Days of Nights

in search of dark skies

Month: August 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Reno. 2017. photos.

along the California Trail

Fleischmann Planetarium. University of Nevada. Reno

Reno Nevada

sunset and moon.

Truckee River. Reno.

from the KOA campground. Verdi NV.


Reno. 2017

I went to Reno this week to take care of some business. What I did was not so important as that I did anything at all. I constructed some goals, devised a plan, and, detail by detail, I accomplished it. It’s 300 miles east on Interstate 80. I stayed overnight at a motel near the University of Nevada. I made a significant step toward establishing myself as a resident of Nevada, did some shopping, enjoyed some of the natural beauty of the area, sampled some of the local food, and committed myself to a return visit in October. I made this trip in the truck only, leaving the trailer behind in the park in Ryndon. Forget what I may have said about never staying in a motel again, or flying along the freeway 85 mph. I can see that I will be doing this every once in awhile.

Interstate 80 follows the Humboldt River across northern Nevada. The waterway was an important resource and migration route for the Northern Shoshone for uncountable generations, and the indigenous people before them. The river begins in the mountains north of Wells and ends up in a sink east of Fernley. I will have to do some research on the geologic history of this area. The landscape of Nevada is many north-south mountain ranges with flat valleys in between them. They look like ancient lake beds, making the mountains islands. Not much vegetation grows except sagebrush and rabbit brush. Right along the river is a more diverse biosystem. There are no trees on the mountains.

This route became a way for European Americans to migrate to California starting around 1840. This has a devastating effect on the population and the economy of the Native Americans. In 1868, the transcontinental railroad was constructed through here, linking the west coast with the centers of finance, commerce, and government, in the United States, back east. Subsequently towns and small cities along the rail lines became transfer points for mining, agriculture, and livestock. I have ridden this route a number of times on Amtrak, from Salt Lake City to California. The train stops in Elko and in Winnemucca, before arriving in Sparks and Reno. Part of this journey is always at night, so there was much along the way that I was now only seeing in daylight. I identify landmarks that made an impression my mind. One of them definitely was the many steel bridges crossing the Humboldt around Elko, With the advent of motor vehicles, U.S. Highway 40 was constructed. In the 1960’s this route became Interstate 80, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway. Interesting personal connection there.

My truck is in good working order. I have taken care of details at hand in Elko. And I have addressed the problems I was having with my right leg. That’s another story. I made good time going east, stopping only once for a rest break. Every two hours I at least need to get out and stretch and use the restroom. I arrived in Reno in the early afternoon. The weather was warm, hazy, and partly cloudy. I got surprisingly good gas mileage on this leg of the trip. 15 gallons for 300 miles equals 20 miles per gallon.

One of my objectives was to open a checking and a savings account with a national bank with whom I have had a credit card for 10 years. And I wished to establish a Nevada address for myself with these accounts. I have recently opened an account with a mail forwarding service near Las Vegas that includes a P.O. Box, but a number of companies require a physical address as well. I ended up using the address of the RV park in Ryndon. That seems to work. That part was relatively easy. To open the two new accounts I wanted to use the money that was in my checking account at the credit union in Salt Lake City. I was blocked from using my debit card to make this withdrawal. I should have known there was a daily limit on cash withdrawals, but I didn’t. So I had to return on Wednesday morning to complete the transaction. This time I purchased a money order from the post office, which is what I should have done at the beginning. All the people at the bank were very pleasant and made the whole process a positive one. My cards will be sent to the mailing address and they will be forwarded to General Delivery, Elko.

Then a bit of shopping for a couple of things I couldn’t get in Elko. Both transactions were with some very pleasant people. Then for dinner I decided I would like to try to get a good Chinese meal. Especially after that disappointing experience in Elko. I researched the menu of this one place and discovered they serve chow fun. One of my favorites from San Francisco. The place was staffed entirely by Asians. When I ordered the chow fun with vegetables, the woman told me they had run out. Oh no! I had my mind set for this dish. She said if I wanted to wait 20 minutes, they were getting some more from another location. Of course. I give them credit for taking care of business. And fried tofu in brown sauce with vegetables. I was not disappointed. And I had another meal to bring home to Ryndon. It was nearly sunset when I left the restaurant. I decided to check out the regional park that is just west of the motel. A large, expanse of green and wooded land rising up the hillside. There is a nice view of downtown Reno and the mountains east, and a fantastic sky catching the remaining light of the day. Before darkness completely set in I toured the arboretum and experienced an awesome sunset through the trees. This tract of real estate used to be Rancho San Rafael. The people of Reno are fortunate to have such a natural treasure.

