Hidden Gems: Exploring South Lake Tahoe in the Off-Season (Ep. 36)

This podcast episode was sponsored by Carson Valley and Tahoe South. While some of the activities, accommodations and meals were paid for by the sponsor, all opinions are my own without oversight. Tahoe South can be found: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Why just go to San Francisco, Las Vegas, or Yosemite which are going to be full of crowds and features you’ve seen in photos a million times - when there is a wonderful stretch of Nevada just waiting to be discovered

This week, I want to play a little theatre of the mind with you and take you along with me first to the beautiful skiing and lakeside town of South Lake Tahoe during the off-season to show you the beauty of the lake from several angles, fun activities for you and the family, great food and libations before heading down the Kingsbury grade into Carson Valley, an area rich in history and featuring a state-of-the-art distillery at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Rather than writing a blog you have to read through, you can experience the area by listending to the episode and then use the following guide to make your own plans to these wonderful hidden gems.

South Lake Tahoe and Stateline, Nevada

I flew into Reno International, picked up my car and headed down I-580 South onto a wide open highway that cruised the high desert valley between two big mountain ridges that were most definitely Nevada landscapes. Us East Coasters need to take a few minutes to acclimate to these wide open western spaces with the beige mountains to the left and scattered pine trees on the mountains to the right. But soon, I turned west onto US 50 and suddenly I was climbing one of those mountains, admiring some really cool rock formations to the left as I lifted in elevation to over 7000 ft and passed my first bear crossing sign. Once I had crested the mountain, I had one of those… "oh wow!" Moments. 

first sign of tahoe drive on US 50

There before me, peeking out from behind the trees, my first ever glimpse of Lake Tahoe. I have to say, I think Crater Lake in Oregon is the only other lake I’ve ever seen, that is that pure of a deep blue. Breathtaking. I mentioned to one of my hosts about that experience and she said she has that same feeling every time she rides over that stretch of road. I had to stop and soak it all in - and luckily the highway department had the foresight to put a nice big pull off area there.

When I got my jaw back in place, I drove the rest of the way down the mountain. A bit famished after a long morning of airplane flights, I decided lunch would be needed before I could head to my first destination, the Heavenly Gondola and Epic Discovery.  

Parking Around Stateline, Nevada

When I’m on a trip, I tend to spend a little more on food and attractions than I would when I’m at home, but parking is the one thing I always try to find inexpensive ways out of. I had been provided a map and it showed a couple of free spots where I could park, but I soon realized, they were a bit far for walking if I actually wanted to have time for my destination, so I parked at Harrah’s Casino, which offers free parking for the first hour then $10 for hours 1-4. I thought about doing this trip by finding transportation down and then just taking Lyft or Uber ride shares, but it wouldn’t have saved me much around the lake and would probably be less practical in the Valley. So I was glad I had the car.

california burger co heavenly valley sign

California Burger Co. at Heavenly Village

Location: 1001 Heavenly Village Way #2b, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

I headed toward Heavenly Village, which is not only the spot for my gondola ride, but also a hopping center of food, musical performers, local art, and even a movie theater. I remembered that Jenn had provided me with a large list of restaurants to check out and that the California Burger Company was here.  I had asked her where the places were in town with excellent whiskey selections since I was also working on my Whiskey Lore podcast project and she happily obliged.

tahoe south california burger co high west

California Burger Co. didn’t let me down. I ordered the Caprese - a delicious medium rare burger with Roma tomatoes, basil and a slab of mozzarella cheese on it, very interesting. And I knew I wouldn’t be driving for a few hours, so I ordered a flight of 3 High West whiskies. The bartender and other patrons chuckled as I asked for the bottles to be put in front of the flight so I could capture my Instagram moment.

The burger was excellent, loved the High West Campfire which tastes just like its name (it actually has Islay peated Scotch in it), the Double Rye wasn’t quite my speed as it had almost a gin-like botanical effect. 

I later got confirmation from some other establishments in town that this is definitely a place that collects whiskies and that collection is the best in Tahoe.

tahoe south ski heavenly gondola view

Heavenly Gondola and Epic Discovery

Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Head into Heavenly Village, purchase the Ultimate Adventure Pass and ride up the Heavenly Gondola for the following experiences.

I’ll say this, I tell people that heights make me nervous, but I always test myself.  So when you listen to the podcast,  hear how calm I am while the gondola takes off on a very slow and gradual climb up the mountain…

heavenly gondola ride up

...Then hear me after I realize that that wind I was feeling down by the lake was a bit stronger as the ride got steeper and steeper and had the gondola swaying a bit.

Let me tell you this, the view just gets better and better. Initially I was facing the mountain while riding up but that was making my imagination run wild. I was more comfortable turning around and looking as the casinos, golf course, and shoreline got smaller and smaller. You can see the entire lake from this perch. I think holding the camera below my eyes gave me something to focus on and soon I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  It was probably about the windiest they’ll let it get and still run the gondola, and honestly after I settled in, I was loving the view. If you come to Tahoe and miss this view, you have missed a lot.

Once you reach the first station, you’re ushered off to catch the sweeping views from along the sky walk. I was told the wind was actually blustering to around 40 mph. They watch the weather closely up there, which is definitely a comfort. 20 miles from North to South and you could the entire expanse of the lake.

ski heavenly chipmunk

The skywalk is very informative, with facts about the lake, it’s pristine nature, and why it is such an incredible blue (mostly the cleanliness and very deep depth of over 1000 ft).  I happened upon a chipmunk, which I think a lot of us East coasters love to see because they’re somewhat rare, as opposed to our large population of grey squirrels, and he seemed not to mind stopping for a pose. I walked the short .2 miles of Martin’s Trail to a set of rocks where you could look out over the lake unobstructed.  Again, wow! I was up there with some students from Ukraine that were taking all of their own Instagrammable shots.

tahoe south ski heavenly donations

After taking in the sights, I headed back to the gondola and on a continuous journey to the next level of the mountain known as Epic Discovery. Here is where all of the fun activities were. There was a ropes course, rock climbing, tubing, and even zip-lining for an extra fee.  I had the mountain roller coaster as part of my ticket and unlimited rides, which was good, because the first time I went, I was so excited to be on the coaster about to fling by a mountain top view of Lake Tahoe that I forgot to hit record on my podcast mic. The next time around, the jarring of the ride actually shut off my podcast recorder at the very beginning. Finally, third time’s a charm!

mountain roller coaster ski heavenly

Pretty cool that you can use the break to slow yourself if you need. The first time I went, I felt the need a couple of times. There are two jarring curves. However, the rest of it was just flat out fun and I didn’t use the breaks at all during the second rides. I love that you can go out by yourself or in pairs. Having your own controls really lets you enjoy at the pace you feel comfortable with. And flying at 27 mph, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but on one of these little two carriage riders

I could see families coming here and spending the day, or groups of friends, there are plenty of enough activities to fill a day. And at the end, you can grab a bite to eat at the Tamarack Ski Lodge. I know this place is probably amazing during the ski-season, but I found it just as entertaining during the shoulder season. 

