America Through my eyes -Lake Tahoe

Telugu Original : Dr K.Geeta 

English translation: Swathi Sripada

 

Lake Tahoe

watching snow for the first time in life is a beautiful dream. A great feeling. Incessant pleasantness. Lake Tahoe is the place of a mixture of  all this. It is about 220 miles from our home to the northeast. The word Tahoe means lake in the local Washoe language.

It is a great freshwater lake spread over 71 miles in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 6225 feet above sea level and 1645 feet deep. Alpine Lake is so high, so clean and fresh with all its water. To consider the lake  only as a summer getaway is a mistake. The snowfall in winter season in the surrounding has caused many sightseers to ski in the mountain ranges around the lake for summer sports.

Travel

In America, on February 2 on Ground Hog Day, they say the number of weeks yet winter persists. All this appears like a folk tale. Varu returned home from school and said, “Ground hog ran away inside”. That means the Winter stays only six weeks, or that it looks  at the shadow, so Early Spring “ Varu exclaims. It is a major event held annually in the state of Pennsylvania. Based on it, at other places also estimate the nature of wintertime nature bound. With the winter still six weeks more in that year, we set out on a trip. 

Lake Tahoe takes about four and a half to five hours from our village.  Halfway through will be Sacramento, California’s capital city. We have to go crossing it.  Still, we always go watching everything on the way. In addition, we set off on a Friday evening in the winter break. The darkness fell by the time we reached Sacramento in a rush of traffic. We have to stay there that night and travel the next morning. According to the rules and regulations, car chains should be placed on the tires if there is too much snow on the way. That’s why, to be on the safe side,  we bought the chains before leaving the home. Often people will be available to tighten chains when snowstorms are coming. We read online that it is better to pay for their help than to suffer in the snow. They are as the chain Monkeys. Wonderful hills around the highway road. Sunlight is shiny. There are no chain monkeys, not even original monkeys.

Our car started to  climb the hillside. We began to feel disappointed expecting absence of snow. When we were still forty miles away, the roadside suddenly appeared as if salt was sprinkled the snow appeared in heaps.  But the color seemed as if browned turning dirty. However, unable to control our happiness we stopped at the spot, till we feel satisfied touched the frozen ice lumps in hands and felt enraptured. From there the tree bases  and the roofs of the houses along the road were covered with snow resembling milky foam . Two days back it snowed there heavily it seems. When snowballs it remains soft as cotton wool but now it was solidly frozen. If falls by slithering or by  dashing it hits harder than a stone.

By the time we reached there it was past lunch time.  We went to an Indian restaurant, the first one we saw. Food was not so great. But the children ate it eagerly. The entire day was enough to explore the city. People here, mainly go to  Heavenly to take part in sports and trek on the ice hills. It is located in the heart of the town next to the main road. Lake Tahoe is the home of two cities. One north, and the other on the south. These are all in the south where we were. Nevada a neighboring state begins from the middle of the village.  There do not exist some restrictions as in California. Large casino runs along that junction. South Lake Tahoe is the only one by the side of the highway in the entire town that stretches five to six miles around. It is mainly a tourist spot.

Lake View

We stayed in lake view hotel. On the outside only white snow is visible but the sun is good and there is not much cold. There is snow piled up in our balcony too. But the balcony was locked by the glass doors for repairs as if they were kept delicious sweets and asked us not to eat.  Spacious cool tranquil lake on the other side, in front of us. Snow covering the sand on the shore close to the lake. Strangely, the water in the lake did not freeze. I stood there and silently entered the view seen outside the glass. For the first time in life, a great joy filled heart as if watching a splendid wonder”  Mother! Let’s go out,” till Varu holding my hand pulled me I couldn’t turn my head. ‘Sh ! wait a minute ! Don’t disturb the mummy when she watches like that . we miss a good poem,’ Satya said and Varu questioned, “What is a poem dad, Let’s play.” She compelled. 

We dropped the luggage in the room and crossed the road  and ran to the shore. The sun was setting . A frozen carpet of snow up from the gate to the lake. Varu  began to lie on the ice and started moving her legs and hands in snow angles. The largest lake is spectacular on the opposite side as a feast to the eyes. As a strange thing,  two feet near on the banks of the water no snow at all. From the gate walking in the snow step by step till the water and fumble the water with hands is a great pleasure within. Somehow, my eyes filled with tears of happiness. The wind was getting cooler when it was dusk, and we were compelled to leave  the lake.

Casino

That evening entered into one of the renowned Casino of the town to see.  There are some sections where children are not allowed to hang out with elders. It was  the most sophisticated resort cum casino. There are ATM machines in the middle of the hallway. It’s a world of machines and gambling. There, the money changes swiftly with the magic of machines that exceed our intelligence. Despite the high number of  people turn into poor in a moment, human beings very strangely hangout there waiting until the last moment to knock the luck on their door. While walking amid the people sitting in the middle of a crowds smoking and playing in front of large can like machines, puffing smoke, at some places some are staring at the tables playing cards, nodding and watching silently for a long time,   some drinking in the middle, some forming a circle near the eating tables. There are some people like us who come there just to see the strange atmosphere listening music that goes above and beyond. On the whole, in the ground floor of that glittering magical world, we went to the children’s section. There also the same but child machines and smoke and drinks were not there. The only difference. As we spent some time and emerged out  it was already nine. 

