Guest view: For Midwesterner, visit to Lake Tahoe breaks the norm

Frank Muscat

Finally, I get a chance to break from the norm. I’m leaving Detroit, my only city, and the one I will always hold dear to my soul. Like your first car, a bit of rust, tons of dents and high mileage, but mostly memories of make-out sessions and road trips.

Most of our possessions were pawned off to family member’s basements or sold on Craigslist, the rest of our junk is oozing onto our laps. My better half, Hope, and I are in her Mustang. It’s jammed up with bags of clothes, a George Foreman Grill, a box of spices, and baseball mitts. We’re off, heading west, like so many young, bored, distraught, out-of-work Middle Americans. Fortunately our move is one seeking adventure, a break from our norms.

The exuberant, intelligent and all-around excellent Hope is a labor and delivery nurse. She’s lined up a three-month stay at Barton Memorial. I’m a 26-year-old retired (read frustrated) landlord, freelance writer, and day laborer. For the first time in my life I’m untied to Detroit. We set out to journey the United States. First stop, Lake Tahoe!

The initial crossing into Tahoe was around 3 a.m. on Sept. 4. The winding mountain ride was exhilarating, revealing, and yet quite mysterious. Our first time driving U.S. 50 West at dusk was like playing tag in the dark, hands out, carefully shuffling feet against carpet.

We arrived at my sister’s home in South Lake Tahoe early that morning, our bodies crashed immediately. We awoke midday, stepped outside into her backyard forest. (Backyard forests/mountains are the coolest thing about Tahoe.) The sun was beating down. “Wasn’t it cold last night?” I questioned my sanity. Maybe I was delirious from the drive, the time change, the altitude.

Within a week I figured out Tahoe’s weather pattern: warm, cloudless, dry days followed by cool breezy nights. Who could have known such favorable climates exist? (Fortunately we packed for all seasons. The other day I was working outside and I was changing outfits like the host of an awards show.)

Our first week in Tahoe we took advantage of the ideal weather. Hope and I realize we’re on borrowed Tahoe time. So we pack our days with adventures. We hiked to reveal amazing views of Upper and Lower Echo Lakes. We boated and dined on Lake Tahoe at sundown, took in the layers: crystal blue lake, endless mountains, and red-burst sky. We biked up hill, through the mountains, and zipped back down.

Outdoor activities seem contagious; they define Tahoe. Albeit “Shoulder Season,” as a new, long-term visitor to Tahoe, this time of year seems just right. It is the perfect break from our Midwestern norm.

– Frank Muscat is a Midwestern native and freelance writer who will be visiting Lake Tahoe for the next few months. He can be reached at

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