Our Fourth Annual Honeymoon
|Plumas National Forest|
We started on this, our fourth annual honeymoon, around 9am and drove via 299 through Redding to Susanville and camped in the Plumas National Forest. We saw a bit of deer, squirrels, hummingbirds, a couple small hares, and lots of bats come evening. We checked out two of the local campgrounds. The first one was a bit overgrown but no one was there. The second was farther in, but had a very large group of unruly children charging about.
We left fairly early the next morning and drove through to Reno/Sparks where we got some rockhounding guides. Then on to lunch at an overlook on the side of the highway. We tried the apricotsauce I made 2 days ago and it was delicious! Sweet, tart and very very refreshing. We continued on through the unending bore that was Nevada and stopped in Elko at the Visitor's Center. There we got a tiny bit of information, then went to the BLM office just up the road. It was at least 30 minutes past closing, but two wonderful ladies were leaving the office as we arrived and invited us in. They answered all our questions, found us wonderful maps, and never once did we feel rushed or as though they were annoyed by our questions. Thanks, ladies!
There were lots of waterfalls and glacially carved hanging valleys to see the next day during our the drive to the end of the road, but the light was harsh, and for an advertised wildlife viewing area, there was very little to see. As always, our patience saved us. We stopped at a viewpoint that was obscured by trees and I found some lovely quartz and rose quartz while Scott spent a lot of time photographing the pale swallowtail, two-tail swallow tail, tiger swallowtail, California tortoiseshell, Milbert's tortoiseshell, and Weidemeyer's Admiral butterflies in addition to tent caterpillars and their tents.
We also took some pictures of shooting star flowers that were very pretty. Then Scott took some more of the marmots and we finished our drive.
After Lamoille, we drove on to a place that many people had told us was totally gorgeous. We drove up to Angel Lake in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest near Elko, Nevada. It was a long, hot drive and we were feeling sunburned. Lamoille was a disappointment after being touted as the lushest place in Nevada. On the way up to Angel Lake we looked into the valley below and could see the Ruby Marsh, another campground we'd considered. It looked, uh, marshy, but we saw no trees and after the biting flies at Lamoille we decided to forgo any marsh areas.
|Angel Lake Campground|
We set up quickly and hiked around behind the lake where it was shadowy, cooler to wait for the sun to set. I took a photo of the lake and the valley beyond. Then we hiked a bit further, saw the canyon walls behind the lake and then headed back to camp. We managed to figure out how to reheat all our lovely Basque food on the campstove and had a delicious meal of leftovers. We walked around a bit again then went back to our campsite once it started getting on to dusk. Scott saw a cute grey mouse with a white belly dash away from the picnic table as we entered our camping space. We sat together on one side of the picnic table to watch and see if the mouse came out again. He did, and he brought friends.
They even sat between our feet, only darting back into the brush when we moved. We were surprised and a bit dismayed to see how bold they were. Then Scott realized we'd cleaned up camp but left the garbage bag full of discarded bits of meat, bread, and butter open on the other side of the picnic table. He went around and tapped the bag and another mouse shot out of it. He got out a lambchop we were unable to finish and set it in the center of the campsite, then tied up the bag and put it out of reach. We spent the rest of time until dark watching the mice tussle for the lamb. We stargazed a bit more and went to sleep. Scott got up during the night to take more startrail photos and shots of the new crescent moon. The next morning we discarded a well-gnawed lambchop.
We had our usual oatmeal and tang breakfast then packed up camp to move on to Great Basin National Park. Scott was putting something in the back of the car when he saw the cooler was covered in hundreds of biting no-see-ums! We shooed them out of the car as best we could and sprayed the rest and ourselves with Natrupel (DEET-free and smells nice, I call it my camping perfume). After that we tossed everything into the car quickly and drove away.
We found a Bureau of Land Management office in Wells where we met Debbie who was excited to get copies of the digital photos I had taken so far in Nevada. I gave them to her for BLM use and she and Scott spent a while chatting about photography and camera gear. We learned from her that one of the Flying J's in town was a truck stop and had showers. We enjoyed meeting Debbie, then repacked our camping gear after shaking out all the no-see-ums we could. The showers at the Flying J were really refreshing and only $6. The room was large enough we were able to share one for the same price. After that we drove to Ely (e-lee) where we got a Subway lunch and fuel before driving on to Great Basin National Park.
