The beginning and the end

thunderheads are building over New YorkIt is the beginning of our New England cruise trip but the end is all about the last hour of our flight to New York’s La Guardia airport!  Our non-stop flight from Denver was 3 hours of simplicity until we reached the east coast, until we  reached New York, where there was a wild mess of storms that spawned tornados in Virginia. Thinking of Erin and Mui, of course, and hoping you two didn’t get hit by all that wind.

We circled over La Guardia for almost an hour with rumors of a diversion to some smaller airport who knows where before the pilot finally received the notice that we could land.  The turbulence was a bit exciting, and watching the plane circle around those big thunderheads made for some interesting views.  Our seatmate was a frequent flier from New York, you know, those kind of folks that are supposed to be so calm and jaded??  This lady was NOT calm, and with every jump of the plane she screamed and even said once, “I want my mother!”

circling the thunderstorms while we wait to land at La GuardiaEven though I had my camera packed and buried, I suddenly remember “airplane mode” and the camera in the iPhone 4 (no not the 4s yet) and pulled it out for some great photos of truly dramatic clouds.  Once we landed, it  was amazing to me how one dimensional the cloudy sky appeared compared to the three dimensional shape changing views as we circled.

We began our trip with a nice drive from home to Reno, down 139 to 395 into the wide open dry and very warm deserts.  Staying at the Ramada, with the Park and Fly option, our room only cost 79. with all the taxes and ten days of parking for the car, including free shuttle to the airport. The room was lovely, and just 12 blocks from downtown where we parked right on the street near the Silver Legacy Casino.  After dropping a bit to support Nevada in the slot machines we found dinner at Sterlings Steakhouse.  A bit of a sticker shock didn’t stop us, though, and we proceeded to have one of the finest dinners we have had in a long time. In addition to perfectly mesquite fired steaks, our dinners came with amazingly seasoned spaghetti squash, butternut squash,  snap peas, and sautéed spinach.  Yum and double wow!

laughing while we are circlling and shaking over New YorkMy daughter has supported me through the 40 days of 500 calories a day, and now I am on maintenance, and wow, maintenance is so much fun, Deborah!  Somehow skipping the bread and potato and dessert didn’t feel a bit like any kind of suffering at all.  Can you believe I brought my scale along on this cruise and will be watching daily?  I don’t want to mess up all that hard work, and this morning somehow I was down another 2 pounds. Yay for Deborah and all her encouragement!

Our flight from Reno left at 6am, calling for a 3am wake up call and a dark ride to the airport. Check-in was simple, and security in Reno wasn’t the least bit daunting and we were in the air as the sun rose over the Rockies.  Denver is a huge airport, but lucky for us we didn’t have to change terminals so spent a lovely 90 minutes wandering the great shops and eating some more of last night’s yummy dinner that I carried with me.

our view from the East Elmhurst Comfort Inn in New YorkOnce in New York, an hour late, we called the Comfort Inn shuttle to pick us up.  No lost baggage was a relief, and in a short time we were settled into our very tiny room.  Here in New York, the rooms aren’t cheap, with 157 dollars, yes that is US dollars, for our one night here.  We are actually in East Elmhurst, Queens, not far from the airport. The room is at least very clean, but the bed is a bit hard and as I said, it is TINY!  I guess that must  be a New York thing.

We walked a couple of short blocks to the local recommended restaurant, Joey’s, an Italian place.  A glass of wine and some simple antipasto with a ceasar salad was the perfect ending for a long day.  We were entertained by a couple of big Italian guys at the table next to us speaking rapid Italian.  I realized that on the west coast where we live there aren’t a lot of Italian neighborhoods, except maybe in San Francisco.

I have never been to New York before and am looking forward to our drive to the Brooklyn pier today and a gorgeous sunny, if windy view of the Statue of Liberty as we sail from the harbor tonight.

La Guardia to Hotel and Brooklyn

Off to Reno for Sue’s birthday

Transcribed in April 2011 from our old leather travel journal

03_Sep_Reno Trip005Mo showed up at my house at on Friday at 7am and we took off right away for a great planned long weekend in Nevada.  Drove first south on Highway 39 to Alturas and then took the back road through the Warner Mountains, high, rugged, and truly beautiful.  We just ambled along checking out side roads and campgrounds in the forest land along the route.  03_Sep_Reno Trip015Stopped in Gerlach, Nevada, near the Burning Man site and had lunch at a little cafe.  Found a cool desert lake for Molly  to take a swim and another great tent campground just east of the Warner Wilderness Area.  Would love to go back there and camp someday.

We arrived in Fallon in time to go to the PX there and then back to Reno for the night.  Mo had reservations at the Motel 6 there in Reno because they allow pets, but somehow the reservation was for another town in Nevada.  There was some sort of air show in town and all the hotels were completely booked up, but after a bit of negotiating, Mo found us a place to stay that would let us have Molly.  It was late so we had a simple dinner and settled into our room for a relaxing evening.

03_Sep_Reno Trip03603_Sep_Reno Trip020 On Saturday we got up early to a magnificent fall day in the desert.  Took the Winding Hill road to Virginia City, stopping to take lots of photos overlooking the valley and climbing around the rocks.  Had some early morning mimosas at the Bucket of Blood saloon and shopped in the little stores in town.  In the afternoon we drove down to Genoa and the valley south of Reno just looking at homes and properties where Mo’s friend Kathy lived. We had a great late lunch at a BBQ restaurant in Carson City before going back to the motel to dress for our evening entertainment in Reno. The show, “The Best of Broadway” was great, with excellent singing and dancing and I enjoyed having a chance to get all dressed up for a change.

03_Sep_Reno Trip038 03_Sep_Reno Trip039 Sunday morning we left Reno and stopped at Boomtown for an inexpensive breakfast and a little slot play.  On the way home via 395 we used our new book, “Nevada Gem Trails” to do some local rock-hounding and found quartz crystals along the highway, and carnelian and jasper on a back road just north of Alturas. By late afternoon we were starving, but nothing was open so we found ourselves settling for some really bad packaged burritos from the gas stations in Merrill around 9pm.  We were pretty tired when we pulled in to my house and Mo left immediately for her home in Rocky Point while I settled in to get ready for work the next day.