I’s staying in a really nice place. I’m not paying rent. I’m a “guest”. I see snow and bears and sunsets. I have my own space where I can work. My hosts feel guilty about not entertaining me more, while I feel great about getting things done. My hostess (we’ll call her Leza) recently asked if I was gong to be around mid-June to take care of the cat while they traveled. She was disappointed when I said I thought I should be going in another week or so.

There may be an ulterior motive at work here. Yesterday when I got home from a writing session (did you see just then how natural it was to say home?) and “Leza” asked – and I’m dead quoting here – “Would you be interested in a little girl?”

I was caught off guard by that one, I’ll tell you. I honestly thought for the tiniest fraction of a second that she was hoping I would adopt a little girl. The thought passed quickly, because no one would be so stupid as to entrust me with the upbringing of a child all on my own. It turns out that the “Little Girl” is Leza’s age (I can not, will not, even take a guess at that. She’s either younger than I am, or not.), and is perhaps freakishly small. So now I face the slightly lesser peril of being set up.

As a bit of background, it must be said that stories get bigger when Leza tells them. She is a storyteller at heart. I have stood by, bemused, as I hear her tell her husband (we’ll call him ‘Mark’) some minor story I told her. She can make the simplest thing sound dramatic. I wish I had that talent, and I’d wager she doesn’t even realize what she has.

Anyway, after clearing up the ‘little girl’ confusion, Leza explained to me that she had run into a friend of hers who thought I sounded ‘really nice’. So, I hear from Leza that, based on what she has told her friend about me, her friend thinks I’m nice. We’ll pass for the moment on the fact that Leza’s friend might have called me any name in the book and that would not affect what I heard back from Leza. What worries me most is what Leza told her friend. While it is likely based on fact, that still leaves a lot of room for poetic license.

So there’s a bunch of us getting together for some kind of musing thing Friday evening. I had been thinking about bolting for Bozeman this week, since the paying gig is in a lull, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So now I get to see the look on some woman’s face as she realizes the gulf between what she’s been told and what I can deliver. After that it’s Bozeman, baby, Bozeman. I’m starting to yearn for the big spaces.

Wildlife Survey

The other day I was walking the fifty meters between the house and my car when out from under my road-trip mobile scampered a bushy-tailed gray squirrel. There are two things I must remind you at this time. 1) Bushy-tailed Gray Squirrels are tree squirrels. They usually leave the scampering around on the ground to their diminutive chip-‘n’-dale ground squirrel brethren. 2) 87% of all documented squirrel suicides are by tree squirrels.

Naturally, before I drove, I checked my brake lines. I imagine that for a suicidal squirrel the car brakes are the greatest enemy. He dashes out into the road to his certain demise only to discover that his chosen vehicle of death has ABS and remarkably sticky tires. The squirrel survives and his squirrel buddies give him hell for it. Peer pressure can be ugly, even among squirrels.

All right, so Friday I caught a squirrel sabotaging my brakes. I caught him in time, no harm done. Saturday, yesterday, I stopped short as I walked to my car. There was a bear next to it. A fine, not-yet-full-sized California Brown bear. (Although I am now in Nevada, apparently there are treaties in place allowing certain limited visitation rights.) There was a time, not so long ago, I imagine, that the bears would go down to the lake or visit one of the tributary streams much as you and I get up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. Now I understand the paperwork is endless for a bear to get permission to take water from one of the streams. Don’t get them started about shitting in the woods.

Today as I went out to my car a golden eagle coasted overhead. It was huge. It was majestic. I’ll bet you a buck-fifty it was looking for squirrels. The raptor turned slowly, perhaps catching a draft over the release of hot air as I lowered the car’s top. It was so close I could have touched it if I had those telescoping arms like Dr. Octopus, or maybe if I was that rubber guy. You know who I mean. No, no, not the wonder Twins. They give me the creeps. There’s a few too many possibilities there, if you know what I mean. Anyway, wasn’t there some other rubber guy? He always won the arguments against Glue Guy.

