Lake Tahoe CSA – Coming to a Box Near You!

Fruit boxThere is one downfall to living in Lake Tahoe, unpredictable weather seasons making gardening extremely difficult.  I grew up in an Italian family where my grandmother grew all her own vegetables and flowers and was raised on organic sustainable cooking without even knowing it.  Unpredictable spring weather includes late May snow showers and a ground soil that doesn’t defrost until even after making the planting and gardening season in Lake Tahoe especially short.  Often I am limited to an herb and flower garden during the hottest months of the year in July, August and September only.  I didn’t want to forego enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables but also didn’t want to pay the price at the grocery stores either.  This is why I decided to join a CSA.  Enter Mountain Bounty Farms.  I have been enjoying their fresh vegetables and fruits now for two years!

What is a CSA?
Often I hear people ask this question.  CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” a popular way for people to buy local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer.   How it works is a farmer offers a number of “shares” to public consumers called “members” primarily a box of vegetables and some additional products.  Members purchase a share, typically by a season like summer or winter, and then receive a box of produce each week throughout that season.   Learn more about practices and advantages of a CSA visit Local Harvest.

images3Who is Mountain Bounty Farm?
A bit of background on Mountain Bounty Farm.  Located on the San Juan Ridge in the Sierra Nevada foothills Mountain Bounty Farm is 20 minutes from Nevada City and Grass Valley close to the Yuba River.  It prides itself on being the oldest and largest CSA farm in Nevada County.  Founded in 1997 by John Tecklin and today is owned by him and Angie Tomey.  The farm is in its 16th growing season and serves 500 members with a seasonal weekly mixture of vegetables and flowers.    Mountain Bounty Farm’s mission is “to provide a reliable local source of the highest quality produce for Nevada County residents, and to work towards the economic sustainability of our rural community”.

Serving Lake Tahoe 
Mountain Bounty Farm sells shares throughout all of Lake Tahoe, Reno and Nevada County offering winter and summer shares of vegetables, fruits and florals.  Over the past two years I have enjoyed both the fruit and vegetable shares.  In winter vegetables shares you will find leafy Unknowngreens, root vegetables and potatoes whereas the fruit includes citrus and kiwis.  Summer shares are more diverse with vegetable boxes full of tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, lettuces, fresh herbs and fruit shares contain ripe peaches, plums, berries and grapes!  Visit their website to learn more about the season contents for each share. The shares are BIG and described to feed a family of four.  I have always split my share with a friend amongst four people and it has been plenty.  One of my favorite things about Mountain Bounty Farm’s membership is that in every share they include a weekly newsletter with information about the farm, the contents and a recommended recipe featuring contents of the share.  I have expanded my cooking knowledge and skills over the past two years by incorporating unfamiliar and new ingredients!

When, Where & How???
A great feature about Mountain Bounty Farm’s service to Lake Tahoe is in the variety of locations provided, especially convenient during the winter months.  They have pick-up locations around the Lake including (3) in Truckee (Glenshire, Downtown and Central), Tahoe City, Kings Beach, South Lake Tahoe and Zephyr Cove!  To learn more about their pick-up locations and schedule visit their website here.  If you are interested in joining Mountain Bounty Farm in Lake Tahoe it’s simple! Just visit their website and explore the different vegetable, fruit and flower shares available.  Now is the perfect time to sign-up for the summer shares that will begin in late May and June.

Are you a member of a CSA or are interested in joining?  If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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10 Reasons Spring Makes Lake Tahoe The Best Lake

images_sunsetSpring in Lake Tahoe is a special time. There is a saying amongst locals that people “come for the winter and stay for the summer”.  Springtime is the unique time where visitors and locals are able to experience the best of both seasons.  My ideal spring day in Lake Tahoe goes something like this…. wake up to the bright sun peaking in the window,  hit the slopes mid-morning to take a few turns, then put the skis and snowboards on the car and pull out the kayaks and SUP boards and sail on the Lake for the afternoon.  End the day with a cool evening at a fire pit roasting s’mores under the clear starry skies.

In my opinion, here are the top 10 reasons why Spring makes Lake Tahoe … The Best Lake:

1. Less Crowds – Enjoy shorter lift lines, closer parking access and less crowded slopes as you take your last turns of the season while the rest of the ski goers have retired for the season.

images2.  Easy Driving – Do you hate winter driving whether it’s chain control, slippery roads or bad drivers?  Late winter storms tend to stick to the high elevations with less impact on mountain passes.  Plus the snow that does fall doesn’t stick as easy to the warmer roads making driving to the slopes a sinch!

