Tahoe – The Lake, The Ridge and the Tavern

by Bob Sparrow

The Ridge Tahoe

About a month ago I was notified that we had a timeshare week given to us by Interval International during Covid, that was going to expire by December 24th of this year.  We had just returned from our Mexican cruise and with the ‘holidaze’ fast approaching and air travel becoming less and less attractive, it seemed as if the week would be wasted – unless we could find somewhere that we wanted to go, was within driving distance, and was available between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

As I surfed Interval’s available online options, I came across The Ridge – Tahoe, which sits on a ridge (I’m guessing that’s where they got the name) above South Lake Tahoe by Heavenly Valley Ski Resort.  Growing up in northern California, I have many fond memories of Lake Tahoe, as my family started weekending and vacationing there when I was about eight years old (Yes, that was back when the earth was still cooling).  I had my first ‘sort of’ date there when I was in junior high and older brother Jack, who was in high school, brought his girlfriend for a stay with our family at ‘The Lake’, and she brought along her younger sister, who was a year younger than me.  We met at Tahoe Tavern and watched a movie.  I don’t remember what movie, and it wasn’t because I was preoccupied with my first date, I was petrified and probably was busy eating popcorn and didn’t even offer her any.  Sorry, Meg Howard, wherever you are.

Tahoe Tavern

Tahoe Tavern was a classic!  It was first opened in 1902 as a luxury hotel just outside of Tahoe City, at the northern end of the lake. It had 225 rooms and a casino – yes, a casino in California.  You could get there by road, rail, or raft and its opulence attracted San Francisco’s high society.    The resort’s dress code for lunch and dinner became so formal that a dress and heels were required for women and a coat and tie for men.  Aside from the very high-end restaurant and theater, there was a bowling alley and a bar with a beautiful view of the lake.  Unfortunately, it burned down in the mid-60s, so I’m glad I got a chance to see this magnificent hotel.  Condos have been built on the property since and it’s not quite the same; no, it’s not even close to the same.

But I digress.  Linda and I left this past Saturday afternoon to drive up picturesque Highway 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We spent the night in beautiful Bishop so we could drive up to the lake and be in front of a television by Sunday afternoon so we could watch her Vikings play my 49ers.

Creekside Inn

We got to Bishop and had a great dinner at Whiskey Creek restaurant, which has been there since 1924.  We stayed at the Creekside Inn in Bishop, which I would definitely recommend, although I have no complements for their complementary breakfast – go next door to the famous Schat’s Bakery & Restaurant.

The Sunday morning drive from Bishop to South Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful in the state, particularly on a crisp cloudless morning which shows the spectacular snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains.  We arrived in time for the Viking-49er game, which I was a little happier about the results than Linda.

Our time at Tahoe next time


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson


People of a certain age may remember a song we sang in grammar school this time of year: Over the River and Through the Wood.  The gist of the song is that a happy family bundles into a sleigh and glides over the snow to their grandmother’s house.  In the song, it is noted that the horses knew the way, which was a good thing because they didn’t have Google Maps when this song was written.  I remember singing that song and wishing that we lived in a place that had snow, rather than our rather mundane California sunshine.

Those were simpler times in many ways, not the least of which it was a lot easier to direct a horse through the woods than navigate an airport on Thanksgiving weekend.  Now that the pandemic seems to be abating everywhere except Arizona, there are predictions of a heavy travel week ahead, both on the ground and in the air.

4.2 million travelers will take to the skies this Thanksgiving.  That is an 80% increase over last year, witch isn’t saying much since no one was traveling last year.  At the beginning of the holiday travel period last Friday, TSA screened over 2.2 million people at airport security checkpoints around the U.S.  TSA has warned that passengers should arrive early and expect long lines.  They have also reminded everyone what is and what is not allowed in carry-on baggage.  I stipulate up front that since most people did not travel in 2020 it can be difficult to remember all the rules.  But  as you can see from the photo of items that were confiscated, there are people who apparently need remedial help.  One wonders why it was necessary to take a bottle of Heinz gravy and a can of yams to wherever this person was going.  If they are flying to a city that has an airport, one might reasonably assume that there is also a grocery store, one that carries such gourmet items as bottled cranberry sauce.  Well, to be charitable, perhaps this person was afraid of being stranded at a gate for eight hours and wanted to have some provisions.  I will say that the wine is totally understandable given a) they aren’t serving alcohol on planes due to belligerent passengers and b) it’s wine.  This person might also be flying out of Phoenix Sky Harbor, where the concession employees have declared a strike for this week.  So not only will there be no food available at the airport, there will not be any Starbucks.  Between no food, no coffee, and having to wear a mask, I suspect there is going to be a plethora of grouchy passengers.

