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Out of the Icebox into the Fire

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After a short stay in Denver, we headed west to California. In Denver we had a couple of days of nice weather followed by snow, rain and cold. We were busy visiting, but the cold and wet weather was something we don't find pleasant. It even managed to snow enough one morning to turn the foothills white.

I took care of a few tasks around the motor home while Louise assisted her mother with trips to the beauty shop, grocery and other shops. Our friends Bill and Laura stopped by for a morning visit. We went to breakfast and then they helped us set up our new Wii game. We had parted just over a month ago and were glad to make this connection as they were headed east and we were on our way west. When Thursday arrived I topped off the air in our tires. It was 80 degrees when we rolled in and low 50s when we left, so the tires were a little below specs.

Leaving Denver we encountered a few sprinkles but it was otherwise dry. A tailwind eased us across Wyoming. We stopped in Rawlins to fuel at the Flying J. Their website showed that to be the lowest price for fuel this side of Winnemucca, Nevada.

Louise took a turn at the driving, taking us almost to the Utah border. We pushed on through Utah, passing through Salt Lake City just before sunset. The setting sun was directly behind many of the highway signs, making the trip much more interesting. There were several turn decisions we had to make simply based on what looked right and our experience of passing through Salt Lake City numerous times before. West of SLC is a rest stop on the hill overlooking I-80. We've stayed there in the past and always found it a quiet rest for the night. It didn't disappoint us this time, either. After a stint of 590 miles, we needed a good night's rest.

The next morning we were into Nevada in less than an hour of driving. A stop a Wells got us propane at 50 cents per gallon less than anywhere along our route. Another 180 miles down the road at Winnemucca, we stopped for the cheapest diesel we'll see until we're out of California.

Our stop for the night was the Wal-Mart in Carson City. We pulled in just as the sunset was fading from the sky. Louise made a heavy hit on the groceries before we crossed into California. She was careful not to buy any fruits and vegetables, which are prohibited at the border crossing into California. We had covered 470 miles on our second day. This leaves just over 100 miles for our last day.

Our route will take us over the Sierra Nevada at Carson Pass on California Highway 88. The climb from 4,000 feet at Carson City to almost 8,000 feet at the pass goes easily enough, though we certainly aren't the fastest vehicle on the road. At the pass is an overlook where we stop for breakfast.

The trip down the western slope is more interesting. It is now mid-morning and the traffic coming up the mountain is heavier. The warm weather is perfect for motorcycles and there are numerous groups of 10 or 20. They are later joined by a sports car club. We must have met more than 100 sports cars on their way up into the mountains.

We arrived at Gold Strike Village near San Andreas, Calif., just before noon. This will be our home for the next month. Temperatures are pushing their way toward the upper 90s, so I work quickly to get the basic hookups made. A rest in the air conditioning is followed by a stint putting the all-important front sunscreens on the motor home and getting the Trailblazer ready for travel.

After a much needed shower, we're off to see our granddaughters and family. It has been just over a year since we last saw them and that's too long. There was a welcoming smile from the 3-year-old and a stare from the 1-year-old that said clearly she didn't recognize us. We had to admit that we wouldn't have recognized her, either. She had changed so much. Where did those curls come from?

After this visit, we'll be part of her short-term memory. We'll be back in the spring to solidify that memory. It takes her about two hours to warm up to us. By bedtime she is falling asleep sitting next to me on the couch. The drive was well worth the reward.

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