Lake Tahoe California USA

Perfect sunset


Roaming the USA – Reno to Yosemite

If you have been viewing my website at endlessroaming.com you would learn I have been blogging and photographing about my 8-month road trip around the earth in 2019. This is the ultimate stage, my 4-week road trip heading south towards Las Vegas (later home), but first would be Reno “The Biggest Little City in the World”.

I headed out of Boise early in the morning, worse for wear after a late-night taking the city; a 7-hour drive to Reno along routes with limited traffic and broad clear and empty landscapes. Highway 95 onto 80 was not the most exhilarating of adventures, even though with no cops in the area cruising between 80 two 100 miles an hour was kinda fun. I drove it to Reno and checked into my casino mid-afternoon with the scorching sun and desert heat kicking in.

Now Reno to the uninitiated has a populace of a quarter-million, the downtown area comprising casinos much like its bigger cousin Las Vegas to the south. The reason Id come here was I’d visited previously on a weekend and had a wonderful time. It’s also a cheap city (see the previous blog regarding the $AUS vs. $US dollar) and with budget accommodation, diners, pawnshops, antiquing and of course beer. It was midweek, the casino Id booked looked very similar to the others. With not much action happening, just the modest throng of gamblers sitting on slot machines spread about the area and slouched over video card poker machines at the bars.

Thomas Flyer

Id booked 2 nights, so I had one complete day to see what I could see; my first destination was the National Car Museum to check out the broad array of motor cars they had on display. Most of these automobiles were from the 1930s and earlier and includes the renowned Thomas Flyer that won the 1908 New York to Paris Car Race. After an hour peering at automobiles, I wandered to the Mid-Town area to shop in a few of the antique clothing stores with an amazing array of clothes and costumes. The store owner revealed that Burning Man Festival was starting on the weekend and sales had been superb. I purchased a few retro items and on impulse booked into a tattoo studio to get some ink done. The artist finished up a few hours, so I headed back to my room having enjoyed the day.

 In the evening I dined at a casino restaurant, hunched myself over a bar and played video card poker, speaking to the occasional American tourist hunched over their machine. After half a dozen complimentary beers and having a slight buzz in my head, I went to check out the neon that is Reno Downtown. Much like inside the casino outdoors gave me a sense that time has remained still in Reno. Old casino signs surrounded me lighten up in translucent colours painting the streets including Reno’s famous street sign. They painted these 1960s-70s style buildings in neon lights so Downtown was nicely lit. There were some homeless walking around and a few tourists, but I felt like I was on the city alone, it was a peculiar sensation feeling alone. I appreciated the curious sense (maybe it was the beer). Reno midweek wasn’t anything like Reno weekend from my past visit here in 2012, or maybe Burning Man had swept the crowd away. After a few hours, I headed back to the hotel, bought a sandwich and zoned out in front of the TV.

The following day I was back on the road for a small distance drive to Lake Tahoe for the evening. As it was a short distance, I got off the Interstate and headed up the mountains to a ghost town “Virginia City”. Now my terminology regarding Ghost Town is abandoned which Virginia City isn’t, there it means haunted. Built-in the 19th century it’s an old mining town made up of Victorian buildings culminating on the high street. It was very touristy though there weren’t many tourists, the place had a Wild West looking appeal to it. There were plenty of store fronts draped in antique flags and tourist stores selling merchandise such as antiques, street signs (which I love) and boiled lollies. I walked up and down the high street to the deserted railway and graveyard, took a few pictures and after a few hours continued onto Lake Tahoe.

I loved Lake Tahoe even though I had only one night (I want to go baaack). The drive is over the Sierra Nevada which had fantastic views of the valley below and plenty of sweeping turns which I love. If you have been reading my blog you would be aware I’d been driving for about 3 week.  If you don’t know by now I love to drive fast and including cornering. Once over the top, I continued the drive through the forest which is dense (no sign of the lake) and then arrived at the central street heading into town. The California summer was in full swing so as soon as I checked into my hotel I was down to the Lake for a swim and suntan, another favourite thing of mine.

Lake Tahoe is around 500km in diameter, you can’t see the other side of it, to me it was more an inland sea. There were plenty of people on jet skis and kayaks swanning about the area, after a few hours I walked to my hotel. I then headed to the downtown area. Being Nevada there were lots of casinos which I avoided, I went through the ski like resort complex where most tourists were hanging out, purchased a few graphic t-shirts. Then headed to a local bar for corned beef (yum) and chatted with every friendly person at the bar. I was then directed me to a Tiki bar on the lake shore to suck down a few suds and watch the sunset; it was beautiful. I said adieu to my new mates and headed off to bed as I appreciated I’d be going tomorrow.

Up early the following morning and earnestly looking at the Tiki bar I headed out again for my next destination, Yosemite National Park, I was staying positive. Now I love Yosemite, Id visited there as a child with my parents and back in 2012 where I stayed in the park overnight. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be staying there this time so I had the whistle-stop tour of Yosemite, 5 hours in and out starting at the Western Entrance to the park. Heading up the scenic mountains, I used my trusty National Park Season card and was into the park, along with thousands of other visitors. I won’t go into what a special place Yosemite is as words can’t describe it. The distance from the park entrance to Sentinel Dome and back was roughly a 6-hour turnaround. In the park, I looked at the amazing mountains, landscapes, didn’t see much wildlife as I believe tourists may have scared ground animals off, bought graphic t-shirts. I drank a coffee, sandwiches were excessively high so went hungry, took selfies and then drove back out, better described in pictures.

Yosemite is best described in images

I then continued my drive onto Mammoth Lakes where I was staying for the evening which I’ll cover in the next blog highlighting through Nevada and its Ghost Towns. The last few days have been full of the long-distance road hauls, casinos, tattoos, shopping, the beach and epic Yosemite better described in pictures than with my haphazard grammar. Id found the closer I was to Las Vegas, the sadder I was feeling as my 2019 Roam around the globe was coming to its eventual end. Hope you enjoyed this read, Ill have a new blog out soon and as always feedback is welcome.

Lake Tahoe California USA

Another amazing sunset over Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe California USA

Perfect sunset over Lake Tahoe

Starting to wind down the road trip as I head towards Las Vegas. First Jefferson City and the old Wild West, then onto Lake Tahoe and a fantastic sunset followed by Yosemite National Park, fabulous