Lake Tahoe

When Janie and I got to the top of the pass and down into the basin of Lake Tahoe, we passed several casinos on the Nevada side of the lake. Within a couple of miles, we were back in California and arriving at the doorstep of my mother’s best friend, Joyce. Her smile, when she saw me, lit up and her first words were that I look just like my mother. Joyce and Mom were best friends from their early 20s and the distance between them for many of the intervening years never dulled their kinship. When Joyce visited Mom in 2008, I watched my mother beam and laugh and the years fell away.

Mom died just 2 years ago in October and it was a gift for me to spend a few days with her best friend, hearing new stories from long ago about my parents and basking a bit in the glow of someone who remembers me from my earliest days. “Did you know Ellen could recite the pledge of allegiance flawlessly when she was just 4 years old?”, she asked Janie. Joyce also looks a lot like my mom. Her hair is much the same, her eyes crinkle when she smiles, her jeans hang a little big on her. Her sense of humor is always at the ready and just a bit sarcastic. She is generous and thoughtful and very fun to be around. I wasn’t surprised to dream of Mom that night, seeing her smile at me from somewhere. Joyce’s husband, Marty, is kind as well, and takes good care to make sure that Joyce hears everything with her cochlear implant, enunciating slowly and carefully and letting me know when she missed something.

Coincidentally, Janie’s mother also had a friend in the same area, down the pass in Nevada, so after a conversational filled evening, she left in the morning for a couple of days of reminiscing of her own.

Joyce’s health is challenging her, especially with breathing problems, so Marty took me down to Carson City to run errands and see the sights the next day. When I heard where we were going, I got excited as it just happened to be my cycling friend Jean Jacob’s 72nd birthday and her son has a bicycling shop in Carson City. I had a nice chat with Jean, who had just finished a celebratory bike ride in high winds in Tennessee, and later got to visit with her son.

The next day Joyce and Marty took me around the Lake for a tour. It is a huge and beautiful lake. The water is clear and has a bluish-green tinge, especially in Emerald Bay. There are 12 ski areas around it and homes from little vacation cabins to huge mansions by the water. At the northern end,we stopped for lunch where I had green eggs and ham (I’ll add a picture at the end). Marty took me into a casino where the California and Nevada side come together. The line runs right through the fireplace.

After the tour, I took a little walk on the forest trails near their house. Marty armed me with a golf club in case I ran into one of the many coyotes and bears that live there. The bears often frequent their neighborhood and even stole the fudgiscles from their neighbor’s garage freezer.

Janie joined us for a huge waffle, egg and bacon breakfast before we headed north. We made a stop in Reno where we discovered the Sierra Trading Post outlet, a treasure for those of us who like active clothing. I got a pair of pants to take with me on my international trip at a good price. During lunch there at a Whole Foods, we chose our route to Lassen National Park and booked a motel room in Chester, California. Back up in the mountains, we have a little knotty pine room near the park. The owner left our room open and a note on the office door as she was attending her son’s homecoming football game.

There were two young men at our door as we pulled in. It turns out that they had a flat tire and were looking for a ride back into town to inflate their spare tire. We gave them a ride back and heard their stories before returning to town for one more diner dinner. This was the Cotton Candy diner and we shared some pink, spun sugar for desert. It feels like we are back in time again here in the mountains. These few days it has been a pleasure to live in the present and the past all at once.





Leave a comment


  1. Phyllis Biegun

     /  October 22, 2011

    Hi Ellen, I am greatly enjoying your adventure (although I must admit to a bit of envy). Boogie on girl! Phyllis

  2. Dawn Fogarty

     /  October 22, 2011

    I love reading your blogs Ellen – you are very gifted in that department as well as all the others. Ever think about a book? Sounds like a fantastic trip so far! Enjoy! Dawn xoxo

  3. Lee

     /  October 22, 2011

    Ellen, I’ve been thinking of you a lot and enjoying all your posts. But this one especially moved me, with the mention of your mother [two years?? Hard to believe!] because it brought back memories of many wonderful visits with her in those last months. I was so grateful to have that chance to get to know her better.

    Hope the rest of your travels are as interesting, and as much fun, as these early days have been. Take good care. much love, Lee


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