Want to Pack More Passion and Meaning into Your Life?

“From the Desert to the Mountains to the Sea and all the Pristine Rivers, Lakes and Islands in Between.”

Find more meaning and happiness in your life.  Try before you buy.

The great thing about living where others spend their vacation is the year round quality-of-life. What’s on your Bucket List? Try these …

Lakes and Mountains. No, it wasn’t an April Fools joke by some family member. Unless you count everyone’s mother, Mother Nature. It’s Spring.  But don’t try to cheer up all those folks delayed at Lake Tahoe by an avalanche for most of the day on Highway 50.

Deserts and Flowers. Maybe those families and locals and tourists stuck in Heavenly traffic should have headed to the desert instead. Wait, flowers in the desert? Yup, this years’ super bloom.

Secluded Islands. No not Oahu, Maui, Kauai or the Big Island (well those are fine too), but the quiet, friendly island of Molokai.  The one that gets no respect – or tourist attention. The one that gives you room to roam. Or consider visiting Beguia, the tiny Grenadine Island, off the beaten path.

Seas and Whales. It’s that time of year again when the humpback whales command everyone’s attention off the coast of Maui.  Except for that boat that struck a whale calf near the southern tip of the Island. By everyone it’s nearly 450 volunteers who help track and record 219 humpback whales one last time in 2019.

Islands and Cultures. Timing is everything. Once a year you have a chance to experience authentic Hawaii culture on Maui.

Seas and Currents. At the top of the world scientists calculate a better forecast of when ice will no longer cover all of the Arctic region. While at the same time temperature readings reveal 2018 established ocean heat set a record.

Steps:

21) Spend the time to find the best place to live and invest. It will be worth your while. The great thing about living where others spend their vacation is the year round quality-of-life. 

24) Determine which maker or breaker community issues you will find across all resort communities vs. those unique only to the quality-of-life towns at the top of your best places list.

32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

33) When you move, will your established neighbors share your same values? Does your new home have potential over the long term to develop into a high appreciation real estate investment while being affordable for mid-life or empty nesters? Do the weather patterns in winter or summer make you want to live there year round, or only on a seasonal basis. Does  your new community offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities?

34) On your visits look for any newer developments that may trigger changes in neighborhood patterns. New construction in or around the neighborhood? Major regional economic adjustments? Transition from households with children to ones that are empty nests? Rezoning, and dramatically rising/falling land values?

Last Ones on Earth to Check Italy off our Bucket List

We projected the map of Italy on our big screen and thanks to Google maps focused our attention at the same time to potential towns.

 

Venice in St. Mark’s Basin showing the Grand Canal, San Zaccaria and our destination “Photo by Stephen Howard”
Venice and Rome – everyone we talked to said you have to see if you never go back.

Keeping up can be just so confusing.

Every day I’m bombarded with “24 of these travel tips” and “12 of these epic awesome travel apps you absolutely need now!”

Do I really?

And “29 hacks the pros miss.”

Oh, and don’t forget those “11 critical last-minute things you’d better take care of the day before you leave.”

Or else … What?

The list goes on and on.

  • There’s stuff you don’t know about exchanging money. 
  • About your passports. 
  • And cruising through airport customs. 
  • And you’d better not mess up with Global Entry and TSA Precheck.

Arrrrgh.

Take a deep breath.

Let it out slowly.

Focus on something pleasant.

Something other than the constant noise and dust circulating in the air.

Like, our visit to Italy for the first time this past year with our friends.

Italy destinations – Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Siena, Tuscany and Rome. Photo by Stephen Howard

It was a blast.

All the anticipation and preparation.

We felt less stressed once we passed the panic phase of not knowing exactly what to do or where to turn for the best advice.

Enduring our months-long kitchen remodel fed our panic as months of planning turned into weeks.

Which turned into days.

“How will they lower the microwave without scratching the cabinets surrounding it or dropping it on the stove in time for us to leave?”

But it was almost as much fun as traveling through Italy with our traveling companions as getting together nine months ahead of our trip, drinking some dark red Tuscany “Brunello di Montalcino” paired with a new pasta recipe,  and discussing where in Italy we should go.

I said almost.

One tip that helped us enormously is for all of you other Apple TV owners.

Venice to Florence

We projected the map of Italy on our big screen and thanks to Google maps focused our attention at the same time on potential towns.

We’d pour a little more wine.

We’d discuss what each of us was eager to see and do.

Then, we could walk up to the big screen and find each town and region on the Italian map.

And right there in front of us  we could assess how long and by which transportation options we should consider.

That turned out to be a real eye opener.

Traveling time to and from all the potential destinations adds up quickly.

The group map projection technique showed us quickly and dramatically how adding too much time in transit subtracts from time allotted for another must-visit destination.

Another power hack (tip) cut through the barrage of travel articles pinging me constantly on my Flipboard and Apple News feeds.

Plan your activities over a time line like you would at work for a project.

  • 1-year ahead,
  • 6-months,
  • 3-months,
  • 1-month,
  • 1-week,
  • 2-days,
  • 1-day and
  • day of travel.
Venice in St. Mark’s Basin showing the Grand Canal, San Zaccaria and our destination “Photo by Stephen Howard”

Read some articles, do more research, and maybe more importantly talk to everyone else who had been there.

We were, it turns out, the last ones on earth who hadn’t already checked off Italy from their bucket list.

We delegated an interview with owners of an Italian restaurant along the Southern California coast in Dana Point to our traveling companions.

They thought for sure the owners maintained a family owned B&B in the heart of Tuscany which fizzled, but only after they enjoyed their dinner and a few glasses of vino.

One Year Ahead:

  • Research Websites, Guidebooks and Travel Agents
  • Budget Room, Food, Sightseeing and Entertainment Per Day
  • Refer to Per Diem Allocations for Estimates
  • Open a Savings Account
  • Find Calendars of Events for Timing Better Deals

Two pieces of advice proved pretty valuable over the first few months of research.

To sort through the hundreds of possibilities, consider this trip to be your once in a lifetime adventure.

Make certain that, if you never returned, you’d visit and do the most important activities to you.

Divide the amount of vacation time you can afford to take by three.

The result dictates how many areas you can visit without wearing yourself out.

Returning tourists in a gondola as more line up for their turn across from the Hotel Cavalletto. Photo by Stephen Howard

The last thing you want to do is feel so rushed that you can’t enjoy your holiday.

Venice and Rome – everyone we talked to said you have to see if you never go back.

Tuscany each of us agreed appealed to all of us as a change of pace, especially if a cooking class can be squeezed in.

The five towns on the western coast in Cinque Terre was an easy sell.

And time in Florence to fully appreciate the Renaissance made the cut.

