CONNECTION TO PLACE: When we go anywhere outside of our sphere we typically travel with a toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, some favorite pajamas, and the desire to make a connection with the place we're landing. Desire to connect is rather hard to pack, so we hold it in our hearts, or our heads, if you prefer, lest "hearts" seem to gooey (it is pretty gooey, and that's okay). But connecting with place isn't just breathing in vistas or admiring the local flora or finding a few historic markers, as lovely and as essential as those things can be. It's finding out about the locals, what they do, what they make, and how they connect to the place they call home all year long. Travel guides often suggest striking up conversations and finding locally owned stores -- two excellent plans -- but a third route, when one chances upon it, is also quite ideal: the local goods festival. Not every town has 'em, but plenty of neato nooks do, places so awesome and chillaxed in their identity that they'd never mind be called "neato" (a compliment). Lake Tahoe absolutely qualifies here, above and beyond and through the roof, and it boasts, no surprise, a sizable multi-day festival devoted to local artisans, local products, local tunes, and anything that has to do with living lakeside (or in the lake-y area, like in Truckee). Want to stock up on some of your alpine-originating products, from home goods to bath goods to you name it?
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND... is the time to head up, though note the Made in Tahoe Festival lands on Saturday and Sunday only (so plan on doing something else cool on Monday). The Village at Squaw Valley is the place, and vendors will be plentiful. Who'll be there, selling swell stuff and chatting people up? Gypsy Soul Glass, Old Forty Skate Company, Sierra Essentials, Tahoe Naturals, and Tahoe Dog Gear, plus about 70 other artisans and small companies. There shall be live music and food for sale in the area, and there shall be strolling straight into the summer season, Squaw Valley-style. And don't you always think your Tahoe getaway ends too soon? This is a way to have some true Tahoe-ness, created by a resident, back at your own pad, to remind you of vacation good times.