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Road Trip to Elko: Cowboy Poetry IV

Well, D- (for departure) day has finally arrived. . .after all of the delightful anticipation of preparation; planning wardrobes, packing (whoever would have thought the day would come when I packed more electronics than hair and makeup gear!?), planning routes, and checking AccuWeather…we are off!

Anne arrived about 9:30 this morning and the truck was loaded in minutes. Max snapped a few shots hugs, kisses, and we were off.

What a perfect day! Couldn’t ask for better weather—the bluest of skies, and that green that only comes out in California in the winter. Stopped for an early lunch at Granzella’s in Williams, then headed East across California on Highway 20. Stunning view of the buttes and the snow-capped Sierras all the way. A brisk wind nudged the truck, and the feathers of the snowy egrets along the roadside were nearly turned inside-out, umbrella-style. But the wind kept the sky clear as we drove across the big valley and admired some serious cloud formations.

Past Nevada City we began to climb in elevation, and soon crossed up into the snow line. The forest was magic. We stopped at a vista point before reaching Emigrant Gap, and snapped our photos against a view so idyllic, it looked like a roll-down backdrop at a photo studio. Then we connected with Interstate 80 and the Big Dogs; hit some cloud cover and some micro-snow—or perhaps just a bit blowing offs the hills along the roadway.

Along the way, we shared stories ranging from travel disasters (you don’t want to know what can go wrong when your diesel truck hauling livestock and camper trailers breaks down going over the pass!) to relationships, marriages and divorces, friendships, moral and legal dilemmas, our seminal growing up and church experiences, and all the usual intimacies of the trail. We agreed that writing this blog, and thinking about writing this blog, and having the conversations together that lead to this written conversation, has added another dimension to this trip, and to the lenses through which we are seeing this experience.

We made great time and arrived in Sparks, Nevada, by mid-afternoon, where we are spending the night with Marie and Helen—but I’ll let Anne introduce them to you. She told me I’d love them, and she is so right! We’ve been swapping stories, sharing news of family and friends, modeling hats and jackets, and gorging on Chinese takeout. What a great interlude. Tomorrow it’s on to Elko!


Anne Garner Austin:

Yesterday was a frenzy of last minute chores, errands and finishing up payroll at work. My sister, Dorace, had arrived on Friday to spend time with my 90 year old Mother while I am gone. Mom still lives alone and frequently beats me at Scrabble, but likes the daily contact that I provide and it gives me great comfort to have Dorace there.

Well today, I had an auspicious start to my day! Thought I had the alarm set for 0600 but woke up at 0645, peeped an eye open and thought, “Uh oh! Way too light out!” I jumped out of bed to realize that I had gotten so used to the warm weather we have been having, that I did not give a thought to the increased cold and I had frozen water pipes! So I jumped in the truck and buzzed over to my Mom’s house to “borrow” a shower. After all of that, I actually got away only 20 minutes later than I had planned. It’s not that we were on a tight schedule, but I do like to be on time.

Laura was right about the beauty of today, that only the clear skies of Northern California after a rain, can provide. She took the first turn at the wheel and we headed out. There is nothing more pleasant than a relaxed trip with a good friend where the conversation just flows. Throw in a couple of phone calls from friends wishing us well (what did we do before cell phones?!?) and the drive was perfect.

We stopped briefly amid the snow covered trees as we climbed Hwy 20 out of Grass Valley, and snapped a couple of pictures. We laughed when we saw them because the landscape was so “picture perfect” that we said it could be a studio backdrop!

We had planned this part of the trip to be in two phases and are staying in Sparks for the night as Laura mentioned. Marie and Helen are dear family friends. Actually they are my oldest sister, Dorace’s, mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Marie is 91 and sharp as a tack and they both have the art of cordial and entertaining conversation down to a science. They are the kind of people that as I said before, say what they mean and mean what they say. They have filled us with good food and great hospitality (we were given the master bedroom (!) that we are honored to share with the family cat, Mooch) and we will be sorry to bid them farewell in the morning.

But a bright and early departure is planned and we can’t wait to roll into Elko, pickup our press passes and tickets and immerse ourselves in all things Cowboy!

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