Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hikes and history -- Nov. 26 & 27, 2011

Pyramid Lake & Soda Lake, NV: On the way to work on Saturday, Bob said, "If we're offered voluntary time off today, take it. I want to watch the Civil War game." 

Early in the morning we were offered voluntary time off so I said yes, we'd take it. Little did I know that at 8:30 a.m., we would be told our voluntary time off started as soon as we finished the carts we were working on. I had just finished my cart, so I went to the lunch room to wait for Bob. At 9:00 a.m., he came out. 

Because we had the whole day off, Bob said, "I'm kidnapping you." We took a 1/2 hour drive north of Fernley to Pyramid Lake. What a beautiful place. Because I didn't know we'd be going there, I didn't have the camera. The lake is very large with a big tufa island in the middle. Along the shore we saw a tufa formation called "Popcorn Rock." It looked a lot like dead white coral. We would have gone to the museum, but it is closed on Saturday and Sunday in winter.

In the spring, white pelicans come to mate, nest, and raise their young. We saw some coot today. If we are still in the Reno/Sparks area in spring, we will come back to see the pelicans.

After Pyramid Lake, we drove back roads and countryside in Fernley. Following signs, we tried to find Memorial Park, but lost the directional signs so gave up on that and headed back to the 5er for lunch. 

Bob watched the Civil War game and was happy Oregon won. 

Late in the afternoon we went to Soda Lake (where Bob had run a couple of days ago). We parked the car and proceeded to walk around the lake (four miles). The day was gorgeous with long views to mountains many miles away.
Soda Lake -- erosion on cliffs and tufa formations in water.

Soda Lake viewed from the rim.

Bob on Soda Lake rim road with mountains in distance.
Late afternoon shadows.

We hiked along the rim.

At lake level, rim on other side, mountains in distance peeking over rim.

Beautiful sunset!

About 1/3 of the way around the lake, my hip and knee started hurting. I thought I could walk it off. By about halfway around the lake, my hip and knee were really hurting. It felt like my knee was going to give out and I had sharp pains in the back of my knee. It was getting late so we kept walking. As we got down toward lake level, we started seeing jackrabbits running across the path on their way back to the desert from drinking at the lake. They were too fast and too scared to sit still for a photo op.

After we finished the walk, we went to Pizza Barn in Fallon for a tostado pizza and beer. Nice way to finish the day!

Sunday: Oh so nice to sleep in! We got up around 11:00 am. Bob ran in the early afternoon and we did laundry. About 3:00 p.m., Bob said he was kidnapping me again. This time, we went south from Fallon about 30 miles to Fort Churchill State Historic Park. Again, I did not have the camera. (Darn, I've got to remember the camera.)

We got to the park about 3:40 and the museum said "OPEN." We went in and read the history of the area. Just as we were finishing up in the museum, the ranger came in to close up. (The museum closed at 4:00 p.m.) Luckily, the park itself was open later so we were able to do a 0.6 mile historic interpretive trail through the fort ruins.

Basic history of the park: In 1860 the fear of Indian attacks on settlers caused a demand for immediate protection. Captain Joseph Stewart and his Carson River Expedition were ordered to establish a post on the Carson River. Starting July 20, 1860, tens of thousands of dollars were spent to construct Fort Churchill, the desert outpost that guarded the Pony Express run and other mail routes. Hundreds of soldiers were based here between expeditions against the Indians. 

The fort was named in honor of Sylvester Churchill, the Inspector General of the U.S. Army. It was built as a permanent installation in the form of a square. Adobe buildings were erected on stone foundations, facing a central parade ground. The Civil War made the fort an important supply depot for the Nevada Military District and as a base for troops patrolling the overland routes. The fort was abandoned in 1869.

There are other trails in the park we'd like to explore, so we plan to go back for further exploration when there is more daylight.

We are totally enjoying sightseeing on our days off. I had no clue there was so much to see around here. 

