Guest view: Random observations on Tahoe’s uniqueness |

Guest view: Random observations on Tahoe’s uniqueness

Frank Muscat

“While we have the gift of life, it seems to me that only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness.”

Gilda Radner (1946 – 1989)

Like all things glorious, Tahoe’s spirit is certainly unique. Every entity has idiosyncrasies that make it interesting, entertaining and fun. As a new transplant, I’ve noticed a few of those peculiarities and would like to take a moment to celebrate my observations.

One such oddity involves human kind’s four-legged companions. Like teenage girls with their cell phones, Tahoe residents keep their dogs at their side at all times.

Fortunately I like dogs, but the phenomenon lies in that all local dogs seem to be unfettered. Back in Detroit, a dog not on a leash is considered a stray, and prompts a call to the Humane Society. But on any day, on any South Lake Tahoe street, trail, or sidewalk, you can cross another walker, biker, or jogger and lo and behold, an unleashed canine. Much to my surprise, the dogs are typically well behaved. I suppose troublesome, unruly dogs may meet their untimely demise to the packs of wild coyotes scouring neighborhoods.

Besides owning leash-less puppies, what do local waitresses, doctors, soccer moms, senior citizens, and Hell’s Angels members all have in common? Most of Tahoe’s dog walkers are also sporting tattoos. Every time I turn my head I’m taken back to notice a unique Tahoe resident with bold body art. The local South Lake phone book has several tattoo parlors listed, even a tattoo removal business. But be prepared to drive if you’d like to go to Target or Home Depot.

Furthermore, how does anyone pay for these tattoos when no one works a typical 9-to-5 schedule? Anytime of the week, locals of all ages seem to be enjoying a bike ride or trail hike: Living on Tahoe Time. The 40-hour, Monday through Friday grind that plagues the rest of the county does not apply. Since I’ve transplanted, I’ve taken to local scheduling, as I’m not clocking in anywhere or keeping normal hours. Thanks, Tahoe, for teaching me how to enjoy your town, on Tahoe Time.

Before my life of non-secular scheduling, if I overheard someone chatting about “North versus South,” I would have assumed it was a couple of history buffs debating the old Blue/Gray, Civil War. After a month in Tahoe, I have a whole new definition of North versus South. We’d have to reincarnate Honest Abe to resolve this battle!

I live in South Lake, but I’m trying not to take sides. The difference appears to be in the South having more tourists, the North more pretentiousness. I’ve visited North Lake a few times and they seem to be able to smell the South on me. The maitre d’ at an unnamed restaurant insisted that my friends and I sit at the bar because the menu was more reasonably priced.

I’ve also noticed tourist folks in obnoxious, head-to-toe, Lake Tahoe sweatsuits, walking from casino to casino. That scene does not conjure up images of the beautiful, lakeside sunsets through the snowcapped mountains.

But no worries, Tahoe is perfectly quirky. Thanks for allowing me to celebrate your uniqueness. I find this town compelling, charming and gloriously unique.

– 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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