The Road to 65, Mile 183: Northwestward, Resumed, Day 4- Reno to Mount Shasta

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May 30, 2015, Mount Shasta- I am at the base of northern California’s most sacred peak,

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in a town where Black Bear Diner came into existence, some twenty years ago.  The little eatery is still here, and in several other locations, across eight states.  So, I had dinner there this evening.

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More about that, in a bit.  The day started with my little “grand-niece’s” blanket tent being carefully honoured by everyone, including she.  After my usual breakfast of cereal and coffee, I bid my Reno family farewell and headed west.  The first stop was the Sierra Nevada town of Truckee, both for a bite of lunch, (leftover from last night’s dinner at Pho, in south Reno). and to check out the neat little spot.

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Sierra Inn is one of Truckee’s signature hotels.

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Truckee Hotel is the other.

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The main street was just starting to stir, on this bright Saturday morning.

On the north back street, there is a cute Arts Center:  Kindred Art and Folk Institute

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Having been to the performing arts center in Carson City, a few days ago, I am more inclined to notice these places, further along the road.

On the south side of town, across the tracks, runs the Truckee River.

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It is about as low here, as it was in Reno, on Thursday.

The grass and meadow flowers are doing okay, though.

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I drove on, across the Sierra Nevada, skirting Donner Pass- the site of infamy, in the mid-1860’s, and over to I-5, stopping briefly at Panera Bread, in Sacramento, for a power smoothie.  The Sacramento River, seen from the highway, appeared to be running a tad higher than the Truckee.

I made it to Mount Shasta, the city of a few thousand artists, ranchers and dreamers, around 5:30.  Finlandia Motel, on the west end of town, was my choice of rest stop for the night.  It has a small spa, which gave me a much-appreciated soak, after checking out the town by car and on foot.

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The office and lodgings have a fairy tale ambiance about them.

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I got to play with my zoom lens a bit, over the past few days.  The peaks to the west of Shasta (southern Cascades) loom larger.

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The town has a fine natural foods market, Berrydale.

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A barefoot young man, seemingly in a state of befuddlement, asked where he could get espresso.  Berrydale has a small deli counter, but it was 7:30, and even natural foods grocers have to go home at night.

Seven Suns, though, is the main spot in town for fine coffee and tea.

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                                   Has Beans is the preferred coffee source in this part of California.

Back to my dinner:  I sat at the counter, and was served by an attentive, mature lady.  Nearby, a local man was working a crossword puzzle.  I was able to give him one of the words, and a man in the booth behind us, gave another.  Our conversation ranged from the arcane (He:  “Different species of people can interbreed very easily”.  I: “That’s because we are all the same species”) to the edifying (He:  “I save all my paperwork.  When the government came after me, I won.”  I:  “That’s good to know.”)  I learn something new from everyone I meet, it seems.

The Road to 65, Mile 182: Blanket Forts

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May 29, 2015, Reno- When I was a boy, forts of all kinds were the only way to go:  Tree forts, rock forts, and bedding forts (which were the bane of my mother’s existence).  My last night in Reno finds me “guarding” a blanket fort, the creation of a 3-year-old, and actually very sturdy.

We all seek security, knowingly or unknowingly, every waking moment of our lives.  The information age has brought the need for new kinds of fortresses. So, we make do with passwords, both fun passwords and the more mundane variety.  We pick and choose who gets to see what- and I have had the discomfort of an e-mail account being hacked, a few years ago.  I learned the hard way, six years ago, about computer viruses, trusting the wrong “Internet Security” outfits, which led to wiping the slate clean.  Now, I maintain a high level of security online and am conscious of offline safeguards as well.

We watched a program, this evening, about predators and their teen prey.  I spent the better part of my career educating children and youth about  how to avoid just this sort of thing, in the aftermath of some serious depredation in the 1990’s.  Now, as I have ridden around the Biggest Little City in the World, I see trusting young women holding signs, asking for assistance, having seemingly little knowledge of the sort of people who could “help” them.  I can only pray for these naivetes, and talk with those who will listen, to get them to focus on building their own fortresses.

The blanket fort survived the night, and its creator slept safely, in another bedroom.

The Road to 65, Mile 181: Carson City and Karaoke

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May 28, 2015, Carson City– I am not graced with a melodic singing voice, and dancing came to me only after a lot of practice.  Today would be capped by my artistic Washoe County extended family members, dancing (3-year-old ballerina) and singing (professional disc jockey).

