Sunday, September 4, 2011

Something's Missing

We left Verdi (NV) for the relatively short (less than 200 miles) trip to Napa (CA). Our account of this journey, however, may seem like watching a silent movie--without pictures.

"Twenty-seven miles since crossing into California and here's the Donner Pass."

"It was in November 1846 when the Donner Party found the route blocked by snow and was forced to spend the winter on the eastern side of the mountains."

"Yes, and of the 81 emigrants, only 45 survived to reach California."

"Some say that they had to resort to--"

"I know."

"Did you get a photo of the summit reading '7,056 feet'?"

"I haven't been able to hold the camera steady."

(To supplement your imagination of this trip, we are including these flower photos taken a few weeks ago.)

40 miles downgrade

"40 miles. That's about a third of the way to Napa."

"We could coast there--if only we would stop bouncing."

"The area we're driving through is designated as a scenic highway. The areas around Emigrant Gap, Dutch Flat, Gold Run, Colfax, Clipper Gap, and Bowman have scenes that would make fine photographs, if only we were not traveling horizontally and vertically simultaneously.

Truckers--advise 50 mph--save your brakes--drift low rpm


"Truckers know what that means--I don't."

"I wish 'drifting' meant 'floating'."

"Did you know the Pass has been used by numerous transconti-nental transporta-tion arteries, including the California Trail, First Transconti-nental Railroad, Overland Route, Lincoln Highway, U.S. Route 40?"

"I thought we were on the Calfornia Trail--the original Calfornia Trail.... Oh, my aching back."

Truckers--let 'er drift--use minimum power--let 'em cool

"Well, the wording is certainly unique, but at least I know what that means."

"Yeah, cool the brakes."

"How come my teeth ache?"

"Were those two sections macadam?"

"They sure seemed like pre-asphalt sections."

"I would like to have taken pictures of the Capitol as we passed through Sacramento, but I deleted so many shots earlier that I have given up trying to hold the camera steady."

Truckers--upgrade ahead--crank up

"Pretty clear directions."

"I wish we would see signs that read Road Work Ahead."

Later, we learned: "The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is conducting several construction projects on Interstate 80 between Colfax, California and the Nevada State line. Actual project timelines may vary, but weather permitting construction will take place between March and November each year from 2009-2013. Improvements to I-80 include removal and replacement of worn roadway,...."

Ah, yes. It was a long, bone-jarring, short trip.

1 comment:

Trucker Redbeard said...

"Let 'er drift" and he other goofy signs along I-80 coming down the grade from Truckee. I'm a trucker (closing in on 1 million accident-free miles, BTW) and I don't know for sure what they mean. I think they mean to let the truck slow down on the occasional flat (or slightly uphill) spots, so as to not need to use the brakes so much on the downhill stretches. I also think they're holdovers from the days when most trucks didn't have engine compression brakes (commonly called Jakes, since the predominant system was developed by a guy named Jacobs). Those compression brakes are what you hear when a truck engine suddenlt gets really loud and sounds like a Harley with straight pipes. They're loud, but they save lives (unlike loud pipes on Harleys). Donner grade isn't very steep, nor really that tall. Loveland Pass in Colorado is both steeper and taller, and there are plenty of much steeper grades in the Appalachians. "Use min power" is good advice on Donner Grade anyhow, if your truck doesn't have Jake Brakes.