The Mountains Are Calling

The sun rises in the east, and sets in the west.
Moss grows on the north side of a tree.
Water flows downhill,
in case you ever lose your compass.

The above paragraph/poem is something I wrote down, memorized, from things I was told when I was younger. ( If you live in the southern hemisphere, moss likely grows on the south side, or shady side, of the tree. ) In fact, for quite a while, there was a compass in the sidebar of my webpage. I spent quite a bit of time traveling, and camping, when I was a kid. I’ve talked to people who “never went anywhere” when they were kids and they think all that “adventure” must have been the greatest thing ever. Sometimes, and sometimes not so much. (for background, Gypsy.) We didn’t go on “fancy” trips. There were several years of my youth where just about every weekend, we were “heading for the hills.” Places with names like Hell’s Half Acre, and Beaver Creek. Area reservoirs and lakes, Lake Tulloch, sometimes farther up into the foothills, up around Strawberry and Pinecrest, plenty of times all the way up in the mountains who knows where all. One of my uncles lived in the foothills for years, sometimes we’d go up around there. Point I’m making, I’m not a stranger to being up in the mountains. The last time I actually went camping, I was sixteen years old. I went with a group from the continuation school I was going to. We did the hike, backpacking, to Cathedral Lakes in Yosemite National Park. I went on that Cathedral Lakes trip for one reason, to decide for myself how I felt about the mountains. At that time, I hadn’t gone on any of the family trips for a couple of years. I’d stopped enjoying it long before because those trips had become nothing other than work for me. Most of the campgrounds, or places we found to camp, were not what were known as developed campgrounds in those years. We camped near water, and camp had to be “made”. It was the 1970s and into the 1980s, there was a continuous flow of alcohol and smoke among the adults on these trips. I was the oldest kid and the responsibility of it just got to be a complete misery for me. After I was diagnosed as having this arthritis, at thirteen, sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag was generally too painful. So, I decided I hated the mountains and, I think because of the arthritis, I was allowed to opt out. I went on that Cathedral Lakes trip because at sixteen, it occurred to me, maybe I didn’t hate the mountains, maybe it was everything else that went on with those family trips that I hated. The Cathedral Lakes are beautiful, by the way. Here’s a link.

My relationship with the mountains has been on again, off again, on again, ever since. I will tell you true, I do not camp. I will not camp. I do not like it, Sam I am. I like a nice hotel. I like me some indoor plumbing. I could see going camping in an rv, shower, bathroom, kitchen, etc., but let’s not get ahead of ourselves or digress any further down that road. I’ve been up to the mountains quite a few times in my adult life, in the last however many years. Up to Sonora, Jamestown, Columbia, to Pinecrest, and up to Lake Tahoe. The trip up to Lake Tahoe has usually been to South Lake Tahoe, to Stateline, Nevada, where the casinos are, which is where Heavenly Ski Resort is, and some fancy hotels with nice amenities. Well, even though there’ve been a couple of time in my life when I’ve been accused of being a pretty good card player, I’m not much for gambling, and as I no longer consume alcohol, and I do not ski, I got to thinking I wanted to check out some part of Lake Tahoe that despite all my years of living in this valley three hours from everything, I’d never been to before. Truthfully, I started looking into this a couple of years ago. I wanted to check out North Lake Tahoe, the California side. I wanted to check out Kings Beach, population 3,796, and a place called Tahoe City, population about 2,000, give or take. I thought it looked like a good area to take our mountain bikes up to.

Me at Wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz, Ca, 2017

Now, let me tell you about me mountain biking. I walk my mountain bike a lot sometimes. Getting a bicycle was, for me, a way to get some exercise that is, generally, usually, low impact. My husband goes off on trails, up hills, down hills, doing all kinds of stuff that is beyond my skill level. But, I go and I give it a shot. If I can’t do it, I don’t. A lot of times I’m only good for one day on the bike, then I’m having to take a day while my husband is up early and back out there. I try. And, I mean, I really try. When I first started trying all this, I had a big crash coming down a hill in Santa Cruz, landed on my face and my already messed up wrist. Got an inch long cut in my chin, a black eye, and went back out the next day. (I was wearing a helmet and sunglasses, gloves, proper gear, or it would have been worse.) I learned some lessons from that crash. I’m however old I am, I do have some physical limitations, I’m not out there looking to be Danny MacAskill. I’m just trying to get some exercise and keep it all moving.

