Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sandstone Falls

Yes, I returned from out west but will have to continue writing about it later.  
For now I leave you with a link to a side trip to Sandstone Falls, New River Gorge National River West Virginia  I hope you enjoy the visit as much as Jeff and I did.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday found Mary back at work, Jesse back up at the Lake for his own job and Flash the dog home, alone, getting used to all the new furniture. I know he spent much of his day testing each couch, chair and mattress for softness. Later in this travel saga Flash will take you on a walk around his new home.  For now, though, join Jeff and I as we take to the road for a trip across Jack's Valley, between Carson City and Genoa Nevada.
 This is where I want to live if I move to Nevada.
 Named after an obscure Mormon pioneer who settled here just long enough to get his name attached, Jack's Valley is a beautiful, place with a slow, twelve mile, two-lane road that leads from Carson City to Genoa.  It is currently a place of ranches dotted with small ponds filled with the water that flows not too far below the surface. 
Each of these ranches used to butt up against the base of the Sierra Mountains, specifically the mountains that serve as the dam for Lake Tahoe whose uppermost level is a couple thousand feet above.  Today, though, much of the land on the foothills side of Jack's Valley Road is in the hands of developers who are slowly selling million-dollar (plus) homes to whomever will buy them. The land bust that hit most of the United States and the world hit Nevada extremely hard.  While this is bad for investors, it is good for nature lovers and people like me who like to see the wilder side of creation.  Of course, you probably noticed that early in this post I said that I wanted to live there.  If I had a million dollars to spend, I would probably buy one of those homes. 
Where I really want to live, though is right downtown in the village of Genoa.
Genoa is the oldest non-native settlement in Nevada. It began with Mormon Station, whose original trading post was built in 1851. The Nevada State Parks web site has a video depicting the rebuilt Mormon Station.  It is a small park in the middle of the quaint village. 

 Starting in 1848, during the California goldrush, people flocked to California across the California Trail. The final challenge of their journey was crossing the Sierra Mountains. The Sierras are rough, steep high mountains. Travelers needed to stock up on supplies before crossing the mountains. The Carson Valley of which includes Jack's Valley, was and is a fertile valley with a good supply of water. It was a perfect place to rest before crossing into California.  At the time this was Utah Territory under the leadership of Governor, Brigham Young Most of the first settlers were members of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons). BrighamYoung appointed a judge to govern the area. He changed the name to Genoa. Most of the Mormon settlers left in 1857 when they were called back to Salt Lake City to defend it against the United States Army. 
 The town was probably named after Christopher Columbus' birth place, Genoa, Italy.  In Nevada, we were told, the accent is placed on the first syllable. Genoa, Nevada is built against the base of a Sierra Mountain though it doesn't climb too high.  The few streets are unpaved other than the main crossroad. Some of the homes are very old but well kept.  Perhaps the best part of town for us is the Genoa Bar and Saloon, the oldest drinking establishment in Nevada.  Genoa Bar and Saloon is the red brick building with white pillars in the photo, below.   Luckily for you, it has its own web site, Click Here for anyone who wants to learn more.  Any nice day (and there are many of them in this part of Nevada) finds motorcycles parked out front for it is an important stop on any bike trip.  One of my favorite parts about the bar - other than its own Pale Ale offering - is the fact that it is one of the few places that make my house look clean.  I am pretty sure that the place has never been dusted above knee level. The web site says that Raquel Welch's bra hangs from the ceiling but I have never noticed it - probably due to the dust.  That is part of the charm that is the Genoa Bar and Saloon.
My current dream home is just around the corner from the bar. 
Here is The Pink House.  It has a lovely side yard that regularly runs through my imagination as the main character in garden ideas. Yes, I know it is a close contest between quaint and tacky with this home, but It has that wonderful porch, lovely wood inside and calls my name. While I would never choose to have a pink-painted house, it would have to stay that way because it was painted pink soon after it was built in 1856 by John Reese who established Mormon Station. It is currently priced at $575.00. that is wa-a-a-ay over my capabilities, being that  I have made about $19.00 in 2012 from my writing.  Still. . . just think of what I could write from that porch . . .
We will be back to Genoa. 
To read more on the early settlement of Genoa and the rest of Nevada choose a book from my store by clicking on the tab at the top of this page.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Last night we slept in our daughter's new apartment. It was very empty but she had made up nice "beds"- mattresses on the floor- for us. Morning brought us a clear Sierra sunrise. Note the "D" for Douglas County on the hillside.
There are very few more photographs from this day because shortly after this one was taken we started emptying the U-Haul truck. We had been storing the fillings of a three-bedroom apartment. We now moved it upstairs into her new three-bedroom apartment. We had a pretty good system.  I was in the truck unstacking and moving each box or piece of furniture to the edge of the truck. Jeff then carried it to the bottom of the stairs and our son, Jesse and Mary with their much younger knees and backs carried everything upstairs. 
     I, then started unpacking while they took the truck to pick up a couch and love seat that someone had generously given her.  Yes, those pieces had to be carried up all the steps.  (I would grow very tired of those steps.)
     Mary and I next emptied all her kitchen supplies. After a very, very long day. she had almost everything unpacked and looking like "home."
She just wouldn't stop
Mary wasn't the only one with a new home.  Right outside my bedroom window were Cliff swallows.  I over-exposed the photo so that you may see inside.
Just over my window, above my eye sight, some pigeons roosted. From that spot they made pre-dawn gurgling noises that served as my vacation alarm clock.
Tomorrow, Mary goes to work, Jesse returns up the mountain to Tahoe and Jeff and I drive to one our favorite places Genoa, Nevada.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day's End

