After the last day of skiing we headed for Reno. Neither one of us are what you'd call real gamblers but it's always fun to see the casinos and the local sights. On several past visits, Bob had found that the very back of the Atlantis Casino's parking lot was a regular RV Park. So after our usual prime rib dinner at Fitzgeralds we head for the Atlantis. Sure enough there were probably 100 other RV's parked in the very back part of their parking lot. We actually were parked off the pavement in the graveled part. We wandered around inside and I contributed my limit of $15 and then I got an ice cream and went out to the camper to read my book. Bob stayed behind and came back later with $150 of their money. The next morning we went into the casino for breakfast and then went out to Sparks to the J C Penney outlet. Oh how I love that store !! I got 2 pair of shoes for $3.90 each, one had originally been $35 and the other $40. Also got some pink things for Bob's little grand daughter that's expected the end of June. They always have really good prices and I love going there whenever I'm in the area. From there we went up to Virginia City. It was late in the afternoon, so we were only there a few hours before heading back to Reno. We spent one more night at our Atlantis "campsite" and then the next morning went back to finish our visit of Virginia City. Since it was over the weekend, many of the locals were dressed in period costumes. You'll see the picture of myself with "Buffalo Bill" but there were many others...I saw Union and Yankee soldiers, pioneer women, mountain men, etc. Bob took me to one saloons (The Silver Dollar) which was down a steep flight of stairs. There was a guy singing & playing a guitar and as people hit the bottom stair, he'd stop and have everyone in the place applaud & yell "welcome." He had a good voice but I think he made up a lot of the words to his songs and some of them were a little naughty. There were hundreds of bras hanging from the light fixtures around the room and also hundreds of one dollar bills that people had signed and taped to the walls. Bob showed me one he had signed a couple years ago, so of course I took one out of my purse, got a black marker, signed it and taped it to the wall by the door next to the stairs. We spent about an hour there, eating popcorn and having a coke. If you ever visit Virginia City be sure and make the trek down the stairs at the Silver Dollar...you'll have a good time. Another unforgettable place was the historic cemetery. It was so sad to see the evidence of the harsh conditions of this area back in the 1800's. The moms who died in childbirth, the babies, the young children and the middle aged men. Since this was a mining area, a lot of the men didn't live long due to the poor working conditions in the mines. Many died by their middle 30's. After the cemetery is was on to the beautiful St Mary's Catholic church. We were there the weekend before Easter and as I said in a posting from "the trail" it was especially meaningful to walk the aisles and see the large pictures of the Stations of the Cross they have hanging in the sanctuary. They have a lovely little gift shop and museum. They are in the process of raising money to restore their bell tower, so we left a generous contribution behind for that cause. There are only 30 families that regularly attend so they rely heavily on tourist donations. Before we left Virigina City we took a mine tour offered at one of the casinos. It is actuallya mine that goes back into the hill behind the casino and took about 45 minutes. We were told of the harsh conditions the miners had to endure. It was a real eye opener. I must add a note about our second morning in the Atlantis parking lot. There was an older camper van parked a short distance from us, we didn't see any people but there was a dog laying on a mat and tied to the bumper, the night before. Bob was out cheking the oil in the truck and this older lady walked over to him and asked if he could help her check her oil...she didn't know where to look. So he went over and lifted the hood and showed her where the dipstick was, also checked her brake & transmission fluid. Turns out she was heading back to British Columbia with her dog....her husband had died 4 days earlier while they were in Arizona. And she was heading home alone. After hearing her story, he gave her van the once over...cleaned the battery terminals, checked the fluid level in the battery, added coolant to her radiator, etc. I couldn't imagine how sad that must have been for her. And I also couldn't imagine that there wasn't someone up in B.C. that couldn't have flown down to help her drive home. It's truly amazing the people and stories you encounter along the trail.
From Virginia City we went down the hill to Carson City to visit with Bob's 89 year old aunt Helen and his two cousins, Ian & Andy. They live in a new warehouse type building just outside Carson City. Both cousins have businesses they run out of the warehouse and then there are living quarters up stairs. His cousin Ian makes these wonderful candles (Waterfire Candles) and Andy has a product called "Jerky Junction." His packages of jerky can be found in convenience stores around Nevada and southern California and Ian's candles are in gift shops in the same areas and are also available for sale directly from him. Ian opened the big door to his side of the warehouse and Bob drove the camper in and that was our "campsite" for the next few days. His candles are fragranced, so the smell in there was heavenly. I opened all the camper windows and vents...it was delightful. We had a wonderful visit with them, and I think his Aunt Helen was happy to have a woman to talk to. She's there with her two son's and a grandson (Andy's son, Kyle) so the only female companionship she has is when she goes to the local senior center 3 days a week. She will be 90 in July and is as sharp as a tack. She keeps up on all the news, cooks for the guys, goes to the senior center and one of them takes her to church on Sundays. Bob's mom was the oldest of 3 girls (immigrated with their parents from Finland) and Helen is the youngest and the last one remaining. One day, Bob and Ian went skiing at Heavenly, a ski resort that spans Nevada & California. After a 4 day visit, we bid them farewell and were on the road again. Later that afternoon we stopped in Gardnerville, NV to visit another of my cousins, Sheila and her hubby Doug. They have both been retired for sometime and chose Gardnerville to retire in (they lived in Eugene, OR for years before that). We were just there for a couple hours before heading down the trail again to our next campsite at Chris Flat, along the Walker River on Highway 395. We've camped there before and even though it's along the highway, it's a very comfortable place to spend the night. It's at over 6,000 ft elevation so was very cold at night....once again I was glad I grabbed that extra blanket as I walked out the door the evening of our departure.
Until next time......Linda