2020 October COVID Adventure Part Eleven: Last days — Draft

Another Day Poking Around Bishop

On one of our last days, we drove up to Rock Creek Canyon, which sits north of Bishop about 20 miles. Rock Creek Lake is another 10 miles through the canyon. The aspen trees sported their autumn coats, and a breeze ruffled their yellow leaves.

Sunburst shines through green and yellow tree leaves
Sunburst shines on fall colors

The Big Meadow Campground was open for day use only. Jon would have liked to stop and fish along the creek, except he had never purchased a fishing license for 2020. So we drove on.

Yellow-leafed trees line a road
Entrance to Big Meadow Campground

We continued to the end of the road at the lake where we had planned to eat our lunch. Unfortunately, the road to the lake was closed, so picnic tables for eating and taking close-up photos of the lake were impossible. A few hardy anglers hiked down to try their luck. We didn’t think it was a good idea with the smoky skies.

We remembered a turnout near a western red cedar. No cars nearby, so we parked and ate our lunch while admiring the tree.

Western red cedar pine tree alongside a road.
A fine specimen of a western red cedar

Always curious to see where roads lead, we took a detour on our way back to Bishop. We passed through farmland and ranches in Round Valley and drove by Rovana. The US Vanadium Corporation established the Rovana housing tract for its workers at the Pine Creek Mine. By 1951 there were 85 houses and another 50 added later. All the homes are still in use.

The smoke wasn’t too bad along U.S. 395, but it grew thicker as we approached the mountain. When we reached the end of the road, we could barely see the peaks.

Road leading to mountain peaks shrouded in smoke
Pine Creek Road

With the sun close to setting, we returned to the fifth-wheel to prepare for our departure the next day.

On the Road Again

We left the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop on October 28, 2020. Hwy 120 through Yosemite was our usual route when the road was open. A requirement to have a reservation just to drive through kept us from taking the scenic route. A few more days on the road wouldn’t hurt and the Sparks Marina RV Park sounded like a good idea. So north on U.S. 395 we drove.

As we passed by Mono Lake, we pulled off the road to take a photo of the blue waters. From this view the tufa towers (limestone formations) weren’t visible, only the smaller forms poking out of the water near the shore. To learn more about Mono Lake and the tufas go here to see our post titled “Summer 2018 Tour – Mono Lake.”

Blue skies over Mono Lake's blue water, flowering shrubs and grass in foreground
View from west side of Mono Lake

The Bridgeport Inn looked like a good place to stop and break up our drive. The 1877 Victorian inn began as the Leavitt family home and stagecoach stop. Today the Peters family owns the property which they operate from mid-March to mid-November, providing rooms and dining for travelers and visitors to the area.

White Victorian era Bridgeport Inn and Restaurant
Bridgeport Inn and Restaurant

It was past noon, so we enjoyed a relaxing lunch as the only patrons in the dining room. It’s the sign of the times when the one thing on the table is hand sanitizer when you enter a restaurant. No place settings or bottles of condiments in sight. The wait staff delivers those items after you order.

Wallpapered dining room with cane seats and rectangle tables
Bridgeport Inn Dining Room

Kitty corner from the inn stands the 1881 Mono County Courthouse, another example of Victorian architecture in town, which is still in use today.

Victorian era Mono County Courthouse
Mono County Courthouse

Sparks, Nevada

We weren’t in the mood to do any sightseeing while in Sparks. Instead, we hung around the trailer and walked to the marina to check the construction progress since our last visit. The first thing we noticed was the view out the fifth wheel’s back window. Here is what it looked like during our 2017 stay.

Fluffy clouds over brown hills, line of trees, gravel mound, and brick wall
View from our site at Sparks Marina RV Park in 2017

And here is the view in October 2020.

Apartment building, blue sky, trees, over behind brickwall
View from our site at Sparks Marina RV Park in 2020

Another notable change was an abandoned building down and across the street from the RV park. The photo below shows the corner in 2016.

Abandoned concrete building behind chainlink fence
Southwest corner of E. Lincoln Way and Harbor Cove Dr. in 2016

In the October 2020 photo, the abandoned project vanished and luxury apartments sprouted in its place.

Waterfront at the Marina Apartments Five story luxury apartment building
Waterfront at the Marina Apartments 375 Harbor Cove Dr.

New construction also appeared along the lake’s shoreline. In 2017, the blue and white building in the photo below was mixed use with retail and businesses on the bottom floor and condos or apartments on the upper floors. There were a few businesses that made a go of it, others were not so lucky.

