and on-half decades at the lake indicated that “Tay-ho” was the accepted pronunciation until the steamer Tahoe was launched in 1896, at which time the pronunciation was changed to “Ta-hoe.”

Editor R. E. Wood, writing in the Tahoe Tattler during the summer of 1881, added and element of confusion to the accepted version of Tahoe’s early day pronunciation. He chided his readers, “Only the Washoe Indians say ‘Tay-hoe,’ the white men say, and correctly so, ‘Ta-hoe’.”

The generally accepted interpretation of Tahoe today is “Big Water” and, in spite of the eminent Mark Twain’s views, Tahoe symbolizes the epitome of magnificence found in those high country reaches of the world wherever blue sky, towering mountain peaks and snow water combine.

This holds true today with the name Tahoe, although it took a full 75 years from the passing of the statute legalizing Lake Bigler, before the California Legislature solemnly convened and rescinded the act.

The new statute read, “The lake known as Bigler shall hereinafter be known as Lake Tahoe.” A spirited issue had at last been laid to rest.”

For us here in the Sierras, winter hasn’t fully arrived yet even though we do currently have a touch of snow.   The ski resorts are making snow and will open this weekend.  Take one last look at some Indian Summer shots of “Big Water” and let me know what you think.