Thursday, December 10, 2009


121009:'s been a bit cold out the last few days. The temperature is not as cold here at the lake because of the lake, so that's good. But we have fog every morning lasting well past noon. Right now it is 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Woohoo....double digits! It's 0 (zero!) in Minden just to show you the temperature difference.

Now I know there are many areas across this great land of ours that get much colder than us, but this cold snap here is unseasonably cold. About 25 degrees colder than normal. So what do we do when the weather turns so cold? Stay inside with cocoa sitting by a crackling fireplace? Sounds good, right? Well, we don't a fireplace and I ran out of milk for cocoa so I went to town to do some shopping.

As I drove to town - looking quite like the (red) stay puff marshmallow man in my big down jacket, fleece scarf, hat, gloves and ugg boots - I marveled at the varying temperature difference as I headed North to Carson City. Seriously, I marveled. Topaz Lake 13, Holbrook 9, Leviathan Mine Road (peek elevation) 21!, Ruehenstroff 7, Waterloo Lane 4, Minden 0, Carson Valley -4! and Carson City 3. It was a first for me to be out in such cold weather and thank God the sun was out otherwise it would have been miserable. As it was, it was only slightly miserable. And I apologized repeatedly to my Jeep as I subjected her to the elements. So I come home and promptly put her in the garage were she melted the road ice all over the floor.

Photos of my cat(s) staring out of the kitchen window. They snuck out the other day and stayed out for about 2 seconds and ran right back in the house. Spoiled cats.

He *thinks* he wants to go outside again.


Change of focus.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Motivational Juice

120809: I've been walking around for awhile in a daze and saying things like, "I've lost my mojo." The good part about this is that I actually was aware that I lost my mojo and not floundering around wondering what the hexk was happening to me AND I also know why I lost my mojo. Those are some big hurdles to overcome if you want to ever want to find your mojo again.

Slowly but steadily my "bucket" is refilling and I'm getting the energy to tackle some winter projects. My mojo is returning. Yay for me! We have been closed for two months at this point in our off season and it's taken this long for my mojo to find it's way home.

Why all this talk? Well, frankly our personal life is put on hold during the peak season, which means things like appointments, trips, BLOGS, etc., are shelved until off season. Our main priority is running the Park. Afterall, this is our employment, source of income, and future. And during the off season, we take a break from the Park and catch up on our personal life. BUT, sometimes the two overlap when we have personal things to attend to during peak season. This equation will suck the mojo out of us everytime! That's what happened the later part of the season, but in recent weeks life has been returning to normal. (Of course, "normal" is a subjective term and worthy of it's own blog post on another day....)

Photos of recent winter weather. It is now 4 degrees out, foggy and very white outside. Hubby usually walks around lamenting about the snow and this morning was no exception. He asked me, "Don't you hate the snow?" Actually, I don't, so I said to him, "No, I don't hate the snow. Because the snow is the time of year that I get to enjoy only you, our home, our lakeside view and we're sitting here on a Wednesday morning in our sweats, not on our way to a job but enjoying our coffee together." His response, "I think you need to lay off the coffee, honey."

Before the snow.

The snow started over night and I awoke to these never-before-seen view... Those aren't white birds, but birds covered in white. The sleeping Canada Geese were covered in snow!

After the snow stopped. I like showing photos of the Park with snow as many customers are amazed to see the their summer vacation place with no leaves and covered in white.

The constant morning fog we've been experiencing for awhile now. And why? Well, meterologically speaking it involves terms such as condensation, radiation, saturation and dew point. My explanation?: Cold Air + Warm Water = Fog

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Day with a Cherry on Top!

120809: It was foggy this morning. Again. I called my dad and he had blue skies, but we were socked in. Again. I waited patiently all morning for the fog to break so that I could take some pictures of the Park with snow. It's so pretty with snow on a sparkling blue morning. Every once in a while I would step outside to check the lighting. Nope, not yet. BUT, I could hear something on the lake. I knew it was birds, but didn't know what kind. "Kloo, kloo, kloo," they were calling. But until I could see them I couldn't identify the kind of bird calling out through the fog.

Then I took a nap. God help me - I love the winter because I get to take naps!

When I awoke, I walked into the kitchen passing by the open blinds of our diningroom. I was looking at the now clear lake and could not conceive what I was seeing. I called hubby to come see. We pulled our woren Sibley Bird Guide out and confirmed that the birds I had been hearing were Tundra Swans. And let me tell you folks, there weren't just a few swans. I don't know the correct term for a grouping of swans, so I'll just say there were Sssssssswwwwwwaaaaaannnns. We estimate that there were probably 500 plus swans resting out on the water in the middle of the lake, maybe more. We thoroughly enjoyed being bird geeks for the next hour. We photographed them, recorded them and hubby broke out a high powered spotting scope to see them up close.

It was such a treat. And lucky us, it happened right in our backyard.

Three incoming.

So many (look closely) my wide angle could not capture them in one frame.

