Our Town: World traveler settles down at Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Our Town: World traveler settles down at Lake Tahoe

Lisa Marsh / Special to the Tribune

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune Dennis Michal in his favorite area of his Toy Maniacs store in the Hill's Center.

For someone who has traveled the better part of the globe, Dennis Michal waited more than a decade for the chance to live his Tahoe dream life.

Michal is a native of St. Louis, Mo., and has lived at the South Shore for 12 years, owning a home here for 20 years. When he was in grade school, his father’s company relocated the family to Ventura County in Southern California. He’s been a Californian ever since.

Michal is a veteran of the Army and served in the Vietnam War. Michal was proud to have served his country and appreciates home in a special way because of the experience. He lived in Europe for two years and another year in Japan. While living in Germany, he and his wife, Penny, put 26,000 miles on a Fiat visiting places in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France and the Netherlands. They chose to drive around and have experiences rather than try to buy things to remind them of their travels. In Japan, they saw most of the country by train and motorcycle.

Michal has credited these experiences of living abroad and meeting people from different cultures with teaching him that people aren’t really that different, even if cultures and geography are. He believes that every American should travel or give themselves in service of some kind, especially youths. Michal believes it makes the appreciation for our own country and people that much more intense when seeing how others live. His belief in service also can be attributed to faith and recognizing the need for people to help one another. The Michals are active members of Hope Lutheran Church of the Sierra.

The Michals have three children. Their oldest son is a pilot for Delta Airlines, their daughter is a naturopathic doctor in Oregon, and their youngest son is a computer whiz who helps with the family business.

That family business is Toy Maniacs, which opened in 2000. When Michal was overseas, he worked in engineering and knew that when he had time, he would want to get involved with something interesting. He got into remote-controlled vehicles, and the rest is history. Michal always has enjoyed being around people, and hobbies were a great way for him to connect.

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Michal enjoys Tahoe for its obvious beauty and the community it offers on many levels. He has seen the world and carries a wisdom of his years as a member of a faith community, soldier and father. He also has an ability to play, which may be a requirement for living here as well.

Here is how he answered the Tribune’s questions:

“As someone who cared about family and friends, and the country in which we live.”

“We need safer bike lanes for locals and tourists, and more sidewalks for pedestrians. It would help if we had more streetlights at neighborhood intersections for motorists to see better. Also a larger police force, because the town is growing, and it is becoming harder for them to enforce the laws.”

“Newt Gingrich. He’s not afraid to create change and make the country better, and he works with anyone – liberals, conservatives and independents.”

“Outdoor activities, being with family and friends, watching a good movie or enjoying the beauty of Tahoe.”

“I would live the life that I have, for I feel that I wouldn’t want to change it. I have a wonderful wife, kids and life.”

“Albert Einstein, with his theories and finds. He was one of the greatest minds in the world.”

“How about all the pioneers who came here for political and religious freedoms and built our country.”

“Neil Armstrong, or any other pioneer of our space program, or the current president.”

“Pulitzer Prize, for finding better energy sources for our future.”

“The way our men and women were treated when they came home from the Vietnam War. They were spit on and hated for being in service to our country. Even if you don’t agree with the politics, the service members should be honored for what they do.”