December Holiday's Road Trip

From Birthday, Christmas and New Year's to Oregon and back again . . .

Wed. Dec. 24th - A delightful birthday for Noel that began by packing the car for a road trip. He loves these trips so it's the perfect day for him. Next, another of his preferred events was lunching with Harry before leaving town. We met (as no room left in the car after packing) at Young's, the best oriental lunch in northern Colorado. Harry sported a newly shaved head with a wide mohawk cut. He then follows Diana and Noel to Mark, Julia and Keaton's house on the west side of Fort Collins and dropped off presents for them all. After a fine visit Diana and Noel headed off to Evanston, WY. As is usual with all of their trips, they closed part of I-80 behind them, this time west of Laramie, due to high winds. They saw two overturned semi-trucks and trailers but had no incidents themselves.

Thu. Dec. 25th - After an adequate night's sleep we headed on west again. We'd noted that a severe snow storm was due in the Utah mountains by mid-afternoon and hoped to be ahead of it. We made it past the worst of it, it seems, but experienced a lot of blowing snow and some white out conditions throughout the day. First stop was the Flying J restaurant just west of Salt Lake City. We made it in just in time as the power was lost after our first trip to the breakfast buffet and they wouldn't seat anyone else. Plenty of food remained for us so all was well but demonstrates the power of the high winds in the area.

We had a difficult choice at Wells, NV. We pushed on toward Jackpot, NV (our original plan) and decided about 20 miles (of 68 miles) to turn around. That proved to be impossible because of the heavy snow fall and no side roads. A bit later it improved enough to continue and we made it to Barton's Club US-93 Casino and the Squished Penny machine. Yes, that's the reason for the 136 mile round trip from and back to Wells, NV to continue west on I-80 to Winnemucca, NV. Very much worth it, though. One of the four pennies even says Merry Christmas! How could this been a bad idea on this day of the year?

Jackpot, NV casino with Squished Penny machine

On the casino's shuttle

We made it safely there and back and on down I-80 to Winnemucca, NV . . .

Fri. Dec. 26th - A bright, shiny and brisk morning breaks in Winnemucca. The weather and road conditions of the previous day have us questioning our original plan for today - taking a 100 mile dirt road from here to Gerlach, NV. No local info seems to be available so we start out on the "road to Jungo" - the only designator we can find - expecting to soon turn around and continue our trip via Interstate.

The only sign that shows the way

Wide and plowed road across the high desert

We are delightfully surprised. The road is completely snow-packed but plowed and wide and the sun breaks through big full clouds across rolling snow covered terrain. It's beautiful and the road is much better than anticipated so we continue on. Jungo is only a spot along the road that another road Ts to and we only discover that well after we'd passed it. This "good" road leads to a sulfur mine, about 50 miles from Winnemucca, and the "town" that is designated as "Sulpher" on the maps. No town, just a mine and processing plant. However, the road from here west, toward Gerlach, is barely more than one lane, has not been plowed and shows only one set of tire treads. We follow it any way.

View across the desert

The next "sign" we are going the right way.

Back and forth both ways . . .

A few miles down the road we find a sign that tells about the BLM land of the area and offers in a tube the most wonderful map of the Black Rock Desert we are now in the middle of. Diana and I both love maps and this one is so detailed we can now know where we'd been, where we hope to go and what geological features we are seeing on this beautiful trek. This link will take you to a VERY LARGE file of the map.

BLM sign in the middle of nowhere

Now, with map, we can find our location

View from the east side of the Black Rock playa

We find asphalt again, head south on Nevada 447 and 77 miles later, I-80 again. We've saved over 100 miles compared to the path of I-80 but no time. We estimate it takes just about the same amount of time to get to Gerlach from Winnemucca via either route. We cross I-80 into Fernley, NV and turn south toward Virginia City, NV.

The last 10 miles into Virginia City are extremely windy and raise the elevation about 1,500 ft. Lots of snow mostly cleared and dry roads on this sunny day. Virginia City (of Bonanza fame, for most of us) has become a tourist town based on the 1859 discovery of gold in the area. The Comstock "load" might come to mind for some of you. We found 5 Squished Penny machines here! Yeah for us!

