Wednesday, April 28, 2010
DONNER PASS AND RENO
It's almost May. A San Francisco to Reno road trip should not be a problem, certainly not on Highway 80. Wrong!
The problem is Donner Pass, which just exceeds an elevation of 7000 feet. In 1846, American pioneers in covered wagons attempted to cross at this point and were stranded in a lot of snow. Nearly half died, and cannibalism was said to be part of the solution.
So our ordeal, put in this perspective, was mildly stressful, but mostly educational and maybe even exciting. All cars were stopped and, if not equipped with snow tires or chains, were ordered to turn back and purchase them. With some mumbling we did. There has been progress, as chains for cars do not look like those chains of before, and cost us $70.
Installation was an additional $20 and removal, add $15. (Above, Kenji Sumida supervising the process.) Driving was precarious and slow. The hero of the day was Lefty Yamamoto, who did all the dangerous driving in our van. I haven't yet seen the others in a following van, and it has been seven hours since we arrived in Reno. (They made it.) David Block flew in from Florida. Oh, it is now also snowing in Reno. Nothing, compared to two feet in the northeast.
At least we missed yesterday in Reno, which featured 100 MPH winds. Make that 131 MPH on top of the Sierra Nevada. I'm into dogs on this trip. Forty seven of them were rounded up in this city when fences were blown down.
There are three high end restaurants in the Grand Sierra: Fin Fish, Charlie Palmer (steak) and Biscola (Italian), located next to each other. We ended the day with dinner at the fish place. Excellent, especially as we had generous coupons. Service in this hotel we have found to be exceptional. I liked the freedom of just walking out of the restaurant with your glass of wine. Charlie Palmer is a three star (highest number possible) chef with his Aureoles in New York and Las Vegas, plus another steakhouse in his name in DC. We will try his steak room before we leave here.
The Dow Jones Industrials rose above 11,000 again today, up 53 to 11,045, with world markets mixed and the Japan Nikkei at 10,925. Gold remained unchanged at $1167/toz and crude oil is at $83/barrel.