Canoeing on the Russian River...

We spent the day trying to stay cool in the 106° Santa Rosa heat.  River's Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips' motto is "Let Us Help You Cure Your NDD — Nature Deficiency Disorder!"

To spend hours floating carefree made for some unforgettable family fun.  We are so cured!

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Music at the Beach...

We watched the second in the series of "Live at Lakeview" Concerts from the shoreline.  Our friends, Bob, Jenny and Bruce arrived via boat, and enjoyed American Jubilee from the Lake.  It's interesting to see the two perspectives.

We keep delighting in this truly unique summer spectacle- people watching, meeting friends, dancing- what's not to love?  It is so Tahoe!

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Helen Henry Smith at Vikingsholm...

Vikingsholm has been mentioned often as one of our favorite places to spend a summer day. Tonight, I spent the evening with  Dr. Helen Henry Smith, an incredible woman who had the good fortune to have spent the first 14 summers of her life here, with her parents, as a guest of Lora Knight, the builder of this magnificent Castle in Emerald Bay.

Lora Knight and little Helen
Once a month, during the summer, the Sierra State Parks Foundation, hosts Conversations with History, an event where guests enjoy a unique “behind–the-scenes” tour, partake of wine and hors d'oeuvres in the courtyard of Vikingsholm and converse with Helen.
I was witness to the placing of this recreated maid's dress, a project long in the works.  What an honor to see this part of Vikingsholm's history happen.
As an adult with a family, Helen returned to Vikingsholm in 1969 as a tour guide and historian.  During the years of providing tours, she identified the deterioration of the structure and became frustrated with the lack of funding for the care of historic buildings within California State Parks.  She was instrumental in the property’s placement on the California State and National Registers as an historical landmark and the first woman in the Parks Department to be allowed to wear a uniform in the field- huge accomplishments!
The tour allowed us into Mrs. Knight's private bedroom- a glimpse into her private world.
To sit amongst so much history was a fantastic experience and a memory that I will never forget.  I continue to marvel at all the opportunities that exist here in Tahoe!

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The Pony Express Rides Again...

Today, I had the unique opportunity to witness the National Pony Express Re-Ride, an annual re-enactment of mail delivery between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, by horseback.

The Pony Express is ranked among the most remarkable feats to come out of the 1860 American West with its primary mission being to deliver mail and news across 1,966 miles of the then untamed west.  These brave riders were chased by Indians and endured uncertain weather as they rode night and day.

Being at Stateline, NV I was able to witness the Pony Express Oath of Employment:

"I _____________ do hereby swear, before the great and living God, that during my engagement, and while I am an employee of Russell, Majors & Waddell, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language.  I will drink no intoxicating liquors; that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect, I will conduct myself honestly, faithful to my duties, and so direct my acts as to win the confidence of my employers.  So help me God."

What fun to see history come alive, right here in our town!

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Leon Malmed, Holocaust Survivor

This Friends of the Library presentation has been planned for quite some time with much anticipation.  Leon Malmed is a full-time South Lake Tahoe resident and the author of We Survived...At Last I Speak, the true story of his and his sister’s escape from the Holocaust, in Occupied France, with the help of their courageous and heroic French neighbors.  It is a story of goodness triumphing once more over evil.

During our last road trip south, I read this amazing book out loud to Steve, and at several places in the book I had to stop, due to my inability to see through the tears.
Mr. Malmed told his story to an audience which sat in complete silence. The only sound heard were tears.  It is an almost unbelievable tale of survival in a world full of hopelessness. Adding to the powerfulness of the message, the documentary, "17 rue St Fiacre" was shown.  This is the film of Leon and his sister's return to the apartment where their life was  forever changed.
Jenny and Bob were among the 110+ attendees who were mesmerized by this story.
The message told was a powerful one.  The inscription that Leon wrote in my book- what we all took from this night- "...and a wish for a Peaceful World."