 After a long windy day fighting our way across Utah and Nevada we were ready to enjoy a windless evening.
As a West Virginian, I am still I will never get used to the long sunsets of the flat lands.
Here, the sun evidently sees no reason to hurry.
It has plenty of time to artistically illuminate the clouds,
lay a bright finger upon a distant hill,
or to use a silhouette to remind us of the beauty of a naked tree.
Even the "golden arches" are pretty in the right light.
Light grabs the sky and holds on tightly.
A last successful attempt at romanticism
then with a last radiating burst our sun made its exit.
and we answered our children's texts with
"Soon. We'll be there very soon."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Nevada Winds

We said good-bye to Utah and the Flats as climbed into Nevada.
Our first stop was the Pequop Truck stop. Importantly, it had "facilities."
We had high hopes that the wind would stop once we climbed this mountain, but as we descended into the the arid flatlands, we realized it wasn't to be.
Cool winds blew in off distant mountains, buffeting the U-Haul truck we drove. 
By "buffeting" I mean "slammed" We could seldom drove the speed limit. Fear gripped us when an eighteen wheeler passed hoping it would get by before another gust blew the truk into our laps.  We watched several blow clear off the road.  Most big trucks went slower than us.
    Tumbleweeds, wild horses, cowboys riding the range and a road runner are on my list of what I want to see when I travel out west.  I can finally mark "tumbleweeds" off that list. As I post this photo, it is as hard now as it was then not to sing "See the Tum-ble-ing, Tumbleweeds" song by either Gene Autry, written by Bob Nolan from the movie of the same name.  (I bet my sister started singing it as soon as she read that.)
   Lunch found us in Elko Nevada. Elko is a mining area but, historically it has always been on a main east-west travel route.  Jeff and I quickly drove through the casino-laden main strip of town. We made a stop at Sherman Station which looked interesting.  It was also the Chamber of Commerce, promising information and a gift store.  It was closed. I have found that for some reason there are a lot of closed tourist information centers. Many seem like they were "good ideas" without the funds to keep them going. We walked around, peeked in the windows and drove on.  I think the photo, below, is the stage coach station, though it could be the blacksmith shop.
Below is a photo from an Elko NV web site. Sherman Station
Now, this isn't big news to you westerners, but to us in the eastern US and the rest of the world, it is interesting that most towns or counties have an initial on the side of a nearby mountain.  Hence, the "E" below is for Elko.  I guess here in the Appalachians, our mountains are so close and up on each other that we can never get far enough back to read a whole letter.  (Some hollows have that same problem just trying to see the sun.)
Have I mentioned that the wind never stopped. 
Rare blog photo of Nellie. She's holding her shirt down to keep the wind from undressing her.
I drove awhile to let Jeff try to sleep a little.  At one time he awoke as a few cars passed us, "Man, those cars are going fast."  My reply was, "Well, they may not going as fast as it appears." I was only driving 45 miles per hour. Have I mention it was windy?
There were plenty of wind warnings on the road.
We stopped at a rest-stop to change drivers and whatever else people do at rest-stops.  I couldn't get my door open against the wind.  Jeff helped me, though it was for his own good.  He is pretty thin.  Luckily for him, I am not.  Can you picture him hanging on to me with both hands while his feet are flying up in the air?  Have you seen that climax moment in the movie Twister?  Well, it wasn't quite that bad but that is the way it comes up in my mind.  
Crows hovered before being flipped sideways.
We were so tired.
Finally the sun began to set and the wind stopped.  We were still tired but very thankful.
For some good books, check out my store at the tab at the top of the page. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Crossing the Flats

