RENO! Earth Day, 4/22/12

Jimmy and I decided to ride the Truckee River trail in Reno on Sunday, and ran smack into an Earth Day festival at Idlewood Park. We weren't even aware of the "holiday," but we were happy to join in! We spent a couple of hours checking out all the booths and looking around, and then hopped back on the bikes. The number of people who rode bikes to the Park was gratifying.

One booth featured critters. This is me and my friend, Fluffy the, uh, South American tegu. It liked me. It even kissed my cheek with its forked tongue.

Truckee River near downtown Reno - hot day, lots of people playing in or near the water. The river runs right thru the city and - lucky citizens and visitors - the bike trail follows right beside it.

Spring blossoms grace the city - lovely and fragrant pinks, whites, reds, big trees, small bushes; so pretty. We must be following the spring season as we travel - I like that.

This Shoshone man and his son were part of Earth Day celebration,
dancing a warrior's dance in honor of warriors and veterans everywhere.

Back @ River's Edge C/G, here's a fellow "surfing" the Truckee! Quite well, too. Never saw this done before. Group of three in wet suits spent half a day doing this.

We camped here in the fall of 2010 and had a great time, so it was no contest when we knew we'd be driving thru here again. We like being parked on the bike trail and river. This year we rode from one end of the trail to the end of the line at a RR crossing east of Sparks; 25-30 miles altogether. Reno set a record high (3rd day in a row) and it was a gorgeous, sunny day. After our ride, Jimmy brought out the grill and cooked (Whole Foods) chicken breasts to perfection - a treat we earned! First-rate day!


Cold Springs Pony Express Station - Fri, 4/20

Cold Springs, Nevada is a blip on Hwy 50. Approx 45 miles west of Austin, Cold Springs boasts a restaurant (inc an all-you-can-eat fish fry on the third Friday of the month - boy, are we full!), a few cabins, and an RV Park of sorts w/ full hook-ups. Nothing else. Cold Springs also has one of the best preserved Pony Express Stations, two miles east of Hwy 50 (see arrow below) - an easy hike thru the sagebrush that we trod on a warm, sunny day. Giddyup!

Construction of this large structure began in late winter or early spring 1860. Built of native rock and mud - it measured 116' x 51' - and had four distinct rooms: storage area, barn, corral and living quarters. Sections of it were fortified against Paiute Indian attacks, and gun ports replaced windows. A nearby stream, distance from other stations, and availability of stone were reasons for selecting Cold Springs. A tiny stream still flows beside it. The structure's remains are fenced to keep open-range cows out!

The station was used by the Pony Express until the fall of 1861. Telegraph communication replaced the need for fast, lean express riders on hardy horses. End of a "romantic"- but very dangerous - time....

We couldn't see it from the hwy, either.

The structure blended in well w/ the surroundings.

Fenced to keep big ol' critters out.

Tiny spots of high desert color. We saw a lot of these lizards, who didn't seem bothered by us.

Jimmy inside the "fortified living quarters."

Inside the blacksmithing and livery area.

Beautiful Desatoya Mountains beyond.


I like leftovers - here are some of mine:

I know we didn't have hookups at Lower Lehman Camp in Great Basin Nat'l Park. None. Even the dump station's closed till summer. No phone or Internet service, either. But for three bucks a nite, we consider it a good trade-off. If you can't live without electronics or if you're addicted to the Net, this park isn't for you. As soon as park personnel are assured (like Memorial Day) that nite time temps won't dip below freezing, campground water will be turned on - then the price shoots up to six bux a nite! (These prices are for us golden-agers!) We really enjoyed our three days and nites here.

The scenic drive up to Mather Overlook (9,000'+) was opened on Tuesday and look at this spectacular view of Wheeler Peak. Rain surprised us at our campsite early Tues AM (and everybody else, I think), but skies cleared. When we got to the Overlook, however, tiny snow flakes fell on us.

Weird rock formations near Mather Overlook.

I took this photo somewhere near Delta (in someone's yard!). I snuck in to inhale the lilacs' sweet perfume and get a picture... my favorite spring flower - love it! Just remembered to show this leftover you!

These two proud dudes were courting a group of females near our Lower Lehman campsite.

And this handsome gal (?) didn't seem upset that we took her photo as she strutted across the street.

Apricot trees in front of the Visitor Center - the oldest trees in the orchard were planted by Ab Lehman, the man who is credited with "discovering" Lehman Caves in 1885. Lots of bees buzzing these fragrant flowers.

Pretty, aren't they?

I'd hoped to see the ancient bristlecone pines here on Wheeler Peak, but t'was not to be on this trip. Winter still rules on the mountain - we'll just have to return on a warm summer day!

So, we left GBNP Wed morning, heading west to the Ely KOA. There's a time to be in the wilds and then it's time to refresh and replenish - water, groceries (and dump) - and savor a nice, hot shower! Oh yeah!

Off we go... hiking into Pole Canyon 4/16

Monday in Great Basin Nat'l Pk dawned clear and sunny (and kinda chilly @ 32F) - a perfect day to hike as soon as it warmed a tad - haha. When we asked Ranger Rick yesterday about good hikes in the park, he suggested Pole Canyon as it was the only one we wouldn't need snowshoes on! Whoa, Nellie - Pole Canyon it is! 2.3 mi one way beginning at 6820' elevation. We missed reading the part on the trail post sign that said the trail ended at a rarefied 8430'. We slept early and well that nite....

But first, a hearty breakfast of whole grain buttermilk flapjacks!

Trailhead started here @ the bridge and began climbing gradually. We followed the little creek for a long time...

..thru hardwoods and pines - the aspens were still in winter mode. Glorious day!

After maybe a mile, we began seeing patches of snow...