Blue three-story mixed use building, brown hills, cloudy sky, lake, marina
Shoreline development at Sparks Marina Park Lake

And now the Waterfront Apartments dwarf the small blue building (on the right in the photo below). The once blue building was undergoing a facelift, a promise of better times ahead for the property.

Apartment buildings reflected in Sparks Marina Park Lake
Additional shoreline development

It was sad to see that our view out the back window was a three-story apartment building. Yet I understand the need for housing in Sparks. For the past twenty years, manufacturing, distribution, and technology companies have poured into the Reno/Sparks area. This made jobs plentiful, housing not so much. Reno, known as the “Biggest Little City in the World,” is not so little anymore as housing mushroomed in all directions. I guess that’s the price of progress.

Home Again

On October 30, 2020, we drove the rest of the way home. As we listened to the news, we heard that COVID-19 cases and deaths broke records daily while Trump and his campaign insisted he vanquished the virus, “It’s a beautiful thing.” One report stated once infected, you are immune for months while another report said that was not true. Nobody seemed to know what was going on.

And then we pulled into our driveway and look what was waiting for us.

Pumpkin on doorstep of blue house with white trim
Welcome home and Happy Halloween

Thanks, Chris and Laura, for the homegrown pumpkin. It was just what we needed to push the bad news from our brains and focus on Halloween. Will parents take their kids out trick or treating during a pandemic? Do we want people coming to our door? Should we buy candy?

We were tired and had a lot of work to do unpacking the trailer and washing clothes, so no candy for the brave parents that let their kids dress up and beg for treats. We turned out the porch light, turned the volume low on the television, and watched a movie. If we’re home next year, we’ll pass out candy.

And with that our 2020 October COVID-19 Adventure comes to a close.

Up Next:

We have nothing more to share. Homebound describes our life since the end of October, and until we receive the vaccine and places open up, we don’t see the situation changing much.

So, I’m taking a break from posting on the blog. We’ll be back as soon as we can venture out and explore again.

Until then, stay safe.

Personal Virus and Vaccine Update

On December 3, 2020, San Francisco Bay Area health departments put us under another stay-at-home order. They released the restriction on January 25, 2021. Hooray haircut time!

Today the virus is still among us. New variants pop up weekly. Vaccines are in short supply. Distribution has been sketchy. Eligibility to receive the poke in the arm has changed more than once. Ineligible individuals are jumping the line. Appointments aren’t easy to get. More vaccine is due this week. It’s Wednesday night already. Where is it?

Jon has an appointment on Tuesday, February 9, for his vaccine. I check every day without success to procure one for myself but will keep trying.

Like everyone else out there, I can’t wait until this ordeal is behind all of us.

On the Road Again and an Upgrade Update

On The Road Again

We retrieved our trailer from Happy Daze RV on June 6 and on June 8 we were back on the road pointing the GMC Denali toward the South Dakota Black Hills. We had a few stops to make before we arrived at our destination point.

With the fifth wheel and truck sporting washed and shiny exteriors, the weather and road conditions decided to pour rain and kick up muddy water as we drove across the Sierra Nevada’s on Interstate 80. Both the Truckee and the American Rivers filled their riverbanks at levels we have not seen for a number of years and we glimpsed a few waterfalls gushing from the hills. A great sight to see after more than five years of drought.

When we stopped a few miles outside of Truckee, I enjoyed breathing in the fresh clean evergreen fragrance. Besides water gushing in the rivers, we took note of the snow that capped the mountaintops and nestled under the trees like dirty white blankets. A fierce wind buffeted us when we arrived at Sparks Marina RV Park but by 11:00 p.m., it had subsided and a gentle rain pitter-pattered on the roof lulling us to sleep.

This was the view from our kitchen at the back of the fifth wheel.

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View from Fifth Wheel at Sparks Marina

Apartments will soon block the lovely view. A housing shortage, caused by the influx of workers to Google, Amazon, and Tesla, has spurred construction of apartments and new homes in the Sparks, Reno and surrounding areas.

The next morning we woke to no wind but a few drops of rain. As we headed to the Sparks Marina for a walk around the lake, Jon found a slice of mountain scenery in the city.

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A Slice of Wilderness in the City

Sidestepping the duck and goose droppings, we stopped to watch the squirrels scurry across the sidewalk from their homes in the rock retaining walls to the grassy area next to the lake and the yellow-headed black birds flitting in and out of the shrubs and trees.