3.  Lighter Later – With Daylight Savings Time begining mid-march visitors are able to extend their outdoor adventures after a day on the slopes to sunset hikes, beach walks and more!

4.  Best Time to Learn – Let’s be honest, not many people, kids especially, want to learn how to ski or snowboard in dumping snow conditions with freezing temperatures and scare visibility.  The sunny temperatures and somewhat slushy snow make ideal conditions for learners to master their mountain skills.

images35.  Clothing Optional – That’s right… shed those heavy winter layers and enjoy your days on the mountain while catching sun rays in lighter apparel including shells, t-shirts and even shorts!  I’ve seen it all.

6.  Hot Deals – Celebrate the end of the season with some of the best pricing including killer early booking deals for next year’s season pass.  To learn more about specific season pass deals read Spring It On with Season Pass Specials in Lake Tahoe!

7.  Get Your Gear – It’s no secret that at the end of the season retailers put their equipment and apparel on sale to empty their shelves of “last season” lines.  For information about the best equipment and retail locations in Lake Tahoe, learn more at the Lake Tahoe All Access Blog.

8.  Doggone Days – The weather is getting warmer and that means everyone wants to be outside as much as possible and your pent up dogs do too!  A great thing about spring is that you can enjoy the warm weather and still take your pups to the beaches around the lake before rules change.

Schneetag9. Fore! –  Golf courses around the basin including Old Brockway Golf Course as well as the courses in Reno begin to open for the season so why not ski one day and golf the next?

10. Skimming Along – End the season with a good ‘ole pond skim!  Resorts around the basin celebrate the end of the season and the melting of snow with pond skim competitions that draw crowds and cheers.  Most popular pond skim events are at Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Heavenly and Squaw Valley.

Is there another reason that you love Lake Tahoe in the spring?  If so, please share it in the comments below!

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Spring It On with Season Pass Specials in Lake Tahoe

1009_1469sSpring is officially here and that means a mixture of sunny days with temperatures in the 50’s followed by late season spring storms bringing snow fall to the summits and dustings at Lake level.  Don’t make the common mistake and wait to purchase your season pass when rates are highest in the Fall before the season starts.  Do as the locals do and get your end of season turns in for FREE this year while locking in your season pass for next year at Lake Tahoe ski resorts at the guaranteed lowest prices of the year.  Check out the best season pass deals at Lake Tahoe ski resorts in more detail below!

header_TSP1314_1Squaw & Alpine’s Tahoe Super Pass – Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have announced their end of season 2013-2014 Tahoe Super Pass special that offers tons of specials if you buy your pass before May 7th.  With purchase of the early season pass you will receive perks valued over $2,000 including:  FREE spring skiing and riding beginning on March 31st until the end of the season, friend and family discounted tickets and the guaranteed lowest season pass price to Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadow and Sierra At Tahoe.

Mt. Rose Adult Unlimited & Beginner Passes – Mt. Rose has announced two 2013-2014 spring passes including the Adult Unlimited Pass at $399 which provides unrestricted access to the mountain for the rest of this season plus all of next year’s season with NO blackout dates!  Also, if you are begininger Mt. Rose is ready to teach you!  With a special Beginner Pass for $149.00 which offers lift access to beginner chairs, free group lessons and free rental equipment to guests 11 years+ you will be a pro in no time.  What a deal!

epic-pass-logo2Epic Spring Passes – All three Lake Tahoe Epic 2013-2014 season passes are now on sale so put your deposit down to guarantee the best pricing for next year’s season pass.  Vail Resort’s season passes include the Tahoe Value, Epic Pass or Tahoe Local Pass which offer a variety of mountain access to best suit your needs.  Put your $49 deposit down by April 14th and receive six Buddy Tickets for next season along with 2013 summer hiking access at Northstar California, Heavenly and Kirkwood.  Or, if you pay for your 2013-2014 season pass in full receive one free day of skiing this season as well as the six Buddy Tickets and summer activity mountain access.  Choose which works best for you!

Soda Springs Season Passes – Located near Donner Summit, Soda Springs has also announced its 2013-2014 passes with a few extra specials to go along.  Purchase your 2013-2014 pass by TODAY you will have access for the rest of this season in addition to next year.  Or, put down a $49 deposit before April 14th and you will be guaranteed the lowest price for next year’s season pass.  Child season passes are only $99 and including free tubing and Planet Kids activities.  Remember Soda Spring passes also grant access to Boreal Mountain Ski Resort on select mid-week dates!

In addition to the season pass specials above,  ski resorts in Lake Tahoe are begining to offer  daily lift ticket price specials as the season winds down and mountain access reduces.  Be on the lookout for these specials on ski resort websites.  Lastly, if you are interested in learning more about the ski resorts in Lake Tahoe check out my previous blog post Pick Your Peak.