After thoroughly enjoying the ride down the gondola, it was time for me to jump in the car and find my lodgings for the night at Ridge Tahoe.

tahoe south ridge tahoe tower snow

Ridge Tahoe Lodge

Location: 400 Ridge Club Dr, Stateline, NV 89449

When they call it Ridge Tahoe they aren’t kidding. After climbing up past Tahoe Rim Trail the lodge is right at the top of the mountain ridge looking down on Carson Valley. 

After an easy check-in, I entered my home for the next two nights and was pleased to see a little apartment with full kitchen, bedroom, and especially the washer and dryer! After a week on the road, I had planned to hit the laundromat, but this was a fantastic revelation.

tahoe south ridge tahoe tower

On top of that, I found “literally” a gift basket on the dining room table. They stocked it with some nice local goodies including some excellent ground coffee, muffins, local chocolates, and most importantly trail mix!  And just beyond that windows that would be perfect for watching the sunrise in the morning. Fireplace, place to stick your skis outside the room, and an amazing viewing spot for a coffee drinking sunrise or a jaccuzi for a beautiful evening sunset. 

I could imagine myself sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace warming myself after a long day of skiing. And you definitely get the impression this place is visited a lot in the winter by the ski supply storage right outside your room.

After freshening up a bit, It was time head off and meet my sponsor Jenn Boyd for dinner at the lakeside Edgewood Bistro.  

Ridge Tahoe had shuttles until the early evening, and I could always take a car share back up the hill, but I decided to drive the car back down and found a spot where there wouldn’t be a charge to park and decided to walk past Harrah’s Casino, Montblue, the Hard Rock Casino main drag of US 50 on my way to enjoy some food and learn a little more about the area from my host.

tahoe south edgewood bistro decor

Edgewood Bistro

Location: 180 Lake Pkwy, Stateline, NV 89449 | Website

The walk across the Edgewood Golf Course property was beautiful and it appeared an excellent sunset was on the way. This golf course recently expanded to add a rustic yet elegant looking lodge and this really classy and comfortable restaurant.

Jenn and I first had to clear up a major issue that bloggers probably don’t need to concern themselves with, but podcasters do. The pronunciation of Nevada.

She and the locals pronounce it Nah VAAH dah, it is a Spanish word, and the Spanish pronunciation is NEE vah da - but while the Spanish word means “snow-capped” I think it’s fair to signify a state that is no longer under Spanish control whatever pronunciation the community is comfortable with. My next trip will have to be to Oregon to figure that one out!

Dinner was a lot of fun. It was the first time I ordered food under the recommendation of what looked the most photogenic. Ahh yes, food choices brought via Instagrammability. The wine selection was a bit easier, as white wines tend to have a similar look.

tahoe south edgewood bistro salmon lamb

So we landed on the lamb chops and salmon and got extra plates so we could sample each. THe lamb chops had a nice sweet barbeque sauce and the salmon was a full portion, extremely well cooked. The wines and main courses matched up beautifully, thanks to the smart suggestions of our waiter. The wine matched with the barbequed lamb steak was the first almost peppery white wine I’d ever had and it was a really nice fit.

We talked about some of the great hiking spots I could take off for, like Trail to Nevada Beach Rabbit to - and around Zephyr Cove, where I’d be taking the MS Dixie II the next morning, and also the walk around Tahoe Rim Trail (Castle Rock). I’ve featured a lot of those in the show notes page. We also talked about all of the breweries in the area and I was especially interested in extending my whiskey tasting, and she suggested a few hot spots like 10 Crows Southern BBQ and a certain speakeasy which really caught my attention. I had never been to one and it suddenly jumped up on my list of to dos.

edgewood harvey wallbanger with tahoe blue vodka

As our plates were cleared away, the subject of desert came up, but instead, we decided to head over to the bar. MNF was finishing up at 8 pm - it does take me some getting used to West Coast living. At the bar, two specialties were suggested, one was the Harvey Wallbanger and the other a Chip Shot. Since there was coffee in the Chip Shot and I was really looking forward to a good nights sleep I opted for my first Harvey Wallbanger that has a black licorice flavor added to a screwdriver.  It was a great capper to a fun day.

Tahoe South is also a excellent place for beer:

Day 2

ridge tahoe early morning coffee

The next morning I was up early, tossing in a load of laundry, checking email and then making a fresh pot of coffee, so I could head out to the landing at Ridge Tahoe and watch the sun come up over Carson Valley.  Stunning!

My agenda for the day was to include a ride across Lake Tahoe to Emerald Bay on the MS Dixie II, then to grab a BBQ lunch at Ten Crows, do some trail walking, stop by the speakeasy, and then head off for a nice steak dinner at Park Prime and a tour of the Hard Rock Casino and Resort.

ms dixie ii sign

All I can say is, the weather had other plans for me. I drove over to Zephyr Cove and Beach, where the MS Dixie II was docked and was prepared to wander the beach. But the wind was kicking up quite a bit and the waves were hitting the shore pretty heavily. To look up, you’d think it was a perfect weather day. But off across the beautiful Lake Tahoe, there were heavy clouds forming at the peaks of the mountains.  We boarded the boat, but the wind was so loud, I couldn’t hear any of the announcements.  A few minutes later, they told us we could go get refunds, and that the waters and weather forecast were not cooperating.  I contacted Jenn and like the star she is, she reworked my schedule so I could enjoy the boat ride the next day. I’d heard such good things, I definitely didn’t want to miss it.

But what now?  I decided to head back to Heavenly Village and take a walk around the shops. There is plenty of cover, so I didn’t mind at all when it started to rain. I was checking out some of the nice local art in one of the shops and headed across to Ten Crows and mozied up to the bar. Hey mozying is what they do here in the west, right?

tahoe south 10 crows sign

Ten Crows Southern BBQ

Location: 4011 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 | Website

Ten Crows was on Jenn’s list of good whiskey bars, so I decided to pursue the bar and found a very competent selection. I ordered the half pound pulled pork and fresh made coleslaw and a Henry McKenna 10 year Bottled-in-Bond, a new love I had discovered a couple weeks before in Kentucky. Just smelling that whiskey was a pleasure. A fan of vanilla, it reminds me of a sweet and smooth vanilla extract and the flavor carries through to the palate.

tahoe south 10 crows southern bbq

I always like sitting at the bar when I travel solo, because it gives me a chance to get a feel for the local scene and pick up on local flavor. Andy, the bartender and I talked over a variety of subjects, including where to get great cocktails - he added the Loft to my list and re-emphasized California Burger and the speakeasy, and we talked about the new American Single Malt movement (American distilleries attempt at producing something similar to Scotch whiskey). I told him I was heading down to tour Bently’s Estate Distillery down in the valley and he said I’d be pleasantly surprised. When I turned to look out the window, I was shocked to see sleet falling from the sky! It’s the middle of September!

three whiskies meet in a bar 10 crows

Well, I was either going to head to a movie or continue my sipping ways, so I ordered an American Single Malt by the name of Westland - out of Seattle, which was good, it had a little piney kind of touch to it, and the bite told me it was a little young. Then as the snow continued, so I ordered a Hibiki Harmony - my first - yes first Japanese whiskey. And all I can say is, wow, I know why this stuff is so popular. It was a rich, flavorful, with a slight tanic bite. It had a very balanced presentation from sip to finish.