So, that’s not quite a thousand words of preface. As previously stated, this trip was completely perspective altering. Let me ask you a rhetorical question, what do you think about coincidence? I tend to think that actual coincidence is meaningful, that it isn’t random. What I mean by “actual” is that coincidence, especially in this technological age, can be manufactured, in which case, it isn’t really a coincidence. Our phones and computers and certain social websites do it to us all the time, you post a pictures of puppies all the time, next thing you know you’re seeing nothing but ads for pet supplies and Cesar Milan wants to be your new best friend. So in this day and age, it might occasionally take some keen skills of discernment to separate the genuine coincidence from the manufactured b.s. Remember before we knew and we were like, “Hey! My phone is trying to sell me cookie jars, and I was just looking at cookie recipes! That’s amazing!” So, genuine coincidence, I don’t think is random. What a coincidence means to a person, one way or another, well, I guess that depends on the person.

So, we set out for Tahoe City, a place I’ve never been before. And I kind of didn’t even see all the coincidences, things that had some meaning to me, to begin with, it was kind of a slow roll starting, and then I was like, “Wait, what?” I won’t explain them all because that would take too long, but, there were a lot of them. I’m going to share some of the coincidences, and, just some pictures from the trip.

On the way up, we stopped at Nyack. I have stopped at Nyack before on some trip or another, not recently, however. There’s a Burger King there, a store, gas station. It isn’t quite to Emigrant Gap on Hwy 80.

This advertisement was in the store window…

…some may recall my wrestling match over whether or not to quit writing. The songs on the radio were all songs that are favorites of mine, or stuff that had some meaning to me.

About two weeks before we went on this trip, I bought a new picture…

…got up there, turned around, and saw this… one of the roads into Burton Creek State Park.

The list of horror movies, over forty of them total, that I originally posted on my webpage in 2011 for Halloween, was titled “Moonshine”. I’d no idea that Moonshine Ink is North Lake Tahoe’s Independent Newspaper. I took “Moonshine” idea for a title from a mis-remembered Einstein quote, “I want to know the thoughts of God, everything else is moonshine.” The list of horror movies, for Halloween, may or may not have been posted at the direction of my ego, but I’m thinking, it probably was, as much as I’ve wrestled with it. I don’t think I’ll be re-posting it again. Here’s the thing, any “horror” story I’ve written, that wasn’t the intention. I started to write a story and it went whatever direction it went in and there were elements of horror or not as pertained to the telling of the story, and I forgot that. I think that’s why I haven’t been able to get very far in writing a sequel to The Slick Furies, the vampire novel. The Slick Furies wasn’t intended to be a horror novel, it started out as a crime story, that’s what I intended to write, a straight-up detective story. If I wrote a sequel, I’d know from the outset it was about vampires and be intentionally writing horror, and I don’t do that. Does that matter? Yes, I think it does, intention matters. But, this is likely a discussion for another post. See where it says to “Keep Tahoe Smart”, I realized I need to check my ego, make sure I’m not just trying to sound smart, because that’s about as gratuitous as a list of horror movies that’s more than forty movies long. Sometimes we need to check our own “pollution” levels.


Commons Beach, Tahoe City

The sign tacked to the tree (above)Β  is how deep the snow was in March of 1952, twenty feet. There were bicycles and dogs everywhere. There were so many businesses that we went into where the owner’s dog was either wandering around the store or sleeping by the door or under some table. It was pretty super cool.

What a two million year old outcrop of volcanic rock looks like. (above)

In Burton Creek State Park, on the bikes.

I pushed my bike. I cried. The altitude got to me for a while. I got stung, repeatedly, by bees, or something akin to them, bit me through thick cold weather riding pants. But I didn’t quit. I also didn’t ride the next day, but, eh… It was so incredibly beautiful.

