Friday, September 27, 2013

Lake Tahoe

 On Tuesday we moved from the western part of the state to the eastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which is about in the central part of California.  One of our goals while here has been to visit Lake Tahoe.  We took a two day car trip to visit that area on Wednesday. 
 A cool front came in Monday from the coast, so I guess we should have realized that there was going to be a change in the temperature, especially around Lake Tahoe which has an elevation of 6,000 feet.  It is hard to believe from the picture above, but our first day at the lake had periods of grey clouds overhead with occasional brief snow showers.  Actually, we were not sure whether to even call it snow, but it was not rain.  It can only be described as small pieces of ice which melted as soon as they hit the ground.  After each brief spitting of ice the sun would come out again.  Our trip the first day took us by Donner Memorial State Park..  We stopped there to view the memorial dedicated to the ill-fated Donner Party, 36 of whose members died in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when trapped by a snowstorm in 1846.  Our other stop for the day was at Vikingsholm, a Scandinavian stone castle built in 1929 by Mrs. Lora J.Knight.  The only way to reach the home is either by boat or by hiking about one mile down a steep mountain slope.  We chose the latter, and the walking path led us to the back door of Vikingsholm.  The front part of the house, facing the lake, is pictured below.
We found the history of this home to be quite fascinating.  Mrs. Knight's second husband came from Ladue, Missouri.  While in St.Louis she met Charles Lindbergh, who, a few years later, flew her over Lake Tahoe to assist her in finding a site for her home.  She chose Emerald Bay on the lake because the setting reminded her of  the fjords she had seen in Norway.  She fell in love with  the rugged mountains, waterfalls which cascaded down granite cliffs, and the tiny island in the bay.   On this island she had built a small tea house.                    
The house has many Scandinavian features, which can be seen in the picture below.  In the cozy living room are two intricately carved “dragon” beams which hang from the ceiling.  A corner fireplace is present in the room, which is characteristic of Scandinavian architecture.  Also in the room is a brightly painted bride’s table, a piece given to a Swedish peasant girl customarily by her parents at the time of her marriage.  A peasant's chair sits in front of the table
 A craftsman, of Scandinavian descent, was responsible for the elaborate wood carvings around the doors and the dragons on the roof's peaks.  Another interesting feature of the stone castle is the sod roof which covers the north and south wings of the courtyard.  Mrs. Knight did not keep a goat on the roof, but yearly had native wildflowers planted on the sod roof when she came to stay for the summer.  After leaving Emerald Bay we drove down into South Tahoe city for the night.  On that drive we came over a very narrow ridge where a beautiful vista of mountains and lakes opened up before us.  Tahoe Lake was off to our left and also in front of us, and Crystal Lake was off to our right.  The sun shone brightly over the mountains in the distance.  The road was quite narrow here, with no guard rails- John described it as "white-knuckle driving", but I sure enjoyed the view!

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