Thursday, April 30, 2009

Une, Deux, Trois

043009: One Pelican cooling his feet.Two pelicans waiting patiently for fish.
Three huffy pelicans running for open water.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cat Games

042909: Ever feel like you are being watched?
Several days ago I was working in the house and our talkative cat, Mickey, was somewhere in the house meowing. We call it "talking." And Mickey likes to talk occasionally for no particular reason other than to call out to us. So he'll meow and we call out to him "Mickey" and he meows and so the game goes.

So when he started the game a few days ago, I could hear him but not find him. Then I spied him behind the blinds in the window seat, glued to the warmth of the sun. I got my camera got, called him one more time and caught this photo of him spying on me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Midnight Bloom

042809: Last night I had to get up in the middle of the night to let the dogs outside. Somedog was barking at the backdoor!
So out they went, and back they came in....minus one. So I poked my head outside to see who was loggy-gaggin' around on my sleeptime. And that is when I noticed the apple tree.
It was in full bloom!
I have been holed up in the office cave, and spring was springing behind my back~! So I got up this morning and made it a point to take some photos of the bloom. And if the apple crop is abundant this year then maybe I will be able to make some apple butter and sauce.

Monday, April 27, 2009


042709: In January 2007 the lake froze over and stayed that way until just before we opened. Everyday we would wake up and find the ice thicker, bigger. The pattern of growing ice is clearly visible in this photo.

Nearly everyday we would stand outside somewhere between 9am - 11am and listen to the frozen lake warming up. As the sun rose in the sky the ice would crack, creating it's own music, pinging off the hills in the valley.

Soon after David would clear the water on the shoreline for the birds (you can see this in the photo at the bottom.) Occasionally we would take these big chunks of ice and throw them out on the lake to see how far they would slide (like curling.) It was amazing to see them slide so far we would lose sight of them.

Near the beginning of March the South dock was being prepared to roll into the water, yet there was still a frozen lake! We called my dad and asked him what he had done in the past in a similar situation. He stated that when the ice begins to melt around the perimeter that it would take only one good wind to make it all disappear. Well he was right! That is exactly what happened and one day we watched the wind move the ice cap slowly across the lake and fold up on itself on the Eastern shoreline. The ice was gone in the span of a day as if it never happened at all.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's Time

042609: The North dock is being prepared for her service. She will be launched in a day or two and will reside in the waters for the next four months.
She is a faithful servant to us. A faithful servant to our Park.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rise Above It All

042509: I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, not to mention there's something wrong with my camera and I've got to get it fixed. So my solution to both problems right now is to post a photo from days past at Topaz Lake. Besides the last few days at Topaz have been a combination of rain, wind and clouds. Not that any of them aren't beautiful....I just don't want to go outside!
I have been asked numerous times how I took this picture.... "Plane?" No, it was a hot air balloon. In fact a partial shadow of the balloon can be seen in the upper right of the photo. We are lucky to have a good friend, Gary Peterson, who owns a hot air balloon and occasionally will bring it down to the Park (in the wee hours of the morning!!!) to give rides to our customers (many of his friends, too.) The balloon is tethered to a boat - and it goes way up, floats down and from another boat the riders transfer in & out. On this day, due to the lake level being so high, we used the Marina's big parking lot to inflate/deflate the balloon and once air borne we were towed over towards the Park. Gary then sent the balloon high so I could get some photos! I think we got in about 6 rides that day before we had to pack up. The morning was so hot that Gary said he thought he was going to run out of propane keeping the balloon afloat going back to the Marina.
In 1983, the first year hot air balloons ascended from the Park (there were three that year), I was lucky enough to be a first rider. We had a wild ride over the West hills and landed up on Monitor Pass. I'll find the photos I took then and post them another time. It was after that morning that subsequent balloon rides were tethered to keep them over the lake.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Skiing at Topaz Lake

042409: I've been spending some time in the evening organizing all digital photos and scanning film photos. I'm getting ready for a project I'm hoping to complete in about a month.
Meanwhile I have been enjoying going down memory lane with old photos. And this one is another favorite!
This photo was taken by my mom - great action pose mom! It's the mid 80's, and someone came up with the brilliant idea that we should go skiing on the beach that winter. So my brother & I strapped on our "rock" skis and we would start out up by the highway and ski all the way down to the water's edge. We even built a small snow ramp from which to jump to make that 300' slope more exciting. Then dad would pick us up in our "rural ski lift" and tow us to the top of the hill again. I remember that day very clearly. We never skiied again on the beaches of Topaz Lake, but maybe we weren't supposed to..... so that this one day would be so memorable.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Honey Bunn

