Lindsay and Baolu
2018 July Reno/Lake Tahoe trip
Celebrating our 25th Anniversary a little early this year...
Standard Disclaimer: Nope, no GN stuff here. Just another trip report. Enjoy!
Saturday, June 30th
It's an early morning flight to Reno, Nevada for Lindsay and Baolu -- off on
adventure. TSA is incredibly fast and efficient -- to speed things up, they
eliminated the shoes
off, laptop out, and those stupid body scan machines. Imagine that. It's like
it's all a show.
Anyways, we begin our vacation with a delicious breakfast at
Anthony's along with some simply
marvelous Bloody Mary's and a foo foo drink for B. Start the day right! We are
both very happy
as we stumble to our gate.
Alaska Airlines has a convenient non-stop utilizing a Brazilian-made
seats 76 people). I like the two-two seating because there is no stinky center
seat person to
deal with. Unfortunately the seats themselves are excruciatingly uncomfortable.
The back of the seat is like a slab of wood.
Luckily, Reno is just a short hop (1 hour, 20 minutes) from Seattle and we're
hustling thru RNO
airport for our luggage and rental car in short order.
Our first stop is the CVS for a flat of water and some wine for later. Sparks,
adjacent to Reno and hard up against the large Union Pacific Railroad yard) is a
neighborhood. But they have two things we can't get at home. First is a visit to
a little SP
narrow gauge steam engine and second....lunch at
Southern Pacific #8 is a Baldwin-built (1907) 4-6-0 narrow gauge steam
many movies -- located right across the street from an In-N-Out!
Baolu can barely wait to tuck in to her cheeseburger and
fries. My double-doubles await,
expectantly, to be daintily masticated by yours truly. Oh, so good. Baolu agrees
their food is
number one. Double Double down the hatch!
It's a little after noon as we head to our next stop in Carson City. Just south
of the downtown
is the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
And oh my goodness me, they've got everything operating. FOUR steam locomotives
are hot and
their spaceship-looking McKeen motor car is in operation! Let's check it out....
"Glenbrook" (Carson & Tahoe Lumber & Fluming #1) is a narrow gauge 2-6-0
built by Baldwin in
"Dayton" (Virginia & Truckee #18) is a standard gauge 4-4-0 built in Central
shops in 1873.
Virginia & Truckee #25 is a standard gauge 4-6-0 built by Baldwin in 1905.
"Inyo" (Virginia & Truckee #22) is a standard gauge 4-4-0 built by Baldwin in
Inyo has appeared in many Hollywood movies including
1952's Carson City (in Warnercolor). How
appropriate #22 is now back in Nevada, in steam, on home rails.
Last, but not least, is the V&T #22 motorcar built by McKeen Motor Car
Company (Omaha, NE) in
It turns out Baolu just loves these four little teakettles. At the ticket office, we
are told if we
ask nicely, we might get a cab ride on the Inyo.
Welcome aboard! Baolu's smiling face got us up in the cab of V&T #22. As we
watch from the
tender, the Glenbrook has come down from the roundhouse to take on water.
Glenbrook maneuvers back and forth until the water spout is lined up just so.
locomotive really uses wood as fuel -- the museum buys pallet loads of the
Close up of the Inyo's brass gauges. Our fireman throws a few logs in the
V&T #25 pulls into the depot to take on more passengers.
We're off! Baolu takes some snaps, our engineer blows the whistle and our
fireman checks his
inferno. Down the track we go.
That was great fun. Thanks guys! We drop a twenty in their little coffee can marked,
Baolu says I'm like a little kid in a candy store. I cannot resist taking a
ride on the McKeen.
This thing is so cool. Knife-edged front end. Brass porthole windows.
Cantankerous CAT 3208
marine engine up front. Let's go!
B waves at our pals in the cab of the Inyo. We pass the gallows turntable,
engine house and
museum. The Dayton simmers on the ready track (notice all the "speeders" and
Thanks for the "Keen" ride!
Let's check out the museum (indoors, that is). Hey, that boxcar number is my
out this funky motor car #401 from the (takes a deep breath) Tucson, Cornelia &
Railroad. Built by the Edwards Motor Car Company in 1926, this little doodlebug
is the former
N.S.R.M. #50, the "Washoe Zephyr".
Meanwhile, back at the roundhouse, "Glenbrook" is getting a rubdown as the
"Dayton" looks on.
One final look at the "Inyo" as it is put away for the day along with V&T
Wow. What a display of locomotive pulchritude! How can we ever top that?