As soon as it turned dark,  outside was getting cold quickly. In addition to that, we haven’t even dared to eat in the casino. The roads surrounding the casino are glittering  in the dark. People ready with good appearance are roaming for the night entertainment. The main highway is crowded with people and oncoming vehicles. Another thing we noticed during our travels was,  at eight o’clock, you can’t find lunch anywhere. Find any 24 hour restaurants. They are also just one or two somewhere. Good luck the Pizza hut is open. Our entire family can eat Pizza apart from Indian food. Varu always likes cheese pizza. This is why when we are looking for restaurants through the car, Varu shows us ‘see that Pizza’ first. 

Heavenly & Ski

The morning we are ready to go to the Heavenly Gondola ride  with coats and other accessories. Tickets are sold at the Heavenly Office at the Junction. It took us an hour in the line being too long, for tickets. Gondola means the lift up to the ice park on the hill. Tickets are $ 35 per man. But if you want to ski there, then you have to spend more than a few hundred dollars to get back uphill, ski equipment, shoes, tops, helmets and other ski material, and if you want to learn skiing, for the classes it comes to more than five , six hundred dollars.  Still countless number of people.so much time is wasted in the lines. When we went for the second time, we had to stand in line for two hours for the ski equipment. We went only to see for the first time. As our ropeway climbs up the hill, we saw snow trees that are trailing underneath. Amidst the vast white hills in front of us the largest water carpet, with snow on the banks as the festoons of snow flowers touching the water. The ride itself was worth the money to see the magnificent view.

Once you get some distance, you can get down from the elevator and look around and catch another lift again. We stopped at that first stop and played with our children for half an hour in the snow and we played ourselves as kids. A little bit of snow of the previous night on the back of the railings can be reached if we stretch our hand and it feels smooth and soft.  It is impossible to play with snow all day unless you put on clothes, sweater, trousers, and special pants with gloves cap on one on the other in two rows. If possible, better to keep an extra pair of Gloves. If a child accidentally loses one, it is difficult to put them on the ice anymore. No matter how many times you see snow again and again, the first experiences in life will always be a miraculously melodious wonder. 

Ski training on one side of the Gondola, lifts only for the skiers on the other side, restaurant complexes and Tubing for the kids on the other side etc., are there.  Everywhere it is up and down and many appear to slither there. 

When ice was not full here, they drizzle  artificial snow on and run the resort. There was an uproar on all sides. With the same uniform dresses and snow glasses on eyes, it is difficult to recognize anyone .  If grownups wanted to enjoy jumping what to tell about the children! komal and Varu played without a word of hunger till the evening. ”Mom you too come” though they called me persistently I could not dare  to venture. As a child I did everything so easily more actively than them. I laughed. It is good to see squatting in the snow. I enjoyed playing with snow all day, enjoying the sight and the touch of it with my hands. But spending so much time in the snow and the  coolness caused tremendous pain of the legs the next day.  

When they went for the second time, the three of them stayed whole day  attending ski training and skiing. Varu was taken to the child ski training elsewhere. Komal joined Ice Snow Boarding and Satya Ski Training. All are at different  places. My job is to hold Siri and move around them all. However, me and my Siri played well in the snow. But the baby stayed for a while and began to cry, unable to bear the cold anymore. I was supposed to spend the whole afternoon in the warmth in the restaurant inside. though Skiing can’t be learned in a day or two, completely for a great adventure one can ski.  It is better to arrive early in the morning without wasting time to stand in the lines. All the parks on the hills are closed at five in the evening. The cold also aggravates well. As we arrived late in the morning, we spent there till the last minute of the evening.

Snow Mobil & Sledding

On our way back the next day, at the turning point of the village, we stopped to climb on the snow mobile scooters. Ten dollars per hour. Though they seemed to be normal scooters, we feared that it may slither in the snow. The fact is that driving  with chains around it never falls. But the cart seemed to be sliding aside, that’s all. 

The kids ran to the sledding, that was next to that. With small sled boards, they can slide down  nearly from 100 meters height. $ 10 per hour is normal. Though the time was already over, without moving everyone went on playing in the afternoon.  If you want to go in, you should buy a sled board compulsorily. That’s why I had to buy one. I turned the board upside down and sat at one place on it.  I spent time watching photos and videos. The sky was bright. As if the curtain of the light was dried in wind, the rays reflected in the snow and pierced into the eyes.  The trees stood helplessly. Mountain ranges are around. They are all dressed in snow hats and snow floral dresses and seemed to sing silent divine tunes. If I lay there on the ice , if I close my eyes and open, I would be the sky, the clouds, the wind, the light, the cold of the body. A wonderful feel that this moment is enough for the life. That one moment is an experience of a pigeon rolling in the breeze and perching on the land. An illusion at that time that all great experiences of life are surround me at that moment.

The journey is a great feeling to turn back and see.  Anyone who has seen Lake Tahoe say without a word “Aha! Lake Tahoe! ”

*****

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