042309: When I posted the photo a few days ago of myself at age 7 I knew that I wanted to post these photos soon. Meet the Past & the Present.
The Past: Circa 1970. Top to Bottom: Me, Teri, Brian & Jeff. Follow the story closely....I'm sitting in the driver's seat of what was Teri & Jeff's dad's (Tony) boat at the time. Teri, Jeff & Brian are the grandchildren of the original owners of the Park, Tommy & Delila. Not long after this photo was taken my dad bought this boat from Tony. And in 1984, my parents bought the Park from Tommy and Delila. In 2001, my hubby & I bought the Park from my parents. ....It was pointed out to me several years ago when I hung this photo in my office, that the photo seemed ironic in a way. Way back in 1970 I sat in the driver's seat of what was to become my parents', and now I sit in the driver's seat of what was my parents.
(I love the old spongy life vests and my bathing cap with the fancy sunflower!)
The Present: 2008. L-R: Taylor & Megan. Sunning themselves on the deck of the same boat. I did the same thing when I was their age. Megan is my niece, granddaughter to my parents. Taylor is the daughter of a childhood friend from Topaz & were we grew up. Taylor and Megan are part of the next generation of Topaz.

And for the boat enthusiast: This a 1958 Biesemeyer with 450 Chevy engine. The accelerator is a hand lever - you can see it in the top photo above my arm. And it has a forward and reverse transmission - also in the top photo on the floorboard below the steering wheel. It started out Turquoise Blue and in the 90's it was refurbished to it's current beauty.
Though I think it was a beauty before, too.
(A long term customer has bought and restored another Biesemeyer. They're bringing to the Park in July & I can't wait to see it!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Love is in the Air

042209: Admittedly, I am posting many bird photos lately, but seriously, there are many birds around here! Many flirting birds!

These itty-bitty eggs are the result of some serious courtship between two House Finches. The female built her nest in the same exact location that last year's nest was built, but it didn't survive the winter. The nest is located under our patio, inside the eave and on top of the exterior shade housing we installed. (Got that?) The point is - we can see the nest from just inside our house including the nest building, egg laying, and incubation. In about 14 days, we should see the hatchlings. Itty-bitty hatchlings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's a Foreign Game

042109: I know how to make an A$$ out of myself. If you need instructions, here's what you do:
This time of year we have the pleasure of meeting numerous people traveling through the U.S.A. from foreign countries. I quite enjoy conversing with them in generic English. Many apologize to me by saying, "Sorry, no speak English well." Well, believe me buddy, your "no speak English well" outshines my "NO speak German at all" or Danish, Italian, French, etc.... - and I took four years of French in H.S. & college and the best I can do is "Je m'appelle Julie" (My name is Julie or literally "I call myself Julie.") I told that bit of information recently to a visiting French couple. I'm pretty sure they were laughing with me and not at me....
Anyways, every time we have the pleasure of speaking with a visiting foreigner I play a game by trying to guess in which country they live. I'll chit-chat in generic English, answering their travel/map questions, and finally I tell them what I'm doing. Usually I'm right about the country, but then again many come from Germany and that tends to be my default answer. "You're from Germany!!!" "Ja!"
So the other day this gentleman comes in and I start playing the game, & I told him so. His name was "Proinnsias Murray" & he told me to call him Proinn (sounds like "Prawn.") He started giving me hints: "Do you know the town of 'Ulster'?" Ahhh, no. "You really don't know the town of Ulster?" Ahhh, nope. Really don't. "We are an English speaking country." Really? Ahhhhh, I got nothing. "Our countries have a great history together." Hmmm, nothing - give it up Prionn. "I'm from Ireland."
Oh, jeesh.
I laughed out loud at my stupidity, then I told him that the saddest thing, yet amusing, was that my last name was "Hurley." He heartily laughed, too, and gave me a history lesson about my name (it's some sort of sporting game.) He thanked me for the amusement (literally!) and said good-bye. As I look back now on my encounter with Proinn, I'm pretty sure he was laughing with me and not at me....???
I'm posting a photo of "moi", age 7, on the shore of Topaz Lake. Our dog, Pudge, (perfectly legal off his leash!) stands with me. Oh what I wouldn't give to have the abs of a seven year old again!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Post to Post

042009: I hunted all over for this photo! I knew I had scanned it several years ago, but with all the recent computer changes, it was buried in the deep recesses of any one of my computers. Finally I found it though.