I would really like to do some Volkswalks (10K noncompetitive walks) in Reno, Sparks, Virginia City and Carson City. We'll see how my hip and knee feel. If they seem okay, we may do a volkswalk tomorrow. 

Temperatures during the day are forecast to be high 50s to low 60s through Wednesday...perfect for walking!

Tuesday will be our Reno day to take the 5er in to get the black water tank repaired. We also plan to do some other errands in Reno and may do a volkswalk if we have time.

Looking forward to our next adventure.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! -- Nov. 21-24, 2011

Fallon/Fernley, NV: A three-day weekend (Sunday through Tuesday)--what a treat! On Monday, we slept in. Bob did laundry. In the late afternoon, we went to Pizza Barn for Chicken BBQ pizza and beer. It was scrumptious. Bob took me out to Grimes Point Archeological Area east of Fallon where we did a 1/2 mile walk in freezing temperatures (with a biting wind) to look at petroglyphs. We went home and I fell sound asleep in the recliner. Bob couldn't wake me up. The two glasses of beer at the pizza parlor were mighty relaxing!

Tuesday we slept in again. Bob couldn't get the black tank to drain (oh no!). He called a local RV mechanic. The mechanic suggested we pour two bottles of waste digester and hot water into the tank, then drive around to loosen things up. (A laxative for our black tank...hahahaha.) We hooked up the trailer to the truck, secured possessions and went for a six-mile drive. Upon return to the RV park, Bob again tried to drain the black tank. No luck. (Double oh no!)

At this point, Bob called an RV service place in Reno. Their next appointment to work on our tank was in January 2012. (Triple oh no!). Strike one. A call placed to another RV service department resulted in an appointment next Tuesday to work on our tank. (Whew!) Luckily we are off on Tuesdays.

In the meantime, we are using the restrooms at the RV park. Unfortunately, this results in 3:00 am trips in the cold to use the potty. Must remember not to drink too much water in the evening! Last night, I made it through the night without the trek to the restroom.

Tuesday afternoon, Bob went for a long walk. I stayed in and read, then went out to buy organic eggs from a local family. They weren't home. When I got back to the trailer, still no Bob. He had been gone quite a while and it was getting cold. He had walked nine miles round trip to Soda Lake. He said the lake is gorgeous and had waterfowl, probably ducks and geese. There were more jackrabbits than cars out there. Seven jackrabbits to be exact. They had just finished drinking in the lake. 

Wednesday we were back to work. Another lady and I got trained in a new department. The ladies who trained us agreed that we did a great job. In fact, they told one of the upper managers about us and she came and told us she heard good things about us...we were energetic, good workers and got a lot done. Apparently the two people doing the job before us were goof offs. It made me feel good! Bob did extremely well at work today too, his numbers were at 186%! Wowee!

On the way home from work Wednesday, we stopped to try to get organic eggs, but they were out. We made an appointment to pick up a dozen eggs next Monday. It's getting pretty cold, so the hens have slowed down egg production. (I say it has gotten cold, but the temperature was 67 degrees Wednesday.)

Thanksgiving Day: 7:00 am to 2:30 pm were our work hours today. At 3:00 pm a group of ten work kampers went to Thanksgiving dinner at Pioneer Crossing Casino in Fernley for a sit-down, served meal. The food was so-so, but we had interesting conversation. Thank you, Bill and Jennette, for inviting us. We feel like part of the family.

At 5:15 pm, I called Mom's house and got to talk to my mom, my sister, my son, my brother and my sister's boyfriend. They had just finished eating and were cleaning up. Next they were going to play cards. 

Bob and I discussed what food we missed most from Thanksgiving with family. Hands down, it's my sister's Black Cherry Jell-o Salad. I also missed yams.

Black Cherry Salad

1    1 lb. can dark sweet pitted cherries
2    3 oz. packages of cherry gelatin
1    12 oz. can cold 7-Up
2 tsp. lemon juice
1    20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 c. chopped walnuts

Drain cherries, reserving juice; halve cherries, set aside. Add enough water to drained cherry juice to make one cup of liquid, bring to boil, dissolve gelatin in hot liquid. Take off heat.