Even by eliminating Milan and Lake Como we exceeded our allotment of enjoyable time per region.

Oh, I take back any snarky comment I made earlier – “11 critical last-minute things you’d better take care of the day before you leave.”

As we found out, they can be a show stopper and can ruin your vacation at the last-minute.

We’re looking at you Delta!

Part Two:  Sweet Anticipation. Getting There is Half the Fun, Right?!

Vacation Planning Timeline (Source LA Times, 2011)

One Year Ahead

1.    Research Websites, Guidebooks and Travel Agents

2.    Budget Room, Food, Sightseeing and Entertainment Per Day

3.    Refer to Per Diem Allocations for Estimates

4.    Open a Savings Account

5.    Find Calendars of Events for Timing Better Deals

Six Months Ahead

6.    Optional for Traveling Abroad  — Passport

7.    Shop for Appropriate Shoes and Break Them In

8.    Schedule Medical Appointments for Shots

9.    Get Information and Maps from Tourism Offices

10.  Inspect Camera Gear and Use New Equipment Twice

11.   Request Vacation Dates from Work

Three Months Ahead

12.   Book Tickets and Hotel, Including Travel Insurance

13.   Guard Against Pre-Existing Conditions Timeframes

14.   Prepare Tips and References for Your Work Replacement

15.   Apply for a Visa and Rough Out a Daily Itinerary

16.   Begin Filing Critical Trip Information; Use Smartphone and Thumb Drive

17.    Arrange With Cell Provider for International Calls, Data Plans

Is Tahoe’s Real Estate Market About to Repeat Itself? Will You Miss Out?

Luke Curran compared the cost of living in Lake Tahoe to other real estate markets.

Google Maps
“As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” – Mark Twain

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Part One: Market

5-Year Time Frames 2015 -2020

In the summer of 2015 an article quoted Chase International’s take on home prices.

Lake Tahoe home prices continue to rise 14 percent to $525,000. Overall sales around the lake dipped slightly from this time last year, with Incline Village seeing decreases across the board and Tahoe City seeing healthy improvements.

Courtesy VanceFox.com

Sotheby’s International Realty Sierra compared 2015 Incline Village/Crystal Bay Real Estate Market

  • Non-Lakefront Properties improved since our first post recession, come-back  year in 2013.
  • A relatively strong supply of inventory exists in our Incline Village and Crystal Bay
  • Lakefront condo sales dropped from 14 in 2013, to 13 in 2014, down to just 7 in 2015.

In the winter of 2016 Deb Howard & Co of South Tahoe Real Estate described the South Shore Lake Tahoe market as experiencing

… slow but steady growth, both in sales and pricing projected at 5%

Courtesy of Tahoe Luxury Properties
  • Tahoe-Truckee real estate market for luxury home sales decline at end of 2015
  • Luxury home sales in North Lake Tahoe and the Truckee area down 39 percent from the 82 high-end sales during the fourth quarter of 2014 20 percent decline

But, overall 2015 was a good year for the housing market in general in this region.

“Inventory levels are starting out 2016 traditionally low.”

Courtesy of Tahoe Luxury Properties

In terms of luxury sales, Truckee communities boasted the most with 24, followed by North Lake Tahoe, West Tahoe Olympic Valley and then Alpine Meadows.

Realtors looked favorably towards 2016.

Why?

South Tahoe Real Estate explained it this way.

With the inventory available coupled with homes still priced at 5-6 year lows and very favorable interest rates, the conditions are attractive for savvy real estate investors who want to get into the Tahoe-Truckee market

When things start to normalize again both the buyer and seller have peace of mind.

The good news –  at the macro level:

  • US underlying economic fundamentals are forecast to be stable
  • GDP at 3%,
  • unemployment decreasing to 5% and
  • interest rates hovering at historic lows of 4-5%
  • all of which contribute to consumer confidence uptick!

The good news – at the overall Lake Tahoe Real Estate Market level:

  • Stabilized values remove years of uncertainty and drive a new infusion of qualified home buyers, investors and vacation lifestyle buyers.
  • Value pricing coupled with low interest rates favors a diversification of a financial portfolio toward tangible investment – read “real estate.”
  • Attractive investment property opportunities with  favorable returns on investment (ROI). Lake Tahoe’s lack of inventory keeps prices moving up.
  • Lake Tahoe emerges again as a revitalized resort community with four season to enjoy quality-of-life and lifestyle desires.
  • The beauty of the area draws investors and second-home owners heavily from the San Francisco Bay Area where record amounts of wealth have been created over the last few years.

And that translates into demand for Lake Tahoe real estate and drives growth at a rapid rate.

Luke Curran compared the cost of living in Lake Tahoe to other real estate markets.

www.SeniorLiving.Org

When you add up the major expenses – housing costs, groceries, utilities and transportation –  because of the area’s small population, the cost of living is lower here than in most cities.

In fact he says …

  • The cost of living is 15% higher in San Francisco than it is in the Lake Tahoe area.
  • The housing costs 49% higher in San Fran.

But, according to Chase International

Photo credit: Selbe. on Best Running / CC BY-NC-ND

Mark Twain agreed when he wrote in “Roughing It” in 1880.

“As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”

Approaching Lake Tahoe today, there’s no denying the unique rural atmosphere with small lakeside towns.

Whether you travel to the North Shore via I-80 or to the South Shore via US 50.

Steps:

22) Selectively evaluate the best quality-of-life communities to live in and weigh the tradeoffs of risk and rewards for accruing real estate appreciation along a progression of rural and small towns that meet what your pocket books can afford.

30) Review headlines and relevant news as far back as you can find online to surface each community’s unique pulse and identify information necessary to make your decision. Is there a “ticking time bomb” issue you may uncover that eliminates the resort from your bucket list? Search on Topix.com.

34) On your visits look for any newer developments that may trigger changes in neighborhood patterns. New construction in or around the neighborhood? Major regional economic adjustments? Transition from households with children to ones that are empty nests? Rezoning, and dramatically rising/falling land values?

Market

Looking back in hindsight the realtor consensus pegged 2012 as the bottom of the market.

Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty Listings
Depressed home pricing motivated buyers due to historically low-interest rates which averaged 3.657% for 30 year fully amortized conforming loans. 

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program, Lake Tahoe

The 2015 – 2016 season may turn out to be the perfect winter.

Everyone relishes the thriving economic conditions after suffering through a series of abnormally dry winters.

Most realtors in the Lake Tahoe region point to a home and second home market that has been on an upswing for several years.  

In fact, Tahoe Mountain Realty said …

“Sales in the Lake Tahoe region surpassed $1 billion for the third consecutive year.” 