Actually it's not an original photo but a postcard from "Frasher's Foto." I occasionally get lucky to find old postcards of the lake for sale on the internet (gotta love eBay!) I have more postcards and pictures of days gone by that I'll post in the future. (Hint: Do any of you remember the "Pinenut Motel?" Do you remember when it was "Pinky's Motel?") And I have one (1!) postcard of "Topaz Trailer Park" from the Tommy & Delila Thompson era of ownership. I'll post that, too.

I love this one because the lake/shoreline looks uninhabited and that gravel road! What can I say about that gravel road!?!! Fabulous! The photo was taken in the 1930's and my guess is the vantage point was somewhere just above where the Lodge (would eventually be) where Hwy 395 curves.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


041909: Busy, busy day today. The kind of day that whizzed by.... And at the end of the day I hadn't managed to pick up my camera once so I'm diving into the archives!

This is actually one of my favorite photos I have taken. It's the kind of photo that so much is going on in the photo, but in the same moment it's nearly colorless palate is so peaceful.
The photo was taken in January 18th, 2007 after weeks on end of bitterly (BITTERLY!) cold days that tortured the West coast states. Our Topaz temperatures ranged from -20 at night to a daytime high of 15. And after a succession of such (BITTERLY!) cold days the lake eventually froze over.
This photo was taken the first morning a thin sheet of ice appeared on the water. In the weeks following the ice subsequently grew to 5 inches thick solid across the entire lake. (More on that another time...) The darkened Canada geese, the ice, the steam rising off the water, the light dusting of snow, the Sweetwater Mtns, and the cottonwoods in the distance - all make for a beautiful morning. But what is missing for you is the sounds of this frozen morning. The crackling ice, the gentle noises of the geese, and even the sound of the still air all converged that morning. When I look at this photo, I not only see the beauty but I also hear it.
Maybe if you look at it long enough, you just might hear the sounds of this frozen morning, too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Barn "Carport" Swallows

041809: I was a bit under the weather today. Too bad since it was such a nice day outside. Though sometime this afternoon, I had to venture outside because the Barn Swallows were being so chatty.

There are now 4 pairs of birds and through some recent research I have been able to identify the males from the females. This little one is a male, as evidenced by his golden feathers and longer tail. The females have light or cream colored feathers and have a shorter forked tail.

I tried to get an "in flight" photo but these little birds are fast and are a little wary of people right now. Hence I couldn't get too close to them. Towards the end of the summer they have become quite used to us so I will be able to get better photos of them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Gem of Many Colors

041709: There is no official story I've ever heard as to why the Lake was named "Topaz." It was originally named "Alkali Lake." But the name was changed soon after (1930's?) as it was found to have a certain negative connotation with the public, even though the Lake is NOT A SALT LAKE. They (who they?) appropriately changed the named from "Alkali" to "Topaz." Thank God for the "they!" Can you imagine vacationing at "Alkali Lake RV Park?" Wouldn't have happened and I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading this!
So MY story is that the "they" got together one afternoon and they saw something like in the following photos occur in the course of that afternoon. And like the many colors of the gem, they came to a new consensus and named the lake "Topaz" because it is the lake of many colors. Photos taken 8/27/07.
2:46 PM 3:40 PM
6:39 PM
7:43 PM

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

041609: Species: The Western Gull
Genus: Larus
My hubby names the first gull and last gull of the season Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I don't think these gulls quite aspire to have the same passions as J.L.S. Therefore I have a different name for them: RATS!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Topaz, Family & Memories

041509: My Uncle Bill & My Aunt Rosalie
(My dad's older brother) Every year they vacationed at Topaz Lake bringing all their children, who now have families and vacation at the Park themselves.
Since 1996, Uncle Bill has not been with us but memories of him live on, live strong. His grandson, Jeff, lovingly and proudly restored Uncle Bill's boat and brought it to Topaz last year. We posed his boat and his brother/my dad's boat next to each other (respectively) and took some photos. With most of the family on the beach that day, many of us had tears in our eyes.
I miss my Uncle Bill. (I miss his laugh.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Space Mountain

041409: Yesterday someone told me that their life seemed to be topsy turvy right now. I can relate to that. I'm sure at sometime in all our lives anyone of us can relate to that.

When our lives get really nutso, really topsy turvy, we need to throw our hands up in the air and enjoy the ride. I know in the spring time when we are opening and preparing Park for customers' arrivals and seemingly everything is coming out of the woodworks we can easily hit that nutso level of entertainment. But that's okay, it's still a great roller coaster ride.

