Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Few Weeks of Firsts

This part of our travels has garnered several firsts for us; the first time we've been three weeks in a row without cell phone service, the first time we've gone two weeks without Internet service, the first time we've been this far north into the heart of California.  I have to admit we found the no cell phone/no Internet tough since at times we were far from towns and medical services--something we've become more aware of since we're much older now than when we started our travels.

We've had some interesting firsts:  while sitting outside enjoying the sunshine one day I was tossing bits of crackers to this scrub jay and that's when we discovered that scrub jays eat their fill and then take the extra food and "bury" it in shallow holes in the ground or thick tufts of grass and then the birds find a small rock or pebble and cover over the area where they've place the food, much like a squirrel buries a nut.
Our campground in the Napa Valley area ended at the base of the dam at the southern end of Lake Berryessa, which was ultimately why we left early.  Denny had visions of an earthquake occurring and the dam letting go which would have washed the entire campground away.  Our first time of running from a campground.  But it was a beautiful setting on Putah Creek.
That same campground provided another first; a handicap accessible swimming pool.  This seat apparently swivels and lowers into the pool.  Hey Penny--ya see this?

This was our first visit to the St. Helena/Napa Valley area.  A stop at the Sutter Home tasting area was mandatory as trying Sutter Home wines was my first venture into something more sophisticated than Annie Greensprings.  We also discovered the palacial wineries of the area were as much art form and garden displays as makers of fine wines.
We saw our first tiny grapes on the vine and talked to our first self-taught vintner, enjoying a very educational wine tasting at the Van der Heyden Winery.
We discovered that like so many states, California is a land of contrasts and beauty.  And that lakes come in all colors including this gorgeous teal blue of Lake Berryessa.

For the first time we watched remote controlled boats race on a lake on the grounds of our campground in Nicolaus, California.  Men and their toys! RC boats sound a lot like lawnmowers.  A lot of lawnmowers.
While in the area Denny and I stopped to visit one of his cousins who moved to Calfornia from St. Louis several years ago.  We discovered he had trained (no pun intended) to become an engineer and now had a route that passed through Sparks, Nevada. New(s) to us!

Denny and I drove on Interstate 80 for the first time, going up and up and down and then up and up again as we headed east towards Nevada.  The closer we got to the Donner Pass area the higher the snowbanks were that lined the roadway but fortunately the day was sunny and the roads were clear.  Because we do not carry chains since it is not our intent to be where there is snow on the roads while towing The Beast.  Ever.
Our first time in the area of Donner Pass--when your ears are popping and the speed of the truck drops down to 45 mph going up the steep inclines of the well paved interstate highway it's amazing to think of the hearty breed of people who traveled thousands of miles from the east with their covered wagons and oxen or horses in the extreme temperatures and rugged terrain.  Denny and I agreed that we wouldn't have one tenth the fortitude of those folks.
Our first time in Reno, Nevada.  It's not Las Vegas but it's an interesting little town. There's another one of the Diner's, Drive Ins and Dives restaurants here that Denny and I will sample after playing some golf this week.
And our final "first" for this segment of our journey is that this is our first campground where the primary mode of transportation is that of electric scooters.  It seems that one of the residents (most everyone in this campground/trailer park seems to be permanently ensconced here) who was injured in an automobile accident received a large insurance settlement which he promptly used to buy himself and eleven other people in the park who have disabilities electric scooters. The place is pretty ticky-tacky but the people who live here are friendly and have big hearts.  Plus they have a great view from the western edge of the property where the owners have created a little BBQ pit and seating area for watching the Truckee River.

From here we'll head to Vegas and then on to visit friends and family in a more familiar route but towards the end of summer we'll venture into northern Minnesota and Wisconsin for some new scenery before turning the nose of the truck towards New York and Ohio to see our kids.  I'm hoping there are still a lot of "firsts" out there for us.


Anvilcloud said...

There is much to envy of your lifestyle.

Arkansas Patti said...

I would have had Denny's fear by the dam also. I hold my breath each time I drive below a dam here.
California is so diverse and beautiful. I can see why people put up with all the natural dangers.
Glad you are back in the land of communication.

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