Thursday, October 11, 2012

From the Desert to the Pines

We left Tulelake on the first of October and moved south to Fernley, NV for 3 nights. It is a small town east of Reno. It was still fairly warm there so we stayed in a nice RV park that offered 50% discounts to members of one of the RV clubs we belong to. While there we drove to Virginia City to play tourist.

Virginia City was the site of the Comstock silver discovery, and one of the richest deposits of silver ever found. It is typical of those mining towns that grew from nothing to 30,000 people almost overnight. When the silver played out around 1900, the town fell into disrepair as almost no one lived or visited there any more. That all changed when the TV show Bonanza became popular. It triggered a tourist explosion that was parlayed into a long term tourist destination that lasts to this day. The town has all the usual shops and historic buildings. We took a short narrated train ride that provided a lot of the history of the town, the mines and the people. All in all, Virginia City was one of the better Old West type tourist destinations we have visited.

From Fernley we headed south through Nevada, stopping overnight just off the highway south of Tonopah one night, and continuing on to Las Vegas. We spent just one night at Sam's Town RV park. We drove the strip looking to see if there were any new hotels we had not seen, but eventually just went to the Venetian where we walked along the canal and watched the gondoliers. I guess times have been tough in Las Vegas because there is not a lot of new construction.

From Las Vegas we headed north and east through St. George and Hurricane Utah, then east toward Jacob Lake, AZ. We found a very nice spot in the forest about 3 miles east of Jacob Lake, and a mile off the highway on a forest road. We are in a large clearing with pine trees all around and a beautiful view out our back window. We are relying on our solar panels and generator for power, and have plenty of water for several days. Although our satellite provides both TV and internet access, we also have a good Verizon 3G signal that is faster than our satellite for internet.

In addition to the nice location and cooler weather, the primary draw of this location is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We drove the 40 miles down to the Canyon on Monday the 8th, and drove to Cape Royal and Point Imperial vista points. I greatly prefer the views and ambience of the North Rim to the South Rim. The canyon seems more spectaular and there are so many fewer people.

We returned to the Canyon last evening to have dinner at the Grand Canyon Lodge. We were seated at the window and had incredible views of the canyon in the hour before the sun set as we ate. After our meal we walked out to Bright Angel Point where we watched the sunset. It was a special evening. We considered it our 44th Anniversary dinner, and we also wanted to remember Dianna's Mom on what would have been her 90th birthday.

The drive back to our spot in the forest was slow after dark. We must have seen over 100 deer along the highway, most of whom had no idea when it was safe to cross the road.

On the 15th of October, everything except for the visitor center closes for the season. The visitor center remains open until snow closes the road south of Jacob Lake, something that could happen at any time. The weather here has been very nice up till today. The highs have been in the upper 60's to lower 70's, and the overnight lows have been around freezing. Today rain moved in so we will not be doing much until it leaves the area tomorrow night. We are at 7,500 feet and don't expect anything more than a chance of snow flurries, but at the higher elevations they might get a dusting or some accumulation. We certainly found cooler weather! Chances are we will move further south on Saturday.