First Squished Penny machine in Virgina City

Cool insides of this squisher

Line up of a variety of machines

The "Suicide Table" - a famous Virginia City landmark

Another Squished Penny machine along the Virginia City boardwalk

The bar in our luncheon spot

Diana and Noel peering through . . .

. . . this sidewalk cutout :)

Church down the hill in Virginia City

Another Virginia City Squished Penny machine

And another!

Zepha Cove - location of another squishing machine

View down Virginia City's main street

The Bonanza bar - the site of another Squished Penny machine.

Inside the Bonanza casino

View off the back porch "100 miles"

Diana and Noel in front of that view

We continue to Carson City, NV, the state capitol, and get Squished Pennies at the Children's Museum, the Railroad Museum and the Nevada Museum. Yeah for us! We then register at our Motel 6 here but drive the 25 miles of curves of snow packed road to Zephyr Cove, on Lake Tahoe to another Squished Penny machine, then a couple more miles into South Lake Tahoe, CA for more Squished Pennies. Back over the 6,500ft. summit to Carson City and an HBO movie before falling asleep . . .

Children's Museum in Carson City, NV

Squished Penny machine in museum

Nevada Museum

Skating rink and a mule train across from the Nevada museum

Squished Penny machine in Nevada Museum

Railroad Museum in Carson City with a Squished Penny machine

Ski shop in South Lake Tahoe, CA with a Squished Penny machine

Sat. Dec. 27th - An overcast day that transitions from deep snow to misty rain awaits us this day. We drive toward Reno and join I-80 west to Verdi, NV. Here is our first Squished Penny stop at Cabela's. Diana squishes a penny and plays a couple of games of laser-shooting gallery and we journey west again. This time it's to Nevada City, CA via a dry road with 6+ feet high cuts by giant snowblowers along the shoulders. The snow slowly lessens as we descend over the next 25 miles from the 7,200ft. summit to the town at 3,200ft. No snow at this altitude, just a very pretentious feeling. We find the Squished Penny machine and press it and quickly leave, heading west to our nights early rest in Ukiah, CA. The road takes around a very large and scenic lake, Clear Lake, and the fog slowly increases to a misty rain for the the trip through wine country.

Cabela's in Verdi, NV and another Squished Penny machine

Stuffed animals inside Cabela's

More of the display in the center of the store

Road to Nevada City, CA - beautiful sunshine on heavily flocked trees . . .

Fur Trader store and you can just see the Squished Penny machine inside the door

Fur Trader's Squished Penny machine

Sun. Dec. 28th - "Early to bed, early to rise . . .",  was our theme today. We awoke to an overcast but warmer morning - about 45*F - and wound to Willits, CA and a full breakfast before our stop at the east end of the Skunk Railroad line. No one around - it was rumored a Squished Penny machine was here - so we headed for the west end of the line in Ft. Bragg, CA. It's about 30 miles and took us over an hour to get there. Very scenic and very, very wet and misty. The depot here had the Squished Penny machine we were looking for. Yeah for us! We next head north on Hwy 1, hugging the coast with many views of the Pacific, to Leggett, CA. This route is extremely scenic and more windy that the previous 30 miles, if that's possible and eventually drive THROUGH a redwood tree named the Chandelier Tree. Cool!

Foggy, rainy road to Wilits, CA

Entrance to Willits, CA

Skunk train route into Willits

Into the deep, dark "tree tunnel" of fog enroute to Ft. Bragg, CA

Moss hanging from trees along the road

Squished Penny machine found in the Ft. Bragg depot

Old fishery behind railroad car

Ocean view under railroad bridge just outside Ft. Bragg

Another scenic ocean view at high tide with storm, windy breakers

Diana leaning out our car window as we stop in the Chandelier treee

Another car passing through the tree

Entrance door to gift shop of the Chandelier tree and another Squished Penny machine

Continuing north on Hwy 101 again we take a stray route to Confusion Hill, a gravity gimmick attraction but it has a Squished Penny machine and we got it. Yeah for us! On along Hwy 101 we take a nearly parallel route know as Avenue of the Giants and experience hugely tall redwoods and extremely tight tunnels of overgrown redwoods. Very cool! Along this route, outside of Redcrest, we find another Squished Penny machine in Redcrest Resort Gift shop. The end of the Avenue of the Giants was the town of Ferndale, a Squished Penny machine is reported to be on the street here but none of the shop keeper knew where it was today. We strike out.

