Thomas Stoudt, of Executive Director, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, speaks. Transportation Security Administration and Lehigh Valley International Airport officials hold a news conference Thursday, May 19, 2022, at LVIA to inform travelers of what to expect this summer and to offer tips to help make the security screening process as efficient as possible. (Amy Shortell / The Morning Call)
As a travel journalist, I take hundreds of pictures per day. The most striking ones aren’t simply of beautiful people in beautiful places. They’re the ones that capture travelers reveling in their journeys, that reveal how a destination’s people live, and that convey the soul of a place. My goal is to document my fleeting experiences in a way that brings them to life for those who aren’t with me. And, yes, I admit it, I don’t mind getting a bunch of likes on Instagram, too.
Sometimes you’ll get lucky and take a great shot without much thought or preparation. However, most five-star pics require a basic understanding of the fundamentals of photography and a little work. You don’t need to buy any fancy equipment; the camera on your phone will do the trick, though a DSLR or mirrorless camera will give you more flexibility and options. If you follow these tips, you’ll come home with pictures that will wow, whether you’re putting them up on the fridge or posting them online.
Let your phone help you look like a pro
Become familiar with your phone’s self-timer function, so you won’t need assistance to take a picture of yourself. A next-level option is the Apple Watch’s Camera Remote app, which pairs with your iPhone so you can see through your camera’s viewfinder on your watch’s screen and set a timer there. Turn on your phone’s camera grid, which divides your screen into nine equal parts using two equally spaced vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines. This serves as a visual reminder of the rule of thirds, where key compositional elements are placed along the lines or at their intersections to create visually pleasing photos.
Before you head out, make sure your battery is fully charged. If you have a camera, bring an extra battery; if you’re using your phone, consider investing in a portable charger. If your camera has an interchangeable lens, bring several lenses of varying focal lengths: macro, wide angle and telephoto. Always pack a microfiber cloth to clean your lenses.
Ideally, you want the sun at your back or just off to your side when you take a picture, so it illuminates your subject. Don’t shoot your subject in front of the sun or other bright light source; this will cause backlighting, which will create a dark mess of shadows.
The best light of the day is during its golden hours: roughly the hour following sunrise and the hour before sunset. This gentle, ample light will lend your pictures the richest, most vibrant colors. To harness its potential can mean getting up early or delaying your dinner plans, but your pictures will pop.
Although the middle of the day might seem like a great time to shoot because there’s so much light, that’s not necessarily true. The light is harsh, which isn’t always flattering to subjects, and it creates strong shadows. That doesn’t mean you can’t get wonderful photos at midday. “When the sun casts shadows, it creates beautiful patterns on things that can be very striking,” says professional travel photographer Lola Akinmade Akerstrom. “It can also create a natural spotlight. Wait for someone to walk into that light, then you take your shot.”
Remember the fundamentals
A photograph has the potential for great color, light, composition and what photographers call a “decisive moment,” which takes the action from meh to meaningful.“You don’t have to have all four, but you must have at least two,” says Nevada Wier, a professional travel photographer. “So, if there’s a great sunset, there still has to be something else to make it unique. And if there’s something with great color, you still have to compose the image impeccably.”
“There is a near-universal tendency to center a subject in the middle of the frame,” says professional travel photographer and journalist Christopher Baker, who suggests thinking outside the middle of the box. “If you are going to photograph a group of people in front of a landmark, don’t put them in a straight line. Stagger them instead. Put a single subject to the left or right of your frame.”
Amateur photographers often fixate on the person they are shooting, while completely forgetting about what’s going on behind the subject. Unfortunately, a messy background makes for a messy photo. “Eliminate everything that doesn’t matter in the image, and pay attention to composing what does matter,” says Wier, emphasizing that this might mean moving your subject, moving yourself or moving something distracting that is within the frame of the shot.
Get different perspectives
Don’t shoot a person, place or object from a single angle; photograph them from a variety of perspectives. An easy way to capture an interesting array is to start with wide-angle establishing shots, then work closer and closer to your subject until you’re focusing on the finest of details. Along the way, consider photographing from low and high vantage points, as well as getting both action shots and still lifes.
