Swinging around to the south from the course of the Truckee River on to the Lake, the railway deposits the traveler at Tahoe Tavern, preeminently the chief resort for those who demand luxurious comfort in all its varied manifestations. Yet at the outset let it be clearly understood that it is not a fashionable resort, in the sense that every one, men and women alike, must dress in fashionable garb to be welcomed and made at home. It is a place of common sense and rational freedom. If one comes in from a hunting or fishing trip at dinner time, he is expected to enter the dining room as he is. If one has taken a walk in his white flannels he is as welcome to a dance in the Casino, the dining-room, or the social-hall as if he wore the most conventional evening dress. Indeed, visitors are urged to bring their old clothes that they may indulge to the full their penchants for mountain-climbing, riding, rowing, fishing, horse-back-riding, botanizing in the woods, or any other out-of-door occupation where old clothes are the only suitable ones.

The building itself is completely embowered in pine, cedar, spruce and firs of differing ages, sizes and qualities of color. Though far enough from the Lake to allow of a large untrimmed grass-plot where innumerable swing seats, reclining chairs, "lazy rests," etc., invite to lounging and loafing, the trees have been so trimmed out as to give exquisite glimpses of the dazzling blue of the water from every hand.

The Tavern is especially appropriate to its surroundings. It is three full stories high, with many gables relieving the regularity of the roof, which is steep-pitched, to throw off the winter's snows. The whole structure is covered with shingles, stained or oiled to a dark brown, and as climbing and clinging vines have wreathed themselves about every corner, and up many posts of the veranda, and there is a wealth of cultivated wild flowers banked up in beds around it, nothing could be more pleasing and harmonious. Roads, walks and trails radiate from the Tavern in all directions, except directly across the Lake, and numerous boats and launches make this as accessible as any other direction. Near enough to be interesting is the wharf, with its daily bustle of the arrival and departure of trains, launches and steamers.

For all the indoor sports a Casino has been erected, far enough away so that the music, dancing, the sharp clangor of bowling, the singing of extemporized glee-clubs, and the enthusiasm of audiences at amateur theatricals and the like do not disturb the peaceful slumbers of those who retire early. While Tahoe Tavern itself is sui generis in that it is the most wonderful combination of primitive simplicity with twentieth century luxury, the Casino is even more remarkable. Its interior finish is the work of a nature artist. Its porches immediately overlook the Lake, and when one has wearied of dancing there is a witchery as rare and subtle as it is delightful to sit in the subdued light overlooking the ripples of the moonlit water, sipping some liquid refreshment, eating an ice or chatting with a suitable partner.

Here a fine orchestra discourses sweet music, moving pictures are regularly shown, lectures and concerts occasionally provided, besides all the conveniences for private card-parties and other pleasures that fashionable visitors expect for their entertainment.

Ruskin has somewhere brought out the idea in his finest phraseology that nowhere can man so readily worship God as in the presence of the most beautiful of His works in Nature. This is readily apparent at Tahoe, hence the summer visitors and others of religious trend will delight to learn that churches for both Catholic and Episcopal worshipers have been erected not far from the Tavern. The Catholic Church was dedicated Sept. 10, 1911. It has a seating capacity of a hundred and seventy-five. Its location was chosen with an eye to the beautiful, being on Tahoe Heights, and is less than fifteen minutes' walk from the Tavern.

The Episcopal "Church of the Transfiguration" is unique in that it is an open air building, the altar only being roofed. Towering pines stand as aisles and the vaulted ceiling is the clear blue dome of heaven. Rustic and simple, it harmonizes exquisitely with its surroundings, and strangely insensible must that worshiper be who, as he kneels in this Nature shrine, and the organ peals forth its solemn notes, with a wonderful accompaniment of hundreds of singing birds, and the ascending incense of a thousand flowers, does not feel his own soul lifted into a higher and more spiritual mental frame.

One of the chief troubles about a hotel like Tahoe Tavern is that it is too tempting, too luxurious, too seductive to the senses. The cool, delicious breezes from the Lake make the nights heavenly for sleep. With Sancho Panza we cry aloud: "Blessed be the man that invented sleep," and we add: "Blessed be the man that invented cool nights to sleep in." And I have no fault to find with the full indulgence in sleep. It is good for the weary man or woman. It is well to make up arrears, to pay oneself the accumulated debts of insomnia and tossing and restlessness with an abundance of calm, dreamless, restful sleep. Nay, not only would I have men claim their arrearage, but lay in a surplus stock against future emergencies, future drafts upon their bank account of "restorer."

