Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Trip to Sparks, Nevada - Pt 1

Before we get goin', we'll just say "Enjoy!" now :-)  Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Well, how do I begin this thing? So much to talk about, so many pictures, and some nicely unusual aspects to cover.

It all started back in early September when our friend Ron, from Portland, Oregon stopped by for a quick visit while attending to family matters in the area. He got a chance to meet our new baby granddaughter Melody and mentioned that he does some woodworking as a hobby. I don't remember if it was Ron or Bettina who suggested he make a rocking cradle for the little one. Anywho, we talked about it and he he said he would try his hand at building one, never having done one before. AND, I thought we agreed that we would pay for shipping it down here to Vegas. That is until his wife Sue DM'd us on facebook to say the cradle was almost done and we'll meet about halfway - in Sparks, NV - to pick it up!!! Wait a minute, meet in Sparks, NV? That's not what we agreed on.  What the heck!!!

---From here I'm going to digress a little bit. Ya see, there was a time in our life when it took little or no suggestion for us to just get in the car and head on out somewhere. I was like that before I met Bettina, and when we hooked up, she was pretty receptive to that kind of stuff as well. Over the past decade or so we've gotten so complacent, so afraid of going anywhere, so lazy,  that I got in the habit of telling people that any distance further than three stoplights from the house was considered 'long distance'. Oh sure, we would go to Mt Charleston occasionally but that's kinda considered 'local' even though it's about 45min drive. You've seen Bettina's photos of the mountain taken from Da Hood and it's not that far away.---

Well, after thinking about it and talking it over with Bettina, we kind of warmed up to the idea. Our biggest fear was leaving our daughter Nathalie and little Melody alone for an extended period. It sure hasn't taken long at all for us to become doting, worry-wart, grandparents LOL But Nathalie has a plethora of friends - her own support network as it were - and we decided a couple days would be okay. 

Next step was planning the trip. I practically lived on Google Maps planning the route, printing out maps and street views and you name it. I'm sure glad I did that because as we were traveling, I would tell Bettina, "I've been here before" - kinda like Déjà vu. First order of business was getting a new tire for the Jeep. Mine had a cut in the sidewall and would loose a few pounds of air when I hit a bump hard enough. That's okay for toolin' around the city but this trip was no joke. A new tire and $250 later and the Jeep was good as new again. Then there was the extra oil, anti-freeze, windshield washer fluid, snacks..... Oh brother! Our friends gave us the dimensions for the cradle and we decided it would fit in the back of the Jeep, BUT that would mean we had to pack everything in soft luggage/cases just in case we had to empty them and place the stuff in the cradle. Large hard cases wouldn't do.

The trip was planned for the Columbus Day holiday weekend which meant I had Monday off of work. That worked out well because we saved on the cost of the hotel by checking into the hotel on Sunday. Saturday would be free to get things in order and pack the car.  After a hectic day of packing and preparation it's off to bed Saturday night at 8PM and up five hours later on Sunday 1AM. We left the house at 2:45AM!

According to Google Maps, Las Vegas to Sparks was 464miles,  about 6hr 46min drive. Okay, we'll see. We hadn't really gone anywhere of significance in the Jeep (Patriot), which I bought new in 2011, and we had no reliable mileage data for it. Also, it has a dinky little gas tank, only 13.6gal, so that meant we'd probably need to make more gas stops along the way. AND most of our driving would be at night - much harder to see landmarks. All of this was a new adventure for us.

"On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again"

Willie Nelson
The Trip In Photos

Sunlight just peeking up on the horizon. We gassed up in Beatty and at this point we haven't reached Tonopah

little story: It's early Sunday morning on a 3-day weekend and we stop at a Rebel gas station and doggone it - there's a line at the rest room - a one stall men & woman's affair!

It's dawn at Tonopah

little story: throughout our trip there were signs along the highway warning of wild horses, free range cattle, wildlife areas, yadda, yadda. Just before Tonopah, when we were just able to see the road clearly, a coyote crossed our path. Had I been going any faster the Jeep would have got fur-covered tires!

Many of the photos we'll post were taken from the car through the windshield or door window. I tried to Photoshop out bug splats and  what not, but geez, I could spend the next week just cleaning photos - we took a lot!

Near Mina, NV

little story: The scenery in the southwest always amazes me. I was stationed at Victorville, California for four years and saw a lot. I've driven from Milwaukee, Wisconsin down through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and into Victorville; I've driven to and from Denver, Colorado; driven cross-country from California to New Jersey just before headin' out to Good Ol' Deutschland for ten years; and upon returning Stateside drove from Milwaukee here to Las Vegas via Minnesota, South Dakota,  Wyoming, and Utah; and taken trips to the Grand Canyon. This trip was just as gorgeous as any other and offered a beauty all its own.

We're now entering Hawthorne, home to the U.S. Army Hawthorne Army depot

Abutting Hawthorne is Walker Lake - a gem in the middle of the desert

The lake drive follows some rugged terrain

In this part of the state, the desert takes on a different look. It's a bit greener, has more vegetation, and an occasional tree or two or three :-)

End of Part 1. Next time we'll continue on up to Sparks.

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