Friday, September 20, 2013

Road Trip Surprises

I had absolutely no intention of writing about today. Caroline and I had planned this to be a day of one long drive with little interest along the way. The thing about a road trip is that you really don't know what to expect. I mean, things that you were hoping to be amazing can turn out a bit of a let down, while things that you never even realised existed, become interesting parts of the adventure. A main part of what makes a road trip exciting is discovering new things along the way. Today was just like this.

We started off in Fresno and drove north towards Sacramento and somewhere on the road we stopped for some breakfast at a Denny's Diner. We love American diner's but this chain are a contributing factor to the obesity problem in the Western World. The portions were enormous, and there seems to be no end of places where you get free top up's of fries, pancakes, soft drinks etc. of which Denny's Diners are one. I must admit, though that American coffee has been fine, on the whole. Strong filter coffee that certainly helps one get through the day, and unfortunately keeps one awake through the whole eating experience.

Historic Auburn was a great find.
The drive today was about 7 hours and we needed to keep breaking it up and stretching our legs. It was a day of many short breaks. One of these was in the historic Gold Rush town of Auburn. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in this frontier town, which has remoulded itself culturally, supporting arts and tourism. We had a good coffee in a cool little cafe called Cabe's 958 which is in the background of the picture above. Perhaps the most famous person to have come from Auburn is Olympic Pole vault Champion, Stacy Dragila. Her star is on the pavement in Auburn.

Auburn, California's walk of fame
The road then rose to over 7000 ft and into the Alpine regions of California. I said to Caroline that it reminded me of the roads in parts of Germany with the pine forests bordering the freeway, and almost immediately we passed the town of Weimar! Moving towards the Nevada state border the road follows the beautiful Truckee River and the historic route 40. While we were driving through this landscape we talked about future road trips along historic routes, and we spoke of how fantastic it would be to travel the silk route, and how sad that with the troubles in Syria, this has become virtually an impossibility.

Marker on Historic Route 40
Anyway, we finally arrived in Nevada, drove straight past Reno and have stopped for the night in Winnemucca. Where? I hear you ask. Well, we were exactly the same, and Winnemucca was only supposed to be a place to stop for the night before heading closer to Yellowstone. However, it is actually a buzzing little town, albeit with every second building being a Casino! The terrain on the road from Reno to Winnemucca was stark, the road being flanked by bare hills/mountains which changed colour in the sunset, from brown to orange, pink and finally their natural green. It was a wonderful sunset that I'll not even try to describe in words. Then, all of a sudden, the wilderness lights up, and Winnemucca just appears, a smaller version of Reno, which is itself a smaller version of Vegas. Anyway, there seems to be so much around that we might just delay our departure for a few hours. I have to take a photo of the Sundance Casino, no doubt named because 113 years ago today, Butch Cassidy's gang robbed the First National Bank of Winnemucca!
I wish I could do this sunset justice. Just believe me, it was amazing!

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