Way up, Lake Tahoe seen through the trees. And, zoomed in. (below)

The Fire Sign Cafe. It was a forty-five minute wait for a table. Place was packed, atmosphere was awesome, great energy. We had some amazing cafe mocha’s in their coffee house annex while we waited for our table. The soundtrack playing in the dining room was all songs from the 1970s, which was completely wonderful. The food was outstanding. Would go back there in heartbeat. I had half a Cobb salad and Pear Pecan coffee cake. It was amazingly good. My husband had a breakfast scramble that was equally delish.

We decided to check out some of the local bike shops while we were in Lake Tahoe. This was Gravity, a bike shop. Of course, Santa Cruz bikes are pretty popular so we were still seeing “Santa Cruz” signs.We snagged some new gloves here. Nice little shop.

Speaking of signs, in case you lose your compass. Each one of these signs had some coincidence attached to it for me, pinged something for me. The Compass sign being the most obvious. Some good coincidences, one not great at all, but life goes on. We had some ice cream at Poppy’s, it was really good.

At Kings Beach (below). Have I mentioned how much I don’t like littering? The water of Lake Tahoe is incredibly clear, even quite a ways out from the shore.



There are quite a few older hotels/motels in Kings Beach, many being updated. This old independent “Holliday” Inn caught my eye. I once wrote a western, “The Holliday”, spelled with two L’s, like Doc Holliday.

One of the coolest places at Kings Beach, I managed not to get a picture of, is a place called Blue Wolf Studios, where they sell locally made art, “to howl about.” But, I did get a hand made pottery cup for my tea. It’s my new favorite cup ever. I wish I could have afforded to get a dozen of these cups so I would know I’d always have one. So, here’s a picture of the cup, and a link to their webpage. They’re also on Instagram. The cup has Lake Tahoe on it, though they have many other wonderful pieces. Wolves have come to have a special symbolism and meaning for me personally, though I know that many people feel some connection to them for reasons all their very own. If you’re ever in Kings Beach, or, I guess, Reno, Blue Wolf Studios is worth a visit.

Dinner at The Blue Agave in Tahoe City, and walking around at dusk.
The Blue Agave is a Mexican Restaurant located in the building that used to be The Tahoe Inn. You can read about that history, and more about the restaurant here. I’ll tell you about our experience. We wanted to sit outside to have dinner with a view of the lake, this was no problem as we were there in the middle of the week after the fourth of July, and most of the other tourists had gone on home. The service was excellent, probably the best service we have had anywhere in a long time, not that we didn’t get great service other places, I’m saying it was way above and beyond. The food was delicious. I’ll also say that someone in Tahoe City recommended another Mexican restaurant to us, and we decided to stick with our plan to go to The Blue Agave, and I’m so glad we did. The Blue Agave has a super large selection of Tequila, previously my favorite poison. Well, it’s still my favorite, I just don’t drink it anymore. I had a non-alcoholic beer and Enchiladas Suissa, my husband had some Carne Asada, and we had some wings that were soooo good. When we asked our waiter his name, he said his name was Noey. Kind of an unusual name, at least, not one you hear everyday. In the book of stories I published, before we went on vacation, “Midnight at the Starlight Deluxe”, there’s a character one of the stories whose name is Noel, and one of her nicknames, is “Noey.” When our waiter said that his name was Noey, I was dumbfounded. Ever have one of those moments where you know you’re supposed to be exactly where you are at, for whatever reason(s)? Well, I was supposed to have dinner at The Blue Agave that night.


The view from our table.




the husband




my Near Beer. I’d post pictures of the food but I didn’t think of it until after we started devouring it and, that can be a little messy, so…

Walking around at dusk. (Below.)