Great Googly-Moogly!

I’d take a picture, but I’d have to get out of bed. Use your imagination.

OK, now it’s snowing pretty hard, and I’m out of bed. Your imagination is no longer required.
Additional Addendum:
The snow let up pretty quickly yesterday. the sun came out and the light dusting on everything quickly vanished. Still, it was pretty nice. This morning I slept a little later than usual, and when I opened my eyes to say good morning to lake and mountains, what did I see but several inches of snow covering everything. Well, that got me up in a hurry.

Winter Wonderland I grew up in the mountains, so I’ve seen snow in May before. Part of me is saying, “Jerry, what the heck’s the big deal?” But it is a big deal. The way the sun is shining off the snow-laden branches, the way the Internet is down so I can’t work, all these things make life special.

I think the best part about it is the surprise. Having lived in San Diego for so long, I pay no attention whatsoever to weather reports. So when I woke up this morning to discover I had been transported to a winter wonderland in my sleep, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I’m so stupid giddy over the snow I went out in my bare feet for some of the pictures (photos). The picture I’m featuring here doesn’t have the bright sunshine, but I like the composition.

My Internet connection here is relayed over the lake by a satellite dish (although I suppose it’s not a satellite dish if no satellite is involved), and apparently the connection is quite vulnerable to poor weather conditions. Unfortunately, now that you’re reading this, I’m back connected to the outside world and that means I’m currently struggling to concentrate on work when what I really want to do is go out and play.

Ironically, with the Internet down, I would be able to concentrate on work much better, but the tools I’m using have been specifically designed to not work when they can’t connect to the mother ship, for no reason other than corporate paranoia. Ironically, anyone with actual malicious intent could hack the tools pretty easily, but that’s not how I plan to spend my day.

I’m going on a walk.

Sam’s Place

Location: Sam’s Place, Lake Tahoe, NV(map)
Miles: 1891.3

My usual table was taken when I came in, so I’m sitting with my back to most of the action at the bar. The bartender when I came in may be the boss, but I haven’t dealt with her before. As far as she’s concerned, my name’s “Buddy”. She did make a point of remembering where I sat last time.

The person sitting at “my” table was Norm. I’m reasonably sure I met him at a bachelor party once. I didn’t want to go through the false camaraderie we would both have to adopt if I introduced myself, though. I was pretty much a wallflower at that bachelor party anyway, except when we were playing poker. The groom, also my host currently, while not rolling in filthy lucre is doing all right for himself, as are most of his friends. Craig and I were there because our wives were friends of the bride. I think they reduced the money at the poker table dramatically to accommodate us. So while they were playing for what felt to them like monopoly money, to Craig and me it felt like bigtime gambling.

Norm has now left, and I just moved back to my usual table, the faint sizzle of the outward-facing neon in my right ear. It’s important when regularizing to establish patterns that bartenders and wait staff can recognize. Becky just started her shift, and she didn’t use my name, which I told her yesterday. Big setback. I’m going to try to sneak a picture of her now… crap. I jiggled it. Jiggled%20it.jpg

This isn’t a bad bar at all. Most everyone knows everyone else, so there’s plenty of stories to tell. It’s a safe assumption that some mutual friend did something stupid or outrageous lately.

Normally when I come to a bar I fire up Jer’s Novel Writer, not iBlog. I can concentrate very well on my fiction in a bar, much better than I can at home. At home there’s too many other things I could do, like check one more time to see if anyone’s hit my blog, or work, or (when I had a yard) yardwork. Then there’s the laundry that needs doing, the email, the bills, blah, blah, blah. You might have people shouting and laughing in a bar, but external distractions are much easier to shut out than internal ones.

Yes, sometimes someone will come up to me and say without a trace of irony, “Hey! Hey! How do you concentrate in here?”

The peak of my bar-writing career came two novembers ago for NaNoWriMo , when I took the motto “30 days, 30 bars, 1 novel.” I’ll tell you more about that another time, when I rescue the photographic evidence from my computer that is packed away. It was not a sustainable lifestyle.