We headed out for Carson City a bit before noon, the eventual goal being to watch a pre-school graduation, with several dances and Nursery Rhyme skits.  First up, though, was a visit to one of downtown Carson’s neat eateries- Comma Coffee.  It is just down the road from the St. Charles Hotel, on Carson Street. The Ferkin & Fox Company now owns the St. Charles Hotel.

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Comma Coffee is home to a rather spooky group.

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The walls reflect 150 years’ worth of memorabilia.

The “performers” prefer to hang loose.

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Carson City’s beginnings, rooted in the days of the Pony Express, are commemorated in front of another cafe.

We spent a half hour or so walking around the State Capitol District, the heart of Nevada’s capital city.

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This is one of three buildings used by the Attorney-General of Nevada.

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West of the AG’s complex is the Donald W. Reynolds Press Center, of the Nevada Press Association.

Uptown from the complex is the Nevada Commission on Tourism, in one of Carson City’s oldest buildings.

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We then sauntered over to the grounds of the Capitol itself.

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This statue honours Nevada’s miners, a collective mainstay of  the state’s economy.

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The state has seen its law officers more at risk, as the population has grown so rapidly, in the past thirty years.

There are several other statues on the Capitol grounds.  There are also more than two dozen types of flowers.

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We took a short break in late afternoon at LA Bakery, another fine little cafe, in the West Side Historic District.  It is owned by some Persian-Americans.

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My affinity for bonsai was satisfied by this little gem, in the dining room of LA.

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My mom  had a Ming-style bonsai, in our parlour, for over forty years.

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The Stewart-Nye House was home to a Nevada governor, James W. Nye, in the last years of the Nevada Territory.  Mr. Nye, and his predecessor in the house,  William M. Stewart, became Nevada’s first U.S. Senators.  The house now is the site of a law office.

The Pre-School ceremony was held in a former Catholic church, now a Performance Hall, ironically called the Brewery Arts Center.

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The children did an admirable job, with the various songs, dances and skits set before them by the veteran Pre-School Director.  Our youngest generation is up to reaching the bar.  My Reno extended family’s youngest member did her part in the dance, and made us all proud.

We headed back up to Reno afterward, and enjoyed an hour’s worth of karaoke, with thin-crust loaded pizza on special, at Uncle Vinny’s Pizza.  My host, Steve, was the DJ at the event, and it featured five melody masters, each doing their covers proud.  Of course, in keeping with my policy, no personal photos are posted here.

It was a fabulous day, and my Nissan is close to being roadworthy once again.

The Road to 65, Mile 180: Two Gardens, Two Riverwalks- Part 2

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May 27, 2015, Reno- The atmosphere in downtown Reno, and along the Riverwalk, is changing.  The gentry have arrived, thanks to banks and high mortgages, leading to higher rents, leading to artisans moving out.  Gentrification here, as in so many other places, means condos, retro plastic furniture and limits on public parking.  At least near the Riverwalk, that limit is two hours, free.

A friend referred to Reno as being on the edge between mountains and desert.  Indeed, this is the case.  I have felt myself being on several edges, simultaneously, this week.  It’s not an uncomfortable feeling, mind you, but one which rewards alacrity.  Let’s see:  Cold has been followed by heat; rain, by bright sunshine; near-collapse of personal transport, by active efforts at repair of same.

This brings me back to the Riverwalk.  Several cities have emulated Le Promenade de la Seine, with San Antonio and Sacramento being the most prominent, here in North America.  Reno’s Riverwalk takes in the banks of the Truckee.  There are cataracts, narrow sluices and old stone bridges on which to focus.  The water is turgid, brown, and, at present, shallow.  Kayaks have run aground here, this year.  As I said, earlier, so have a few iconic artisan shops. Dreamer’s, where we eventually enjoyed iced beverages, has moved further downtown, into Reno Center.  Another, once comfortable, gathering spot has replaced a detailed mural with one that is more generic, and its big comfy chairs have given way to small, pea-green plastic seats, that remind me of the East Coast in the early Seventies.

Nonetheless, a Riverwalk is a Riverwalk, and there are places worthy of seeing here.

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This is an eastward view of the Truckee.  The old bridge is due to be torn down and replaced, soon.

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Cataracts lead to swimmers jumping in the deeper spots, during Reno’s July Arts Festival.

