Kevin MacMillan: Create your own perfect Tahoe summer day | SierraSun.com

Kevin MacMillan: Create your own perfect Tahoe summer day

"Summer … turns me upside down. Summer, summer, summer — it's like a merry-go-round."

This memorable intro hook to the 1984 classic Cars song "Magic" probably best describes my love affair with the warmest months on the calendar — and Lake Tahoe is without a doubt the merry-go-round sitting at the center of the outdoor amusement park that is our backyard here in the scenic Sierra.

Like many locals and visitors this past holiday weekend, I was out and about to enjoy the spectacular weather (it didn't snow on Memorial Day for once!) and have fun outdoors.

From dining at restaurants like Burger Me! in Truckee to disc golfing both the Truckee River Regional Park course and the (rather tough) Sierra College course to hosting a fun-filled barbecue, it was a picture-perfect weekend.

But that's just the tip of the sunny iceberg. We have a saying at Truckee and Tahoe that many of us live by: "Work Hard. Play Hard." Imagine a day that lets you paddleboard along Lake Tahoe's blue waters by morning, hit the links for nine holes by lunch, bust out the boots for an afternoon hike on our countless miles of world-class trails and hop on the bike to enjoy an evening of lake-front dining and top-tier entertainment — all underneath a vibrant umbrella of shining Sierra stars.

What if you followed that the next day with a morning round of disc golf in Tahoe Vista, then a photo shoot above Donner Lake on the Rainbow Bridge, then lunch in historic downtown Truckee before heading south to Emerald Bay for a mini kayak session up close and personal with the Vikingsholm museum, followed by dinner on the lake at Riva Grill in South Lake Tahoe and capped by viewing the majestic sun setting over the lake from a boat anchored peacefully near the famed 17th hole at the golf course at Edgewood Tahoe?

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Then, what if on the next day … well, you get the point.

If you happen to be new to the area, here's something you should know: Summer at Tahoe and Truckee will grab you, and you're going to soon find it's difficult to let go. Ask a few longtime locals about why they ended up living here, and it won't be long before you're told something along the lines of, "well, I came here to ski. But then I stayed for a summer and, well, I never looked back."

Whether you're a visitor, second-home owner, lifer, longtime local or fresh-face local (my term for those living here for five years or more; myself, I've got seven under my belt on the North Shore), it's hard to deny a simple fact of life here — there is nothing in this world that can match up to a perfect Tahoe summer day.

And why is that? Because every single day gives you the opportunity to create a new "perfect." It's so cliché, but I'll say it anyway — the opportunities truly are endless.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and go create your own perfect Tahoe summer day. You thought Tuesday was incredible? Well, just wait until you see what Wednesday has in store.

OH … AND ONE MORE THING

With summer here, I want to dole out some advice to visitors (and probably locals, too) about three of my pet peeves:

1. BUTT OUT: If you choose to smoke, no worries. But what is a problem is when you stomp your butts out and leave them on the ground or lying on the beach. Please, put them fully out and toss them in the trash. And don't ever, ever, ever, EVER toss a lit cigarette or cigar or anything with an ember on the ground or out of your moving car.

2. PACK IT OUT: Please do come out to our beaches and hiking trails and other recreation hot-spots. And have a blast while you're here. But it's unacceptable and lazy and terrible for the environment if you leave your plastic bags and beer cans strewn about. Remember what your parents told you: Clean up after yourself!

3. TAKE A CHILL PILL: Summer driving is going to have its challenges. Tourists will drive 10 mph in Kings Beach, and they will have no clue how to navigate the Bridge Street/Donner Pass Road intersection in Truckee. But what I find frustrating is the over-aggressive motorists blaring horns and speeding and tailgating to get their points across. Me? I opt to take a deep breath, turn the music up a couple notches and drive patiently. Don't worry — you'll get to where you're going.

— Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers; he may be reached for comment at kmacmillan@sierrasun.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin1MacMillan. This column was adapted from the current Summer 2014 edition of Tahoe Magazine, a joint publication of the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, Lake Tahoe Action, Sierra Sun and Tahoe Daily Tribune. It's published annually Memorial Day Weekend; look for a copy today at newsstands around Truckee/Tahoe.