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-By Rashmi Menon
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Lake Tahoe
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Lake Tahoe

Vacations are always a lot of fun. We are into the 2nd half of June, and here in the US the summer holidays have just begun. The Memorial Day weekend, which is traditionally celebrated on the last Monday in May, marks the end of the academic year and the beginning of summer. For Americans the annual summer family vacation is typically an extended road trip. The whole family including pets pile into an RV (recreational vehicle/trailer) or the family car, and embark on a long drive to some popular tourist attraction. Lake Tahoe is a destination most families have visited at least once. Here, tall icy blue waters wash against rugged mountains that rise up to touch crystal blue skies.
Located along the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is the highest lake of its size in the United States. It has an average elevation of about 6,225 feet. It is also the largest alpine lake in North America. Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. It is so clear in some places that objects can be seen to depths of 75 feet. This crystal clear water body is sapphire blue in color.
The Lake basin is bounded by the Sierra Nevada to the west and the Carson Range to the east. 2 or 3 million years ago, geologic block movements fractured the earth's crust and caused the "dipping" of the basin and the "lifting" of the surrounding mountain ranges. The Lake was formed when rain water and melting ice rushed in to fill the basin.
The waters of the Lake are in constant motion. During winter, the cold water from the surface sinks and the warm water from the bottom rises up. This keeps the lake from freezing. There are 63 streams and rivulets that feed into the lake. The Lake in turn drains into the Truckee river in Nevada, thus becoming one of the few lakes that don't drain into an ocean.
The Washoe Indians were the first known settlers in the area. The name, Tahoe, is a derivative of the ancient Washoe Indian term, "Da-ow-a-ga," meaning "Edge of the Lake." Adventurer John Fremont discovered this sacred Indian gathering place in 1844 while exploring the "American West."
Today Lake Tahoe is a huge tourist resort. Its agreeable climate, with an average of 274 sunny days in a year, makes the Lake one of the few places in the US that tourists can enjoy year round. Everyone can find some interesting activity to participate in at Lake Tahoe. The young and the adventurous may avail of ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) tours that will take them deep into the high deserts of Nevada. The history buffs can take guided tours to hear stories about the ancient Washoe Indian tribes. Legends about early White settlers who came to California after the famous "Gold Rush" to prospect the mountains for gold deposits are also popular. Nature lovers can trek their way across the mountain trails surrounding the Lake and gaze at some breathtaking views. Mount Rose, Pacific Quest Trail, Marlette Lake and Paige Meadows are some of the popular trails. Camping, golfing, skiing, water sports, gambling and horseback riding are some of the other vacation activities available at Lake Tahoe. Many couples choose to get married in the scenic locales surrounding the Lake.
The governments of California and Nevada realized that tourism and commercial progress would have negative effects on the Lake. In order to protect the Lake's water quality, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was established in 1968. The agency is responsible for making sure that construction and development follow strict environmental standards. Their goal is to make sure that future generations can enjoy soothing vacations in this charming paradise.
Gracias chicos y chicas, for joining me on this trip across Lake Tahoe. I'll see you again next fortnight. Till then it's Hasta luego. I'll look forward to reading your emails.

Notes:
Alpine = relating to high mountains (since the Alps is a high mountain range)
Gracias chicos y chicas = Spanish for "Thank you, boys and girls."
Hasta luego = Spanish for "Until later."

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