Now I’m going to tell you where we stayed. We stayed at a place that has been there since 1927, called The Tamarack Lodge. It is a rustic, charming, off the beaten path, kind of a place. According to their history, Clark Gable loved the Tamarack, it was a favorite hideout of his for trout fishing. Actors Gary Cooper and Wallace Beery stayed there as well. For us, for taking the mountain bikes, it was completely perfect. The rooms have some wonderful amenities, many of them quite well updated. The outside of the lodge is woodsy, camp-like, with a giant outdoor fireplace and individual cabin rooms surrounding the main motel. The owners were as nice as can be. Their dog, Indie, wanders the property, keeping an eye on things. I’ll share a couple of pictures of our room. If you’re looking for pretentious or directly in town, this place might not be for you. If you’re looking for comfort, off the beaten path, laid back and kind of a hideaway, this is the place. We loved it and wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again. (*There’s a coincidence about this, I’ll tell you in a minute…)

Then we were on the way home again… stopped in Truckee, snow on the mountains.

Then we were back in the valley…

… this is part of living in the a Central Valley Rail-town ! Waiting at a rail crossing.

So, we get home, unload everything, and I’m immediately into doing the laundry. My husband gets his part of everything done, gets his Jeep squared back around however, etc. and after a while, he finally sits down. He’s clicking through shows and stops on an episode of “The Big Valley.” (Here’s the coincidence.) “The Big Valley”, season 1, episode 26, “By Force and Violence” guest starring Bruce Dern.Β  Caught the episode in the middle, Jarrod sits down at the table, tells Nick there’s an escaped killer on the loose, one that broke out of Tamarack Jail. Nick says, “That’s up by The Lodge, isn’t it?”
Now, there are other Tamaracks. There’s another lodge up there around Tahoe by that name, and there’s what used to be known as Camp Tamarack in Calaveras County. But, seeing as how we’d just got home from Tamarack Lodge, it was kind of tough not to take notice of the coincidence.

If you pick it up at about 26:37, you’ll catch the conversation that mentions Tamarack.


In the previous post, I was talking about ego. My ego, the one I once thought didn’t exist, hasn’t necessarily done me a lot of good. I once was, or at least seemed to be, one of the most outwardly confident people you would ever meet. I seemed to be quite secure in myself as a person. But not only that, I was of a generous spirit and nature, genuinely, with other people. I’ve had to dig really deep to figure out what all went wrong and what all I was trying to protect myself from. I’m probably still working some of that out. Our minds are so powerful. Sometimes when we can’t name the monster, everything has the potential to be the monster. But, I couldn’t have “shared” all this before like this, or, I could have when I was confident, when I was my true self, but at some point I became so deeply emotionally wounded, my ego would have just hoarded all this up for fear someone would “take it” from me, because something in me felt like it couldn’t afford to lose even one more thing. But, it’s all metaphorical and other such things, all that personal gobbledygook that I’m still sorting out. I went up there to the mountains, to a place I’d never been, thinking I was just taking a regular trip. I went up there having already conceded a lost faith in religion, in all/any religions (I’m not going to get into that because I truly believe each person has to figure such things out for themselves ) and questioning so many things, and doubting. I went up there thinking and wondering if anything was ever going to feel like it was falling into place for me again, and the “coincidences” started, what were for me, undeniable, genuine, coincidences, and I said to myself, “Okay. Okay, try again. There’s still mystery, there’s still some magic, there is yet wonder. Everything isn’t some manufactured, jaded, bunch of b.s. There are as yet dreams.” I had to find the me that I lost, so I could begin to rebuild me. I’ve missed me terribly, so much more than you could ever know. Apparently, some big part of my soul, was in the mountains. I’ve realized that while I don’t believe in religion, I do believe in “God”, however much we can really know of what God is, that all matter is energy, that God is the ocean, the mountains, the forests, hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, earthquakes, the spring rain, the summer sun, and the winter snow, for starters.


We’re all, each of us, a work in progress. Important to remember that, forgive ourselves, and keep going. If you ever get up around Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City and Kings Beach on the California side, are pretty great little towns. I can’t guarantee they’ll alter your perspective or provide you with new insight into yourself like they did for me, but they’re still great places to visit.Β  If you like to hike or ride mountain bikes, Burton Creek State Park is really beautiful. (So is a place called Wilder Ranch, in Santa Cruz, California.)