Sunday, May 26, 2019

Tahoe Deep (#17) Is Available On Kindle Pre-Order

The 17th Owen McKenna mystery is now available on Kindle Pre-order!

TAHOE DEEP is about the famous SS Tahoe Steamer.

Here's a short description:

"In 1940, a teen-aged blind boy named Danny Callahan witnessed the scuttling of the SS Tahoe Steamer, the grandest ship to ever sail Lake Tahoe. Eighty years later, a killer beats up old man Daniel Callahan, demanding to know the truth about a secret that went down with the ship. If Callahan doesn't tell all he knows, the people closest to Callahan will die..."

While the Kindle version is now up on pre-order, the paper version will soon be available as well.

Also, my events for the new book are being scheduled, and I will post those when the dates are set.

Thanks again for your interest!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

South Lake Tahoe Is Not Casinos

People who live in or near South Lake Tahoe are sometimes exasperated by the perception of some tourists that "South Lake Tahoe is where the casinos are."

Not true.

The South Shore Casinos are in Stateline, Nevada. If you look at a map, you'll see that South Lake Tahoe is at the very south end of the lake, 5:30 on the dial to 6:30. The casinos are more like 4:00.

Many or even most people who live in South Lake Tahoe can go months at a time without ever seeing the casinos. They only occasionally drive by them on their way to Carson City or Reno.

If you ask most South Lake Tahoe residents to describe their community, they'll talk about Tahoe's grandest beaches (Baldwin, Pope), Tahoe's highest mountains (Freel, Job's Sister), Tahoe's highest ski resort (Heavenly), Tahoe's most visited wilderness area (Desolation Wilderness), Tahoe's second largest lake (Fallen Leaf), Tahoe's largest community college (LTCC) and, of course, Emerald Bay, Tahoe's most picturesque and most photographed place.

One of the hotel casinos in Stateline, Nevada
The casinos are popular with a certain type of tourist. That's all good.

The valley where South Lake Tahoe residents live.
But South Lake Tahoe is much more about recreation, hiking, biking, skiing, boating.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Tahoe Colleges!

It is a lucky community that has a college. Colleges provide a huge positive input to a town. Education, culture, jobs, and a huge draw for people who attend. Of course, not all students are young, but many are. When a town attracts young people, it creates its future. Towns that lose young people struggle. Sometimes they even die off.

We are very fortunate to have multiple colleges in the Tahoe Truckee area.

Check them out:


Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC)


Sierra Nevada College


Sierra College

Sunday, May 5, 2019

In many, if not most, towns, the cultural center is the library.

Incline Village library
Tahoe and Truckee are especially fortunate in that we have many libraries. Here are several of ours:

1000 Rufus Allen Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA
530-573-3185 (Click on the South Lake Tahoe link)

Zephyr Cove/Glenbrook Douglas County Library Lake Tahoe branch
233 Warrior Way, Glenbrook, NV 89413

845 Alder Ave, Incline Village, NV 89451

301 Secline St, Kings Beach, CA 96143

740 N Lake Blvd, Tahoe City, CA 96145

10031 Levon Ave
Truckee, CA
(530) 582-7846

Check them out. You'll likely find them to be a great resource for information and events.  (Apologies to any I've missed!)

Next week: Tahoe Colleges

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Paddle Boarding, A Winter Sport?

As I write this, the snow has mostly melted at lake level. But we still have over 4000 vertical feet of white stuff above us on the mountains that ring the lake. Actually, 4600 feet, when you look up at the summit of Freel Peak on the South Shore, or Mt. Rose on the North Shore (the mountain on the far right of the picture below).

But what better time to go paddle boarding? The view is gorgeous. The weather is often gorgeous. And there is very little boat traffic to get in your way.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Great Lakes Of U.S.

I remember as a kid learning that Lake Superior was, by surface area, the largest fresh water lake in the world. I don't recall talk about volume. When volume enters the picture Superior is only #3 behind Baikal (in Russia) and Tanganyika (in Tanzania).

Along with Superior are the other U.S. Great Lakes, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, five lakes that are too big to see across.

That makes five big lakes that are very deep. Superior, for example, has a maximum depth of 1,333 feet. And an average depth of 483 feet. That's a lot of water.

But what comes after the U.S. Great Lakes? What lake is #6 in water volume?

