Road trip – Ely, NV. 4/17/21

Not too much going on today as we spend most of the day driving from Carson City to Ely, NV. We make a stop at a McDonald’s in Fallon, NV for breakfast.  Unfortunately we cannot eat inside so we make do sitting in the car.

After that we head further on  U.S. 50, the loneliest highway in America. We stop at the famous or infamous Shoe Tree. We have visited the original shoe tree in 2009 but that tree was chain-sawed down by vandals in 2010. It seems, though, that people wasted no time making another shoe tree in a nearby tree. (A shoe tree is a tree that people throw their shoes to catch on the branches.)

The Shoe Tree of Middlegate, NV
Some people are able to throw their shoes really high!
The skeletal remains of the old Shoe Tree
Mary and John with Shoe Tree selfie

In any case it was good to get out and stretch our legs!

We drive on and on through some very dull and some very spectacular scenery. We arrive in Ely, NV shortly before 3 PM. We stop at a Carl’s Jr. where there are only two tables available for use and they are already occupied. We spend our lunchtime in the car eating burgers that I know we should not eat.

Over the crest of a hill and the Shoshone Mountains appear dusted with snow

We reach the hotel round 3:40 and after looking at Ely on the way in decide we will have plenty of time tomorrow to see anything we might want to see. After a shower and a short nap (for me) we get dressed for dinner. I am concerned that we will not look fancy enough. I need not have worried.

We go to Mr. Gino’s Italian Restaurant. I have made a reservation. After all it is Saturday night! When we get there three tables are occupied. We opt for a table hiding in the corner where we will be away from other people’s breathing. Mr. Gino’s is like some restaurant that your parents took you to in the 1950s.

Mr. Gino’s menu

I order shrimp arrabbiata and John gets lasagna. I am able to dress my salad with oil and vinegar. I send John on a hunt for salt at one of the empty tables. At this point everyone who was here when we came in has left. Salad with some doctoring is okay. We order glasses of wine. I get Chardonnay and John orders Cabernet Sauvignon. His wine is so bad that he does not want me to even taste it.  I have decided that the restaurant’s algorithm for pricing wine is whatever a whole bottle cost is what they should charge for a glass.  It is $6.

Our entrees come and my shrimp in spicy sauce is not terrible. The shrimp could have been cooked more and the pasta less. It is covered with melting cheese and a bread stick. John has lasagna. Wait, what’s this, two more tablesful of people come in. We decide since it is 8 PM that they must be Spaniards dining way too early or Californians who left Carson City later than we did. Anyway the dinner gets a C-.. It is not terrible. (I cannot believe I am blowing my diet on this less than mediocre food!)

Top left is John’s lasagna and the rest is my salad and Shrimp arrabbiata

Road trip Carson City, NV continued 4/16/21

Today we continue our exploration of Carson City, NV and where better to begin than at the Nevada State Museum. The building that houses the museum is an amalgamation of an original older building and a modern section. Ingenuously the architect has made the connection point to look like a mine headframe.  We mention that fact to the cashier when we are buying our tickets and she admits to never noticing even though she has worked there for years.

Entrance to Nevada State Museum with Mary

The museum has a large section devoted to rocks, dinosaurs, and ancient mammals all of which are or were plentiful in Nevada. Many fossilized dinosaurs have been discovered in the area.

Ichthyosaur fossil. Not really a dinosaur but a fish-lizard that lived at the same time as dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era.
This an Imperial Mammoth who died in Nevada about 17,000 years ago
And this is a large Ice Age horse native to N. America and that died in Nevada 25,500 years ago.

After the rocks and animals we take a look at settlers’ houses and handicrafts and the evolution of modern Nevada.

Mary by an early Maxwell automobile with right hand drive

We then take a look at a mine mock-up. Mining is a big deal in Nevada and we learn a lot about mining and all sorts of jargon which will be exceedingly difficult to work into every day conversation. Carson City  is near to Virginia City home to the gold and silver of the Comstock Lode.

Lastly due to all the silver being generated by the mining, Nevada petitioned the federal government to finance a mint. For about 23 years in the late 1800s, Carson City minted silver dollars with their CC imprint on them. The press is still operational but only mints commemorative coins now.

The still functional coin press from the late 19th century

We pick up a sandwich for lunch and go back to the hotel to eat our lunch and have a little down time. Around 2 PM we venture back out to visit the Railroad Museum. Unfortunately only half of the museum is open but they charge us full price nonetheless.

In the main building there are several engines and cars in tiptop shape. It seems that the Virginia and Truckee Railroad excelled at supplying the movie industry with old steam engines for the movies. The movie studios returned them mostly in really good shape. Here are a few of the trains we saw.

