Leaving Napa Valley and the Leisure Travel Van Group was a bit sad but the morning was filled with chores. Grocery shopping, a stop at pet store for Harper (she needed a new tag) and I needed a new power supply for my computer because some nameless family member chewed through the power cord. So we found a Best Buy somewhere along the route, and a Pet Smart and of course groceries and our trip home began. From Napa Valley the most direct route home is 3,056 miles according to my mapping app, and we never take the most direct route anywhere, but we are gonna try.
Our first day out we made tracks toward Lake Tahoe as our son, Jason, said we would really enjoy that route. Well as you may remember Carol isn't too fond of windy twisty roads with sheer drop-offs and no shoulders. Thanks Jason, your Mom was a nervous wreck, but we really loved the drive.
We stopped several times to hike and stick our feet in the lake and talk with rangers. Did you know that it is Smokey Bear's 75th birthday! I got a commemorative Smokey coin which is now gracing the inside closet door of the Doodle. What a special beautiful place. By the end of the day we were nestled into the Truckee River RV park...this seems to be a gathering spot for fishermen and river rafters.
Interesting how so many RV parks and campgrounds make their advertising look so different from the reality of the park. We figured we would be on the river but the river was across the highway and down a very steep embankment. Oh well. . . we had a great night anyway and it was a fine stop for our first night homeward. The following day we moved east on Route 80, our main travel artery for then next couple of thousand miles or so. Next morning we were headed east and were soon in Nevada. We stopped to have breakfast at the Gold 'N Silver Inn Diner, a small restaurant complete with a built in casino. I gambled away a dollar after breakfast, betting pennies 8 at a time, and it actually took me about 15 minutes before I was out of the game.
We moved on with one dollar less inner pockets, but hey, you can't come to Reno and not try something! - and I never did figure out the rules on the machine. . . Nevada rolled by all day long and it had some spectacular scenery and it had some boring spots. By days' end we arrived in Wendover, the border town on the border of Nevada and Utah. We ate at the Salt Flats Cafe, a small, local, hole in the wall genuine Mexican restaurant. I'm thinking that this was the best meal I have had so far on this trip. I had the chile relleno and two enchiladas, with refined beans extra tortillas and cheese and OMG was it ever good.
From here we moved on to the Salt Flats and some BLM land for a few night in the 'wilderness'. Thought to be a wilderness without any trees but that's what it was. We drove back down some windy, bumpy dirt roads and just set up camp, right on the edge of the salt flats. It was spectacular, windy but spectacular.
As darkness fell, and it took forever to get dark, I played around with my camera knowing I had only a small window of darkness before the moon would rise and wash out the stars. I think I got a few good shots. In the morning we got underway and drove over to the actual Bonneville Speedway where all the land speed records are set. Turned out just to be a dead end paved road that ends in the middle of the salt flats. This area is where they race. It is 15 or so miles long and 5 to 7 miles wide of dead flat dried salt. Although, this summer the flats aren't quite dry yet, as it was a wet spring and many events have been postponed. Everyone is waiting for August and drier salt. Several people had driven out onto the salt and the under side their cars were completely encrusted in salt...I can't imagine getting that cleaned so it won't corrode.
We drove completely across Utah that day and into Wyoming. We stopped in Evanston at the Bear River park and saw a few bison and got Wyoming information and found out about the hot springs in Saratoga Wyoming and off we went.
We found a city park (highly recommended for those out there traveling route 80 in Wyoming) called Saratoga Lake Park. It is $15 per night for a site with electricity and all we had were twenty - it was an honor system of self registration. We asked a couple of folks if they had change for twenties all to no avail. As we walked down to the lake there was a young man struggling with his trailer. I jumped in and within a couple of minutes we had the trailer back in good service - it was a ball hitch thing that I had seen before. I then asked if he had change for a twenty and he did one even better. He handed me three five dollar bills and said I was a life saver for helping and he wanted to pay for our night's stay. Of course I argued but he was insistent and gave me a blessing for safe travels. The whole world should be as nice as this young man. You meet the best people traveling. Harper loved the lake and sniffing all the new and exciting smells in the park. Oddly, not only were there sea gulls here but pelicans as well, and we saw an otter swimming nearby too.
The following morning we found our way down to the hot springs along the North Platte River. They were hot! It was fun to sit in a pool of hot water and chat with strangers. I had a conversation with a couple of gents, one was a local the other a traveler like us. We had found out about Wyoming route 130 across the Snowy Pass and had to take it. Again a few spots gave Carol a bit of nervousness but all in all it was one of the most beautiful drives we have taken. It was very reminiscent of the Canadian Rockies near Banff.
We had the most enjoyable drive and a coupe of short hikes and we played in the snow. Harper loved the snow. She did Zoom Zoom Dog, a crazy doodle dog thing in the snow. We had also had Cheyenne in our sights for the spot to end the day, but little did we know it was Cheyenne Frontier Days!
Cheyenne Frontier Days is a very big deal in Cheyenne! So big that all the campgrounds and rv parks charge double during the frontier days! Double, or more...one place wanted $130 for a night! We found a place for $40 (still expensive) to park in someone's pasture! We thought that maybe we would stay a couple of nights and go to the rodeo but just the logistics of getting there, parking the rig and large cowboy crowds and the fact we couldn’t bring Harper just kind of turned us off, we decided to keep moving.
We found a breakfast place called the Luxury Diner and had a huge breakfast, and lot of local color with cowboys and cowgirls. All hats and sparkles. Carol and I spent the day in downtown Cheyenne. We visited the state museum and did some shopping and had ice cream, Harper loves ice cream. I tried on Cowboy Hats, but no one had boots to fit these large feet.
Heading to Nebraska, Sidney, Nebraska, to be exact, at the recommendation of my older brother who has some fond memories of riding his motorcycle through this area. Sidney is he home and world headquarters of Cabelas, the famous hunting fishing camping store. As I write this I am in the Cabelas RV park, which is adjacent to the store. I just finished a buffalo burger at the Goose Pit, a bar next door. Carol is reading and I am typing away. Now I need to sort out some pictures to fill in these words.