My Cartographic Stories: Lake Tahoe

In 2012, on my life changing road trip (which I seriously need to write about soon), I stopped in Reno, Nevada. Sarah Stevenson was helping support my quest to promote creativity around the country, so we hosted a free art-making evening at Swill here in town. I had never been to Reno and honestly didn't see much of it while I was here that time. But, as many of us Reno citizens do, Sarah made sure that her out-of-town guest saw Lake Tahoe.

I still remember cresting the pass at Mt. Rose (highest year-round pass in the Sierras!) and ceasing all conversation just to look hard at the beauty of the glimmering lake shining bright and oh so blue between the trees. I was driving with my friend Brigitte, but Sarah made sure we all stopped at the big viewpoint to take in the colorful entirety of the lake. Then we went and ate at Jake's, now a favorite summer spot for my husband and I.

The first photo I ever took of Lake Tahoe, July 2012.

The first photo I ever took of Lake Tahoe, July 2012.

Two years later I moved to Reno. It was fairly unexpected to end up here, but it has been the best move possible. I met my husband and Tahoe became the place where we revisit favorite spots and make new memories all the time. I now have dozens of Tahoe stories and I am sure I will write more of them later.

For now, top 3 moments at Tahoe:

30th Birthday. I had just moved to Reno, knew basically no one, started a new job and there met an amazing man I instantly fell in love with. The first night we grabbed a drink together, Bret told me he knew someone who owned a condo on Tahoe that I could use for my birthday party. (BTW, best way to meet new people when you move somewhere new? Throw a party!) Little did I know that his parents owned it. We went up for the weekend and threw an awesome party. I went swimming at midnight in the freezing lake in October. Fun times.

But it doesn't end there. Monday night was my actual birthday that year and Bret reserved a window seat for us at the Lone Eagle Grille. We ate charcuterie outside by the firepit beforehand and paused our meal later to watch the sunset. Definitely one of his finest moments of romanticism and definitely sealed in the significance of the Hyatt compound in our traditions.

Sand Harbor. Lake Tahoe is actually not the easiest waterway to access when you're new to town and don't know where to go. It's easy to stare at from afar, but since the shoreline is mostly privately owned it's tricky to get to the beach. When I first started going to Sand Harbor with my friend Jodi I quickly decided it was my favorite. With a bar on premises that serves a delish pina colada, we always go to "boat launch" beach. It can be overrun with enormous boats blasting loud music, but it is also where the iconic, smooth rocks are found. I can close my eyes any time of year, see the crystal clear water and remember the first time I dove down in between the rocks or jumped off one of the ledges. I constantly find myself arrested by the beauty of Lake Tahoe and getting lost in it, sitting on one of the large rocks, is one of my favorite summertime activities.

Wedding. Last June, Bret and I got married in Tahoe. It was a wonderful weekend with family and friends from near and far. We chose to again center the festivities on his family condo in South Lake. Friday night we had a beautiful catered dinner and time to mingle on the beach. Saturday we took beach photos before dodging hail for our outdoor, mountaintop ceremony. Sunday we had brunch back at the condo again and said some teary goodbyes to our loved ones. It was a whirlwind and a beautiful gathering of all the souls we hold dear.

I've painted Lake Tahoe and various parts of Tahoe almost a dozen times. It is a lake known for its views and its completely iconic shape. Locals and tourists alike wear Tahoe shaped jewelry and sport the Keep Tahoe Blue bumper stickers. Most people, around here at least, can pick out the shape of the lake from an early age.

Tahoe sits trapped between massive mountains, suspended thousands of feet above sea level, deeper than imaginable and colder still. A mystery and a marvel, it has captured the hearts and minds of many painters, myself among them.

If you love Tahoe too, check out the paintings of Lake Tahoe that I have currently available in my shop.