I visited Lake Tahoe last week, in hopes that by the end of the weekend, the Keane family would be completely legitimate. Here are some observations:
Donner Summit: When you go to Lake Tahoe, you have to drive over the mountains, climbing Donner Summit, to get to Tahoe proper. Donner Summmit is named after the Donner Party, the ill-fated band of emigrants that got trapped at the pass on their way to California. They were trapped for months, half the party died, and many of the emigrants resorted to cannibalism. And if that doesn't say, "Welcome, travelers!", I don't know what does.
They decided to name the summit in memory of the most disturbing thing to ever happen in the Lake Tahoe area. There's a reason there isn't a Kamikaze Heights on Oahu, Koresh Creek in Waco, or Limp Bizkit Point just outside of Jacksonville. At least they don't have Fredo Beach somewhere along the lake.
The real beneficiary of this name is the guy who charges drivers to put on their snow chains in the winter. "Yup, Donner Summit," he can say to a driver who isn't quite convinced he needs the extra traction. "The Donner Party thought their wheels were fine for going over the summit, too. But I'm sure you and your Toyota Corolla will be fine."
Tenis: Some people play tennis. In the Keane family, we have neither the skills nor the athleticism to rally consistently. So we played what Molly dubbed "tenis". The rules of Tenis are simple: You hit the ball and return it to the other team if at all possible. It doesn't matter if the ball has bounced more than once, or landed well outside the lines, or already been struck by your partner (Tenis works better in the doubles format). Roger Federer may be the world's greatest tennis player, but I believe he would be vulnerable in a tournament of Tenis, especially if we could play on clay.
Note: Substituting Tenis for tennis is no guarantee that you'll remain injury-free. Tenis is easier on the knees, but the body is still vulnerable to strains and sprains, particularly if one's lack of athleticism drove one to a game like Tenis in the first place.
Jiffy's Pizza: Jiffy's Pizza in Tahoe City has a large banner outside that declares "VOTED BEST PIZZA". The banner provides no context whatsoever for this bold claim. Is it the best pizza in Tahoe City? The best pizza in that block? And who voted? We didn't go into Jiffy's, but Kelly and I speculated what it was like inside. I pictured the proprietor clad in a WORLD'S BEST GRANDPA t-shirt and drinking a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. And in my imagination, he was eating ice cream from the Log Cabin Cafe, because that place claims to have been "NAMED BEST ICE CREAM".
Other superlatives from our trip:
Dennis: NAMED BEST DAD
Sean: VOTED LEAST AGILE
The bat that flew around the cabin one night: ACCLAIMED SCARIEST MAMMAL