Add 7-Up and lemon juice. Chill until almost set (about two hours). Add cherries, pineapple and nuts to gelatin. Mix gently.

Pour into 1-1/2 quart mold. Chill until set.

To unmold: Run hot water in sink. Dip mold in hot water up to gelatin line for 5-10 seconds. Remove promptly from hot water. (Note: do not leave mold in hot water for too long or salad will be watery.)

Place serving plate over mold. Hold plate tight to mold and flip them both over. The Cherry Salad should come right out onto the plate. Place salad in refrigerator until time to eat.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. 

Travel Turkey out.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Birthday Celebration -- Nov. 20, 2011

Bob was such a sweetheart today. For my birthday, he took me to Sparks (an hour away) to see "Puss in Boots." When we walked to the theater from our car, it was snowing lightly and looked so pretty.

After the movie, we went to Olive Garden for dinner. It was so good! Hawaii doesn't have Olive Garden restaurants, so we reacquainted ourselves with their excellent menu. I had Venetian Apricot Chicken with broccoli, asparagus and tomatoes. Bob had Chicken Parmesan with a side of spaghetti. For dessert, we bought a "celebration cake" at Olive Garden for $7.50 (about the price of one slice of cake off their menu--only now we have left-over cake too).

We each needed more jeans for work and we shopped at K-Mart and Target for those.

A quiet evening in our 5er watching "Amazing Race," "The Closer" and "CSI: Miami" capped off the day.

Thank you, Sweetie, for a wonderful birthday celebration.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wind, snow, fire -- Nov. 18 & 19, 2011

Reno, Fernley, Fallon, NV: Yesterday, Nov. 18, we had high winds in the afternoon. When we returned home from work, our door mat had blown away, the plastic wheel chocks looked like they tried to get away as they were a few inches away from the tires.

Last night we had dinner at Black Bear Diner. We really like this place. It is very comfortable. I had herb & garlic crusted trout, mashed potatoes with gravy, salad and sauteed veggies. Bob and I shared a scoop of Bear Claw ice cream (chocolate ice cream with chocolate-covered cashews and carmel ribbons)--yummy! The diner has a "gazette" with "Nevada Fun Facts." The menu is in the center of the paper.  Here are some interesting Nevada facts:
  • The ichthyosaur is Nevada's official state fossil
  • Nevada takes its name from a Spanish word meaning snow-clad
  • Nevada has more mountain ranges than any other state, with its highest point at the 13,145 foot top of Boundary Peak near the west-central border.
  • Nevada is the largest gold-producing state in the nation. It is second in the world behind South Africa.
  • The state's Highway 50 is known as the Loneliest Highway in America. There are few road stops in the 287-mile stretch between Fernley and Ely (pronounced E'lee).
You may have heard about the 3,000 acre wildfire yesterday in Reno which destroyed 21 homes, killed one person and injured multiple others. With the wind whipping through the area, it was difficult for the firefighters to control the conflagration. However, last night, as the wind died down, the temperatures dropped, and we had a light snowfall, they were able to contain the fire. I feel sad for the people who lost their homes just before Thanksgiving. 

This morning, the desert was covered with a light dusting of snow. We drive to work at dawn and as we turned the corner to go to, the most gorgeous sunrise greeted and orange with clouds to give it interest. The sky was on fire!

At work, mandatory overtime has been instituted from now until Dec. 23. Our assigned overtime day is Sunday, which means we would have had to work SIX ten-hour days in a row this week (since we had just worked five of them). I discussed it with our manager and he said he would check into it. I also mentioned this Sunday is my birthday. Later in the day he came back and let me know we would not need to work overtime this coming week. We will start with next Sunday as our overtime day. Yay!

