We headed out on our 150 mile daytrip about 8:30 this morning, but our first stop was only a few miles up the road for breakfast at Denny’s.
Back on the road by 9:30 we drove up the west side of Lake Tahoe on SR89 for about 30 miles until we came to Tahoe City. Along the way we passed a lot of spectacular scenery overlooking Lake Tahoe.
At one turnout near the head of Emerald Bay, we looked down on Vikingsholm, a Scandinavian castle built by Lora Knight in 1929.
One of the first summer homes built on Lake Tahoe, it welcomed celebrities such as Will Rogers over the years.
Besides the castle, Mrs. Knight also had built a rustic 16 x 16 ft teahouse on Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe.
Located at the highest point on the island, all of the stone had to be ferried by boat over to the island.
It seems like every turn just brought more great scenery into view.
A little way before we reached Tahoe City we encountered these two really neat old cars.
Don’t know what they are. Maybe Nick knows.
Reaching Tahoe City, we turned away from the lake and headed north to I-80 and Truckee. Reaching Truckee, we turned west for a few miles and ended up at Donner Pass State Park.
The museum covered not only the Donner party, but also the many emigrants who passed through here on their way to California.
Unfortunately, because of the way the many displays were lighted, I wasn’t able to get any good photos. But they did have this model Conestoga wagon loaded up with typical supplies.
And this was something I’d never seen or heard of before. It’s a snowshoe made for horses.
Leaving the museum, we headed down the nature trail that lead toward the area where some of the Donner party wintered over from November 1846 to February 1847.
None of the cabins survived, but this rock was the wall and fireplace of one of them.
This monument, near the museum, commemorates the hardships suffered here, and also marks the spot of another cabin. The height of the monument base, at 22 feet, marks the depth of the snow in the area that winter.
Leaving the area and heading east toward Reno, we thought about the irony of the fact that the Interstate I-80 now runs along the route that the Donner party was trying to take.
Getting into Reno, we turned south toward Virginia City, climbing about 2000 feet up into the mountains, with another set of great views along the way.
Coming into Virginia City, we found a quaint, old fashioned town clinging to the mountain side. Most of the town buildings date from from after the big fire of 1875, when most of the town burned to the ground. Only one partial block was left standing.
Over 2000 buildings were lost, leaving 10,000 people homeless. But the entire town was rebuilt in less than a year.
Our first stop was “The Way It Was” museum. Housing thousands of artifacts from Virginia City’s heyday, it details many facets of the townspeople’s lives.
Home of the fabled Comstock Lode, the many mines around the area yielded up over $400 million dollars of gold and silver. That’s billions in today’s dollars.
One of my favorite exhibits was this scale model showing only 250 miles of the interconnected 800 miles of mineshafts underneath the town.
Sorry for the so-so photos, but the sunlight coming through a skylight washed it out.
Next we took a tram ride around town, with our tour guides pointing out the many mansions in the area, and also the many brothels. Unfortunately a number of places we wanted to see were still closed for the winter, and won’t reopen until this weekend.
One thing I did see was a new personal record for a mountain grade. My previous best had been 12% going through Canada, but that was in the RV.
But 15%, even in the truck was pretty good.
Leaving Virginia City, and getting back to Reno about 4pm, we stopped off at Famous Dave’s BBQ for dinner. And as usual, really, really good. But Jan and I were both somewhat disappointed that this franchisee doesn’t the Firecracker Green Beans as a side dish. Bummer. They’re really good.
Hopefully this one will last as long as the first one did.
Getting home about 8:30, we were both pooped after a long but very fun day. But tomorrow will be a do-nothing day, let me tell you.
When we got home, we found Landon’s school class photo that Brandi had sent over. That’s him on the upper left. Love those plaid shorts he’s got on.
Thought for the Day:
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell
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