Virginia City

After the Geiger Lookout Wayside Park, it was another thirty minutes to Virginia City. Give or take a minute or two or three. Or something like that. I hadn’t been here in over twenty years. Probably more like twenty-three years. Maybe. I remember being awed the first time around. So full of life and promise and vestiges of the old west! It still seemed like that to me even now, but I felt like I was able to appreciate it on a different level than I did over two decades ago.

I first stopped when I came across the “Welcome to Virginia City!” sign. It was situated just a short distance outside town, off the road enough so that a few cars would have room enough to pull aside and snap photos. Like I did. I snapped a couple. Another car showed up and the occupants piled out, jabbering away amongst themselves. I shyly hung back while they took photos of each other in front of the sign.

I saw my opportunity and offered to take a photo of them all together. They liked this offer and, once I had done so, they took a photo of me in front of the sign.

Success!

We piled back into our respective vehicles, now friends of a sort, and went our separate ways.

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Geiger Lookout Wayside Park

I left Reno around 10:30am or so. I blasted out the country music from my new favorite station over the speakers, the AC still only partially working. It was warm out, but not unbearably so. I sped through the desert in a horseless carriage with a name and enjoyed the differing contrast between where I was now and my usual stomping grounds in California.

After leaving the main interstate, I turned onto a smaller, older stretch of highway that would take me to Virginia City. At this time of day, from Reno to the old west town, it was roughly an hour. About twenty or twenty-five minutes into my sojourn, I came across signs indicating a look-out point where one could view the scenery.

Hey, why not? I thought excitedly.

What? Blink blink.

I wasn’t from around here. I wanted to soak up as much as I could. So, I approached the Geiger Lookout Wayside Park with the curiosity of one wondering what their gifts under the Christmas tree might contain.

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Driving the Perimeter of Lake Tahoe- Part 2

There was a small hill I traversed and the, finally, lake’s edge it was! I enjoyed the view, and the sound of the water lapping up against the shore. More people than I thought were here, enjoying the warm day, the sun, and the refreshing water. I spent a few minutes here before journeying back up the hill. Although I couldn’t find the path I’d taken again, I went in its general direction and eventually found my way to a large house. It had a name, too. The Hellman-Ehrman Mansion. I couldn’t go in it for reasons I don’t remember, so I just walked around it and then headed back to my car.

But before that happened, I went inside a nearby visitor center in the park. Looked at what souvenirs one could by and ended up getting a cute pair of bear earrings. And then I went to my car.

~*~

I thought about eating my sandwich then; but I thought, “Nah, let’s wait until I get to Emerald Bay! I can park, eat, and enjoy the view!”

The joke was on me.

I couldn’t find a parking spot within a mile of where I wanted to be, so crowded were the roads. By sheer luck I found a spot maybe a mile and a half from where I originally wanted to stop. And it was too hot to go walking around any significant distance. Right then, I swore to myself I’d come back up here in the off-season (ie, school year) so I could more fully enjoy it. And actually explore it. As it was, I had to battle scores of my fellow humans.

But hey: I was still technically in Emerald Bay, at least.

I didn’t realize it would be so popular, but I was wrong. I could have mistaken it for an amusement park given the crowds. I mean, sheesh. The north end of the lake wasn’t this populated with sight-seers. Hey, at least I got to snap some cool pictures. That’s something, right?

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1.2 Miles of the Pacific Crest Trail- Part 2

On the return trip, I passed by the hikers from Mexico again. I stopped to chat with them for a few minutes before continuing back to my car. I also passed by the high schooler. If you’re curious about his progress up the rock face: he had climbed up it even farther and was now enjoying the view.

In total, I did a grand 1.2 miles of the PCT. Small time, considering its massively amazing length, but hey! I did it! I felt like I’d accomplished at least a little something. That’s good, right?

Right?

Combined with the warm weather and trail terrain (say that ten times fast), I was fairly hot and sweaty once I arrived back at the Summit Haus. Gross. Good thing I had bought a travel-sized, deliciously scented deodorant. I dabbed some on when I thought no one was looking.

Why not get something cold to eat and/or drink to cool me down? In addition to the deodorant?

Might as well. The AC in my car was on the fritz and I needed something to help the process along. So, cold something to consume it was.

Of course, I wasn’t exactly watching where I was going, so focused was I on the tables and chairs and café in front of me. I didn’t see the roped barrier until I’d run into and nearly tripped over it.