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Geese Make the Lake Their Home

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Yellow-Headed Black Bird

After our walk, we relaxed on the patio of Lighthouse Coffee with a cup and a scone while enjoying the view of the lake, mountains, and skyline.

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Sparks Marina

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View of Mountains From Lighthouse Coffee

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View From Lighthouse Coffee

Then it was time to plan our route to South Dakota and book our reservations for the next few days. We rarely make advance reservations, which sometimes doesn’t work out so well for us. Other times it works to our advantage.

The next morning we started out for Iron Horse RV Resort in Elko, Nevada, where we spent two weeks last year waiting on GMC to fix the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) system under warranty (see our posts Elko, Nevada Parts 1 – 3). We had seen enough of Elko to last us for years if not decades, but we couldn’t miss out having an early dinner at the Coffee Mug Family Restaurant, our favorite café in town.

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Our Favorite Restaurant in Elko, Nevada

On our way to Elko, we stopped at the Cosgrove Rest Area and encountered a cluster of unidentified insects. I tried to find them on the internet, but couldn’t locate any images that resembled these guys that did not fly. Does anyone have a guess as to what they are?

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What Kind of Bug is This?

Update on MORryde Heavy Duty Shackle Kit – By Jon

As soon as we picked up the trailer, after having the “Wet-Bolt kit” installed by Happy Daze RV in Livermore, I thought it felt more stable. However, the drive from Livermore to home is only about 15 miles so it wasn’t conclusive. Now that we loaded it for the road trip and are on our way, the trailer is indeed quite a bit more stable. The amount of chucking (sort of like bucking) has also decreased considerably. Once we got to our first destination, we realized an extra bonus after setting up in a camp space. The trailer now has much less movement when we are walking around inside. So overall, it was well worth the money to ensure our safety on the road.  Especially when I saw how much wear had occurred on the O.E.M. bushings and shackles.

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Worn Bushings and Shackles After 13,000 Miles

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New MORryde Heavy Duty Shackle Kit

Time to move on to our next waypoint, Salt Lake City.

Safe Travels.

Sparks Nevada

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We began our forty-four-night journey on July 6, 2016. Yellowstone National Park was our primary objective, and we would try to include the southwest corner of South Dakota if time permitted. Our first stop was Sparks, Nevada, to spend a few days visiting with friends and exploring the area. The Sparks Marina and RV Park served as our home base. We had found this spot during our last stay in Sparks. The paved roads, cement pads, artificial turf, and wide spots all within walking distance to the marina and lake impressed us. Our visit, this time, did not disappoint. We enjoyed walking along the two-mile marina and lake trail, greeting pet owners and their dogs, and watching the ducks floating in the water before fresh baked pastries and brewed coffee enticed us to stop at Lighthouse Coffee for breakfast.

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Paddleboards on Sparks Lake

 

Their patio had a great view of the paddleboards and kayaks (available to rent) skimming across the calm waters. Volleyball courts and playgrounds for children, along with the water sports, make this park a favorite place for everyone.

 

The next day we visited Pyramid Lake and Museum making a loop northeast out of Sparks on Route 445, then back down Routes 446 and 447 to connect with Interstate 80. The lake is within the 475,000 acres of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Reservation and home to five different species of fish including the Cui-ui and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

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Used through Creative Commons License 3.0, #81876: Sunlight on Pyramid Rock, copyright 2015 Tanya Wheeler, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/photos/81876

This is an excellent place to get away from the city for a day of fishing or to stay awhile and camp. Pyramid Lake Marina and RV Park offers twenty-five sites with full hookups or beach camping with no hookups. It was refreshing to see that development of hotels and casinos had not spoiled the natural beauty of the shoreline. The tribe focuses on preserving the recreational and cultural resources of the reservation, which includes the lake and related fisheries.

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Front of Pyramid Lake Museum

The  Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center in Nixon has informative displays and exhibits about the tribe.

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Rear of Pyramid Lake Museum

 

 

 

 

 

While driving the roads to the lake and back, we commented on the bumpy ride and questioned what the department of transportation did to make the roads like washboards. Were they like this because of the snow?  When we hit the freeway, we knew what was wrong. We had experienced the same bumpy ride twice on our trip to Texas earlier in the year. This time, both rear truck tires had bulges that looked ready to burst, evidence the tires had separated.

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At least, we could get them both replaced at the same time. Goodyear sent us to Discount Tire for the warranty adjustments, which took most of the next day. So much for sightseeing around Reno and Sparks.

Next stop? Elko, Nevada.