A reasonably good night’s sleep. The motel is comfortable, though kind of shabby. You don’t get what you don’t pay for. This one room is much larger than the trailer I am living in. In the morning I decided to explore the campus of the university. Directly across the street from the motel is the Fleischmann Planetarium. But they don’t open until 1000am, and I had things to do. Nice looking building in a very appropriate setting. Not like what happened to the Hansen/ Clark in Salt Lake City. I visited the Fleischmann back in 1999. Lawlor Sports Complex is home to the Lady Wolfpack basketball. UNR is a very modern campus. They have a lot of wealthy benefactors. The campus seems to be very pedestrian friendly. Nevada drivers tend to more considerate than Utah. There are no major motor vehicle thoroughfares cutting through it. The university seems to be heavily invested in athletics. They also support a lot of agricultural activity. There was supposed to be a post office around here somewhere. I had seen it yesterday. Never did find it. Didn’t think to use my phone to locate it. Duh. Anyway got in some walking exercise before I finished off my business at the bank. Picked up a bagel and a latte for the road. Had a nice chat with the owner about trying to do things right. Good bagel.

Then I went up to the KOA west of Reno to check out the campground for my return in October. This time I will be towing the trailer. And I won’t be coming on Interstate 80. I have had a good experience with KOA and I have a membership. It is a very attractive site in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada overlooking the Truckee River and the Union Pacific railroad tracks. I paid a deposit for my site and was provisionally given a site right on the edge of the park. The guy who took care of my business was very pleasant and knowledgeable.

Then it was on the road again. It was very windy for much of the way back to Elko. There were a lot of trucks on the road which makes it challenging. I stopped for gas, restroom, and refreshment in Winnemucca. Didn’t make such good time or get such good gas mileage on my way back. Arrived at my little home about 500pm and heated up the leftover Chinese dinner.

All is well. I feel a significant sense of accomplishment at having done all this without making too many errors or forgetting significant details. Driving did not fatigue me. I accomplished what I set out to do. Met pleasant people with every transaction. And allowed myself some interesting experiences that provided me with a positive impression of Reno. There is a lot about Reno that is not so great. The immense presence of the casinos and hotels. But you don’t have deal with that. And then there are a lot of people in Reno who are struggling. And I do have to deal with that. For whatever reasons, they came looking for something that wasn’t here, or they had something and lost it all. Who knows. But it is apparent. People finding life to be a challenge. And not doing very well in it.

Star stuff

I got serious about working on my projects. Interestingly, simultaneously, I am working on three components of Zubenelgenubi.  I am revising the format of the star maps. Something that hopefully will become consistent throughout and look professional. I have also revised the template for the catalog, and completed one page. Again something that is clean and organized. I am reading The Glorious Constellations, by Giuseppe Maria Sesti, the book that got me started on this Cultural Astronomy thing almost 20 years ago. The one chapter on Libra was only one page. And, I am working on an art design of an Egyptian-Nubian divinity. It feels good to be applying myself in this work. That’s part of what being out here is about.


Two bridges over the Humboldt River. Amtrak goes through here. Eastbound 1000pm. Westbound 400am. I have done this a number of times from Salt Lake City to Emeryville. It’s kind of neat in the middle of the night to see the passing cars with lights on. The Amtrak locomotives have a mellow harmonious horn.

High Desert Life

Some photos around Elko NV.

Ruby Mountains panorama

the Moon 3 days after the eclipse

Ruby Mtns.

I could spend a lifetime photographing Nevada sunsets

dust storm

and the rain that followed

Problem Solving

This photo is of what I call the sand basin, north of where I viewed the eclipse, in open land north of the trailer park. It looks ideal for star gazing, if and when I get back to it.

