Photo of the month

In the meadow you can build a snowman... and someone did. We have no idea if it's name is Parson Brown, because it was in place before we arrived on the scene for this photo and Mr. Snowman wasn't saying much. But Ben didn't seem to mind the cold shoulder treatment of his wintery companion during our visit to Donner Pass. Photo by Glenn.

March 2005

Ben attempts to make a snow angel during our brief stop at the Donner pass rest area. Does this constitute lying down on the job? Photo by Glenn.

Roni supervises while Ben plays in the snow at Donner Pass. That's the roof of the visitor center to the right. Photo by Glenn.

A new storm front is starting to move in, but there is still plenty of time to play before the next snowfall. Roni poses for a photo with the visitor center as a backdrop. Photo by Glenn.

This is looking southeast from the visitor center. There is fresh snow on the tree branches from last night's storm, adding to the Winter Wonderland ambiance. Photo by Glenn.

The sign says it all. We're on Virginia Street in Reno, heading south for Carson City. Photo by Glenn.

You can see how the sky was becoming progressively gloomier as the day progressed. It is sometime around 2 p.m. and we're on U.S. 395 on the outskirts of Carson City. Photo by Glenn.

The Nevada state capitol is one of the smallest we've visited. It was also the least crowded. Glenn is barely visible in front of the front steps. Photo by Roni.

Roni reads the dedication plaque for the two flagpoles in the capitol courtyard. Photo by Glenn.

This is Kit Carson. Well, not the Kit Carson, but a reasonable likeness atop a statuesque horse. Carson traveled all over Nevada in the 1830s and is Carson City's namesake. Photo by Roni.

This is a statue of Adolph Sutro digging a four-mile tunnel to drain the Comstock mine. The capitol dome is in the background. Photo by Roni.

Where's Norman Bates? Look closely and maybe you'll find his mother in her rocking chair up in that window. There's something very Gothic about this view of the capitol. Photo by Roni.

The Nevada state seal is rendered in mosaic tile on the side of the capitol. Photo by Roni.

We're heading home on I-80 through the Sierra. The snow has begun to fall and the roads are starting to get frosty. We'll be out of this long before chains might be required. Photo by Roni.

From the frozen mountains of eastern California we take you to the spring-green hills of Alum Rock park near San Jose. Glenn's car waits in the parking lot. Photo by Glenn.

These yellow flowers might have been wild mustard or something else, but they were growing in abundance throughout Alum Rock Park. Photo by Glenn.

Sean is ready for a hike, and we got in a long one on this visit. Photo by Glenn.

This stone viaduct is a relic of decades past when trains used to bring visitors to the Alum Rock area, which once was a health resort. Today the bridge is part of a walking trail. Photo by Glenn.

This moss-covered tree seems inspired by a Harry Potter fantasy. Photo by Glenn.

People once flocked to Alum Rock for its supposed health benefits. Sulphur springs are in abundance here, and were tapped for their rejuvenating effects. This may once have been a spa. Photo by Glenn.

A full creek and fast water are evidence of our unusually wet winter in the Bay Area. Photo by Glenn.

As the trail heads deeper into the woods, Sean lines up a photo. Photo by Glenn.

Glenn hangs loose on the fence seen in the previous photo. The stream behind him branches into two at this point — or rather merges from two into one, as we were heading upstream. Photo by Sean.

Doesn't this just invite you to take a walk? This photo is deceptive in several ways: The trail was a muddy mess in places, thanks to abundant rainfall; There were lots of people around, and it only looks deserted here. Photo by Glenn.

Back at home, this is what our wisteria blossoms looked like on our back yard gazebo before the rain and wind got to them. Fleeting beauty. Photo by Glenn.

We always enjoy hearing from our visitors. We welcome your comments.

Seeking snow in the Silver State

March 22, 2005

Spring has arrived, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. This past week has been wet and gloomy, punctuated by periods of gusty winds and lightning. In the space of 48 hours we lost power four times. A couple of times it just flashed off and on again, but on the other two occasions we were in the dark for several hours. That seems to always be the case this time of year. It must be winter’s last gasp before the skies clear up and temperature rises rapidly into the 90s we are used to throughout summer and into fall.

We couldn’t let winter pass us by without at least one romp in the snow, so on Feb. 26 we took advantage of Glenn’s new schedule to make a Saturday drive up to the Sierra. Our original intention was to stay overnight, but things didn’t work out that way. We left home about 9 a.m. and hooked up with I-80 out of Sacramento, finding our way into snow country before noon. Roni had feared that we would be too late in the season to find unmelted snow, but a storm that weekend assured we wouldn’t be disappointed. In fact, the morning of our drive we almost decided not to go because we feared there might be too much snow. Besides, we don’t carry chains, so we couldn’t afford to get stuck up there.

