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Journal of No. 118


July 31st, 2013

Vacation Part II @ 09:35 pm


Holly had warned us that we shoulda looked into Alcatraz tours some time ago, but we were trying to do a mostly unplanned vacation. Next morning, we made our way to the Alcatraz ferry and found out that tickets were sold out for the next three weeks. But that put us on the Embarcadero and we wandered about through the shops and nauticality. We toured the USS Pampanito, a WWII-era submarine. It was very cool to crawl around inside her, and Wikipedia has answered a remaining question: "Why is there a broom lashed to the conning tower?" To celebrate the sub's clean sweep patrol.

Our tiny map led us a little astray in our search for the bus that runs up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. We found the path of the bus coming down, but it took us a while (and much time and up and down effort) to find up bus, which took a circuitous route. We took the elevator up and got a few pics. Here my camera's battery gave up the ghost.

Walking down the hill was much easier. We found a camera shop and got the battery charged a bit while we went to lunch at Bistro Boudin. It was interesting to see some of their turtle-(shaped)-breads and other things being made in the demo bakery below, but the restaurant was a nice quiet change far from the madding crowd of the Wharf. They were out of chicken at the moment, so I snap decided on the sourdough burger. It was fine, the most interesting thing being that they made the patty elongated to match the bread.

Then down the Embarcadero the other way to the Exploratorium, in its new digs on Pier 15. I don't remember so many annoying kids the last time I was there, but the last time I was there, I was an annoying kid. The museum's apparently three times the size of the old site, and it's packed with stuff to fiddle (i.e. experiment) with. I like that it encourages play, but it's so disappointing that mostly what you see is herds of munchkins swarming onto things, bashing them together and if nothing explodes, they move on to the next thing. But every now and again, possibly by accident, something happens and eyes widen. And maybe they feel empowered to bash things together in their own homes.

One of my faves, seeing standing waves on a string. The rotating drum in the back is black with a few white strips that allows you to see the black strings, sampled at a frequency set by the drum. It looked better to the human eye, but the camera caught it okay (assuming this embeds correctly):



Down the Embarcadero some more to the Ferry Building, and then a bus back toward the hotel. After a bit, we went to a ramen place just a little down the street from the hotel. Huge bowls and pretty good flavor, but not my favoritest ever. The cheap pitcher of Sapporo, however, was just what we needed after a long dehydrating day.

Next morning, off on the current incarnation of the California Zephyr to Reno. The train was huge! We spent a while in our seats, but when we got to Sacramento, we switched over to the lounge car. A volunteer from a Sacramento museum came aboard and inexpertly read canned notes about the scenery from time to time. Some of it was interesting, but the real draw was the view as we got further and further into the Sierras.
Scenery

Donner Lake, near the site of the pass and the site of the Donner Party's snowbound camp:
Donner Lake

Then you follow the Truckee River into Reno:
Truckee River

Got into our suite at the Silver Legacy, with its tub-with-a-view:
Tub & Reno

Walked a bit and saw a little of the city, including a Burning Man-esque festival going on.
Phoenix

We ate dinner at Fuego, a tapas place. It was good, but didn't really blow either of us away. What, the tapas place in Reno didn't live up to our memories of Barcelona? Quelle surprise!

Next morning, Hertz lost all future business with me, if I can avoid it. I'll spare you all the details, but we eventually got our rental and headed out of town. The road to Virginia City made lots of curves and switchbacks up the Geiger Grade (I'm guessing). Halfway up was an overlook with a monument to Dr. Geiger.
Vista over Reno

Once in Virginia City, we made a beeline to the cemetery:
Perfect light on the marker

Check this tree, that has grown through the iron fence over the past 130-some years:
Tree growing through iron fence

After some GPS shenanigans, we found our way to the V & T Railroad. We boarded the diesel train for the short trip to Gold Hill and back, but got to see the steam train come in from Carson City.



The train takes you past mineshafts, mine equipment, and through a tunnel:
Tunnel

Next, we drove to Genoa, the first city in Nevada, tucked right up into the foothills of the Sierras. Remarkably, it's pronounced the same as the Italian town, since another location, Verdi, is vur-dye. Mom will dig that Genoa is where much of Misery was filmed. No trip to Genoa is complete without visiting 'Nevada's oldest thirst parlor', the Genoa Bar, in a building built in 1853. We pushed our way through the bikers, and bellied up to the bar. The Genoa Pale Ale was good stuff, and it was neat to gawk at their old west flair. One peculiar accent was Raquel Welch's bra...

To eat, we grabbed a BBQ tritip sandwich from across the street, and then got back on the road heading up to Lake Tahoe. Highway 89 wraps around the western side of the lake, and does so at quite an elevation. Kind of a shame to be far from the lake, but at the same time it produced great views:
Lake Tahoe

Breaking away from the lake, we visited the Donner Party Memorial State Park, and gawked at its huge memorial (with its somewhat bizarre inscription):
VIRILE TO RISK AND FIND;
KINDLY WITHAL AND A READY HELP.
FACING THE BRUNT OF FATE;
INDOMITABLE, —UNAFRAID.
Memorial

There's a somber little museum there, and then just down the road, you can rent boats and camp. Recreation and cannibalism, all in one state park.

From there a quick zip down the 80 back into Reno. Nice dinner at the Wild River Grille, where I had maybe the biggest NY strip I've ever seen. 12 ounces my ass. Quick drink at the bar at the casino (where the bartender did a fantastic job) and then to bed.

Up, shuttled to the airport and home.

Big thanks to Roselle for keeping the kitties happy in our absence.
 
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Journal of No. 118