Friday, January 04, 2008

Threading The Needle

For a Christmas gift I opted to take my dad to Reno for a couple days.
click pictures to enlarge
For the first time I stayed at Harrah's downtown. Here's the view out our 16th floor window. It's no Vegas, but then again, everything's in walking distance. And the room was quite nice.

Here's the daytime view; notice how desolate the surrounding real estate is. Also note the blue sky!

My dad didn't want to gamble away all his money, so we went to Virginia City--home of the Comstock Lode. This view is from on the way there looking back towards Reno; Atlantis is the closest casino you can see, and downtown is visible but is enveloped by the cloud shadow. This cloud is from the first of three storms expected to hit the Sierra over the next couple days, and is one of the few clouds from that storm to make it as far as Reno.

And this is Virginia City, where over $1,000,000,000 in silver was pulled out of the ground in the mid-to-late 1800's. Only about 800 people live there full-time now.

I don't know why, but I liked this house. Again, look how desolate the area is. Virginia City is at about 6200' elevation, and I'm sure there's plenty of snow there even as I type this--storm #2 was expected to move past the Sierra crest.

Gotta love the union building, if nothing else.

That sign is one of the reasons I love Nevada.

On our drive back from Virginia City the news reports about the coming storm were getting more and more alarmist. I told my dad that we can't go anywhere until we take a look through the National Automobile Museum, the cars in which used to be owned by Bill Harrah. Above, your erstwhile blogger since in a mid-1920's Ford, the only car in the museum in which you're allowed to sit.

Not a lot of controls or amenities.

How about this 1921 Rolls Royce, the body of which is made entirely from copper sheet?

After the Car Museum we watched the local news, and the first of three successive storms was already hitting the western slope of the Sierra. Chains were already required over the summit. We weren't scheduled to leave until this morning, but potential blizzard conditions made a good possibility that I-80 would be closed down today.

My dad wanted to leave immediately, but I'd have nothing of it--we were going to put on chains, in the dark, no matter what, so we may as well go get a good buffet dinner beforehand! A short walk to Circus Circus satisfied that need, and then we checked out and headed upward and westward.

By the time we had to put on chains the first storm had already worn out. There was some snow and plenty of ice on the road, and we drove with chains for about 15 miles. At no time did we ever see one drop of moisture fall from the sky, and we got home in less than 3 hours (my normal driving time is 2 hrs).

This morning, though, I awoke to a fairly powerful storm here in the Valley, which means the Sierra is taking a pounding. A quick look at Yahoo Weather shows, though, that the storm isn't as bad as was predicted and we probably could have gotten over the summit this morning, but the CalTrans web site shows that westbound 80 is closed as of noon near the summit due to spinouts.

Our trip was cut short, but it was a great one nonetheless. We threaded the needle, getting over the summit between the storms. Should make for some excellent skiing next weekend!


rightwingprof said...

Virginia City. That theme song is running through my head again.

I don't know if you read Andrew Olmstead or not, but he was killed in Iraq yesterday, and he had written an "in case I die" post. It's here (follow the link).

Darren said...

We got drinks in the Ponderosa Saloon.

And I heard about Olmstead.