Sometimes you’ll come across a festival or market bursting with seemingly endless photo opportunities. It can be so overwhelming that you won’t know where to point your camera. “What’s fun is to start thinking about a theme for your photographs,” Wier says. “Look for the color pink or look for hats. If you give yourself a theme, you start noticing things.”
Get out of your comfort zone
Maybe you love taking pictures of every meal you eat, or perhaps your focus is landscapes. However, when you travel, you need to document all the elements of your destination, “because it’s everything together that tells a story of a place,” says Akerstrom, who also suggests travelers look at pictures of their destination on Google and Instagram before they go, so they can push themselves to get different images.
Make famous landmarks accessories
“Some of the most compelling photos of landmarks are when they are in the background and you’re capturing how life moves around it,” Akerstrom says. For example, if you want a striking image of the Eiffel Tower, go to a cafe where you can see it in the background. Focus your photo on the action at the cafe, such as a server handing someone a cocktail or a diner sipping an espresso, while keeping the Eiffel Tower in the back as a supporting cast member in this miniature drama.
Don’t forget the people
Pictures of people bring a place alive in photos. Be respectful by politely engaging with them and asking their permission to shoot. It can be intimidating to approach strangers, and it is sometimes difficult to navigate language barriers, but creating those relationships will pay off. Once you have the go-ahead, don’t stand back and lurk with a telephoto lens. “Closer is better,” Baker says. “Get up front and personal. Engage. I’ll sometimes have my camera 18 inches from someone’s face.”
“Getting a great shot is about anticipating, observation and patience,” Akerstrom says. That means taking your time. Don’t think you can rush through your trip, snapping perfect pictures. Consider your subject and the options to photograph it, then wait for the right moments to capture it.
Occasionally, put down your camera for a stretch. “It’s so often that I’ve been on assignment and so dedicated to get photos to please an editor that, at the end of the trip, I realize I didn’t have time to enjoy the people, the place or the experience, because I was always thinking about moving on to get the next shot,” Baker laments. Don’t make this mistake. Remember to savor your trips and live in the moment while you’re on them.
Potential travelers should take local and national public health directives regarding the pandemic into consideration before planning any trips. Travel health notice information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map showing travel recommendations by destination and the CDC’s travel health notice webpage.
This photography tip will help create better photographs.
Wanting to improve as a photographer should be a constant. There shouldn’t be a comfort zone where we stop pushing ourselves to improve. After a brief break from making images, I recently picked up my camera and began making photos again. As the creative flame began to burn, I thought about a technique that would push me to make better pictures. It’s a simple technique, and it has nothing to do with how I use the camera.
A Simple Photography Tip
Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you wait until the end of the article to tell you this helpful photography tip. Because what I’m about to share will require some explaining. “Okay, Dan, enough of the hype, tell us what we need to do!” Fine, I get you.
My photography tip is simple: go out and shoot with your camera’s battery charged at no more than 50%. “What, Dan? Are you mad? Nobody in their right mind would do that.” Hear me out.
Fully Charged Batteries Led Me to This Photography Tip
Look, I get it. I know how good it feels to wake up in the morning, your camera bag packed, and your batteries fully charged. It’s the sign of a good day of shooting ahead. But the reality is, the luxury of fully charged batteries often leads us to being senseless. We stop thinking about what we’re really looking at and just hit the shutter button. It’s like being a photography zombie: not really thinking, just doing.
Of course, going out with your battery at 50% isn’t a good idea for a paid gig. But for your personal work, be it travel, street, or documentary photography, having to worry about power is a great idea.
When I went out recently with my camera, the first thing I did when I arrived at my location was turn on my camera. The next thing I did was turn it back off. The idea of having less power gave me anxiety, which was great. Because instead of shooting for the sake of shooting, I became more analytical about what I felt made a good photo.
When I became attracted to a scene, I took my hands and used my index fingers and thumbs to replicate my sensor. Looking at the frame, I asked myself whether I would care if I never saw this image again. If the answer was no, my camera stayed turned off. If the answer was yes, I took the shot.
With today’s beautiful LCD screens, reviewing our images is a pure power drainer. Knowing I had to be conservative with the use of my camera, I committed to zero chimping.
Not only did it save juice, but it also ensured I spent more time being present with my surroundings. Unnecassary chimping is a curse, and we should avoid it at all costs!
Less Time Editing
The more selective you are over the images you make, the fewer files you have on your memory card. If we’re honest, we’ve all sat at our desktop going through too many images. It could be because we’ve taken too many shots of the same scene, hoping one of them will be good.
It could also be because we make photos of scenes that attract us in real life, but are make for a boring photograph. Something I’ve learned over the years, and certainly since implementing this photography tip, is that not everything we like to look at makes a good photo. For example, you may see a beautiful, vibrant house nestled amongst some hills on the horizon. To the eye, it looks amazing. But as a photo, the house looks tiny, and you can’t replicate the same feeling.
Being more selective over your shots will make you notice the difference between a good scene in real life and a good photo. That’s important because it will save you time when editing and battery power when shooting!
Try It for Yourself
A photography tip doesn’t always need to be complicated. Sometimes doing something as simple as going out with a half powered battery can be all you need to get better images. Plus, in my opinion, it’s seldom how we use the camera that makes for better images. Instead, it’s how we use our minds and eyes that help us get the most out of a scene. Not constantly hitting the shutters encourages us to focus more, and we return home with a few images we love rather than a lot of images we don’t.
After tying the knot with her partner Suraj Nambiar in an intimate wedding ceremony, actor Mouni Roy is back on screen as a judge on the reality TV show DID Li’l Masters. The star has been sharing glimpses from the sets of the dance show, which will premiere on March 12. Mouni has also posted photos of her glamorous looks with fans, and her latest photoshoot will make your jaw hit the floor.
On Monday, Mouni posted photos of herself dressed in a yellow chiffon saree with the caption, “It’s not what you look at matters, it’s what you see.” The six yards is from the shelves of designer Neeta Lulla’s label, and the Brahmastra actor wore it for an episode of DID Li’l Masters. Additionally, Mouni created a ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’ moment with the six yards, and we are in love with it.
Mouni’s sunshine yellow coloured wrinkle chiffon saree features embellished transparent sequin borders in various shades of yellow and ruffled edges.
Mouni wore the see-through six yards in a traditional draping style around her body, accentuating her svelte frame. In the end, she wore the saree with a sleeveless matching bright yellow blouse that comes with a plunging wide U neckline, backless detail, and a bodycon silhouette.
If you wish to buy Mouni’s sunshine yellow look, it is available on the Neeta Lulla website. The six yards is called the Sunglow – Mehr Saree Set and will cost you a whopping ₹84,000.
Though the yellow saree created a stunning traditional fashion moment, it was Mouni’s hairdo that stole the show for us. The star tied her locks in a sleeked back funky braid adorned with embellished hair ties. Additionally, her accessories included statement earrings and rings.
For the glam picks, Mouni went with dewy skin, winged eyeliner, subtle eye shadow, heavy mascara on the lashes, sharp contouring, nude lip shade, rosy tint on the cheeks, and on-fleek eyebrows.
The images surfacing on my social media feeds in recent days look as if they belong to a post-apocalyptic film rather than present-day Los Angeles.
Train tracks in Lincoln Heights, a neighborhood on the city’s Eastside, are covered with thousands of discarded packages apparently left behind by thieves. Among the detritus are rapid coronavirus tests, torn Amazon boxes and family photos.
To me, the thefts are further evidence of Southern California’s key role in the movement of goods around the world, made especially relevant by the ongoing supply chain crisis.
Forty percent of all seaborne imports to the United States come through either the Port of Los Angeles or the Port of Long Beach. And a majority of those goods eventually end up on a train.
On their way to their final destinations, some of those trains pause on the Union Pacific tracks in Lincoln Heights. There, they are reconfigured for routes toward Canada or Chicago, creating a window for thefts — and further shipping delays.
One such worker, wearing a bright yellow vest as he headed to pick up car tires along the tracks, said he had seen thieves use bolt cutters to break locks on the cargo containers. The stolen merchandise was then loaded into vans or trucks.
“They do it right in front of us,” he told the news outlet. “At first I was shocked. I was amazed by it.”
Today’s travel tip comes from Sharon Frazier, who lives in Laguna Niguel. Sharon recommends the city of Arroyo Grande on the Central Coast:
“Just 20 minutes south of the more popular San Luis Obispo, ‘AG’ (as the locals call it) is filled with quaint shops, great restaurants and coffee houses, and roaming roosters that don’t seem to mind hanging out with us humans.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
And before you go, some good news
Most R.V. park owners don’t allow vehicles that are more than 10 years old. But not Stewart Silver.