Tahoe Mountain Realty Property Alert

The absorption rate — the supply of how many homes are for sale compared to the supply of properties that were in demand and could be sold at the current sales pace —  revealed a more balanced market.

Tahoe Mountain Reality wrote that 

“the region is now balanced with a 6-months supply available.”

In the luxury real estate market Lake Tahoe experienced the most significant surge in new home construction in over a decade especially in 

  • Martis Camp, 
  • Gray’s Crossing, 
  • Lahontan, 
  • Schaffer’s Mill 
  • and Old Greenwood.

5-Year Time Frames from 2009 — 2014

Not that long ago, during the winter of 2011 – 2012, the absorption rate for South Lake Tahoe was driven by the trend of short and bank-owned (REO) sales. 

That market was out of balance which realtors say is roughly 2 to 4-months supply of inventory.  

You’re in a “buyers market” if it takes longer than a 4 months absorption rate.  

Buyers simply have a greater selection of properties to choose from. 

 If the sales pace picks up and only takes an estimated 2 months or less to clear the inventory of homes, then you’re in a “sellers market.” 

Sellers face less competition from fewer available choices for motivated buyers.

South Lake Tahoe, realtors claimed in 2012, hadn’t seen a balanced market for quite some time. 

Looking back in hindsight the realtor consensus pegged 2012 as the bottom of the market.

Luke Curran wrote in 2014 how the Lake Tahoe real estate market at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 was stronger than ever.  

But, within a span of a year home values dropped like a stone.  

To the bottom of the lake.

If you had wanted to sell, you missed your top dollar opportunity.  

If you had the cash and a little foresight you could have taken advantage of the decline in prices.

Kelly Smith in the fall of 2010 speculated about Truckee homes, condos and lots sales between 2008 to 2010 picking up due to the declining values in both Truckee and Northstar.

Writing about West Lake Tahoe over the previous 3 years Kelly said the decrease in value on average amounted to a historic trend 

North Lake Tahoe from Incline Stateline to Tahoe City didn’t fair any better. 

David Westfall pointed to the impact of California’s long-term drought on the local ski and snowboarding resorts.

“Perhaps no other community was as impacted by successive dry winters as Northstar.” 

But the timing was ripe for substantial investment in Northstar from … 

  • Vail Resorts, 
  • Mountainside Partners and 
  • Kennedy-Wilson. 

Luke Curran described how real estate market differs among subdivisions of the Lake Tahoe area.

For instance, condos on the west shore are pricier, while in 2014 the market for condos at Squaw and Alpine hadn’t grown as rapidly as other areas.

During the winter of 2012 -2013 in February the Yee Hedley Group compared year-end 2012 to 2011.  

The Yee Hedley Group Featured Listings

They found positive signs in the MLS listing inventory.  “

It was at an all time low, just like the good old days back in 2004 and 2005.

That’s not all.  

They documented signs of 

… dramatic improvement upon comparing overall home sale statistics from 2012 to 2011.”

David Westfall, a month earlier, in January 2013, assessed the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee markets.  

He found a silver lining for single family homes.

“Depressed home pricing motivated buyers due to historically low-interest rates which averaged 3.657% for 30 year fully amortized conforming loans.” 

Sotheby’s International Realty published year-end reviews of Lake Tahoe sales from 2012 to 2015. 

Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty Listings

In addition to the numbers they framed the real estate market.

“It spans 72 miles of Lake Tahoe shoreline, two state lines and a handful of California and Nevada counties and four multiple listing services – North & West Shore, East Shore, Incline Village and Truckee.”

Sotheby’s agreed with Luke Curran who wrote in the spring of 2014, 

“Buyers want a low price on a home and after the value of the home has gone up, and they sell it, they want a profit”.  

Before you make the big financial decision to purchase or sell a home in the Truckee /Lake Tahoe you need to drill down into the micro market data. 

Sotheby’s farms the 

  • North & West Shore, 
  • East Shore, 
  • Incline Village, 
  • Truckee, and 
  • South Lake Tahoe markets.

Luke Curran broke the Lake Tahoe down into five areas he covered: 

  • North Shore, 
  • West Shore, 
  • Squaw / Alpine, 
  • Truckee and 
  • Northstar.

David Westfall breaks Tahoe and Truckee into 10 micro market neighborhoods, 5 apiece.

Tahoe:

  • Alpine Meadows
  • North Shore
  • Squaw Valley
  • Tahoe City Area
  • West Shore

Truckee:

  • Donner Lake
  • Glenshire Area
  • Golf Course Communities
  • Northstar
  • Tahoe Donner

Part Two: Is Tahoe’s Real Estate Market About to Repeat Itself? Will You Miss Out?

Steps:

22) Selectively evaluate the best quality-of-life communities to live in and weigh the tradeoffs of risk and rewards for accruing real estate appreciation along a progression of rural and small towns that meet what your pocket books can afford.

25) Compare what “life” was like in those communities before the Great Recession, how resilient each was during the economic downturn, and to what degree did each bounce back after with any “economic hangover.” 

30) Review headlines and relevant news as far back as you can find online to surface each community’s unique pulse and identify information necessary to make your decision. Is there a “ticking time bomb” issue you may uncover that eliminates the resort from your bucket list? Search on Topix.com.

34) On your visits look for any newer developments that may trigger changes in neighborhood patterns. New construction in or around the neighborhood? Major regional economic adjustments? Transition from households with children to ones that are empty nests? Rezoning, and dramatically rising/falling land values?

 

Time to Circle the Lake and Discover Your Next Adventure

Packed in SUVs like sardines, they imagine sliding and skiing and all the fun they bring chasing runs when the lifts open.

 

Yup, Gold Hill. And, then finally Virginia City, brief home of Samuel Clemens where he became Mark Twain.

Part One: Tahoe

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

What if your designer spouse, roommate or mother felt the Washoe clock was so valuable that it proudly sat on your contemporary living room wall, but in a square designer frame?

If you took your marker and drew a line from the center of the lake to the upper left-hand corner at the top of the frame through the clock – lake’s “9” and “10” you’d find Tahoe City on the lake’s border.

And, Olympic Valley (Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts) Northstar Resort and Truckee.

Most of the tourists originating in Silicon Valley and Sacramento take I-80 northeast to Truckee for quick access.

Packed in SUVs like sardines, they imagine sliding and skiing and all the fun they bring chasing runs when the lifts open.

They connect to Northstar and the lake by taking SR 267 from Truckee and on to Olympic Valley over CA 89.

Actually, if they craved fresh powder at Kirkwood, or at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort they’d opt for the southern route choosing US 50 leaving Sacramento.

Many choose that route to take them into South Lake Tahoe at the “6” on our Washoe clock.

You can too.

Check first with Siri.

