San Fran to the Salt

Sorry about the delay in updating – we have been ‘off the grid’ so far as we haven’t been connected to any wifi for best part of a couple of weeks so I have some catching up to do.

Last time I updated we were finishing up in San Fran. On the Friday morning we had to get the rental car back to the airport early and then got the local BART light rail train into and across San Fran for us to connect with the Amtrak train in Richmond. We took the train up to Sacramento – about a 2 hour ride. Got talking to a local lady on the train so that always helps. Sacramento is the state capital of California and looks like a nice city – we didn’t have as long as we would have liked to explore but we hiked into the downtown area for a while before getting a lift to the RV place we were working with in South Sacramento. Plan had been to pick up the motor-home and get on our way – not to be today – the team at the yard needed to do some work on it, so a little stranded we ended up sleeping in the camper in the yard for what we thought would be one night. We enjoyed a nice meal at a Pakistani place across the road and settled in for a bit of a restless night.

Up early on the Saturday we were optimistic that the team at the RV dealer would have us out of the load later in the day. One of the team from the RV yard took us to do some shopping locally so we could get bedding and bits like that so we go back and then waited, and waited and then waited some more. Reality was the camper wasn’t going anyway too far that night again and as we wanted things to be right, we camped out in the RV yard – again. Our delay gave us a good opportunity to get some things cleaned and set up so that once we were finally hitting the road we would be set. Well that opportunity finally came around 1pm on the Sunday – with walk through complete, and notes made, we were on the road. Plan had been to get up to Reno for the Hotrod shop by Friday but that wasn’t to be – another trip another time maybe.

We headed east, making our first stop at RV World – we needed good camping chairs for the weeks ahead. Whilst there we signed up for Good Sam – the RV version of our AA so should something go wrong North America wide, we should be covered. We stocked up at the supermarket and finally around mid afternoon we started to head out of Sacramento proper. First stop, first test for us was to head to Lake Tahoe – a good workout for ‘Romin’ (you have to name your camper don’t you). The climb into the Tahoe area was a good steady workout for us – you get up to around 7400 ft and then summit the pass and drop down into this wonderful valley with Lake Tahoe at the head. We opted to pull into an RV Camp ground in South Lake Tahoe with around 125 miles on the clock for the afternoon. Campground was fine – set in the wooded area – very busy with it still be summer school break here, but enough distance between sites for it not to be a problem.

The following morning before heading off again we had a good walk around the camper, talked to some ‘local’s’ for some ideas on where to head, what to see, and what to expect from life in an RV – met some really interesting people who now lived full time in their respective RV’s – much bigger and better equipped than ours I might add. Hitting the road again we traveled up and around the lake (bit like Queenstown but up-scaled) and then cut up and over into Nevada dropping down into Reno – destination the National Automobile Museum. We had a great look around the local collection – museum was set up by Harrah the Casino man and he loved cars – so much so that at one stage he had 1400 cars in his personal collection. He was all about restoring vehicles to true / period running standards and set up a great facility to do so. Unfortunately he died in the late 70’s and his wife and family sold everything off (casino’s, car collection etc.) to the Holiday Inn group. Fortunately Holiday Inn ‘gifted’ 175 cars to the city of Reno to keep the Bill Harrah collection / museum alive. Great facility and really enjoyed our time looking around. (as an aside, the Hot August Nights Hot-rod show had wrapped up the day prior – something like 10000 hot-rods and cars in attendance – next time)

From there we had to fight our way out of Reno to head East for Wendover and the Salt. Most direct way would have been Interstate 80 but Romin was favouring the slow lane so as soon as we could we cut off and onto Interstate 50 and plugged away at 55 miles and hour. With less cars and trucks buzzing by us we just chewed into the road ahead – the I50 or ‘Loneliest Highway’ would take up right across Nevada. After something like 3.5 hours and 180 miles of driving we pulled off the main road in a quiet stretch outside of Austin and ‘camped out’. Up and on the road early the following morning we first came to the town of Eureka (still looking quite wild west like) and then across to Ely before the last push of 120 miles back north up to the Nevada / Utah border. Nevada was full of undulations – we climbed up, we dropped down and so it went. Around 25 miles out from Wendover you crest a summit and are rewarded with a view of the salt flats on the horizon – then you just have to get there – that last 25 miles always seems to take an age.

Wendover is spread across Nevada and Utah – casino’s only on the Nevada side of the state line. Also we found we gained an hour crossing state lines so by this stage it was mid afternoon. We had a good wander around Wendover – saw plenty of cars coming back in from the Salt – you just had to follow the stream of salt on the road. We had a good session with the team at the local Visitor Centre who helped us out with some Utah and Wyoming options, loading us with maps in the process – very helpful. We’d stayed here in Wendover in a camper back in 2016 so we retraced our footsteps and headed out to the camping area near the salt. we’d heard that conditions on the salt hadn’t been so good this year with an unexpected rain shower, and so a number of teams had already packed up and headed home. The main camping area reinforced that – a lot less camping to what we had experienced back in 2016.

We talked about having another day on the salt but thought better of it – vehicles weren’t running at their best and a load of competitors were already packed up and gone so we decided we were move on ourselves, grateful for the opportunity to come back to this very cool place (well it’s not cool – it’s hot as heck as my sunburn will attest).

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