Friday, September 18, 2015

Geezers, Wyoming and South Dakota - Traveling North

Day 1 - Home to Roseville, CA

Departure day finally arrived and we were ready to hit the road.  Since we only had about a five hour drive today we didn’t leave home until around 11:00 AM.  Our destination was Roseville, which is just a little east of Sacramento so we headed east to catch Interstate 5 for our drive north.  As we were driving a strange phenomenon occurred; at first we didn’t know what it was, but then we realized it was rain, it was actually raining, a very strange occurrence in California these days.  We stopped for an In and Out Burger in Kettleman City before getting on I-5 for our drive north.

We spent the day driving in and out of welcome rain showers and arrived in Roseville around 4:00.  Traffic was light until we reached Sacramento where we ended up driving through what we guessed was the beginning of the evening commute.  We checked into our hotel, relaxed for a while and then went to the Macaroni Grill for a dinner of salad and pizza.  This was our first visit to a Macaroni’s and it was pretty good.  After dinner it was back to the hotel to get ready for tomorrow.

Day 2 - Roseville to Reno

Today’s destination was Reno where we are spending a couple of days before continuing our journey.  The drive from Roseville is only a couple of hours so we would have almost two full days in Reno.

We left Roseville around 9:30 and arrived at our hotel by 11:30.  As always we were staying at Harrah’s and once again we were happy to be comped a suite.  We checked in, got settled and then headed to the casino for a little pre-lunch gambling.  Our luck was poor so it wasn’t long until before we were ready for lunch. 

We had heard that the owners of our favorite Mexican restaurant (Los Arroyos in Santa Barbara and Camarillo) had opened a new location in Reno so we decided we would give it a try.  In Reno it is called the Arroyo Mexican Grill and is located in what is called the Freight House District, which is also the site of Aces Ballpark, the minor league baseball stadium in Reno.  The stadium is pretty new (it opened in 2009) and looks very nice.  It is located just behind Harrah’s so it was an easy walk to the Arroyo.  We had a very good lunch and although we thought it didn’t quite measure up to the Santa Barbara location it was still very good and we will return on our next visit to Reno.

After lunch we returned to the room for some reading and relaxation.  We returned to the casino in the late afternoon and again had no luck gambling so we called it an early night.

Day 3 - Reno
Today was a free day for us, we had nothing planned and nothing really to do.  We slept in and had a leisurely morning before heading out.  We decided to go over to the Silver Legacy Casino which is near Harrah’s and do a little gambling and have lunch.  We had much better luck gambling there and although we really didn’t walk away with anything, it took us a lot longer to lose our money.  It may sound strange, but we really don’t expect to win, but we do expect our money to last long enough to have some fun.

We returned to Harrah’s mid-afternoon and hung out in the room until early evening.  We returned to the casino where our bad luck continued and we quickly lost our gambling allowance.  We had a couple free buffet passes so we decided to go there for dinner.  It was another early evening for us, which was fine as we have a long drive tomorrow and we want to get an early start.

Day 4 - Reno to Jackpot, NV

Our destination for tonight was Jackpot, Nevada which was over a 400 mile drive so we were up early and on the road by 8:30.  For breakfast we stopped at a market and got some pastries and juice to save time.  Traffic was relatively light as we drove east on Interstate 80, it was mostly just us and the trucks.  Other than being very windy, it was a pretty easy drive.  One thing that made the drive interesting today was the amazing clouds, they were huge white cumulus clouds which were quite spectacular with the deep blue sky behind them.  The day passed quickly and we made good time and arrived in Jackpot by 3:30 in the afternoon.

Jackpot is right on the Idaho border and a convenient spot to stop on our drive north.  We have taken this route for four straight years now so we have the routine down.  We are staying at Cactus Pete’s where we have stayed three times before.  After checking in we decided to check out the casino and we ended up actually winning some money which was a nice change after Reno.  We decided to have dinner in coffee shop and while dinner was okay, service was terrible; it took over a half an hour to get our food after ordering and then another fifteen minutes to get a piece of cake for dessert.  We spent a little more time in the casino and then called it a night.  Tomorrow we head for West Yellowstone, Montana and will lose an hour as we cross into Idaho.

Day 5 - Jackpot to West Yellowstone, MT

We were on the road by 9:00 this morning, but as soon as we crossed into Idaho it became 10:00 so it wasn’t such an early start.  It’s a pretty easy drive to West Yellowstone, but not very interesting until the last 60 miles or so.  We made very good time and were in West Yellowstone by 3:00.  We are staying at the Yellowstone Park Hotel, which is the same place we stayed last year.  The weather had cooled considerably and the temperature was in the mid fifties; a little cool, but warmer than last year.

We hadn't eaten lunch so we decided to have an early dinner.  Val found a place called the Smokejumper Cafe which had high ratings on TripAdvisor so we decided to give it a try.  It was located a little out of town at the airport and it turned out to be as good as it's reviews.  It was more of a breakfast and lunch place, but we had an excellent dinner.

We spent the rest of the evening getting the blog ready to publish and doing a little research on where we're going tomorrow.  Tomorrow is really when our trip begins as we will be getting into the scenic part of our journey.  We will be traveling through Yellowstone and the Beartooth Highway before reaching Red Lodge, Montana, our destination for the day.  The mileage is short, but the drive is supposed to be spectacular so we are really looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Geezers, Wyoming and South Dakota - Hitting the Road

It has been a long time since Val and I got off the ship and ended our Inca Empire Cruise. Since then we have been itching to start traveling again.  Except for a short trip to Las Vegas this summer, we have been at home since our cruise.  Time has seemed to crawl by, but it's finally time to leave and get on the road again.

It's fall so it's time for the annual "Gathering of Geezers" and this year we have rented a house for a week on the Canyon Ranch near Big Horn, Wyoming.  We are really looking forward to seeing our old friends who will meet us at the ranch.

After our stay at the ranch, Val and I will continue on to South Dakota where we will be visiting Badlands National Park, Custer State Park and the Black Hills.  After South Dakota we will travel to Montana to spend a few days in Glacier National Park and then on to Oregon and Crater Lake National Park.  Before starting home we will visit with Val's niece and her family in Portland.

This will be a pretty long road trip and we will end up driving around 5000 miles, but we both love road trips and are looking forward to everything we will do and see.  I have some hope of keeping up with the blog as we travel, but considering the mileage we'll be traveling I suspect most of it will have to be done when we return home.