Mary and a train
Engine and coal car, Dayton, of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad
John and Engine No. 22

There are interesting maps on the floor showing the route and the time it took to get to Promontory Point where they drove in the golden spike. The track coming from the East took a few months to get from point to point but the track from the west took four years to cover the much shorter distance through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Map of the railroad with completion dates coming from the east
Map of the railroad coming from the west

Next we decide to take a look at the Governor’s Mansion a few blocks away.  The Mansion is situated in a middle class American neighborhood although it is much bigger than most of the houses near it. It is built in the Classical Revival style.  The governor’s home was built between 1908 and 1909 specifically as a home for the governor.

Nevada’s Governor’s Mansion in Carson City

The rest of the neighborhood looks like the kind of neighborhood I grew up in, nice, but not too nice. People have multiple vehicles parked around their houses. A few have dirt driveways and various “antiques” in their yards or on their front porches. Most of the houses look like they were built after WWII. So it is an interesting mix.  I also cannot say anything laudatory about the governor’s landscaping. It is early Spring here but maybe someone could have put down some new mulch or picked up the empty plastic bottles that I see here and there.

The governor’s forlorn landscaping

After thoroughly checking out the Governor’s Mansion we make our way back to the hotel where we loll around until almost 7:30 PM.  We guess we better find some dinner. Our choice to night is called Pho Country which the internet says is open until 9PM. Except it isn’t. The sign on the door says only take-out between 7 and 8 PM. Now we are in a scramble to find somewhere that is open. We end up at Miss Lily’s China Bistro where although there is a lot of traffic at the take-out window, we are the only people inside. We order our usual Chinese restaurant order, moo shu pork and Mongolian beef (extra spicy). So much for my good intentions to eat reasonably for dinner.

Mongolian beef, left, and moo sho pork, upper right

 

 

 

Road trip, Carson City, NV. 4/15/21

Today we started a two week road trip, a kind of celebration of being fully vaccinated. Our first destination was Carson City, NV, the capitol of Nevada. The city is named after the Carson River which was named after Kit Carson by his friend and fellow pioneer, John C. Fremont. They came across the area and the river when searching for a way to get over the Sierra Nevada mountains. The pass they found is named Carson Pass and is at an elevation of over 8000 feet.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Snow near Carson Pass
Mary and John in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
First order of business when we reached Carson City was lunch at The Basil, a Thai restaurant

After lunch we went for a walk in the historical district where the State Capitol Building is. Nevada entered the Union in 1864. The building was constructed between 1869 and 1871 in the Neoclassical Italiante style. It is set in a park with other various government buildings nearby.

Handsome Nevada State Capitol
Mary on the front steps of the Capitol (there was no one around)
John at the Capitol
Inlaid plaques in the sidewalk for the Kit Carson Trail
Flowering trees at the park near the Capitol
Kit Carson statue
Old-timey street
New-timey street with Cactus Jack’s Casino

After checking into the hotel we took showers followed by a lie-down. For dinner we found a Mexican restaurant, San Marcos Grill, and had various seafoods.

John’s camarones diabla. The menu indicated that this was super spicy with three jalapeños. It was not spicy. In fact all of the food we have had in Carson City has been unusually bland.
Mary’s pescado acapulqueno. It had vegetables! Also the fish and shrimp were very tasty.

 

First time out in 13 months! 4/8/21

John and I planned a treat for ourselves and went out to lunch, dinner, and stayed over at hotel for the first time since February, 2020. I have to admit that not being able to go to restaurants for over a year probably helped a lot with staying on a diet but now that we are semi-free to do so, I have to figure out strategies to make good choices.

Since we were scheduled for a wine tasting at Imagery we decided to go to Salt and Stone in Kenwood first. For lunch I ordered mussels and John ordered octopus. Seafood, as a long as it is not fried, is always a good choice. Giving John my bread is also a successful strategy for me but probably not for him.

Pretty outdoor setting at Salt and Stone
John with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc
Mary with a glass Chenin Blanc
John’s grilled octopus
Mary’s mussels

Our lunch was followed by a wine tasting at Imagery Winery. We sat outside and it was a perfect Spring day to do it. Flowers were blooming everywhere and the temperature was just right.

John and poppies at Imagery
Mary at the winery
Tasting menu

After our tasting we made our way to the BW Sonoma to check in, have a little rest, and get cleaned up for dinner. The hotel is very near the square in Sonoma and it is an easy walk to EDGE, the restaurant associated with Stone Edge Winery.

We had a four course meal paired with wines which had us eating hamachi, a salad, halibut, and buttermilk ice cream. Of course these were not simply the item on a plate but each course was carefully prepared with delicious accompaniments.

Dining outdoors at EDGE
Hamachi
Salad
Halibut

It was so great to go out again. We still need to be careful but now that we are vaccinated, we feel much safer than before. We are looking forward to more outings and travel soon.