You guessed it. The 6th largest fresh water lake by volume in the U.S. is Tahoe. How could a relatively small lake be on the list of most-voluminous lakes? Because it is very deep, with a maximum depth of 1635 feet and an average depth of 1000 feet! That's a hole deep enough to hold a lot of water. (Yes, Tahoe's volume is substantially less than most of the Great Lakes. But #6 is still significant.)

On the list of voluminous lakes, Tahoe stands out as #1 in one way - possibly of all the substantial lakes in the world - and that's its purity of water, meeting many standards for distilled water.

A special lake indeed.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Will Tahoe Skiing Go Through April? Try JUNE.

When will resorts close this epic 2018-2019 ski season?

Nearly all of the Tahoe resorts plan to be open through next Sunday, April 21st. Some, like Mt. Rose and Donner Ski Ranch, will be open through April 28th.

But Heavenly has announced that they will be open every day through the 28th and, after that, they will be open weekends through Memorial Day.

And get this all you Colorado aficionados, Squaw plans to be open until JULY 7! Of course, they can't guarantee the weather will cooperate. But that shows how much snow they have.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

What To Do In April?

While April is a winter month in Tahoe, it is a glorious time for spring skiing. We have massive amounts of snow, but the weather is relatively warm. So grab your boards and come up the mountain.

This photo is the view looking south from the North Shore. On the left are the ski runs of Heavenly, Tahoe's highest resort at 10,067 feet. On the right are the scree fields of the Freel Peak Massif, which, at 10,886 feet is the highest mountain on the lake. (If you go a little south of the Tahoe Basin - toward Yosemite - you come to many higher peaks.) Freel's scree fields are long tracks of crumbling rock in the summer. They look like ski runs in the winter. And they are sometimes skied by serious back-country skiers. But beware, they are also avalanche paths!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Spring? Not In Tahoe...

I had to make a trip to Folsom. What I noticed was glorious green grass.

I came back up the mountain to winter. The snow has sunk a bit so that it is only 5 feet deep on the deck that we're not shoveling. As I write this, it's 14 degrees in our part of the South Shore down below Echo Summit. Ain't no spring here.

If you've got spring in your part of the world, enjoy it!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Massive Snow To Palm Trees In 80 Minutes

Up on Echo and Donner summits, the current snow depth is around 15 feet (30 feet of snowfall compressed down over time). If you drive down the West Slope, you get to the Central Valley floor and its palm trees in about 80 minutes. That isn't unique in the world, but it is very rare.

Big Snow to Palm Trees in 80 Minutes

There are many places where you can drop lots of elevation in a relatively short drive. For example, you can go from over 10,000 feet on Maui to sea level in less distance. But there isn't huge snow up on the Haleakala summit.

There are likely places in the Andes and the Alps and the Himalayas where one can go from snow to palm trees in a relatively short distance. But most of those places don't get that much snow.

So the next time you make the drive, take a moment to marvel at the contrast between Tahoe snow and the warm palm-tree climate just down the mountain!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

What Is The Definition Of A Brutal Winter?

Let's see... By the end of February, Squaw Valley had set a record for total snow by that date of 393 inches. That's 32 feet, and we still have March and April left to go.

Let's see... Snow sliding off our roof ripped off our wood stove chimney pipe. It was reinforced and tied to the roof with HEAVY angle bracing that I thought could probably support a car (if one were to set a car on the braces). The chimney pipe was also protected by a HEAVY metal ice cutter. Yet, we came home after a major storm and it all was gone.  Not just hanging there broken. Gone. As in not visible. As in buried somewhere down in the berm below the roof, a berm which, on the north side of the house, is above the second floor. True, we do live in a particularly snowy part of Tahoe. But still...
(You may think we had escaped to the tropics during that storm, enjoying tropic stuff - warm breezes, flowers. Unfortunately, we'd been staying at our studio because we couldn't get to our house for days. Yes, we live on a regular public road with regular public snow removal. But it took three days after the storm had passed for the rotary to come up our road. Until that time, the only way to travel over 6 feet of snow is by snowshoe. In years past, storms like that left us snowed-in, trapped in our house. This one left us snowed-OUT, trapped at work.

Let's see... Another definition of a brutal winter is when we finally get three days in a row of sweet, warm sunshine, we go manic, skiing, dancing on the deck, writing sonnets, drinking wine.

We're not pretending winter is over. After 29 years in Tahoe, we know the snow keeps falling until June 15th and sometime even later. But we're still manic.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Imagine Three Kinds Of Personal Transportation

Tahoe has a large assortment of water birds. I was looking at this guy the other day, and I thought, not only can he fly, he can walk, and his body is a boat. How privileged would we feel if we could do that?

