I work on-call in the tourism industry. Right now, with the economy the way it is, corporate tourism is way down so I haven't been working very much.
But when I do get called, it's always interesting, and sometimes downright fun. Yesterday evening, I got to shepherd a group for a Sunset Dinner/Dance Cruise on Lake Tahoe's MS Dixie II. The Dixie is one of three paddlewheelers on the Lake. We left from the dock on the east shore, the Nevada side of the Lake, crossed the south end of the Lake to the west shore, into and around Emerald Bay on the southwest corner, and back.
The Lake is 12 miles wide - it takes 3 hours to make this particular cruise. On the south shore, the lakeside casinos are on the Nevada side of the state line bisecting the lake. Heavenly Valley ski resort rises from a small base area just a few blocks away, on the California side, to an immense basin above, with a ridge straddling the state line between California and Nevada. Skiers can choose between the California runs overlooking the lake and the Nevada runs overlooking the sagebrush valley to the east. Freel Peak, at 10,891 ft, is the highest peak in the Tahoe Basin. Beyond Heavenly's base, it catches the last rays of the setting sun.
It was a beautiful evening - cold, of course, but no wind. The Lake was like glass. Lake level averages 6,225 feet above sea level, but can change daily depending on the weather. Tahoe ski resorts measure snowfall in feet, not inches. Mount Tallac dominates the view to the south, the only major peak to rise up right from the water's edge. (Clicking on any photo will bring up a bigger view)
The Lake is 22 miles long. It's hard to judge distance looking across water, especially in the thin, high mountain air, but those snow-covered mountains on the north shore are more than 20 miles away. The deepest part of the lake is off the north shore. At 1,645 ft deep, Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the U.S; the tenth deepest in the world. It never freezes, but never really warms up either.
The last photo I snapped, before completely losing the light, zooms in on Cave Rock, on the east shore. This large tan rock formation (also visible in the photo above this one), the core of an ancient volcano, is easily spotted from just about anywhere on the lake. The Washoe Indians, indigenous to the area, consider Cave Rock a sacred site - their ancestors used the original cave for religious ceremonies. Much to their dismay, a highway tunnel was blasted through the cave in the 1930's; a second bore added in the 1950's. They have succeeded however, in getting the Forest Service to declare the rock off-limits to climbers.
Dark comes early in the wintertime. Time to go inside for dinner. Afterwards, as we head back across the lake towards the dock, the stars are out, magnificent as well.