No law against it.

But, after a stop at Sierra-at-Tahoe, and continuing on, you eventually connect with the 89.

The road.

Not on your loved one’s square-bordered contemporary clock face.

Following Lake Tahoe’s western border travel south, between the “9” and the “6,” you’ll come to the intersection where the US 50 and CA 89 meet.

Which is a good thing, trust me.

The 50 north takes you to the southern corner of the lake where Stateline (Nevada) and South Lake Tahoe (California) border each other again at “5” on the clock.

There you’ll find the gondola taking you to Heavenly Mountain Resort just on the California side of the border.

Slowly glide up the mountain top to where you can snowboard and ski all the runs that crisscross back and forth across the state lines.

Then 50 connects the south lake with the north lake following  the eastern Nevada shore until “3” on the ticking clock face, near Glenbrook.

It picks up Route 28 to complete the circle once you pass Lake Tahoe State Park and pull into Incline Village.

But, forget all that.

The part about traveling north.

When US 50 connects to the Luther Pass Road (CA 89) (formerly known as Emerald Bay Road and West Lake Boulevard) somewhere between Echo Lake and Meyers, you travel south for a while until near Sorensen you exit onto Carson Pass Highway (88).

From there it’s a long hop and a skip past Caples Lake until you find Kirkwood Meadows Dr. and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, duh.

Oh, and while we’ve mentioned Glenbrook, the 50 these days takes you east where you can connect with US 395.

You go north on the merged US 50 and US 395 until just south of Carson City, NV.

Then the 50 continues east, now called Lincoln Highway, until just beyond Mound House.

Drive to Route 341 and take it north from the 50 intersection.

Continue until the Route 341 forks and take Route 342 just south of Silver City.

Guess what’s up next?

Yup, Gold Hill.

And, then finally Virginia City, brief home of Samuel Clemens where he became Mark Twain.

And, if you are still playing along with us, Virginia City sits almost directly east of Truckee.

In the upper right hand corner of your spouse’s, roommate’s or mother’s framed Washoe-manufactured leaf-shaped tick tock clock.

Enough about that for now.

During the summer of 2015, you’ll recall we noticed an emerging trend first in Durango and then in the Summit County, Colorado, ski and snowboard resort towns.

The local real estate markets began heating up.

Before we continue our story about Lake Tahoe (and later Mammoth Lakes, California) let’s visit the pros and cons of investing in real estate.

Especially in light of the equity locked up in Baby Boomer households given some of the reverse mortgage scenarios and calculated risks.

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

Tahoe

Somebody estimated the sheer volume of water could cover the an area as large as the entire state of California more than 12 inches deep.

 

Nevada owns the water, the shoreline and the gambling on the right, eastern side — roughly a third of Lake Tahoe itself.

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

In the Sierra Nevada mountains Lake Tahoe closely resembles Summit County’s proximity to pristine beauty and ski resorts. 

  • Is now the time to invest your equity in a home or rental bordering both California and Nevada?
  • What do you need to know before taking the plunge into the Lake Tahoe market?

Recall both lifestyle bucket lists — of seven zip codes — on the California itinerary for former Whitefish, Montana “birds of a feather” (BOF) flocking to new nests. 

Four of them you’ll remember border Lake Tahoe.

California Itinerary: Sierra Nevada –

  • Truckee, 96161, 96162;
  • Squaw Valley, 96146; and
  • Tahoe City, 96145

But, first the stats.

Lake Tahoe itself.

  • Elevation – 6,229 feet above sea level
  • Length 22 miles 
  • Width – varies from 10 to 12 miles 
  • Depth – 1,685 feet at its deepest
  • On the list of deepest lakes in North America, Lake Tahoe ranks #3.  
Heading for the Beach

Somebody estimated the sheer volume of water could cover the an area as large as the entire state of California more than 12 inches deep.  

The Washoe Tribe of Native Americans named it “Big Water.” 

A tug of war between the Great and Evil Spirit threw off falling leaves and created Lake Tahoe and a few others nearby including our favorite, Fallen Leaf Lake.

Proud locals, realtors and visitor bureau-types claimed Lake Tahoe is (or was) 97% pure, at least as of the 2003 timeframe when we first checked it out.

Adventures in the Eastern Sierras

The Lake attracted tourists dating as far back as the 1860s, when Mark Twain wrote a few admiring words now etched on a North Tahoe Beach boulder

 “… the fairest picture the whole Earth affords” 

Historically it’s unclear if his inscription occurred before or after he accidentally set a big chunk of the north shore on fire. 

At least, that’s what he confesses to in “Roughing It.”

If you understand the local traffic patterns – when to start and when to finish –  you can drive around the lake in about three hours. 

Or you can hike all or portions of the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail.  

You’d need 15 days to circle the lake, especially if you stopped to enjoy the fairest picture.

Imagine an old-fashioned tick tock clock hanging on your parents or grandparents wall.  

You know the kind with a short hand (why did they call them hands?) for hours and a longer second-hand (not for seconds) but, for minutes.

Now imagine that those poor pioneer families who survived the infamous Donner Party cannibalism led their wagon train into the promised land, to what is now Lake Tahoe.  

And imagine further that their precious clock endured the grueling trek with them from Independence, Missouri.  

But, the harrowing ordeal stretched it lengthwise (ok, like in a classic “Mickey Mouse” cartoon) and ended with an uneven elongated face.

And, if the Washoes manufactured it you might say the clock resembled a leaf, right?

Straighter edged on the right side (eastern) and a half circle on the opposite western side.

Got it?

Good.  

Here’s the artistic part.

Now, if you took a marker (not a permanent marker) and you slowly start to draw a straight line on the clock face you could connect where the elongated “12” should be found straight down towards where the “6” could be found.

Kids. (Or grandkids).

Don’t try this at home.

But, if you stopped drawing the line to a point almost even with “4” and continued to draw it to the right at a slight downward angle you would complete the line at the clock’s edge between the “4” and “5”.

Taking the Scenic Route

Guess what?

You would have drawn the Nevada – California border on a map of the lake. 

It’s that western border you notice on maps of Nevada.  

Where Nevada is wider and boxier at the top, but slices back eastward near the bottom.

Or on the eastern edge of California. 

Where it curves and slides in a laid-back fashion frolicking in the Pacific Ocean and spooning and cuddling Nevada’s vertical, then angled edge.

Except for the part of their bed that is rocky, full of spikier mountain peaks and ancient volcanic cliffs.

The imagined line in reality separates ownership of Lake Tahoe.  

Nevada owns the water, the shoreline and the gambling on the right, eastern side — roughly a third of Lake Tahoe itself.