Sunday, March 3, 2019

This Water Is Clearer Than Tap Water

We walked out to Pope Beach in the snow. Saw my shadow in the water.

Wow. Not the shadow. The clear, clear liquid. Amazing.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sweet Sunshine, Spectacular Snow

On the passes coming into Tahoe are 15-foot snow walls.

The mountains are plastered with white.

It doesn't get better for wintertime play.

Grab your boards and c'mon up the mountain!

Heavenly as seen from Meyers

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Snow Beats iPhone For Kids And Families

Most people think of Tahoe winter as a place of world-famous ski resorts.

But when you drive up Highway 50, you see hundreds of people stopped along the way. They park on the shoulder and take their kids up the forested slopes. They find a place to have more fun than many or most skiers at the resorts. Look close, and you'll see that not one kid is on their phone!

What a great way to show kids that there is more to life than social media!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Library = Church

For writers, walking into a library is like walking into church. The stuff inside the building is sacred, and the stuff one carries out is all about wisdom and guidance and thought provocation and a connection to something more important than our prosaic lives.

I've given talks at several dozen libraries in Northern California and Northern Nevada. I gave two more this last week, Colusa, CA and Lincoln, CA. Those libraries reinforced once again the simple fact that a library is the cultural center of its community. And the people who frequent libraries are remarkable, highly educated, and intensely interested in the larger world of ideas. Just to have a dozen or a hundred people turn off the TV and go to their local library for an event speaks volumes about their priorities. (And, of course, when people come to hear an author speak it is hugely gratifying to that author!)

If you haven't visited your local library in awhile, plan to go soon. You may be surprised. Even in a world where you can get lots of information from Google, your library offers uncountable resources.

My hat is off to libraries. A writer's church.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

13 Feet Of Snow In One Storm??!!!

As I write this, we are getting a really serious storm.  No surprise there. We often get really serious storms. But when I checked the National Weather Service forecast, I saw verbiage I've never seen before.
"Localized amounts up to 13 feet."
Yikes, Yowser, and Holy Cow.

The next paragraphs are from the NWS website:
"...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM PST TUESDAY... Heavy snow occurring. Travel will be very difficult to impossible, especially today and Monday. Tree branches could fall as well. Total snow accumulations of 5 to 10 feet expected, with localized amounts up to 13 feet. Winds gusting as high as 50 mph Sunday afternoon into Monday with gusts to 100 mph over ridges. A period of blizzard conditions is possible Sunday night into Tuesday morning."

You pretty much won't see forecasts like that anywhere else. I guess Y'all better plan your ski trips to Tahoe.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

5000 Reviews On Amazon

Dear Reader,

As I'm finishing up #17 in the series (to be published this coming summer), I'm very pleased to see that my books on Amazon are crossing a significant milestone: 5000 reviews. At an average of 4.6 stars.

Thanks so very much to all of you for your support and interest. Authors can write books and sometimes feel like they go out into a black hole and no one notices.

I've been so fortunate that you readers have taken such an interest in my fictional world.

Thanks again, more than I can say.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Watch Where You Park Your Jet!

I hate it when my jet has too much snow on its wings! It slides down the wings toward the rear, which tips the plane teeter-totter-style, and lifts the lighter front end up in the air.

A Cessna Citation Jet at the Truckee Airport
Thanks to the Sierra Sun for the story.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Whole Foods Is Nearly Finished

The new Whole Foods store in South Lake Tahoe is nearly finished. We don't have an official opening date yet, however they are estimating being open for business this summer.

Whole Foods taking shape.
It is on Lake Tahoe Blvd, just west of Ski Run Blvd.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Tahoe's Mountains From The West Slope - Nice!

A few days ago, we were hiking on the West Slope, below the snow line. We came to a place with a nice view across a reservoir to the Sierra Crest, the mountains directly to the west of Lake Tahoe. These include (on the right side of the picture) the Crystal Range, those "Desolation Wilderness" mountains that house Lake Aloha and a hundred other lakes. You can see these mountains from the East Shore and, if you're out on the water, from all over the lake.

While on a very clear day, you can see the the Sierra Crest from the coastal pass just east of Vallejo in the Bay Area, seeing these mountains from the west is not so easy and common as seeing them from Lake Tahoe. But they are still beautiful! After today's storm, they will be even whiter.