All the things that I needed to have taken care of are done. Almost. The trailer’s brake wires were repaired, brakes checked, and tires rotated. That electrical problem with the 120v open ground reappeared Friday night and didn’t go away by itself. So today I purchased a multi-meter and will have a look at it tomorrow. The service department for the electrical management system will walk me through the testing if I need them. The solar panel is recharging the batteries just fine. The roller trackball mouse makes a world of difference. I am obviously very attached to my technology and being connected to the Internet. So I pay for it and live with it and am content. I am very close to accomplishing the first step in establishing myself as a resident of Nevada. In fact I thought it would have happened by now. A mail-forwarding service outside of Las Vegas caters especially to RVers who are on the move. There are a few considerations, but for most part this is going to work. It is kind of ironic that for the last 3 months I have had this really nice home, and no address to go along with it.

And an unexpected health issue to deal with. My Medicare was just activated 3 weeks ago, and I have not been able to purchase supplemental insurance yet. But this is a top priority to deal with. All the health care professionals I have come in contact with have been extremely pleasant and thorough. Soreness and swelling suddenly in my right calf. Two different ultrasounds have determined I do not have thrombosis or a blood clot. Just some form of varicosity. Not terribly serious, and somewhat treatable. It has not impaired the use of my leg whatsoever. It should be a good idea to do more walking and bicycle riding.

Had a nice visit from my cousins from eastern Washington who were on a road trip with their 6 grandchildren. They decided to swing by Elko and see how I was doing. How exciting! Real company! We got a chance to try out two restaurants in town. I think we made good choices. Good food and excellent service. Elko is turning out to be a very positive experience for me.

Regarding the eclipse, my first idea was to travel north on Hwy 225 which runs through Owyhee to Mountain Home Idaho. Still south of the zone of totality, but close enough for me. I was planning to drive until I starting encountering cars parked along the road and bunches of people looking up at the sky. But the more I heard about traffic jams and gasoline and food shortages, the less I wanted to dive into that craziness, or get anywhere near it. The local college was planning to sponsor a viewing party. That made more sense to me. Participating in a community event. At the last minute they had to cancel the program because the distributor of the solar eclipse glasses could not vouch for their safety. Ow. Failure. So I went off to this area north of I-80 I have visited before, and had my own solar eclipse party. Me, my truck, and a camp chair, a half gallon of water, camera, and solar shades. I was out there for the duration, nearly three hours. Incredible spectacle. 90% totality is pretty good. Only a thin crescent of the sun remained. The light was noticeably dimmer, and the temperature fell a good 10 degrees.

Now it’s time for me start thinking about enjoying some the landscapes around here. I am thinking about an overnight campout in Lamoille Canyon with just the truck. And a day trip up north into Idaho. We’ll see.



An evening of music at the Western Folklife Center. Local talent featuring Southwind. This is good.

Ryndon NV. 02

Now on to discuss the other problems I was facing. Sunday evening I noticed that my devices chargers were not drawing any current from my 120V outlets. My power monitor indicated there was no ground in my 120V circuit. I switched everything over to 12V and decided to wait until some time later to deal with this situation. My batteries were 90% charged before I went to bed. Well, in the morning, somehow the problem had fixed itself. The was no error code on the monitor, I switched on the 120V and the outlets were normal. Hmm. That was simple. My kitchen faucet had been leaking for a week. It has a pull-out sprayer and the water was dripping from the connection of the hose to the spray head. Unless I pulled the sprayer out, when the faucet was being used, water was leaking down onto the shelf under the sink, and making its way into the cupboards at floor level where I keep flour, grains, beans, etc. It had looked to me that there was no way to disconnect the hose from the head (similar to a situation I encountered in the shower). The local RV center had a faucet that looked suitable for $90, or I could order one from the Internet for $60. Only problem with ordering stuff is that I don’t have a suitable place to have them delivered to. On closer inspection Monday, after I had disconnected all the plumbing under the sink in preparation for removing the faucet assembly, I discovered that yes indeed the hose did unscrew from the spray head. A generous wrapping of teflon tape cured the leak. Ah so simple. That saved me a bunch of money and worry about package delivery. Ever since I arrived in Elko I have not been able to access the Internet even here in town. Out at the trailer park my signal is even weaker and I have had to depend on the park’s free WiFi. Sometimes it is so slow it is not worth trying. And it is not secure. I just acquired this expensive unlimited data plan and haven’t used any data since I left Salt Lake City. One of the stops I made in town on Monday was the Verizon store. The clerk took a look at my phone. Tapped a few buttons and brought my phone into working order. She explained that my phone was still trying to find a signal in Salt Lake City. Wow. I mentioned to her that I was considering purchasing a cell phone signal booster. She asked what kind. I told her. And she said Verizon just started carrying them 3 weeks ago. She could order this one for me and I could pick it up in the store by the end of the week. Wow. Another problem solved. Back at the trailer park I am now able to use my smartphone as a WiFi hotspot even without the booster. So nice. I like my new laptop for the most part. Except trying to use this pad as a mouse is very frustrating.Copy and paste. Select and delete. Moving images around in Photoshop. Not working very well. So I ordered a wireless track ball from Walmart and will pick it up this afternoon. Walmart is good for being able to order a wide variety of items and just have them delivered to the nearest store. And there is one more important problem that I will be taking care of next week. On my was across on The Pony Express Trail I tore apart connecting wires for the brakes to one wheel on my trailer. I was able to splice them together and hold everything in place with electrical tape and duct tape. But the RV center will restore everything to professional standards, inspect the brakes, suspension, and tires.