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This bridge, in mid-Riverwalk, seems to be the most popular crossing.

The oldest church in Reno, First United Mehtodist, dating from the 1860’s, lies north of the river.

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We moved towards downtown, after a quick walking survey of shops revealed trends which disappointed my host, a long-time resident.

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Outwardly, Reno has changed little, since I was first here, in 1980.

We found the new Dreamer’s Coffee House, and enjoyed iced lattes.

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I know, I need to engage my zoom lens- and I have, since- just not here.

Whilst gazing upon the Truckee, my thoughts went back to La Seine, and to the Riverwalk of San Antonio.  The last has endured some bumps, over the past five days, with its river rising and falling- and possibly rising again this coming weekend.  My heart is with San Antonio and its sister communities, across the land of the Lone Star.

In the end, though, there is this truism:

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I have my good points, as a man, but coffee- Yes, it brings us all up to speed.

The Road to 65, Mile 180: Two Gardens, Two Riverwalks- Part 1

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May 27, 2015, Reno- The sodden ground of Texas has been much on my mind, in this strange, beautiful and terrible end of May.  The Red Cross has issued a call for volunteers, both general and specific.  Once again, here I am, far afield from the disaster area, wrestling with a measure of guilt and facing my own challenge.  Such is the cost of marching to one’s own drumbeat.  There will come a time, again, when I will find myself in a disaster area, and will be all-in with the recovery work.  For now, that work falls to others.

So, on I go- being here, in The Biggest Little City in the World, for some people who I have known, seemingly forever, and they for me.  It will take another day or so for my vehicle to be refitted; then I will take my leave.  I hope that, in some way, I will have refitted my friends to address their individual pain-fields, and to be more equipped to cast that pain aside.

Most cities have at least one public garden, where flora of all kinds are celebrated and allowed to flourish.   One of Reno’s is the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden, named in honour of a local philanthropist and rancher, who was a scion of the May Department Store’s founder. It is part of the larger  Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. Our visit there, yesterday, took place under partly cloudy skies, in comfortable conditions. Here are a few scenes.

The Duck Pond had two intrepid mallards in it.  The often ubiquitous Canadian geese were nowhere to be seen.  It being a strange year, that is somehow not surprising.

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After stopping by the Visitor’s Center, and confirming as to the reason for the dearth of waterfowl, we continued to the Arboretum and Botanical Garden, proper. St. Patrick’s Grove greets the visitor, and extends along the sidewalk.

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The stone shamrock reflects, with its cracks, the experience of  Ireland.

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The Labyrinth Garden is small, and mainly features ground cover, around the intriguing maze-like circle.

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Passing into the Arboretum, we came first to the Kleiner Grove, featuring oaks of the East Coast.

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                                   A small area is set aside, in honour of Wilbur May’s mother.

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                                   The bridge, and adjacent waterfalls, express Mrs. May’s tastes.

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            This waterfall was available for photographing.  The other was the focus of another patron’s deep meditation.

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This abandoned water slide lies just east of the park.

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The Songbird Garden was rather quiet, but then, it was mid-afternoon.

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These fountain stones evoked Carnac, for me.

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Light and shadow have a reassuring effect.

While finishing up our visit, I thought of Blucher Park, Corpus Christi’s downtown nature walk, which feature’s that area’s native plants.  It was lovely, this time of year, in 2012.  I wonder about its condition now, after the tribulations of last weekend.  Corpus saw its record for wettest month broken, this past weekend.  It apparently did not suffer as much as places further north and east, but the pain is there, and the community lost one of its own, in floodwaters near the town of Uvalde, west of San Antonio.

We continued on, this afternoon, to Reno’s Riverwalk and downtown.  More about these, in Part 2.

The Road to 65, Mile 179: Whatever it Takes

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May 26, 2015, Reno- I am proud of all those who are standing firm, in the wake of the torrents that have raged in the southern Plains and Prairie regions, over the past four days.  It was pointed out to me, by another reader, that these types of events have been de rigeur in the nation’s midsection, for so many years now, as to be unsurprising, if not expected.

Life is always challenging.  One way to look at this is to recognize that our challenges are what build personal and collective strength.  Texas and Oklahoma have lost a few people, and lots of property, as a result of the floods, tornadoes and ongoing rain.  There have been a fair number of heroes emerging from the disasters, as well- most notably those who were proactive in getting their property and their neighbourhoods ready for just such events, and who have been in the forefront of the initial recovery efforts.