The north shore boundary between California to the left (ha ha) and Nevada to the right  (ha ha) neatly bisects the top of the clock between the “1” and the “2” in “12.”   

On the Nevada side you find Crystal Bay at the split and Incline Village as you move clockwise on Route 28.

Wanna play some more?

Part Two: Time to Circle the Lake and Discover Your Next Adventure

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

In Search of Oprah – at the Bacara, San Yisidro Ranch or in Montecito?

It’s a popular destination for politicians, celebrities, and royalty, and was recently named “World’s #1 Resort” by Forbes Traveller.

 

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21)  “You’ll do what millions of others do and still feel like you’re contributing something different.  It’s because you really are.”

 

Final installment of Steve and Emma’s Empty-Nest Adventures in Santa Barbara..

Part One:  Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara

Part Two:  Hotel Santa Barbara’s Grand Tradition

Part Three:  Night TRAPs – Walk. Drink. Eat. Groove.

Part Four:  Morning for the East Beach Grille in Paradise

Part Five:  Authentic Lifestyles and Cozy Couches

On Sunday, the final day of our long Veterans Day Weekend we made arrangements to meet our fellow Scorpios for a quick sight-seeing tour of the Greater Santa Barbara highlights –

  • The Ritz-Carlton Bacara,
  • The El Enchanto Hotel, the 
  • San Ysidro Ranch and finally
  • Montecito for dinner at the Honor Bar .

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21)  “You want your work to be artful and useful, or you’d rather not turn it in at all.  The thing is, you’re not the best judge of this today.”

Today was Sunday.

Dave dropped by the Hotel Santa Barbara  for a leisurely continental breakfast in the lobby before heading down the coast near Ventura to catch his fill of waves. 

After leaving our luggage with the Valet and making arrangements for picking up our car after our Montecito dinner we were picked up by our friends and headed north towards San Luis Obispo in search of the Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Here’s how The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara’s website describes their 80 acre property:

“Low-rise villas with wrought-iron balconies.

Beaches that glow under the sun.

The water at your doorstep.

Vibrant blues and intricate patterns.

Food that is meant to be savored with the sunset.”

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara embodies the charm, beauty and energy of the Mediterranean

in the heart of Santa Barbara, offering ocean-view accommodations,

an indulgent spa and dining that celebrates local ingredients.”

Okay.

We agree on almost every point except for that part about being in the heart of Santa Barbara, right?

I’d argue that the Hotel Santa Barbara on State Street is in the heart of Santa Barbara, but I’m not a copy writer.

It’s Zip Code belongs to Goleta and expands to Gaviota and another section north of Solvang and Los Olivos.

Zip Code: 93117

Profile At-A-Glance (Fall 2017)

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Midlife, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 25-54, 30-44, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors: 

Wealthy Influentials

Exurb Society -WIES

08Y1S2, Executive Suites, 30-44,  Couples, Midlife Success, Affluentials (Mission Viejo, CA)

Digitally Mobiles – WIDM

12Y1C1, Brite Lites, Li’l City, 30-44, Couple, Midlife Success, Second City Society (Santa Fe, NM)

Community Neighbors: 

Permanent Temporaries

Interim Middle Managers – PTIMM 

22Y2S3, Young Influentials, 25-54, Mainstream Singles, Suburbs, Middleburbs (Tempe, AZ)

Community Neighbors:

High Country Eagles

Satellite Cityzens— HCESC

24Y2C2, Up-and-Comers, 25-54 Single, Mainstream Singles, City Centers (Napa, CA)

35Y2C2, Boomtown Singles, 25-54, Mainstream Singles, City Centers, (San Marcos, TX)

Even as the neighborhoods become more remote as you fan out from Santa Barbara the degree of affluence and status falls within the upper 15% to 50% of all lifestyles.

Residents in the Wealthy Influential neighborhoods tend to be midlife successful couples also living in Mission Viejo, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The remaining lifestyles fall closer to the midpoint of affluence, are classified by Claritas as “Mainstream Singles” falling in the broad 25-54 year old age range – also calling Tempe, Arizona or Napa, California or San Marcos, Texas home.

Next up?  

We back tracked and drove about 25 minutes on winding foothill roads until we arrived at the Belmond El Enchanto for drinks and an appetizer as we overlooked the Santa Barbara harbor

According to their website the resort was popular with the Plein Air School of artists.

Belmond El Encanto’s former 1920s glory has been lovingly restored to become one of the most celebrated resorts on the West Coast.

The restoration process helped to highlight the original Spanish-colonial and Californian craftsman styles, with modern additions including a zero-edge outdoor pool and sumptuous boutique spa. Here, every sense is heightened.

The Belmond El Encanto joins Stearns Wharf, The Santa Barbara Zoo, The Santa Barbara Bowl and tony streets with exclusive homes tucked away from sight.

Zip Code: 93103 

Profile At-A-Glance (Fall 2017)

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Midlife, Baby Boomers 

Ages: 25-54, 30-44, 45+ 55+

Community Neighbors: 

Wealthy Influentials

Affluently Elite – WIAE 

01M1S1, Upper Crust, 45+, Couple, Affluent Empty-Nests, Elite Suburbs (Half Moon Bay, CA)

Digitally Mobiles – WIDM

10M1C1, Second City Elite, 45+, Couples, Affluent Empty Nests, Second City Society (Ft. Myers, FL)

12Y1C1, Brite Lites, Li’l City, 30-44, Couple, Midlife Success, Second City Society (Santa Fe, NM)

Community Neighbors: 

High Country Eagles

Satellite Cityzens— HCESC

24Y2C2, Up-and-Comers, 25-54 Single, Mainstream Singles, City Centers (Napa, CA)

27M2C2, Middleburg Managers, 55+ Couples,  Conservative Classics, City Centers (South Lake Tahoe, CA)

You’ll find very few 25-54 Mainstream Singles in these neighborhoods.  Instead you’ll see wealthy couples at midlife, in their empty nest years or nearing retirement, if they haven’t already.

The most affluent, upper crust lifestyle calls this part of Santa Barbara home, like they do farther up the coast in Half Moon Bay, California.

Watching the sun set over the channel almost lulled us into bliss.  Until we collectively realized we had one more stop to make before dinner.

Higher up on more twisty canyon roads took us to San Ysidro Ranch in the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

We peeked into an original 1825 Old Adobe Cottage as sunset light was beginning to fade.

Santa Barbara Independent writer,  Tyler Hayden, put it this way.

The ranch was originally part of a 1769 land grant by Charles III of Spain, served as a sanctuary for Franciscan monks before becoming a citrus operation and then eventually a hotel.