|Wheeler Peak Campground|
|Wheeler Peak Campground Visitor|
We walked back down to the junction to Theresa Lake. I went ahead on my own for a while. Some clouds had built up and Scott wanted to take advantage of the softer light to retake some of his bristlecone pine photos, but it was starting to get a bit late and I wanted to be sure
|Outside the Lectrolux Cafe|
As nice as all the camping and sightseeing was, eventually we had to reach Las Vegas. It was 113 degrees fahrenheit. Last time we were here we stayed at the Monte Carlo where the conference was being held, but it was not worth the expense so this year we found the cheapest motel we could find within walking distance. It was cheap indeed, clean enough, and serviceable, but run down, and the internet hookup was not working. Scott was sure he saw some hookers and I believe I saw at least one drug deal happening just one building over from ours. Next time we'll try for a happy medium between expensive and dangerous. EDIT: A couple of months home and we were watching Cops when our motel was featured! On Cops! *shakes head* Our first night we saw an inexpensive Asian buffet and decided to have dinner there. They were having a special on horchata (a Mexican beverage made with rice, sugar, water, and cinnamon), if you can believe that, but it was very tasty and refreshing so we each had a glass.
The next day I spent gimping my trip photos and writing more of this blog. Scott spent the day at the conference and I researched meals for us. I found a coupon for dinner for 2 for the price of 1 at a casino called Terrible's. Despite the name, the food wasn't bad. Then we went over to the Venetian to wander through the shops. The Venetian has the prettiest shopping area of any of the casinos on the strip. We looked at clothes for Scott and just did some general browsing around. I was glad to be out of the hotel room. As we looked for a drinking fountain (ha, nothing is free in Vegas, not even water) we were approached by a man who offered us some free gifts. It turned out to be an invitation to listen to a three hour sales pitch in exchange for a free dinner and a show. So the next morning we went to the Polo Towers and heard a sales pitch from Wayne, who was an asshole. I think he figured out that we weren't going to buy anything. Neither Scott nor I knew much about timeshares so we were definitely interested in hearing the pitch if just to learn about how it worked. As we suspected, it wouldn't have worked for us so we got our free dinner and show vouchers and walked over to the Aladdin Casino to cash them in for the actual tickets. On the way over we were stopped again for another timeshare sales pitch. This time the person who signed us up, Conrad, was a very charming man. We didn't need dinner and a show again so we got $50 in casino chips to gamble at Excalibur Casino and 2 nights free at the timeshare in the next 18 months. We decided to go ahead and do it. We signed up for a tour then ran over to the Aladdin. On the way to the V theater we bumped into a woman selling perfume. I'm always looking for perfume that doesn't make me sneeze and this one was wonderful! Plus it came with five other skin care products all for fifty dollars. Then we went back to the second timeshare and had our free lunch of sandwiches, cookies, and lemonade. The salesman, Elia, was very sweet and reminded me of Scott's brother Steve in appearance and mannerisms. He was very understanding and sweet when we explained that the deal just wouldn't work for us.
After the second timeshare pitch ended we took the free shuttle back to the Excalibur hotel and I got $50 in slot machine tokens. I took Scott to one of the simple, one line winner slot machines and showed him how to use it. I cautioned him to only gamble the coins we were given and not any credit we won. In the end we turned the tokens into $73 cash and left the casino all smiles. We went back to the hotel room, rested for a few minutes, cooled off and then drove over to the Aladdin.
The dinner we chose was at a restaurant called Lombardi's. We were told it was a 5-star restaurant, but I don't think that was entirely true. We had a limited menu to chose from, but that was fine. The service and ambiance were superb, but the food was mediocre at best. My chicken marsala was overdone and the chicken was dry. We also ordered dessert, which we had to pay for, and it was fine too, but nothing special. All in all, the dinner was worth what we paid for it.
We left the restaurant and headed over to the show. It wasn't due to start for another hour, but the line was extremely long so we queued up and waited. The theater was small, seating was chairs on the floor, no risers, and it was a bit tough to see. The show was cute and enjoyable. Also worth what we paid for it. The MC was funny, there was a suspended drummer that was interesting, and the juggler was very good and very funny. After the show we walked around the shops for a while longer and ran into an art gallery for an artist whose paintings we fell in love with almost immediately. The artist's name is Vladimir Kush and his paintings are beautiful and surreal.
The next morning we packed up and gave a tip to Conrad, as we'd promised when signing up for the second timeshare sales pitch. Then we drove on to Edwards Air Force Base to visit with a dear friend, Melvin (Matt) who recently graduated from the HSU CS program. We stayed and had such a nice time we bought him, his mother-in-law, Dee, and his sister-in-law, Sara, dinner as a thank you for letting us spend the night and showing us around the airforce base. I really loved seeing the aviation museum on base! After that it was just one long drive home and here we are!