Tuesday, July 7, 2009
California here we come!
Leaving Carson City for the last legs of our journey was difficult. We were heading to California, and although we were ready for these last days we knew that we would miss the laid back lifestyle that we were becoming accustomed to. I have always worried about the passes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have driven over Carson Pass in a modern car and down around Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe, I would be lying if I said they didn't scare me. I find a long drop and lack of guard rail to be an unnerving combination. So I was less than enthusiastic as we drove towards the mountains. We decided to drive RT 88 over Kit Carson as this was usually a less busy route. It turned out that a lot of drivers made the same decision. The roads were very busy with folks speeding back home after the long weekend.
Maybe the Cadillac feels it when I worry because there are times that I think it just stops running in order for me to get back on track and wish to move forward. It did just that as we turned towards the peaks. It took a lot of fussing and about 30 more minutes of sitting by the side of the road before we started up again. By then Dorothy was well ahead of me and beginning her climb.
We started into the foothills, the car was running well. We got to the steeper part of the climb, and the car started to falter. As the climb got steeper I became very concerned for the welfare of the radiator. The Caddy was struggling and heating up which is not normal under even the most difficult of climbs. Finally I pulled over and asked Malcolm to take a look. We decided to put it in the trailer and go to the top. At this point I really didn't want to compromise the car, it just wasn't worth it. We drove again from the top of the pass and met up with Dorothy and Dan at Kirkwood Nordic where they had just eaten a nice lunch on the porch. the drive from Kirkwood was thrilling, ups and downs, the car was much happier. We motored along in fine style enjoying the majestic scenery and dodging 5th of July traffic. Most people were really tolerant as they waited for us to get to a spot where we could pull over. We got a lot of waves, many thumbs up and happy beeps. All was going well until again on a steep climb up over Kit Carson Pass the engine overheated and stalled. We trailered a mile to the top and let the car sit to cool. From that point on it was one amazing, superb, hairraising downhill run all the way into Jackson. We passed signs announcing our descent from 8000 to 7000 to 6000 feet and on. Each thousand feet brought both relief and joy. It was possibly one of the best times I have had this whole trip.
We arrived in Jackson a bit after Dorothy and Dan who had found lodging at the Best Western. We registered, put the car to bed and made a beeline for the hot tub. What a deeply calming treat! The water was so hot is was just this side of searing, and my sore tired muscles enjoyed every minute of it. Later Dan, Malcolm, Dylan and I went for drive around the historic part of town then for a late dinner at Mel & Faye's diner. We had a great meal and really really good pie. Our waitress was the cutest girl and we later learned that it was her first night. (She will do well, she's good !) The diner has the most fascinating collection of early photographs from the area. It is well worth a visit when in Jackson. We were content, full and ready for bed. Tomorrow would be our last day together. We had a short drive to Sacramento where we would end our long and fantastic journey.