Birthday in South Lake Tahoe

Thank you to all of you who wished me Happy Birthday by various 21st-century means! At Lizzie’s strong encouraging we took a 3-day road trip to Tahoe. Of course we did not check the news to discover that Tahoe is about as snow-free as San Francisco at the moment–actually that became front-page news the day we got there, with our skis and poles on the roof. We are hoping that we are the wishful-thinking talismans who will bring actual snow. Meanwhile, we had to find other things to do as a group.

Lizzie at Emerald Bay

Note the dry ground behind Lizzie–but the weather was beautiful! We went to Emerald Bay, and hiked down to the water…

Picnic table at Emerald Bay

…where the kids found the coolest picnic table EVER. It is literally in the water.

Vikingsholm: left profile

And we found Vikingsholm, a summer pad build with pre-Depression money in 1929.

Vikingsholm bay window

Pretty awesome detailing! Glad it is accessible to the public as part of the state park system!

Vikinsholm left profile

Gabriel thought it was ‘okay.’

Deco stairway

The ‘period’ architecture of Vikingsholm made me realize something else: some of the best Deco architecture in California is the public-park stonework, especially stairways. Whereas there are fabulous private-money skyscrapers in Manhattan from the 1920s and 1930s, virtually all the good Deco architecture in the rest of the country is public: post offices, city halls and halls of justice, and infrastructure. The best in the Bay Area is the Golden Gate Bridge. What I had not thought about before is the park infrastructure that was also such an excellent expression of the aesthetic of that time.

Joint services wedding

Speaking of public service: as we hiked back up to the Highway 89 overlook of Emerald Bay, we came upon this stunning wedding party! I call this the Joint Services Wedding Party. The men, from left to right, are: Army (10th Mountain Division); Firefighter; Navy Officer (the groom); Air Force; Marines. “What are the women, though?” Lizzie asked herself, and then realized the answer: “Ninjas. They are all beautiful-but-deadly ninjas.”

Lizzie on Eagle Lake

Following the advice of our hotel concierge we just continued on up the canyon above Emerald Bay, to Eagle Lake–which is frozen, and situated in a stunningly beautiful basin just inside of Desolation Wilderness.

the family on Eagle Lake

We all had a fine time running around, as other skated and dogs scrambled.

Pressure crack: conchoidal fracture

The coolest thing I found–beside the whole lake itself–as a series of pressure-cracks in the ice. There were many simple cracks, but some had formed after the ice sheet had become pretty solid. With these, the little cracks always oriented the same way even if the overall crack changed direction. So up close, a crack running diagonal to the direction of pressure would be a series of conchoidal-form (spiral) cracks.

Conchoidal cracks: closeup

Here is a closeup of the same image as above. The images may seem blurred, but that is because the bubbles frozen into the ice have left upward ‘tracks’ as they have migrated towards the surface. Uncannily beautiful!

Panjabi on ice

And, just to complete the true Californianess of this hike, a large group of young men arrived on the ice just as we were leaving. Our local public radio station had just run an ‘Only in California’ photo contest, and I thought of that as I asked this fellow to hold still for a photo. I guessed rightly that his family is Punjabi, but he is with about forty guys, mostly from UC Davis, who come up each year for fun-in-the-snow! He mentioned that they hail from all over: Palestine, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan…so I hollered out to the group in Farsi to find the Afghan in the crowd. We had some good laughs about who is in-or-out-of-place, and where!

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