Friday, August 31, 2012

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 02

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you've got to keep moving.” ~Albert Einstein

Well, the two old buzzards did not fall off their tandem bike today.  We kept moving from early morning until well after 5:00 this evening, logging more miles on Wilma than we probably will on any other day on our trip.

Our alarm in Carson City, Nevada went off at 6:30. We were at Grandma Hattie's at 7:15 and after a stop for Wilma's breakfast (gas for $3.819) we were on our way to Silver City and Virginia City. We were again on Highway 50 until the turnoff onto 342 for the two old mining towns.

There's a lot of abandoned mining structures and equipment in Silver City and some open pit mining going on. We saw present-day signs both for and against mining in both little towns.  Virginia City has some well-preserved structures and a really cute downtown that is both historical and cutsey/touristy. While in Virginia we pulled up to look at the Senior Center and were immediately entertained by the sign on the door that sternly gave notice of “NO FIREARMS ALLOWED”. In smaller letters below it said “Except by Peace Officers”. Sort of makes you wonder what happened in the past to make the sign necessary . . . some of us old folks do get pretty grouchy at times . . .

We retraced our route (on 342) and just outside Silver City we saw a bride and groom made out of various metal parts. The bride had a delicate lace-like “gown” that did little to conceal her girlish figure. They were a fun pair to see and photograph and quite an unusual decoration to be found in someone's long front driveway.

Back on Highway 50 we went through Dayton which has been arguing with Genoa for over 150 years about which one was Nevada's first settlement. Dayton was first called Chinatown.

Outside Dayton John spotted a huge cactus beside the now defunct Oasis Bar. We just had to get a photo of it to show you. Someone, long ago obviously worked hard to construct such an attention-getting cactus and it is still in amazingly good shape when compared to the deteriorated Oasis Bar.
Next was Fallon where we saw signs all over town about the Hearts of Gold Festival that starts tomorrow. Can anyone guess what fruit or vegetable the Festival celebrates? We will let you know who comes up with the first correct answer.

We noticed signs in Fallon saying “Welcome Burners”. Linda thought Burners sounds like a funny name for a high school mascot while John's conjecture is that Fallon is on the way to the Burning Man Festival.
Wilma's mission in Fallon was to help us find Starbuck's, using her GPS. After she said “Destination ahead on the left” we searched in vain on the left and right before giving up and going to McDonald's for coffee and iced tea. McD's actually makes a pretty good non-fat, no-whip mocha. The grass outside looked like a nice place to walk Fannie Mae but as she got back into Wilma we noticed that she had collected several nasty burrs into her leg fur. She wasn't too happy about letting John hold her down while Linda picked them out before that went deeper into her fur. It seems like it's desert like places that have the most vicious stickers.

After leaving Fallon we were soon on what looked a lot like a very large beach. There just wasn't any water. The sand was very light in color. Then all at once we noticed that words were spelled out in dark colored rocks, mostly black, for about a mile along both sides of the road.  They were mostly names. (Spanky, Alma, Rose, Amber,etc) declarations of love (Sam heart shape Darlene) names of schools (NSU) and words like peace, love, joy. It was quite a site to see though somewhat hard to capture in photos.

The clouds were fantastic. Lots of white puffy ones and many shades of grays and blues. Just after we went through Cold Springs we had the first in a series of showers. They were cooling and a pleasant change, making the outside temperature around 72 for miles and miles.

As it was getting longer and longer past lunchtime, the rest area Linda found on her map was sounding better and better. When we finally got to it at 1:20 John had a rice cake spread with peanut butter. Linda had some Raw Bits Twang Twang since she didn't get to have them for breakfast. She also had a boiled egg and some cherry tomatoes from the Buzzard's garden.

We changed drivers for about an hour and a half and then John drove the rest of the way to Baker, Nevada where we arrived at Silver Jack Motel at around 5:15.

After getting settled in our room we went to dinner in their restaurant promptly at 6:00 since they close at 7:30. John had an angus burger with a Mediterranean side salad and a diet Coke. Linda had a Greek salad and a pear cider. As we waited for our orders we soon learned why the cafe is called The Lectrolux. The original owner was inspired to mount a witch onto an Electrolux vacuum cleaner. After that people started bring him old Electroluxes and he built things from them too. So the name of the cafe was changed to The Lectrolux. It is quite funky and eclectic.

Speaking of eclectic, there are 49 photos in today's photo gallery. Quite an eclectic grouping of subjects. You can view the photo gallery by clicking here.

Below is a short video of our drive to Baker.

So that was our trip across Nevada from west to east, all in one day. Thanks for coming along.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 01

Greetings Fellow Travelers!  The Two Old Buzzards and Fannie Mae are glad to have you riding along on what we are calling our Yellowstone Road Trip, even though we will be going to lots of other places as well. 