Nor would I find any fault with the allurements of the Lake, either for swimming, boating, "launching," canoeing or fishing. Indulge them all to your heart's desire and you will not only be none the worse, but immeasurably better for every hour of yielding. A plunge every morning is stimulating, invigorating and jolly. It clears the brain, sets the blood racing up and down one's spine, arms, fingers, legs and toes, and sweeps the cobwebs out of the brain. A row is equally good. It pulls on the muscles of the lower back, as well as the arms, chest and shoulders. It drives away Bright's disease and banishes asthma and lung trouble. It makes one breathe deep and long and strong, and when inbreathing, one can take in power from Tahoe's waters, forests, mountains and snow-fields. It means a purifying of the blood, a clearing of the brain, a sending of a fuller supply of gastric juices to the stomach, of digestive sauces to the palate, and a corresponding stimulus to the whole body, which now responds with vim, energy, buoyancy and exuberance to all calls made upon it by the spirit.

So with walking through the woods, by the Lake, along the River Trail, up the mountains. The results are the same until the man who hates and despises the poets shouts out with glee and exclaims: " Them'smy sentiments!" when you throw out with fervor such lines as:

  Oh! the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock, The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool silver shock Of the plunge in a pool's living water... How good is man's life, the mere living! how fit to employ All the heart and the soul and the senses forever in joy!

While all the conventional amusements are provided at Tahoe Tavern a large number of the guests, like myself, find much pleasure in feeding and making friends with the chipmunks, which have been so fostered and befriended that there are scores of them, most of them so fearless as to climb into the laps, eat from the hands, run over the shoulders, and even explore the pockets of those who bring nuts and other dainties for their delectation. Children and adults, even gray-haired grandpas and grandmas, love these tiny morsels of animation, with their quick, active, nervous movements, their simulations of fear and their sudden bursts of half-timorous confidence. With big black eyes, how they squat and watch, or stand, immovable on their hind legs, their little forepaws held as if in petition, solemnly, seriously, steadily watch, watch, watching, until they are satisfied either that you are all right, or are to be shunned. For, with a whisk of the tail, they either dart towards you, or run in the other direction and hide in the brush, climb with amazing speed up a tree, or rush into their holes in the ground.

Some of them are such babies that they cannot be many months old, and they feel the friendly atmosphere into which they have been born. And it is an interesting sight to see a keen, stern, active business man from "the city" saunter with his wife after lunch or dinner, sit down on the steps leading down to the water's edge, or on a tree stump, or squat down on his haunches anywhere on the walk, the lawn, or the veranda, fish some nuts out of his pocket and begin to squeak with his lips to attract the chipmunks. Sometimes it is a learned advocate of the law, or a banker, or a wine-merchant, or the manager of a large commission-house. It seems to make no difference. The "chips" catch them all, and every one delights in making friends with them.

Here is a tiny little chap, watching me as I loll on the stairs. His black, twinkling eye fixes itself on me. He is making sure. Suddenly he darts toward my outstretched fingers where a peanut is securely held. He seizes it with his sharp teeth, but I hold on. Then with his little paws he presses and pushes, while he hangs on to the nut with a grip that will not be denied. If he doesn't get it all, he succeeds in snapping off a piece and then, either darting off, with a quick whisk of his tail, to enjoy it in his chosen seclusion, or, squatting down on his hind legs, he holds the delicious morsel between his fore-paws and chews away with a rapidity as astonishing as it is interesting and amusing.

Now a fat old fellow - he looks like a grandpa in age - comes up. He is equally suspicious at first, takes his preliminary reconnaissance, darts forward and just about reaches you, when he darts away again. Only for a moment however. On he comes, seizes the nut, and eats it then and there, or darts off with inconceivable rapidity, up the tree trunk to a branch twenty, forty feet up, and then sits in most cunning andcute posture, but in just as big a hurry and in equally excitable fashion to eat his lunch as if he were within reach.

Sometimes half a dozen or more of them, big and little, will surround you. One leaps upon your knee, another comes into your lap, while another runs all over your back and shoulders. Now and again two aim at the same time for the same nut, and then, look out. They are selfish little beggars and there is an immense amount of human nature in such tiny creatures. The bigger one wants the morsel and chases the smaller one away, and he is so mad about it and gets so in earnest that sometimes he chases the other fellow so far that he forgets what it was all about. He loses the nut himself, but, anyhow, he has prevented the other fellow from getting it. How truly human!

Then the younger one, or the smaller one, or the older one, will whisk himself up a tree, perch on a branch and begin to scold, or he climbs to the top of a stump, or a rock, or merely stands upright without any foreign aid, and how he can "Chip, chip, chip, chip!" His piercing little shriek makes many a stranger to his voice and ways wonder what little bird it is that has so harsh a cry, and he keeps at it so persistently that again you say, How human! and you wonder whether it is husband scolding wife, or wife husband, or - any of the thousand and one persons who, because they have the power, use it as a right to scold the other thousand and one poor creatures who have to submit, or think they have (which is pretty much the same thing).