Close up of the Tundra Swans. There are also some American Coot (Mud Hens) behind.

At one point there were so many flying overhead I couldn't take them all in.

Late afternoon exodus.

Maybe we will see them tomorrow?

For audio purposes only - turn up your volume.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stevens Nation

120509: In 1926, a man named William Stevens married Olive Jeffrey. They had three children and from those children our family exploded into a nation. Sadly, Grandpa Stevens, died young and never knew any of his children's spouses, his grand children, nor great grand children. I think he would be very proud of his expansive family and legacy his name created.

Several years back, someone in the family described our large family by coining the moniker "Stevens Nation." And what "Stevens Nation" truly describes is the strong ties, love and respect we all have for each other. Every year the family comes to our Park, as they have for many years before. 2009 was a probably a record breaker as I believe I counted 56 family members at one point. The majority of the family lives within blocks of each other in Southern California, but they all travel 400+ miles every year to come to Topaz Lake. It is a week filled with fun, laughs, family dinners and great memories.

Photos courtesy of my niece, Kimmie.

Relaxing in the morning sun.
One of many family dinners.

The floating Stevens Nation: Relaxing in the afternoon sun.

Our family is composed of 99.9% men.

Bunco night. Alot of laughs!

Yes, some water sports did take place. It's not all eating & drinking.

Part of the next generation. My nieces and nephew.

Walker Burger: A chance for the women's night off from cooking!

Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm Going to Buy a Foghorn Soon if THIS Keeps Up!

120409: Woke up this morning and it was the first day I could see the lake in the morning in quite a few days. The cold nights and warmer lake water has been socking us in with freezing fog until noon somedays. Just a few miles up the highway and above the lake the sun is shining on a bright day. The freezing fog, also known as pogonip fog, clings to everything with growing ice crystals. Very pretty, but very cold!

Sitting at my desk in the house looking out my kitchen window. Nothing but fog!

Pogonip fog clings to everything. Very pretty, if fog can be pretty.

Topaz Lake covered in fog. The temperature difference is about 10 degrees higher just a few miles up the road. 30 degrees at the Park, 40 degrees from this vantage point.

This morning's sunrise. Very little fog over the lake initially, but as I sit here the fog is creeping up into the Park. I can't see the lake right now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebrate Life

120209: There is rarely a bad day here at Topaz Lake RV Park. Even during the fire in July, 2002, I don't think many thought that was a bad day. Memorable, yes. Bad, no. And truly, Topaz is all about building great memories with your friends, family and children. And in the summer time it is all about the kids!

With that said, this past July, we planned a specific day of celebration for the children here at the Park. During the later part of July we found out that a daughter of a L.A. County Firefighter died after recently being diagnosed with cancer. Her name was Taylor and she was a young teenager and her life was undoubtedly far too short. The news of her death ripped through the Park, affecting our firefighter families deeply, many who knew Taylor's family and worked with her father.

I approached a family staying at the Park who knew Taylor and her family well. Together, Marie and I hatched a plan to celebrate the life of Taylor symbolically by celebrating the lives of the children at the Park. We decided to give as many children as possible the opportunity to ride in a hot air balloon. After very little effort our plan evolved into a Park event and it played out like this:

July 27th, the morning started early. Crack of dawn! Adults and children gathered to help launch the hot air balloon. You can see the flowers on the beach bought for Taylor.

The morning was surprisingly cool and the first riders dropped the flowers and petals on the lake in memory of Taylor. (Photo courtesy of Mike Linch.)

As Mike Linch said, "Rest in peace, sweet Taylor. You will be missed...." During the entire morning you couldn't help but notice the petals and flowers floating on the water.

Up, up and away. Each ride lasted about 10 minutes and rose over 500 feet above the lake.

The basket would slowly rise from the lake while raining water.

The rise above the waiting flotilla of boats.

Each boat carried waiting passengers. The volunteer dads/drivers, etc. were so very organized!

There were many happy faces on the children and adults that morning.

The next set of passengers moves in to meet the descending balloon.

We planned for six rides that morning, knowing we were limiting the number of children who could go. But we were blessed with a very cool summer morning allowing nine rides total. Every child, and then some, got to go on their first hot air balloon ride.

Back on the beach breaking down the balloon.

Every rider gets to help pack up the balloon.

Marie's son made bracelets and the children wore them in honor of Taylor that morning.

It's a tradition to initiate and toast first time hot air balloon riders.

After the ride, after the initiation ceremony and after a moving speech by Tom Stukey (L.A. Co. F.D.) to remember to celebrate the lives of your children everyday, some of the children gathered for one last photo. The large card, presented to Taylor's family later, was signed by all participants and reads, "In Memory of Taylor."
I must thank our longtime family friend, Gary Peterson, who is a hot air balloon pilot and owner of Rise to the Occasion. He was kind enough to come out on a moment's notice to help us in our day of celebration. Thank you, Gary! You were extraordinary!
All days are good at Topaz, rarely are they bad, and there are many great days to remember. This day was an exceptional day. Thank you to everyone who made it one of the best days for the children at Topaz.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Winding Up to Wind Down

091409: I'm going to post early today, because there are many things happening today and I don't know entirely where the day will take me. I owe you, the reader, the customer, many photos from the summer and I'm still thinking about them, but for right now I'm going to put them aside. I'm going to concentrate on picking up my camera again and enjoy the thrillllll of the capture.

