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View Full Version : Gimme all your Tahoe, pretty please!



Los Pollos Hermanos
11-01-2015, 05:51 AM
Here's where I get ever-more demanding, so you lovely people have been warned in advance... ;)

My current situation:
All three instalments of my crime trilogy are complete, apart from the Big Continuity Edit/Partial Rewrite Edit (I'm well on with it) and the Big Not By Me Final Proofread, etc Edit (I've given that joy to a friend who's set up her own business in this field and knows what she's doing).

The scenario (which applies to the second half of the trilogy):

A family have to quickly relocate to South Lake Tahoe - to simplify things I'll say they've gone into hiding. They live there from mid-August to mid-September (when the trilogy ends - they don't die). So, they're not vacationers but nor are they "proper" residents. They live at the Stateline end of town, in a cabin off Kingsbury Grade Road.

I've visted the area twice (late July 2012 and mid-August 2011) so have a pretty decent outsider's feel for the place. I've driven and walked around, sniffed the sweet pine-scented air, tried to do mundane everyday things like shop at the local Safeway and visited many potential locations I'd previously identified.

What I'm after are the little snippets of authenticity for the time of year that only locals and regular visitors to the area know about. For example, it gets pretty damn chilly at night but then warms up by lunchtime, the lake is bloody freezing* when you dip your toes in it (but is lovely and clear) and it's a lot hotter when you lose altitude and visit Reno.

* That might just be me being a wuss.

If anyone can throw me a bone or two I'd be obscenely grateful. The more random, the better!

Big cheers in anticipation,

LPH.

Rabe
12-04-2015, 09:44 AM
No, it's not just you being a wuss...the lake is more akin to a tarn than an actual lake. It's glacial snow fed and pretty high up in elevation. The reason *why* it gets hotter when you get to Reno, because you're dropping about 5K in elevation. Yes, that makes a difference, as well as Reno is in a valley with trapped smog and in a desert clime so dryer air makes it all hotter.

Not sure what, exactly, you're looking for regarding the mid-August to mid-September bits. I know the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival goes on at that time (evenings).

It's pretty active with wildlife all through the year. The conservation rules regarding property are horrendously draconian. Tahoe prides itself on it's color and clarity.

RKarina
12-04-2015, 06:23 PM
An odd question... and a thought...
Are they from an area of similar elevation?

One thing that surprises some visitors to higher elevation areas: it's normal to experience a short period of acclimation when you're used to living at much lower elevation. It sounds weird, and it doesn't impact everyone the same way, but... for those it does, mild to moderate headaches, light headedness, and nausea are not uncommon.

Los Pollos Hermanos
12-05-2015, 10:50 PM
Many thanks, you lovely people!

I'm looking for random little snippets of randomness which they may encounter during their month or so in the area. Things like the Shakespeare Festival are great (not sure if my characters would go to that, possibly due to my aversion to his works which I blame on my schooldays - ;) ) or just little things a resident may notice: good or bad. What kinds of random wildlife might wander around where they live?

The family are originally from the Denver area so are used to the altitude - she's a Colorado native, he isn't. He's a Limey by birth, but has lived in Colorado for the best part of a decade and is into cycling up hills (e.g. Lookout Mountain), so pedalling up Kingsbury Grade Road poses no issues. Their young children are Colorado born and bred. I didn't really notice the altitude at Tahoe as I was only walking around on the flat. In Colorado I started noticing if I had to exert myself - like walking uphill or up more than about thirty steps. I'm a proper flatlander; my house is at bang on 500 feet above sea level - haha!

Big thanks, again. x

Cicak
12-06-2015, 01:48 AM
I'm a proper flatlander; my house is at bang on 500 feet above sea level

I love it! I went to school in that area, but that's not why I'm writing. The "Limey" (you said it, not me) writing, that's what I love! I got the "proper" flatlander. But, what's "at bang"? I looked it up because I thought it sounded so cool...so English. Didn't find anything. I think it is similar to "bang at" which is something we sometimes say. I know it's not bangers, or bonkers. God bless the English!

