“Tumbling Tumbleweeds” – West Coast Swing 2015 – Part 6

Hey everyone,

After celebrating that big first birthday of my post, it’s now time to start the second year of travel photo blogging. It’s been a great first year and I’m hoping the second birthday in a year’s time will just as fun and entertaining.

This post is the sixth in a series of articles about our 2015 trip to the West Coast or as I called in the West Coast Swing. I’ll share excerpts from emails that I sent to family and friends on that six week journey.

Here’s a quote from the email: “When we last left you, we were just outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park, in California. We did get a few hours on Monday to explore the Park and decided it deserved more time, very unique and interesting. Later as we were heading down Highway 395 in a southwesterly direction towards Reno, the wind was blowing at a good 25-35 mph out of the west so we were buffeted by the crosswind. Just as we crossed into Nevada, we had to dodge the tumbleweeds blowing across the road, hence the title of this edition of our email, a song made famous by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers.” This photo provides an idea on what the area looks like, lots of sage brush, grit, a few scrawny shrubs, and a beautiful sky and clouds.img_1984

The email continues: “We had a great time visiting Donna’s sister Becki, her husband Darrell and family in Fernley, NV about 25 miles east of Reno. We enjoyed spending time with our niece Lacie and husband Ben and their three kids Logan, Junie, and Jordyn (called Jordy by me because I think she was named after Jordy Nelson of the Packers!). One of the highlights of our stay was when Becki took us to her former school at Silver Stage where she helps with the school garden. Very impressive that the sixth graders with very little funding have created a garden from a former parking lot, featuring a hoop house, composting, and year round production that is shared and eaten by the students. Two students took us on a tour of the garden while the other sixth graders did their assigned jobs, raking, weeding, etc. All the kids were very excited, interested and knowledgeable about the garden, often it’s the highlight of their school day. One of the features is that they recycle and compost all the uneaten food from the school cafeteria so they have hardly any trash. They also recycle all the milk cartons and shredded paper into the garden. So a great stay in Nevada, sad to leave it behind but we’ll be back.” Here’s a photo from the garden, harvesting lavender that is sold to support the gardens.img_1991

One of the places that we went during our stay with Becki and family was the Ft. Churchill State Historic Park located near Silver Springs, Nevada. This was a way station for the Pony Express and Central Overland Routes dating back to the 1860’s. The park was created to preserve the remains of the US Army fort. Here are a few photos taken at the park. BTW, the top photo was submitted to the Park’s annual photography contest and won a prize as the viewer’s choice!west-coast-swing-6-3west-coast-swing-6-3914

Just after leaving Fernley on Highway 50 we came to the town of Hazen, Nevada. I couldn’t help but stop here because I grew up on a farm near Hazen, North Dakota. Here are a couple of photos of the town of Hazen, Nevada, I can safely say Hazen, North Dakota is much larger and more vibrant town!img_2056img_2058

More from the email: “Heading east from Fernley, we took Highway 50, anointed the loneliest highway in America. It’s a two lane road but like all the places we’ve traveled, it has it’s own beauty. We decided not to take I-80, maybe faster, but we’ve done that before. Back in 1973, after I was discharged from the Army in Hawaii, our car was shipped to Oakland, CA where we picked it up. Stopped off in California to visit some of Donna’s relatives then head for North Dakota. It was the time of the gas shortage, could only buy 10 gallons at a time, luckily we had a Datsun 1200 sedan that only had a 10 gallon tank! But I digress, we stayed the night on the Nevada-Utah border, the rv park, restaurant, bar, and casino were on one side of the line and motel was on the other side of the line. Today, we drove all the way through Utah, great scenery along the route. It pained us to drive just north of Moab, Canyonlands, Zion, Arches National Parks but that’s another trip. We can’t wait.” Here’s a photo of the campground.west-coast-swing-6-3349

And some photos from the scenery along the loneliest highway in America.west-coast-swing-6-3346img_0497

As we crossed Utah we stopped at some waysides to admire the scenery. Can’t wait to spend more time exploring the area.img_0532img_2061west-coast-swing-6-3949west-coast-swing-6-3953

After crossing through Utah, we decided to stop for the night at the first major town, Fruita, Colorado just west of Grand Junction. What we forgot was that it was a weekend and the weather was beautiful so the campgrounds were full. We stopped at a large, private campground, full, the state park campground across the road, full. There the helpful attendant at the office directed us to the nearby Colorado National Monument campground. She warned us that it didn’t have electrical hookups, at that point we didn’t care otherwise it was an overnight in the nearest Walmart parking lot! So we headed up the mountain, the Monument and campground are on a large bluff overlooking the valley and the village of Fruita. We were wondering about the wisdom of towing the trailer around the switchbacks and through a couple of tunnels. But we made it and were rewarded with the very last campsite and some of the most beautiful views of the whole trip! We didn’t have electricity or water but we managed with the exception that we couldn’t brew coffee in the morning so our first stop was at the local coffee shop! This national treasure is one that we plan to spend more time at in the future, I recommend you check it out.

Well, that’s enough for this episode. Watch next week for the last installment of our West Coast Swing, the jog home.

Until then, travel safe.

Tom