Wondering when giving/Receiving massages will be a healthy option

Wondering when giving/Receiving massages will be a healthy option

One of the big things to go by the wayside during this pandemic is healthy touch. No more hugs, not even a handshake. Massage, well, that definitely is not happening.

I’ve been a certified massage therapist since 1997; always working part time. However, there was a time when it was a major part of my income. Now the table is collecting dust. The health benefits of massage have been proven. I’m clearly an advocate for massage and all other forms of healthy touch.

Thoroughly cleaning the table in between clients is the norm, as is not reusing sheets. I would only reuse sheets for couples at their urging/insistence. What I didn’t do before is clean the legs of the massage table. With clients breathing through the head rest and possibly spraying germs that way, I can see that being something that will get cleaned every time going forward. Another change will be washing the blanket after each use.

There is no way for clients to be masked when on their stomach. It would be possible to have them on their sides and back, like what is done during a pregnancy massage. Still, it’s hard to imagine a mask would be relaxing during a massage. I’m guessing I’ll wear one for most clients even though massage is physical work. It certainly can’t hurt.

The California Massage Therapy Council, which regulates therapists in the state, told us in mid-March we can’t work. If we do, we could lose our certification.

This is an email CAMTC sent to members, “… until the risk of the crisis passes, we are in an historic situation and the risk of contagion—not only for the client and therapist, but for those with whom we subsequently come in contact—makes it necessary for massage to cease until safety can be guaranteed. Thousands are dying and millions are infected worldwide with COVID-19. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is a life or death situation. Therefore, if CAMTC receives notice that CAMTC certificate holders are continuing to provide massage services while the stay at home order is in place, we will report these businesses and individuals to the local law enforcement authorities with whom we collaborate statewide, and we will take steps to potentially revoke their CAMTC certification.”

I wonder what would happen if I were to massage my mom. After all, that was her main Mother’s Day gift. No one has been on my table since last fall, so I’m not worried about her being on a “contaminated” table. At some point we need to start thinking for ourselves, while being responsible to ourselves and those we come into contact with. The government doesn’t have all the answers, nor should it have all the power.

Memorial ‘hidden’ in forest on South Shore honors plane crash victims

Memorial ‘hidden’ in forest on South Shore honors plane crash victims

A plaque honors the two people aboard a plane that crashed in the forest of Lake Tahoe in 1934. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Tucked away in a not so remote part of U.S. Forest Service property on the South Shore is a granite rock paying tribute to two part-time residents who died in a plane crash in 1934.

Likenesses of John E. Horten, 32, and Betty A. Bouchet, 23, are on the plaque. He distinctly has a leather pilot’s helmet and goggles that would be common in that era. Along with their names is the date of the crash—Sept. 20, 1934. Horten was piloting the Moth biplane when it crashed. They were both burned beyond recognition.

The memorial is in the Gardner Mountain area not far from Fallen Leaf Lake Road. Nothing is there to explain what happened, no signs point the way to find this remembrance. It’s roughly at the spot where the plane went down, according to a local historian.

A plot of land on U.S. Forest Service property on the South Shore memorializes two people who died in a plane crash. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

At the time there were a number of dirt airstrips in the area. Some more primitive than others. Reports at the time said Horten first wanted to land at Johnson landing field, but then headed toward to the unfinished Dunlap field.

Witnesses told the Nevada State Journal newspaper the plane appeared to have engine trouble and nose-dived from 1,000 feet. United Press at the time said the plane was at 100 feet before dropping from the sky.

Ninety years ago people mostly lived in the Lake Tahoe Basin on a seasonal basis. Horten was from Burlingame and Bouchet from San Francisco. According to the Nevada State Journal, he was a butler for George Pope and she was a governess for the Hellmans. The Popes and Hellmans were wealthy families from the Bay Area whose legacies continue to this day. Think the Pope Estate on the South Shore and the Hellman-Ehrman mansion on the West Shore.

