Archive for the ‘Nevada’ Category

Fly United, Hubbing it in Denver

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Working on the concept that sunrise is probably one of the best times to take landscape photographs we should have been touring Reno this morning when we woke up at 4.30am.  Alas, we had to finalise our packing, take our bags down to the lobby, check out and catch the transit van to the airport – no time for photo’s.

We arrived at the make shift Reno Airport check-in counters (a very far cry from Hong Kong Airport) two hours before departure and received excellent service from the United Airlines staff.  We didn’t get confirmed seats (flying staff travel) however we were informed that the flight was “wide-open” so we felt confident.

A light breakfast and coffee were the next priority so we found an acceptable dietary substance that claimed to be breakfast and took our time digesting this pre-packaged delight.  With time to spare we managed some early morning people watching before heading for the departure gate.

United’s service continued to impress when we were offered one First Class (read Business Class) seat and one Economy seat for the flight to Denver.  We declined the offer and for being gracious we were given two exit row seats instead.

The A320 Airbus departed on time for Denver (7.40am) – two happy passengers!  I updated our picture gallery with a more comprehensive number of photo’s from our trip and we listened to music on our iPods too.

The flight was smooth and uneventful and we arrived on time in Denver.

The scheduled time between our arrival and departure was short so we made our way through the very busy (no signs of a recession in the airport) Denver Airport.  This is one of America’s “hub” airports (a focal point for flights from all over America and other parts of the world) and the number of people coming and going made us feel like we were back in Hong Kong.  After being out in the mountains for the past ten days we felt the full impact of civilization.

The flight to Calgary left Denver around an hour late but with an upgrade to premium economy and two confirmed seats we were not too worried.  The flight was not particularly full so the service was prompt.

Some more gallery updates and music were the order of the flight for me while The Princess relaxed and had a catnap.

The Princess’ first return to Calgary for 18 months started with a very smooth landing, efficient processing at immigration and a very nice Calgary day.  With time to spare we decided to eat some lunch in the airport before picking up the rental car.  We shared a sub at Cha Chi’s.  The simple meal was fresh and wholesome and just what we needed after being on the go since 4.30am.

National Car Rental came in No 1 for our business today.  The staff were excellent and the rate was better than all the other contenders.  We don’t mind sharing our money between companies – particularly when we get great service and a smile to go with spending our hard earned dollars.

Unfortunately the trip from the airport to our hotel was very, very slow due to hitting peak hour and an earlier accident on the freeway.  Still, with time to spare we made the most of reacquainting ourselves with “Cow Town”.  With one of the local Country and Western stations blaring through the speakers we were able to tap our toes and slap our thighs whilst crawling along with the other hillbillies.  Ah, gotta love this place.

We arrived at the Delta Hotel around 5.00pm and received excellent service from the front counter staff before completing our “bag drag” for the day by depositing everything in our room.

A quick phone call to Jill (The Princess’ mom) to confirm supper arrangements then out to pick up some victuals (good ole Naval term) for our eight day stay in the Delta.

Jill arrived at the Delta around 7.15pm and after an emotional reunion we checked out the menu in one of the hotel’s restaurants and decided to “eat in”.

It was great to spend time with Jill tonight.  She is a very special lady and she has a very special place reserved in our hearts.  We enjoyed presenting her with some new presents (spoons from our travels) and catching up on her news.

The 4.30am start was starting to show by the end of supper so we walked Jill to her car, returned to our room and prepared for bed.  This blog is going to be posted around 10.30pm (Calgary time – we are still working on Reno time – 9.30pm) and then we are off to bed.  We plan to have a lazy morning tomorrow so a nice sleep-in is in order.

We hope this finds you all as it leaves us – with full bellies, happy reunions, great weather, love and gratitude and a nice bed to fall into!!

Until tomorrow – goodnight/G’day

Roey and The Princess

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Yodeling one more time, crossing the state line, “There’s gold in thum thar hills”

Thursday, June 4th, 2009
Our last morning in SLT was a lazy one.  Whilst we didn’t rise too early (around 8.30am) we didn’t rush to check out and get on the road either.  In fact, we succumb to the call of the Swiss and returned to Heidi’s for another light breakfast.  Now we don’t want you getting the wrong idea about Heidi’s – like it must be great food and/or service.  No, it is actually neither – it just happens to be convenient.

From Heidi’s we drove about 150 metres before stopping – we really commit to the road trip once we get started huh?.  Well, we were really good over breakfast and did not have any coffee so we needed our morning caffeine fix.  We also knew that there was not going to be another coffee shop along the way to Reno so we pulled into the Alpen Sierra Coffee Co just down the road from The Lodge.

The co-owner of the ASC was a very chatty lady and wanted to know all about my accent, how we came to be living in Hong Kong and a variety of other questions.  She was a nice lady and I enjoyed talking to her.  The Princess remained in the car and wondered why I took so long.  I told her about the Spanish Inquisition that I went through to get my coffee and she laughed.

With hot coffee in hand we pulled onto Hwy 50 and headed East toward Carson City.  The drive through the mountains was very picturesque but didn’t take too long (around 45 mins).  Coming off the mountain pass the valley in which Carson City is located is like an oasis in what is otherwise a featureless desert landscape.

Heavy rain started to fall as we entered Carson City so we didn’t stop in the town.  In fact we continued on Hwy 50 then Hwy 341 toward Virginia City.