Today got off to a great start. We were scheduled to depart at 6:30 and at 6:27 we were rolling down our driveway (after setting the trip meter to zero and recording Wilma's odometer). For those of you playing the "Weight, Weight Do Tell Me" game, John's weight this morning was 267.6 pounds. He won't weigh again until our return.

Having stopped for breakfast at The Daily Bagel, we then joined the commuters going north on Highway 101. It wasn't half bad, especially since it was a weekday, we could use the diamond lane and we weren't headed to work or jury duty.

After climbing on 580 for a while we came upon lots of windmills as we neared the Altamont Pass. After descending off the pass, the land became flatter and more suited to farming.  There were maize fields, apple orchards, vineyards as well as cows and sheep. We also passed by the corporate headquarters of In and Out Burgers in Tracy and a Ghirardelli Chocolate Outlet (hmmm, it boggles the mind to imagine the temptations that must exist behind those walls).

In Sacramento, we turned onto Hwy 50, headed east toward Tahoe and Carson City. If seeing the Ghirardelli Outlet wasn't bad enough, when we pulled off for a rest stop at McDonald's in Rancho Cordova, it was right next to a giant See's Candy store (not your ordinary shoebox size).

Soon we entered the El Dorado Hills and went through Pollock Pines and Kyburz. We pulled off by a wooded area and a stream east of Pollock Pines for a  snack of puffed rice "discs" and peanut butter.  By the time we were nearing Lake Tahoe the elevation was over 7,000 feet. What a beautiful blue Lake Tahoe we saw as we rounded a turn on the curvy road. While in South Lake Tahoe we passed over the border into Nevada (right before Harrah's Casino).

For Christmas, John was given a book called Off the Beaten Tracks, so before landing at Carson City, Nevada for the night we made a stop at Genoa. It's claim to fame is that it was the first settlement in Nevada. A squatter's government was formed in 1851 by Mormon pioneers in what was a part of the Utah Territory. In 1861 the Territory of Nevada was created and in 1864 Nevada became the thirty-sixth state with Carson City as the capital. We found Genoa to be a quaint, small town with lots of well-preserved homes and buildings. There are also a variety of parks, two museums, gift and antique stores and several food choices. For our lunch we chose the Genoa General Store which had a deli and seats and tables outside. Linda had a turkey panini, and John had a plain old turkey sandwich (no cheese, thank you).

After a short ride to Carson City, we checked in at an America's Best Value Inn.

We had dinner inside the Fandango Casino at their Rum Jungle Buffet. The buffet was pretty easy to find even in the maze of slot machines and other games. The buffet had everything from crepes, BBQ, Asian, Mexican, salads, seafood, soups, fruits and desserts. It was hard to figure out where to start but the old buzzards managed to find enough to eat somehow. Not a bad deal for $11 each. John had grilled tilapia, fried shrimp, boiled shrimp, steamed clams and one tostada with a bit of grilled cilantro chicken. For dessert he had a small piece of coconut cream pie and a sliver of sugar free cheesecake. Even though he spent close to 1,100 calories for his dinner, he still finished the day about 500 calories under budget. And we didn't put so much as a nickel into the slot machines. And, even though we didn't have any rum at the Rum Jungle Buffet, we did have to get help finding our way out of the casino. It seems that once you are inside a casino, they don't want you to know where the exits are or what time it is.

Not a big bunch of stuff to see today, but we did take some photos and have posted 29 of them in today's photo gallery. You can view today's gallery by clicking here. We took some video and will try to post it in tomorrow's travelogue. Just didn't have time to finish editing it for today.

Here's a brief video we shot leaving home and through Genoa, NV.

On past trips the Two Old Buzzards have had a common thread for reflection included in each posting. Some were these: Funny Sign of the Day, Teabag Philosophy, What I'm Thankful For Today. For this trip we are presenting quotations that have something to do with travel. 

Here's the travel quotation for today: “Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.” John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley. Well, the Two Old Buzzards would not have wanted to travel to Carson City today on a two-lane road but we will try to get off the interstate enough to see something besides the vast world of sameness in Starbucks, Taco Bells, Wal*Marts, Carl's, Napas, Radio Shacks, Super K-Marts, Super Cuts, Walgreens, Lowe's and Bed, Bath and Beyonds. We will try for Beyond. Although, John does love his Starbucks!

We had a flurry of last minute add ons to our “Victims List” before leaving so some of you missed out on the tutorial and the rules for the contests. You can just look at the previous post since that's where it is.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Road Trippin' Tutorial

While this tutorial is primarily to "educate" the more than 30 adventurers joining us for the first time on a road trip, it can serve as an optional review for our "seasoned" victims as well.

