Celebrating the 100th anniversary of a Tahoe boating honeymoon
Ryan Summerlin October 13, 2011
LAKE TAHOE – Two brave and adventurous souls by the names of Clarence (C.W.) and Ethel Vernon spent Oct. 9-29, 1911 rowing around Lake Tahoe on their honeymoon.
They met two years prior at the Tahoe Tavern where Ethel worked as a waitress and C.W. played in the Tavern’s orchestra throughout the summers of 1909-11. Ethel had seen photos of Lake Tahoe as a small child in school and never forgot what a beautiful place it was. Leaving Los Angeles at age 18 she came to live in the place of her dreams.
Knowing how much Ethel loved the lake, C.W. surprised her by planning a trip around the lake after their marriage Oct. 6, 1911. They rented a large double oar fishing boat from Duane Bless and on Oct. 9 started out on their quite exciting venture.
They cooked over campfires and made their beds “on pine needles beneath tall pines” as described in C.W.’s diary Row Boat. They also made pine bough shelters which protected them from the elements.
Although C. W. didn’t seem to have much luck fishing at first, shots from his rifle brought down fresh duck and at least one unnamed animal. The rifle was intended for deer and bear, but that never materialized. Along the east and south shores they met up with the Steamer Tahoe where groceries were ordered and later picked up along with their mail.
Jumping into the lake was not unusual for the couple as they bathed, swam and shampooed but “nearly froze in the water.” It must have been quite refreshing during those early October mornings and evenings.
Fish was given to them by an acquaintance who helped rig up a “snagging rod for catching white fish.” Afterward they became quite proficient and on one outing they caught 26 fish. This made a nice addition to their breakfasts and dinners.
On Oct. 22, 1911 while fishing, they encountered native americans who were also fishing along the same creek near south shore. They thought they heard them the night before at 4 a.m. when they heard “yelling and war-whooping.”
The Vernon’s trip and their diary “Around Lake Tahoe in a Row Boat” was our inspiration piece. Since purchasing the booklet six years ago at the Gatekeeper’s Museum in Tahoe City, my husband Paul and I have kayaked around Lake Tahoe three times.
Our modern version of their trip was kayaking an average of six hours a day for six days and camping five nights covering about 61 miles. Our trips have always been in July when the weather is warm during the day and lovely in the evenings. We return from the lake tired, but always invigorated and ready to do it again. Lake Tahoe is a treasure for all of us to enjoy and we are thankful for the Vernon’s inspiration.
Happy 100th wedding anniversary to C.W. and Ethel Vernon and to Tahoe, which they declared as the Land of Romance.