Monday, July 6, 2009

Austin to Carson City... Happy 4th of July!!1

Pancakes!! Malcolm cooked pancakes for everyone, and we enjoyed Jim and Josie's Vermont Maple Syrup that is now so well traveled. They tasted fabulous in the early mountain air. There is something so wonderful about a camping breakfast with people you really enjoy being with. I would have been content to spend the day right there watching the light change on Bob Scott Mountain. But, we needed to move on. Last night we had driven the pass down into Austin. It was a fairly steep descent with no shoulders on the outside curves. I was a little worried about traffic but we saw no one all the way into town. We stopped for a visit at Stokes Castle, which is the remains of a house built many years ago. It looms above the valley, with an unobstructed view both north and south as far as the eye can see. It has an interesting history that can be read here:

After photos and collecting Juniper berries for beading, we drove back down to town and left before the parade held us there. We were tempted to drive in the parade but we had a long drive through some really desolate country to get to Carson. This would be a long day, 172 miles so we didn't have time to spare. We still had some hills to go over but worse would be the long salt flats, which promised to be hot by the time we got there.

We drove for about a mile then turned off onto Nevada 722. We had read that this road was probably the road Alice Ramsey took on her journey. Doug had driven it and found it to be remote, traffic free, and a nice drive through a canyon to reconnect with 50. We drove through ranch land, past lots of cow pies, there's an unusual road hazard and on to the mountains. We passed through the canyon with no trouble. It was beautiful, close and rocky. There were a number of sites filled with tents and ATV's . I guess this is a pretty popular pass time out here. There certainly are a lot of dirt roads to take advantage of. Some seem to go straight up the hills, Personally I think it looks a little nuts, but I guess that's what makes it fun.

We joined up with 50 again and stipped almost immediaetely at the Shoe Tree. This tree stands almost alone in the desert, right by the side of the road and it is covered with pairs of shoes. As we arrived an Australian couple was busy trying to add a pair of shoes to the pile. We watched for a while and then decided to move on. Apparently no one told the Cadillac because it refused to start. Again, Malcom and Doug dove under the hood and under the car to see what needed to be done. After a bit they fixed it and off we went. It was getting really hot and I was ready ot be anywhere else. Driving witht he windshield down offers some cooling so Dylan and I were comfortable. Nancy was back with us and we were toodling along having a great drive.

We drove past the Naval base. ???? Out here in the desert? We later learned that this is where the Top Gun Navy pilots train. OH! Seems like a good idea. There was a target range, Drive past quickly, and a dried lake. I guess that works for Navy. Earlier a white van had passed us and as we looked at it all we could see were cameras. As we entered the Naval base the van was parked by the side of the road facing us and both sides were lined with people taking our picture. It was pretty funny. We debated, wave or not wave and decided to look FAST instead. We probably did look happy but not too fast....

Rounding a corner you see a huge sand dune poking up over the ridgeline. This dune is a Meca for ATV drivers, and other vehicles sand related. There was a small city of campers and tents at it's base and what looked like a lot of ant activity on it's sides. Busy place this 4th of July. This brought us to the salt flats, which were long and hot!. Fields of flat beige salt lay on both sides of us for miles. Broken by tire tracks where someone attempted to drive out onto the flats. Along the sides were names written with rocks. This gave us something to read and broke the monotony of the drive. If it weren't for the rock writing it might have been a hot boring drive. We were getting tired by this time.

As we passed the Petroglyph site there was a sudden and loud clang under the hood. I thought the truck that has just passed us had kicked something up that had jumped up into my engine. As I slowed to stop the noise got louder, then stopped. The car was still running and I decided to try and get to Fallon which was about 4 miles ahead. Nothing sounded or felt wrong so we prayed and drove. I pulled into the first place I saw and stopped the car. As Dylan got out, he walked to the front to look and groaned. There was water everywhere. He opened the hood and the damage was clear. The bearing on the fan had been the first noise, as it was removing itself forcefuly from the shaft it was displacing the fan from it's normal track, which sent it into the radiator. The shaft was bent, the fan had gouged a large hole in the radiator and we were dead.

It needs to be said that Malcolm is an amazing mechanic, as is Doug, put them together and they are not to be beat. They went into town, bought a 12mp fan and some bits and then proceeded to do a very difficult roadside operation. They clipped and soldered, with Dan assisting the new fan was installed and the radiator patched so that we could continue. It wa an amazing achievement. And... it worked! We were back on track. We drove onto Carson City for the night.

We found out when we arrived that we had a bit of a miscommunication, Dorothy was thinking we were going to Reno, I was thinking that the decision was Carson. It worked out, in the end. This was less busy on the 4th and we eventually did find rooms. (it looked a little doubtful for a little wihle) We were 35 miles closer to our destination and might be back on track to get Dorothy off to the Wheelmen meet after this drive is over. We ate a late Applebee's dinner and went to bed. We were dog tired, and needed a good night's sleep for tomorrow's drive over the Sierras. This has always been the part of the trip that worries me. We may need a lot of praying, especially now that my radiatior is not at it's best. We'll see how it goes.....

We have decided to end our journey in Sacramento and not attempt to enter San Franciso. There are a lot of options but we decided on safety and timing to guide us. We will go to the California Automobile Museum to officially end this long and lovely trip.

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