I will leave you with my favorite quote: "Though we may travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we will find it not." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Beauty"

Travel Bug out to get dessert!
(That's a sweet treat, not an arid landscape.  : P )

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beautiful sunrises, friends & work -- Nov. 17, 2011

Fallon/Fernley, NV: With the time change, we are now driving to work at dawn/sunrise. The cloud formations, clearness of the air and sunrise colors are so pretty. The weather has been mild with daytime temps of low 60s, night temps around 40 degrees, so no scraping ice. That's about to change.

Forecast for tonight is strong winds. By Friday afternoon, we could have snow to the valley floor. Prediction is for about an inch of snow. We'll see how that pans out.

Tuesday was our mandatory overtime day at work. We are working five ten-hour days this week (through Saturday). On Tuesday, served us all Thanksgiving lunch--turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, green beans, a roll and either pumpkin or apple pie. They gave us a 45-minute lunch with no time clock punching. People are so hungry by lunchtime the food just disappears from their plates. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving lunch for our regular shift; however because we got Thanksgiving lunch on Tuesday, we have to take our lunch in tomorrow.   : (

Bob's interview with Kodiak Roofing in Sacramento looks like it may produce a job, even though we plan to travel mid-April through the end of October. Bob is excited to go back into roofing, which he knows very well, and get paid accordingly. 

At work, we are making very good friends who are also work kampers (and some who aren't but would like to be). Bill and Janette, Kevin & Patty, Dick & Carol and Fred and Gladi are a wealth of information about RV'ing, working on the road, and an RV group called the Escapees (SKP's).  We feel we are adding to our ohana (family). 

Bill and Janette (who asked us to go to dinner at Louie's China Bistro last week) invited us to go to Pioneer Crossing Casino in Fernley for Thanksgiving. (The Casino is serving a sit-down dinner--not a buffet.) A number of RV'ers are going.

We do not miss our "stick and brick" house and love our new "mobile" home. I may have mentioned this before...our 5er is very cozy. When we first get home from work, while we're waiting for the place to heat up, both of us sit in the recliners and drape a blanket across us which is also draped over the heater vent. Toasty!

Some Oregon friends are going to be in Carson City, NV this week to visit relatives. They plan to visit us while they're in the area. We are looking forward to seeing them.

Bob wants me to proofread something for him. All for now.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Pan fried trout! -- Nov. 14, 2011

Frank and Gina (brother & SIL) gave us two beautiful frozen trout as a going-away present at the end of October. Tonight I pan fried the trout and it was delightful. So yummy. Sides included steamed red potatoes and sliced red pepper. This deserved a separate entry. Mmmmmmmm.

Chores -- Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

Chores are done: laundry, grocery shopping, post office, Ace Hardware, chicken tostado lunch at Pollo Asado (not really a chore, this one), and bank. Tomorrow it's back to work for five 10-hour days in a row.

Over our two days off, my neck, shoulder and back stopped hurting. I'm glad I iced them on Saturday night.

We took a nap this afternoon so we can stay up late to watch Hawaii 5-0.

Bob walked "a couple miles" this morning. I was a slug (as much as a slug does laundry and other chores).

Travel Slug out.  wink-wink

Is that a UFO? Nov. 11-13, 2011

Fallon/Fernley, NV: Work at is challenging, both physically and mentally. I have to turn off the "thinking cap" at work because there are a lot of inefficiencies. Some of us with lots of work experience think we know how to make it better, but that's not why we're there. Seasonal helpers in "Receiving" are there to receive product correctly and start things on their way through the warehouse.

One thing about opening boxes all day is you get "box burn," scrapes and scratches on your forearms. Another person at work told me the Safety Desk has "forearm protectors." I will check on those Tuesday when we go in for overtime. 

Yes, we're now on overtime (five, 10-hour days). We signed up when it was voluntary overtime; overtime has since been made mandatory.

Friday we worked as hard as we could, but the sorting department apparently couldn't keep up with us. Many of us were standing around waiting for product to be put on the line. Then, when we had product, we had no carts to put it on so we stood around some more.

We have met some great people who are also work kampers. They invited us to go to dinner with them Friday after work at Louie's China Bistro. We had a great time with them and their friend, Marsha. I had cashew fish and Bob had vegetarian noodles.