Los Pollos Hermanos
12-06-2015, 02:19 AM
Haha! "bang on" or "spot on" means "that exact value" (or that something is absolutely correct). I've had to really mug up on American English for the parts of the story set in the US - nothing worse than getting the wrong version of the lingo. I remember reading a (dire) story written by an Irish author. There was a scene in Breckenridge where one of her (American) characters was asked where her car was and she replied that it was in the "car park". I've been to Breckenridge twice and I only noticed parking lots!

That's another thing I love about going to America - I can be as eccentric as I like and people just put it down to me being English. ;) I've had to ask some bizarre questions in the name of research for this crime trilogy, and people don't bat an eyelid in the US. In England they look at me like I'm a budding serial killer.

King Neptune
12-06-2015, 03:18 AM
Haha! "bang on" or "spot on" means "that exact value" (or that something is absolutely correct). I've had to really mug up on American English for the parts of the story set in the US - nothing worse than getting the wrong version of the lingo. I remember reading a (dire) story written by an Irish author. There was a scene in Breckenridge where one of her (American) characters was asked where her car was and she replied that it was in the "car park". I've been to Breckenridge twice and I only noticed parking lots!

That's another thing I love about going to America - I can be as eccentric as I like and people just put it down to me being English. ;) I've had to ask some bizarre questions in the name of research for this crime trilogy, and people don't bat an eyelid in the US. In England they look at me like I'm a budding serial killer.

Whether little things like "car park" versus "parking lot" will bother anyone, or whether a reader even notices something like "bang on" ia rather individual among Americans. Well-read people wouldn't notice, at all. while some people find the simplest little thing in comprehensible. I was sure that you were a bloody Yank until you confessed a little way above.

If you get trouble about being a "budding serial killer", then you should just say, "Know your enemy."

RKarina
12-06-2015, 11:20 PM
Whether little things like "car park" versus "parking lot" will bother anyone, or whether a reader even notices something like "bang on" ia rather individual among Americans. Well-read people wouldn't notice, at all. while some people find the simplest little thing in comprehensible. I was sure that you were a bloody Yank until you confessed a little way above.

If you get trouble about being a "budding serial killer", then you should just say, "Know your enemy."

I would tend to think exactly the opposite - well read people will notice, though they'll understand it, they'll peg it as non-American slang.

And "mug up" would be "brush up" for American English.

And I frequently joke that if anyone were to pull my search engine history, they'd think I was a complete nutcase about to make a bomb, kill someone, hide a body, drug someone, abduct someone, rob a bank, fake a death, or some other equally nefarious thing.

Los Pollos Hermanos
12-07-2015, 12:51 AM
We also say "brush up" here, and a mug can be something you drink out of and is also a term for a gullible person!

My mum had a read through the first instalment of my trilogy and commented on the sentence "he dove into a fountain." We'd say "he dived into a fountain", but me hablar Yank nearly as well as the American character who uttered the words. ;) I'm quite anally retentive, so I like to get things correct as much as I can. Some will have no doubt slipped through the net, although I'd like to think it's few and far between.

Yeah, my internet search history pretty much mirrors the above, minus the bombs. It's only a matter of time before the Feds kick down my front door at 3.00am...

King Neptune
12-07-2015, 03:37 AM
I would tend to think exactly the opposite - well read people will notice, though they'll understand it, they'll peg it as non-American slang.


It would depend on where they had lived. There are local preferences.


And I frequently joke that if anyone were to pull my search engine history, they'd think I was a complete nutcase about to make a bomb, kill someone, hide a body, drug someone, abduct someone, rob a bank, fake a death, or some other equally nefarious thing.

I prefer to suggest recipes that include toxic materials, so there are plenty of searches for such things in my history.

Siri Kirpal
12-07-2015, 04:44 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Have never been to Tahoe. But a word about Shakespeare: your characters need to know about the festival if they're hiding out; they wouldn't want their cover blown by meeting someone they know. So you could include it that way, if you want to avoid the Bard.

About US/UK English: Do make sure you have an American beta reader to catch the worst offenders. I recall an otherwise excellent book by a Brit which was marred by having an American say (about a guy who'd just died), "What age of a man was he?" No self-respecting American would say that; it would be "What age was he?" or more likely, "How old was he?"

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Los Pollos Hermanos
12-07-2015, 05:52 AM
"What age of a man was he?" - saying such a thing over here would mark you as either drunk or a pretentious arse!

Just checked the 2009 festival dates - it finishes soon after they arrive in town, so let's call that a lucky escape.

I once wanted to google some stuff about ricin, but it was about a week before I was due to set off on one of my US roadtrips/research missions. Decided to leave that bit of cyber-research until I got back - haha!

p.s. Go to Tahoe - it's beyond stunning.

Siri Kirpal
12-08-2015, 12:14 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

:)

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Cicak
12-08-2015, 12:05 PM
Ok, that was fun. Now, as they say over there: back to our regular shayduuuled program. Was there anything specific that you wanted to provide local color? For example, the gambling 1 inch across the state line. Or, the fantastic skiing at Heavenly. Give us the context and we can probably write the book for you.

Cicak
12-08-2015, 12:11 PM
X [Didn't know how to delete a duplicate, but now see it can be done through the edit. Will do it next time. Don't want to spoil Helix's fun.]

Helix
12-08-2015, 12:16 PM
All I can recall of Tahoe was the inordinate number of vehicles. I just kept going.

ETA: You trying to get your post numbers up, Cicak?

Cicak
12-08-2015, 12:37 PM
ETA: You trying to get your post numbers up, Cicak?
Caught me. But I actually have 2 or 3 serious ones. Although it's hard to be serious on a literary forum when they ask you what book you want to throw against the wall and there are thousands of posts. I humbly suggest that any book that's published is good. No one forces anyone to read anything if they don't want to. With one exception, they made me read Advanced Calculus.

Roxxsmom
12-08-2015, 12:40 PM
I live in Northern CA, but I usually only drive through SLT on 50 on my way to Carson City. Some random things that pop up.

Keep Tahoe Blue campaign.

There were some nasty fires. The Angora fire happened a few years back and it was horrible.

Washoe Zephyr wind pattern.

This just happened there (http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sierra/accused-south-lake-tahoe-driveby-shooter-arrested/36837840), so yes, they've got real crime.

If you're trying to write the story from the perspective of (and in the voice of) a local, it would probably help to get someone from Northern CA and/or Western Nevada to look your manuscript over. I read many British authors and am pretty fluent in British English, but I know I'd mess up if I wrote a novel set somewhere in the modern UK. There are too many little things I'm miss, and of course, there are regional dialects that I wouldn't differentiate.

Rabe
12-12-2015, 12:58 AM
An odd question... and a thought...
Are they from an area of similar elevation?

One thing that surprises some visitors to higher elevation areas: it's normal to experience a short period of acclimation when you're used to living at much lower elevation. It sounds weird, and it doesn't impact everyone the same way, but... for those it does, mild to moderate headaches, light headedness, and nausea are not uncommon.

What you are describing here is 'altitude sickness' which a friend of mine, from 'flatland' Midwest area does experience, more so when I take her to Tahoe.

Other things...there is less oxygen at Tahoe's altitude, which takes adjustment for others from lower, more oxygen rich areas. As well as cooking adjustments, because it makes water boil at different times, rather than heat.

Rabe...

Los Pollos Hermanos
12-13-2015, 09:37 PM
Thanks for the goodies/suggestions.

I noticed the casinos kick in as soon as you cross into NV. Luckily they're not gamblers as I don't know much about gambling - haha! I put a dollar in a machine in Caesars Palace just so I could say I'd gambled in Vegas and lost it all.