Passover celebration. 3/27/21

Hopefully this is the last of our pandemic Passover celebrations. Although it was fun and delicious, it is even better with the whole family here.

Pictures from our 2021 Passover –

Table is set!
Seder plate
John lighting the candles
John reading Hebrew
Matzo ball soup
Mary and Clark
Grilled lamb chops, mashed potatoes, and asparagus with sauce grabiche
Sarah’s delicious macaroons

Celebrating Alex’s birthday. 3/7/21

Alex is turning 15 this year. I cannot believe it!! It seems like such a short time ago that she was just a little kid. Ah, well, I guess we all get older (and older.) John, Sarah, and I took a trip over to Jon and Ryan’s house for a little celebration. Of course since it is still pandemic time and not everyone has been vaccinated, we celebrated in our masks outdoors. Jon, Ryan, Leigh, and Sarah cannot wait for it to be their turn to get the vaccine.

Here are some pictures from the day –

Alex and Sam in their matching outfits
Ooh, cookies from Auntie Sarah
Opening some presents from mom and dad which included a new scooter and some high tech headphones.

We gave Alex some Spring clothes which is not terribly exciting but I know will be appreciated when the weather warms up. (If it ever does!!)

Vacation wrap-up. 3/4/21

On Wednesday, our last vacation day, we played some tennis and, for Jonathan, a round a golf. The original idea was that John would play golf too.  John decided to give his weary muscles a rest and spend the afternoon doing laundry and getting packed.

We got some yummy pizza from Bella Marie’s, had a salad and drank some wine. John and I knew that we had to eat something which we haven’t had since we started this diet 1 1/2 years ago. Pizza with Italian sausage and sautéed onions and garlic, wine, and a salad with real salad dressing (inclusive of oil!) certainly filled the bill.

At 5:55 AM MST Thursday we hit the road for home and only 11 hours and 5 minutes later (4 PM PST) we were home. Jonathan and I tend to push the speed limits a bit and our stops were brief so we were home a little more quickly than usual.

We had so much fun on our trip. It was such a welcome break from pandemic living. We played lots of tennis, Jonathan went golfing twice, the hiking was spectacular even if we didn’t find what we were looking for, and mom and Jon had plenty of shopping and cooking times! I am already looking forward to doing it again!

Slickrock hiking near Gunlock, UT. 3/2/21

I found some interesting looking hikes not too far from our base in St. George. The Bowl and the Vortex are mostly in a slickrock area in the Red Mountain Wilderness near Gunlock and Veyo, UT. Veyo is famous for its cinder cones and there is still a lot of volcanic rubble around. To reach the slickrock area we had to hike a very difficult downslope full of sharp basalt rocks. I needed help from John and Jon’s steadying hands.

The trail was not well marked and the hiking guide just said to follow the cairns. What cairns!? We would come across two or three close together and then nothing. So although we hiked around the area for almost 3 hours we never did find the Vortex. Luckily the area was beautiful and there were very few people about so our hike was pretty nice regardless of whether we found our goal!

Pictures from the hike-

As it turns out our goal was between the two big piles of rocks. We were told this by other hikers after we gave up and were going back to the car.
Jon did a lot of reconnoitering but did not find the right spot.
Here he is searching in another spot.
Hiking on the slickrock
Arches
Taking a breather
Enjoying our hike
Jon took this picture from quite a ways in front of us. I am a hiking slowpoke.
Basalt outcropping
Jon leading the way

Our reward for all the hiking was a delicious steak dinner with tater tots and collards and corn. Cooking together has been a highlight of our vacation.

Rib-eye steak, tater tots, and collards and corn

After dinner we took a walk over to our old house. It appeared that someone was home this time!

Our former house in SG

 

A hike and an All-American dinner. 2/27/21

John, Jon and I went on a hike yesterday up the Huber Wash in Zion National Park. Although the round-trip is supposedly 4 miles, it was a difficult hike for me since the rock-strewn trail was tortuous for my fragile knee which does not take well to any sort of twisting. My Fitbit said I went over 4.5 miles and took 12,000 steps but I did not make it to the end of the trail due to large boulders that I was unable to scramble over. John and Jon went on ahead and I sat on a rock and waited for them as they went further down the trail. (Poor me!)

John and Jonathan on the Huber Trail
Mary and John on the Huber Trail

That being said, this is why I felt totally deserving of my all-American dinner of a hamburger on a ciabatta, tater tots, and salad. In my less exhausted mind I would have had a small burger, no roll, half a small baked potato, and the salad.

Hamburger on ciabatta, tater tots, garden salad

Jonathan did a super job cooking the burgers to medium rare. I used some of the leftover fennel, onion, and red bell peppers to enliven our salad. And what can I say about tater tots other than that they were easy and yummy!

Sunday will be a recovery day for John and me. And I am planning something a little saner for dinner tomorrow night!