Our weather today hit a high of 49 degrees. Fairly cold and moderately breezy, the sun peaked in and out of the clouds all day. Late today, Mother Nature got more serious about her job and I watched a snow storm roll across the lake from the North. I stepped outside to take a photo and promptly slipped, nearly dropping my camera. By then the first wave of pill snow was pelting me in the face. I caught this one photo before turning to go inside. And I slipped again! I couldn't help but laugh as I threw my hands up in the air...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Winter Wonderland

041309: Frequently I get these questions:
"Does it snow at Topaz Lake?"
"Do you get much snow at the Lake?
"How cold does it get there?"
"Does the lake ever freeze?"
"What's it like in the winter at Topaz?"
"Has it ever snowed with customers in the Park?"

My answers:
We can, yes.
Yes - many times.

I took this photo January 5th, 2008 after our first big storm of the season. That's 15 blissful inches of powder.

Why did we track a road to the shore?

To feed the ducks, of course.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bird Respite

041209: Today was a day of rest. Not just because of the holiday (Happy Easter!) but because it was necessary.

I ventured outside today to soak up the warm day. It was a perfect Sunday from sun up to sundown. I stayed outside for awhile, enjoying the antics of the Barn Swallows. Clearly the swallows weren't happy with my presence. I wasn't standing but 20 feet from my own home, and still is my home!

Having recently researched Barn Swallows I watched them come and go - out to the lake, back to garage - over and over. I identified 3 males and 2 females. The odd number caused a match of males to attempt to win the sole attention of the female. Obviously love is in the air and soon more adults will arrive and soon after many nests will appear filled with the tiniest of eggs. By the time they leave in the fall, there will be 30 or more birds. And behind they will leave me many memories and photos of the summer of 2009. And a lot of poop to clean up!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

3,000 Sunrises & Counting

041109: Years ago (years!) my family used to vacation at the Park. We started coming in 1966 and after I started driving and working, I would make the drive from our home to Topaz to vacation with my family. When I would have to leave after a week or so I would literally cry. I did not want to leave!

Now years later I'm lucky enough to not have to leave. Topaz is my home. It is part of my past, my present and my future. It is in my blood. And when I must go away, then come back home, sometimes I cry because I have missed my home, my lake.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pets are Welcome

041009: I don't know what made me think of Turbo today. But think of Turbo, I did.
What is sad is I don't remember all the little details about Turbo but I'm going to muddle through here... Turbo is a girl, I think. She is between 1 and 15 years old, closer to 13. I think. Oh, I do know this! She has been visiting Topaz Lake RV Park with her "parents" since she was a little turtlette.
And I know this, too: It wasn't until a few years ago that I knew a turtle visited us every year. (How observant am I?) I was out and about one day and came across Turbo's "dad" walking her in the shallow pool by the fish cleaning station. Fascinated was I to learn that they traveled with a turtle every year! Turbo's dad insisted on taking photos of me posing with his "daughter." It was kind of fun though. The last time I picked up a turtle was 10 years ago (sea turtle in Grand Caymans) and prior to that - itty bitty turtles in our aquarium when I was a tot. They never lasted along enough though to go on vacation with us at the Park...
EDIT: 04/16/09: I have just been informed by Turbo's owner that her correct age is indeed 15; she is a California Desert Tortoise; and she never complains while traveling!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Air Freshener

040909: The Pooches & I went for a ride today. They were in the mood to bark at some cows. I was in the mood to breath fresh air. After days on end of working in my office I need to smell something besides - well - office!
We ended up in Carson Valley and though we managed to find cows, none too close to the roads. However, it was fun to stop and watch all the baby cows run around. The Pooches thought it was fun, too. And we all came home happy.
Oh- the Barn Swallows returned to our Park today just as they do every April. Two lovely little pairs of birds to start. You know that I will post photos in the future!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lake Contest

040809: What is Lake Tahoe that Topaz Lake isn't?
Lake TahoeIt's much bigger. It's deeper. It's clearer. It's older.

Topaz LakeIt's Topaz.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ray & THE Fish

040709: I have always thought that pound for pound the cost for a fish has got to be very expensive, but you know what they say: The worst day fishing is better than the best day at work!

I mentioned our customer Ray a few photos back and his fishing curse. Knowing his fishing frustration I suggested to him that he throw a line out from his boat tied to the dock since some overnighters recently had come in and caught some nice fish from the dock. He didn't think I was too funny. :-P.

