“As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” — Mark Twain, 1871
Lake Tahoe is one of the world’s most magnificent alpine lakes featuring deep blue topaz waters situated throughout the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Visitors are guaranteed an experience to a dreamland where, in season, snow meets sand. I was fortunate enough to get to know the area over the last year, beginning with a fully curated summer writers’ excursion specifically designed to show me the very best of everything the region had to offer, particularly from a corporate meeting venue perspective (www.RenoTahoeMeeting.com).
I sold my new colleagues on the idea of a return during winter, letting them know that I could not possibly understand the full scope of Northern Nevada without making one of these alleged snow angels on the beach, per what I considered to be only tall tales of my proud colleagues. When the plan for my return was set, I wondered exactly how difficult could it be for an air traveler to get boots on the ground and enjoy winter wonderland with zero plans and a mere carry on bag? Could it be done? This overpacking Southern girl was about to find out as I was going in alone this time without any limos or guides.
I rented all my snow gear and hit the slopes without any advanced preparation in hopes of creating worst case scenarios for myself just to see how a true tourist unaware might prevail. Mother Nature complied, concocting a wicked game for me by sending a winter storm to South Tahoe. I rented gear at Heavenly Sports and clothing at Powder House. Due to a wind hold, the world famous Heavenly Gondola was closed forcing me to be shipped off to Heavenly’s California base along with other displaced skiers. My “worst case scenario” travel research plan was working without me even trying. Nevertheless, after playing around in the snow for a bit, I realized the reasons were plentiful for why the resort is called “Heavenly.” It is!
Corey Lucero, a resident of North Texas, had already made plans to skip out on the storm-induced California Lodge chaos. He and his group opted for nearby Mount Pluto on the north side of the lake where the lines were less, but the skiing is more extreme. When the Heavenly Gondola is operating, lodging within walking distance at Harveys in South Tahoe is the way to go for an air traveler with no rental car. Indeed, a girl with only a carry on bag can thrive due to Harveys in house gear rental company, CV Sports. One best practice gained was to just get to Harveys and buy any extra daily warm clothing as needed. Shopping is an Olympic sport in South Tahoe.
Back in Reno, the most prominent headliners are not pricey entertainers, rather THE ROW’s world renowned restaurants such as Roxy and La Strada. The decision to make food THE ROW’s star attraction was easily a success story brought into reality by Caesars’ Executive Chef Ivano Centemeri. Centemeri brought Europe stateside via Italy, along with his now booming celebrity chef concept featuring Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen where getting a reservation is Hell, but the food is Heavenly.
My best hack overall was hopping on the South Tahoe Airporter that shuttles travelers from the airport to both Harveys and THE ROW via the airport bus terminal. Instead of driving in heavy snow, I inexpensively and safely hacked my way to either location. To my delight, The Reno Latin Dance Fest was the conference being held at THE ROW’s Silver Legacy. Everything my colleagues had previously said about their sweet spot in accommodating large groups was evident. Don Goodman, Executive Director of Sales at Caesars Entertainment had planned my visit where I thought I would be going into a meeting, but instead he had made arrangements for me to visit one of the conference’s bachata classes with professional Latin dancers De’Jon and Clo of Farmers Branch dance company Tropik Vybe—another Heavenly experience!
On my last day there, even though there was not a soul around to witness it, my best discovery of this trip was finding out that my colleagues were telling the truth about making a snow angel on the beach. So was Mark Twain in saying that the air of Lake Tahoe is the very air that angels breathe. I celebrated not only getting to experience the exquisite Northern Nevada region again, but also surviving the winter storm solo with only my beach snowman to keep me company. I called it a day and came home to try and capture it all with words once again. Though the best writers in history have attempted to do the same for over a century, it is confirmed: I have seen the fairest picture the whole earth affords.
To read all about the modern Reno-Tahoe experience, visit www.RenoTahoeOnline.com.