Andy and I talked about what the seasons were like in the area. He said it slows a bit after Labor Day and then it stays slow in October and then as the snow comes, it speeds back up. Weekends are usually hopping. It’s when the locals like to take trips. I get that, having grown up in a tourist town myself.

tahoe south heavenly village

Heavenly Village

I then decided to warm up with a cup of coffee and enjoy some of the music over at Heavenly Village.  I checked some email and then made my way back to Ridge Tahoe to relax for a little while. The sun came out while I was driving up through the snow covered hills - luckily the road was clear and when I rounded the corner I got some great photos, including the one featuring the tower at Ridge Tahoe where I was staying. All I could think is, skiers, it’s time to start booking your lodge now! Mother nature is getting ready in a hurry.

After a small nap and a load of clothes, I was heading back down the mountain for the evening's entertainment.

tahoe south community speakeasy

Community Speakeasy

Location: 1001 Heavenly Village Way Suite 3, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Every been to a speakeasy? I hadn't. How covert! Just walk into the Social House at Heavenly Village; ask the server if you can enter, then he takes you to a cooler - I kid you not - and punches a code into the keypad. Door opens and you're in.

Immediately you're taken by the dark and mysterious nature of the place. The whiskey bottles are all on shelves behind the bar and glowing with the light behind them. 

Leo, who is part owner, bar manager and mixologist extraordinare was whipping up some amazing cocktails and putting on a show. I asked him my same question about local drinks and he too balked. He suggested something called a Mary Summer Sour was all the rage that past Summer. It's a tequila drink made with egg whites - frothy, creamy and smooth. It sounds interesting. 

The whiskey list was really nice. They are part of the same company as California Burger Co. so they tend to join together to get some great whiskies on the shelf. 

I don't know why I just ordered a straight Bookers. I like the bourbon, but honestly, when someone makes cocktails that are close to performance art, I should be breaking old habits.

Leo said they've only been opened a year. And I said it was great that the Feds hadn’t busted down the door yet. A little nod back to the old illegal speakeasies. But those speakeasies served rockgut. In fact, that is why the cocktail caught on in the 1920's, to save people the horrible taste of the low quality liquors they had available. No such problem these days. 

I saw him pull a bottle of Laphroaig smokey scotch off the shelf and add it into a cocktail, I had to know what he was making. He said it was a drink where he added Woodford Reserve Rye that he had infused with green tea (which he said tasted horrible by itself) and then add the smoke of Laphroaig to top it off for an amazingly refreshing drink. 

I wish I lived closer to this place!

So, how much fun did I have at the speakeasy? I thought it was maybe 6 PM when I looked at my watch but nope, it was quarter to 7 and I was supposed to be over at Park Prime Steakhouse at the Hard Rock Casino for dinner by 7. 

I also was going to try to catch some of the sunset, but in a way, I was a little relieved to see clouds hiding the sun when I came out into the light of day.

tahoe south park prime steak

Park Prime at Hard Rock Casino and Resort

Location: 99-39 Lake Pkwy, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 | Website

My friend who said Nevada was more than just Las Vegas was right.

When I got to Park Prime, I met with Brandie who is the Director of Resort Marketing for the Hard Rock and she treated me to an amazing New York Striploin dinner - Prime beef aged 28 days, medium rare, cooked properly and well seasoned with roasted cauliflower.

They offered tomato bisque soup for an opener. I have never been a fan of tomato soup. But it tasted almost like spicy pasta sauce and was thick. I enjoyed it.

I asked what local whiskies they had besides Bently's which I would be trying the next day. They didn't have any, but said Blanton was popular.  I love Blanton's when I can get it. I’d say the pour was healthy (actually our server said it was the end of the bottle, so they just topped me off). No complaints here.

hard rock casino tahoe park prime bar

Brandie and I talked about the Hard Rock Casino and Resort. I told her I saw the sign promoting an evening with Dan Ackroyd. I was confused, was he singing? She said he actually owns a vodka brand called Crystal Head and he was coming to do a vodka tasting event in conjunction with Pinktober, a charity function that is meant to help families dealing with cancer. She said that they did things much different than in Vegas. In fact, they just had San Francisco 49ers Hall of Famer Jerry Rice there recently.

She talked about the different ways you could get around town and how the Hard Rock assisted people in getting from place to place. They have a lot of perks for skiers. She also mentioned the Hard Rock's commitment to upholding Tahoe’s interest in being green and sustainable, no plastic straws, leave no trace, be kind to the environment. And she talked about the resort's commitment to great guest experiences.

tahoe south park prime desert

And to her word of creating a great guest experience, after some very tasty and instagrammable deserts, she took me on a tour of the Hard Rock Casino.

As you’d expect in a Hard Rock, lots of rock and roll memorabilia, including one of my favorite musicians, the late Chris Squire of the band Yes - his Rickenbacker Bass and one of his outfits was on display.

elvis piano sahara tahoe hard rock casino

For Nirvana memorabilia and in case you think this is a new hotel, it actually used to be the Sahara Tahoe, and back in the 70’s Elvis Presley had a residency here, so you’ll actually get to see Elvis’ piano on site.

Day 3

tahoe south ridge trail

Tahoe Rim Trail and Other Brilliant Walks

Location: 466 Andria Dr, Glenbrook, NV 89413

The next day I woke up and met Valerie who was representing Tahoe South for a hike up Tahoe Rim Trail to Castle Rock. It was a great day to do it. The air was a bit brisk, but the snow on the ground made for a beautiful scene.

I asked her about the snow the day before and Tahoe weather and she said it was predictably unpredictable

We came across a woodpecker first, but he was having nothing to do with my camera lense. Valerie said that when you're walking, if you hold some crackers in your hand there are chickadees that will come and eat them from your hand. 

tahoe south castle rock rim trail

Then we saw some paw prints that I was a little unsure of (dog, coyote, or small bear). But after a few minutes I felt like a veteran tracker - I was like, oh, well a bear wouldn’t follow a path!  That Cub Scout badge was well earned! Valerie also said no worries about bears, they tend to be more afraid of us.

There are tons of trails around. Tahoe Rim Trail goes all the way around. However, the other’s are not necessarily connected, so you may have to conquer one at a time.

