After crossing the border we’re no longer in the Golden State. We’ve stepped over to a new metal…the Silver State of Nevada. Coming up on highway 395, the mountains drop away from under the road, giving way to the green expanse of the Carson Valley, guarded on the south by the towns of Gardnerville and Minden.
Smack in the center of downtown is the Nugget Casino where we can while away a little time at the slot machines and roulette table before heading into the coffee shop to get one of the great under $10 prime rib dinners you’ll get in a casino. Not Morton’s, but for the price it’s hard to beat this tasty, tender slab of meat served with baked potato, veggies, and salad.
We need to keep heading north where we’ll find Washoe Lake. Turning in from the highway, it’s along the eastern side of the lake…home to a family of bald eagles…where we’ll find our bed for the night at the Deer Run Ranch run by David and Muffy Vhay.
The Vhay’s run an alfalfa farm here and David built this eco-friendly inn into the hillside near the barn. The name comes from the herds of deer that roam the alfalfa fields where you can see antlers sticking up above the stalks.
Upon checkout, we travel slowly along the banks of the lake looking for the eagles but are not having luck today. It’s back on 395 as we head up the the “biggest little city in the world,” Reno.
A bit west, over the state line, following the river of the same name, we end up in the cute town of Truckee. Truckee is a legendary train town. The station still serves passenger trains coming up from the Bay heading for Denver and Chicago.
After spending some time here, we turn south at the end of town and follow the Truckee River up the mountain to its source on the north shore of Lake Tahoe where we picnic on deli sandwiches and throw fish food to the giant…and I mean GIANT…rainbow trout living in the protection of the “no fishing” zone where the river begins.
Not this trip, though. We say goodbye here in the beautiful high country on the border of Nevada and California on the edge of Lake Tahoe, not far from the mythical Ponderosa.
Truly a different take on California, highway 395 is a beautiful road connecting some of the most lonely, stark, and historical areas of this Golden State.