So the handful of problems I was facing on Monday have all been taken care of in a simple and inexpensive way.

Ryndon NV

I will be parked here for awhile to work out a few bugs in what I have and how I am doing things. Not going anywhere until the first Social Security check and the Utah State pension arrive. Meanwhile….

Monday I was facing several problems that needed immediate attention. Most importantly my right calf had become sore and swollen Thursday. Suspecting I might have an embolism, medical attention was a top priority. I have only been in Elko for a week. My Medicare kicked in just 2 weeks ago. I have been living with a very good health plan at the University and enjoying the wide range of hospitals and clinics available there. The choices here in Elko are very limited and I know nothing about them. From Google I picked a private urgent care clinic and arrived when the doors opened. I had about a half hour wait. The intake by the medical assistant showed that my blood pressure was within a very normal range. Retirement must be agreeing with me. The PA made some observations and asked a lot of questions. He suspected an embolism himself, or DVT, but needed an ultrasound to make a proper diagnosis. Unfortunately their imaging was booked up all day. He called two other centers and found a possibility at one across town. He was really concerned that this be done today and not wait another day.  so I checked in over there and made an appointment for the middle of the afternoon. I ran a few errands while I was in town, then returned to the trailer park, fixed me something to eat, did a few chores, and headed back to Elko. The procedure went well. The tech was able to talk to the radiologist on the phone. She relayed his information to me. There was no blood clot. Well, that was encouraging. They were supposed to forward these results back to the urgent care clinic who would then call me for a follow-up. I hung around town for awhile, and then just dropped by the clinic to see if the PA was available or set up an appointment for the next day. He was able to consult with me. He wasn’t sure what was going on in my leg himself. He said it might be an effect of long-distance driving, of the fact that I had changed the height of my seat at my work table. He was treating it like phlebitis and gave me some instructions. At the pharmacy I picked some ibuprofen, a box of heat compresses, and a pair of white anti-embolism stockings. Two days later the treatment seems to be working. All in all this was a very positive experience. Everyone that I interacted with was very pleasant. Despite the circumstances, it was a positive way to get introduced to Elko.  I am curious to see how much this is all going to cost me. I think Medicare covers about 50%. What to do? I haven’t established residency in Nevada yet so I can’t sign up for supplemental coverage. And this was absolutely something that needed to be taken care of.

Two weeks into retirement I need medical attention. It’s all good.

Pony Express Trail

Here are maps of the route I took from Salt Lake City to Elko attempting to follow the Pony Express Trail. My route is marked with red dots. The green circles represent Pony Express Trail markers erected by the Bureau of Land Management.  The trail across Utah is well-marked with new large signs having been added in just the last year.  The signage in Nevada varies from road signs at some  intersections to iron posts stuck in the ground with the label “XP Trail” attached to them. The black circles represent Overland Stage markers. They have been recently installed. They are made of iron rails and contain quotes from travelers’ journals.


Simpson Springs

Fish Springs


Deep Creek Range





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