Pacific Crest Trail, she said, had hundreds of little lakes including Lake Aloha as well as it's own trail. There are also some trails and parks right down by all the action, including Van Sickle State Park with a nice waterfall and Cave Rock State Park just north of Zephyr Cove beach where I would be meeting my boat later on. 

We looked across the lake and she was naming off different peaks. So much beauty around!

I asked her about the Leave not trace behind campaign and she said it was one of many in the area. The credo is when you see it, pick it up. Clean up after camping, etc. She said around the mid 1960’s the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency  set restrictions on building on the lake and determined what could go into the lake.  Other organizations like Keep Tahoe Blue and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (who inspects all the boats that enter the lake) all work in unison to make sure Lake Tahoe is preserved for generations and all the wildlife. 

And that theme carried on to my next destination

ms dixie zephyr cove lake tahoe

MS Dixie II

Location: 760 US-50, Zephyr Cove, NV 89488 | Website

So my last stop was my rescheduled Daytime Cruise on the MS Dixie II. And the difference in weather was like day and night. Aggressive waves on the shore and wind that was blowing you around turned to extreme calm, tranquil waters, so clean and clear you could see right to the bottom when you stood on the docks.

The sun was shining, I took my place on the top deck at first and enjoyed some trail mix to hold me over. As the boat left the shore, it was beautiful seeing the full 360 degrees of the lake with sight lines across the 22 mile expanse. 

You could see where they had carved a fire line in the middle of the mountain. Someone said it was supposed to be cut on the state line, but they were a little off.   There is some narration along the way, but mostly the super sounds of the 70’s. 

tahoe south emerald bay

After an hour, I moved from top deck to the lower deck at the bow taking video and watching as we moved into those beautiful waters that reflect the bay's name - Emerald Bay.

I had no idea there was a castle there, the Vikingsholm was built in the 1920’s, as well as a little island that we passed by with what looked like a castle tower, but was in fact the remains of a tea house.  It felt like something from straight out of the Great Gatsby .

The narration continued, telling about the instability of the mountains near Emerald Bay and the multiple times they had to rebuild roads there.

I had a great time talking with people on board, learning where they were visiting from and exchanging our best of lists from the Tahoe area. I went down into the cabin area for a hot lunch of fish and chips and watched some of the video where they talk about the underwater expeditions on the lake.

lake tahoe from ms dixie ii

On the way back across, I just sat there and soaked it all in. I suddenly noticed about half way across that it was so peaceful and I could hear the waves...and just as I was about to say to the guy next to me - it’s so nice they shut the music off - Fleetwood Mac interrupted my thoughts.  Oh, well, minor bump. I’m sure many people appreciate the entertainment when the conversation with their friends dip down.

tahoe south harrahs casino

Conclusion to Visiting Tahoe South in the Off-Season

All in all, I had a wonderful time in Tahoe. It was a fun couple of days of rides, nature, a snow event, amazing food, and great people to talk to. 

If you want to keep up with the pictures from my travels, head to Facebook.com/travelfuelslife or Instagram.com/travelfuelslife (and on Instagram check out the story highlights on the profile page). 

So, what next? Well I had so much packed into my South Tahoe trip, I’m going to save my drive down the mountain into Carson Valley for our next episode.  We’ll be moving from lake activities, to old west history, family style dining, and a distillery and ranch that totally caught me off guard. Join me then!

Show Notes


Drew (00:14):
Hello everybody and welcome to Travel Fuels Life, the show we share stories, tips and inspiration to help you live a travel lifestyle. I'm your host, drew Hamish, and over the last couple of weeks I've been really reflecting a bit on my life as a podcaster and a blogger and this whole idea of living a travel lifestyle and got back from TBE and went out west and did some fun travels out there. And all that time, especially on the road trips, gave me a good time to sort of think through things and also kinda look back on season one and see all of the content that was successful and what stuff was probably not as successful. And I was really getting some good feedback on my trips to Ireland, Scotland, and Mexico, and some of the unique experiences that I was having in those places. So it got me thinking that while podcasters tend to, especially in the travel realm, tend to focus on marketers and specific tourist destinations that are very popular, I wanted to try something just a little bit different.

So the first thing was I thought, why don't I focus a little bit more on hidden gems? I mean, I like finding hidden gems and let's face it, I mean the popular places are getting overrun these days and I really do feel like we need to be cognizant of that. And so my mission in season two is to be a lot more intentional with my travel. And I think finding these hidden gems is the way to go. And second of all, I wanted you guys to hear my real world experiences with the places that I went rather than hearing it through someone who promotes the area for a living. So that brings us these final two episodes of season one. And I hear you saying season one. Wait a second, where are you going when season two? Well look for season two coming up in mid to late November.

I'm taking a couple of months off to start working on a second podcast called Whiskey Lore. More on that coming up. But I'm gonna take you along with me for these last two episodes to two tourist destinations. One this week is gonna be focused on Southlake Tahoe, which is a place that you may know of as a ski resort destination. But I thought I'd find out what this place is like during a shoulder season, what's it like when it's the off season, and kind of give you a feel of the area. And then next week's episode is gonna be based on a destination you may or may not have heard of. It's not far from Lake Tahoe and it's called Carson Valley. And this is in the High Desert. It's gonna spin you back into history in the old West, and it's going to yield one of the most fascinating distilleries that I have yet seen.

So this week let's focus in on Southlake Tahoe. And you don't have to worry about taking notes during this. I am putting all of the different places that I went into the show notes page with links so that you can get to all of that information. And I'll also have this full story on there as well. So you'll be able to get that@travelfuelslife.com slash podcasts. And I'll tell you more details at the end of the show. So just relax, put on your seatbelt if you're driving, come along for the ride as we discover Nevada. But before we go any further, these two episodes would not have been possible without the sponsorship and the generous amounts of time that were put in by Heidi, CTO and her team over at Carson Valley and Jen Boyd and her team at Tahoe South in Nevada. This was an extremely unique trip for me.

It's the first time I just let go of the reins and let somebody else fill out my agenda for the week. And they planned and coordinated all the activities from the food, the whiskey experiences, the lodging, and they even helped me get through a couple of bumps that were going on when the weather decided to be a little uncooperative. So I'm thankful for all their help there and I'm most thankful for them giving me the ability to relate all of my experiences through my own lens without any direction or oversight. So I think that's where you guys are gonna get a lot of value out of these two episodes. So thank you guys so much.

So I first arrived at Reno International Airport, which I think is probably the easiest place to fly into to get to this area because it's probably about 50 minutes of drive from there down to the South Tahoe area and also to the Carson Valley area. So I rented the car, no problem at the airport. I was on the road and immediately knew that I was in Nevada because the landscape is very, very high desert, very old west kind of feeling. And as you're driving through there, you're in this valley and you're looking at a mountain range over on your right side that has dotted pine trees all along it. And then often the other direction, you're seeing another mountain ridge over there and it's just these beige mountains and it's just a really cool kind of an experience. So you drive along there on I five 80 for a while and then you'll curve onto us 50.