Silver owns three R.V. parks in California and is building a fourth in an effort to increase the availability of low-income housing in the state, ABC7 reports.
Latonya Harvey, who lives in one of Silver’s parks in Santa Clarita, said she and her family had “searched everywhere for a place to park our R.V.”
“We lost everything during this pandemic,” she said. “I don’t want to leave here. I’m comfortable right here.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
This tutorial is about the How To Capture Better Travel Photos. We will try our best so that you understand this guide. I hope you like this blog How To Capture Better Travel Photos. If your answer is yes then please do share after reading this.
Check How To Capture Better Travel Photos
You’ve spent days flying, driving, ferries, boarding trains, or maybe even a combination of all of these modes of transportation to get to your destination. And now it’s finally here, the place you’ve always dreamed about, told your friends about and bragged about to your colleagues, so of course you want to capture it in all its glory with your smartphone or fancy digital camera. But when you do, you realize the pictures don’t do it justice and you have nothing to show for the ride of a lifetime. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, travel photography can be not only easy but also fun.
All you have to do is listen to the experts. On a recent trip to Havana, Cuba, we were lucky enough to spend some quality time with some of the best in travel photography, including Renan Ozturk, National Geographic photographer and North Face athlete; Elisabeth Brentano, a California-based photographer who spent nearly a decade working in newsrooms in Los Angeles before moving to live on the road in search of the perfect landscape shot; and Chelsea Yamase, an adventurer and photographer from Kauai whose photos will have you wanting to learn to freedive in an instant.
How to take good travel photos
Research your destination
Good travel photography begins long before you arrive at your destination. It starts at home, where you have to research the place you are visiting. Spend some time learning about local landmarks, interesting architecture, and areas of natural beauty that would make good subjects and locations for your photos. Use the Internet and travel guides to find out as much as you can about the region, the culture, the weather, and any interesting events or festivals that may be happening during your visit.
Sometimes you are just around the corner from some truly amazing place that is just waiting to be photographed. That’s why it’s so important to research the places you’re going to visit beforehand so you don’t miss out on great photo opportunities. Check what the weather will be like during your visit and find out what time the sun rises and sets. Golden hours are usually the best times of day to take photos, especially in hot weather where it can get foggy for most of the day.
In certain parts of the world you are not allowed to photograph what you want and there are certain rules that must be followed. Find out what you can photograph and what is prohibited. You should also check to see if there are any dress codes, as well as other local rules and laws. Find out about the country’s religion and culture beforehand so you don’t make mistakes or offend the country you’re visiting.
Use the Instagram community
Buying a good travel guide is important to many people, but it’s also interesting (and free) to check out what the Instagram community has to say about your chosen destination. Let your followers know where you’re headed next and ask for personal opinions on places to visit, places to eat, and what to see and photograph in that area.
Every destination has its cliches, as well as hidden spots off the beaten track. Search for local Instagrammers to see what they shoot and where. If possible, talk to them about their favorite places to photograph. The Instagram mobile photography community is a friendly place, and you’re sure to find people who are happy to help you find great spots to shoot. You never know, they might even offer to meet you and show you the sights!
prepare your camera
Before you set out on your trip, set aside some time to get your iPhone ready for the trip. One of the most important things is to make sure you have enough space on your iPhone for lots of new photos. You don’t want to run out of space in the middle of your adventure! To free up as much space as possible, transfer photos from iPhone to computer (Mac or Windows PC). You can use an iPhone photo transfer app to do this.
Battery life is also important, as you could be shooting all day with your iPhone. I would advise buying an external battery, such as the Mophie Juice Pack, to have more hours of recording. If you’re traveling to a place where you don’t need to use cellular coverage, optimize battery use by turning on Airplane Mode in the Settings app. This way your iPhone won’t drain your battery trying to stay connected all the time.
A “hazy” image can sometimes be the pure result of a dirty lens, so make sure your iPhone camera lens is clean. Wipe the lens gently with a clean lens cloth or any other soft cloth, like a t-shirt, to ensure your photos are sharp.
