We left our comfortable motel about 10:30, heading south and then east. Thelma is in charge, and we just turn when she says turn, at this point.
We drove by a gorgeous, Clear Lake, which seemed to go on forever. I pulled off to look at a couple of teensy little towns near Clear Lake, and we bought groceries for our picnic lunch at one of them.
The mountains and hills in California are amazing. They change color from hill to hill, it seems. We saw some areas that had been burned, too. We did a lot of driving up and then rolling down them. Since we do the speed limit, there were many times we had to pull off on turnoffs to let the rest of the population go on by.
Because we aren't flying by things, we noticed the Ceago Vinegarden and pulled in to visit the only winery we stopped at in California, somewhere in Lake County. It was amazingly beautiful. This place has a huge lavender field, an olive grove, palm and cedar trees, a lake, sheep, a vegetable garden, and apparently some fine wine, according to Randy. They also produce lavender lotions and sprays. We wandered at will for quite awhile.
We ate our lunch while we sat on the back of the van hatch at one of those turnoffs in the middle of mountains and rolling hills. It was a great place to enjoy lunch, al fresco!
Thelma ordered a turn somewhere, and there were six lanes of fast-moving traffic to deal with. We were going past Sacramento when I remembered my friend, Linda, had taken me to Auburn in 1996, when I flew to Nevada to visit my college roommates. I pulled off the road today, and we took the same photo that Linda had taken of me back then, at the statue of a man panning for gold. Sutter's Mill, where gold was first discovered in 1849, was near or in Auburn, and Auburn retains the old town feeling in its historic area. We wandered through those streets a bit, then hit the road.
There was an entirely different range of mountains to get over, but first we drove by acres of fruit trees, sunflowers burnt by the sun, olive trees, and we think we even saw a rice field or two. It's a different crop than we see back home, for sure!
About 30 miles before we got to Reno, we stopped to see the Donner Memorial Monument. Linda had taken me there, also, in 1996, as the story of the Donner Party was one that is etched in my mind, told by my mother back in (when else....) 1959, as we drove over this same region on our way home then. Randy had not been there, and we literally ran to the monument, and after seeing it thoroughly, ran back to the car, as the temperature was only 51 degrees up there in the mountains. The thought of 22 feet of snow stopping the Donner Party in that wilderness was pretty frightening.
We could see Reno's lights glowing in the distance before we got here. It is a small version of Las Vegas, we have heard. We pulled into Reno as dark was settling in, and also a huge wind was blowing. It has continued to blow with great force since we've been in our corner room on the 22nd floor of the Silver Legacy Casino in downtown Reno.
So far, we're loving the Silver Legacy. The wind blowing on our corner room's two windows is sort of a thrill, actually. It's like being in a blizzard or something, and we're safely tucked inside this very pretty room that happens to have an enormous casino 22 floors below us. We had dinner at one of the many restaurants down there, too: we didn't have to leave the building. We walked to two other casinos, too, and didn't have to step outside, since they're both connected to this one. It's a virtual maze of casino stuff, food options, bars, shopping, and wonderful things to see. I've lost twelve dollars to a machine that wouldn't let go of me, but so far I am not worried about a gambling addiction. Give me another hour or two............
We are 270 miles closer to home than we were this morning. I am not sure how I feel about that, just yet.
Copyright: KP Gillenwater 2013