And when you do that and you start to climb that mountain that's littered with all the pine trees, you'll see some really cool rock formations over on the left hand side of the road. I wanted to stop and take a picture. There was no place for me to really get a good shot. So I just kept on driving up and up and up. And you get to about 7,000 feet and there's a bear crossing sign and you go, I have arrived <laugh>. So you continue on, you crust that mountain, you start coming back down the hill and what do I see?

Seriously? I had to stop the car. Do you ever have one of these moments when you're just kind of awestruck by something that you've heard about your whole life but you haven't really seen? And now all of a sudden off in the distance, I'm seeing the pine trees lowering and this beautiful dark blue water off in the distance with a ridge of mountains behind them. Thank you Nevada Highway Department for putting a nice sizable pull off right there so that I could pull over and just soak that in because it is, it's a crazy moment. Just I love moments like that when you are just taken by surprise, even though something is coming up, it just kind of hits you and you're like, oh yeah, this is even better than I thought it would be. And it was funny cuz while I was in town and I was talking to, I think I was talking to Jen about this, that she says every time she comes over that hill, I relate it to Fort Pit Tunnel in Pittsburgh.

Every time I go through that, it doesn't matter, I get wowed every time I drive through that drive into Pittsburgh. And she says, same thing coming into Lake Tahoe. Every time she's away and she comes back, it's like, oh wow, I'm home. So great entrance into South Lake Tahoe and the Stateline Nevada area. So once I got my jaw off of the floor mats and back into position, I decided to head on down the mountain and grab some grub. Cuz I'm telling you, flying in those pretzels were just not doing it for me. So I had to go find a parking spot. And this was my first challenge because I had a map and it showed me some of the places where there was free parking. But I realized that that was way out of the way. So I decided to go park at Harris Casino and they have a sign up that says that it's free parking for the first hour, then they charge you $10 for hours one through four.

So that worked. I went ahead and parked there, walked on over to Heavenly Village, and this is a big shopping area and they have music going on there and it's where the Heavenly gondola takes off from. And that's what I was about to get to. So I thought, well, let me go get something to eat before I ride the gondola up the mountain. And I looked down my list of places that were suggested by Jen, my host, and she said that California Burger Company had the best whiskey selection in the area and she was not wrong. So I'm looking up on the shelf, I'm looking through their little leaflet tells you on their menu all the different whiskeys they have. And they had hundreds it seemed, I mean, there were definitely more than a hundred bottles up there on the wall, so lots to choose from.

And the food was looking good. And so I went ahead and ordered a burger from there that was called a caprini. I had a cooked medium rare, I tend to like it that way. So ordered that, and it comes with Roma tomatoes on it, basil, a little slab of mozzarella cheese. And I ordered that along with a flight of three high west whiskeys, which I had not tried before. And everybody laughed at me because I was asking for the bottles so that I could line them up so I could snap a picture of them. Instagram moment. But I'm legit, right? I got the Instagram account, this is, I'm working, I'm working. So I take the picture and then I devour that burger. That burger was really good and tried the little high west whiskeys. I actually ended up trying the campfire first because that's the one I was most curious about.

And I was glad I did because they had put the double rye as a sampler before I drank the campfire. And that double rye was very heavy in botanicals. And that was a flavor I couldn't really get out of my mouth for a period of time afterwards. So I don't know that I would've gotten the full effect out of the campfire had I gone in a different direction. So I was happy about that. But yeah, definitely great place to stop in and get some whiskey, especially for me who's looking for a little courage because I'm about to go riding up the Heavenly gondola to go see epic discovery and everything that's there at Ski Heavenly. And so here I go out to the gondola, get my tickets, get on and start to ride up this thing. And as you're riding up this gondola, you look behind you and you are really not climbing very fast. So I decided I was gonna give a little report of my experience. So give a listen to how calm I am on this initial introduction to my ride up. So I'm on the heavenly gondola, what a peaceful ride up this mountain. And the best part of this,

Speaker 2 (11:51):
Flip your head

Drew (11:52):
Around if your back is to the lake because the view just gets more and more incredible as you go up this thing cool hand Luke, man, I'm telling you now, hear me after I realize how windy it's starting to get as I'm writing up this thing and I turn around and look and realize that I am going at a very steep angle up this mountain all of a sudden. And it's got us rocking goodness. We're rocking a little bit. And that view is just absolutely intensely incredible. Seriously. That was about the windiest. They'll let it get before they would shut the thing down. And it wasn't that bad. If you don't see that view when you go to Tahoe, you have missed a lot. So caught those sweeping views from the gondola. But once you get to the top, there's this nice wooden skywalk that you can walk across and you get some amazing shots across the lake.

And this lake is 20 miles from end to end and you could see the entire deep blue lake and the mountains behind it. It was just a perfect day to be up there to be able to see all that stuff. And it's cool because they have little information stations there as you're walking along and you can read a little bit about the lake itself and its pristine nature and how the community takes care of it and why it's so incredibly blue, which has to do with the fact that it's about a thousand feet deep. So it is one of the deepest lakes in North America. And as you're walking a little further, you can step down the steps. And I actually happened by a chipmunk that was very friendly as chipmunks go, he let me take a picture of him without scurrying off too fast.

So that was cool. And then I continued my little march down, what's called Martin's Trail. It's a very short trail, but it actually leads you up to these rocks where there's a flag and you can climb up on those rocks. And there were some Ukrainian students up there and they were doing all their Instagrammable pictures from that very spot. And it was really a totally unobstructed view of the lake. Beautiful place to see. So I headed back to the gondola and there's another level to go to, and this is more where the ski area is, but there's a big area called epic discovery. And if you've got family and you wanna bring them for some fun activities, cool place to go. They got a ropes course, they got rock climbing, they got tubing, they got zip lining up there, all sorts of stuff. And they have a mountain roller coaster, which was the thing that I really wanted to get on and try.

And my ticket actually let me get through with unlimited rides. And I used those unlimited rides cuz I thought, oh, I'm going to go ahead and record myself on this thing. And that'd be really cool to hear during the podcast. But I forgot to hit the record button before I left. So I went through the whole thing and I'm, the ride was so cool, but it has a little break there and you can slow yourself down. And I was using that break a bit on my first time through. So the second time through I said, okay, I'm gonna record this, hit the record button, take off, and I'm gonna get through this whole ride without hitting the break. Well, I did accomplish the second part, but unfortunately the jarring of the ride made me hit the off button on my podcast recorder. So third time's a charm. Got through it. Here's what it sounded like. All right, I am making my final approach heading up a mountain coaster that is going to take me to a view of Lake Tahoe from the top of a mountain. This is crazy. Oh, it's those last 10 seconds before you round the top.

And off I go. Whoa, <laugh>, woohoo <laugh>. Look at that view. Oh man. Oh yes. Wow, this goes fast. <laugh> deceptive. 26 miles an hour. Wow. Ah, woohoo, <laugh>.

