The Operation was a
July 13, 2011
Elko, NV, Winnemucca, NV, Reno, NV, Truckee, Ca, Colfax, Ca, Roseville, Ca, Sacramento, Ca.
We passed through the high desertof Nevada at Winnemucca. It seems like I was just here doing my B.U.M.P.S. tour although I believe that was over two years
ago. This is where Butch and Sundance robbed the First National Bank in 1900 and then ran off to Helper. It was a good bank to rob since at the time it was loaded with gold and silver from the mines in the area.
Factoid: TheUSgovernment owns 84.5% of the land inNevada.
We arrived in Reno in the new trench they have dug for the train. The train used to stop at the street level right down town. It created quite a traffic nightmare when the train stopped so now there is a trench in the same spot, thirty feet below street level. The trench is 2 miles long.
Factoid: Reno started out as a Mormon settlement but with the discovery of silver it decided on taking things an entirely different direction.
From Reno we climbed into the Sierras and followed the Truckee River. The Truckee River is also running hard as all of the rivers out west but with the notable difference in that it is crystal clear. As we traveled along it, the bottom of the river was clearly visible in most places. The sky was robin egg blue with an occasional Microsoft cloud. Altogether this is the most scenic portion of this entire trip.
We passed through Boca, or rather where Boca used to be. It is known for having the coldest temperature ever recorded in California at -45 degrees F. Nearby Truckee often has the coldest temperature in the country. But they put the cold to good use in Boca by harvesting ice and selling it to the valley farmers so that they could ship their fruits and veggies back to the east.
We crossed the summit of the Sierras near Norden at an altitude of just under 7,000 feet. There were still many large patches of snow on the ground although the weather was
clear and looked to be quite warm. To protect the train from avalanches in this area there are many miles of snow sheds. There use to be 37 miles of snow sheds but the steam locomotives set them on fire with regularity.
Sacramento to Stockton
Once I got to Sacramento, about 1 1n ½ hours late, which is on time for Amtrak, I had one more train to catch. The train is the San Joaquin and it is heading south to get me pretty much in my back yard in Manteca. Of course the weather in Sacramento is darn near perfect at 85 degrees and not a breath of wind and little to no humidity.
The San Joaquin left on time but on a forty minute run to Lodi it managed to get forty minutes behind schedule. It occurred to me that if it got any later we would have to be moving backwards through time. In order to accomplish this we pulled out of the station and then sat, waiting for freight traffic to clear, for forty minutes.
And then I caught a cab home. This was the most difficult traveling part of the trip. Part of the reason is that there are two Amtrak stations in Stockton. There is one where they let off passengers and one that they call the Amtrak station. The cab I called went to the one that I was not at. In large cities every bus, train, light rail, rental car meet at one spot and it is usually called Union station. Stockton has a better plan. I think they should call it Disunion station.
But I made it back to Casa Bob and found everything just like I left it. My house does not seem to mind that I leave it for short lengths of time. And I had two cold beers in the refer which I shared them with neighbor Nick, before he had a chance to steal them from me, which he eventually would have.
When I look back over the route I have taken I guess it is a good thing I am not a pathfinder. Whether it be circumcised or circumscribed this operation has meandered
hither and yon. But it has been fun. This may be one of the more relaxing vacations I have ever taken. I did manage to cover some 8,486 of Amtrak’s 20,000 miles and visited or passed
through 29 states. This has taken me roughly 212 hours or nine solid days of travel. Would I do it again? You betcha.
So what did I learn? Not so much.
1) I like traveling by train. It is not cheap, it is not fast and it is rarely on time, so the only reason to do it is because you like it.
2) The best route I took was the California Zephyr from Chicagoto Sacramento. Far and away the best scenery on the routes I took. The best part of that route was from Reno
to Sacramento which I have done many times, but never in the summer.
3) Big cities are kind of cool. I guess that is why so many people live in them. Some of them I will just have to pay a return visit.
4) Trains are kept uncommonly cold. I don’t know what their fascination with air conditioning is. The rule of thumb is that all cars on a
train are refrigerated cars.
So that is it for this time. Thanks for coming along.