Yesterday I asked Ray if the curse had lifted and he said it hadn't really but he had a story for me! He had caught a big fish the day before and entered it in the fishing derby. With that weigh-in (or was it win?) he got a "double pay out" coupon giving him the opportunity to double a pay out in the casino within the next 24 hrs. So yesterday Ray played "some wolf machine" at the casino and soon it lit up and started howling and low & behold he cashed out at $400.00 and with his coupon: $800.00!!!

That one fish was worth all the frustration! But I just have one question, Ray.... Why the Wolf machine? You didn't want to play the Gone Fishin' machine?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Goose Mood

040609: If Honky had a thought bubble above his head it would say:

"Yay! Breakfast! Come on, come on - I'm hungry! Breakfast, breakfast, breakfast! Yay! Come on."

But what we heard was:

"Honk, honk honk.....honk, honk!"

Oh - that goofball bird is not flying, but running down the beach!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Trout of Topaz Lake

040509: I'd like to think that the salmon colored meat is exclusive to Topaz Lake, but it probably is not. I do know this: If you catch a fish that has white meat or slightly pink meat it is a recent plant or traveled to the lake via the Walker River. Either way, the trout from the lake are good eatin'!

Several years ago, a fisherman in the Park proudly showed off the huge fillets from the fish he had wrangled in that day. He really had all the other fishermen jealous until he told that he had wrangled the fish from Costco. And it was a salmon to boot! But that just goes to show you how our salmon pink Topaz trout can fool you!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

All American Model

040409: The American White Pelican. Average weight 16# with a wing span up to 120" (10 ft!) Almost twice the size of the Pacific or Atlantic Brown Pelican found primarily along the coastal waters. These birds are big. We have some pelicans join us every spring and summer. Sometimes there are 20+ pelicans, sometimes just a few, and one year there were none. They stay near us because they know that the fishermen at our fish cleaning station provide them remnants from the fish.

This afternoon a solitary pelican waddled up the beach to the fish cleaning station and posed for me (it's my story!) When I didn't pay him with fish he took off for the water. Note the extra plumage and the horn on the upper beak, only seen during breeding season.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sara's Spring Sunrise

040309: About two weeks ago, there was about seven consecutive mornings of sunrises that were spectacular! I haven't been ignoring the sunrises since then, but recent ones haven't had that WOW factor. Early this morning we had a dusting of snow blow through and it left everything behind different tones of color of steel blue.
This afternoon I spoke with one of our customers and we were talking about our new LakeCam, and this customer said she would be sure to tell her young daughter about the LakeCam. It was then that I remembered that her daughter had told me several years ago that she loved the sunrises at Topaz Lake.
I thought it was ironic that I caught the first WOW sunrise in several weeks on the day I was reminded of this young girl's love for our sunrises.
Though her summer sunrises are a bit warmer than this morning's 28 degrees. I hope I spelled your name right...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Springing to Life

040209: Spring is springing! The recent warm weather has caused the cottonwoods to start blooming. We've experienced them blooming in early March to as late as the end of May. Cottonwoods, or populars, have multiple stages of bloom, (or debris) before we eventually see leaves. Our official names for each of these stages are: Sticky pods, Purple blooms, Cottonpods, Snow, and Pod-stems. Oh, and Leaves. Then Dead leaves. On the ground. Dead leaves stay the longest. But that is in the wintertime. And, if truths be told, I would include "Twigs" as part of the debris. New little growth has a high percentage of casualty against the harsh winter.
We love all of our trees. They serve many purposes for us: Shade (duh), beauty, definement of space, and a really good workout cleaning up after them. My dad, and before him, the original owner, Tommy, (both firemen) used to burn all the debris. And not in small piles! One day I'll tell you the story of the night my dad taught my husband how to burn real piles - the fireman way. Tease: it requires use of a tractor and power blower!
Those firemen - you guys are pyros!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Big Bird

040109: The pelicans came home a few days ago. Truly beautiful birds. I'll try to get a photo of them up close in their current plumage. They are wearing a sweeping long feathered cap and have a large hump on top of their beak. Both apparently make them look more attractive in breeding season. I think they look like hippies with a large nose.

American White Pelicans. I thought you would enjoy photos of these birds up close. I took these several years ago on the day the California Department of Fish & Game stocked the lake from our shoreline. I think the birds (there were many) caught their limit that day.
I'll have to plan to get photos of fish stocking day this year and I'll tell a story then about burping fish. Curious, aren't you?