They're not having much issue with cooking (I actually thought to mention this!) because their Golden, CO home is at ~6,000 feet and the Tahoe area cabin is at ~7,000 feet. I even bought a high altitude cookbook out of interest after learning that the reduced air pressure and reduced oxygen affects recipe ratios and cooking times. It has adaptations for 3,000 feet so I might be able to use it at the top of England's tallest mountain (Scafell Pike), which is around 3,200 feet if I remember correctly! ;)

Very true about all the cars everywhere. Luckily my family are trying to keep a low-ish profile so tend to avoid the busy places. I found an out of town beach they like going to (very pleasant, even though my toes nearly froze off there) and they visit the supermarket at quieter times. They're not really wanting to do anything they'd have to sign up for or make reservations. If it was just the adult couple they could pretty much stay home, but they have two young children to entertain. They've been hiking a few times and he's still into his cycling as it means he doesn't need to sign up for gym membership.

I know I'm being irritatingly vague!!

Cheers...

Kitkitdizzi
12-13-2015, 10:41 PM
If you want to throw in some randomness you could mention the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) hikers. The PCT crosses Highway 50 by the road to Echo Lakes. I've both picked up hikers trying to get to South Lake Tahoe for a resupply and taken other back to the trailhead (I worked in Desolation Wilderness for a few summers so was driving back and forth between trailheads on the Eldorado Forest side and the Basin side for awhile). September is a little late for through-hikers but I have encountered them in August.

If you need descriptions of any areas in Desolation Wilderness let me know. I've been through most of it.

Los Pollos Hermanos
12-19-2015, 03:57 PM
Cheers for that. It all transpires that the Tahoe Rim Trail isn't too far from where they're staying, and I've just thought of how I can incorporate a mention!

** Rubs hands together **

;)

-May-
12-24-2015, 08:10 AM
Bit late seeing this but I travel there from the SF Bay area for the weekend every so often. This all may be pretty obvious or not what you're looking for, but just to brain dump and hope you find something interesting:

Tahoe is really popular during winter ski-season, lots of ski lifts and such
Altitude sickness can make you tired and sluggish if you're not used to it.
California side has medical marijuana dispensaries - Nevada has very strict marijuana laws.
There are lots of really pretty lakes there other than just the most well known, lake tahoe
There is a really cool/pretty viking "castle" there called Vikingsholm. I believe some lady visited from Scandinavia and the tahoe area looked so much like Scandinavia she built a nordic themed mansion and brought in a lot of authentic items from back home as well as hired craftsmen to reproduce museum pieces within the architecture.
A family member owns a cabin out there, and there's a big problem with looters in the area - many of the roads will close due to snow/ice and the people that live up there will loot vacation homes.
The lake is very deep, and the bottom gets very cold. Due to this there is a myth/story that there are perfectly preserved dead bodies floating in the lake, because the cold water preserves it. Supposedly fishermen have fished up hands from victims the mafia disposed of way back in the day.

Los Pollos Hermanos
12-24-2015, 06:44 PM
Oooooh! This is marvellous stuff - lovely and random. Many thanks!

You've reminded me of the "bodies" thing. I remember reading about that a few years ago and now *must* refresh my brain AND find a way of incorporating it into the story.

Vikingsholm looks nice - and not far from Fannette Island, where Mr Good Guy's daughter is desperate to go for a picnic.

Interesting about the looting of vacation home cabins. They're staying in one on the NV side which belongs to an associate who lives out at Minden (he usually rents it out, but it had conveniently just become available), so I'll drop in a line something like "It's good to have it occupied in case the looters come around" when the family thank him for giving them use of it.

