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.