Multiple components part of TRPA’s master transit plan

Multiple components part of TRPA’s master transit plan

As Tahoe transportation officials look to improve transit in the basin, they are trying to cater to three distinct users—residents, especially those who are dependent on public bus service; those who want to get to recreation sites and seasonal users; and those getting to Tahoe from outside the area.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency officials are working on updating the Regional Transportation Plan, which is done every four years. The last one was approved in 2017. It’s a blueprint for the next 25 years. TRPA is hosting five webinars on consecutive Mondays to talk about various aspects of the RTP. On April 27, TRPA planner Kira Smith focused on transit.

Using cell phone and other data, planners know people’s destinations change seasonally. Ski resorts are the big recreation draw in winter, while beaches and marinas are the popular choice in summer. Highway 50 from Placerville to the South Shore is the busiest corridor for regional trips to the basin, accounting for 30 percent of visitors.

Transportation officials are using a layered approach, realizing that if in basin transit doesn’t work well to get people where they want to go, then regional transit would be a disaster. 

The pandemic sped up Tahoe Transportation District’s quest to be free. This will continue at least through 2022. The North Shore’s TART bus service had already stopped collecting fares. TTD is adding seven electric buses to its fleet, with three coming this year. Lake Tahoe Community College now has an overhead charging station for these buses. For those living in Meyers, regular bus service still doesn’t exist. Don’t expect it to return in the near term.

Various transit plans for the future in the greater Lake Tahoe area. (Graphic: TRPA)

One thing people on the call asked for was more bike racks on local buses. Some racks carry three, many only two bikes. TRPA said it was unsafe to extend the bikes longer. Trailers might be option; like what bike shops use to transport gear for customers.

One thing that will be considered in this plan that hasn’t been in previous ones is microtransit. These private businesses operate similar to Uber and Lyft. People can call for a ride for a defined area. This is also known as transit on demand. The vehicle is often an SUV, van or shuttle bus. This was the second year the Squaw Valley area used Mountaineer in this capacity. In the first year, the company provided more than 80,000 rides, according to Smith.

Smith said microtransit service is a condition of the permit for the Stateline event center that was approved this year by TRPA and Douglas County commissioners. It will service riders from the Al Tahoe area of South Lake Tahoe to Round Hill Pines in Nevada.

Short-term goals for the RTP include:

  • Transit that is free for users
  • Electric buses
  • 30-minute service or less on core routes
  • Extended hours
  • Seasonal microtransit
  • Specialized medical transportation.

Long-term goals are:

  • High-frequency core routes
  • Cross-lake ferry
  • Service to recreation sites
  • Local water taxis
  • Year-round microtransit
  • Mobility hubs at key urban centers
  • Regional service to neighboring cities.

“The goal for the 25-year build-out is to keep local routes in the basin free to the user. Some regional routes might not be free,” Smith said.

She added that the biggest hurdle is securing long-term funding sources.

Future topics:

  • Technology: May 4, noon-12:45pm—Learn more about real time travel information, smart streetlights, and how new data is informing transportation planning at Tahoe. Register here.
  • Communities: May 11, noon- 12:45pm—Learn more about how transit, trails, and technology are used to transform Lake Tahoe’s transportation system. Register here.
  • Innovative Transportation: May 18, noon-12:45pm—In a special fifth installment of the series, an expert panel of nonprofit and business representatives will explore ways that innovative thinking, fresh ideas and pilot programs can help advance Tahoe transportation in the immediate future, while ensuring new programs protect the lake environment. Register here.
  • Bike trails was the April 20 topic.

Time to jump-Start the economy with stimulus checks

Time to jump-Start the economy with stimulus checks

Stimulus checks have been arriving for the past two weeks and will continue to until all those allowed to get one have one. I’m pretty sure most people know where those dollars are going to go, but in case you need some ideas here goes.

