Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Western Wander - California to Nevada

When we began to plan a trip to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta a year ago it seemed a long way off.  I had yet to finish my final, and seemingly longest year of teaching. It's hard to believe the time had finally arrived!  I decided to call this trip is a wander because, except for a night in a hotel in Santa Fe and reservations at the balloon festival on October 3, we had no set plans or reservations.

September 8, 2016

We began wandering by uniting with Joan and Ted at the park and ride lot on 116 in Cotati.  From there we caravanned to Bab's Delta Cafe in Suisun City where we met Terri for Brunch.  We continued on I 80 to Donner Memorial State Park near Truckee, Ca.  Arriving around 2 p.m.

The afternoon was beautiful.  We walked to Donner Lake soaked in its beauty. The evening was just as gorgeous with very comfortable temperatures.  After a hectic day yesterday getting everything ready to take off we were pretty tired and called it an early night knowing we'd have a longer day of driving tomorrow.

September 9, 2016

When I awoke at about 1:30 a.m. to use the restroom the sky was filled with stars, too bad it was also filled with the roar of trucks on I 80, the sound reverberating through the valley where the campground is. It's too bad because this is a lovely campsite.

We left Donner Lake around 8 and headed to the east on I 80.  Lots of trucks were also traveling east. Because the speed limit was 75 mph, the 450 miles of nothingness happened a bit more quickly.  We stopped for lunch at a nice city park in Winnemucka.  The drive continued pretty much the same until we got close to Elko.  The mountains became a little more interesting and the town of Elko had a lot of character. 

As we approached the Ruby Mountains the scenery changed dramatically.  We entered a valley that was carved by a glacier, a mini Yosemite.  The campground, Lamoile Campground, was in the valley along a stream with stands of Aspen, a lovely place to stay for a couple of days.  The evening was a bit cool, but we were toasty inside our camper during the night.

September 10, 2016

We explored the surrounding area, driving to the end of the Lamoile Canyon, where backpackers were taking off up the glacial valley. While there we hiked the nature trail.  It was a short hike of 1/2 mile through the Aspens and past a recent beaver cut.  To provide building materials for their dams and lodges as well as food for their families, American beaver harvested the Aspen forest, tooth -carved stumps abound.  Beavers use their Iron-coated incisors to efficiently cut the stumps. These beaver pounds provide some of the last standing water in periods of summer drought and some of the only unfrozen water in winter.

Early afternoon we hiked up the campground trail, and I do mean up, about a quarter a mile to a beautiful little waterfall sliding over granite.  Bushes with red berries were growing in the canyon.  The water was flowing from glacier melt up the mountain.  The trail continued on another mile and a half to a meadow that is a pond in the spring.

We visited the California Trails Interpretive Center.  It was a beautiful visitor center, chronicaling the westward movement to California.
The streets of Elko were filled with people with maps and wine glasses.  It seems on the 2nd Saturday from 4 - 6 downtown business host a wine walk.  Guests paid 25.00 for a wristband to walk around and taste wine.  It was strange to see people walking the streets and drinking. In October there will be a beer walk.

We celebrated Joan's birthday at an Italian Restaurant.  Dinner was tasty and the service excellent.

September 11, 2016

We were early risers, leaving the campground at 7.  Joan, Ted and Terri were headed to Angel Lake and then over the mountains to Ruby Marshes.  We set out for Bonneville Salt Flats and Great Salt Lake.Before leaving Nevada we stopped in the town of West Wendover, very much a Nevada border down, filled with huge casinos to attracted the poor souls in Utah.  

 Upon entering town, we were welcomed by Wendover Will.  Wendover Will was originally erected in 1952  by the Stateline Casino and  named after the owner, William Smith and the town of Wendover.  At 63 feet tall, he was intended to draw travelers from Highways 40 and 50, now Interstate 80.  When driving east a caption reads, "this is the place"  and to the west. "Where the West begins".  Wendover Will was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the "World's Largest Mechanical Cowboy."