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1.2 Miles of the Pacific Crest Trail- Part 1

It was probably a minute or less before I noted the sign: Pacific Crest Trail! Right here!

You guys, it screamed out at me.

My heart skipped a beat. I’d first heard about this trail when my dad and I took a day trip around Mount Lassen and Lake Almanor. We’d stopped in Belden to grab a snack from a small shop right alongside the road. Guess where the trailhead for the PCT was? Yeah. Like, right there across the street. I walked up to it. I remember the sign designated the PCT was situated underneath the trees. On top of it, someone had balanced a few rocks, one on top of another in one of those cool rock formations.

My dad told me that there were people who literally hiked it from Mexico to Canada. I marveled over the idea. How could someone be able to do something like that? And why? Wouldn’t that take a while?

Well, yeah, several months, but people do it.

So. Freaking. Cool.

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Ye Old Railway Tunnel in Norden

Ah, Lake Tahoe! Quite possibly one of my favorite places in California. I used to go up there every so often as a kid. Happy memories. When my family and I stayed there, we’d camp out at a cabin in King’s Beach. It belonged to a relative. Just four rooms with a steep roof and large backyard, it was the perfect getaway for a few days. Close to the beach, too.

This time, I’d be staying with a relative right smack in the desert: a beauty in its own right. But before arriving there, I’d planned to a few things along the way. I mean, if I’m driving three or more hours (traffic dependent) from wine country to Reno, I may as well make a day of it.

Right?

Since it was a Sunday, I went to the early morning service for church and left almost immediately after that. After I stopped to get an iced tea, of course. And then: ROAD TRIP! Ah, the joys of flipping through radio stations you don’t often hear to see which one you like best.

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The Journey Begins

I’m keeping the prompted title that WordPress gifted to me on this first post. I can’t think of a better one. “The Journey Begins.” Journey, as a noun, is defined as an act of going from one place to another. Because that is exactly what this blog is intended to be about. Traveling. Hence, Natalie’s Travels.

Obviously: my name is Natalie. That’s all you need to now for now. I am currently 31 and have a passion for traveling and exploration. (Cue Bilbo Baggins dashing out of Bag End. I’m going on an adventure!) I reside an hour or so north of San Francisco, in the heart of California’s wine country. I’d get more specific; but if I told you, I’d have to make you disappear. State secrets and all that. Shhh.

Cue the silence. Crickets. Throw in a clear night sky with twinkling stars, then you and I sitting on a large blanket, gazing up at the heavens. We’re talking about ways and means and far off places and, maybe, we’re sipping on mugs of tea.

“Since you live in wine country, why not write about something wine related?” You wonder aloud. An owl flies overhead and we pause mid-conversation to watch.

Fair question. The answer? Wine related topics will definitely merit the occasional mention. I mean, come on. I live in wine country. But this blog will also be about non-wine adventures I’ve had, near and far. People I’ve met. Places I’ve explored. That kind of thing. I want you to experience things the way I did. Live vicariously. Get your own ideas of places to go. Enjoy my adventures as much as I did, and then go have your own!

When I was little, my parents would always take my sister and I on their anniversary vacations with them. My dad would take my sister and I camping, too. Road trips, holiday trips. And it was all so glorious and gave me a thirst to see more more more! I had to get out there and experience life.

You know what also fueled my wanderlust? Reading about all these cool places in my history and geography books. Places like Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, and the pyramids at Giza. (Spoiler alert: I’ve been to three of those places. They were glorious.)

That’s part of the reason I’ve started this blog: I love to travel and…drum roll…I love to write. When I was a kid, I would always be writing little stories and plays and such. But it was reading the Harry Potter series that really made me want to go for more than the just the little stuff. I wanted to be a writer. I had to. I felt it in my blood. Thanks for giving me that thirst, JK Rowling.

Long story short, I began writing Harry Potter fanfiction, way back in 2003. Then I branched out into other fandoms and, eventually, original fiction. But that didn’t pan out (maybe in the future). So, I thought: let’s switch genres. I like reading travelogues. Bill Bryson never fails to elicit a laugh. Cheryl Strayed made me want to hike a freaking mountain. If those two can do it, why can’t I?

Dude, I mean… I like to travel. I like to write. Why not combine the two?

And there we have it.

Natalie.

IMG_7977(Photo taken by yours truly, at the Marin Headlands.)