After dinner as we were driving out of the strip mall parking lot, I said to Bob, "What's that? It looks like UFOs!" There were bright white lights in the sky zooming around, then hovering. It was pitch black, no street lights up that high. As we drove closer, the lights turned to rainbow colors. What were those things? We had never seen anything like it. When we got near the local softball field we saw that there were some people in the dark field doing remote control airplanes and the airplanes had lights on them. One of the remote-controlled planes was a bi-plane. UFO sighting solved!

Saturday morning on our way to work we saw a dead dear next to the road and a dead coyote in the road. Farther down the road, I saw a live coyote who was going to cross the road just as we got there, but thought better of it, turned tail and rapidly ran back into the scrub brush.

We were running late. Bob was going 70 mph in a 60 mph zone. I saw an officer on the other side of the highway and I said, "Cop!" Bob slowed down, but it was too late. The officer did a U-turn across the highway and came after us with lights blazing. Bob pulled over immediately. 

The officer asked for license, registration and insurance. Bob gave him his temporary Oregon driver's license (which is paper). The officer asked why his license was paper. Bob explained that we moved from Hawaii in late October and just got our Oregon licenses. The plastic ones will be mailed to us. Bob pulled out his canceled Hawaii license and gave that to the officer as well. 

Come to find out, the officer's wife was from Kauai. A short "talk story" session followed as the officer wanted to know which island we were from. Of course Bob loves to talk about Hawaii whenever he can.

Bob explained we were running late for work. The officer said, "Work?" (It was Saturday morning.) He wanted to know where we were working, how long we had been in Nevada and when we were going back to Oregon. He took all of Bob's info back to the cruiser. When he came back, he let us go with a warning. Phew! Close call. 

Bob dropped me off at the door of work while he parked the car. I clocked in at 6:58 and he clocked in at 7:00 a.m.

Note to anyone driving US Hwy 50 from Fallon to Fernley, Nevada. Can you say "speed trap?" This stretch of road is heavily patrolled. Don't say we didn't warn you. Every day on our way to and from work we see people pulled over.

At work on Saturday, we started the day receiving large boxes...particularly hard work. Usually large items are big, bulky, or heavy. Opening the large boxes leads to the above-mentioned scrapes and box burn.

After work we hustled home (within the speed limit) so Bob could change his clothes and drop me off. Bob wanted to go to Reno to see the Reno vs. Hawaii college football game in Reno. He left in plenty of time. He was bummed because Hawaii lost. Later he told me, he was pretty late to the game (about 45 minutes) because of a big wreck on the freeway in Reno. 

When he was driving home from Reno about 11:15 p.m., about 2-3 miles from our RV Park in Fallon, he saw an accident involving a car and a cow. Apparently neither car nor cow were in good condition. We will have to be extremely careful driving at night through the open range land. If the cows are black, it will be extremely difficult to see them against the blacktop and night sky, especially if they are turned away from oncoming headlights which would, at least, reflect in their eyes.

Today we got to sleep in! I think we got up around 10 a.m. I made pumpkin pancakes (served with banana syrup or pure maple syrup) and fried eggs. A nice change from our cold cereal!

Bob went out for a short (5-mile) run/walk when the early afternoon temperature was 60 degrees. When he got back, he watched some football, napped and about an hour later we both went for a 45-minute walk. The sun was getting low in the sky and the temperature was dropping. 

This evening we went out to dinner with some friends from Reno. They chose the Black Bear Diner in Fernley. What a good place...excellent food with reasonable prices and good service. Pete and I had the Asian Chicken Wrap which tasted like I hoped it would with a sweet and spicy flavor. Bob had a turkey dinner and Marley had an omelet and hash browns. All of us were happy with our choices.

Life in the 5er is cozy and comfortable. The black water tank is still a mystery, so we're learning how often we need to empty that. Bob discovered while we're hooked up to water and sewer at a park, he can leave the grey water tank valve open so it drains as we use the water. That way he doesn't have to go out and drain the grey water tanks all the time. He will have to clean out the black tank from time to time though.