The weather cooperated beautifully, however. We made excellent time to Donner Summit, where we decided to pull off the road at the rest stop there. This has long been a popular stopping place as it is about 10 miles east of Truckee, where despite the tourist trade they haven’t effectively figured out where to put public restrooms. There had been substantial snowfall the night before, and the parking lot at the summit was covered in puddles. Unfortunately those puddles concealed some fair-sized potholes, one of which we fell into -- yes, "fell," perhaps half a foot. The incident was somewhat spectacular if not devastating. A bunch of icy water splashed into the hot engine compartment, and for a moment clouds of steam erupted from beneath the hood of Glenn’s car. We feared that we had broken the radiator, but further inspection proved otherwise. The worst of it seemed to be that the front wheels got knocked out of alignment, although the car is still on the road nearly a month later with few ill effects.

The little mishap aside, Ben was thrilled to be up in the snow. We made our pit stop in the visitor center then found our way through the back door and over the snow-covered deck rail onto a bunny slope where a couple dozen people were playing in the fresh powder. A family with three young kids had plastic snowboards that they offered to share with Ben. He preferred to find his own fun, trudging through the snow and making snowballs to throw at us or any available object.

We hung around a few minutes, but we hadn’t come prepared for a full day out in the snow. Most of our winter gear purchased for our last trip to the Sierra had been lost in the depths of our closet and we never did locate it. Ben, at least, had mittens and a cap.

We ventured on to Truckee, where we stopped downtown and visited our favorite candy store, Sweets, and bought a couple bags of their chocolate and caramel-covered popcorn to take with us. We were also saddened to discover that one of our old haunts, Truckee Train & Toy, had recently closed down. It was Ben’s favorite store when we used to head up to Truckee to watch trains a few years back. He used to play with all the Thomas the Tank Engine displays they had. Times change, and now Ben isn’t in to trains like he once was, so he took the store’s demise in stride. We grabbed deli sandwiches in town and then continued on our way.

Our official destination was Carson City, Nev. One might well ask why we wanted to go there when we had all that snow up in the mountains. Actually, Ben has been studying state capitals in school recently, and after our whirlwind tour of the South last fall during which we saw no less than four capitol buildings, we thought he could add to his "collection" by checking out Nevada’s state offices. We drove through Reno, then picked up U.S. 395 and found the capitol grounds about half an hour later.

Nevada’s capitol is small compared to the others we have been to, but it is one of the most inviting. This being late Saturday afternoon, and Nevada being what it is, our presence at the capitol grounds constituted a mob. In fact, we were the only souls strolling on the 10-acre courtyard. A Las Vegas television station had its satellite van permanently stationed in the parking lot. We had to deter Ben from using it as a snowball target. Yes, there were some patches of snow near the capitol. The place was closed, so we couldn’t go in for a closer look, but we did enjoy the statues of a silver miner and Kit Carson -- the city’s namesake -- riding on his bronzed horse.

This was about the point when we decided the overnighter would only be a day trip. It was getting late, and the incident with the pothole had Glenn concerned about how the car was handling. Ben was disappointed that we had left the snow. Roni wisely decided that we’d had enough fun for one weekend. We hit the road and made it over Donner Pass ahead of another snowfall, and reached home around 9 p.m. Twelve hours and almost 500 miles to say we saw Carson City.

The drive wasn’t quite so far when Glenn paid a visit to his brother Sean’s place in San Jose on March 5. They spent the afternoon hiking at Alum Rock Park, then headed into downtown San Jose for frozen drinks.

Glenn removed “interim” from his job as night city editor at the newspaper on March 11 when he accepted an offer to make the move permanent. He is excited about the change, although it means he now has to work on Christmas Day, which he would have had off under his old schedule. You win some, you lose some. And speaking of losses, we were both saddened by the passing of our friend Roberta Fuss, who we got to know well during Glenn’s days as editor at the Brentwood News when she used to write a column about life in Discovery Bay. It had been a few years since we’d last seen her, but we will remember fondly times we got together for dinner and to watch the Christmas lighted boat parade on the deck of her home.

Now it is off to prepare for birthday celebrations and our wedding anniversary, and to figure out how to repair the stove. One of the igniters crapped out on us a few weeks ago and we haven’t gotten around to getting it replaced, so until we do there won’t be any roasted turkeys, chickens, pot roasts, pies, lasagna... you get the picture.

See you next month.

Glenn, Roni and Be
This page was last updated on Sunday, April 24, 2005 at 21:13 hrs.

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