3 Aug 2013
In mid-July I was able to cross Yellowstone National Park and Wyoming off my bucket list. In doing so I discovered new things to love about Tahoe, and a new appreciation for what it means to be a tourist visiting a beautiful place for the first time.
Yellowstone has roaming herds of bison and elk, with the world’s largest collection of spectacular geysers, mud pots and colorful hotsprings. There are the famous touristy attractions such as Old Faithful, and hidden hideaways where the folks in the know find true bliss. And it has gobs of tourists from every state in the union who are excited by the opportunity to experience new things and expand their minds and hearts.
I loved seeing it all…but it also confirmed once again the untold specialness of Lake Tahoe. While Yellowstone’s forests are composed primarily of the rather bland lodgepole pine, at Tahoe we get to ponder 16 inch cones hanging from majestic sugar pines, deep green hemlocks thickly perched on north facing slopes, and towering cedars with their flaky red bark and bulging biceps. Yellowstone has a lake that covers more terrain than Tahoe, but it can’t quite hold a candle to our deep blue baby, where towering mountains reach right to the shore. And while it is exceptionally cool to see all those bison and elk, and intriguing that running into a grizzly or moose upon the trail is a possibility-there is something to be said for being able to hike without fear or bear spray. In Tahoe our bears are only dangerous if you dress up like a garbage can or forgot to lock the front door.
I learned two lessons on my trip: First, it’s a great big beautiful world, and was well worth the effort to visit the nations first national park, but Tahoe still shines brightly no matter where you go. And secondly, those of us who live and work in our little piece of paradise need to venture out now and then not only to appreciate all the world has to offer, but to understand what it is to be a tourist in a beautiful place. When you visit a place for the first time, you don’t know anything and feel out of place, but you remember forever what you experience with a fresh set of eyes. Hopefully those of us who introduce our piece of paradise to first timers will always keep that in mind.