Rambling Roadside Lodge
You can't miss the place if you're driving to Tahoe from Reno. The highway nearly touches the porch. There's something a little Route 66 about the front of the lodge, with cars whizzing by. But it's all pines, cabins, beach and lake in the back.
There's also a parking lot on the side and back, but that's a good thing. It was a treat after staying at a South Lake Tahoe's Marriott, with 29-dollar per day, valet parking. We parked right by the restaurant's deck and used the stairs in back to reach our second floor room.
Both windows were open a crack, letting in some fresh air... which was needed. The furniture and TV were dated, but there was a built in with microwave, fridge and coffee maker. The US Forest Service now owns the Zephyr Lodge and Resort, so the accommodations were more modest in style and price than most Tahoe resorts.
Stairs Going Down
There was no elevator, but we did have indoor stairs. The lodge office was located in the gift shop to the right. I'm not sure about the grand doors on the left. I'm guessing those fairytale doors lead to a banquet hall. There had to be some place for that bride to go after she changed into her gown... in the room next to ours!
This space between the gift shop and restaurant at least had a few couches, but there was no cozy lounging space, like you expect in park lodges. That made me more curious about the history from a roadside inn to a lake resort.
There were lots of old photos, but I could find very little history on the lodge. So many park lodges have young staff and they can never fill in the blanks. This photo from 1939, shows a sign saying "Zephyr Cove Beach" above the door.
Zephyr Cove House
Here's a photo from the menu. There's a brief mention of Andrew Gardner, who first opened the Zephyr Cove House in 1862. I think maybe this house (or inn?) became a store with gas pumps and the resort lodge was expanded later. But that's sort of a guess. I can't believe in this Googling Age, I could find so little history.
Our Room on the Right
So all I know is, the resort opened in the '30's and our room, with 2 dormer windows was on the right, above the restaurant. Pretty sweet looking building, even without knowing the history.
Behind the lodge we found cabins and a mile of beach. For a Friday in October the lake was lovely and quiet. The M.S. Dixie II Sternwheeler had just come in from a tour. The paddle boats were all lined up, but the beach restaurant and store were closed.
A Few Tourists
The air was perfect down by the water. I tried to imagine this beach in the summer when US 50 is jammed with tourists.
Bar & Restaurant
The recently updated dining room and bar seemed to be getting some local business in the afternoon. Zephyr Cove has over 500 residents, so this might be just the place to go at the end of a work week.
Dining at 7
But the locals seemed to be all gone by 7. Luckily we didn't wait any longer, since there were a couple tables finishing meals. They might have been tempted to close had we not walked in. We got a table right by the fireplace and ordered a Rueben and Cobb salad. The food and service was quite decent, but even with a fire we didn't feel compelled to linger.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!