First, let me tell you where my check will be going. I’m investing it in my own outdoor books to sell to you and everyone you know. I’m offering free shipping through May to anywhere in the United States. (More about the U.S. Postal Service later.) You see, being an author is my current job. If I don’t sell books, I don’t have money. I know there are a lot of changes with unemployment, but author doesn’t seem to be a category that is covered. Your book choices are The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes ($15), Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Treks ($10), and Lake Tahoe Trails For All Seasons: Must-Do Hiking and Snowshoe Treks ($20); the latter is a combo of the first two. Every guestroom in the greater Lake Tahoe area should have the combo book, as should every vacation rental; everyone who visits Lake Tahoe should have these books. Email me at kr@kathrynreed.com to order your books.

Once you’ve filled all your book orders, don’t stop spending. Buy other books. Other authors need money, too.

Then think about the local businesses you like and think about all the people you know who are out of work or who are still working. If they are still working, they are pretty damn essential. Instead of waiting until the end of the year to thank some of those workers (mail carrier, garbage peeps, etc.) buy them a gift card now to say thank you. It could be from someplace that is open or someplace that plans to reopen.

This is a win-win-win. You are stimulating the economy by spending the stimulus check and not just socking it away. The business where you buy the gift card from has some cash. The person who receives it will undoubtedly be grateful.

Consider spending the money on extras at the grocery store and then go around giving out eggs, toilet paper, rice and other hard to find items as well as staples to neighbors. Maybe you put them out front so people can pick them up as they go by. I know in my neighborhood there are a lot more people out walking than usual. Or if you know a neighbor or friend or even a stranger who could use some help, perhaps buy them a gift card to a grocery store or to a restaurant.

You probably have a favorite charity. Most nonprofits are hurting right now. See what they need, what their workers need. Your hair dresser, massage therapist and other personal care professionals have been sidelined by this virus. Most probably sell gift cards. Maybe you tip double on that first visit when they reopen, or maybe buy some product in the shop.

Support your favorite media outlet. Advertisers are dropping because they are out of business. Don’t let that media outlet be a victim of this pandemic, too.

Another place I’m spending my stimulus cash is at the post office. First, I’m going to have all those books to send that you all are going to be buying directly from me. Second, I’ve decided to send one personal correspondence a week. It’s not much, but so much more than I usually do. You see, the U.S. Postal Service is in a world of hurt. It was financially troubled before this coronavirus, but it’s even worse now.  The amount of “junk mail” in my post office box is nil these days. No longer am I receiving grocery store ads. That junk mail provided a ton of revenue for the USPS.

I love receiving mail. It’s how I get some book money from retailers. While I could take a picture and deposit those checks, I choose to send them to my bank. Fifty-five cents is quite a bargain for a first class stamp. This month I received a letter from a friend in Switzerland. We first met when we were traveling in South America in 2001. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. It took a few of those first class stamps to reply to her. I can’t imagine not having mail delivery. Well, I can actually. I didn’t have it in Mexico and I hated it.

So, here’s another idea for spending that stimulus money—buy stamps. Really! One of my favorite gifts to high school graduates is a roll of stamps. (That’s 100 stamps.) I hated buying stamps in college. I also knew my parents loved to hear from me. There is something more personal about a mailed letter compared to an email or text.

I also use the Postal Service to vote. I have for years. This is a huge reason the federal government should find a way to ensure the U.S. Postal Service survives. People in the military vote by mail all the time. There are counties in California that only do mail-in ballots. Oregon has been using vote by mail exclusively since voters approved a measure in 1998. With voting being such a fundamental component of what it means to be a U.S. citizen, to not be able to do so by mail is absurd.

Now go order some books, buy gift cards, purchase stamps—stimulate the economy with that stimulus check.

Environment’s future completely up to the will of the people

Environment’s future completely up to the will of the people

Air and water quality in various places in the world are improving during the pandemic. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

As the world struggles to cope with a health crisis, the Earth is healing.

Remove people from the equation and the environment begins to heal herself. Air quality from the San Francisco Bay Area to Fresno and thousands of miles away to the Himalayas is better today than it was a month ago. People in India for the first time in decades are seeing the famous mountain range from 100 miles away.

In China, where the COVID-19 virus originated, air pollution dropped so dramatically it was recorded on satellite images by NASA. Scientists at NASA said the Wuhan area first saw the reduction in nitrogen dioxide pollution before the same results spread across the country.