This won’t be the end, in this tough year, especially in the hurricane pathways.  There is no telling about tornadoes, earthquakes and fires.  You know what, though, the nation and its communities will face these, too.  Opportunities for service seldom go begging to be filled.

I am just glad that all my friends are safe, in the affected areas.  I am also very grateful to my friends of three generations, here in the Reno area, who have been nothing but generous and helpful during my own, relatively minor challenge, which we as a group are meeting and resolving, over the next few days.

The Road to 65, Mile 178: But For The Grace

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May 25, 2015, Reno- Yesterday, for us here, was a day of reflection, of gratitude towards the fallen, and of intense discussion about spiritual matters.  I will need to invest a fair amount in my vehicle, this week, and I will be okay; it will be okay.

I am terrified for our country’s fourth-largest city.  I haven’t spent much time in Houston, over the years.  I have a few friends there, and will be in touch with them by private message, tomorrow.  I appreciate, to this day, the assistance given us by some Space City residents in 1984, when my wife was deathly ill, after our return from Guyana.  They sacrificed greatly on our behalf, and set the mold for our own welcoming of people into our home, over the years- some for weeks, others for months.

Now is time for everyone’s thoughts, prayers and actions to be focused on Houston, on Texas, and on the south central part of the country. Water, everywhere, is our sustenance, and yet our threat. Across the globe, India has a different issue:  Extreme heat.  I’ve not been there, but those who have, have told me that the intense heat throughout most of the subcontinent nearly exceeds anything habitable- yet people make do.  It falls to those of us who are doing relatively well, by comparison, to also focus positive energy in their direction.

I’ve had a fair share of difficulty and challenge in my life.  Yet, the old saw about missing my shoes, until I met a man with no legs. always resonates- especially in times like these.  God bless the fallen.  God bless the displaced.

The Road to 65, Mile 177: Northwestward, Day 3

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May 24, 2015, Carson City-   When I have been rendered less mobile by circumstance, and it is a weekend, my tendency has been to go with whatever flow that presents itself.  Memorial Day weekend is not time for automotive shops, or many other business establishments, to carry on business as usual.  Besides, the weather, almost nationwide, is pretty horrific right now.

We had a beautiful morning in the Reno area.  The plan for today was to visit with other friends in Carson City, Nevada’s capital, some twenty-eight miles south of Reno.  It was not a heavy schedule, but a picnic lunch and some playtime for a three-year-old, at a park on Carson’s north side.  Here are two scenes of the park, with children and families left to their own devices.

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Our little friend had a great time, going up and down a couple of slides, and around other parts of the playground.  She was very much interested in the mushrooms which were growing near our picnic table, though not to the extent that lunch was ignored, especially with the doughnut dessert waiting after bites of cold cuts and cheese.

As an afternoon storm began rolling in, we went back to Carson friends’ house, kibbitzed a little about a cheesy, semi-adult cable TV show featuring robots trading barbs with a guy in a Starship Troopers get-up, and headed back towards Reno, using Hwy. 395.

The route took us past Beagle Rock.

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We checked out Big and Little Washoe Lakes.  The former was little more than a puddle and in fact, Little Washoe is, at present, the larger of the two.

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                                                                 “Big” Washoe Lake

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                                                                          Little Washoe Lake

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                                                            Little Washoe Lake

The Road to 65, Mile 176: Northwestward, Day 2

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May 23, 2015, Reno- I ended up here, exactly where I wanted to be this evening.  It was the way I ended up here that is one for the books.

The morning dawned, grey, cold and gloomy in Tonopah.  I had a light breakfast, then headed up the street a bit, to downtown, to take in the Jim Butler Days Parade.  This is Tonopah’s Founder’s Day event, so all the area converged on Hwy. 95, and thereabouts.

Tonopah, NV on a grey Saturday morning (May 23, 2015).

There is an urgency, with respect to the protection of children here, as in many communities.  These pinwheels serve as a reminder that this is everyone’s responsibility.

At 10 A.M. sharp, the parade started.

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As is always the case, local service organizations provided clown cars and other motor vehicles.

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A hobby horse took center stage, atop a local car dealer’s entry.

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Young ladies performed a belly dance,with dignity and grace.

