Hiking the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway Upstream from Verdi

As you come into Reno on Interstate 80 from California the freeway follows the Truckee River. Over the last few weeks Duke, Vicky and I have been hiking along the river. The trail we have been hiking is part of the Tahoe Pyramind Bikeway which will eventually cover the entire 116 mile length of the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.

TP-Bikeway Duke and Marion

Most of the river between Truckee and the Nevada border used to be pretty much inaccessible. But in 2003 The Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway organization  was created and so far they have completed almost 75% of the bikeway.

The first stretch that starts into the mountains from Verdi to about the Nevada border is closed right now so that The Truckee Meadows Water Authority can bypass a 2,000-foot section of the existing wooden flumes with a combination of new transition flume, canal, and tunnel.

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 Our first hike was on  the section of the bikeway above the closure. Getting to this section is a bit tricky. We went up 80 to the Farad exit, got off the freeway and did a u-turn to get back on 80 going downstream. In 2.8 miles we parked on a wide dirt shoulder. From there we hiked down to a new pedestrian suspension bridge over the river and then upstream to the end of the current trail. 

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Our second hike was from Farad upstream about 2.5 miles to Floristan and back. The trail includes a bridge over the intake pipes to the old hydroelectric plant.

TP Bikeway old power plant

It was surprising to me that although the trail is very close to the freeway and the train tracks we couldn't hear or see the freeway for much of the trail.

Train freeway river

Highlights of the trail were watching the trains, enjoying the fall colors and smells, getting to see the old wooden flumes up close, watching the river and the fishermen and exploring a new trail. I think this trail will be great for snowshoing. Now all we need is snow!

TP-Bikeway Truckee River

We Finally Visited the National Automobile Museum in Reno

Bill Harrah who built and owned Harrah's Casinos had a enormous car
collection (over 4000 cars). When he died in 1978 most of the cars were
sold. But 175 of them became the core of the National Automobile Museum
in Reno
. It is located right on the Truckee River downtown across from
the Reno Aces Baseball Stadium

Duke's brother Jim and his wife Marilyn were visiting last week. Their visit gave us the perfect excuse to finally visit the National Automobile Museum. We have lived in Reno for three years and this was our first visit to the car museum. We took a docent lead tour. The guide was fantastic. He knew a lot about the cars and he made the tour really interesting. I can't over emphasize how much I enjoyed the museum. I'm ready to go again.

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I especially liked the early camping displays.

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and this 1956 Corvette and matching pedal car.

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After touring the Car museum we were hungry so we headed over to the Nugget Diner and shared a couple of Awful Awfuls the best hamburger and fries in Reno.

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If you would like to see all my pictures from the National Automobile Museum and the Nugget Diner they are available on Flickr here.

Two Great Snow Shoe Hikes not Far From Reno

Tahoe Meadows to Chickadee Ridge

One of the wonderful things about living in Reno is that there are great opportunities nearby to hike in the summer and go snow shoeing in the winter. Last Thursday I went for my first snowshoeing outing of the winter. My friend Linda had only been on snow shoes once before and agreed to go along on what I told her would be an easy hike. We snowshoed from Tahoe Meadows to Chickadee Ridge. It was an absolutely beautiful day. The sun reflecting off the snow reminded us of the glitter our friend Pat sometimes uses.

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The only thing was that the hike turned out to be a much more difficult than I remembered. It didn't help that we started just below the top of the Mount Rose Highway at about 8,550 feet altitude or that by the time we got to Chickadee Ridge where we could see Lake Tahoe we were at almost 9000 feet. We still had a wonderful time and Linda was a great sport even when I am sure she wasn't quite sure what I had gotten her into.

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We stopped for hot chocolate and snacks on the ridge overlooking Lake Tahoe

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Here is the view from the ridge.
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Here is the GPS plot of our route. I guess it was a bit steep!

GPS - rpoute Chickadee Ridge 

  If you would like to see all of my pictures from our trip they are available on Flickr here.

Donner Lake

In spite of our misadventures last week Linda and her husband Ray agreed to go snowshoeing again today. We snowshoed along the shore of Donner Lake in Donner Memorial State Park. It is a wonderful place to snowshoe. It is scenic and right off interstate 80 just west of Truckee. Our route was out and back and was a total of 2.3 miles.

Donner Lake GPS route

It was overcast today and we even had a bit of wind and snow falling but it was a lot easier than last week. and we had a lot of fun.

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If you would like to see all my pictures form today's hike they are available on Flickr here.

Washoe County Republican Precinct Meetings

Saturday I attended the Washoe County Republican Precinct Meeting for my precinct. Two years ago when I attended the Republican caucus for the presidential election there were several hundred people and McQueen High School was overflowing. I would guess that 40 to 50 precincts meet at McQueen High School. There are 261 registered Republicans in my precinct and I have no idea how many Republicans in all the precincts that meet at McQueen.

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The meeting started out with all the attendees from all the precincts in the entry way of the High School getting instructions. I would estimate that there were about 50 people in total attending. We split up into our precincts and went to separate rooms for the actual precinct meeting. There were two people from my precinct, myself and another woman. So I was the meeting chairman and she was the secretary. We elected ourselves as delegates to the county convention and central committee. Then we voted in the straw poll for our choices for the senatorial and gubernatorial races. Then we adjourned.

