So, at the very end of July, my daughter Alice and I drove her car from Boulder, Colorado up through Utah, through northern Nevada, over the Sierra Nevada mountains to northern California, land of plenty.
The great Salt Lake is indeed precisely that-great. Wow, what a magical oasis of water in the middle of rocks and more rocks. We stopped at Provo and witnessed a lovely sunset, all orange, pink and red on the huge mesa (or buttes?) to the east of that city. But Nevada just went on forever with nothing but wide stretches of nothing. No gas, towns, only the ribbon of highway 80 with trucks and cars moving through at speed, looking for the next gas station.
The dramatic shift occurs when you cross into California: trees! huge Ponderosa pines lines the winding highway through the mountains. Alice spent about a half an hour reading the story of the Donner party‘s hardships trying to walk across our route to get to California. Many of them did not make it. Whew. Made our drive look way less onerous than it had seemed.
Arriving in Guerneville, California was delightful: vineyards, rolling hills, redwoods. One can appreciate the astonishment that must have glowed on the settlers as they moved past those awful desert badlands into the beautiful of the state of promises.