Are you ready to take advantage of one of these spring season pass specials?  If so, share in the comments below which season pass you want to purchase.

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Celebrate Easter in Lake Tahoe

eggs-easter-colorful-sweetEaster in Lake Tahoe is a very unpredictable holiday.  During the past three years I’ve been living in Lake Tahoe two were spent skiing on the mountain while last year I was BBQing on the beach with friends soaking up warm springtime weather.  Easter can be a tough holiday for local families and visitors to plan for in Lake Tahoe.  With forecasters predicting tomorrow will be mix of snow showers and rain at lake level while snowing on the summits, it’s best to be prepared for Easter Holiday events both indoors and outdoors.  Here I want to share some of the best Easter Holiday events and activities for your celebration tomorrow!

While rain and snow may damper Easter Holiday celebrations in other places limiting the Easter Bunny to hide eggs inside family homes, it just makes the Easter egg hunt more exciting in Lake Tahoe as families head to the mountains while searching for golden easter eggs stuffed with specialty prizes.  Most resorts are hosting special  on mountain Easter egg hunts including Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Alpine Meadows, Northstar California, Diamond Peak, Squaw Valley, Tahoe Donner and Homewood.  Here are a few Easter events in particular I would like to highlight:

IMG_2402All-Mountain Easter Egg Hunt & Kids Easter Egg Hunt at Alpine Meadows – Alpine Meadows adult guests will search the mountain amongst hundreds of hidden eggs for one golden egg containing a Bronze Season Pass in the free Adult Easter Egg Hunt.  The all-day hunt will begin when lifts open at 9 a.m., and last until 4 p.m.  For Kids there will be two separate Easter Egg hunts depending on children’s ages.  Families meet at the Kids Camp Magic Carpet at 10:15 a.m.

Easter Eggstravaganza at Homewood Resort –  Giant Eggs will be hid all over the mountain at Homewood and guests will redeem fun prizes at the North Lodge between 9am-1pm.  Included in the prizes is a Golden Basket with a Season Pass for 2013-2014!  A Mini Egg Hunt for kids will be filled with candy and one lucky mini egg will have a grand mini prize along with visits from the Easter Bunny.

Easter Egg Hunt & PEEPS Diorama Contest at Northstar – Northstar California will host an Easter Egg Hunt in the Village at Northstar starting at 10:30 a.m. with a special appearance from the Easter Bunny.  The Easter Bunny will also travel throughout the mountain hiding golden eggs that will contain a variety of prizes.  The festivities conclude at 4:45 p.m. with a parade through the Village lead by the Easter Bunny and Northstar Ski & Snowboard School mascot Ripperoo.

easter-brunch1LET’S GET DOWN TO BRUNCH
Or, you may be planning to stay inside tomorrow with your family to celebrate and if so Brunch is the only way to go!  Restaurants around Lake Tahoe are hosting decadent brunch buffet’s to satisfy your holiday cravings with all the fixings.  Reservations are recommended, but often restaurants will accept walk-ins but there likely will be a wait so be prepared to be patient.

Easter Brunch Buffet at Jake’s on the Lake – Jake’s on the Lake will be serving an Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $29 per adult and $14 per child age 10 and under. Kids may even find a few Easter eggs and adults can indulge at the Bloody Mary bar!

Easter Brunch Buffet at the Resort at Squaw Creek Easter – Cascades Restaurant at the Resort at Squaw Creek will serve an Easter brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults are $45, children are $21.

Easter Brunch at the Lone Eagle Grille – Easter brunch at the Lone Eagle Grille will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults are $70, children 5 to 12 are $35, 4 and under are free and there will be live entertainment along with beautiful Lake views!

Share what your favorite way to celebrate Easter is in the comments below!

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Lake Tahoe – Tales & Trivia

images_favo I have been visiting Lake Tahoe since I was born and I grew up experiencing what makes Lake Tahoe famous.  From learning to ski, swimming in the Lake and going backpacking in the mountains, I learned firsthand about this amazing destination.  However, like many I only had a surface level understanding of its history.  In this post, I will share with you some background on how Lake Tahoe was formed, settled and some fascinating facts about it!

Lake Tahoe was formed by a series of faultings that formed the mountainous basin and peaks surrounding the Lake.  Eruptions from the extinct volcano Mount Pluto formed a dam on the north side of the lake in which melting snow later filled the southern and lowest part of the basin followed by rain and runoff water.  Lake Tahoe was finally shaped by glaciers during the Ice Ages, which began a million or more years ago.

