Pine Nuts: She is queen of Lake Tahoe |

Pine Nuts: She is queen of Lake Tahoe

One lucky boy, I’ve had the pleasure of greeting Tahoe visitors aboard the Tahoe Queen for several summers now. Well, actually, it’s been since the Dead Sea was just getting sick. They come from New Caledonia and Old Jericho and everywhere in between, and they never go home disappointed.

Emerald Bay has become my church, and I go to church twice a day. The reverence Emerald Bay commands is comparable to that of the Sistine Chapel. In my mind Emerald Bay remains unchallenged as Mother Nature’s supreme ice sculpture.

And there’s no end to the entertainment the Queen’s passengers provide. Picture twins Tara and Katie, on their fifth birthday, singing and dancing to “Happy” with their two dogs, Biscuit and Bobo, a scene that would make a cow laugh, if we had a cow on board. We’ve had various service animals on board, including a Dachshund named Chopin, whom I was told could play the piano, but we’ve never had a cow on board the Queen that I know of.

This summer, as I climbed aboard the old girl for my first cruise, I was greeted with a broad smile from one of the Sharpshooter photographers, who introduced himself as Marius, pulled open his shirt and proudly displayed a tattoo of beautiful calligraphy cascading across his chest, Mark Twain’s words, “The air that angels breathe.” He could have knocked me over with a feather.

I smiled a heartfelt smile and told him, “Son, were my pain threshold not so low, I would take down the name of that tattoo artist and pay him a king’s ransom for the twin to that tattoo.”

In another touching moment a lady told me her father taught comparative literature at Notre Dame for 35 years. Sadly, he recently passed away and was buried as per his instructions with his copy of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” upon his breast.

As you know, the lake is low. The Queen draws about five feet and the mouth of Emerald Bay is now about nine feet deep. Will we be able to cruise into Emerald Bay in September? We might create an over-under wager at Harrah’s as to the day this summer when we might not be able to cruise into Emerald Bay. If the designated day is Sept. 1, I’ll take the over.

We’ve seen the lake drop below her natural rim before. I’ve seen the Truckee River so dry…

“How dry was it?”

I saw a trout leap out of that riverbed and suck on a cactus plant.

But the good news is Tahoe’s favorite weather system, El Niño, is heading our way. It might turn out to be a Pineapple Express, but we’ll take it. I’ll have to consult the Storm King, Mark McLaughlin, when I see him, for Mark knows storms like James Rawie knows Mozart.

Meanwhile, our Lady of the Lake, the Tahoe Queen, is enjoying the regal life she has enjoyed for a quarter of a century now, cruising the blue waters of the Lake of the Sky with adoring fans from the world over. She is a lady, and there can be no higher compliment than that.

To learn more about McAvoy Layne visit

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