Spanning 500 manicured acres with broad views of the Pacific Ocean, the San Ysidro Ranch ― currently owned by Beanie Baby mogul Ty Warner ― consists of 41 cottages and suites, multiple wedding venues, and award-winning restaurants.

“It’s a popular destination for politicians, celebrities, and royalty, and was recently named “World’s #1 Resort” by Forbes Traveller.”

As the sunset, we were glad we at least got to see it while we strolled around the grounds and imagined staying here on some future trip.

The ranch shares the same zip code with Montecito and Summerland and includes the most affluent lifestyles – Wealthy Influentials and Wireless Resorters.

Zip Code: 93108

Profile At-A-Glance (Fall 2017)

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Midlife, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 25-54, 30-44, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors: 

Wealthy Influentials

Affluently Elite – WIAE

01M1S1, Upper Crust, 45+, Couple, Affluent Empty-Nests, Elite Suburbs (Half Moon Bay, CA)

Exurb Society -WIES

08Y1S2, Executive Suites, 30-44,  Couples, Midlife Success, Affluentials (Mission Viejo, CA)

14M2S2, New Empty Nests, 55+, Couples, Conservative Classics, Affluentials (Indian Wells, CA)

Community Neighbors:

Wireless Resorters

Premier Resorts – WRPR

09M1T1, Big Fish Small Pond, 45+, Couples, Affluent Empty Nests, Accumulated Wealth, Landed Gentry (Mammoth Lakes, CA)

Maturing Resorts – WRMR

11Y1T1, God’s Country, 30-44, Couples, Midlife Success, Landed Gentry (Boulder, CO)

Historic Montecito Inn

Even more exclusive estates behind walls and private, gated driveways hide affluent celebrities and the rich and famous.

Could that be Oprah’s or Ellen’s compound over there?

We’ve always enjoyed spending weekends in Santa Barbara, especially at the Montecito Inn once owned by Charlie Chaplin.

On those getaways we’ve strolled along Coast Village Road to the Honor Market next to the restaurant for coffee  and we ordered artisanal  pizza to eat back in our room at the inn.

This was the first time we ate dinner in one of the booths surrounding the wooden bar in the center.

It’s not the biggest restaurant, which is maybe why we’ve ate and drank cocktails outdoors at their patio tables before.

Or maybe why our Scorpio friends warned us and then gave us a demonstration.

They told us there’s a rule that if you’ve finished serving a table on your way back to the kitchen, pick something up from a table.

What?

Watch.”

And  with that a server came by and started clearing our table of half eaten salad plates and rolls while we were still enjoying our conversation.

Scorpio stingers were at the ready when a half empty (or half full) beer glass became a table-passing- server target.

Hold on there.  I’m not finished. We’re not finished and we’re in no hurry.”

Especially, when it came to end-of-a-long weekend traffic flowing through Los Angeles and into South Orange County.

We joined other vacationers on Highway 101 heading south after 7pm.

As we neared Ventura for some reason my mind wondered to La Conchita.

We passed it on the way up.

I remembered it was prone to large landslides that have wiped out homes and even killed local residents.

The worse of these was the tragic slide on January 10th, 2005 when a huge rain-caused side killed 10 residents.

Okay.

Enough about natural disasters.

I didn’t want to spoil the good vibrations.

Closer to Ventura and the beach and waves breaking on the shore I wondered how long Dave would want to work remotely?

If he’d want to pick one of the zip codes that included neighbors closer to his age and interests?

But, that was a conversation we’d take up again at Thanksgiving, only a couple of weeks away.

Steps:

21) Spend the time to find the best place to live and invest. It will be worth your while. The great thing about living where others spend their vacation is the year round quality-of-life. 

32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

33) When you move, will your established neighbors share your same values? Does your new home have potential over the long-term to develop into a high appreciation real estate investment while being affordable for mid-life or empty nesters? Do the weather patterns in winter or summer make you want to live there year round, or only on a seasonal basis. Does  your new community offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities?

 

Authentic Lifestyles and Cozy Couches

“Keep an open mind, because your first idea isn’t always your best.  Don’t worry, your aha! moment is coming.”

 

The early adulthood Millennials were in full spirits at the wine and beer bar sitting on cozy couches.

 

Part Five of Steve and Emma’s Empty-Nest Adventures in Santa Barbara.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21) “You’ll find yourself cobbling together new theories based on new information that has come to light.”

While we explored the East and West Beaches, David caught some Ventura waves.

He confirmed what we heard before that Santa Barbara, while offering everything else you could possibly want in a coastal resort town, didn’t generate the kind of surf diehards craved.

Wave Break at Rincon

For that you had to travel north up the coast, or south past Carpinteria to Rincon or Ventura.

Driving 25 minutes or so, really isn’t too much to ask, right.

But after a morning of surfing and the drive back, well, he was tired.

So Emma and I hung out in the late afternoon at the Hotel Santa Barbara on State Street while he returned to his bedroom and tried to take a nap.

Turns out, he’s renting a place minutes from the hotel while working remotely from his Irvine employer.

And, turns out that he couldn’t drift off to slumberland.

So he decides to walk over to join us since everything we had considered for the night on the town was just a few short blocks away.

We walk together near the original Presidio, the second red rectangular box of the three on the map.

We’re always craving authentic Mexican food and found it,  the top right hand red rectangle.

La Playa Azul Cafe didn’t disappoint

Maybe it started with the ice-cold blue margaritas.

Probably.

By the time we showed up the large outdoor patio had filled.

So we dined inside.

And got caught up.

We pepper him with parental variations of how are you doing, what are you doing, where are you staying?

He and I discuss books and music and podcasts we think the other might find intriguing.

Orange County’s Beach Towns

His Scorpio Mom wanted to indirectly get a reading on how he was feeling and if he was still reeling from his break up.

He traded one coastal town (Huntington Beach) for another (Santa Barbara) and his Mom wanted to know if he was happy.

And, I began the cobbling some Scorpio theories as Mom’s questioning shed new light.

Like, how much of a fit will it be for him to live here compared to Coastal Orange County?

First – Huntington Beach.

Where it is.

The mix of lifestyle profiles you’d find mingling in his former neighborhood defined by its zip code.

And, if not in one of Santa Barbara’s neighborhoods where else can you find that lifestyle?