Rethink cliche shots
Visiting tourist places when you travel is practically unavoidable, but you don’t want to go home with your images like the ones in the guide. It will be much more fun and interesting if you take unique photos of popular tourist destinations. The important thing to remember when photographing popular tourist spots is to avoid photographing your subject like everyone else has before you.
Get moving and know your subject. Experiment with more attractive angles and points of view that are not common in this scene. Shooting from a low angle is an easy way to show a scene from a perspective that people don’t normally see from a standing height. Leave the photo cliches to the tourists! You are a mobile photographer and traveler on a mission to take the best photos you can within a set time frame.
Shoot portraits of local people
A great way to capture the essence of your destination is to take portrait photos of the local people. If you’re shooting from a distance, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you want to take close-up portraits, it’s polite to ask permission first. For a softer approach, I suggest a quick study of the language first. Buy a phrasebook or download a translation app on your iPhone and learn basics like “hello,” “please,” “thank you” and “how are you?”
Once you know a few key phrases to break the ice, start communicating in the local language. You don’t have to be fluent, but a simple “hello” in the person’s native language will make them more comfortable with the situation. Ask them if it’s okay to photograph them, but if they disagree, thank them and move on. Photographing people in their own environment with interesting elements in the background or foreground will help contextualize the portrait, giving the viewer more information about the location.
Whether you’re photographing people in an open desert or among the hustle and bustle of a busy city or street market, always try to tell a story in your photo. You are not only photographing the person, but also documenting your travel experience.
Use yourself or a fellow traveler as the subject
Having a person in your travel photos makes the images more interesting. It also adds a more human perspective to the journey you are documenting. A person can act as a focal point in a scene that has no obvious main subject and help the viewer connect with the photo.
It’s not always possible to photograph local people, so if you’re traveling with other people, ask them to pose in the scene when you take a photo. Not only does this add an interesting focal point to your image, but it creates wonderful memories of the people you traveled with or met along your journey.
When you come across a scene that looks stunning in real life, you may find it difficult to convey that beauty in a photo. This is especially true with landscapes and beach scenes that can appear very “flat” without a main subject or focal point. Including a person in the scene is the perfect solution. Imagine the photo above without the person in the foreground: it would be quite flat and lifeless. The inclusion of the woman creates a strong focal point and helps create a sense of depth in the scene.
Capture small details
When you take photos on your travels, you are likely to capture a lot of wide landscapes, quiet beaches, and busy street scenes. All of these make great photos that capture the beauty and atmosphere of the country. But don’t forget to look for the smallest details in your destination. This shouldn’t be difficult, as everything you see is probably new to you, and you’ll see interesting details wherever you look.
Keep an eye out for traditional elements unique to your destination, such as architectural details, local customs, materials, food, colors, textures, and patterns. These little details often tell a more intimate story, giving the viewer a better idea of the environment they experienced. Close-ups of architectural features are a great way to add variety to your photo album.
The intricate details and patterns on this yellow building create a wonderful abstract image. This type of shot works best when it fills the entire frame with the subject or pattern.
Tell a story with your photos
A good photo tells a story, and travel photography is the perfect opportunity to tell interesting stories with your images. There are different ways you can tell stories through your photos. Sometimes the subject’s actions tell a story in themselves. For example, this man walking down a windy beach with his blanket floating behind him. The trick is to compose your shot well and capture your subject at the perfect moment. Often you need to do this quickly before the moment is up, so always have your camera ready and use burst mode to take a series of shots in quick succession (just hold down the shutter button to activate burst mode). burst).
Narration is about getting the viewer interested in what’s happening in the scene. A great way to do this is to create some mystery and intrigue so your audience will start asking questions about the photo. For example, “Who is that person?” “What is that object doing there?” Leaving a bit to the imagination is a great way to make the viewer connect more with your photo while wondering about the story behind it.
It allows the viewer to invent their own story about the photo or find a personal connection with it. In the case of the two photos above, the viewer can imagine sitting in the chair, experiencing that beautiful place for themselves. Another way to tell a story is to shoot a series of related images. This allows you to easily tell a story through your photos without saying a single word.