While we could see mountains far ahead, all around us was flat and colorless
Looking more like water than ground, distant rocks apeared to be islands. Were we looking at the far off lake or was it an illusion? I thought of the frontier travelers. I thought of Jedediah Smith returning from California in 1827. What he had heard from the Native Americans could not have prepared him for this land. 
The Donner-Reed Party crossing these flats in 1848 were definitely not prepared. The shortcut, named the Hastings cutoff, had been promoted by Lansford Hastings  but was used very little after the Donner's much publicized troubles.  
For eighty miles they trudged across the hostile land, its surface a crust which trapped wagons and made even walking hard. Water evaporated very quickly, here, during the hot summer. Then, during winter, the surface is often covered with a thin layer of rising ground water. This time of wet followed by rapid evaporation makes a thick crust through which heavy wagons easily break. The group lost most of their cattle and oxen, abandoned much of their stuff and had to carry their children.
The Donner-Reed party lost most of a "season" crossing the salt flats. It was late in the season when they finally reached the Sierra Mountains at Truckee Lake (now renamed Donner Lake). It was there that their troubles became much worse.
These ill-fated pioneers could not have imagined that a hundred years later folks would be speeding across the flats in race cars.
Named for Captain Benjamin L.E.Bonneville by by Joseph Reddeford Walker, whom Bonneville had employed to survey and map the area the Bonneville Flats is so flat that you can see the Earth's curvature.  By 1896 it was recognized as a place for car races. It is now the place to go to beat any land speed record. 
Jeff and I were far from breaking any  record as we fought the strong cross-winds of the flats this day.  With other tourists we laughed at the wind as we stood on the beach, a beach that bordered a sea of dry salt, not water.
We felt relief as we spotted the Town of Windover at the edge of the Flats. We assumed the town's name was descriptive.  
For us that was far from true.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Salt Flats

Like these bikers and the pioneers of who settled the west coast of the United States, we headed across the great salt flats of Utah.
But unlike them we were comfortably inside a large metal vehicle. We had protection from the biting wind that the distant white cloud told us was coming.
Due to an extremely fluctuating Lake level the shoreline of the shallow Great Salt Lake is almost deserted.  A building could be built right on the waterline one year then be hundreds of feet from the shore the next. The white in the photo, below is a line of hard mineral deposit that must be crossed to reach the lake.
Saltair is a resort that has been rebuilt and re-imagined several times through the years. The first version was in 1893.
photo used from wikipedia
At that time, a railroad was specifically built to take travelers to the resort.  Some of the wooden pilings were still visible as we drove by.
Today Saltair III is a concert venue but it has had its share of troubles.  When first built in 1981 flooding occurred shortly after it opened. The lake receded after several years allowing Saltair to reopen.  The problem was that the lake kept receding until it was far from the venue which rested against Interstate 80. Very few events are held there anymore. The water you see below is a small wet area formed from building the interstate exit.
Another drawback to people enjoying life along the lake shore is that there is sometimes a funky odor left from the bodies of stranded water-life, left as the lake recedes.
For now the lake entertains boaters and fishermen and supports plenty of waterfowl.
For now, we left the lake and kept our car pointed toward the high peaks in the west.
Those mountains meant Nevada to us, our last state to cross before being reunited with our children.  But first we had to cross the Salt Flats. 
Oh, have I mentioned that it was getting very windy?
This was just the beginning of what was going to turn out to be a very long day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Olympic Village and a Ancient Lake Bed

Interstate 80 goes high through the mountains above Salt Lake City Utah. Park City is near the site of Utah Olympic Park
We were treated with views of ski slopes once used during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
There were also plenty of views that included condos built then and since. Aspens, looking much like matchsticks in this season before true spring, separate the village from the mountain.
Starting gates and steep  slopes remind us that winter ended just a week ago for ski buffs.

To leave a mountain, we must go DOWN and down is where we went - quickly.

We continued down until a curve road took us to where we saw Salt Lake City sitting peaceful and large upon the floor of an ancient inland lake.  
Lake Bonneville was once the size of Lake Michigan. That is ten times the size of one of its current descendants, the Great Salt Lake.
Three other remnants of this humongous body of water are Utah Lake, Sevier Lake and Rush Lake.  Most of the water left Lake Bonneville  through Red Rock Pass between fourteen and seventeen thousand years ago when lava flow probably flooded Bonneville lake over Red Rock Pass in Idaho. The huge flood eroded the pass which lost 300 feet of altitude as water gushed into what is now the Snake River valley
The City of Salt Lake City now sits beside the Great Salt Lake, a lake with no exit other than straight up.  Evaporation is the only natural way out for water in the lake.  Three major rivers flow into the Great Salt Lake bringing deposits of minerals, including naturally occurring salts. As the water evaporated the minerals get denser and denser.
Flags were flying high in Salt Lake City.  Their warning did little to prepare us for what lay ahead as we crossed the Salt Flats then drove the width of Nevada.