Or maybe how far west can you go, would be a better title! Day 2 started with the long drive across the Nevada desert. How long? Long enough to knit an entire dishcloth and almost finish the leg on a 15 inch boot sock!
More specifically, it is 400 miles and change across Nevada, and the terrain doesn’t change much. It is a high desert plateau, covered with sage brush and not much wildlife. There must be elk, because we had three elk crossings on the interstate…the road goes through a giant, but very short culvert, with an elk passage over the top! No surprise that, because elk can be a little larger than a horse, not a good thing to meet at high speed! Nevada is made much bearable by the fact that the posted speed limit is 80mph, though the traffic flow was averaging 90 to 100 mph.
I kept looking for the mountains as I knew them from growing up in Colorado, but they didn’t look anything like that. Finally, just outside of Sparks/Reno they came into view, still with plenty of snow. Suddenly we were in the mountains, with coniferous trees all around, and going down the pass. We had now crossed into California, and the the ride down the west side of the Sierras was a little hair raising. There was some road work in progress, and suddenly the entire westward lane came to a complete stop. I’m not real keen about stop and go traffic on a 6% grade.
Had the traffic been a little less busy, we would have stopped at the rest area for some good pictures and a snowball fight. Those of you in the Eastern U.S. will laugh, but we South Dakotans think the traffic out here is insane!
Once we exited the Sierras, we were suddenly in a wide valley, filled with all sorts of crops. The photo I successfully caught was grapes. Since this is not the valley famous for its wine, I am guessing these were grapes for juice, jam, etc. but I don’t know for certain. We started into another set of hills which really shocked me, because they are totally brown! DH explained that California lost its native grasses long ago, and now only have annuals. Their season is already over, so they have already gone dormant. It also explained how wildfires get out of hand so quickly in this country! The hillsides were filled with windmills.
While it wasn’t the same day, we’ll continue down to the ocean. I’ve seen the Pacific once in the late fall on a very cold and gray day, so seeing the ocean in June was a treat. I was surprised by the wind, it is constant and pretty strong. The sand was incredibly soft and warm which made up for the cool ocean breeze. It was a glorious day and the hour we spent there was wonderful! I found a few shells and a broken sand dollar as a memento. Watching the tide come in was fascinating!
Again, these aren’t great photos, but they give you a flavor of our trip west. I get one more group up with some photos of the beautiful campus and things that amazed me.