You would think that if you were a hard working well organized candidate you would try to attend the these meetings or at least have someone there representing you. It was interesting to note that only two candidates were represented. It makes me wonder if the other candidates even care about the people they would represent if they were elected.

It was quite impressive that Sharron Angle's husband was handing out campaign literature and she was at the meeting. Sharron Angle is running for the U.S. Senate. Angle and her husband live in our general area. She said she was going  to try to attend  all the precinct meetings around Reno. I think the other represented candidate was Brian Sandoval but I'm not sure. I talked to Sharron briefly and had my picture taken with her. I was impressed with her and I liked the fact that she makes her positions very clear on her web site. Many candidates don't. I was a little put off by the fact that another woman I talked to said that Angle is just too much of a right wing fringe candidate. My politics are probably closer to independent than to Republican but I find the whole political process fascinating.

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The straw poll ballots were counted later in the afternoon at the Washoe County Republican headquarters. I got  an email with the results.

GOVERNOR
 
Jim Gibbons            45.6%
Brian Sandoval       41.4%
Mike Montandon     12.6%
Brian Krolicki             0.4%

U.S. SENATE
 
Sharron Angle         42.9%
Sue Lowden            18.4%
Danny Tarkanian    15.2%
Mark Amodei           10.0%
Bill Parson                  5.8%
Brian Krolicki              5.5%
Robin Titus                 1.3%
Chuck Kozak              0.3%
Mike Wiley                  0.3%
Brian Sandoval          0.3%

Men to Match My Mountains by Irving Stone

I have read quite a bit of American history over the last year. I've enjoyed it and learned a lot. But everything I have been reading took place in the eastern half of the U.S.  So I decided I wanted to read Men to Match My Mountains by Irving Stone about the explorers and early settlers of California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. I wanted to be able to visit the locations and learn more about the history of the area where I live.

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Men to Match my Mountains was written in 1956. The writing is not as compelling as the best current history writing but the story itself is so compelling that the book is a classic. It took me a long time to read. In fact it is overdue at the library. But Men to Match my Mountains filled the bill and enlightened me about history that I knew little about.

It was fun to read about Theodore Judah who laid out the route for the first train route across the Rockies. I followed that route when I took the train back from Sacramento last week.

It was interesting to read about how California was settled by the Mexicans, how the Americans moved in, the enormous role that John Sutter played in settling the area around Sacramento, and how the American Lieutenant John C. Freemont  in 1844 on one of his exploring trips came south from the Oregon border.

"The next two weeks were spent in this frightening death like country until the party reached a thirty five mile long lake which Fremont called Pyramid Lake and from which his men gorged themselves on salmon trout. On this newly garnered strength they pushed through to the present site of Reno and south of that to the Carson River."

Last summer Duke and I explored that area north of Reno in a wonderful road trip.

Virginia City which is a very short drive southeast of Reno was the center of the silver mining that was done on the Comstock Lode. It was fascinating to read how the rich silver deposits were discovered and opened up.

The miners were looking for gold and ignoring the fact that the Mexicans kept talking about how much silver was in the area. B. A. Harrison  from Truckee Meadows collected some rock from the area and sent it to be assayed. The editor of the Nevada Journal in Nevada City, California split it in two parts and sent it to two independent assayers.

"On July 1, 1858 the Nevada Journal published the results of the two assays: the black rock was incredibly rich. It not only proved the Mexican cry of "Mucho plata" with its one third assay of silver, but also contained high proportions of gold, antimony and copper.

Hundreds of miners walked out of the California mines and made their way over the Sierra Nevada on horseback, muleback and foot. The first legal claim office was setup in V.A. Houseworth's saloon. In Gold Canyon the old timers were lost in a flood of newcomers. By mid July all roads and trails over the mountains were jammed with thousands of men pouring into the new fields."

The money that came out of the Virginia City area is staggering. In 1875 "the Consolidated Virginia and adjoining California mine were the richest producing mines in the history of the world." At that time they paid over $1,000,000 a month in dividends  Today Virginia City is a small little town with an economy that seems to be centered only on tourism. What a change.

I'm looking forward to continuing to read about this area and to traveling around to see the sites I am reading about. Can you recommend any good books?

Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center at University of Nevada Reno

I've lived in Reno for two and a half years and there are Reno places I haven't been and Reno things I haven't done. I made a list. This year I want to do it all.

One place on my list is the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center at the University of Nevada Reno. We had a friend from the Bay area visiting the last few days. We were going to go snowshoeing but the weather has been kind of crumby (Rain!) so we decided to check out the Planetarium.

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The planetarium is relatively small it has a 30 foot diameter dome over a 60 seat theater. The small museum and the gift shop are free and the shows in the planetarium are pretty cheap. As a senior I got in for $4 and my friend got in for $6. We saw The Living Sea show which was OK. The photography was pretty amazing but I thought the commentary was pretty boring. I wish we had done one of the digital starshows.