Sunday, July 1st
How about a ride on the Virginia &
Truckee Railroad from Carson City to Virginia City...behind steam?
Virginia & Truckee #29 "Robert C. Gray" is a 1916 Baldwin 2-8-0 originally built
Longview, Portland and Northern Railway as their #680.
Baolu dresses up the front of V&T #29. Close up view of the cab and tender.
pressure has risen to where it lifts the safety valve. Otherwise known as
Lindsay in full railfan goober tourist mode!
Our three coaches today are (from front to rear) #102 "Silver City", #101
"Gold Hill" and #103
"Carson City". One last look at the 2-8-0 before we board.
Baolu's ready to go! Folks in period costume and outlaws
alike bid us farewell. Riding behind
steam is SOOOOO cool!
Climbing uphill through the sagebrush. Passing through some mine tailings.
Tunnel! Rounding a
Virginia City in all its schlocky goodness...
After a light lunch, Baolu and I stopped in here for several drinks.
Christina the barkeep was
exceptionally generous with overflowing drink pours (she was trying to use up a
bottle of Jack
Daniels and I was there to help). We tipped her 100% -- made her day. I'm here
to testify that
booze served at 6,150 feet above sea level is quite extraordinary. Luckily, it
was downhill back
to the train.
Back on board the Carson City Flyer...V&T #29 will pull us back-to-front down
the long grade to
Nevada's capitol city.
Passing the Gold Hill depot. Coming up on a tunnel. Winding down hill. Before
we know it,
we're back in Carson City (Eastgate Depot). One last look at V&T #29.
Monday, July 2nd
Road trip! Today we leave for the east shore of Lake Tahoe, Truckee, CA, Donner
Pass and on to
another narrow gauge railroad museum in (appropriately enough) Nevada City, CA.
From Carson City, I had intended to take Hwy 395 south to where it connects
to Hwy 207 and over
to Lake Tahoe. Very scenic route (see above intended voyage highlighted in
orange). However due
to bad planning (Lindsay misread the paper map), it turns out 395 doesn't
actually connect with
207! Abandoning the AAA atlas, I fired up Google Maps and the disembodied female
voice was able
to talk us over to SR 207.
It was a beautiful drive up and over 7,342 foot Daggett Pass. Blue sky and a
wonderful view of
Lake Tahoe as we descended the other side. We were in full tourist mode, just
coasting along. I
frequently had to pull over to allow the hypes behind me to get by.
Zephyr Cove. Ah.... visions of the erstwhile California Zephyr or at least a
beach with the morning sun at our backs and the deep sapphire blue of Lake Tahoe
before us. But it was not to be.
Not only that, it seems the entire east shore (Nevada side) is under
construction. The only
unsullied spot turned out to be the spectacular
twin tunnels at Cave
Anyways, we traveled on northward at the Hwy 28 turnoff passing into
California and a little town
known as Kings Beach. Time for
some miniature golf! Yep, the local course was open and to our
astonishment, the town had FREE PARKING across the street. At Lake Tahoe, that's
as rare as an
honest FBI agent.
After 18 holes, we set off for Truckee. We actually passed our hotel for the
night (the Best
Western) and continued on Donner Pass Road (old U.S. 40) past Donner Lake and up
Baolu poses overlooking Donner Lake.
Named after the Donner Party. Eww...
Lindsay takes a rather clumsy selfie of the two of us. The boonie U.S. 40 bridge
summit. China Wall. Baolu announces she wants to come back here tomorrow morning
and climb up
We continue over Donner, past all the ski areas. At Soda Springs, we hear a
horn.... Ah, it's a
sucky picture (wrong side of tracks...sun high in the sky), but a train
We get onto I-80 and head west. Just this side of Emigrant Gap, we peel off on
Hwy 20 and zoom
downhill all the way to Nevada City. It's about 1:30pm and we're getting a
spots a bistro where a very delicious lunch is forthcoming.
Appetites sated, I query the Google Maps bitch for the "Nevada
City Narrow Gauge Railroad
Musuem". It's just a few miles away so we head over there.
Entry to the museum is free, so I drop a twenty in their
donation box and a docent pops up to
show me around! John (former Amtrak engineer) gives me the full tour of NCNGRRM.
attraction is former Carson & Tahoe Lumber and Fluming #5, a 1875 Baldwin 2-6-0.
Mogul was a
Hollywood Movie Star heading to Universal Studios in 1941 and appearing in
than 100 movies according to John.
The surprise is outside. Argent Lumber Company 2-6-2 #5 was built by Lima
in 1911. This
is a privately-owned locomotive on loan to the museum. Very oochie!