We'll be on the road in about two weeks from now and are really excited. Packing has begun as well as taking care of all those things in preparing. We're thankful for John's cousin, Jerry, who has agreed to house-sit once again, with one condition. He has to bring Sammy, who is now at the latter stages of puppy-hood. Earlier followers will recall Sammy's "destruction" of a towel during our last road trip.

There are really four of us on the road for these adventures... John, Linda, Fannie Mae and Wilma. The John and Linda (the Two Old Buzzards) part is simple enough(as sometimes are John and Linda). Fannie Mae is our two-year-old road trippin' black & white miniature Schnauzer. She is our "CWF" (child with fur). She is happy to travel in the passenger seat with Linda, or in her crate (also known as her "special place". Here is the origin of her name: Mini Schnauzers have little stubby tails. When they are happy and wag their tail, their whole rear end moves. Thus, her face may not tell you she is happy, but her "fanny may". Oh yes, that leaves Wilma. Wilma is the name we have given to our 2006 Honda Odyssey. She was named after a favorite restaurant of ours in Sonora, CA, Wilma's Flying Pig Cafe & Saloon. Sadly, the restaurant is now defunct. And, that is the four of us.

Two cardinal rules are in effect when the Two Old Buzzards and their entourage hit the road. First rule: no electronic audio in the vehicle. Simply stated, the radio is always off. Second rule: no television turned on in the motel room. On our many previous road trips, we have found these two rules lead to more conversing between John, Linda and Fannie Mae.

Our new adventurers won't know anything about raw bits (twang, twang). RBTT is a regular favorite breakfast way-of-life for Linda. RBTT is made up of soy protein granules, ground flaxseed, powdered milk, yogurt(if available), shredded coconut and dried fruit (fresh fruit is added if available). The origin of Raw Bits (twang twang), but not the recipe, is from a commercial on A Prairie Home Companion (Buzzard #1's favorite radio show). The "twang twang" part comes from a sound effect used on the commercial. Many years ago John and the kids started calling Linda's cereal concoction Raw Bits Twang Twang.

Daily photo galleries are a favorite on our road trips. Due to limited storage on our web site, we had to take down the galleries from the previous road trips to make room for the upcoming Yellowstone trip. However, you can get an idea of how the galleries work by clicking here to view a gallery of 18 photos of Fannie Mae at 13 weeks of age before and after her first trip to the groomer.

We will sometimes put a link to a spot we like that has a presence on the web. On our Utah Road Trip we made a stop at the north rim of the Grand Canyon and stayed at the Jacob Lake Inn. It was an interesting place so we included a link to their web site which you can visit by (for example) clicking here.

Before our road trip, John wanted to practice using our new point-of-view camera as well as nail down photo and video processing. So, we made a short (43-second) "movie" trailer for the upcoming trip. It's embedded from YouTube.

There, now the "newbies" are educated. We're starting to pack and get things organized. You have been sent the information and rules of the Mileage Madness game, and we hope many of you will play. Remember, you will gain information you need to win by reading our posts. And, we'll have very nice first, second and third place prizes this time around.

In addition, we've added the “Weight, Weight Do Tell Me” game and have also sent the information and rules as an email attachment. Maybe you'll win the pound of See's Chocolates.

While we're on this trip, please feel free to comment on any of our daily postings and photo galleries. We appreciate getting your feedback.

If you are not a geek, we recommend you read no further.

Geek Speak.....Technical info for John's fellow geeks: We primarily shoot photos in camera raw (Canon Powershot G10 and G11), then import, catalog and "process" them in Adobe Lightroom. The daily photo galleries are also created in Lightroom, then uploaded to our web site storage and a link placed in our blog for the appropriate day. Main titles are created in layers in Adobe Photoshop. Video is primarily shot in 1080p HD (Canon Vixia and GoPro Hero2). Video footage is edited in Adobe Premiere, then exported as mpeg2 (for later use in creating a DVD) and converted to Flash video which is uploaded to YouTube. The YouTube videos are embedded into the blog post for your enjoyment (we hope).

Pay attention to this if you are a Verizon smart phone subscriber. We travel with two laptops, a wi-fi only tablet, one smartphone (Droid2 on Verizon) and one not-so-smart phone. John has a 3rd party wi-fi hotspot app on the smartphone that lets us tether one or more wi-fi devices (laptop or tablet) to his phone, giving us 3G data capability and internet access anywhere we can get it on his phone. Verizon was blocking subscribers from using this capability without subscribing to the their "hot spot" service for an extra $20 per month. Recently, Verizon was fined $1.25 million by the FCC and is now prevented from blocking subscribers with data plans from using 3rd party apps which work as wi-fi hotspots. This is from the "For What It is Worth" department and Verizon deserves it!