If you look at the website I just listed for Virginia City you will see they talk about “stepping back in time”.  Well, they are spot on.  Apart from the modern cars lining the streets this place has been preserved in the era it was built.  The drive through Silver City and Gold Hill was like driving into the past.  We felt like Michael J. Fox in “Back To The Future”.

It was still raining when we found a parking spot in Virginia City (don’t place too much emphasis on the “City” part of the town’s name).  However, the rain let up enough for us to wander the main street and enter some of the many original saloons and buildings and view the many artifacts that adorn the walls of these establishments.  Fascinating stuff but some of the shops were a little too “touristy” for our liking.  Still, it was worth the visit and we are glad we took the back road to Reno.

After an hour or so we returned to the road and made the short (around 30 mins) drive to Reno.  Again, the mountain and distant views were very pretty albeit that we drove through some hail en-route.

My trusty navigator talked me through the directions to the airport and we arrived at the Best Western – Reno Airport.  We booked the room earlier in the day so the check-in was efficient and we placed most of our belongings in the room before getting directions to a nearby mall in order to have a late lunch.

The mall was a huge place with few people in it (we are too accustom to Hong Kong) so we found a place to eat and sat in one of the many seats available.

We took some time to look around the mall after lunch before heading back to the hotel.

Because we are flying out early tomorrow morning I returned the car to Avis before walking the short distance (literally across the road) back to the hotel to help The Princess re-organised our bags for tomorrow’s flight.

We are listed on the 7.40am flight out of Reno to Calgary (via Denver) so we will have to be up around 4.30am to get ready and check-in by 6.00am. I am sure we will have some sleep on the plane on the way to Denver and again from Denver to Calgary.

It is now approaching 10.30pm and we need to get into bed so we bid you all a goodnight and/or G’day and look forward to updating you with our travel stories from tomorrow’s adventures.

Roey and The Princess

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A return to a little Swiss culture, following Magellan’s legacy, storms in the North,

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Sunrise photo opportunities in SLT were probably at their best today.  However, we chose to continue where we started yesterday and sleep in.

I guess we will blame it on time zone changes for now.

The Lakeshore Lodge does provide a selection of items for breakfast (which we reviewed this morning) however, The Princess and I enjoyed our cereal yesterday morning so we returned to Heidi’s for another simple breakfast this morning.  It happens to be located around 50 walking paces from where we are staying so the choice was rather easy.  The American version of a Swiss concept wore a little thin this morning (particularly when you are served by a well meaning but hard to understand Mexican immigrant!!).  Still, the food was nourishing (at least we convinced ourselves of this) and we left with full stomachs and “The Sound Of Music” resonating in our ears.

With the car full of the necessary “support equipment” we headed North along the Western (confused?) edge of Lake Tahoe.  We planned to circumnavigate the lake today in our hybrid Nissan.  The car had not been used for a day so it needed a good run (our excuse).

So, like Ferdinand Magellan we set out on our adventure – leaving SLT around 11.00am.  Having visited some of the places of interest on the day we arrived in SLT we drove through to Tahoe City. This pretty little town on the north side of Lake Tahoe is very picturesque and definitely worth a visit – even if it was raining when we arrived.

We escaped the rain by spending some time in the Grind and Gear Cafe.  When we walked into this great little cafe our ears were instantly soothed to the sounds of a great Australian band – Men At Work. “Downunder” was the third song to greet us.  Perfect.  Even though the lead singer of this band – Colin Hay was a Scotsman the band is Australian by definition – “our Colin” as Aussies would say.

We extended our stay while we drank a very nice Latte (coffee for me and Chai tea for The Princess) and admired the work of a local photographer – Kevin Klein.

The rain didn’t show signs of easing up so we utilised the waterproof jackets we bought a couple of years ago and walked the main street of Tahoe City.  It was quite cold so we took respite in various stores along the way.

We decided to eat outdoors today so, despite the weather, we purchase some lovely salads and fruit then went in search of a covered picnic table.  Alas, there were none to be found in Tahoe City.  Indeed, we visited the tourist information centre and were promptly told that “we have trees”.  Well fortunately the weather God’s smiled on us briefly and we were able to finds a wet picnic table to “sit at” while we ate lunch.

The damp seating did not detract from the sensational view of the lake and we even had a Canadian influence because a flock of migratory Canadian Geese graced our presence while we ate.

On returning to the car we continued our clockwise drive and headed into Nevada.  Lake Tahoe is shared by the states of California (Western two thirds) and Nevada (Eastern third).  The crossing of the state border is rather obvious because within metres (feet for the non-metric) they have built casinos.

We passed through the small towns of Kings Beach and Incline Village and stopped in Incline for an afternoon “tea” break.

The afternoon was fast approaching evening so we drove down the picturesque Eastern edge of the lake heading South (keeping up?) back to SLT.

Whilst the return from our circumnavigation was not met with the adoring crowds the adventurers like Christopher Columbus would have enjoyed, we felt pleased that our own adventure was as noteworthy. A short walk around the shopping precinct at Heavenly Village completed our day out.

It was approaching sunset when we returned to our room so we took time to finish the complimentary bottle of red wine while watching the sunset over the mountains to the West of Lake Tahoe – a wonderful sight.

Dinner tonight was light and easy – some tasty salads from Safeway.  We are determined to escape the US without putting on too much weight!!

So now it is time to turn our attention to our pillows and bid you all a goodnight/G’day.

We trust that this finds you all as it leaves us – happy to be upright and breathing and making the most of the day that we have been given.

Roey and The Princess

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