Greetings from nevada our first stop was ...

Trip Start Jun 02, 2002
Trip End Apr 01, 2003

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Greetings from Nevada,

Our first stop was Ely, Nevada. Our second stop was Reno. Highway 50, nicknamed "The Loneliest Road in America," is the road between Ely in the east and Reno in the west. We wondered how lonely it could be, because we have been down some very very long and lonely roads before. The road to Ely, however, was not a lonely one. A full-size male elk with a full rack of antlers decided to step out of the bushes and share the lane with us. Jenn's quick thinking and professional driving skills and the elk's survival skills saved all three of us. The truck and trailer remained on the road, the elk happily hopped across the street, and we pulled into the Ely KOA Campground in one piece.

Thursday - Our first stop of the day was the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. Ely was founded as a silver-mining camp where they had to smelt the rock to separate out the silver. To smelt the silver they needed a lot of charcoal to make hot fires. The made their own charcoal by burning wood. They built six 30 foot high stone kilns in the shape of a cone to burn the wood into charcoal. I still do not understand how burning wood creates charcoal, but we spent about 10 minutes at this state monument on our way to the Great Basin National Park.

Before we arrived at Great Basin National Park we first drove through some beautiful mountain scenery. We signed up for a half hour tour of Lehman Caves, but the tour did not begin until an hour later. So, we spent the hour hiking around the park. The trail was partially covered in old snow which now had turned into ice or slippery slush. If we stood still and silent we could hear the small stream trickling down its course parallel to us. On our way back through the trail I found something that shattered the tranquility. It was about the size of a football and its grey color behind the green leaves made it easy to spot. It was a giant hornet's nest! I am still intimidated by the mere sight of a hornet, and although this nest was abandoned, my heart still thundered in my ears. I bravely took a picture of it and we made it back to the truck for a quick lunch without falling or getting stung.

Both of us have been on cave tours before, but none of them compared to the cave we walked into today. The marble and limestone passages had many large and colorful formations. Actually, they were the largest we have seen. The cave was full of the usual stalactites and stalagmites but also there were soda straws, columns, shields, and draperies. The size of the cave and its formations made it a wealthy cave. Our tour guide told us that the cave was actually a very safe place to be in the event of an earthquake, however, none of us including our tour guide could imagine feeling safe in a dark underground cave with only one way out. Back at the visitor's center we felt the weight of a small foot long stalactite and we could not believe how heavy it was.

This was the end of our short stay in Ely and we left the next morning for Reno. Highway 50 may be known as "The Loneliest Road in America," but the snow capped mountains we drove head-on towards were some of the most impressive we have seen thus far.

Friday - We like to relax after pulling into a campsite after a long drive, but we were too excited about Reno. Just as soon as we finished hooking up the electric, water, and sewer we drove into the city to see its famous casinos. We were a little disappointed when we arrived and we did not find any gigantic casinos with tons of flashing lights. The casinos looked like hotels and nothing more. We walked into Circus Circus and watched a free circus act of Chinese performers as they juggled and balanced large ceramic pots with their heads. We tossed and lost a dollar or two in the slot machines as we walked out and went back home for dinner.

Saturday - We drove back to Reno to check out the other casinos and joined a few of their clubs to receive comps when we gamble here or in Las Vegas. We gambled a little again without winning anything and had dinner at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Gambling, drinking, and eating until you drop is such a hedonistic way of life, but it is fun for a day or two. We were on our way out of Harrah's when a spokesperson from Fairfield Resorts talked us into going to their time share promotion. In return, we would receive 4 buffet tickets and 2 tickets to the nightly comedy act. It's hard for us to turn down free stuff, so we accepted the invitation.

After dinner we went to watch a Jimmy Buffet cover band perform. There were two lines at the entrance and Jenn asked one of the ladies why there were two lines and the lady asked us if we were 1Club members. Jenn told her no and she told us to go to the lady standing beside her. We went to the other lady and Jenn asked her how we could become 1Club members. For some reason she thought she heard Jenn say we were 1Club members, because she then handed us 4 free drink tickets, a hat, a shirt, and a laminated membership necklace. Way to go Jenn! We, of course, had a great time dancing and making friends to some happy snappy tunes.

Sunday - We arrived at our time share appointment in the morning with a plan to listen politely and then respond with a "We're not interested, thank you." Let me prelude this story with the fact that Jenn loves to run the numbers. When they started to get into the how much it would cost us, Jenn soon began to figure out how much we could save. She had the salesman and the manager running back and forth to their boss asking for permission to sweeten the offer. This is when I leaned over and asked Jenn when she was going to tell them we were not interested. The sparkle in her eye faded as the reality of us not having jobs returned to her. Our hour and a half presentation finally ended three hours later. We collected our door prizes and walked out without spending a penny.

That night we went to the comedy show and watched this guy do impersonations of actors and singers. Another couple shared the table with us and we began to talk. They were interested in our story and we were interested in what they had to say about Lake Tahoe.

Monday - When we first saw Lake Tahoe we could not believe our eyes. The lake's setting was right in the middle of snow capped mountains; half of it is in Nevada and the other half lies in California. The water was a gem blue color and it was as clear as bath water. According to our AAA book, the water is clean enough to be bottled and sold as purified water. We drove around the entire lake and as soon as we crossed over the state line into California, we began to see redwood trees. It was strange enough to believe that the redwoods knew to grow only on California soil. Its beauty was vastly different than the desert terrain we found in the rest of Nevada.

We left Reno the next morning after we cashed in our last two buffet tickets and had a huge, delicious breakfast. We may have not won any money in Reno, but maybe we will be luckier in Las Vegas. Our next stop was Sacramento, California.

Wishing you luck and good fortune,
Love Dave & Jenn
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