...but the trail scenery was gorgeous.

I love this picture of Jimmy admiring the view!

By the time I took this picture, much of the trail had snow on it or near it.

This sign post (sans sign) was our turn around. The trail "T's" here, but continuing on was not recommended because of snow.  Heck, we couldn't even see where the trail went. Glad we'd brought our jackets at this point. We didn't see much wildlife this day, but we know (based on scat and tracks) that other critters walk the trail. One in particular didn't want to be seen, but it left us a new "calling card" just so we'd know it had been there, too.

Great outing!

Into the West! 4/14 - 4/18

It rained in Delta UT on Saturday, off and on, all day. It hailed in Delta at least twice - look at poor ol' frozen Smartie below! No, we had no hail damage, but we had our heater turned on high, 'cause it was cold! We left the next morning, on Hwy 50.

Two-lane Hwy 50 is known as “The Loneliest Road in America,” at least in Nevada. Ditto for Utah! In the 100 miles from Delta UT to Great Basin Nat’l Pk in Nevada, we saw a handful of vehicles, and only one passed us. More cows crossed our path than vehicles! The drive is full of scenery to the willing eye, albeit some sections look mighty barren with only clumps of pale green sagebrush and blond grass visible, till they're joined by junipers in higher elevations. Narrow, craggy mountain ranges running north to south frame broad U-shaped valleys, and you can see forever from one side across to the other. The road stretches endlessly before you.

Honk! Honk! Follow the leader, or stupid is, as stupid does!

Snow-capped Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Pk dominates the surroundings at 13,063’. It is an irresistible sight, its white crown dazzling in the sun. We're aiming to camp on its flanks @ 7,300’ in Lower Lehman C/G. We were only mildly surprised that no one else was in the 11-space C/G when we arrived as it’s early in the season and the snow level is only several hundred feet above us. No hookups are available – inc water (tho water is available at the VC). It is, however, a peaceful, very scenic C/G and the site we picked has a stream splashing down the mtn right behind us – talk about lulling a body to sleep! We’re in full sun so we can take advantage of natural heating when the sun comes up, and Tergel will achieve max charge to her solar panels. Good to be self-contained. We startled wild turkeys and mule deer as we drove in.

Enlarge the photo to see Tergel parked at the red arrow.
The aspens, etc., are just beginning to leaf out.

The road to Wheeler Peak was closed a mile up from our C/G... due to snow.

So we drove up to the turn around point and checked out the snow!

As soon as we parked Tergel, we signed up @ the Visitor Center for the 90-min tour of Lehman Caves. This isn’t our first cave, and it isn’t the biggest, nor the most pristine, but it is THE most decorated cavern we’ve seen. Fantastic colorful speleothems (cave formations) covered nearly every square inch. Lehman is best known for its curious shields, esp the amazing parachute shield decked with drapery, but my favorites were the strange helictites that form crazy tangles of eccentric forms like so many dried chow mein noodles. As Jimmy said, we’ve never seen a cavern with so much stuff! Too cool! Too bad we didn’t bring a camera….

We are looking forward to being here a couple or three days, maybe do some hiking. It surely is a pretty place!


Topaz Relocation Site: Saturday, 4/14/12

After 70 years, there isn't much left to see on this one-mile square. A Boy Scout placed the white signs as part of his Eagle Badge project. On a cold, winter-like day, Jimmy and I walked a part of Topaz Relocation Site. Makes your heart hurt to see this harsh landscape and think about what once was:

"The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during WW II was one of the worst violations of civil rights in US history. The government and the US Army, citing "military necessity," locked up over 120,000 men, women, and children in 10 remote camps. These Americans were never convicted or even charged with any crime, yet were incarcerated for up to three years in prison camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards."

Near Delta, Utah, Topaz is one of these internment camps. More info can be found at: http://www.topazmuseum.org/

(Click on any photo to enlarge)


More and more arches at Arches - 4/13/12

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday - shorts and T-shirts. Today is chilly and cloudy enough to rain. In fact, we see virga (streaks of water drops or ice particles falling out of a cloud and evaporating before reaching the ground) all over the sky. The wind isn't as strong, but it feels mean 'cause of the cold. Jacket weather! No matter - we earmarked this day to see some more of the over-2,500 cataloged arches in the Park. The minimum size to be considered an arch is a three-foot opening; the longest - Landscape Arch, pictured below - measures 306 feet base to base. Jimmy tells me a football field is 300' long, which may give you a better idea how long this impressive arch is. Enlarge the second photo to read the sign I photographed and then you'll understand why we couldn't get any closer to take its picture! Heck, enlarge every one!

Landscape Arch.

Enlarge and read.

Looks like this "rock thingee" might be fixin' to attack Jimmy!

Here's where we turned tail on the Devil's Garden Trail because sleet was falling on us. When wet, slickrock (as this is called) becomes just that: Slick rock!

A side trip off Devil's Garden Trail to see massive Pine Tree Arch.

A tiny slot between sandstone fins near Sand Dune Arch. Nope, I didn't get stuck.

Secluded Sand Dune Arch. A sign sez: "Do not climb or jump off the arch." Do you see what I see?

What a sight for sore eyes (rubbing sand out of eyes). So many levels, layers, and colors. Wow!

Part of Fiery Furnace... fresh snow falling on La Sal Mtns... such a fantastic landscape.

Jimmy and I both saw the King and Queen in the left formation. You simply cannot believe how huge these formations are.

We took way too many pictures - every feature took our breath away. Had a tough job choosing pictures to post, but here you have it. We put quite a few miles on our feet in the last few days, in both hot and cold temps (strange...), but regardless of weather, we loved being here - being present - to enjoy it all.