People are not driving or flying as much. Factories are pumping out fewer pollutants as their workloads have been curtailed.

The canals of Venice, Italy, are clearer than most can remember. With less boat traffic, sediment is staying at the bottom and not being churned to the top. It will be interesting to see if the water of Lake Tahoe benefits from fewer boats considering this time of year boat traffic is minimal. Boat launches have been closed during the coronavirus crisis because government officials believed boat inspections should not be taking place now.

It’s appropriate Earth Day comes during this pandemic. It’s also significant that it was 50 years ago that April 22 was designated Earth Day. It is considered the birth of the environmental movement as we know it.

On a trail last week, that is walking distance from my home, two coyotes started following me and AJ. Were they stalking us or reclaiming their forest? Black bears, coyotes and bobcats are out in force in Yosemite National Park. It’s not that there are more animals, it’s that they are roaming in the open without people around since the park closed because of the virus. California is not alone in this phenomena. In South Africa’s Kruger National Park lions have been seen napping on the roads. Now is the time of year so many animals emerge from their winter slumber. Without people around, they are venturing places where we usually are – like streets. All the more reason to be diligent about not leaving human food out that could be accessible by these wild animals.

Clearly, people are impacting the environment in negative ways. Now is the time to think about how we could make these changes sustainable, long lasting. Why go back to how things were? We were breathing that nasty air. It was getting into our water supply, contaminating our soil, and the foods we eat. We need to make changes individually (maybe work from home one day a week or more going forward), regionally (better mass transit?), as a nation (flights must have a certain number of seats filled to fly?), and globally (suggestions?).

It is alarming President Donald Trump has ramped up his hatred for the environment by rolling back environmental regulations during this pandemic. It’s one of the consistencies throughout his presidency–disregard for the environment. Last week the order came down for the Environmental Protection Agency to loosen regulations for oil and coal-fired power plants when it comes to releasing mercury and other toxic metals.

As the New York Times reported April 16, “Over the past few weeks as the nation struggled with the coronavirus, the administration has also rushed to loosen curbs on automobile tailpipe emissions, opted not to strengthen a regulation on industrial soot emissions and moved to drop the threat of punishment to companies that kill birds ‘incidentally’.”

The Trump administration has also banned the U.S. Forest Service from conducting controlled burns in California, Oregon and Washington during the pandemic. This is a tool to reduce the risk of wildfires. Wildfire season in California could be deadly again as the state looks to be in another drought.

“I have no understanding as to why they made that decision,” Thom Porter, CalFire director, told Reuters. “We’re very much in support of continuing our fuel-management projects. We see those as critical to protecting lives and property.”

It’s time to listen to the scientists and other experts to preserve the health of our Earth.

Supporting independent bookstores also helps authors

Supporting independent bookstores also helps authors

The last Saturday of April is designated Independent Bookstore Day. Not this year. It’s been pushed back to Aug. 29 in the hopes bookstores will actually be open.

Reading is one thing people have been doing more than usual in all the doom and gloom/self-isolation of coronavirus. This is good for authors, publishers and book sellers. It’s also good for the people doing the reading.

Books available by Kathryn Reed.

IndieBookstoreDay.com says, “Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent. In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.”

When I went on a book tour of sorts last summer for The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes, I was truly shocked by how many independent bookstores exist. (This was in Northern California and Northern Nevada.) For years it seemed like the only news was how bookstores were shuttering their doors as people opted to read eBooks or shop Amazon. All but a few of the owners of these stores were gracious with their time. I understand they get bombarded by authors/publishers all the time to carry one more book. Many shared words of encouragement to me as a first-time author. They offered me time to do signings and presentations. It is a partnership after all between author/publisher and seller. We both make more money when books are bought via a bookstore. A lot more money.

That doesn’t mean I’m anti-Amazon. So many of my sales have come from the online retailer. I am grateful for that platform as well. I just want people to understand when they have a choice where to buy a book, buy it directly from the author, second best is from a local retailer. After all, it’s not just bookstores that carry books. I am so thankful several specialty shops are carrying my hiking book.

