Glimpses of snow-capped peaks became more frequent, and then, when we rounded a bend, we saw the white stuff on the ground by the highway – just little patches in the shadiest spots, but snow nonetheless. Magnificent ponderosa pine trees lined either side of the highway, tall and dark green, throwing cool shadows across the road.
We passed a couple of small towns, but the one that made us laugh was Kyburz. There was one lone truckstop with a sign that read: “Welcome to Kyburz. Now leaving Kyburz.” It may as well have added “don’t blink!”
Four, five, six thousand feet of elevation, noted the roadside signs. And on the RV’s thermometer, the numbers plunged from 17C to 11C and even down to 3 degrees Celsius.
At a pullout, we left the highway to really take in the scenery. Under a bright blue sky, pine trees stood tall and behind them were folds of mountains, richly green with forest and, further away, white with snow. A bright blue tongue of water was visible in the distance; our first glimpse of Lake Tahoe. We shivered in our light clothing when the breeze whisked past us, and Val couldn’t resist picking up some roadside snow to toss a snowball. (Not at me!)
The road took a steep decline as we approached the town of South Lake Tahoe. We were hoping for a pullout once we got closer to have a good look. We did see the lake’s beautiful blue water, studded with whitecaps, in between a few buildings. From that point on we passed casino after wedding chapel after hamburger joint after condo, without any public spaces in between. To be fair, there were pullouts around the east side of the lake, but they were all on our left side with almost no warning to allow us to slow down and make a turn. Too bad.
By the time we were on that side of the lake, we had left California with nary a sign to indicate that we had crossed the state line. And then came the large, frequent and generous pullouts! None with a view of the lake! But we stopped anyway for lunch and took in great lungsful of clear mountain air.
In no time, we had descended from the mountains and were in a completely different landscape of high desert plains studded with sagebrush and hardly a tree anywhere. We passed through Carson City, Nevada’s capital, and on through Dayton and Silver Springs – all with a distinctive cowboy-western look and feel, with corrals and tumbleweed and big sky. Such a contrast!