The Show Opens and I Take a Hike

All settled in at the Ewok condo village, it’s time to get busy performing and hiking!

Our condo is located one mile from the northern edge of Heavenly Mountain Resort. Heavenly is a massive operation with 97 runs, 33 lifts, and nearly 4,000 feet of sweet vertical drop. But, as Wikipedia points out, pop singer-turned-Congressman Sony Bono had his own distinctly NOT Heavenly experience at the resort in 1998 when he collided with a tree while skiing at a high rate of speed. My rate of speed while hiking the first two days on the resort’s trails posed no equivalent danger. The only menace I encountered was four deer grazing on what must have been truly awesome shrubbery. They held their ground until I was less than 20 feet away. For a brief moment, the thought of a new reality TV show crossed my mind: When Deer Attack! There was no attack; there will be no show.

Deer and their shrubbery!
Now on to the raison d’ĂȘtre au Lac Tahoe! That’s French for “I’m supposed to be working!”

The show, Forever Plaid, is a jukebox musical telling the story of a singing quartet come back to life 52 years after being killed on their way to a debut performance in a collision with a bus full of parochial virgins on their way to see the Beatles in concert. (Wow! This blog is taking on a morbid theme. I must remember never to become a congressman or join a singing quartet.) Anyway, for one night, The Plaids resurrect their show, long ago rehearsed, and perform it in front of a live audience.

We had three tech rehearsals during which every body movement and stage position, every vocal note and inflection, and every prop placement was scrutinized and finalized. It’s an interesting process to watch and be a part of. The most fun was watching the actors jump in horror as June beetles, irretrievably confused by the bright lights, dive bombed the stage and suffered fatal consequences as a result of the collision. (I must remember to never become a large flying beetle or let bright lights confuse me!)

My view from the stage during tech rehearsal.
Shayla on upright bass, Peter on keyboards.

Working a fog machine glitch during tech rehearsal.

Friday night was the show’s preview night. In this case, preview night means there's a paying audience to take in the performance but the director and her team are in the theater taking notes to give to the actors after the show. Saturday night was the official opening night. The director and her team watched the show and flew home the following morning; the reins were handed to the stage manager for the run of the show.

The show’s a hit! We received standing ovations both nights and, while this is common audience behavior back in Boise, it is uncommon here, as in almost never.

Leaving the parking lot, the actors almost collide with a black bear.

Time for more hiking! This time at Squaw Valley Resort—home of the 1960 Winter Olympics—and Tahoe’s second largest ski area after Heavenly. Wikipedia points out that the 1960 games were the first to be televised. It further points out that, in 1978, the aerial tram came off one of its cables during a bad storm, dropped 75 feet to the ground, bounced back up and collided with another cable which sheared through the tram. Most, but not all, survived. (It’s good to keep the collision theme going, isn't it?)

Peter and I hiked the area’s Shirley Canyon Trail—3.5 miles and 2,000 feet elevation gain—and thoroughly enjoyed the increasingly alpine vistas. The trail ended at the resort’s High Camp where we encountered people sporting various amounts of swimwear and dancing poolside to a rave-like music mix. It seemed odd. What was not odd whatsoever was how good the $7 cold beer tasted after the hike. When we learned the tram ride down was free because we hiked up, we decided a second beer would be even better. And it WAS! There was nothing bad about the collision between my mouth and two cold beers.

Peter hiking the granite slabs on Shirley Canyon Trail.

Why yes! I'm standing in snow in July and I like it!

Pool party at 8,200 feet at Squaw's High Camp.
Yes, they are dancing, even in the pool.

Did I mention the Wanderlust Yoga Festival
taking place at Squaw Valley?

Spectacular view?
No thanks, I think I'll talk on my phone.

The view coming over the final hump.

The aerial tram's cables in sunlight.

Our tram ride down was super scenic and uneventful; it was not stormy; we did not bounce. I plan to make the hike again and, when I do, I’m going to tell the story about the 1978 accident to everyone on the tram as we begin the spectacularly acrophobic-inducing drop. We’ll see if my face collides with a fist.

Stay tuned!

Ciao! ~ Todd

Tally Ho! It’s Time to Tour Along with Todd to Tahoe!

The tour commenced Sunday, July 10, at 9:00 a.m. sharp with the sleepy thought of, “Wait a minute, I don’t have to drive to Lake Tahoe today. I don’t have to be there until Tuesday. I can drive tomorrow!"

And so the latest Tour Along With Todd adventure—a six-week summer residency tour with the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival—began by enjoying an extra, and unusually rainy, July day in Boise with Natalie and Lilly, the dog. We ate food, watched movies, and went on a bike ride between deluges.

Monday morning’s drive began on time—at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. YES, that’s 7:00 a.m. in the morning! I don’t do 7:00 a.m. in the morning. But I made the exception this one time in order to beat the inevitable desert heat. The vistas were beautiful. Expansive and shrouded in crystal blue sky. “This is awesome!” I thought. I thought too soon. It turns out Heaven and Hell’s boundary is located precisely at Winnemucca, NV. Hell lingers for 189.5 miles to the summit of the Mt. Rose Highway, whereupon Heaven resumes and continues into the Lake Tahoe basin.

Oregon’s still snow-capped Steens Mountains shrouded in clouds

Deep blue desert sky after the previous day's rains

Hey! Here are some interesting factoids for you! While there are extinct volcanoes in the Tahoe area (Mt. Rose being one), the lake is not a volcanic caldera. It was actually formed by mythical creatures (horsts and grabens) lifting up and pushing down giant blocks of the earth’s crust! A while later, lava from Mt. Pluto dammed the basin, resulting in the 10th deepest lake in the world! Go ahead, fact check me!

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival (LTSF) site is located at the ever popular Sand Harbor, a petite peninsula at the NE corner of the lake. My assigned condo is at Stateline, NV, at the SE corner of the lake. More precisely, the condo is situated at the 7,344 ft. summit of Daggett Pass, 22.6 long and congested miles from the theater. What’s more, the door of the condo is 162 steps (74 of which are steps up or down stairs) from the parking area along a labyrinth of walkways perched upon slender
stilts of wood. There’s little question that this baffling design was the inspiration for the unfortunate Ewok village first appearing in George Lucas’ 1983 Star Wars film Episode VI—Return of the Jedi. If this construction marvel is representative, I’m pretty sure building codes related to earthquakes are somewhat more laxed in Nevada than California, whose border is just two miles away.

Along the Ewok Condo Walkway

The condo itself is well appointed (the use of some imagination is required here) and fellow LTSF company members Peter and Josh have maintained an A+ rating from the National Roommate Association (NRA) by routinely being absent day and night.

And so this atypical tour begins!

Coming up next? The show opens and I take a hike!

Ciao ~ Todd