It’s me!! I haven’t died.
I’ve just been working in Los Angeles trying to get this silly store successful, and not doing anything much interesting worth writing about.
Except last weekend I went home, then promptly decamped for Lake Tahoe for the annual closing of the cabin ceremony at Jack and Carol Scott’s bide-a-wee in the trees of South Lake Tahoe.
They only use the place in the summer, and each fall we have a weekend of bridge and dining and then Jack buttons the joint up for the winter, draining pipes, bringing in garden furniture, etc.
First he had to get the heater working–it’s a big fireplace insert. When we first started going there, this was a huge fireplace that filled the house with smoke. Then one year a bear got under the cabin, ripping out all the heating ductwork. It was wiser to get the fireplace insert than replace the heater.
We play a lot of Doop, duplicate bridge for 4 people. We also like to explore. This trip, we went to the Hellman Mansion, at Sugar Pine State Park.
Isaias Hellman emigrated to Los Angeles from Germany, started in his uncle’s mercantile business, started his own dry good store, moved into banking and ended up president of Wells Fargo. Around the turn of the century he purchased a considerable amount of land on the west shore of the Lake, and built himself an 11,000 square foot stone mansion. This in a day when you could only get there on horseback or by boat.
The house is now part of the state park, and they have hourly tours. The guard at the gate to the park said we were too late, but we zoomed in and made the last tour anyhow.
The house is beautifully preserved and maintained. You can rent the grounds for a wedding, but not the inside.
There was no telephone at the house in the early 1900’s, of course. There was a telegraph office in Truckee, which could be reached by boat in a few hours. Eventually, one telephone was installed in a downstairs closet for the use of the hosts and guests.
Notables and high society found their way to the mansion every summer for long weekends of cards and billiards, tennis, walks in the fresh mountain air and the inevitable networking.
Gail had a table like this one when she was first married–but it was an antique then. The two large bins on the below the drawers are for flour and salt.
An operation this large required a live-in staff. Maids, cooks, butlers and footmen all lived on the third floor of the mansion, which is not open to the public.
It would not be possible to accumulate 2000 acres of beachfront on Lake Tahoe today, this mansion is a lovely relic of time gone by.
Still, today we have air conditioning, cell phones and good roads. In many ways we live better than even the very rich of the last century.
Then we went to dinner. Carol had found a restaurant on the North Shore, very near the state line, and said it was great. Gail got to telling us about a wonderful place she had had dinner over 20 years ago, and, just like in a cheesy movie, it was the same place.
The Soule Domain is a small place, in an old wooden cabin. The decor is mountain rustic.
The food is hardly rustic, but modern and every bit as good as Carol promised. I started with the scallops appetizer:
Getting a good sear on the outside of the scallop without overcooking the middle is an art, This chef has mastered that art.
Carol enjoyed a lovely slab of filet. I opted for the duck:
I’ve never had strawberries with duck before, it’s an interesting and different choice. The house was very accommodating in providing me with the linguine instead of potatoes. The grilled vegetables were so good I even ate the squash.
Desserts disappeared too fast to photo. My bread pudding was decent, but the house made ice cream that came with it was spectacular. Vanilla, with a touch of almond extract, just about perfect.
After dinner, we drove around the Nevada side of the lake. As we neared the casinos, it occurred to me that I might be able to see the Mayweather-Alvarez fight. A few quick phone calls, and it happened that Harrah’s was showing the fight for free in a casino lounge. Jack slowed the car down and I jumped out, raced across the busy boulevard and into the teeming casino.
I have heard much about how the Indian casinos in California are killing the business in Lake Tahoe, but you couldn’t prove it by last Saturday night. Every table was full of gamblers, and there was a huge crowd watching the big screen TV to see the fight.
Watching a fight in a big crowd is exciting–there was cheering, booing, chanting and one insane obnoxious moron who would’t stop shouting the entire fight–who naturally was standing next to me. The crowd was so intense I even had a Corona and lime.
The bad new was that I had $100 on Alvarez, and he lost decisively, to the great glee of the shouting cretin beside me.
Getting back to the cabin, I had to take one of the relatively rare taxis in South Shore, and got the most interesting and talkative cab driver ever. He made the $30 trip pretty worthwhile.
Then we drove home, I drove down to LA for another 9 day stint of making cookies and trying to get customers into the store. It isn’t an easy job, but I can see definite improvement in both the product and the sales figures. Life goes on.