Oddly, I am finding the bar to be a big distraction when it is the bar I’m writing about. The theme from Shaft is playing on the jukebox. Normally that would just be background noise, but now I find myself wondering, “Should I write about that? Would that be interesting?” It probably won’t be until I get home that I will be able to write about the bar.

beer%2c%20laptop%2c%20bar.jpg I’ll give you a few facts about the place before I give up. The bar itself is of a rich-grained wood and has a nice curvaceousness to it. There are a couple of separate seating areas. One has a fireplace which I’m sure is very popular when the snow is several feet deep outside. Another has bookshelves. The bookshelves have actual books on them. The floors are rough wood, the cieling in the main bar area is wood with large wood beams, and there is wood paneling behind the bar. The wood is light enough that the bar does not feel too dark. I like wood.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to fire up JNW.

Addendum: This is a photo of Becky pouring a beer for me after she said, “Jerry, do you want another?” I would have said no, but she said my name. ARS is right on track.

A Lap Around The Lake

It was a very good decision. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the squirrels were behaving normally. I headed north from Zephyr Cove and around the lade counterclockwise, a trip of about 80 miles all told. Not really that much of note happened, I passed the Ponderosa (Home of TV’s Bonanza! Yee-haw!) I passed a ski resort that with a sign that said “Open From Top To Bottom” – I know there’s still snow up here but I have to be a little skeptical.

On the California side the views aren’t as spectacular, but there are more houses right on the water – some of them pretty damn amazing. Emerald Bay was indeed beautiful. I stopped to look around and take some pics. Soon after I pulled out of the vista point, I found myself on one of the most spectacular 200 meters of road I’ve ever seen. The road went along a ridge surrounded by water on every side (map). There was no way to stop – the edge of the pavement was the edge of the world. Sky above, water below, some forest in between, and a ribbon of asphalt seemingly suspended in space. At the end the road dove into some nice switchbacks.

I passed a bar with a homemade giant beer mug for its sign, but I didn’t get a picture. Sorry about that. I bet they had a blast making it.

It is also remarkable how patient the drivers are on those roads. People may be going slowly, but the person behind will hang back a polite distance and putt along with the rest of the crowd.

At the end I pulled into Sam’s Place, but that’s another entry.


Location: Leza and Mark’s place (map) (photos)
Miles: 1726.5

I was moving, traveling through the hot California air, tunes playing, momentum taking me up and out of Silicon Valley and into the mountains. Stopping was out of the question. Still, there’s that big, poorly shielded (and getting less well-shielded as time passes) fusion reactor up there in the sky, bathing us all in dangerous radiation. Having managed to retain a tiny bit of wisdom from my radiation damage two days previous, I knew that sunscreen was in order.

No problem. I have a convertible, and I know that the sun is not my friend. I have sunscreen out the wazoo. I open the little console between the seats to grab a tube and an important reciept I had in there starts to fly out. I catch it before it takes wing, shove it under my leg for safety and fish out the lotion tube. Alas, it’s a poorly designed tube (can’t put it down with the top off – who thinks of things like that?) so I decide to choose skin cancer for a few more minutes rather than risk crashing. I set the tube in my lap.

Not long after that I crossed a bridge to discover when I got to the far side that it was a toll bridge. It was a good thing I had stopped at an ATM this morning. I grabbed a couple of bucks from my wallet but while shifting around I came to be sitting on the end of the sunscreen tube. I was unaware of this unhappy little fact for many happy miles. Now I have sunscreen on the wazoo. And on the upholstery. And on the important receipt.

On a happier note, I am now in a very nice place. As you can tell from the photos the scenery is spectacular here, and it is very peaceful. In my room is a microwave and a little fridge already stocked with a few beers. La Dolce Vida indeed. I will be adding to the photos over the next few days. Sunset should be good, looking west over Lake Tahoe.