Speaking of which, the day before Thanksgiving sees more drunk driving accidents than almost any other day of the year. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as the biggest bar night in America. Others call the day “Drinksgiving.”  It is particularly popular with college-aged kids coming back to their home towns and the parents of said kids, who suddenly find their empty nest strewn with laundry and filled with music that has undecipherable lyrics.  Nevertheless, lots of people will be on the road this year.  AAA is predicting that 48.3 million Americans are expected to travel by car this week.  The worst time for traffic will be between 1:30 – 6 p.m. on Wednesday, particularly in big cities.  So if you can sneak out a bit early you might save yourself hours of staring at the rear end of a semi-truck.

Regardless of where you will be spending Thanksgiving this year, my brother and I wish you a very happy day, filled with fun, family and food.  I plan on driving this year on Thanksgiving – right down the middle of the fairway.

Imagine If YOU Handled YOUR Money This Way!

by Bob Sparrow

At a time when there is as much divide in the country that most of us ‘seniors’ have ever experienced, I will try to use the tried and true method of uniting disparate groups by giving them a common enemy.  To mis-quote War of 1812 Naval Commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, “We have met the enemy and it is us!” 

We here at From a Bird’s Eye View, rarely, if ever, wade into political battlefields, as we understand that there is no winning there, but indeed this blog is about our government.  Both sides.    Admittedly this missive was borne out a closer look at the recent staggering $1 trillion ‘infrastructure bill’ – and while it’s easy to take shots at Biden, this is a shot at our entire government, past and present.  

 Warning: If your day has been going along just fine so far, you may want to skip reading this blog as it may be upsetting to those who might think that our government is a well-oiled machine. 

 Following are just some of the places where your hard-earned tax money has gone . . . 

  • Congressional investigators were able to receive $55,000 in federal student loan funding for a fictional college they created to test the Department of Education
  • $200,000 is going for a tattoo removal program in Mission Hills, CA  
  • Congress recently gave Alaska Airlines $500,000 to paint a Chinook salmon on a Boeing 737 
  • The Pentagon recently spend $998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida 
  • The National Institutes of Health spends $1.3 million per month to rent a lab facility that it cannot use 
  • We spend $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.  Yep!!
  • The Security & Exchange Commission is spending $3.9 million rearranging desks and offices at its Washington DC headquarters 
  • Lawmakers diverted $13 million from Hurricane Katrina relief spending to build a museum celebrating the Army Corps of Engineers – the agency partially responsible for the failed levees that flooded New Orleans
  • Congress appropriated $20 million for “commemoration of success” celebrations related to Iraq and Afghanistan 
  • The Defense Department wasted $100 million in unused flight tickets and never bothered to collect refunds even though the tickets were refundable  
  • More than $13 billion in Iraq aid has been classified as wasted or stolen, another $7.8 billion cannot be accounted for
  • Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties 
  • Health care fraud is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $60 billion annually 

A GAO audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit card as improper, fraudulent or embezzled 

Unfortunately, these are small drops in a very big bucket – I don’t blame Democrats and I don’t blame Republicans or anyone in between – I blame the politicians who WE HAVE ELECTED! 

If these billions of reasons don’t justify term limits, then we’ll be stuck with the politicians that we voted for, who are making lots of money for themselves while they are irresponsibly wasting ours!

As the American journalist and satirist PJ O’Rourke once said, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” 

Have a nice day!






By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Have you noticed that peopled are on edge a bit more these days?  Every morning I read an article about road rage or someone going “postal” on a store clerk or delivery person.  A friend of ours who owns a small gift shop says that almost everyone who comes in is a bit chippy.  And pity the poor flight attendants working in this environment – in the past few months one had her two front teeth knocked out and another had her nose broken by unruly passengers.  Last week a friend and her husband attended an “ABBA” cover band concert at a church.  They were seated next to two twenty-something women who carried on their animated conversation long after the concert started.  Finally, unable to enjoy the concert due to their talking, my friend turned to the woman next to her and asked if they would please take their conversation out to the lobby.  To which the young woman responded, “We’re enjoying the concert.”  When my friend said that she was not because she couldn’t hear over their chatter, the young woman retorted, “Oh, shut up!”  My friend is about the nicest person you would want to meet so she let it drop.  I would have carried on a bit, but then I’m not as nice.

