Part 5: LAKE TAHOE – Trails, Tacos & Tequila

Saturday morning sunrise over Reno – Photo Credit: Mark Blasdale

Saturday morning began in my now accustomed fashion – a large cappuccino and an almond cream pastry from Sips Coffee and Tea. The plan (as suggested the previous day) was to head out to Lake Tahoe, taking in one of the many trails.

A number of years ago, when revisiting the still-to-be-completed manuscript for MADISON PENN, I asked my Facebook community to suggest somewhere in the US that best fit my idealised location for the novel. A good number of places were put before me, but the clear favourite was undoubtedly Tahoe. Thus, a chance to take in its vistas and absorb its many flavours was an opportunity too good to pass up. With the day now promising to be very warm, Teresa, Clark, Liam and I headed out towards Incline Village where we were to complete our adventurous quintet with the addition of Melinda.

‘That view’ of Lake Tahoe – Photo Credit: Mark Blasdale

An extremely pleasant hour-or-so was first spent at the house Melinda calls home. Clark gave me the 50 cent tour of the lower floors and, coffee cup in hand, I sampled kale chips and covertly liberated a couple of red grapes from the kitchen LOL!!!

Further coffee being offered – and accepted – I took possession of my travel mug from The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (kindly loaned for the occasion by Melinda) and we five set off to begin our tour of the lake.

During the course of our initial drive, we crossed from Nevada back into California at Stateline. From there we went to Taylor Creek just north of South Lake Tahoe, a wonderfully accessible series of trails where evidence of bears, beavers and bald eagles at play abound.

From Taylor Creek’s Rainbow Trail we made the short walk to Kiva Beach where, under the watchful eye of Mt. Tallac, I acquainted myself with the waters of the Lake – and took a small memento as a keepsake.

A truly excellent lunch was taken at The Blue Agave, an authentic Mexican restaurant on the lake front in Tahoe City CA. Here I sampled Margaritas for the first time – and over-indulged on Carnitas and Carne Asada tacos. In addition, and due exclusively to Melinda and Clark’s generosity, I also tried Chicken Fajitas and a Pork Tamale.

From Tahoe City, we concluded our circumnavigation of ‘The Lake’ taking in glorious views of Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake and Emerald Bay. Leaving California and returning to the comforting bosom of Nevada, we turned into Crystal Bay, heading back to Incline Village and Melinda’s home.


Melinda and Teresa happen to be, by strange quirk of circumstance, the first-born issue of Mike Love, co-founder and lead signer of The Beach Boys, and when Mike published his autobiography – Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy – Melinda very kindly organised a signed copy for me. Now, it might seem strange to some, given my life-long love of The Beach Boys, but as my friendship with first Melinda, and then Teresa, blossomed (we’ve all been very close these past five years or so), they have ceased being “Mike Love’s daughters” becoming (far more importantly to me, at least) “Very dear and treasured friends.” That’s not to say that standing in Mike’s house, drinking his coffee and stealing his kale chips was not a surreal experience – it was (sort of). But in almost every other way, I was just hanging out at their dad’s place. The only exception to this sense of prevailing normality was when Teresa introduced me to the great man later that afternoon…but I kept my emotions in check, and for that I’m both proud and thankful LOL!!!

I only mention this event because my dear friend, Melinda, in characteristically generous fashion, gave me not only my signed copy of Good Vibrations, but also a copy of the extremely limited edition volume that commemorated the 50th anniversary of both the song and the release of Pet Sounds.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent sampling the family store of Tequila and chatting round the pool whilst looking out over the lake. Fortified by coffee and a particularly potent Chile Chocolate tequila, I mustered what courage I could and said goodbye to Melinda. From there, we four headed back down Mt. Rose to Reno where the farewell’s were just as sad (for me, at any rate). All-in-all, it was the perfect end to a perfect stay.