Independence Day in Lake Tahoe

When people from the little city of Reno, Nevada say that they’re off to the beach, they don’t mean the ocean. They’re generally talking about the largest alpine lake in America, the infamous Lake Tahoe. Spanning two states, California and Nevada, the lake is one of the biggest tourist hotspots on the west coast of America, providing you have the transport to take you into the mountainous countryside of the Sierra Nevada. Lake Tahoe is said to be so deep that no one has ever made it to the bottom, so my recommendation is that if you ever have the need to dump a body where it will never be discovered, I would say that Tahoe is the place to do it. But don’t tell anyone I told you that.

4th July is a big deal in the US. It’s the date on which they declared their independence from us lousy British, and is a national holiday, celebrated with fireworks, loud music and everything red, white and blue. Collectively as a staff, we decided that we would spend this year celebrating at Lake Tahoe. Ironic really, seeing as the country is celebrating getting away from us. So we rented a cabin belonging to one of the Junior Councillor’s family, and headed off to the lake.

Nothing prepares you for the sheer vastness of Lake Tahoe. As we drew nearer, the impossibly azure water sparkling behind the pine trees that are so typical of the area, I had a sense of déjà vu, of sitting in the car with my family trying to spot the Cornish sea around every corner. Because that’s how Tahoe makes you feel, and why people holiday there as if they are on the coast. The snow-capped mountains on the opposite side of the lake are but a cloudy horizon as you lose yourself in the brilliant blue water and the golden white sands. King’s beach is the most popular destination for regular holidaymakers and tourists alike, and is where we spend the majority of our beach time. The group spirit was instantly lifted as we stepped out of the minibus, after spending three straight weeks at camp, with 15 hour days the morale was waning slightly. The minute our feet sank into the hot sand (after the initial burning sensation), we were able to relax and enjoy our freedom from children. 

On the 4th itself we decided to hire a boat and some jet skis to go out on the lake. The jet ski company were very reassuring; we were told that the skis were untippable, however on the off chance that we managed to we would have only ten seconds to right it before it cut out and we would have to be rescued from the middle of the lake. Excited and enthusiastic, we set out, three of us to each vehicle. I drove first, and spent 20 minutes taking us into the middle of the lake at full speed which was around 46 mph. It was great fun zipping over the waves, being splashed by the water, with incredible views of the bay we had departed from and of the rest of Tahoe. All too soon it was time to swap drivers, so reluctantly I shuffled around to the back seat and Flex moved up to the front. Then, before anyone knew what had happened the jet ski simply capsized. We were all tipped into the water and upon resurfacing began screaming at each other to turn it back up, all of us simultaneously counting down from ten in our heads to the time when the engine would cut out. We managed to turn it back fairly easily, and then, rather ungracefully each in turn climbed back on. No sooner were we back on that it capsized again, upending us all back into the lake. Another frantic ten seconds occurred where we again managed to right it before slowly climbing back on, trying our hardest to stay balanced. After that we were terrified of tipping again, so headed back into shore and stayed at a speed we were all happy with. Never mind dealing with children all day, that was singlehandedly the most stressful moment of my entire summer. Luckily the two hours we spent on the boat passed without event, because I’m not sure I could have handled anything else in one day.

All too soon it was time to head back to camp and so we said goodbye to the cabin, to Lake Tahoe and to mobile reception, and began the drive back into the mountains. I hope to again witness the beauty of Tahoe at some point in my life, but until I do I will be left with the memories that I made there. And they are truly something special.


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