Until things return to normal, whatever that may look like post-corona, I will mostly be selling Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Treks and Lake Tahoe Trails For All Season: Must-Do Hiking and Snowshoe Treks directly and online. (They were published this year. The latter is a combo of the hiking and snowshoe book.) I have plenty of the hiking books, too. If you aren’t able to go to a local retailer right now, consider using IndieBound to find a book. (It’s a great resource even without a pandemic.) Put in the book title and your ZIP code to find a book retailer that has the book you want. If it’s not in stock, they can order it. There are bookstores that are mailing books even while the doors are closed. Don’t ever forget your local bookstores.

The latest online option is Bookshop. It’s an alternative to Amazon for book buyers. Bookstores can use this an online option, and it’s available to all consumers. Financially, this is a better option for authors and bookstores. Be sure to bookmark it.

Disturbing shopping observations; still playing outdoors

Disturbing shopping observations; still playing outdoors

It’s hard to stay sanitized with no product to buy. Rice, baking goods, cup-of-noodles, and tofu are also in short supply. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Shopping in this era of COVID-19 is like a lesson in sociology. It will be interesting to see what historians write about us in the years to come as it relates to all aspects of this pandemic.

I’ve only had one quasi-unpleasant exchange with a friend since my return to Tahoe at the end of March. She took issue with me snowshoeing with friends a few days ago. Six of us drove three vehicles and stayed 6 feet apart. The few people we passed on the trail were that distance as well as someone went off trail to wait for the others to go by.

Auto Zone uses caution tape and plexiglass to separate workers and customers. Plexiglass is common at many store cash registers. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Wrong to drive to a trailhead in the greater Lake Tahoe area? I wasn’t playing tourist. I wasn’t hurting anyone else. I touched nothing that anyone else would touch. I was not participating in a high-risk sport that could require search and rescue personnel. (Yes, there can be injuries in all sports; I’ve also injured myself at home, though, too.) I did not go someplace that had any signs indicating the trail was closed. Nor was the parking area closed.

I did my two-week quarantine when I returned from Mexico. I believe that if we keep away from others, and wear masks and gloves when we are in close proximity, then the shelter in place is pointless. The shelter in place is for the people who can’t figure how to safely be in public. As with most things, Draconian measures are put in place to cater to the lowest common denominator of society. It penalizes the majority of people who know how to behave.

On top of that, exercise is good for the mind, body and emotional well-being. I do plenty indoors, but it’s not enough. Being outside in the fresh air and absorbing sunlight contributes to good health for anyone who does so. I am consciously choosing to go to locations where I am not having to pass people on a single-track trail. I’m staying away from places I believe will be packed full of people; as everyone should do. There are enough places, even in cities, to go to without touching each other. How hard would it be to say all north and eastbound foot travel is on the right side of the street, while all south and westbound traffic is on the left side – or something like that?

Safeway in South Lake Tahoe wants shoppers to go one-way down aisles. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Yes, we are all in this together. Even if you are against some or all of the rules various levels of government are putting in place, at a minimum wear a mask and gloves when close to people or touching something someone else might touch – like doors, counters, groceries, gas nozzles, etc. The virus is real. That can’t be disputed. Why would you want to get it or pass it along?

I was shocked when I finally went grocery shopping. Not because it took forever to find baking soda, or that Costco didn’t have the canned beans I wanted, or that Safeway in South Lake Tahoe now has one-way aisles. I was flabbergasted to see so many people without masks or gloves. I was disgusted to see the owner of South Tahoe Grocery Outlet fist bump the founder of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care; the latter being the one who initiated it. Neither guy had a mask or gloves. Really, people? I’m thinking of spending future grocery dollars elsewhere.

What was good to see was people trying to social distance as best they could. Costco in Carson City had signs telling people to keep 6 feet apart. I was sad to learn from my checkout woman how people have been verbally abusing these essential workers. I can’t think of a time when it would be appropriate to swear at a cashier. She told me it’s mostly men who have misbehaved. Sad. Inexcusable. Disgusting.