Inside the shed there is all sorts of restoration work going on. The 0-4-0
Western" steamer is EXTREMELY kick. A couple narrow gauge cabooses have been
currently the boys are working on an old D&RGW stock car. This is really oochie!
One more look at the absolutely adorable critter #1,
Pittsburgh-built in 1889; From just outside
the main shed we get a look up and down the narrow gauge track. John told me the
around quite a ways to a loop track -- total ride time is 20 minutes down and 20
Too bad we didn't visit on a Saturday!
With the conclusion of narrow gauge fun for this trip, Baolu and I headed back
to Truckee. Upon
reaching I-80, however, Lindsay was presented with a yellow over yellow aspect
Railroad Rule 245C "Approach Medium"). Gotta stop. Train coming.
Sure enough, ten minutes later, UP 8348 comes charging
uphill leading a "six-axle
quartet" of Armour Yellow locomotives tugging Oregon lumber eastward. Baolu
captures LIN-Z in
the classic railfan pose.
Then it's up and over the pass and on to our Best Western hotel just outside
Dinner tonight is at the appropriately-named
Drunken Monkey (Baolu is an
Earth Monkey in Chinese
parlance). A sushi place way up high in the wilds of the Sierra Nevada? Yep -
Tuesday, July 3rd
After a gutty breakfast at the B.W., we set off to conquer Donner Pass and the
Chinese Wall. We
had planned to hike up from the car, but were unable to find the trailhead.
Maps again, I discovered you could also hike over to the former Southern Pacific
the summit (SP pulled up this part of the line in 1994, I believe).
Baolu leads the way through "Bug Flats" (armadas of blood-thirsty
in these woods)
and soon comes upon the first snowshed.
Standing next to part of the Chinese Wall, Baolu points out two snowsheds
looking west. A view
from the wall down on where we originally parked. It turns out the trailhead is
over on the left
(where the white USFS truck is). Mister Ranger climbed up on those rocks and was
graffiti inside the snowsheds.
All morning Baolu had been clamoring that she wanted a picture of herself
sticking her toe into
the magical waters of Lake Tahoe. This was accomplished at Commons Beach in
Tahoe City, CA. By
some miracle, this beach had free parking just steps from the shore. The hazy
sky is smoke from
California wild fires.
As we drove along the west shore of Tahoe, almost the entire way was one big
resort -- all sorts
of posh lake cabins and sprawling condos with paved bike paths through it all.
Any journey to Lake Tahoe is not complete without the de rigueur visit to
Emerald Bay. Fannette
Island stands guard amidst a constantly moving flotilla of pleasure craft.
Our hotel for the next two nights would be
Marriott's Timber Lodge in South Lake
Quite ritzy in a rustic-informal setting and right next to (maybe 100 feet from) the
We had some drinks and dinner, did a little shopping, and Baolu posed with
Audrey at the Robert
Hall "Loft" magic show that evening.
Wednesday, July 4th
Happy Birthday America! You Ess Eh! You Ess Eh!
The first item of business after breakfast was a ride up the side of Mount
Crumpet in the
Heavenly Resort gondola -- conveniently located right next to our hotel. We're
going up and up
Twenty minutes later, we get to a spot called, "Midway"...
Great views though...
So after taking in all that scenery, we get back on the gondola, then transfer
to a chairlift to
get to the very very top (about 9,500 feet above sea level).
Baolu and LIN-Z (wearing his dorky hat) on the six-person chairlift. Hmmm...the
"Tamarack Express" station at the top reminds me of something. D'ya
think the architect was a fan?
Meh. The view was better back at Midway. The only real entertainment is the zip
zooming by. So, back down the mountainside we go.
The rest of the day (no pictures) was just relaxing. Had a nice lunch, saw
Incredibles 2 at the
local cinema (we both liked -- VERY good -- even better than the original), took a nap, did
some more shopping and
to cap it all off, watched some fireworks from the roof of the nearby parking
Thursday, July 5th
Back Home Again
Routine flight home, but before boarding, discovered a simply smashing Nevada-brewed corn
whiskey at the bar
directly across from our gate at the airport. Brought home a bottle.
headquarters of the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway built in 1910.
The enormous pine cone is one I plucked off a tree for Baolu at Truckee. It is
red/white/blue beads we wore on the 4th. The large, brass bell in the background is
from an unknown
Southern Pacific steam engine.
Great trip! I hope you enjoyed our little tour of the Sierras and Narrow Gauge
heaven as we
celebrated (early) our 25th Anniversary.