Select a theme, such as architecture or culture. Or select a location, such as a traditional market or a beautiful beach. Then try to capture a sequence of images that tells the story of what you experienced. Take wide-angle shots of the entire scene, close-ups of small details, and anything else that helps tell a complete story of your chosen subject. Think about how you would like to tell the narrative of your journey to your friends and family, and capture it in your images.
Final words: How To Capture Better Travel Photos
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Between California and Nevada. Between summer and winter. Between a rough 2021, in which the Caldor fire blackened more than 220,000 nearby acres, and a COVID-shadowed 2022 that’s anyone’s guess.
In the coming days and weeks, storms will likely bring enough precipitation to start the ski season in earnest, bringing skiers, boarders and tourist dollars in large quantities while blanketing the slopes (and scorched earth) with snow.
But I couldn’t wait for that. I headed north in November, when the landscape was full of aspen leaves, spawning salmon, empty beaches, early snow flurries and rain puddles — transition everywhere. I took these 25 images as I circled the lake (with two detours). On the way, I learned a few things that might improve your next visit, whenever that comes.
First: Though miles of charred trees mar the landscape south of the lake, visitors from Southern California may barely notice them. This is because firefighters stopped the flames before they reached water’s edge and because the most visible roadside damage is along portions of Highway 50 (which leads to Sacramento) that northbound drivers can easily avoid.
Along Highway 395, the most common driving route to Tahoe from Southern California, I did see trees killed by the Tamarack fire (68,637 acres, contained Oct. 26) but only on the 10-mile stretch between Wild Oat Mountain and Dead Horse Flat, Nev.
What I mostly saw drawing nearer to Tahoe’s south shore was autumn splendor. Especially at Emerald Bay.
There are no guarantees when you make an impulse decision on the road, but it’s good that I rose early to catch sunrise over Emerald Bay.
As I arrived at Inspiration Point, the clouds burst and the sun appeared, peeking up from beyond the Nevada shore. Sunbeams and raindrops everywhere. Only a handful of families and individuals were there to see it. We shared smug smiles.
Whatever season you arrive, make time for Emerald Bay State Park. Also, as you gaze across the water, consider that Lake Tahoe never freezes over. At its greatest depths, experts say, it’s 39 degrees year round.
More advice: If you stop by Camp Richardson on the south shore, perhaps to grab a bite from Beacon Bar & Grill, you might catch a rainbow rising from the water (and your own shadow).
Look down at Camp Richardson too. You might find mushrooms emerging from the cold, moist forest floor.
I did take two detours from Tahoe. The first was onto Highway 50 between the hamlets of Meyers and Kyburz, about 20 miles south of the lake where some of the worst Caldor fire damage is visible from the road. I did this so that you don’t need to. Along the ashen slopes and roadside, workers were felling dead trees, then cutting, stacking and hauling them as civilian traffic slowly crept past. A man with a flag waved motorists through, then stopped traffic, then waved another batch through. If you’re driving to the lake from the south, it’s easy to avoid this by using Highway 395.
Here’s another look along Highway 50. This ridgeline near Echo Summit was also part of the Caldor fire, which was reported Aug. 14 but wasn’t 100% contained until Oct. 21.
These blackened trees and sparse slopes along Highway 89 might look like fresh damage, but they’re remnants of the Emerald fire of 2016, which burned fewer than 200 acres in a highly visible spot.
See the knees? My second detour from Tahoe was a 100-mile side trip to Mono Lake, and on the way I stopped at Travertine Hot Springs. It’s off a dirt road just south of Bridgeport along Highway 395. In some of these natural hot tubs, you can adjust the temperature by placing pebbles to divert the incoming hot spring water.
The knees shown above belong to Opie Owens, 32, who was unwinding in one of the tubs after catching 13 Phish concerts in 16 days. He seemed to have his temperature just right.
I pulled off my shoes and soaked for 15 minutes in a neighboring tub before hitting the road again. Owens wished me well and looked upon me with benign pity as if I’d just ordered take-away French fries in a Michelin-star dining room.
By the way, locals say the dirt road to these springs gets buried when serious snow comes. I wouldn’t try it in winter.
And on the subject of warnings …
The decade is young, but I believe this is the most expensive gasoline I’ve ever pumped in these United States. This was Bridgeport.
Here’s Mono Lake, which every Angeleno probably ought to see because so much of our water has been diverted from its Eastern Sierra tributaries. The formations at Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve are the stuff of strange dreams (and classic-rock album covers).