So keeping your composure and sounding professional it's a little bit tough to do, but hey had a good time while I was up there. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the gondola ride on the way back down. I mean it felt natural to be going down that direction and looking out at the beautiful waters of the lake and seeing the casino and the golf course and everything down below you. And then got to the bottom. And heck, I didn't wanna get off. I was ready to go back up again, but it was getting later in the day and I had a dinner arrangement. I was going to be going over to Edgewood Bistro, which is in a lodge that's been recently built over there, brand new restaurant. And Jen Boyd was gonna meet me over there for dinner and kind of gimme a lay of the land.

Some stuff that I'd be doing over the next couple of days. So I wanted to freshen up and got to Ridge Tahoe and the lodge is right at the very top of the mountain that overlooks Carson Valley. So when you drive up there, as soon as you get out of the car in the parking lot, it's like, look at this view. I mean it's just absolutely incredible. So got into my little apartment that I like to call little apartment cuz that's what it felt like. Definitely a lodge. I could see staying here for days and being very comfortable. Had a full kitchen bedroom, had a washer and dryer, which I really appreciated cuz I'd been on the road for a week and I was pretty much ready to go find a laundromat somewhere. So I got to do that in house. And they had a nice little gift basket for me, which I appreciated cuz not only did it have stuff like ground coffee in it and muffins and some local chocolates, but it had some trail mix in there, which I was thinking I needed to stop by the store and probably buy some.

Cuz when I'm traveling like this, I don't know when I'm gonna get a chance to stop and eat somewhere. So sometimes it's nice to have a little spare food around with you wherever you go. So very nice spot. I looked out the window, I'm right by where the jacuzzi is and you could see that there's a wonderful spot there to look down in the valley. Enjoy your coffee in the morning. So my morning was planned, good stuff. Now it was time for me to head down the mountain and I could have taken a shuttle down, but the shuttle doesn't run later at night, so I would've had to take a ride share back up. So I figured I'll just drive down there. I've got my car, found myself a free parking spot, and then did my walk around by Harris's Casino. And then I walked by Mount Blue, which is also a casino and the Hard Rock Casino across the street where I would be eating dinner the following night and then walked up through Edgewood.

And it's a beautiful walkthrough there. The sun was about to set and I thought, should I be inside eating or should I be out there watching this sunset? Cuz it looks like it's gonna be incredible. But went in and met Jen and we sat down and started talking about different things that I was gonna be taking part in over the next couple of days. But one of the things that popped up in the conversation, which I think you'll find interesting, and this is something that if I were doing a blog, I wouldn't have to worry about it. But because I'm doing a podcast, it's very important how I pronounce things. So the question is, how do I pronounce the state that I'm in?

Speaker 3 (20:16):
Well, as a native Nevadan myself, born and raised in Nevada that's all you're ever taught. There was no other pronunciation until you got older. You realized other people said it different way. You're like, what? Yeah, that's not right. And they're like, yeah, it's a Spanish word. I was like, okay, I get that, but it's still not right. <laugh>. Yeah, yeah.

Drew (20:37):
So she's absolutely right. It is a Spanish word and as a Spanish word it means snow capped and it's pronounced Nevada. However, we're not talking about snowcap, we're talking about a state. So if we're gonna be talking about a state and they wanna pronounce it Nevada, I think we'll let them go ahead and do that. What do you think? So keep yourself outta trouble when you're there. Probably best not to get the funny looks. And just go ahead and say Nevada while you're there, there's actually some videos you can watch of Brian Williams from NBC News, apologizing for mispronouncing it during an election campaign a couple years ago. So they take that stuff seriously out here. Okay it's Nevada, not Nevada. It's Oregon. Not Oregon, alright. And from my own perspective, it's Detroit, not Detroit. Okay, <laugh>. So there you go. So otherwise dinner was a whole lot of fun and we ordered our food in the most peculiar way.

I asked the server what's gonna photograph the best because I was looking down a list and everything looked fantastic and this is something that I wanna share with you guys and give you a chance to see some of the best of what I had to enjoy while I was here in Tahoe South. So I ordered the Irwin lamb chops and she ordered the wild aisle salmon. Then we ordered some extra plates and did some sampling of both. And yes, if you go out on Instagram and you follow the stories that I posted out there, you'll see the dinners and they look very nice. They look very nice and they tasted really great also. So that was a great way to cap off a very long day for me flying in and all else that I had done during the day and my time at the Heavenly Gondola and up at Epic Discovery.

And so when we got done with dinner, we were offered dessert, but actually we both decided it'd be better to head over to the cocktail bar and see what they had on the menu cuz I like to figure out what the local cocktail is if I can find out. Well in this particular case, there wasn't really necessarily anything other than a chip shot, which is a coffee drink. And I wasn't really in the mood to have coffee drink cuz I wanted to get back to my lodge and relax and sleep well and be ready for the next busy day. So instead I ordered the other drink that they said was popular locally, which is the Harvey Wall banger. And I had never had one before. Always curious about that name though. So I went ahead and ordered it and basically it's a screwdriver with a black licorice liqueur put into it.

So if that sounds a little weird to you, it actually tasted good to me. But then I also like black licorice. So although I don't know that I necessarily was picking the licorice notes out of there, but it was a good drink and it was a nice way to cap off the day. So I headed out of there after that and went back up to Ridge Tahoe and relaxed for the evening and was getting myself ready for day number two. So day two really started out on the right foot because I could see the sun was coming up, gave me enough time to go over and make a pot of coffee. And then I took my coffee cup, went outside and just enjoyed the sunrise and it was really beautiful coming up over Carson Valley. But then things kind of took a turn for the worse.

I went down to get on the boat, the MS two Dixie, and while we were standing there waiting for it, the wind was whipping up, it was looking a little for boating, these clouds coming up over the mountain ridge on the other side of the lake. You couldn't really hear the announcer who was telling you stuff over the loud speaker while you were on the boat. And so I was not surprised when somebody came over and said, well they've canceled the boat tour today, sorry, so well alright, everybody was going down to get their refunds. I went over to get in my car and to send a text over to Jen and let her know that this thing had been canceled. And while I was texting her, you could see all the sand from the beach was all kind of flying through the parking lot.

So I was like, yeah, no, I'm not doing any hiking or anything like that right now. So it ended up, after killing a little time, I ended up over at 10 Crows and that's right across from the Heavenly Village. And at 10 Crows I was able to sit down order some southern barbecue, a little coal slaw, and they had a nice whiskey selection. And that was part of the reason why that was one of the places that was suggested to me to go check out. And it wasn't as big as California Burger Company, but it actually had a really nice selection of whiskeys. So I ordered a Henry McKenna 10 year bottled in bond and sat there and sipped that while I was eating my dinner. And that was good. And after a little bit I turned around and looked out the window cuz I was getting ready to leave and it was snowing <laugh>.