3a27764rFor centuries, the Lake Tahoe basin was the summer gathering place for the native Washoe Tribes who hunted and fished along the shores also famous of basket weaving. The Washoe named the area “Da-ow-a-ga,” or “edge of the Lake.”  Early explorers unfamiliar to their language interpreted the phrase as “Tahoe” and in 1945 the Lake Tahoe Basin was officially designated.

First pioneers explored the area in the 1860s when silver was discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They came to the area during California’s Gold Rush, planning to strike it rich as the largest silver lode was discovered nearby in 1859 in Virginia City.  Also, Tahoe’s timber forests became an important resource as fuel and also to support the labyrinth of mines being constructed nearby. The availability of timber led to the near clear cutting of Tahoe’s forests, which were heavily logged between 1860 and 1890.

lt-history01By the turn of the twentieth century, news of Lake Tahoe’s natural beauty had reached the wealthy families of San Francisco who sought a new vacation destination.  Many mansions of historical significance line Lake Tahoe’s shores today as a result of this era including the Thunderbird Lodge on the East Shore, Vikingsholm the original settlement on Emerald Bay and The Ehrman Mansion in Sugar Pine Point.  In the mid 1940’s, gaming establishments, permanent accommodations, hotels and roads were constructed.  Following the 1960 Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe was solidified as the premier skiing destination of the western U.S.

Lake Tahoe lies along the borders of California and Nevada and is not governed by any single entity but rather by a handful of different bordering counties.  The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) formed in 1968 is a bi-state agency between California and Nevada that is responsible with environmental protection through land-use regulation and planning.


Lake Tahoe Trivia – Did you know?
• Lake Tahoe is the 2nd deepest lake in the USA & 8th deepest in the world
• The Lake is 1,645 feet deep at the deepest point, which means one could immerse the Empire State Building into the lake, stack the Washington Monument on top and still have 20 feet to spare
• The average depth of the Lake is almost 1,000 feet
• If Lake Tahoe were drained into California, it would cover the entire state in 14 inches of water. Texas would be covered in 9 inches of water
• The Lake never freezes because of its enormous size and the temperature below 600 feet remains constant at 39 degrees
• An average of 1,400,000 gallons of water evaporates off the Lake every 24 hours (which is only 1/10 of an inch)
• By law, the Lake cannot exceed 6,229 feet in elevation, Truckee River outlet is used to drain the Lake when this occurs and is the ONLY outlet to the Lake
• The Lake is so clear that you can see a white dinner plate 75 feet down
• There are more ski lifts in the Lake Tahoe Basin than in the entire state of Colorado.  Visit Pick Your Peak to learn more about the Ski Resorts in Lake Tahoe!

I invite you to share your own historical tale or trivia of Lake Tahoe in the comments below!

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning on Twitter to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Lake Tahoe Snowmobiling: A Winter Adventure for Everyone

170When I moved to Lake Tahoe three years ago I had never been on a snowmobile and honestly I really didn’t have an interest to.  I shared the notion that snowmobiling was only for speed addicts and thrill seekers, mostly young guys in their teens and twenties.  Then, I had the opportunity to take my first snowmobile adventure with Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours and boy, was I proven wrong!

I learned that snowmobiling is a great, family-friendly and group activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and level of adventure seekers.  I especially learned that snowmobiling is also one of the best ways for non-skiers and non-snowboarders to explore the Tahoe National Forest during the winter.   From the seat of a snowmobile, riders enjoy the treasured high altitude views of Lake Tahoe and surrounding basin that is usually accessible only to those on the ski resort summits, slopes and chairlifts.   SnowmobilingTourArea

Here I want to expose you in particular to the great services of Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours who originally introduced me to snowmobiling and has taken well care of me ever since.  Located at the top of Brockway Summit on Highway 267, Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours has over 25 years of experience and access to over 100 miles of trails in the Tahoe National Forest that offer guests spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.  It is also known for having the largest fleet of newer snowmobiles on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore and offers three tours daily including personalized private snowmobile tours all with your own local tour guide.
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Their tours offer the best views of Lake Tahoe including a view of the entire Lake from the top of Robin's favMt. Watson at an elevation of 8200 ft. along with views of Northstar California, Squaw Valley and Alpine Ski Resort.  Besides views, tours include a visit to Watson Lake where riders are able blow off steam and let the snowmobiles loose while speeding around the lake in a race track pattern.  Tours also include an otherwise inaccessible climb up the steep backside of Mt. Pluto to its summit at Northstar California and ascend on The Summit Deck & Grille perfect for après hot beverages. 

