“The Final Chapter – A Labor of Love”: Breeze and her dog Marley finish leg 10, completing their 72 mile journey standup paddleboarding Lake Tahoe’s entire shoreline.
LEG 10: Kings Beach to Hidden Beach
Wow, this summer flew by. With a two week trip to Colorado to visit my parents at the beginning of September, returning to the Lake filled with smoke from the King Fire, and then a week of cold and rainy weather, I started to get a little stressed out about finishing my paddle around Lake Tahoe. It wasn’t until the first weekend in October that that last leg was finally feasible.
I don’t know if it’s paddleboarding itself, the beauty of Lake Tahoe, or just getting away from work and real life and clearing my head, but after a short hiatus I was almost desperate to get back on the water. Evidently Marley was too. As I loaded the car up that Saturday morning, Marley waited patiently in the driveway. I’m not even kidding, her tail started wagging when she saw me start to muscle our board onto my car. I know dogs can have surprisingly large vocabularies, but I never would have thought “paddle” would have been a word in Marley’s.
This trip was understandably more emotional for me than the others. It was a weird feeling to be finishing my journey, and while I was excited to get on the water, I was sort of dreading it all being over. My initial plan was to paddle alone (well, with Marley of course), but I changed my mind a day or two before. While at my office, my friend and fellow Realtor, Margaret, told me that I inspired her. My contacts get cloudy with tears just thinking about it. That’s the most mind-blowing, incredible thing to hear if you think about it. It really shook me. As Margaret and I talked about my paddle she said how she wished she could go along with me. That’s when I decided I wouldn’t go alone.
That Saturday, Margaret would become the proud paddler of my very first Lakeshore board— the bright green original Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride that I bought on Craigslist from a guy that definitely fibbed about its age and its condition, the board that connected me to the guys at Lakeshore, the board that pretty much made this all happen. Turns out Margaret looks pretty good on bright lime green— a match made in Tahoe heaven.
Margaret parked her car at Hidden beach (in that dirt parking area that I have never ever been lucky enough to snag a spot in!!) and then we drove my car, loaded with the boards and Marley, to Kings Beach. We parked, hustled Marley and all of our stuff across the non-dog friendly beach, and got onto the water. Oh. Forgot to mention Margaret had never paddled before and I was about to drag her along on a 8.5 mile paddle! After a little shakiness and a mile or so of finding her sea legs, Margaret looked like a seasoned pro.
Coming around the point from Kings Beach to Crystal Bay, we were cruising. The lake was flat calm— absolutely breathtakingly perfect. We began to peel our layers of October-appropriate clothing off as the Indian Summer sun pounded down on us. We paddled past the waterfront homes of Crystal Bay, slowing only to say hello to a homeowner swimming in her chilly turquoise back yard, and a bit later to chat with a couple of kayakers who offered words of encouragement.
Marley’s “Captain Moo” title was reinstated on this particular day. As we approached Incline Beach, she made her only exit of the trip to swim ashore for a quick potty break. As we approached the Hyatt on Incline Beach, we paddled past another wedding. I held my breath as we paddled by, right as the bride was being prepped to start her walk. I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of Marley crashing another wedding, but to my surprise she sat calmly, taking in the scenery and basking in the sunshine. It’s like she knew this was the last leg of our journey and she meant business.
It wasn’t long before we met up with Lakeshore Sean, and a bit later my friend Katie who both wanted to join us for our last leg. We decided to stop to eat lunch on our boards in front of the Hyatt. Margaret and I sprayed each other down with sunscreen while Marley the crawdad hunter focused intensely on the shallow water below her.
After our little break we were on our way again to continue the remaining mile and a half or so to Hidden Beach. As we came around the bay, passing over old moorings that looked like treasure chests (as Margaret pointed out), and paddling along the incredible shoreline of Incline Village, it was hard not to get lost in the moment. And then there it was in the distance: Hidden Beach. The place this all started and the place it would end. As we paddled, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes behind my sunglasses. I was overcome with a barrage of feelings that seemed to clump together in my throat all at once. Sean and Katie told me to paddle ahead of them, and as we came around the last little point of Incline and into Hidden Beach, I remember saying “That’s it Moo, we’re done. We did it”. In the distance were a handful of my friends on the beach waiting for our arrival. And then that was it. It was over. We were done.
Once on the beach, Marley took an obligatory number two (next to probably the only non-doglover on the East Shore) while I retrieved the bottle of champagne that Margaret and I had hidden in the bushes that morning. Surrounded by some of the most important people in my life (and with many more there in spirit) I popped the cork, christening my beloved board with champagne as you would a million dollar yacht. Standing in the water with our plastic cups of champagne, we cheersed to the end of my adventure.
Sun-beaten and tired, we decided to head back down the hill to Reno. After driving back to Kings Beach, switching the boards over to my car and saying goodbye, Margaret and I went our separate ways. As I sat there in my car in the Kings Beach parking lot, I completely lost it. Emotions from an entire summer of personal growth and exploration came to a head in that moment, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Tears flowed down my face as I drove home to Reno, a release I had probably needed for a while.
You know the feeling you get when you finish a great book? You almost feel a little lost, a little disappointed, kind of sad? That’s the best way I can describe how I felt that day. When I mentioned that to Lakeshore Sean he offered some great advice that really resonated with me. He told me that my book was far from over, and that this adventure was just the first chapter. What an amazing thought— it makes me excited just thinking about what could be next.
The things I learned about life and about myself this Summer rocked my world. I never could have guessed a new hobby would open so many doors and impact my life in such a positive way. The emotional awakening that I experienced is one that I can’t describe in a way to do it justice, but I know my growth is evident to the people that know me well.
This being the final blog for the final leg of my journey, here’s my final thought for anyone who is reading: Don’t let your life pass you by without being excited about something. If you haven’t found your thing yet, keep looking. Embrace what makes you happy and in turn you will learn to embrace life. This was more than paddle boarding, this was about finding something that I don’t want to let go of— something that connects the dots in my story and makes me excited to see what Chapter Two has in store.
I am absolutely overwhelmed and moved by the outpouring of support I have received from my friends and family, and completely inspired and touched by the beautiful things people have said to me. The Facebook posts, shared status updates, texts, calls, high fives, letters, and the overall positivity I have received has blown me away. It seemed silly to expect anyone to care about a paddle boarding trip around the lake, but the support I was given was unlike anything I have ever experienced.
So now this is where I say thank you. Thank you to Lakeshore for being so open-minded and excited about my ideas and for allowing me the opportunity to share my story. Thank you to my family and friends for the shuttling to and from, the paddling, the rescuing, and the love. And last but not least, thank you to my Marley, the best crawdad-hunting, wedding-crashing, poop-taking, ship-abandoning, Captain, best friend and companion I could ever ask for.
About Breeze Turner
Breeze is a transplant from Anguilla, a little British island in the Northeastern Caribbean. She spent most of her childhood on the water, snorkeling, surfing, waterskiing, and exploring, until moving to the US for school. In 2010, Breeze moved to Reno, where she works as a Realtor.
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