After leaving Utah we had around 500 miles to go to get to our next big destination, Reno, so we planned two quick overnight stops. We weren’t in any huge hurry to get there because some of our friends we planned on seeing were out of town on work trips. I was excited though because I was hoping to see some people I never really got to spend time with before I left my job at the end of January. Our stops were in Wells, NV at a nice little side of the road campground. A cute place with grassy lots and big trees that were turning beautiful colors. If only it weren’t so darn cold and that big dark cloud on the mountain to the West threatening snow would go away. We did take advantage of their nice warm bathroom and showers. With the chance of an overnight freeze we had decided to put the water hose away in the evening, so it was a good call. The morning was pretty and we really enjoyed the drive. Nevada has way more mountains than I ever knew. Of course I have really only been in the Reno area and Las Vegas. A really beautiful state and it is also the richest in gold mining. I haven’t verified that, but the old guy at the campground told me that, so it must be true. Winnemucca was the next stop. Bigger than Wells, but not much there either. This was a more commercial type campground with gravel and paved sites with cabins lined up all around which made it look like a concentration camp. I got the camper in pretty easily and later we drove down to the grocery store to get a few things for dinner, but nothing exciting happened that night other than checking out the tiny casino attached to the Wings restaurant and some TV and reading.
We arrived at Pyramid lake Thursday afternoon. It’s about 40 miles NorthEast of Reno and is on the reservation land of the Paiute Indians. It is where the Truckee river delivers water from the Sierra Nevada mountains- there is only an entrance for the water, no exit. The water either evaporates or gets reabsorbed into the ground. The marina campground is pretty basic, it has quite a few permanent occupants though, one guy said he had lived there for 3 years! It served us well and we had nice weather and a good view of the lake. The Sunsets were amazing the whole time we stayed there. We went into Reno on Friday where I went bowling and to dinner with a group from my old job while Kat did some shopping at Trader Joes and dinner with our good friend Kelli Cavallaro. Later I went and picked Kat up and then we headed out towards Carson City to stay with friends (Debbie and Pat Bowers) for the evening. Saturday we all headed back to Pyramid lake to stay for the night. I was amazed at how many people said they had never been to Pyramid lake or if they had they said we may not like it there because it is so stark. We love those kind of places and we have stayed at and enjoyed lots of places like it. We were asked many times where our favorite place is and I usually say South Dakota because it was so full of interesting places to see and so many different landscapes, but really we have been surprised by the unexpected beauty of many places. Who ever knew how exciting fields of corn could be or a drive through lots of nothing?
Saturday we arrived back at the camper pretty early and since it was a nice sunny day so we took a walk on the edge of the lake and just talked to catch up. Pat had brought some firewood, so we started a fire early in the evening. This prompted one of the locals (Ernesto) to come over and show Pat how to build a fire, point out which way the wind was blowing and how to lay the logs. It was pretty amusing….at first, but he would go away after a bit and then return to repeat everything he just said. I am not sure if that was his normal behavior, but Pat had great patience with him while the rest of us just watched. I hope Debbie and Pat realize that this is not the norm for us, but you have to take things and people as they come.
After a delicous Sunday breakfast of green chili egg burritos we packed up the camper and headed into Reno where we were scheduled to stay at the Grand Sierra Casino RV campground. I found it funny how a lot of local people had no idea it was even there. I had seen the campers and walked past it during my stays in the hotel, but if you live in Reno you may not pay attention to that. We were super lucky that we were able to have Kelli comp the stay. She does a lot of business with them and gets comp rewards sometimes. She was super generous to help us out like that. It even allowed us to use the hotel gym! I wanted to take advantage of that and was pretty good about it during the stay.
We were waiting on word from one of Kat’s customers as to whether she had to go away that week, we finally found out it wasn’t going to be until Wednesday and she would be back Friday. So we were able to keep our dinner plans on Monday and Tuesday. We we also able to go do some volunteering at the Northern Nevada food bank on Tuesday afternoon. We spent about 2 1/2 hours sorting through boxes of donated food. The donated goods get sorted into categories and then packed up to go out to smaller food banks. It was a pretty well organized production and we worked alongside a church group. For the rest of the week I kept myself busy with lunches, dinners and visiting with people until Kat returned. It was really fun to visit with people I didn’t see before I left. Everyone was so awesome about taking time to eat, drink and be merry while catching up on news.
Saturday we left early for breakfast with friends. After a great breaksfast we headed to Carson City for the Nevada day parade. That was the best parade I have ever been to. It wasn’t just bands and fire engines, but lots of different businesses and clubs that all wanted to be seen. We went to the museum, saw the rock drilling competition and best of all, the beard contest. After the parade we had a great all you can eat sushi dinner. Sunday was breakfast for me with friends, then a day of football while it rained off and on with a mix of snow flurries. We finally got home late Sunday night and much to my disappointment my mountain bike was gone from the back of the camper. The lock was cut and it was just gone. I knew I should have put it in the camper! I had thought when we parked there that I should always bring it in at night because of the surrounding area with many transients, but I also am a trusting optimist. Really I just forgot in our excitement to go to breakfast and the parade. The campground was never empty and othere RV’rs were always around so I really didn’t think it would be stolen. I was wrong. I reported it to security and the Reno police. Reno police still haven’t gotten back to me with a case number or acknowlegement of my online report. When I called the lady asked me if I knew who had stolen it? What? That is a ridiculous question in my opinion because if I knew who had stolen it I could have reported that! I was a bit crushed and it still amazes me that it is gone. However, Kelli’s husband Dom came to my rescue and took me bike shopping the next day. I was so overwhelmed by his generosity that I was speechless for awhile. It is a nice bike and I am very greatful that I am able to ride again so soon.
Tuesday we headed up to Virginia City so I could show Kat a real cowboy town. Really, how many towns still have the old buildings with the wooden sidewalks? We didn’t do any of the mining tours or go into any of the saloons, but it was fun to see and the drive up there is really pretty. It was pretty quiet and sort of expected because of the weather. I love when I see an old cowboy movie that is filmed there or references Virginia City, so I had to go again.
All the fun with friends continued through to our last day when we went to lunch at my favorite chinese buffet- Sticky Plate Cafe (Ghengis Kahn for you unimaginative people). The last day also included a fantastic dinner with Kelli and her husband Dom while we watched the Cubs win the world series.
Thanks to everyone who took the time out of their busy schedules to come say hi. We love seeing old friends and making new ones. It really was a great stay and we were sad to leave. We hope to be back soon!