Location At-A-Glance 

Region: Western United States 

State: California 

Travel Region: South Coast Region

County: Orange County

Patchwork Nation: Monied ‘Burbs

Town: Huntington Beach

Population Density: Second Tier Cities

Zip Codes: 92646

Profile At-A-Glance 

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Families, Empty Nests, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 25-54, 35-54, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors

Wealthy Influentials

Portfolio Locals – WIPL

04Y2U1 25-54 Mainstream Singles  Young Digerati  (Chandler, AZ)

29F2U1 35-54 Young Accumulators  American Dreams  (Naples, CA)

Affluently Elite – WIAE

07M1U1 45+Boomer Affluent Empty Nests  Money & Brains  (Seal Beach, CA)

Digitally Mobiles – WIDM

26M2U1 55+Boomer Conservative Classics The Cosmopolitans   (Lakewood, CO)

Community Neighbors

PermanentTemporaries

UrbanTrapped – PTUT

61M4U3 65+Sustaining Seniors  City Roots  (Seal Beach, CA)

You might say Huntington Beach is a lifestyle mix of Seal Beach and Naples, just minutes away without traffic to the north  on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), with a dollop of Arizona (Chandler)  and Colorado (Lakewood).

Where Wealthy Influentials and Permanent Temporaries call home.

It attracts side-preneurs and artists and surfers and, well Portfolio Locals and Digitally Mobiles.

So if Kym, from the night before at Jamie Slone Wines Tasting Room, who told us she was a newly transplanted stay at home mom from Arizona until her nest emptied, ever grew tired of Santa Barbara, then she could elevate Huntington Beach to the top of her bucket list.

So then, what about Santa Barbara At-a-Glance.

Where it is.

The mix of lifestyle profiles you’d find mingling along the State Street neighborhood defined by its zip code.

And, where else can you find that lifestyle?

Location At-A-Glance 

Region: Western United States 

State: California 

Travel Region: Central Coast Region

County: Santa Barbara County

Patchwork Nation: Monied ‘Burbs

Town: Santa Barbara

Population Density: Second Tier Cities

Real Estate Phase: Late-Maturity

Zip Codes: 93101

Profile At-A-Glance (Fall 2017)

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Midlife, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 25-54, 30-44, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors: 

Wealthy Influentials

Digitally Mobiles – WIDM

12Y1C1, Brite Lites, Li’l City, 30-44, Couple, Midlife Success, Second City Society (Santa Fe, NM)

Community Neighbors: 

High Country Eagles

Satellite Cityzens— HCESC

24Y2C2, Up-and-Comers, 25-54 Single, Mainstream Singles, City Centers (Napa, CA)

27M2C2, Middleburg Managers, 55+ Couples,  Conservative Classics, City Centers (South Lake Tahoe, CA)

35Y2C2, Boomtown Singles, 25-54, Single, Mainstream Singles, City Centers (San Marcos, TX)

Small Town Borders- HCSTB

60M4C3, Park Bench Seniors, 65+ Singles, Park Bench Seniors, Micro-City Blues (Palm Desert, CA)

Awesome View of Emerald Bay

So the State Street lifestyle community recipe includes the quality-of-life attraction of Palm Desert, Napa and Lake Tahoe (California desert, vineyards and an awesome mountain lake) with an out-of-state blend of San Marcos, Texas (historic river town) and artistic Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Digitally Mobiles, like in Huntington Beach?

Check.

But, only one Wealthy Influential lifestyle vs. four in Huntington Beach.

And with the other four falling within the High Country Eagle communities.

But, still two mainstream single lifestyles, 25-54 that loosely fit.

Oh, ok.

Cobbling this theory together has become a little too complicated, right?

That’s why before heading back to our hotel, we returned to State Street and mingled with all the 20-29 year olds, the transitional 28 – 32 year olds overlapping with 25 -54 year old singles and couples out on the town.

Oh, and we stopped in for some wine and entertainment and  games and, did I say wine?

Santa Barbara Wine Therapy

With a catch tagline: “Less Whine, More Wine”

While walking to the bar, Scorpio Mom tells me later, her number one son said he  just wanted his life back.

She feels he had looked forward to his next stage of development, “rooting and extending”, which we all usually embark on  between the ages of 30-38.

In Erik Erikson’s theory, you’ll recall, “rooting and extenders” embark on full adulthood near the end of his early adulthood .

Approximate Age: Early adulthood ( 20 – 39)

Significant Relationship: Friends, partners

Existential Question:  Can I love

Examples: Romantic relationships

Psychosocial Crisis: Intimacy vs. Isolation

Virtues: Love

The early adulthood Millennials were in full spirits at the wine and beer bar sitting on cozy couches.

We staked our spot out while listening to the solo singer near the entrance.

Not quite the caliber we saw the night before, but you have to start somewhere.

Another couple joined us at the edge of the glass coffee table after grabbing a board game and inviting us to join them.

We politely declined, soaking in the vibe where:

“Friends are therapists you can drink with, and therapy is in session.”

Scorpio Mom leaned in to conduct her own version of therapy, an intimate conversation I couldn’t make out.

She was busy cobbling her own theory.

Less complicated and more about love, romantic relationships and isolation vs. intimacy.

Maybe our other horoscope summarized an important message for me instead.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21) “Keep an open mind, because your first idea isn’t always your best.  Don’t worry, your aha! moment is coming.”

Part One:  Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara

Part Two:  Hotel Santa Barbara’s Grand Tradition

Part Three:  Night TRAPs – Walk. Drink. Eat. Groove.

Part Four:  Morning for the East Beach Grille in Paradise

Stranded in Mono Lake

At the end of an hour it approached a jutting cape, and Higby ran ahead and posted himself on the utmost verge and prepared for the assault. 

 

On Hwy. 395 between Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes
The agony that alkali water inflicts on bruises, chafes and blistered hands, is unspeakable, and nothing but greasing all over will modify it– but we ate, drank and slept well, that night, notwithstanding.

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Calvin Higby and Mark Twain decided to explore the area in and around  Mono Lake.

They surveyed all its wonders in a small boat to explore the lake, just as a storm brewed.

Things go from bad to worse.

Adventures in the Eastern Sierras

But we found nothing but solitude, ashes and a heart-breaking silence. 

Finally we noticed that the wind had risen, and we forgot our thirst in a solicitude of greater importance; for, the lake being quiet, we had not taken pains about securing the boat. 

We hurried back to a point overlooking our landing place, and then–but mere words cannot describe our dismay–the boat was gone! 

 

 

Surely, they felt.  There’s couldn’t be the only boat on the lake today.

The situation was not comfortable–in truth, to speak plainly, it was frightful. 

You Can Imagine Twain Hiking the Terrain

We were prisoners on a desolate island, in aggravating proximity to friends who were for the present helpless to aid us; and what was still more uncomfortable was the reflection that we had neither food nor water. 

But presently we sighted the boat. 

For over an hour Twain and Higby paced up and down the shoreline.

It drifted, and continued to drift, but at the same safe distance from land, and we walked along abreast it and waited for fortune to favor us. 

At the end of an hour it approached a jutting cape, and Higby ran ahead and posted himself on the utmost verge and prepared for the assault. 