Tomorrow is the second day of our weekend. We have chores to do: bank, laundry, grocery shopping, post office, phone calls to make. This night owl needs to sleep so she can get up at a reasonable hour in the morning. It is getting late. 

P.S. I received our "lost" and "found" storage unit keys in the mail today from Pheasant Ridge RV Park. Yay!

Travel Bug out.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten-hour days -- Nov. 9 & 10, 2011

Fernley, NV: This week we started working ten-hour days at Hard work is good in that you get completely absorbed in it and don't have time to worry about anything except: "Am I doing this right? How can I improve my numbers? When is break? When is lunch?" (LOL) I'm not kidding our jobs are physical in the receiving department so we get tired and hungry. 

All day we are each at our work stations receiving product. We move boxes off the line onto our receiving station, then scan the items and put them on carts. We're not standing still. There is constant motion: pulling boxes, emptying boxes, putting items on carts with three shelves. My forearms feel like I've been bowling every day.

The hardest time of day is waiting for our first break. We come in at 7 a.m. and break is not until 10 a.m. We have 15 minutes to wolf down a snack and get back to work. Lunch at 1:00 pm lasts 29 minutes; if we clock in at 30 minutes after the hour we're considered late. Afternoon break is 3:30 p.m.

When we went to Lincoln, CA on Tuesday, Bob was offered a job, but they wanted someone permanent. Bob let them know that he is available January to mid-April. He asked them if they decide they need someone during that time to do sales, he would be happy to help.

We did a lot of traveling over the past weekend; however, that will not be the norm. Great Basin National Park was on our list of places to see while we're here and we wanted to go before the winter weather got any worse. Both of us are looking forward to hunkering down and RESTING on our days off. Pretty soon we will start having mandatory overtime and will be working five 10-hour days...maybe even five 11-hour days!

We will take trips closer to Fallon such as Virginia City, Carson City and Reno on our days off.

The sunrises and sunsets have been quite beautiful this week. We go in to work at sunrise and come home at sunset. As the days get shorter, no more seeing sunrises and sunsets.

Morning temperatures have been in the teens necessitating scraping ice/frost off the windshield. Tonight we put a beach towel around the front windshield and both front side windows. We'll see if it eliminates the need to scrape windows in the morning. If that doesn't work, we are going to try the white vinegar/water mixture Mom told us about.

Must get more sleep tonight! Last night I got about five hours and I felt it today...seemed like time was dragging by. Good night all.

Sacramento on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011

Fallon, NV to Lincoln, CA: The day dawned cold...less than 20 degrees. The drive over Donner Pass on I-80, then CA 193 to Lincoln took three hours but the roads over the mountains were mostly clear of snow and ice. 

Bob applied for a job for January to mid-April, 2012. While he was in his interview for 1-1/2 hours, I took my Escape to an automatic car wash to clean all the sand and grime from the trip to Great Basin N.P. I still had time left, so I sat at a park and read my book.

On the drive back, we wanted to see Hidden Falls. Even though some of the signs to the regional park were missing, Bob got out his Droid and we found our way. We had no idea what to expect. At the park, the sign said the hike to the falls was four miles round trip. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to "collect" this waterfall today.

On our way back to I-80, we made a quick stop in Auburn, CA. Gold was discovered nearby. See photos.
Museum and courthouse.
Bob with statue of placer miner.

Charbonneau District near Wilsonville, Oregon was named for Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. We used to live four miles from there.

I-80 is a major freeway across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The scenery is breathtaking. Unfortunately there is major construction and in many areas the freeway is down to one lane which makes sightseeing place to stop. I was the passenger and got these pics while Bob was driving.

We made tracks back to Sparks, NV to shop at Costco before it closed. We were also hoping to make it back to our RV park to get our propane tanks refilled, but that didn't happen. They stop filling propane tanks at 5:00 p.m.  

