It’s midday on a Friday when I arrive into the littlest big city in the world. A strangely fitting name for Reno, full of shiny casino lights and mostly empty streets on this overcast but not overly chilly winters day.
Pawnshop owners smoking at their door fronts, chatting with hookers and the homeless. I decide that I’ve seen enough of this all too similar sight in Nevada though, and move on to the Silver State’s capital, Carson City.
Some time later I find myself down the Main Street of this town, a ghost town at quitting time for the working class. I think that perhaps everyone is at the bar, but even those lights are dark. I find no appeal in the historic architecture, the cowboy mystic, the supposed Old West charm. I bid farewell and carry on….
Crossing the Nevada State line into California, I make my way to the town of Truckee. Having only heard tales of its coolness, I hope for the best, expecting the worst. It fared somewhere in the middle. The San Francisco design of the buildings out here among the mountains is appealing, but the tourist trapping of the city leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Not bad per say, just not for me.
But not to worry, I remind myself. I have a different purpose in mind.
In the mid 1800’s, pioneers would cross from the great plains of the Midwest toward California, seeking promises of a better life and fortune. One of these groups were the Donner’s. As they were trying to cross the Sierra-Nevada mountains, they became trapped by a winter storm, and half the people perished. Those remaining survived by feasting on the frozen corpses.
Today I snowshoe this area, exploring Donner’s Summit. Cresting peaks, climbing to a vantage point of 8,000 feet, I touch billowing clouds and stand before immense valleys and endless landscapes.
Time to feel alive.