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Our Dayton (Nevada) Day...

To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Lincoln Highway, a group of history buffs gathered and headed down US 50 to the historic town of Dayton, the first and oldest permanent settlement in Nevada (1851).

Dayton is a town of amazing milestones.  The oldest Nevada schoolhouse, still in its original location, was built here in 1865.  Today it houses the Dayton Museum where we met our docent, Patrick, and had a very informative tour.
Dayton's volunteer fire department, founded November 6, 1863, is one of Nevada's oldest.
This jail, in the firehouse, is from the 1860s and is a wrought-iron, mail-ordered cell used until 1966!  The wall is adorned with graffiti from some early inmates.  Super cool.
Odeon Hall was built in 1862, by the Odd Fellows, and is one of Nevada's earliest saloons and billiard parlors.  Upstairs, in the Grand Ballroom, dances and theatrical fare highlighted Dayton's social life.
This hotel (1870) boasted a two-story outhouse so the upstairs guests would not have to go to the street level.  History has some very funny facts.
No stop, on a history tour, is complete without a visit to the cemetery.  Established in the 1850s, this is one of the oldest constantly maintained cemeteries in Nevada and remains in active use.  The names of the characters buried here are documentation of an intriguing history.  What an incredible way to spend an afternoon!
History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people
than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives;
let us not neglect the opportunity.
~Dexter Perkins

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Frank Sinatra's Cal Neva Lodge...

Before the Las Vegas Strip ruled the gambling world, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. helped make the Cal Neva Lodge one of Nevada's coolest casinos in the early 1960s.  We have been here many times, but today we came for the tour.

The Cal Neva is Nevada's first legal casino. The present resort was built in 1937, when a fire destroyed the original lodge that had opened in 1926. Before Sinatra's tenure, Judy Garland first performed at the lodge in 1935 at the age of 13, when she was discovered.
Before Frank Sinatra bought into the Lodge, there was a succession of owners including serious gamblers, with names like "Pretty Boy," "Bones," and "Baby Face", during the 1940s and 1950s and is the only resort located in two states (convenient for avoiding prohibition laws, etc).
As you can imagine, this place holds incredible secrets.  I have always wanted to take this tour and what better way to end a trip to Tahoe?
Astutely aware of the personal privacy that many performers and socialites crave, Sinatra ordered a secret tunnel built beneath the Lodge so certain guests could travel between the showroom and the bungalows behind the hotel without being seen. Sinatra and other celebrities frequently used the secret underground passageway to avoid paparazzi and autograph hunters. Lined with brick walls and carpeted, the tunnel ran beneath the kitchen, casino and Circle Bar. Entrances to the tunnel were located at Sinatra's office, in the closet of his small lake view cabin and at his private heliport atop the resort's showroom.
During the Frank Sinatra ownership years of 1960 to 1963, along with his associates "Wingy" and "Skinny," Sinatra built the famous Celebrity Showroom and entertained celebrities from around the world. History says Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Juliet Prowse, and Marilyn Monroe (among others) "sang for their suppers" in the Celebrity Showroom and the Indian Room while politicians and Hollywood stars played at the tables and in the private cottages overlooking Lake Tahoe.
Where else could swim from state to state, and back again, without spilling your drink?  The pool is now empty and a sad commentary of the condition of this once grand place.
This is one of the last photos ever taken of Marilyn Monroe, a frequent guest. There are numerous rumors concerning how she spent her time at the Cal-Neva and the men she entertained there. One that I believe is the story that she experienced a drug overdose poisoning in her cabin (#3) one week before her death in Westwood.
History can be found everywhere and this side tour was exceptional.  It is one of an era that will soon be lost.  The Cal Neva has sold and its glory days are long gone.  Although it's unlikely that the Lady of the Lake will ever host that many famous performers and celebrities again, there exists a glimmer of the casino's heyday and there will never be a way to erase its historic legacy.

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