Best of Both Worlds with Amphibious Tahoe Duck Tours
Tim Parsons, 7:09am, 6/30/2011
When was the last time you were actually on the lake?
Not walking its shores, skipping stones across or contently gazing at it, but actually gliding across the waters like a duck.
Tahoe Duck Tours of South Shore wants to change that. They invite everyone to come to the waters for fun and the ability to quack up.
One of the town’s newest attractions the Duck is actually plural as two former World War II amphibious vehicles board 24 passengers from their roost off Heavenly Village Way and takes a land cruise before entering the lake at Tahoe Keys for a 30 minute cruise.
Facts and figures spanning Lake Tahoe’s history from the Washoe Native Americans to the arrival of wealthy late 19th and early 20th century tourism are shared in addition to why keeping Tahoe blue is more than just a local slogan.
For those concerned the tour might produce unwanted contaminants in the lake, co-owners Shawn Kearney and Captain Randy Woods assure the Ducks are not foul.
“We only use food based lubricants and clean thoroughly every morning,” Kearney said.
Woods agreed stating he personally hand-washes the vehicles with a steamer.
After peering into the crystal clear depths of water one-quarter mile from shore the Ducks’ eco-friendly practices intrigue many clients the duo acknowledged.
After emerging from the water the removal of the evasive Eurasian water milfoil with its slender feathery leaves, is a particular crowd pleaser for passengers.
“People hold it, caress it, wear it as necklaces and even put it on their heads,” Woods said.
The fascination with the life under the water continues with tourists wanting to know how non native fish species such as blue gill and goldfish can survive in Tahoe Keys.
“We are delighted to send home more ambassadors on keeping Tahoe blue,” Kearney said.
Environmental issues aside the two Tahoe Ducks are also a destination to a close fraternity of tourists who travel the world to ride similar vehicles. Kearney said visitors from Australia, Germany and China have already cruised both land and water since the season began in May. The 75-90 minute tours are expected to continue until mid-October.
Many visitors, whose ages range over nine decades, like knowing the vehicle’s vintage history.
While the engine and transmission are modern much of the Ducks’ equipment are still original 1944 when the vehicle was used to transport troops in both the Pacific and European war theaters.
Some passengers, according to Kearny, find comfort in the engine’s sound. It reminded some women of their late father’s old car.
Whether gazing at Mount Tallac from the water or waving to pedestrians along Lake Tahoe Boulevard those on the Tahoe Ducks ride the next chapter of their varied history.