And I said, it's snowing outside. And Andy looked outside the bartender, he said, it is, isn't it? And so I ordered another <laugh> I had an American whiskey and it was an American single malt whiskey. And I was asking Andy all sorts of questions about what the cocktail scene was like around the area. And he threw in a place called the Loft and said that was pretty cool to hang out in and that they made great cocktails. And also he mentioned the course, California Burger Company and he mentioned the speakeasy. So I knew the speakeasy was gonna have to be on my agenda for later on in the afternoon and before I left, I enjoyed a Japanese whiskey and that was really good. That was the first Japanese whiskey I'd ever had. So it was very, very smooth, very nice. In fact, smooth's not really the word for it, it was just balanced all the way through.

It was a very pleasant experience. So then I'd been there for about three hours and decided to walk across the street and have some coffee and maybe listen to some of the music performance that was going on out there. And again, answer a few emails and that sort of thing before I headed up back to Ridge Tahoe. And when I got up to Ridge Tahoe, it was snow covered and it was so beautiful. And so I was stopping the car three or four times to take pictures when I would see, wow, that's just beautiful. I gotta take a picture of that. It's like I got to see both sides of Tahoe. And that was just so cool. So took my pictures and then got back, finished up my clothes, took a little nap, and then I was ready for the rest of my day, which included heading back down to the speakeasy.

So if you've never been to a speakeasy before, which I hadn't then I don't know if it's gonna be exactly like this, these guys just played this up completely. When you go in, you go into a deli called the Social House and you have to ask to go into the speakeasy. Then they take you back to this cooler door and they punch in a code, open it, and they let you in. And you walk into this dark, mysterious room that has whiskey bottles up on the wall behind the bar. And all of them are kind of glowing. It's really dark in there. And then you sit down at the bar and overcomes Leo. He's the guy mixing the cocktails, he's also the bar manager in there and part owner of the place. And just have him mix you a cocktail. Holy cow. I mean I was watching what he was doing and it was like performance art.

The things he was making were beautiful. Watching how he was pouring the stuff together, mixing it up, doing the shaking, and then the peoples were, they were smiling when he was giving them the drinks. So they were obviously liking them. I was ordering my straight whiskey, I always do. And I gotta kick that habit when I go into a place where they make cocktails that, well I really, I gotta try him out. So I was having my bookers whiskey and having a chat back and forth with Leo and I watched him, he was pouring some La Freid, which is a smoky scotch into a drink. And I thought, what the heck is that? I have never even thought of using Laf Freid as a mixer because it's very smoky and it's very distinctive as to what it is, but I only think of drinking that straight.

And when I asked him what he was doing with it, he said, well, I'm mixing it into this cocktail where I also mix in some Woodford rye and it's Woodford rye that he's infused with green tea, which he said tasted horrible by itself. But when you mixed it in with this particular cocktail and then added the smokiness of lefroy to it, it just made it wonderful. And I thought mean this whole mixology thing is very much like a chef. I mean taking all of these different ingredients and coming up with things that you would never dream of putting together. And somehow they just work. So if you ever get a chance when you're in Tahoe and you go down there to the Heavenly Village area, make sure to stop in Social House and go back into the community speakeasy cuz it is a very cool experience.

So how much did I enjoy that speakeasy? Well, I was looking at my watch and it was 6 45 and I was supposed to be across the street at the Hard Rock Casino at seven. So I hightailed it over there. I was gonna take some sunset pictures, but it was cloudy anyway, so that wouldn't have worked out. And I got across the street and Brandy was waiting for me. It was straight up seven o'clock. And we both headed into the park Prime Steakhouse, which is there in the Hard Rock casino and had a delicious meal and a great conversation. They aged their steaks for 28 days. This was a 16 ounce New York strip loin. And it was excellent. I ordered it medium rare and it came well seasoned and cooked to perfection. So I was very happy with that and actually enjoyed a Blanton's along with that.

They had a really nice selection of whiskeys over on the bar. And so being a whiskey themed trip for the most part, I figured, okay, here we go, do that. And Blanton's is really good. So I enjoyed that. And they filled a hearty glass, actually I didn't complain about it. I was just like, oh, that's a pretty hearty pour there. And she said, oh yeah, yeah, we were just finishing the bottle out. I was like, okay, that works for me. And we had some really nice desserts. We talked a bit about Tahoe and how Hard Rock works with the community and tries to actually, what caught my attention was when I was walking across the street, I saw that Dan Arod was gonna be there and I said, oh that's interesting. Is he doing blues brother stuff? Is he stand up? What's he doing? And she said, well no, actually, he owns a vodka company called Crystal Head and they're doing a tasting event.

So when you think of casinos and you think about the kind of stuff that they might be doing, the big Vegas shows and all that sort of thing, this is a little bit different. And so they said he came a couple years ago and they had a really good event with him and he's great with a crowd and they're doing something called Pink Tober to help families dealing with cancer. And so they're kind of rolling him in with all the events that they're doing around that. So great stuff and good stuff for the community. And again, we talked a bit about Tahoe and how they would help people experience it. And she said she really liked to emphasize the local nature of Lake Tahoe. It's a destination, it's somewhere that somebody is going to go mostly for nature or to go skiing. And so they try to wrap their events and things that they're doing around that. And also assisting the people who are staying there at the casino and resort to be able to get around town. So that was a big question for me. How do you get around Lake Tahoe?

Speaker 3 (33:50):
Yeah, so there's a lot of ways to get around town and I would say it varies by season, right? But we're easy to get to or easy around. There's Ubers, there's Lyfts, there's the Tart, which is the Tahoe area transit system essentially. And it's very lawful. So for example, from the Hard Rock to heavenly, it's only essentially a block. So your skiing, you can get there. And we are lucky cuz we have a steam valley. So you flew in, didn't rented your gear at Powder House, which is rent house rental shop, they'll bring all your gear over for you. Oh wow. Drop it off the mountain So you can just enjoy the walk too and not to worry about that. Stop and enjoy the little places along the way and come back and it's really not that bad. It's really not bad at all. I do it all the time. I'm like, I don't wanna drive down there, I'm just gonna walk over there my steps for the day. And there's line bikes and the scooters everywhere and during the summer everybody does that. And that's so fun cause you enjoy that scenery a little bit slower, but you get there quickly. Yeah, yeah. It's not a lot of work because it's electric. So people tend to look really like that. And for us, we are focused on that experience cause we wanna create that memorable experience, an authentic experience.

Drew (35:05):
And after having run across the street, I can definitely attest to the fact that it's pretty easy to get around Lake Tahoe. A actually, you know what? I didn't think once about getting any kind of transportation because I was so close to everything once I would park in the general vicinity. So lots of stuff to do around there. But good to know, there are different ways to get around. And Lake Tahoe is a really big place. So there's a lot of different places that you could be going to from walking the trails to going to the casinos to doing the nightlife or doing your skiing or whatever you may be doing. So very cool. And Brandy took me around Hard Rock Casino, I don't know if you knew this or not, but it actually used to be a place of residency for Elvis Presley because before it was a hard rock casino, it was the Sahara Tahoe.

