Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, through Wednesday, May 25, 2011: Heading to Heber City, Utah:
The 150-mile trip to Reno was just fine---until we neared the Donner Pass. We started to see posted weather warnings. "Snowing in Donner Pass; Carry Chains" gave us pause. I had thoughts of repeating the fate of the Donner Party. Fortunately, when we got there, there was snow falling, but it wasn't sticking and chains were not necessary. It was harrowing, though, because the road was wet and the visibility was less than ideal because of fog. We made it to Reno, and settled in at the Shamrock RV Park. It's an in-city/older park, with small spaces and lots of asphalt. But it will suffice.

Almost as soon as we arrived, the wind started---gusts up to 45 mph. Scary. We comforted ourselves by having dinner at Ichiban, the sushi restaurant at Harrah's Casino/Hotel. Very tasty. Tuesday evening, the rain started, and lasted until mid-morning on Wednesday. No big deal.

Wednesday was my day to relax and Becky's day to have lunch with Lillian Frank, a friend from her banking days. They moved to Reno when her husband (Steve) retired as president of the Southern California Gas Company.

We decided to leave Reno a day earlier than originally planned so we could take a detour and make a stop at the Great Basin National Park. Our first stop on the way was Winnemucca, Nevada, on Thursday. The 160-mile trip to Winnemucca was a breeze--straight out I-80 from Reno. I was last in Winnemucca in 1950 when we moved from Los Angeles back to Chicago. Surprise: I don't remember it at all---except that I know we first heard of the beginning of the Korean War while we were in Winnemucca. It's strange what one remembers. We're staying at the Hi-Desert RV Park. Very nice.

I always wonder what one main thing supports the creation, or continued existence, of a small town. (This one has a population of 8,300.) In this instance, the railroad was the reason for the creation---Winnemuca is halfway between San Francisco and Salt Lake City. Now, however, it has the distinction of housing the largest potato dehydrator in the country. In fact, ALL Pringle potato chips are produced in Winnemucca. Quite a distinction. It also has some gold mining.

We celebrated Becky's birthday on Thursday at a local favorite restaurant---Ormachea's Dinner House---one of the 3 Basque restaurants here. A lot of food; very good. Not inexpensive. There are 33 restaurants here, including 3 Subways.

We watched "127 Hours" Friday. Good movie. We didn't do much else here. Saturday, it was off to Wells, Nevada, on our way to Ely---the gateway to Great Basin National Park.

Wells is also a straight shot on I-80, 170 miles from Winnemucca. We arrived just before noon and had our pick of sites. We are at the Mountain Shadows RV Park. Small; nice. The weather is also nice. In the low 70s, some clouds.

Wells is not exactly a booming community. It has about 1,400 residents, and hasn't grown substantially for years. Its claim to fame seems to be that it is simply an intersection of I-80 and US 93 (coming north from Las Vegas and south from Twin Falls, Idaho). There are truck stops, RV parks, motels, and not much else. We did find a Chinese restaurant next door to our RV park, though, and had a nice dinner there. Our waitress, who was also an owner of the restaurant and of their attached motel and small RV park, was a hoot. Very personable and fun.

We spent only one night in Wells (Why stay longer?) and headed for Ely, Nevada, Sunday morning. The drive was short, only 140 miles, and uneventful, and boring. There's not much in this part of Nevada. Or in most parts of Nevada. We arrived at the Ely KOA kampground early. It's a nice park. We settled in and relaxed. Late in the afternoon, a huge hail storm hit. It was really quite spectacular. And, like most hail storms, short. It was cold enough to leave piles of hail all around.

It rained off and on all evening and night, but we woke to sun Monday morning.

Ely has four times the population of Wells, but is still not much of a town. It boasts, though, what was the tallest building in Nevada, the Hotel Nevada, built around 1929. It's still operating as a hotel and casino---the only casino in Ely with table games. (All the others have just slot machines.) It's kind of dumpy. No surprise.

We didn't trust the impending weather, so,even though we would go by Great Basin National Park on the next leg of our trek to Park City, we visited the park on Monday to take advantage of the surprisingly nice weather that day. It was a 120-mile round trip. The park is very big, but encompasses only a portion of the Great Basin---which touches several states. One significance of the basin is that none of the water that is created there, and it is a lot, drains out. It is all absorbed into the ground or evaporates. In essence, then, it is one huge meadow surrounded by mountains.

We had a tire issue on the truck Tuesday morning, so we got a late start on our way to Fillmore, in west central Utah. And we had a little rain. But the 185-mile trip to Fillmore was otherwise uneventful---except that, upon arrival, we discovered that two large glass serving bowls had flown out of the cabinet above the stove and shattered into a thousand pieces all over the surounding area. It took us (mostly Becky) more than an hour to clean up the mess. We were on US 50 most of the way. US 50 is known as The Loneliest Road In America. There was only one gas station along the road (on the Nevada/Utah border) and nothing else. It was eerie to feel so alone.

We are staying at the Fillmore KOA kampground, which, like all KOAs, is very nice (though comparatively expensive).

Fillmore, the county seat of Millard County, has 2,250 people, and is a typical small Utah town. Tidy. Friendly people. Wide streets. I got the tire fixed and washed a lot of mud off the truck. We mounted our Tree-of-Life tapestry, which we bought nine years ago in Mexican Hat, Utah. Otherwise, we didn't do much in the two days we spent here. Very relaxing.

The final leg of the trip to Heber City will be on Thursday. Heber City has nice campgrounds and is close to Park City, which is where we will be visiting family for nine days.

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