If we failed there, there was no hope for us. 

The winds didn’t cooperate as hoped for.

But when he gave a great spring, the next instant, and lit fairly in the stern, I discharged a war-whoop that woke the solitudes!

But it dulled my enthusiasm, presently, when he told me he had not been caring whether the boat came within jumping distance or not, so that it passed within eight or ten yards of him, for he had made up his mind to shut his eyes and mouth and swim that trifling distance. 

Only a long swim would probably do them in, but safe in the boat they made little progress.

Boating on Mono Lake in “Roughing It”.

When we had pulled a mile, laboriously, we were evidently in serious peril, for the storm had greatly augmented; the billows ran very high and were capped with foaming crests, the heavens were hung with black, and the wind blew with great fury. 

We would have gone back, now, but we did not dare to turn the boat around, because as soon as she got in the trough of the sea she would upset, of course. 

Our only hope lay in keeping her head-on to the seas. 

It was hard work to do this, she plunged so, and so beat and belabored the billows with her rising and falling bows. 

Both drenched by the alkaline sprays they pushed on forward, against the storm winds.

But things cannot last always. 

Just as the darkness shut down we came booming into port, head on. 

Higby dropped his oars to hurrah–I dropped mine to help–the sea gave the boat a twist, and over she went!

The agony that alkali water inflicts on bruises, chafes and blistered hands, is unspeakable, and nothing but greasing all over will modify it– but we ate, drank and slept well, that night, notwithstanding.

But Twain surveys Mono Lake’s near unchanging landscape and asks an almost universal question on every visitor’s lips.

Mysterious Nature of Mono Lake

… picturesque turret-looking masses and clusters of a whitish, coarse-grained rock that resembles inferior mortar dried hard; and if one breaks off fragments of this rock he will find perfectly shaped and thoroughly petrified gulls’ eggs deeply imbedded in the mass

How did they get there? 

Well, of course, if he were alive in the winter of 2009, he’d have his answer.

Tufa is rock composed of calcium carbonate, or common limestone. 

It is formed when calcium-rich underwater springs in the lake combine with carbonates, known to cooks as baking soda, in the water. 

The result is calcium carbonate, which settles around the springs. 

Decades or even centuries later, these tufa formations slowly grow into towers that may climb to more than 30 feet tall. 

All this takes place underwater.” 

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

Twain

“… picturesque turret-looking masses and clusters of a whitish, coarse-grained rock that resembles inferior mortar dried hard …”

Mark Twain
Shuttling as much as he did between Carson City and Virginia City, it was San Francisco that captured his imagination – but it was Mono Lake that almost killed him – and his curiosity.

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

On Hwy. 395 between Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes

We had just visited Lake Tahoe, where Mark Twain set the forest on fire and now Mono Lake appeared before us – the scene of another of his misadventures –

According to the 2009 LA Times article, Twain once said

“There are no fish in Mono Lake – no frogs, no snakes, no pollywogs – nothing, in fact, that goes to make life desirable.” 

Adventures in the Eastern Sierras

He and Calvin Higby – his mining partner — in “Roughing It”-

“… made a walking trip to Yosemite, carrying their packs, camping and fishing in that far, tremendous isolation, which in those days few human beings had ever visited at all. 

Such trips furnished a delicious respite from the fevered struggle around tunnel and shaft. 

Amid mountain-peaks and giant forests and by tumbling falls the quest for gold hardly seemed worthwhile”. 

More than once that summer he went alone into the wilderness “to find his balance and to get away entirely from humankind.”

Get rich schemes and tall tales – both consumed and sustained Mark Twain.

Shuttling as much as he did between Carson City and Virginia City, it was San Francisco that captured his imagination – but it was Mono Lake that almost killed him – and his curiosity.

Mono Lake at Dawn

Higby and Twain decided to explore the area in and around  Mono Lake.

They surveyed all its wonders in a small boat to explore the lake, just as a storm brewed.

Things go from bad to worse.

Twain actually said “They go from worse to a near fatal accident.”

First there’s the matter of all those seagulls.

Twain Least Expected to Find Sea Gulls

Mono Lake is a hundred miles in a straight line from the ocean–and between it and the ocean are one or two ranges of mountains–yet thousands of sea-gulls go there every season to lay their eggs and rear their young. 

One would as soon expect to find sea-gulls in Kansas. 

Then there’s the alien landscape with both hot and cold water.

Hard Boiled and Fossilized Sea Gull Eggs

The islands in the lake being merely huge masses of lava, coated over with ashes and pumice-stone, and utterly innocent of vegetation or anything that would burn; and sea-gull’s eggs being entirely useless to anybody unless they be cooked. 

Nature has provided an unfailing spring of boiling water on the largest island, and you can put your eggs in there, and in four minutes you can boil them as hard as any statement I have made during the past fifteen years. 

Within ten feet of the boiling spring is a spring of pure cold water, sweet and wholesome.

And that’s not the only odd thing.

Half a dozen little mountain brooks flow into Mono Lake, but not a stream of any kind flows out of it. 

It neither rises nor falls, apparently, and what it does with its surplus water is a dark and bloody mystery.

Though they arrived in the July, Twain and Higby couldn’t resist rowing 12 miles to the “big island.”

Curious “Big Island”

About seven o’clock one blistering hot morning–for it was now dead summer time–Higby and I took the boat and started on a voyage of discovery to the two islands. 

We had often longed to do this, but had been deterred by the fear of storms; for they were frequent, and severe enough to capsize an ordinary row-boat like ours without great difficulty–and once capsized, death would ensue in spite of the bravest swimming, for that venomous water would eat a man’s eyes out like fire, and burn him out inside, too, if he shipped a sea. 

It was called twelve miles, straight out to the islands–a long pull and a warm one–but the morning was so quiet and sunny, and the lake so smooth and glassy and dead, that we could not resist the temptation. 

They filled their canteens, just in case as a precaution and pulled ashore at their destination.

You Can Imagine Twain Hiking the Terrain

The island was a long, moderately high hill of ashes–nothing but gray ashes and pumice-stone, in which we sunk to our knees at every step–and all around the top was a forbidding wall of scorched and blasted rocks. 

When we reached the top and got within the wall, we found simply a shallow, far-reaching basin, carpeted with ashes, and here and there a patch of fine sand. 

In places, picturesque jets of steam shot up out of crevices, giving evidence that although this ancient crater had gone out of active business, there was still some fire left in its furnaces. 

Twain found the island’s single brilliantly green pine tree amusing.

It contrasted strangely enough, did this vigorous and beautiful outcast, with its dead and dismal surroundings. 

It was like a cheerful spirit in a mourning household.

Across the two or three miles they explored in vain. And then …

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.