And so there's a lot of history in there. You can see his old piano is there, there's Nirvana stuff. I was very impressed that they actually had one of my favorite musicians, Chris Squire of yes, they had his bass there and some of his outfits. And that was very cool. So definitely a cool experience for day two and wrapping all of that up. So onto day number three. So day three started out really nice and it started with a little walk. I met up with Valerie with Tahoe South, and we went for a hike up the Tahoe Rim Trail up to Castle Rock. It was about an hour long walk that we did. Didn't take the whole way around the lake, that would've taken a long time, but it was a great day to do it. And the air was brisk, the snow was down on the ground, it was just making for some beautiful scenery, lots of shots of the lake off in the distance and the mountains.

And I asked her about the snow the day before and she said, well, Tahoe weather's just predictably unpredictable, so hey, you never know what you're gonna get. And as we were walking along, I heard a woodpecker doing his business and we tried to get some pictures of him, but unfortunately he kept hiding behind the tree every time I tried to take a picture of my camera kept focusing on the branches. So that didn't work out so well. But she mentioned that they have chickies there and if you have some crackers with you, you can hold your hand out and they'll come right up and eat out of your hand, which would be a cool experience. As we were walking along and there was snow on the path, I saw these little tracks that were running next to a human's footprints. They didn't look like a dog's paw to me.

I was a little unsure. And she said, well, I don't know, maybe it's a coyote or something like that. And I thought, well maybe it's a small bear or something. But as we kept walking along, I noticed that the little paw prints kept following the human feet. So I was like, okay, I think we're fine. Looks like it's a domesticated animal, whatever it is. And I laugh because I think, well that Cub Scout badge of mine is still earned <laugh>. I guess that was my veteran tracker side coming out. I felt proud at that moment actually. But we continue walking along and she was telling me a lot about the trails around there. She said not only the Tahoe Rim trail, but some of these other trails were disconnected. So you kind of had a plan to go to each one individually. But she mentioned the Pacific Crest Trail and she mentioned that that went by a bunch of little lakes and Lake Aloha was there and it had its own trail.

And then even down by the casinos and in that area and the Heavenly Gondola there is the Van Sickle State Park with a nice waterfall and just north of Zephyr Cove where I was headed to. There's Cave rock, state Park. So lots of different places to experience while you're there. Definitely a place for nature. And she was naming off some of the mountain peaks off in the distance. We were talking about how there's this leave no trace behind program. And she said that's just one of a lot campaigns that have been going on since way back in the mid sixties when the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency came along and start setting some restrictions on how much building could be done around the lake. And you definitely notice that there aren't any mansions sticking out on the water side. And I think that's one of the things that really makes this lake an amazing thing to see.

It feels so different and it's not just the blueness of the water, but it's also the fact that it hasn't been built up all around there. And so it's wonderful to see that they wanna keep that tradition and keep the place as natural as possible. So my last stop was my rescheduled daytime cruise on the Ms Dixie two. And I gotta tell you, the difference in the weather was like night and day. I mean, we went from aggressive waves and blowing wind to extremely calm, tranquil waters. It was so clear that you could actually see the bottom of the water as you were walking out on the dock. It was just a beautiful, beautiful scene. So sun shining. I got up on the top deck and I pulled out a little trail mix to kind of give myself a snack cuz I was getting kind of hungry.

And then we left the shore, we were just kind of cruising out into the lake and you get the whole 360 of that lake around you and it is so beautiful and again, so calm. The only thing that was making noise was us kind of floating through the water with the super sound of the seventies coming out of the speakers and occasionally the narrator coming on and telling us some of the things that we should be watching for and some of the history of the lake. So after an hour or so, we start to move into Emerald Bay and I can tell you that the best place to be is on the bow of the ship. And actually the lower deck is really nice cuz you get a little bit of shade while you're down there and these mountains up above you. And you come into this little bay and you realize instantly why they call it Emerald Bay.

It is that water is truly an emerald color. And I didn't know that there was a castle that was actually built there on the shore, or it's sort of castle like. It's called the Viking Zone. And it was built in the 1920s and you pass by an island on the way in and that's part of the same property and it looks like there's a castle up on top of that hill when you pass it by. But it's actually the remains of a tea house that was built up there in the 1920s. So it definitely felt like something out of the Great Gatsby. It was a very cool thing to see as you went through there. And then the narrator continues telling the story of all of that. And he talks about the instability of the mountains and how they would have these little rock slides that would come down and they had to rebuild the roads through there a couple of times.

And I was talking to people around me, we were having a good time talking about what our favorite parts of Tahoe were and some of the other stuff that we had done on our travels. And so that was a lot of fun. And I went down into the cabin and they have a whole lunch area down there. They do sunset cruises also so that you can have dinner on the boat. But I was down there having some fish and chips and they had a video going and it was talking about some of their underwater expeditions that they had done throughout the lake. And so that was interesting to watch for a while. And then I went back up as we were crossing back across Lake Tahoe and just sat on the deck and it was so peaceful and I was enjoying the sound of the waves and suddenly I realized there was no announcer and there was no super sounds of the seventies.

And I was just about to turn to the guy next to me and say, isn't it nice that they shut the music off when my thought was interrupted by Fleetwood Mac <laugh>? Oh well, small bump, small bump. But I mean, I'm sure there are people who enjoy the musical entertainment along the way if they're traveling with somebody that they've run out of conversation with and they're just kind of ready to zone out and that sort of thing. It is a long trip, two and a half hours. But I enjoyed every single second of that. So all in all, I had a wonderful time in Tahoe. It was a fun couple days of Rides Nature, a snow event, amazing food whiskeys, great people to talk to. And I did all of this in the off season. So there is plenty to do in Tahoe any time of the year and great when there's not a lot of crowds around.

So if you want to see any of the stuff that I did while I was on my travels, you can head to facebook.com/travel fuels life or instagram.com/travel fuels life. And in fact, there, if you go to my profile page, you'll see a story link there that has a flow through of all of the pictures from my travels. So you can see that at instagram.com/travel fuels life. And for links or any information from any of the places that I visited on this trip, just head to travel fuels life.com/podcasts and find the show notes for episode number 36 to all the links and information in there for you. So what's next? Well, I was supposed to add Carson Valley into this episode and all I had to do was cruise on down the hill to get there. But I did so much stuff in Lake Tahoe and actually I did so much stuff in Carson Valley that it needed to be two separate episodes. So we're gonna move from lake activities into the Old West and some history, the high desert, some family style dining, and a distillery in a ranch that caught me completely off guard. So check that out. It's coming up on the next episode. And until then, have safe travels and thanks for listening to Travel Fuels Live.


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