Since we did not want to run out of propane (our heat source) in the middle of the night, Bob "ran out" to try to find somewhere that would fill propane at night. He couldn't find anyone, so bought a "Rhino," which is an expensive way to do it. You have to buy a new propane tank (which is now our extra tank). When it runs out, you can get it refilled for $20 or so.

While Bob was out getting propane, I put away all the groceries. Had to get creative because there isn't much room for Costco-sized portions in a 5er. 

For dinner tomorrow night, I will put a chicken, potatoes, carrots and celery in a Crock Pot and let it cook while we're at work. Tomorrow we start work at 7 a.m., so I did all the prep work for the Crock Pot before we went to bed. In the morning, I put it all together, turned on the Crock Pot, and when we got home 11 hours later, dinner was ready! Yum.

After that we got to relax.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stunning and awesome! Nov. 7, 2011

Ely, NV: Stayed at Bristlecone Motel which was older but in good condition. The room was large and comfortable. Unfortunately we were put in the room right next to Hwy 50. Bob said he had trouble sleeping because of the semis going by all night. I took out my hearing aids when I went to bed and did not notice the traffic noise.

We woke up to snow falling, icy streets and hungry tummies. Goal today: 90-minute tour of Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park which was about an hour and 15 minutes from our motel, and see Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park. 

After a very quick breakfast, we stopped back at the motel for a forgotten item, then braved the packed snow and ice road over a 7,722' pass outside of Ely. Once we cleared the pass, the rest of the trip to Great Basin was a breeze at 65-70 mph. 

On the way into the Lehman Caves Visitor Center parking lot, there was a small herd of deer in the orchard. Our tour started at 9 a.m. We arrived at 8:35 a.m. so we had time to watch the introductory slide show and video. 

When the tour started, we were the only two on the tour! Peter, our ranger  guide, had recently transferred from Pearl Harbor on Oahu so we had a common bond. 

Lehman Caves impressed us from the beginning. The cave is not one of the larger caves, but the formations are packed into the space. The common formations we saw are: stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave popcorn, cave bacon, draperies, flowstone, columns and helictites. Rare formations we saw included shields, anthracite crystals and bulbous stalactites. 
Bob and Ranger Peter: Demonstration of an early cave lantern. Light source: a candle
Cave bacon
Stalagmites, columns, parachute shield with stalactites
Bulbous stalactites--rare (look like Christmas ornaments), soda straws
The Pearly Gates

Susan and Bob in Lehman Caves

When we exited the cave, it was colder outside than when we had gone in AND it was snowing. Very beautiful. It was 10:30 a.m. 

Snow on the grasses.

I got my National Parks book stamped and we were on our way. 

We made one quick stop so I could get a photo of the large stag in the orchard.

Bob and I discussed the sanity of driving 317 miles (5 hours, 15 min.) each way to see Lehman Caves. Our discussion focused on this being exactly what we want to do...when we visit an area we want to explore because who knows when we will be back. The cave was worth the visit as were the other stops along the way. Very interesting and educational. Stunning and awesome were our words of the day,

Before we went back through Ely (where we had started the day), we wanted to see Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. Great choice of destination. This place is interesting. 

The Ovens were operational from 1876-1879 during the silver boom years. See photos for more info.

A lot of driving had to be done today to get back to Fallon. Mountains, valleys, mountains, valleys, mountains, get the picture. Who knew there were so many mountain ranges in eastern Nevada? Stunning scenery along the way. I referred to my Nevada map and discovered we crossed eleven mountain summits on the road which ranged from about 4,400' to 7,722'. All the snow had melted from the highway so no problems with icy or snowy conditions coming home.

Our next brief stop was the "castle" in Austin, NV I mentioned in yesterday's blog. The castle wasn't as impressive up close as it had been from a distance, but the view of the surrounding valley and mountains was impressive.