These proceedings at Tahoe Tavern are diversified by the presence of a friendly bluejay. He is one of the smartest birds in the world. Some relation, no doubt, to the bird told of by Mark Twain in his Tramp Abroad. This bluejay has watched the visitors and the chipmunks until he has become extra wise. He has noticed that the latter toil not neither do they spin and yet neither Solomon Levi nor Kelly feed more sumptuously or more often than do they, simply because they have succeeded in beguiling the hearts of the guests who are so bored with each other that association with the "lower" animals is a great relief. So he has started the "friendly chipmunk" role. He stifles his raucous cry, he puts on a shy, timid and yet friendly demeanor. He flies conveniently near, and gives forth a gentle note, asking, please, your kind and favorable attention to the fact that he is a bluejay. As soon as he sees your eye upon him, he hops a little nearer; not too near, however, either to mislead you or to put himself in your hands, but just near enough to tempt you to try to tempt him. You hold out a nut, and then, with a quick dart and a sharp peck with a bill trained to certain and sure work, your thumb and finger lose that which they held, and Mr. Bluejay is eating it in perfect security well beyond your reach. Oh, he is a fascinating creature is this bunch of beautiful blue feathers decorating the harshest voice of all birddom in the region of Lake Tahoe.

But birds, squirrels, flowers, scenery, sports, worship, fine music, the best kind of food, "air the angel's breathe," and sleep recuperative enough to revivify the old and decrepit, fishing, rowing, swimming and the like are not all that need fill one's days at Tahoe Tavern.

Hike[1] out, afoot or horseback. Take the trails. Get Bob Watson, or one of his under-studies, to pilot you to Watson Peak and lake, go to Ellis, Squaw or a score of other peaks, visit the various Sierran lakes, or take a camping out or hunting trip to Hell Hole, the Yosemite, or any one of the scenic spots, one, two, five, or ten days away. Then, my word for it, you will return home "a new man," life will put on a new meaning, and sensations long since lost will come back with unthought-of force, for you will have "regained your youth" - that dream of the old of all the ages.

[Footnote 1: This word, slang or not, is finely expressive, and is already fully established in the accepted nomenclature of mountain climbers.]

There are a number of interesting walks, drives and automobile trips which may be taken from the Tavern, besides the lakeshore walks which are always interesting. Indian Camp is half a mile away; Tahoe City, a little further, and here the interesting Fremont howitzer, to whose history I have devoted a separate chapter, may be seen; Tavern Spring, a beautiful walk through the woods, one and a quarter miles; the Fish Hatchery, a mile away, where all the processes of hatching various kinds of trout before they are distributed to the different lakes and streams may be witnessed.

To those who prefer longer walks, or horseback rides, there are the Logging Camp, three and a third miles; Idlewyld, four miles; Stanford Rock, five miles; Ward Peak, six miles; Blackwood Creek Dairy, six miles; Carnelian Bay, six miles; and Twin Peaks, seven miles. Several of these interesting places can be reached also by automobile.

An especially delightful walk or horseback ride is by the Truckee River Trail to Deer Park Inn, six and a half miles, and thence two miles farther to Five Lakes, near which the waters divide, one stream flowing into the Rubicon, thence into the Sacramento and out by the Golden Gate into the Pacific Ocean; the other by Bear Creek into the Truckee River, thence into Pyramid Lake in the heart of the Nevada desert.

Automobile trips from the Tavern are numerous, depending entirely upon the length of time one can give to them. Chief of all is the Tahoe Boulevard trip around the Lake to Tallac, and thence on by Lakeside and by Cave Rock to Glenbrook, a distance of fifty miles. Hobart Lumber Mills, twenty-two miles, are well worth a visit to those who have never seen modern methods of making lumber; Independence Lake, thirty miles, is easily reached in two hours, and it is one of the charming spots of the High Sierras; Webber Lake, forty-three miles, is another exquisite beauty spot, where there is an excellent Country Club House. Reno is reached by three routes, all of them interesting, and each well worth traveling over. An excellent trip is to leave the Tavern after breakfast, ride on the Tahoe Boulevard to Glenbrook for lunch, then over to Carson City, where a brief visit can be made at the Capital of the State of Nevada, the Indian School and the prehistoric foot-prints, that for years have been the wonder of the scientists of the world. Then on to Reno, where at the Riverside Hotel, mine host Gosse, one of the noted figures of the hotel world of the West, will accord a hearty welcome. Next morning Pyramid Lake can be visited and the return to the Tavern made by way of Truckee.

For those who enjoy motor-boating on the Lake excellent provision is made. The Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company own several steam and gasoline launches, with varied capacities, - from six to two hundred and fifty passengers - full particulars of which can always be obtained.

Fishing boats in large numbers are to be had either with or without oarsmen, together with full equipment for fishing or hunting trips.

The Tavern stables are prepared to supply all reasonable demands for saddle-horses, driving-teams, and pack-animals for hunting trips, and arrangements can be made for equipment and guides for mountain trips, of any duration, from a couple of days to three months or more. There is also a garage with first class cars and experienced chauffeurs for hire.