Yes, I said thrilllllll! I have always enjoyed, loved the art of photography and it is exciting to me to capture a scene from my viewpoint, that I now share with the world. I often take multiple photos of the same scene, but each one is just slightly different. And I know which photo is the best, too, when I've captured it. Often I say outloud, "That's the one." And even later when I'm reviewing all photos on my computer I can see that I was right and that one photo is the "one." Anyways, I digress ('cuz I need more coffee.)
So yesterday, we took the fingers off the North dock - she's winding down her seasonal commission. It was quite the laborious task for me since I chose the job of actually removing the fingers vs. driving "Big Blue." (I like driving "Little Blue" - but she's in the shop right now, stripped down to two tires, etc., having multiple, mid-life procedures done...) So today, after yesterday, I'm suffering from "single jack arm." I'm more of a "hammer" girl, so the single jack wore me out a little!
After we finished with the fingers, my dad came down for a visit and at some point we were in the office together. We listened to a few messages on the machine left earlier in the morning. We were quite amused to hear several messages from a friends/customers that were watching the finger-ectomy on our LakeCam! Sometime soon we will be taking the North dock out of the water. Wait until you see that - my job is to run around and save all the little crawdads!
I like that job even better than driving Little Blue!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Preferred Preposition

091309: Years ago, my mother watched me driving the tractor around doing the necessary things that a tractor & driver would do and she exclaimed, "You are not your mother's daughter!" Yes, it's true, kinda.

For many years I spent too many hours inside, in suits and in meetings. Now I relish living on a lake and being on a tractor or on my golf car and out of the city. Actually, if I think about it more, it's not that I'm not like you mom. I just prefer to be like this.

With a little soaps afterwards....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heavy. Silence.

091109: Life is beginning to return to normal. Yet, "normal" is a relative term for each of us, isn't it? I can say that our lives have taken on a new definition of "normal." Life is what it is, never the same as before.(One of my favorite photos from this summer.)

Now is the time of year that we reflect on the recent past as well as look forward to the future months. The years and seasons are flying by, beginning to add up to the sum of many memories - all of which shape and define our normal lives. Essentially we never forget the past that has brought us to this place and time, and we look forward to each day. I hope you do, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's the Principle

090309: I've used alot of analogies to describe our own lifestyle here at Topaz Lake RV Park. But I like the "Gumby Principle" the best. I told someone in the Park this summer about the Gumby Principle and they laughed at the accuracy of it but yet practicality. Here it is: (Are you ready?) When life, even daily life or hourly life, seems to be pulling you in many directions you have to "be Gumby" aka be flexible, go with the flow. If you stiffen up, you end up fighting the flow and get much less accomplished. Here's a good example: Recently in the news it was reported that a skydiver fell 10,000 feet (videoing taping it on his helmet) when both of his parachutes failed to deploy properly. Now here's where the gumby principle came into play - he blacked out while falling, and landed on a roof. It was reported that had he been conscious when he hit the roof, he probably would have died as we naturally brace for impact by stiffening up. But since he was a "gumby" (my word) he survived!
The Gumby Principle helps me frequently survive our Topaz days. Of course, I like to be busy, and I thrive on handling multiple tasks. But I couldn't do it without Gumby.
It just occured to me that I might be showing my age a bit when I refer to Gumby. My version of Gumby refers to the flexibility of this clay figure, not his persona - though I can wreak havoc when I want to! And why in the world am I thinking about Gumby right now? Because I've got alot to do today to prep for the holiday weekend coming up, and I've got 17 minutes left before I open up this morning, and I've got to feed the dogs, get dressed and what else? Oh - I'll think of something....
Me and Gumby gotta go.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Friend Indeed

080609: The following photos are courteous of Mike Linch, photographer extraordinaire! Thanks Mike for allowing me to post your beautiful photos!
In the hills West of Topaz Lake there are trails all over for riding and hiking. Several trails will take adventurers to a peak overlooking Topaz Lake. Quite a view, don't you think?
I don't think this was a pose, but doesn't this look like an ad for riding gear?
L-R: Eric, Jesse, Jason, & Brandi.
It was a beautiful morning for Hot Air Balloon rides. There was a significant purpose behind the rides on this day, but I'll write about that & post more photos later.

The balloon rides were all about the kids. The first riders up were the Idol, Porter and Bashara children. You can see that the balloon was being towed out from where it launched on our beach to over the open water.Okay - this is why it is called an "Air Chair."
The talented Eric demonstrating his capabilities. But I think Mike called Eric a "show-off." ;-].

More "catch-up photos" coming in the next few days....