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Lake Tahoe - Day 3

July 31

Today we decided to go rafting down the Truckee River. We chose the Truckee River Raft Co. There’s a number of companies that offer rafting trips down the Truckee, and it seems to be a very popular event. So much so that we had to make reservations for a specific time-slot. Ours was early afternoon, about 2:00pm, so we decided to grab lunch nearby in the Tahoe City area.

After looking around, trying to find a spot to eat, we randomly chose the Fat Cat Café. That turned out to be an excellent choice. The café had a kind of laid-back reggae atmosphere. Looking at the menu, Pam and I both chose the Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, which I have to say were extremely yummy. A little spicy, they were filling and delicious. It would be the first of several lucky choices by us for meals. Perhaps Fate was making up for Reno’s restaurants all closing at odd hours.

Back to the rafting: Now this is not whitewater rafting…this is a lazy float down the Truckee River. There are some rough-water areas, but not much. They use about a 5 mile stretch of the river, and it takes about 2-3 hours to lazily float down that distance. You could certainly do it in a much shorter amount of time, but that would kind of spoil the whole point.

The raft was a fairly large, and sturdy rubber raft, probably big enough to hold 4 or more easily, but it just had the two of us. It was the kind of raft that I think you’d have to work pretty hard to overturn or sink. It also seemed pretty durable, as there were some spots where rocks or underwater logs come close enough to the surface to where you could hang up on them, and in other areas you could find yourself scrubbing up against the brush along the bank, and I imagine the rafts have seen many a grind over these obstacles over the years.

I didn’t take my camera, since I wasn’t sure just how rough the water would be, and I certainly didn’t want to chance getting my gear wet. In retrospect it was both a bad and a good decision.

It was a bad decision, in that there were plenty of opportunities to take pictures with very little chance of the gear getting wet unless I dropped the camera overboard. On the good side, it did allow us to splash the water about, and be splashed and squirted by the kids armed with super-soakers (who much to their credit did ask if we wanted to be splashed before blasting), which was a lot of fun and a nice way to periodically cool off.

Many of the people doing the float down the river came armed with coolers and picnic baskets and such. Much to my surprise the river was surprisingly clear of the trash and crap you might expect from having a bunch of party floats all summer long. Sure there was the occasional bit of trash, but on the whole it was remarkably trash free.

A number of them also took their own inner tubes and floats and did their own float down the river, which also looked to be fun. Some tied up to each other forming much larger flotillas. All in all, most seemed to be very friendly and polite and everyone was just enjoying and sharing the river.

I found it to be a very relaxing time and I’m really glad we did it.

After we got off the water, it was still late afternoon, so we decided to head back towards the viewpoint to hopefully catch the sunset. Being as it was still a little early, and we were a little hungry, we stopped off at the Log Cabin Ice Cream shop which supposedly was voted “Best Ice Cream” I’m assuming for the Tahoe area. And it was quite yummy. Again, another random choice that paid off in great food.

By the time we got done with the delicious ice cream, it was starting to cloud over a bit and get a little blustery. And as we headed down to the viewpoint, we could see the wind was really picking up. It still wasn’t cold, but it was definitely windy.

Looking out over the lake, the whole feel of the lake had changed. The gray clouds and the blustery wind made the whole scene feel very moody, and the lake had changed color from the crystalline blue, to a dark steel gray.

This is the same basic shot as I got the first day I was there, however, my eye was drawn to the watermarks on the rocks, which I had overlooked on the previous stop here.

Here is another shot across the lake, emphasizing the gray mood.

Pam posing against the sunset and the lake.

So after chilling and enjoying the view, we decided that we should try to get some dinner. After having floated down the Truckee earlier, and seeing lots of trout either jumping for bugs, or just swimming about in the river, we strangely enough had a craving for trout. So we hopped in the car, and started flipping through the GPS trying to find a place that served trout. Of course, there’s no “trout” grouping like there is Mexican, or Italian, etc. So we tried the “seafood” section, and started flipping through the nearest ones hoping to find something that sounded like they might serve trout. The first up on the list was the Lone Eagle Grill. Sounded promising. After finding it across the street from where the GPS actually indicated, we walked up and checked the menu. After seeing, “Course 1, Course 2, and Course 3” on the menu, and no prices indicated, we decided that was probably going to be a bit out of our league even if they did serve trout (which they didn’t.)

Hopping back in the car we decided to try the GPS again…skimming through we couldn’t find another restaurant nearby that would seem to serve trout. We skipped places like the “Blue Oyster Grill” etc, based on the name. Perhaps a bad choice, perhaps not. What we did find was a restaurant out in Reno that looked promising.

So we cruised back to Reno, following the GPS, until we got to the restaurant. So far so good, it was even in the right spot. Except...it had a big “Space for Lease” sign on the front of it. *Sigh*

A bit disappointed and more than a little frustrated, we decided to try one of the Thai places we saw along the way. As we were moving through the parking lot, Pam spotted a very ornately painted façade for a Japanese restaurant named Kyoto and suggested “Let’s try there.”

So we pulled in, and were trying to spot the doorway (remember the whole storefront was painted rather ornately). Spotting a door with no handle, we were prepared for disappointment, until we spotted a door that we thought was associated with an amazingly small Italian restaurant next door (which in typical Reno fashion was already closed even though it was only 8:00pm). Turns out that was the entrance to the restaurant, so we happily (and hungrily) headed in once we had verified they were open.

Turns out we were the only customers in the restaurant, so we got quite excellent service. The best thing we ordered was the gyoza appetizer. Apparently they hand make everything about the gyoza there, and I must say, they were absolutely delicious. Large, plump, and nicely crisped on the bottom, they were awesome. Yet another random food choice that paid off in great food.

We headed back to the hotel to relax and see if we could find a Tahoe area restaurant that served trout by checking online. While we were there we were treated to a fireworks show down the road a bit. I have no idea what the fireworks were for, but it was a nice show.

Here’s a shot from the window. I was trying to handhold the camera for the 5 seconds or so the shutter was open, which is why it’s a little blurry. That's the Reno Strip in the background.

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