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The free museum and gift shop were really cool. The gift shop had neat stuff like a book on soda pop experiments, ant farms and crystal growing kits. Purchases at the gift shop are tax exempt.

The museum had large rotating earth and moon globes, meteorites, a fascinating display about optical illusions and and a fun black hole demonstrator. For 25 cents we got several ball bearings to drop into the vortex and watch them orbit and accelerate into the hole. 

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I picked up a brochure about becoming a member of the Friends of the Planetarium and also a membership application for the Astronomical Society of Nevada. The whole visit was fun. I would recommend it.

El Tumi Peruvian Restaurant – Reno

Saturday night Duke and I tried El Tumi Peruvian Restaurant at 585 E. Moana Lane in Reno. The waitress said they have been open since August. El Tumi has a very appealing menu with quite a variety of dishes and lots of pictures. It was very hard to chose what to try.

We finally decided on fried yucca with a tangy green sauce for dipping as as an appetizer. It was very good. For our main course Duke had the fried fish special and I had the broiled Camarones (shrimp). I really liked the Cusquena Peruvian beer. The food was good and the atmosphere was friendly. I think we'll have to go back a few more times and try a variety of dishes to decide whether El Tumi will go onto our list of regular restaurants.

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Mango Languages

The Washoe County Library System offers a language learning tool called Mango Languages. It is an interactive languages learning system. I like it a lot, am having fun using it and I find I am retaining what I learn. The library subscribes to the program and because I have a library card I get to use it on my computer at home free. I am studying Spanish but Mango offers basic and complete courses in a long list of languages.

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As I work through the course each phrase is broken down into pieces and I am drilled on the words in the phrase and then phrase as a whole. I like that I am not only listening to the language but I am seeing the words. I am a very visual learner when it comes to languages. I can also choose how much repetition I want. In my current lesson I can go through 92 slides in the entire lesson or just do 49 vocabulary slides or 7 phrasebook slides.

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If your library offers Mango languages you will find it on your library web site. If you don't live in Washoe County, Nevada then on the Mango Languages home page you can put in your zip code and find a library near you that offers the service

19th Birthday Party for 100.1 The X – Stones for Bones

Reno has a great local FM radio station KTHX branded as 100.1 The X.
The X has been in Reno for 19 years. Last night they celebrated their
birthday  by having a concert for charity. Stones For Bones featured 19
local bands, one for each year The X has been in business. Each band
played a different Rolling Stones song.The concert benefited The Nevada
Opera, The Reno Chamber Orchestra, and The Washoe County School
District's "Music In Schools" program.

Blue Haven at Stones for Bones 

It was a great concert. You would think that with 19 bands it would
drag but you really have to give credit to the people who organized the
show. It moved quickly and was fun! In addition to the bands there were
also a couple of Rolling Stones songs performed by people from The Reno
Chamber Orchestra and The Nevada Opera. There was even a performance
of  You Can't Always Get What You Want by a choir from a local
elementary school with the opera singers and the chamber orchestra. 
They all seemed to be having a great time and the audience loved it. To
hear kids, opera singers, and violins playing The Rollings Stones was
funny and great!

Not only was the music great but the whole event
was just plain fun. Reno has always had a great music culture. It
started back when every casino had an orchestra and it continues today.
All 19 bands in this concert were good and some of them were great. It
sounded like what was happening back stage was amazing too with the musicians connecting,
talking, and generally having a good time. The audience of 500 filled
the Nugget show room and we had great time too.

Guitar Woody & The Boilers

An Interesting Story – Jimmy Beans Wool – Reno and Online

Even if you are totally uninterested in knitting you have to find the story of Jimmy Beans Wool in Reno an interesting one. The company was founded in 2002 by Laura and Doug Zander.  Laura focused on the store and the yarn and Doug developed the web site. 

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Last Saturday I stopped at Jimmy Beans Wool to look at a knitting
pattern that I had found from their web site. There were two cash registers open and a line waiting to
check out. Jimmy Beans is Reno's best knitting store. A yarn
distributor I know told me that Jimmy Beans doesn't buy from distributors
because they sell so much yarn that the yarn companies want to sell to
them directly. Business sure seems to be good.

According to an article about them in Fortune Small Business article in July of 2007 the on-line business at that time accounted for 70% of their business. They recently expanded their back room into the store front next door. Often when I am in the store I can hear people on the phone with customers taking orders.

The shopping experience on their website is wonderful. Browsing the web site just makes me want to buy yarn and knit. Right now they have cashmere sock yarn in delicious colors on the front page. They have hooked me on the possibilities. I am probably going to buy some. 

JimmyBeansWool-Homepage

Perhaps because I am a computer programmer at heart I find it inspiring that this website is their own, developed by them. I've always
thought that it would be fascinating to develop a web site and sell on line. But what a lot of
work. When you look at the complexities of the Jimmy Bean website and
store and yet how well it is designed for ease of use you really have
to admire the fact that the web site was created from scratch. 

Bottom line is that Jimmy Beans Wool is a real Reno success story. If you want to create your own business, work really hard, be a bit lucky and I am sure put a lot of money and sweat equity into your effort Jimmy Beans is proof that it is really possible to succeed.