Still, I do have a working knowledge of manners and I have been appalled by how rude people have become.  It has apparently become a huge problem for business owners because, imagine this – their employees don’t like being treated like chattel.  I’ve seen a number of signs outside of restaurants and stores imploring customers to be kind.  The most popular sign says something to the effect of “Our service may be slow due to understaffing.  Please be nice to the people who have shown up for work.”  Even at our golf club, several members of the board of directors were recently accosted and verbally abused by members who disagreed with a policy decision.  We’ve been a member for 23 years and that is unheard of – until now.

There was a time, not so long ago, when people knew how to behave in public.  Whole generations of kids were taught to treat others as we would want to be treated.  Somehow that concept has been lost.  Some say that the COVID pandemic has caused much of the tension, but surely there were signs of it before 2020.   One psychologist has opined that rude behavior began with the advent of online discussions.  The anonymity one can achieve behind a computer screen allows for comments that would never occur in a face-to-face discussion.  Without any filters, people feel that they can say anything.  The pandemic, and the never-ending aftermath, has contributed to the extent that it has brought people to their breaking point.  The candid, often rude, comments once reserved for online, have now spilled over to restaurants, offices and, clearly, airplanes.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about school curriculums but I don’t see much about teaching kids the Golden Rule.  Perhaps we should bring back Judith Martin, or as she is better known, Miss Manners.  She has been writing a weekly column about good behavior since 1978.  She addresses everything from how to handle picky eaters at a dinner party to sidewalk etiquette.  As a society, we would be far better off if we all learned how to treat others with a bit more kindness and respect.  Maybe we could start with Congress.

Crusin’ Through the Pandemic

by Bob Sparrow

To misquote Samuel Clemens, “The reports of my possible death have been greatly exaggerated” . . . by me.  Yes, I’m happy to report that cruising and Mexico were both safe and fun as we arrived home alive and well, albeit a few pounds heavier.  OK, maybe more than a few!

Our cruise started in the Port of San Pedro, which, as mentioned by Suzanne in last week’s blog, the docks are filled with hundreds of thousands of shipping containers, yes, hundreds of thousands; while over 150 ships wait off shore to off-load more.  Reminding me that this Christmas could be the one that the Grinch actually steals.  But we’re not worrying about Christmas yet, Linda and I are headed to Cabo San Lucas, if we can navigate through all the ships anchored in the harbor, on a five-day cruise aboard the Grand Princess.  I’m guessing that Linda is thinking “24/7” or 5 with no other couples, only my spouse – yikes”!!  Oh, maybe that was me thinking that.  She was thinking about the casino!

As we set sail, (There really aren’t any sails) we see that we are far from the ship’s passenger capacity, which is 2800; in fact we are less than 25% full at 650 passengers! The crew numbered 1,150!

Aside from nearly a two-to-one crew-to-passenger ratio and a staff, from all parts of the world, that was friendly, accommodating and professional, here’s a few more things that made this cruise a success:

  • DSB (Don’t Stop Believin’)

    Great entertainment –a British Invasion group that was awesome, a Journey tribute band, DSB, a Hall & Oats tribute band, another 80s cover band (in case you’re wondering, the theme of the cruise was ‘The 80s’, which had me wondering if that wasn’t the average age of the passengers). It was close.

  • There were so many bars on board that, one day at sea, we decided we’d do a ‘Pub Crawl’ and count them.  We only got to seven . . . I think; we lost count, but we were proud to have maxed out our ‘unlimited’ drink package, which led me to wonder, how do you max out an unlimited drink package?  Well, we did and the only ‘crawling’ we ended up doing was back to our room.
  • We met some great people – including a couple that own a dinner theater in the Inland Empire where they perform. We’ll be hitting one of their shows soon.  We also met several awesome Veterans when we attended a Veterans-only gathering on board – one Vet was 99 years old and fought in World War II.  Thank you for your service!!!
  • Because of the small number of passengers, we never had to wait for anything or worry about getting a dinner reservation or a good seat for a show.
  • There were various classes on board, we both took a ‘line dancing’ class and then we followed our passions as I took a cooking class and Linda headed for the casino.

Our one complaint would be about the food – it was marginal at best, with the exceptions of a couple of good steak & lobster dinners at the Crown Room, and the pizza, that was good enough to have for breakfast!

Oh yeah, about our stop in Cabo San Lucas. We spent a couple of hours there walking through the harbor, where we were bombarded by vendors selling everything from sombreros to their sister, and then took a water taxi to ‘The Office’ a restaurant/bar around the corner from the harbor and right on the sand.  We had a ‘good day at the office’, then headed back to the boat.

All in all, a very fun experience that further whet our appetite for more cruising. We do have an Alaska cruise on the Majestic Princess next summer, so we’ll just have to remember to eat before we go.