As we drove toward "home," there was one more stop we wanted to make at a Sand Dune Recreation Area. We got there just after the sun went behind the mountains and there was a little light left in the day. The pics of the dunes look grey because of the light. When we saw them in the sun yesterday, they were a golden color...much prettier.

Approaching Fallon, as dusk turned to dark, we saw a critter sitting on the highway's right-hand white stripe. What we discovered as we got closer was a huge jackrabbit. He was staring me down like a challenge. That bugger was tall as rabbit's go. There was a highway reflector next to him which is about 2-1/2' tall. That rabbit -- from tail to the tips of his huge ears -- was just about 2-1/2' tall! Amazing!

Well, I didn't mean to stay up this late. Putting pictures in my blog took way longer than usual.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), we're off to Sacramento, CA.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Empty, wide open spaces -- Nov. 6, 2011

Fallon to Ely (E'lee), NV: Leisurely start today for our trip on US 50 -- "The Loneliest Highway in America" -- to Ely, NV. Weather in Fallon was mild and sunny. Views of the snow-dusted mountains were stunning along the beginning of our drive. Forecast was for snow and about 39 degrees in the mountains along the way. 

When we're driving, if we see something interesting, we take a detour to see it. First, we saw a sign for Sand Mountain Recreation Area and sure enough, on the left side of the highway were huge sand dunes. Since we were pretty close to Fallon, we decided we could come back another weekend to see those.

Farther down the highway, a roadside sign said "Earthquake Faults." We turned off and drove six miles on a good gravel road (for cars/trucks) to the area where a 7.3 earthquake struck in 1954, raising the mountains from 6' to 20'. The earthquake was felt as far away as Sacramento, CA to the west and Ely, NV to the east. An interpretive sign about 1/2 mile from Hwy 50 was very informative. 

The actual fault interpretive site wasn't as impressive as we thought it would be; although the view looking back out over the valley and mountains with an active, stormy sky and snow-topped mountains was worth the drive up the hill.

We continued along US Hwy 50, the Lincoln Highway and part of the Pony Express Route. Many long, straight, barren stretches of real estate with barely any vegetation were the standard views, accented by mountain passes with juniper trees, white pine and rocky outcrops. Historic signs cropped up with very little warning along the route...we stopped at some and will try to catch the rest on the return trip tomorrow. 

The old towns of Austin and Eureka, NV each had their own personalities. Austin was very small, built on the side of a hill. There was a stone "castle" up on one of the hills as we came into town. We do not know the significance of the castle.

Eureka is obviously a wealthier town with an exceptionally large Fire Department (huge brick building with six bays), a beautiful new library, city hall and administrative offices. Robinson Mining District has been open-pit-mining copper there since 1900. 

As we were leaving town, we saw a historic cabin, historic marker and about 12 deer. Bob read the historic maker while I jumped out of the car to get pics of the deer. It was so cool...the deer hopped over a 3' fence in the park as if it was not an obstacle. When they got spooked, they bounced away (boing, boing, boing) at a good clip, springing across the road in front of my car as I was driving away.

Weather ranged from sunny with stunning long-range views to hail or snowstorms with visibility at ground level. Ely has the most snow of anywhere we've been today, about 1", not too bad. It was 29 degrees when we rolled into town. The walkway at our hotel is getting icy. My car has a coating of ice along the bottom third, my antenna is ice-covered!

After we settled in, Bob went out and came back with Gewurtzraminer wine and potato chips for a snack. We're at 6,400' elevation so one glass of wine is affecting me more than usual.

For dinner we decided on the Happy Garden, the other Chinese restaurant which was open. The place we would have liked to eat other than the Chinese restaurant was the Jailhouse Cell Steakhouse where you eat in jail cells! However, it was closed for renovation.

After dinner, we carefully walked across the snow and ice-covered street to check out the Nevada Hotel & Gambling Hall which is on the National Register of Historic Places (and is Biker Friendly too, LOL). The inside has quite a bit of character with taxidermy animals, antler chandeliers, and a collection of guns from the Wild West. We're glad we stopped in to see it.

Now to get some sleep!