On the flip side, there's a shady character who claims to live and work in San Francisco and maintains a vacation cabin in the woods on the CA side. Not that I'm implying your family are shady characters! ;)

Cheers...

noirdood
12-25-2015, 02:20 AM
If I want to know about a locality I try to read small newspapers from that area. They are more into the humdrum of real peoples' lives -- stuff that is important to them, but not to a real wide audience -- than the big metro papers are. And realtordotcom or similar Internet sites like that will let you peek into local homes, the rich or the poor or anything you want.
There is a gorgeous $4 million Spanish-style home in Los Angeles built in 1929 to house nuns. The present owner loves Oriental art and the place has Spanish furniture and style but every available space is stuffed with Oriental art, from 5-foot-high urns to Buddhas 6 feet tall. Bizarre andsomething like this (in Tahoe) might give a writer a clue about plot/eccentric lives of the living/dead.

Los Pollos Hermanos
12-25-2015, 04:06 AM
I have to say that Google Streetview and real estate websites are an absolute godsend! And, the Tahoe Daily Tribune's online archives are so easy to search. I needed to know what was on the front page on a specific date for a cop to ponder about during her coffee break - turns out it was about the reappearance of Jaycee Dugard (I've been deliberately vague about what Miss Cop is reading though, out of respect for Jaycee).

Rabe
12-27-2015, 07:34 PM
Vikingsholm looks nice - and not far from Fannette Island, where Mr Good Guy's daughter is desperate to go for a picnic.


The Vikingsholm is absolutely beautiful but very small and narrow. When visiting I have to walk at an angle in all the hallways, and often have to duck (6'4). It's at the bottom of about a half mile decline, which is mostly pedestrian travel, and has part of it's own beach.

The owner, a wife of a wealthy person from the area who was of Scandinavian descent had it built. She also owned the island across from it and had a teahouse built there, that she would often use for tea with her guests. It's owned by the park service now and open to the public as a tourist site/museum. I don't know if I still have my photos from there but I would go back in a heartbeat and when I have the time. Certainly if I had company visiting it would be part of the Tahoe experience.

because of the ski lifts and runs, mountain biking has become much more popular in Tahoe. In fact, Northstar is listed as a premier mountain biking destination in the US, compared favorably to Aspen, Leadville and Whistler. Plus cycling around the populated areas of Tahoe is so very easy with lots of bike paths and bike rental places (especially on the south side where I tend to spend my time more often).

Your cycling character will appreciate the Pearl Izumi store at "The Y", a set of stores located where 50 splits and joins another road (want to say 89 but not sure that's right, I usually continue on 50 to Apple Hill/Sacramento). It's a nice little Pearl Izumi store that is split equally between their cycling and running lines.

At the base of Northstar is a shopping mall of a mix of tourist stores and art galleries, a few food places. Built to resemble ski lodges. And of course, next to that is Harrahs and other casinos.

On the north side, the Cal-Neva, once owned, in part by Frank Sinatra, literally sits on the border of Nevada and California and has a line throuch much of the property indicating the property (the line goes through the pool leading to a lot of jokes about "I swam from Nevada to California and I'm not even tired!"). Incline Village (north side) also has a couple all year christmas stores.

Which leads me to ask, which shore did you want your story to take place?

Los Pollos Hermanos
01-03-2016, 04:03 AM
Cheers for the extra goodies. There's stuff happening on both sides of the state line and I've checked out the law enforcement side of how that works. In addition to South Lake Tahoe itself, the main locations are in Stateline (a cabin off Kingsbury Grade Road and the FBI's resident agency on Market St) and at the other end of town near Emerald Bay (another cabin in the woods). I've investigated these areas (apart from the Fed Lair - haha!) during the day and at dusk, as well as a couple of beaches. I'd say I've got a reasonable non-resident's feel for the place in summer, although there's plenty of extra snippets I'll no doubt have missed.

I've also done the skulking around in the dark thing a couple of times - mainly walking from my hotel to Safeway to buy doughnuts and booze. ;) I stayed at the HoJo - basic but clean and the owner is lovely - she remembered me from the previous year and bought in my favourite Bavarian creme doughnuts for breakfast!

My cops love those Bavarian cremes, btw. Can't beat a good cliché...