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Best of Star Brooks

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Lake Tahoe Fire

5 July 2002

I happened to have to go up to Lake Tahoe today, and as I rounded a bend on Highway 50 I spotted a rather large plume of smoke billowing up from the direction of the casinos... as I rounded the next bend I saw cars pulling off the highway to gawk at the fire roaring up the mountain from the woods just behind Caesars Tahoe and Harrah’s Tahoe. The woods are often frequented by bums who camp there and drink and build illegal campfires. It isn’t the first fire... it is the first "substantial" fire... and we are six weeks away from the beginning of the "real" fire season. With only 20% humidity, the Tahoe Basin is in great danger... and the winds were of no help with gusts up to 30 mph going on...

I watched as the fire leaped from treetop to treetop... exploding like bombs the fire raced through the trees as it roared uphill. In a matter of just minutes, the fire had tripled in size. Many people have been evacuated from their homes in the lower Kingsbury area around the casinos, and the Kingsbury Grade down to Minden and Gardnerville has been closed. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. Thousands of tourists have packed the mountaintop to camp over the holiday weekend... the campgrounds are packed, the casinos are packed... Harrah’s was sponsoring the fireworks over Lake Tahoe... which at the moment look like they may be cancelled. Leaving, we passed fire truck after fire truck from all over California heading into Lake Tahoe... and we had to leave by way of Emerald Bay... the most scenic of routes... to avoid the massive traffic jam going into Lake Tahoe for the holiday.

The news channel says that there are water restrictions in South Lake Tahoe in case they need water to fight house fires... and up to 1000 people may be evacuated.... and the tourists keep rolling in... motor home after fifth-wheel after trailer.... bumper to bumper, and most of San Francisco and Sacramento headed to the mountains too.... it is a recipe for disaster in the making. I can’t stress it enough... for God’s sake... please be careful...

I’m back in Verdi again... trying to live in an RV in Tahoe isn’t an easy proposition if you are in need of your computer and the net. Standing in line for a data port in a laundry room with a slow connection nearly drove me nuts... as did the inability to watch more than ten channels on the TV, as did the massive amounts of pine pollen and sap from the trees... only an hour outside and you had to turn on your wipers to knock the pollen off... leaving clouds of yellow dust everywhere.

I had time while up there to assess the changes in the casinos, to note that there were new games, but nearly not the number coming into Reno all the time... though the Horizon is getting even more pennies.... lots of new games... and their facelift is done and the outdoor stuff is going on again with the craft fairs and car shows... and the rib and chili cook-offs...the North Shore is missing the Crystal Bay Club this summer, the doors sport "for sale" signs as does the reader board in front.... it seems strange to look at it and remember driving around the lake to visit it and remembering the wonderful dinners in the Steakhouse there... gads....to see it empty is such a shame... The Tahoe Biltmore is still busy on the other side of the street.... once owned by Jackie Gaughan.... it still is the beehive of activity.... meanwhile... Jackie Gaughan... who now owns the troubled Western Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is closing that property in the next 60 days.... It’s sad to see some things go.... when you are used to them being there forever and forever.

I came back to Verdi to finish building the www.RenoGamingGuide.com and the NevadaGamingGuide.info. Back to Gold Ranch Casino and RV Resort.... where phone connections are at every site... where cable TV is good... it’s becoming a familiar and comfortable place to park the RV.... So look for more Reno information... even picture links in the future.