The Tiger is within my heart. I met him already.
Nestled on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is known for world-class recreation and incredible mountain views. I was deeply attracted to its amazing landscape and beautiful crystal-clear water, and I was particularly interested to do SUP (Stand-up Paddle) boarding and clear kayaking – a unique and fun experience. I might even meet an adventurous tiger on this huge lake, a scene straight from the movie “Life of Pi”, where a person is adrift in a small boat with a real tiger. I bring this concept to start my tiger adventure this summer – Life of Stephy.
When I arrived, due to strong winds, my plans changed. I decided to explore other unknown places. Early morning of the first day, I was at Cathedral Gorge State Park, a hidden gem in Nevada, and no one there. I stood around those unique spires and buff-colored cliffs, shoes were on the ash, and it seemed as if different chapels were around me, full of silence and solemn, a good place for meditation.
The tiger image always floated in my mind. I was thinking, when I would meet him? I brought this “tiger” thought with me as I hit the road again, this time to Reno, Nevada.
Driving around 450 miles one way was an enjoyable experience.Most of the time my car was the only one on the road. I gazed through the front windshield, to the vast mountains far away, with sparse grass on both sides of the road. It felt like the middle of nowhere, and I “forgot” how a long drive I had to my destination. I actually touched the freedom spirit and had precious time to reflect on my background, past experiences and values, all factors that created the current me. This might be why I loved this road trip.
On late afternoon of July 3rd, I picked up a stand-up paddleboard from SUP Tahoe, a local rental company. (I strongly recommend this rental company: the price is reasonable and you are able to pick the board up the day before your rental or return on the next day, just for an additional $15).
I drove around the whole of Lake Tahoe at least five times, the board was on my blue car as we crossed through Nevada and California. Along Lake Tahoe, we witnessed different boats on the clear water. The most surprising thing happened along the way, I met my dream adventurous car – a VW Bus. I was like the happiest kid, as I had found one of most precious things on my adventure, and it made me smile for days.
I parked my car along the lake, feeling the breeze and warm sunshine, closer to my inner soul. Along the way, I met different nice strangers who helped me to load and unload the heavy paddle board. Their kindness made this adventure more special.
On July 4th, I explored Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe thoroughly with my paddleboard. (Just a friendly reminder, Sand Harbor is a very popular place to visit, and it gets full fast. I was in line at the door at 6:00 a.m., and many cars were already there. I recommend getting there as early as you can.)
At the beginning on the water, I did not find my balance to stand up on the paddleboard. I used my arms while lying and kneeing on the paddleboard instead, until I rowed to the middle of the lake. The strong sun reflected off my whole body. I listened to the sound of the waves, all the sunlight reflected on the water and the wind swaying, sparkling, with the magnificent mountains. I actually did not know where I was.
I rowed, no destination in mind, just going forward. It challenged my physical and mental strength to the limit. In the middle of nowhere, on this huge lake, only a tiny adventurous girl with a small paddle board, sometimes I did not stand up and balance on the paddle board, so I felt a little nervous, I decided to lay and let the board float on the water naturally. Sometimes the strong wind blew, the board moved unbalanced on the water, and even though I was not in the wilderness as I had been in my previous adventures, I still felt a little vulnerable.
I gazed at the mountains and blue sky, the spiritual energy beneath the current brought utmost calmness to me. My inner “tiger” pushed me to be calm, to just keep going, and always row, letting the paddle board took me somewhere. At that time, I realized that I met him – my tiger — and he was with me to complete this adventure together. I was not afraid, I was the cloud, the sun, the sky, looking at myself in awe from high above. It was a sense of infinite expansion in all unseen dimensions at certain moments.
I shaped a new perspective of “Life of Pi”. I experienced a “Life of Stephy”: I enjoyed the time with him floating on the water for five hours. I stayed balance on the paddle board at the end. The universe unveiled one of the most important lessons to me: the adventurous tiger was inside of me, with strength and bravery coming from within me. It gives me courage and power, when you are on an unknown journey.
In this adventure, I explored Lake Tahoe deeply again in an entirely transparent kayak on my last day. (I would recommend the local rental company: Wild Society, if you would like to do clear kayaking too.)
I saw various shades of turquoise shores and gorgeous private coves. This time, I just relaxed, as I slowed down and observed the picturesque landscape around me. I looked down to below the surface from the clear kayak, Wow, the water is very clear, sometimes I could see the bottom. I gazed far away, the blue sky combined with the glassy water with mountains, and it seemed like I was in a paradise. I touched the water. Wow, it is very cold, even in a hot summertime, it makes Tahoe more unique.
I felt so fresh and alive in my body and soul, I found the calm in the chaos. I saw Lake Tahoe in a new light: it can be calmness or can be adventurous, the decision is yours.
I drove 455 miles back again, on the highway, the last road near the end of my trip, and my mind was recharged. I met a tiger, a dream VW bus and different nice people, all three precious elements the adventure and life gave me.
Most importantly, I brought the tiger back home too. He is part of me, his strong and brave heart had called me. We met each other. I hope, my fellow adventurers, you find and meet your tiger too, maybe a unicorn or a lion. We may not find it always. But at least we will inch closer to it, and in the process, to ourselves. After all, this long journey of ours, even though it takes place in the outer world, is a journey within!