Pass a long list of small towns umbilically attached to I-80. Have been in most, and this journey is too long to allow my meandering about them again. (AM surprised at how far a commercial corridor and housing developments have expanded in just a few years).
“Curiosity calls; Auburn answers”, so pull off for a bit of a walk in “Old Town”.
Am delighted to find fewer changes than expected, and, while things look a bit cleaner, Auburn’s ambiance survives. (No doubt, Old Town being tiny enough to fit into an over-sized gully makes pretentious changes difficult). Even with a bit of “now-more-tiring” hill-climbing, feel no guilt for “renewing my vows”.
Continue uphill on I-80, and, as elevations approach 5000’ level, my van (taking a hint from contemporary politics, becomes subject to heated volatility), tucked behind a huge Wal-Mart truck, affords “top of the world” views as mountains fall into valleys, and alpine lakes reflect cumulus clouds aimlessly drifting. Pass through Tahoe National Forest, and neither Donner Pass (7227’) or Donner Lake give rise to cannibalistic urges.
Take a quick, traffic-clogged tour of Truckee: tarted up a bit, but, its downtown continues to retain a funky quality.
Arrive in Reno in late afternoon, but traffic is manageable, so make my way out to McKinley Art Center only to be disappointed by being too late. As an alternative, wander along frothy Truckee River, enviously observing huge mansions sited on river’s south bluff, and enjoying not only Nature’s contribution, but a series of artful sculptures which grace this walkway. Close in, Wingfield Park offers kiddy kayaking on timid rapids, a shale beach of safe shallows for little kids, and a charming flower vine decorated bridge joining both banks.
Go “off-river” to satisfy my curiosity about local churches: St Thomas Aquinas Cathedral’s gorgeous golden doors, and Trinity Episcopal Church’s plainness.
Only Barbara Bonner Park cast a dark note: it’s habitués give off a sense of negative energy… a sense of hard-eyed, hanger-outers.