When given an opportunity to check out someplace completely new, I jump at it!
Hahaha, I’m totally kidding! I first have to weigh whether or not I’m ‘feeling it’ versus how I’ll feel if I let the moment go and therefore perhaps waste my one chance to (fill in the blank). Sometimes I pass up opportunities out of sheer laziness…but I’m trying to get better at that. Sometimes I haul my ass out into the world and not much happens, and I wonder if I wouldn’t have been better off staying where I was, with my book and my snacks nearby.
Recently I was at the Community of Writers Conference at Squaw Valley. Aside from the four-hour drive up, during which I ate my weight in trail mix and caught up on all of my downloaded episodes of Unhappy Hour with Matt Bellasai, I spent the majority of an entire week reading, editing and constructively critiquing other writers’ work, and having the same done to mine. When not doing that, I was attending any number of panel discussions, readings, craft talks and whatnot galore, with not even a single behind-the-door crying session in between.
We attendees did, however, have one afternoon and evening free to run wild through the Valley, as writers are apt to do in these situations. Having just had my own writing submission workshopped that morning and feeling the need to decompress, I declined invitations from roommates and workshop pals to accompany them on super-uphill mountain hikes, or sneaking into and then lazing by the nearby Lodge pool. Instead, I chose to spend my time with my favorite travel companion: myself.
I drove the five minutes to Tahoe City, where I had lunch while reading through the next day’s writing samples, my right hand alternating between marking the page and forking way-too-big bites of rice into my mouth. Yes, I did have to write a “sorry about the salsa!” note on more than one manuscript.
I then meandered up and down the couple blocks of Tahoe City, getting the lay of the land, and quickly dubbed North Lake Tahoe “Way Better than South Lake Tahoe”.
So, now it’s official.
I can’t tell you too many specifics about Tahoe City because frankly my head wasn’t in the game and I wasn’t paying much attention as I walked along. So, I’ll just share what I did:
- I bought a beautiful, soft pullover shawl because I’ve been searching for one ever since I discovered I am actually a very fancy lady who can totally pull off a pullover shawl.
- I walked in and out of a lot of shops but did not buy anything because I’d just spent my monthly budget on above-mentioned item.
- I bought a strawberry ice cream cone, then rushed as fast as I could in the hot Sierra sun to a spot where I could take an instagram-worthy photo of it in front of the water, but it soon started dripping all over me, sending me reeling with flashbacks of helplessness in ice-cream-cone situations during my childhood, causing me to lick it only as minimally as I possibly could to maintain its perfection for the photo, which somehow made it look more and more penis-y, which made me feel super weird, and so I eventually gave up and laughed at myself, much to the confusion of the very-much-present waitress standing nearby. I hadn’t noticed that in my quest for that great lake view, I’d wandered onto the deck of a restaurant being set up for its dinner service.
…so close…but, not.
So, that was fun.
I then did what I’d really come to do: space out and not engage with other humans. I found a delightfully shaded and breezy little path which lay parallel and uphill from the shore of the lake. There were charming log benches here and there, and I stopped to sit on one behind a bonafide log cabin to eat the rest of my ice cream in peace (i.e. not within sight of the public so as to avoid further humiliation). The view was chart-topping and so I stayed there for a while, enjoying the breeze, pondering life’s wonders, halfheartedly scrubbing away at the ice cream drips on my dress with a licked finger.
Even the lake seemed better on the North Shore, with adorable families frolicking in the water and only one or two gigantic, view-ruining inflatable flamingos and unicorns. A Tahoe beach sans bros making the scene feel all rapey was just what the doctor ordered. (Side note: I could be judging all South Lake Tahoe on one experience at Zephyr Cove on a hot weekend. I’ll be returning soon to find out, but if this is the case, you have my apologies).
After those very few non-strenuous activities, I’d kind of run out of things to do. It was getting later in the day and so renting a paddle board, or kayak, or giant inflatable unicorn were out of the question for me. I decided to return to my little wood-paneled condo and see what was happening there.
As I drove, I realized that dammit, I wasn’t quite ready to return. The Truckee River was glistening away in all of its glory, and perhaps needless to say, I began to long for it. Thinking about returning to the little room waiting for me began to feel a bit…depressing.
But then, I saw it: a small turnoff on the side of the highway. I pulled the car over and hiked down a little trail, where I found a tiny pristine beach with not a soul in sight. The water directly in front of the sandy shore was calm and cool, while the water on the far side was roaring along, creating a dramatic – and potentially dangerous – swimming spot. It was everything. I stripped off my dress and waded into the cold water, slowly, inch by inch, until I was waist-high and smiling from ear to ear; I am most happy when in the water. I stayed there watching the raging water just a few feet away until my legs began to numb. And then I stayed a bit longer.
This little swim stop, complete with climbing and sunning on large boulders, was the absolute perfect way to close my day. I returned to my wood-paneled condo and the entire conference a changed woman; a woman perhaps, in fact, reborn in the Truckee River.
I’m so glad I decided this one was worth jumping for.