My local tip – arrange a private tour!  Private tours allow you to get the most out of your experience and time.  Also, the guides at Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours are experts on the surrounding area and enjoy getting to know their guests and their preferences, which they can do more easily in the smaller group setting of a private tour.  Plus, private tours allow them the opportunity to get creative – perfect for arranging birthday, anniversary and even wedding proposal surprises right out there in Tahoe National Forest! 

559673_430348207047292_1581521082_nA few housekeeping items that I would like to share to best prepare you for your next snowmobile adventure are:  tours accommodate all level of riders, reservations are recommended especially during peak holidays, children must be at least 5 years old and drivers 16 years old with valid driver license and check-in is promptly one hour prior to your tour.  Don’t have winter wear? No worries!  Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours has a winter clothing package for an extra $10 for ski jackets, pants and gloves.  Helmets and goggles are provided to all riders.

Please share in the comments below if you’re ready to try snowmobiling on your next visit to Lake Tahoe!  If you enjoy learning local tips of Lake Tahoe, I invite you to follow my blog and me at @robinpenning on Twitter to receive more information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Photo Credits:  All photos courtesy of Jodi Demko

Spreading Aloha in Lake Tahoe

Two days before my wedding in June 2009, I was driving through Incline Village and saw a sign for the Aloha Skin Spa Tahoe and immediately pulled over.  At the time I was living in Maui, Hawaii and this caught my attention.  I walked in, pleasantly surprised to be greeted by the Hawaiian decor, met co-owner Ashley Holz, booked an appointment and have been escaping to this peaceful and rejuvenating sanctuary ever since.

cropped-img_07753Established in 2007 by Nicoa Wood a former resident of Kona, Hawaii, Aloha Skin Spa Tahoe is a “slice of Hawaiian heaven located in Incline Village in North Lake Tahoe that offers a wide variety of healing services inspired by the essence of Hawaiian culture and its healing elements”.  This place has everything!  Services range from facials, massages, body scrubs and wraps, waxing, permanent make-up, spray-tanning, specialty packages, bridal and event services, onsite medical skin care, an infrared sauna and more.

Having spent almost a decade on Maui, what I love is how much the Aloha Skin Spa Tahoe captures the true essence of the Hawaiian Islands.  From the treatments, products, decor and even the personalities of its staff, the spa spreads aloha in everything that it does.  After walking into the spa, you feel transported to a Hawaii paradise thanks to the smells of kukui coconut oils and Hawaiian Happy Soaps, surrounded by orchid paintings and sounds of the bamboo fountain and Hawaiian music in the background.   After every treatment you are even rewarded with freshly cut pineapple and tea.


Gwendalyn Gilliam & Ashley Holz

Meet North Lake Tahoe local’s Ashley Holz and Gwendalyn Gilliam who purchased the spa in June 2009 and have operated it ever since.  Ashley Holz is an experienced aesthetician and artistic jewelry designer, savy business woman and snowboarder.  Born and raised in Lake Tahoe, Ashley has 9 years of aesthetician experience.  Ashley’s favorite is the Epicurean Facial which features a high quality warm kukui coconut oil that exfoliates, tones and firms skin all at once followed by an intensively firming mask.  Protecting your skin in Lake Tahoe is especially important due to the harsh, dry environment and seasonal weather conditions.  And, if you find that your skin needs special medical treatment, Ashley can refer you to Dr. Rebecca Gelber and the services of Tahoe Medical Spa Regenerative Center located onsite.

With over 25 years of massage experience, Gwendalyn Gilliam is an intuitive and nurturing healer of both the physical and spiritual ailments of her clients.  The result of Gwendalyn’s deliberate and experienced touch is an extremely connective massage between her and her clients.    Gwendalyn’s favorite is the Awareness Massage, her own creation which combines physical Swedish or Deep Tissue with deeper energy work and offers an additional blessing AlohaSkinSpa-051to further connect the experience with the divine. Gwendalyn is also a teacher, having created her own massage certification school, a published author and embodies an extremely positive and radiant spirit!

Whether you are escaping the winter, prepping for spring and summer or just in need of a pampering let the Aloha Skin Spa Tahoe rejuvenate you.  Join their newsletter and receive monthly specials, discounts and event announcements.   March specials feature the Green Tea Sea Enzyme Body Wrap and the Kukui Coconut Sugar Scrub and Spray Tan.  New specials are announced each month as well as annual events – next is their June Anniversary party!  I follow it and love seeing each month’s new special.

Enjoy learning local tips of Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning on Twitter to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Live Aloha

Photo Credit:  All photos are courtesy of Aloha Skin Spa