Saturday, May 31, 2014

Too Many Pictures of the Lake

We spent our last day of the trip driving and hiking at the lake. Not much more to say, except that I took too many photos. Unlike Thursday, when the light was muted today was crystal clear showing off the gem of a lake at its best.

Sharon was patient, partially because we had managed to assemble a very nice picnic lunch to follow our walk and partially because she loves this area as much as I do.

Tomorrow we drive down the familiar west slope of the Sierras through gold mining country and home.

Once I get caught up, shipping pens that folks purchased while I was away and listing the backlog of pens not on the site, I plan to do some proper photo finishing and offer some carefully curated albums.

The Problem with Memory Lane

Is that things don’t stay the same. OB’s Board in Truckee is gone and the town seems to have gone over to fru-fru shopping and gastronomy. The town was founded, actually, as a railhead and trains still rumble through regularly and it’s been a tourist trap of the genteel sort for a long time. So what’s the problem? I’m not sure. We bought four hours of parking and used half that before moving on to another local, and more blatant, tourist trap, Virginia City.
The Truckee Hotel, we actually stayed here after dropping our daughter at school in Colorado in 2005

I rather liked this change, a Flying A station restored to 1949
Now, beneath the hokum, there is some history in Virginia City, as you will see, but there is a lot of hoke along with it. In fact, they now offer staged gunfights just like in Tombstone. WTF?? But, if you’re paying attention as you have read this blog, you realise that Sharon and I have a very high tolerance for tourist traps, as long as they come with humor, irony or some other kind of spicing. Virginia City pours it all on in heaps, like a student essay with tons of data and no thesis.

Notwithstanding the name, they refused us a free dinner.

Off the main street there are some nicely restored public and private buildings

Like the schoolhouse

And sometimes history is at ground level

We were divided on what Twain, who edited the Territorial Enterprise from 1862-64 would have thought of this
Tomorrow, Saturday, will be our last day out on this trip. We plan to drive to one of the far reaches of the lake with a picnic. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lake Tahoe

Yesterday, Thursday, brought us “back” to Tahoe. As I noted the place has a great deal of resonance for me. In fact, if I remember correctly, it was the summer of 1964, fifty years ago, that my family first came up here, and for many years my parents summered here to escape the heat of Palm Desert.

Where we started the day, in the Nevada desert

Here looking toward the Sierras
OK, long story here. The short version is that this is Fort Churchill. The long version is that when we honeymooned here in 1971 I drove my 1959 Corvette over about nine miles of gravel roads (Sharon swears that the car had more creaks and rattles after than before), to find this historic site, totally unrestored, undeveloped (they have since done work on it), and the only other living being within ten miles a rattlesnake sunning itself on one of the walls. Since then whenever we have put in more effort getting somewhere than the site warrants, we turn to each other and just say, "Fort Churchill." Today this is a state park and when we drove past, I just had to go in and take a couple of snaps to share. There!

We arrived around 2:00, checked into the motel, as Sharon likes to do, and then headed out. We managed to find a state park with beach access outside Tahoe City and got in a short walk.

A study in blue

From there, we set out for Emerald Bay, my favorite spot in all of Tahoe. And after driving through South Lake Tahoe, which looks like Vegas with trees in the way (I’m a north Tahoe snob), and then returned for dinner at Lanza’s, where we used to eat with my parents, back in the day.

Today, Friday, we strike out for Truckee and lunch at OB’s Board, which has been there since we honeymooned here in 1971. As I said, memory lane.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rounding Third

Wednesday brought us back around toward home as we covered 550 miles from Casa Grande to Tonopah, Nevada, an old mining town.

The route took us past Vegas where we began and along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Obviously we did not have a lot of time for sightseeing, but I continue to be fascinated by the blossoming desert and so I stopped at midmorning to snap a few images. 

By the time we got to Tonopah hotels were pretty booked up, but we managed to snag one of the last rooms at the 1907 Mizpah Hotel, and I got a few casual snaps of the town and hotel.

Tomorrow, a stroll down memory lane as we take three days at Lake Tahoe, where I spent several summers in my youth, where my parents had some property and where Sharon and I were married.

Heading Back

Yesterday took us from Alamogordo to Casa Grande, Arizona by way of Silver City, New Mexico , a rather nice outdoor sports resort and college town where we had lunch and then through Eagar on our way to Casa Grande.  We passed through some more spectacular scenery, the Salt River Canyon (second time this journey) and the Gila National Forest. We covered about 510 miles.

Not much by way of pictures, though I did appear once more on a state patrolman's radar. Sharon figured it out for me, I have been stopped in more than half the states we have visited-New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. The problem is VASCAR, an instant-on radar that can track you coming in the opposite direction from the patrol car while it is in motion. He doesn't even have to be looking for speeders, you just pop up. This guy got me exiting a nice quick corner in the mountains, 79 in a 55.

He was helpful in suggesting that I try for traffic school even though I have been recently in California.

Today, at the speed limits, we plan on covering 550 miles, from Casa Grande to Tonopah, Nevada

Monday, May 26, 2014

White Sands and Apaches, sorta

Monday, Memorial Day, saw us at White Sands in the morning, after which we drove up to Ruidoso, a Mescalero Apache town in the Sierra Blanca mountains outside Alamogordo.

Our plan was to study the distinctive culture of the Mescalero Apaches as we had the Navajo and Hopi. No such luck. Although the Apaches fought European culture as strongly as any other natives, if not moreso, today they live prosperously and in integrated harmony with European Americans. And they do not put their culture on display.

What we did find to our delight was Tanner Tradition. You can look them up if you are interested. Although he does not make much of it, Lynn Tanner is a fourth generation Indian trader and the shop is a treasure trove of artifacts including everything from vintage to contemporary, the commonplace to museum quality.  The visit was a delight and we came away with yet another older piece of pottery, a small rug from about the 1960s and a contemporary Navajo folding knife for me.

When we arrived at the White Sands visitor center a massive yucca was roped off and a bunch of (non-English speaking) tourists were clustered. Unable to ask what the deal was, when we entered the center the helpful clerk informed us that a Great Horned owl had nested, sure enough

A cloudy rain-spattery day had two effects, the sand does not appear as blindingly white as usually it does and my lens got messed up. I have tried, none the too skillfully to retouch, but spots and dots appear.

Throughout the latter parts of the trip, the desert has been in blossom, to our delight.

To the right you see a trail marker for the Alkali Flats trail. You walk across reasonably hard pack sand. I probably walked about 3/4 mile, part of it on high dunes and even in the dull daylight it was blinding and disorienting, just as the park service warned at the trailhead.

Alamogordo delights in its status as the city nearest the White Sands Missile Proving Grounds. Curiously, we found nothing about the Trinity test (first Atomic bomb).
I'm not sure what this image of an abandoned mill of some sort says, but I liked it.

Tomorrow a long travel day from Alamogordo to Casa Grande, just over 425 miles.