Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Across the U.S.: Day 1

by Kathy 10. June 2009 22:33

<< 2009 Journeys: Across the U.S. | Day 2: Nevada Beach to the Hickison Petroglyphs >>


California to Nevada Beach


The map of our journey across the United States:

We spent the morning packing some final items into the RV, and we were on the road at 10:38 a.m.

Genevieve and Sebastian are all buckled in:

This will be our home away from home for the next two months:

I raided the refrigerator before we started:

Ben purchased a 3-month subscription to Sirius radio so that we could listen to music and NPR stories while we are traveling. During the first half hour, we tried out various channels, trying to find something between Mother Goose rhymes and Eminem. Just when we thought we had a good channel, the singer would slip in what we call “potty” words; then Ben and I would simultaneously shoot our hands out for the channel changing buttons. And if we happened to miss a word, we would hear Genevieve’s voice from the back: “I think we need to change the channel!”

Nearing the end of our curvy drive over the Santa Cruz mountains, we passed the Lexington reservoir:

We were pleased to see that it was fairly full of water. Earlier this year it had been drained for dam repairs, and we didn’t see a lot of rain this year; the reservoir tends to get frighteningly low during drought seasons.

Past San Jose, we headed north on Highway 680, which has many lumps and bumps from the pounding it gets from large trucks. Ben exclaimed that it has got to be “the bumpiest freeway in America”. I laughed and said, “We’re going to find out!”

Over the Benicia/Martinez bridge, we could see the U.S. Navy “ship graveyard” in Suisun Bay:

We stopped at the small town of Cordelia, at the junction of Highways 680 and 80. We were searching for a spot to park to have a lunch of leftover pizza. Ben spied a relatively new looking housing development and said, “I bet there’s a playground somewhere in there.” I agreed, “Let’s go see!” Sure enough, we found a big and safe playground structure a few blocks from the entrance:

The rolling hills on both the east and west sides of the wide San Joaquin Valley were covered with shimmering “golden” grass.

When I first arrived in California, from the lush, green, tree-covered land in eastern Virginia, I was aghast at what I called the “bald, brown hills” of California. Over the years, however, I have grown quite attached to the openness of the rolling landscape, even when the grass becomes dry (ahem, “golden”) after the rainy season ends.

As we climbed higher in altitude, the highway cut a path through tall pine trees. Up ahead, we could see a cell tower disguised as a tree:

Our drive through the El Dorado National Forest brought us along side of a gushing shallow river with many rocks.

We pulled over to check something in the back of the RV, and we discovered this visual treat next to us:

A close-up showing all of the artistic details:

I love the rocky mounds above the tree line:

We were surprised to see dark rain clouds looming ahead.

Rain in the summer is so unexpected for us. Along the central California coast, we do not see rain from mid-April to at least late-November. Summer means constant days of sunshine, except when the fog rolls in to hug the shoreline.

The beauty of the rock cliff faces always make me catch my breath:

We rounded a corner to find a wagon train coming in the opposite direction—what a special surprise!

We later discovered that this wagon train was the 60th annual reenactment of the “Great Western Migration,” an event that allows horse and wagon enthusiasts to recreate a wagon train that travels from Lake Tahoe to Placerville, California, in an effort to commemorate the struggles of the early emigrants to California.

We all were very excited when we glimpsed the shimmering brightness of Lake Tahoe in the distance:

Behind us were some snow-covered mountains:

Some more views as we descended the mountain to Lake Tahoe:

As we drove along the southern shore of Lake Tahoe, the skies sprinkled us with a light shower.

The entrance to the state of Nevada had a very subdued welcome sign:

We set up camp tonight in the peaceful tranquility of Nevada Beach Campground, on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. We could see a peek of the lake through the tall pine trees all around us. The birds twittered happily among the trees, which were giving off a wonderful scent.

The tree in our campsite had rivulets of dried sap, like candle wax, covering its lumpy bark.

The ground in our campsite was dotted with numerous anthills—the ants were large and black, not the biting red type. However, the children were not in the mood to inspect or study the ants, saying that there were just “too many,” and they were soon back in the RV. Here are just a few of the many anthills:

The altitude here is approximately 6200 feet, which is quite a change from our sea level home. Genevieve experienced some stomach pain from her adjustment to the change in internal/external air pressure, but this was easily remedied with a bit of simethicone. The transition was seamless for the rest of us.

We set off on a bicycle ride to explore the area.

Soon after we started pedaling, thunder rumbled and continued erupting throughout our ride. Only a scattering of raindrops fell, however, which was not enough to deter our exploration.

Genevieve and Sebastian abandoned their bikes to get a close-up view of the lake.

The mountain in the distance still had snow:

The air was chilly, so we didn’t linger.

The sand along the lakeshore was very course, like miniscule rocks that poured easily through our fingers—not good for building sandcastles, but great for providing soft handstand landing pads:

After dinner, Ben and I took a walk, and the children rode their bikes.

The sun had burst through the clouds and was flashing its brilliance onto the lake:

The sunlight created a beautiful rainbow that ran parallel to the gondola path for the Heavenly Valley ski resort:

We all went to bed early tonight. The dark clouds with their accompanying roar had drifted south over the mountains, leaving us with peaceful silence.

<< 2009 Journeys: Across the U.S. | Day 2: Nevada Beach to the Hickison Petroglyphs >>

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Comments (4) -

6/12/2009 9:49:55 PM #

Lisa Page Rosenberg @ smacksy

I'm guessing wherever that wagon train goes will instantly become "the bumpiest freeway in America".

Have a great time...

Lisa Page Rosenberg @ smacksy United States | Reply

6/12/2009 10:05:52 PM #


How great!  Looks like a great start to a great adventure!

Ellen United States | Reply

6/15/2009 9:18:04 PM #


Thanks, Ellen.  8 days in now, and so far, so good!

Ben United States | Reply

6/12/2009 10:39:57 PM #


What a great start!.....Ruby was blown away on how much Genevieve has grown Smile
Have fun trying to catch the potty words!

Tedd United States | Reply

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin