Before a couple weeks ago I’d never been to Lake Tahoe. To be honest, I’d never really known much about it. I hadn’t given it much thought at all, even after hearing the stories over the years from Whirl and her family. That’s all changed. I can happily state I am a fan of this spectacular place.
The trip was a family reunion. Everyone came from all over the West Coast– and the two of us from the Third Coast– to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Aunt Cynthia and Uncle Dennis. Twenty-three of us all together. Three generations. We spent a week there, at a rental property just outside Squaw Valley and down the road from Truckee. The site was no coincidence. Dennis grew up in Tahoe. He met Cynthia there. The two of them were married in a little church in Squaw Valley. Most of the family, at one point or another, has lived in the area for a time. And everyone– except me– had been there before.
I was the newcomer.
Which was fun to be. I got to see everything for the first time. Everything about the place was new to me. Certainly parts of it were familiar in a general way to my own experiences in Colorado, but this was someplace new. And nothing I’ve ever experienced can compare to the lake.
I swam in the lake– a little over a mile and a half in 56-degree water. The sun was shining and I’d brought along my wetsuit for just this occasion. It was exhilarating. We swam in the Truckee river, as well. We climbed all over the Squaw Valley ski resort. We went fishing. We cooked giant feasts for everyone for dinner. Played games of all sorts: from dominoes to euchre to Scrabble to ones that were made up on the spot.
One of the most interesting things was just listening to Dennis talk about his life there. Dennis is a builder, as were his father and grandfather. I talked with him at length about the various construction jobs he worked on in the area. From working on the construction of the dam at Stampede Reservoir to the rush of development that accompanied the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley and a number of homes along the north and west shores of the lake. I felt like I was visiting his giant backyard.
We took our photography gear with us and tried to capture some of the emotion and character of the place and the family.
It really was a great trip, with wonderful people to a beautiful place. Just what a summer vacation should be, I think.