Sunday, June 28, 2015

Truckee California

There are certain places in the world with names so evocative in the mind's eye that they represent a siren's call to the vagabond, the adventurer, the eternally  curious...Mozambique...Zanzibar...Kathmandu... Truckee California.  Truckee???  My only reason for even being aware of the existence of Truckee prior to this trip was as a result of watching the weather station a lot, where on numerous occasions during the winter, they would announce that the warmest place in the continental US was Key West or someplace like that and the coldest was Truckee, California.  Having lived in Canada for 12 years, I was no stranger to the cold, but there was just something about the name "Truckee" that always evoked images of something tough, isolated, a logging town, rugged, forbidding, dangerous, trucklike in addition to the extreme weather that caught my eye, so when I found out that Truckee was only 30 miles or so from Reno which marked the end of our Highway 50 adventure, how could I resist.  Even Jackie was curious what the fuss was about, so off we went.

Contrary to my expectations, Truckee was the go to town for the Lake Tahoe set, affluent, handsome and hungry.  The children are all blond, well togged, and in abundance, as are old people, wandering aimlessly in and out of high end shops looking for that certain something before settling down to a good meal at an expensive eatery.  There were 37 restaurants, 7 boutiques, 4 jewelry shops, 8 art galleries, and 4 or 5 home decor shops in Truckee, and little else. Hardly the rough and tumble place I had envisioned and that it once was, but still, thanks to its affluent repurposing, this former railroad/mill town remains fairly in tact, much more than a shadow of its former self, and thus a pleasure to be in.

After a strenuous day of window shopping and taking in the town, photographically and otherwise, we were hungry and Jackie had her eye on Moore's Tavern in the old Truckee Hotel, where we had a great late lunch.  There are 37 places to eat in Truckee, but if you want a good burger this is the place.  Jackie had one,  I had a beer and the beet salad, sitting under one of those red umbrellas.  Truckee, one more place I have dreamed of seeing, checked off the list.  



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Caliente Nevada

June 17, 2015

Just got back last night from our Highway 50 adventure across the vast expanse of empty space that comprises the middle of Nevada on the so called "Loneliest Highway in America" a trip we started years ago, but got distracted with another destination and never finished.  This time we did it.  Flew into Las Vegas as always, won a few hundred at blackjack, wasted $20 or so on the slots, rented a car, and headed up the 93 with an overnight stay in the mountain top mining village of Pioche, then up to the town of Ely where the 50 began for us.  Never know where to pick up the thread when we get back from a trip.  Once tried the chronological approach but it was exhausting so I am back to more or less random entries as the spirit moves me.  Somewhere on Highway 93 traveling north to Ely...

is a once thriving railroad center/mining support/hot springs hot spot aptly named Caliente that is now mostly abandoned,  imploding, and beyond even thinking about some meaningful way of repurposing itself, something you can say about the thousands of towns across America once defined by their relationship to the railroad which had either been ripped up years ago,  or are no longer needed to provide material railway services with the advent of the diesel.  The train tracks in Caliente are still there, but the train no longer bothers to stop at this town of a few hundred people.  We stopped for dinner at the Knotty Pine, one of two places in town to eat and I had a pretty good tuna sandwich.

Recently read a blog posting by someone who had passed through Caliente who said there were only 2 building in town of any interest, the train station, built in 1923 in the mission style as a hotel/restaurant/supply terminal for the active railroad industry which once defined this town...

and Carl's Burger's and sandwich shop, an establishment that seems full of the hope and promise that define the American spirit, but was already closed when I took this picture 6 or 7 years ago when I last passed through Caliente, still shooting film.  

Carl's is still kind of there, but the broken windows are now boarded up and the signs were falling down.    Would have taken a picture, but the sun was behind the building and not worth the effort.

Other than that there is the old movie house on Clover Street parallel to the railroad tracks that kind of puts the exclamation point on the dismal state of affairs facing Caliente and a few thousand American towns just like it.