Along the Walker River, between Bridgeport and Topaz Lake on Highway 395, I stopped just to tramp among the aspen leaves and granite boulders.
If you start circling Tahoe at the south shore’s California-Nevada border, your first stop is the Heavenly ski resort and village. I did no skiing. After a mostly snowless November and early December, precipitation arrived with a storm this week, leading the resort to announce that it would open several lifts and runs on Dec. 11. I missed that and had to settle for the sight of an idle gondola. Still, Heavenly Village was stirring to life. I especially liked my dinner at Azul Latin Kitchen. Holiday lights were twinkling. All we lacked was snow. (As of Dec. 9, the gondola was carrying sightseers only, but on that day, a storm brought several inches of snow. Skiers, it won’t be long.)
The Taylor Creek Rainbow Trail, just off Emerald Bay road (Highway 89), was another impulse move. On the nature trail and boardwalk there, visitors can browse the wetlands and learn about the region’s falling aspen population. (Apparently nimrods with Swiss army knives aren’t the only problem.) But the big surprise was in the water.
Each fall, kokanee salmon spawn in Taylor Creek. It’s a phenomenon in which The fish turn red, struggle upstream to lay eggs — and die. I showed up in the middle of this epic struggle with thousands of red fish (and dead fish) everywhere, accompanied by the scent of fresh salmon.
It was a bittersweet spectacle of nature in transition. I probably shouldn’t admit that it made me hungry.
About seven miles from the lake’s north shore, I spent a night at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort, which you may know under another name. It was Squaw Valley until September when management cast off the old name, acknowledging it was derogatory and offensive.
There I wandered through another slowly waking resort village, this one more isolated than Heavenly, with only a few restaurants and shops open. For company, I had a naked mountain — the granite formation known as Tram Face looming to the west (soon to be covered by snow, let’s all hope). In recent days, more of the village has opened, and the resort has its beginner terrain in operation with lessons available. The resort’s aerial tram is running Friday through Sunday but only for sightseeing so far.
In the Palisades Tahoe village at one of Tremigo restaurant’s fire pits, I found Cathy Colpitts (gray hat) and her golden retriever K.T. along with Danielle Ginty (purple hat) and her golden retriever Rosie.
In the Alpine Meadows area of Palisades Tahoe, I caught a few minutes of snow — a hint of the winter to come. By the time I was a few miles down the road (and a little closer to sea level), the flakes had turned to rain.
Truckee, an old railroad town near Lake Tahoe’s north shore, has been born again as a destination for tourists and Bay Area people with second homes. Like every other community around the lake, it’s punctuated this year by signs reading not only “THANK YOU, FIREFIGHTERS” but “HELP WANTED” because a pandemic-fueled housing shortage has made it difficult for service workers to find anywhere to live. Hence this sign at JAX at the Tracks Diner: “The world is short-staffed. Be kind to those who showed up.”
JAX is one of the most popular restaurants in Truckee, but its counter seats were all empty because of COVID precautions.
You see a lot of real and fake log cabins around the lake. You don’t see a lot of structure likes the Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee, whose style is part cabin, part industrial chic. It’s the marriage of cedar and cement at last. The hotel has 40 rooms and a well-regarded restaurant, Stella, and it was my favorite lodging find of the journey. (I paid about $175, but once the skiing season starts, rates jump much higher.)
One great pleasure of driving River Road (Highway 89) north from Tahoe City is the way you play peekaboo with the Truckee River, Lake Tahoe’s only outlet.
It runs north from the lake, cuts through downtown Truckee (where I took this picture). Then, with Interstate 80 following its path, it continues for another 80 miles or so, twisting through Reno, then emptying into Pyramid Lake, Nev. Maybe come spring that will be the next road trip.
On the last afternoon of the Tahoe trip, under pounding rain, I pulled over at Donner Lake, a few miles from the mountain pass where the Donner Party had its winter unpleasantness 175 years ago.
Everyone else had taken refuge inside except these two, who lingered a long while, watching the stippled surface of the water. Maybe they were thinking about how rough 2021 has been or how much they’re counting on 2022. Or maybe they were reminding themselves that in this neck of the woods, just about any year that isn’t 1846 is a good year.