Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eastern Sierra Mountains

We’re on Hwy 15 heading home after a week in the Eastern Sierras, including Reno, Carson City, Virginia City, and Sparks.

The temp is 96 degrees and our temperatures inside the air conditioned minivan are heated at times, and relaxed at others. We made two stops since leaving Sparks at 6:30am today, in Bishop, we stopped for sandwiches at the famous Sheepherder’s restaurant and then we stopped in Ridgecrest for gas.

The highlights of the trip were of course seeing our relatives and enjoying each other’s company, a birthday party of 34 people from 10 regions of the US.

The tourist activities were in Virginia City, where we visited the old schoolhouse, and walked the sidewalks where authentic saloons and antique stores abound. We took a tour on a railroad that gave color to the many mining stories of yesteryear, and the tour guide described what life was like in the 1850’s through 1890’s, when this was one of the largest silver mines in the world.

The Comstock Lode was the biggest find, making multiple millionaires of the prospectors lucky enough to stumble on this.
Now, the lucky ones are the shopkeepers who sell their wares and are able to make a few dollars profit from the tourists.

This small town has tourism as its only visible source of revenue.

Carson City, on the other hand, is the state capital of Nevada, and also has lots of museums, but industry and politics seem to spread the economy.

Both of these cities are close to Reno, just fifteen minutes by car, and very accessible to the independent traveler with children.

Stay in the Reno hotels and venture out for the day with your children and coolers. Nothing is very expensive here, except the gold and silver that you may want to take with you!

Winters are different, with skiing in the nearby mountains and you’ll need to bring chains. We passed by some beautiful scenery on our way to and from Sans Diego. Those include, June Lake, Yosemite, and Mono Lake.

If your family is looking for a Western vacation, away from the fires of Big Sur, and close to inexpensive family travel destinations, Reno and the Eastern Sierras may be your best bet.

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