In this one shopping excursion that included Costco, Safeway, Grocery Outlet, Grass Roots and Auto Zone, most of the people not wearing a mask or gloves were people who appeared to be at least 60. WTF? The Safeway cashier said how slow it has been with no tourists in town. Some San Francisco Bay Area counties are no longer allowing reusable bags at stores. Not the case in South Lake Tahoe. Time will tell if that edict changes. I washed those “shopping” clothes immediately in hot water. I wiped down all the goods I bought and the surfaces bags/boxes touched inside the house. I didn’t go in the Jeep for 72 hours.

I’m glad I have enough groceries to last more than two weeks so I can stay out of stores for a while. But I’m still going outside to play.

Coronavirus deals fatal blow to Tahoe’s Lakeside Inn casino

Coronavirus deals fatal blow to Tahoe’s Lakeside Inn casino

Lakeside Inn in Stateline is going dark — permanently. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Lakeside Inn and Casino in Stateline won’t be reopening, even after this pandemic is history.

“After 35 years of being a source of entertainment for thousands of guests, we are permanently closing our doors. This includes all areas of our business including our casino, restaurant, and hotel. This decision was not made lightly. We hoped that we would be able to resume operations once this COVID-19 situation improved. However, that’s just not in the cards for us,” Lakeside said on its website April 14.

Lakeside, one of five casinos on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe, was always considered the locals’ gaming establishment. It had a more laid-back vibe. It was known for deals geared to the people who called the South Shore home. The lobster and prime rib combo was legendary. So were the breakfast deals at the Timbers restaurant.

I spent my 45th birthday at Lakeside. It was so relaxing – and perfect. A staycation. It wasn’t fancy, but it was a perfect Tahoe get-away. The staff was so friendly, the food delicious, the setting tranquil.

The hotel-casino, which opened in May 1985, had 218 employees.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in mid-March said all gaming facilities must close. This included all aspects of those facilities – hotels, gambling, restaurants, other entertainment.

In recent years gaming properties have made more money off non-gambling aspects of their business. Northern Nevada casinos have been hit hard by Indian gaming in California. People no longer had to deal with chaining up in snowstorms or driving as far. Gaming is now available throughout California. While Lakeside had a couple restaurants as well as a 124-room hotel, the lodging component was outdated. This was a fact Lakeside officials admitted to in 2016. The plan then was to make the Kahle Drive-Highway 50 corner a focal point, with the hotel moving there.

Lakeside had tried to stay relevant. In the first half of 2008 the company spent more than $1.5 million to freshen up the place. The bulk of the money went into the kitchen and Latin Soul restaurant that opened that July.

In July 2018, Lake Tahoe News wrote, “Lakeside Inn has long been the favorite casino for locals. Now it wants to be the preferred employer. The hotel-casino a couple years ago had designs of re-creating itself so it would be a focal point when driving in from the east. Those plans have been shelved and instead the owners are focusing on the locals and not just the tourists. Yes, physical improvements are under way that are designed to modernize the property and appeal to the guests, but there is also a renewed emphasis on the employees.”

Now those workers will be looking elsewhere to work. And the community is left wondering if there will ever be another locals’ casino.

The last interview I remember doing at Lakeside was in December 2017. It was with a homeless man I had met downstairs in the entry. I invited him to eat at Timbers. While it really had little to do with Lakeside other than the man taking refuge there from of the cold woods where he slept, it was the perfect location for such an intimate conversation. The property’s powers that be didn’t know we were there. It was clear my “guest” was hard on his luck. It didn’t matter. Staff treated us with respect, without judgment.

More recently Lakeside’s gift shop sold my book “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes.” It was one of the better local retail outlets when it came to book sales. I will always be grateful management said yes to carrying my book, especially considering this was my first book.

As a journalist, through the years I had ups and downs with Lakeside. Sometimes staff was accessible, sometimes not. There was more to it, but none of it is relevant now for so many reasons.

Lakeside has provided lasting memories – mostly good – for hundreds of thousands of people. That is a statement few businesses can make.

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