Confusion Hill and another Squished Penny machine

Totem outside of Confusion Hill

Confusion Hill's machine

Example of "moss everywhere" on a post in the parking lot

Most southern (and largest) of the National and State Parks of the coastal redwoods

Diana and Noel in front of some redwoods

Foggy view across the Smith river

Mossy tree and foggy hillsides of the wine country

Same tree, different view

More moss hanging along the roadway

Winery parking lot and dozens of barrels of wine!

Moss silloutetted tree

Cross of redwood with date tags. The furthest out is Signing of the Declaration of Independence. The closest to the center is signing of the Magna Carta

Sign points the way to the Squished Penny machine!

Diana creating another Squished Penny

Next is the Eureka Zoo and Seabreeze Candies in Eureka, CA. We are almost too late at both but calling ahead they wait a couple extra minutes for us to use their Squished Penny machines. Yeah for us!

Squished Penny maching outside candy shop

Building painting in Eureka, CA

It starts to rain harder and harder throughout the day and it's now getting dark. The plan was to get Squished Pennies in Klamath and Crescent City but hole up for the night after a good Mexican food meal in Arcata, CA.

Mon. Dec. 29th - Still raining this morning . . . we strike out early though and make our way to Trees of Mystery amidst a pretty heavy downpour. 30ft tall Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox out front and an amazingly completely free museum of basketry examples from most of the western Indian tribes. And, of course, Squished Penny machines (and a dime machine!). Yeah for us! We trod on down the road to Grant's Pass, OR and Diana's favorite beads and findings provider, Fire Mountain Gems. We took an hour long, personal tour and learned more than we ever could have wanted to. Unfortunately, our hope that they had an "outlet store" was for naught.

Coastal breakers

Trees of Mystery and Paul Bunyan with Babe the Blue Ox

Diana at Squished Penny machine with Dime Squisher on this side of it

Ocean view along Hwy 1

Entrance to the Avenue of the Giants

Ocean World in Crescent City, CA

Squished Penny machine inside

Diana with pirate buddy

Waterfall along the Smith river.

Next, we cross the mountains around Crater Lake to join US-97 that leads into Bend, OR and Diana's parents home. The road got steadily more and more snowy and then completely snowpacked and lined with 8ft. high banked snow. About dusk this became a slow and lonely road until we reached US-97 and mostly rain again. We made Bend in the time window expected and had a short exchange of gifts and off to bed.

Tue. Dec. 30th - Slept long and restful but by mid-morning Diana has developed flu symptoms. Poor Diana . . . we try to get her to sleep and give some herbal assistance but time is all that will cure her. She did get out of bed (and bathroom) to watch Jeopardy! Must be feeling some better . . .

Wed. Dec. 31st - Diana coming around but very sore and tired. We got her out of the house for lunch and her mom bought her a bunch of craft items at Michael's for her Christmas present. Great! Noel got a wonderful sweater we later picked out at Target. Score! A full game of Domino's later and early to bed on this last day marked on the Gregorian calendar. Noel found a T-shirt shop that had $5 sweatshirts so got a Bend H.S. Lava Bear's one for Diana and himself and a couple of special ones made for her folks.

The "Breadman" and the "Breadman's Wife" in front of some their stock of donations

Also know as "Ed and Pat" - Diana's parents

Thu. Jan. 1st - Early up for a quiet day on the road. Weather cooperates all the way home with the exception of some very windy sections. Few stops and 10 hours later we hole up in Ogden UT with an order of Cheese Bread sticks. Yum!

Utah sunset north of Ogden, UT

Fri. Jan. 2nd - Long day yesterday allows for a short trip home. Able to meet Harry for dinner in Fort Collins and get everything unloaded and into bed by 7p. Still two days until Diana goes back to work. Yeah! Happy New Year's to all and to all a good year :)