Carson Pass Highway
Jun 8, 2012
|June 5th 2012
Blackstone RV Park in Fresno is smack dab in the middle of the city however access was not difficult. Inside the park was a different story. Catering to full time residents many of the campers had outside storage rooms and additions that tended to block traffic. Others just parked in the roadway making it more difficult to navigate the narrow, tree lined roads with a larger rig…but it was doable. In fact I ended up having more difficulty with the Jeep (backed into a tree) but that wasn’t the park’s fault.
Fresno was one of the most nicely kempt places Charlie and I have been since we departed Charleston, SC a little over 18 months ago. There was very little evidence of litter and businesses were proud of their landscaping efforts. It was hard to believe they have a serious problem with gangs intermingling with the great shopping venues and many interesting restaurants. Though we didn’t see evidence of gang activity except for some artistic “tagging”, night time sounds were squealing tires, sirens and high revving motorcycles whining up and down Blackstone Avenue. Sleep came with difficulty.
Tuesday morning came early…so much so that we were packed up and on our way by 7:00 a.m. California is an expensive state and staying in RV Parks for short terms was eating up my west coast budget too quickly. We needed to find a monthly to take advantage of lower rates along with letting our mail catch up with us. Additionally, parts needed to be ordered to repair damage I’d done to the Jeep when a tree jumped out from nowhere and hit us for no good reason. None at all.
Since I wanted to spend some time in the San Francisco area however with friends meeting me near there late July/early August, we decided to head towards the Reno area. We have a month-long reservation at a nice sounding resort in neighboring Sparks, NV. Our route to Sparks, Tuesday afternoon found us at Gold Country RV Park in Pine Grove for a two night stay.
The desert became a distant memory as the temperature began dropping. The heavily wooded campground was the most inviting park we’d visited since those found in the NC Mountains. The temperature hung around 61 degrees as we registered for a two night stay. Though the park honors Passport America, they require a two night stay but give the second night free. That averages out to $30 per night under Passport America’s discount which is very high but so much better than their regular rate of $60 per night. I guess in popular areas at the beginning of the summer travel season, parks can charge about anything they want. Nonetheless, they have a lot of empty sites. And though it is a great place to visit in the middle of nowhere, extremely quiet…it hardly rates its high pricing structure.
Our site is in a hole along with one other site. Accessing the internet is almost impossible and the cable connection doesn’t mesh with my cable. And I don’t care. We have the place to ourselves. As soon as I finished setting up camp, I gave the Winnie a much needed bath then after a nice hot shower went to the local market to replenish some basics.
Pine Grove has a couple restaurants, a pizza joint, a gas station and a few shops. The market has everything anyone could possibly need including fresh vegetables and fruits, a small deli and a good selection of beer and wine. Charlie just had his first walk this evening and how odd it seemed to have to don a jacket after suffering through triple digit temps just a few nights ago in Palm Springs…
Thursday morning donned bright and beautiful. We were to depart Gold Country taking the scenic highway 88 over the mountains to Lake Tahoe, Carson City and on to Sparks on the other side of Reno. Though we had enjoyed the privacy of our site the previous two nights, we had difficulty leaving. Like the tree that had jumped out and hit us, the poor Jeep grabbed a boulder as we tried to navigate the narrow passage out of our private campsite. While the Jeep was stranded on the boulder, the motor home faced downhill...neither about to give an inch either way.
Out of the kindness of strangers...this one by the name of Greg who offered great advice, support and help, we were able to disconnect the Jeep and roll it off the rock...check to make sure no serious damage had occurred and reattach it in a reasonable amount of time. With some difficulty getting out of the tight site, we were finally on our way by mid-morning for one of the most scenic drives…ever!
Considered by many to be one of the most scenic highways in the nation, Carson Pass is 58 miles of beauty spanning the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and peaking at 8600 ft. above sea level. It stretches from California’s central valley to Nevada’s Carson Valley. Mountain vistas with snow-capped mountains appeared around every turn. Roadside signage announced elevations every couple of thousand feet; 2000, 4000 and finally 8,000. The temperature gauge hovered in the fifties and sixties with a light wind. I pulled out of traffic often too allow others to pass by since many of the inclines were so steep I could only push the coach to 40 mph. Eventually I got a kick out of appreciative locals honking their thanks for getting out of their way.
Sometimes I tend to create problems before they exist. Though I had ¾ tank of fuel at departure, I knew we’d be traversing steep inclines and was concerned with fuel consumption. During planning I had estimated a conservative 4.7 mpg. By the time we pulled into the Chevron station on the south end of Tahoe, there was plenty of fuel remaining. The Winnie had done well achieving an overall average of 6.7 mpg after the grueling drive.
I’d heard of Lake Tahoe and had imagined something entirely different from what I saw as we traveled through the town. Apparently it is a great party town as there were restaurants and bars lining both sides of the main drag along with huge casino resorts. As almost every other town in America, road construction made traveling through the community difficult at best.
Carson City; Nevada’s state capitol rolled past without any problem until the winds began to pick up. Amber signage alerted truckers and RVs of dangerous winds advising us to seek alternate routes. Cruising along at 65 mph in unknown territory isn’t the time to seek alternative routes so I pulled up behind a semi and fought to keep the coach in the lane. I took comfort as Reno came into view however that changed to more angst because of the tremendous amount of traffic. Though it had been a relatively short drive—approximately 160 miles, it had been one of the most grueling and I was thrilled as my GPS announced, “Your destination is approaching on your left.”