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I passed by the venerable Mizpah Hotel, centerpiece of downtown.

My attention was then drawn to Tonopah Mining Park.  Similar to Arizona’s Jerome State Park, the expansive spot celebrates Nevada’s rich history in extracting gems and minerals.  No serious study of mining can ignore the Silver State.

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The entrance to Tonopah Mining Park.

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Ore wagons and drilling bores are on display, with visitors asked to keep a respectful distance.

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This is an example of where miners lived, here in Tonopah.

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Here is what is called a Grizzly, where the ore and mineral were separated.

In the Park’s museum, I paid attention to the many examples of gems and minerals offered by the soil and rock of Nevada.

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Note, in particular, the azurite (bright blue stone).

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Malachite is also important here, as it is in Arizona.

Finally, I caught the view of downtown Tonopah, from the hillside.

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I walked back to my Nissan, and had little trouble heading northward, until I got to the small city of Hawthorne, just shy of Walker Lake.  There, the same issue which landed the old warhorse in a shop in Prescott, recurred.  I waited ninety minutes here, enjoying a tasty calzone, from Pizza Factory, and writing in my journal.  I received a message in my head, saying “We’re going to get you to Reno.”  Trusting this, I started the car up again, and voila!  On we went, along the shore of scenic Walker Lake, past the towns of Yerington, Silver Spring and Fernley, and a tripped railroad gate, which was not an issue for me, as I kept the car in park, then was able to go around, with help from a sheriff’s deputy, who was engaged in traffic control at the errant gate.  (There was no train.)

I got to Sparks, and called my friend from  Sierra Sid’s Casino parking lot.  Then, it happened again, no power when shifting into gear.  Considering the four stop lights and two left turns that lay between Sid’s and my friend’s house, I got a tow.  No one else was inconvenienced and the mechanic saw what my problem was.  I have a safe place to stay, the car is parked securely here, and on Tuesday, I will get the vehicle to a transmission shop. We will get to the  bottom of the issue, this coming week, and then the journey will go on.  In the meantime, I will get to see more of Reno and the surrounding area.

The Road to 65, Mile 175: Northwestward, Day 1

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May 22, 2015, Tonopah, NV- After tending to matters of due diligence, including a chat with a local auto transmission expert, I bid my lovely adopted town farewell, for a month or so, and headed north- with some initial trepidation.  One stop sign or traffic light after another, these butterflies faded, as my Nissan kept on performing like a trouper.  I made it to Kingman, gave the car a fueling and myself a break, then headed further, to White Hills.

Rosie’s Den Cafe lies about thirty-seven miles north of Kingman, just shy of “Last Stop in Arizona”, where an unfortunate gun accident changed the lives of two families, last spring.  Rosie isn’t around anymore, but the raucous atmosphere remains in full throttle.  The bantering continued, between the waitresses, cooks, manager, at least one disgruntled vendor and the local regulars, while I continued with my chili cheeseburger. (This road trip will have its share of guilty pleasures, and plenty of healthy fare to balance them.)  There was a bit more tension in the air at Rosie’s than the last time I was there, so “Pray for Peace”.

Las Vegas traffic wasn’t too bad, and virtually dissipated, north of Summerlin and the Kyle Canyon turnoff.  My next stop was Indian Springs, a half-hour out of town, for more gas.  The ride remained as smooth as silk.  I had kept seeing the name Amargosa Springs, in my mind’s eye, over the past several days.  Of course, that little community is home to The Alien Store, so I stopped and stretched a bit.  Then it was onward, through Beatty, Smitty’s Junction and Goldfield.

Tonopah, with its magnificent hotel-casino,Tonopah Station, was my stopping place for the night.  I had fish and chips for supper, and settled in at Economy Inn.  Rain, which has been my companion, off and on, all day, stopped briefly- long enough for me to get to the Station’s cafe and back, on foot.  I will end this account with a few choice photos.

First, here are a couple of views of the area around The Alien Store.

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Tonopah has a similar terrain, being the eastern foothills of the Panamint Range, and the eastern portion of the Mohave Desert.

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Tonopah Station holds its own as a classic hotel.

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James, the Bear, greets gamblers and diners alike, in the hotel foyer.

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So, this old mining community has given me safe haven for the night.  Tomorrow will bring a brief look at the surroundings, then a 3 1/2- hour drive further on, to Reno, and some time with old friends.