Today is Aug 20th, day 2. We're driving 335 miles today from South Lake Tahoe, California to Elko, Nevada.
When last we left you we were just pulling into South Lake Tahoe for the night. The Blue Jay Lodge was pretty nice. It was nestled among about 7 other low end hotels that all looked pretty much exactly the same. I'm sure in the ski season it gets pretty insanely busy. But we didn't see too much of the town really. Since the kids were asleep already when we arrived we worked to get the room set up (with Calum in a playpen and Alec on a thermarest on the floor). It mostly worked...
After a bit of a difficult night Erica and Alec had a sleep in while Calum and I went for a little walk. The Blue Jay Lodge is literally half a block away from the Nevada border, and what do you suppose is immediately across the border? The Casino of course! Its totally weird seeing this nice respectable little ski town and then just at one edge of town there is suddenly these monstrous buildings for gambling. It definitely spoils the charm. Fortunately Calum didn't seem to notice.
After a continental breakfast we all hopped in the car and headed off for a short drive up the Lake to the Sand Harbor State Park, and Beach! Arriving at like 9:30am on a Monday morning is definitely the time to go to Tahoe; it wasn't too busy and we got a great chance to enjoy the sand in relative peace.
Alec and Calum promptly made friends with the two little girls beside us, and proceeded to help them dig a hole to China. The lake itself is beautiful, and we all went in the water event though it was a bit chilly at first. Alec is a good swimmer, but is happy to be wearing his new water wings. Calum went in with me and had a good time watching the inexplicably ever present Canadian geese.
We played and swam and dug, and built sand castles, which Alec promptly trampled. Everyone thoroughly had a good time. And then all of a sudden it was time for food. We headed off to the picnic area in the nearby woods.
While the coals got hot Alec and Calum explored the trees, rocks, and stumps. They collected pinecones, and went for a walk.
We cooked sausages, and made cous cous with brocolli. Pretty nice for a BBQ lunch :) Our plan for food as I mentioned yesterday is to avoid too many restaurants. We're hoping to stay at hotels with breakfast included, and then do at least one meal a day on the BBQ. Hopefully the other meal will be cold (maybe sandwiches, or whatnot). We're not trying to avoid restaurants per say, it can just get pricey, and this way is really better family time. Even if it takes a bit longer and means more cleaning.
The kids did well, although after lunch Calum refused to listen to us one too many times and got is first ever time out. Its a tough thing, and I don't think he actually got the message, but at least we're trying. Instead of getting upset at his timeout, Calum just giggled through it.
Then it was time to pack up and hit the road. Elko is a real trek and this may be our biggest driving day overall. Since we're also stopping for beach time, this is going to be a long day!
Logistics: Today we drove through the El Dorado Forest up I50 straight to the 431, and the 395 leading in Reno, NV. From there we struck out on the 80. We'll be on the 80 for quite a while so for the next day or so its a drive through the desert.
Driving through the mountains to Reno was beautiful. We hit an elevation of some 9000' and wound our way back down to Reno. The mountains we're pretty spectacular and there were a few amazing vistas as we drove. Also Alec was really amused to see a truck carrying porta-pottys on the back. He really wanted to try one out!
Our next stop came on the outskirts of Reno. The kids we're getting squirrely and we needed gas and a bathroom break. I took Alec briefly into a Super Walmart to use the bathroom and immediately remembered why I dislike those stores. Just ICKY. Instead we went to Target to take a break and let the kids stretch their legs... hey there wasn't much else around and we needed to pck up a few things. And no, Target and Walmart are totally different. Just go to one vs the other and you'll see. Our kids like hanging out in the toy aisle in target, and they know that we never take anything home. Its kind of like a toy library for them. That's normal right...
Anyhow, after a stretch we got back in the car and decided to push on and get as far as we could before we needed to stop for diner. Lots of flat desert driving followed. Overall the kids have been good in the car, even playing with each other. Calum's still a bit young to engage too much but he has fun on his own and Alec just talks up a storm.
Alec was impressed wth all of the trucks. They we're all very weird to him. He saw a truck with laundry on the back, a truck hauling a boat, and a truck hauling another truck. While this part of the States is nice in its own hellish way, I'm not sure exactly why you'd want to live somewhere so crazy hot and dry. Sure its beautiful, but its also also such a harsh climate. Very tough to figure out.
While we wanted to get further we ended up stopping in the little town of Lovelock, NV. Small town NV. I'm not sure what there is to say about it... they had a nice playground by the courthouse though, even if it was a bit old and rusty,
We set up shop and let the kids romp around for almost two hours while we slowly put together dinner. Some local teenage boys came by and started doing a few cool parkour moves around the playground and really impressed Alec. Calum couldn't care less, but I thought it was cool!
Later we ate soup and pasta cooked on a little camp stove we brought, and the kids did pretty well. Although expectedly Alec did not want to leave when it was time, and Calum took a bit of a tumble, doing a faceplant into a metal bench (only a cut lip though). It was very nice to stretch, but of course soon enough it was time to get the kids in PJs and head back to the car for the final leg of our journey.
The sun set beautifully over the desert hills. We passed not one but two prisons along the way. Probably a good idea to put them out here.. I mean where could you escape to? There were signs along the road indicating that hitchhiking was illegal in the “prison zone”...
We're maybe 50 miles outside of Elko at the moment. The kids are asleep and we're driving in the dark beside tumbleweeds. And at least tonight we'll be in a room with two Queen beds. Hopefully the kids will fare a bit better than last night. I'm looking forward to another fun day tomorrow. We're headed straight east into Utah and Salt Lake City. It should be fun :)