Grand US Tour 2010: First Snow Experience

PauTravels' family in Carson City, Nevada

In continuation to our northern California trip to San Francisco in this month-long US trip of 2010, we then pushed eastward of the Bay Area.   We drove about 4 hours further to the city of Carson in Nevada where we have booked for an overnight stay at Days Inn Carson City.   We intended to go up to the Lake Tahoe area which lies divided by the states of California and Nevada to have our first experience of snow.

So around 10 in the morning after breakfast, we drove away from our hotel in San Francisco with my brother again taking the wheel.   Once more the travel was long but the scenery that we see as we climb up to Tahoe is very different from the path we took from Los Angeles to San Francisco.   Now instead of farm lands, we passed through different towns and as we go further we see pine trees.

On the road to Tahoe

Hills near Vallejo, California

On the road to Tahoe

Pine trees along the highway to Tahoe near Colfax

On the road to Tahoe

Snow at the roadsides on our way to Tahoe area

On that trip, we rented tire chains for our rented van.  This is as we expect that we shall be driving through snow and tire chains are required.  As we climb up upto about 3000ft elevation, we seen road signs notifying motorists that there tire chains will need to be installed further.  And so we decided to make a stop at a gas station along the way to gas up and install our tire chains.  Also while on that petrol station we saw parked pickup with a big chunk of ice on its hood.  This made us all excited that we might see snow along the road.

After gassing up, it was my turn to drive up to our destination.   So proceed with our trip and this time we started to see some cars heading back with big chunks of snow on top of them.  Also, we start to see the surroundings getting white with snow.   Then at some point during our ride we met a very long traffic jam.   Suddenly all the cars stopped.   There were big trucks with us that same road and other cars.

On the road to Tahoe

While stuck in the traffic jam, snow started to fall

On the road to Tahoe

Tahoe National Forest Signboard

On the road to Tahoe

Road warnings notifying that tire chains are required specially for trucks

On the road to Tahoe

Another car’s tire chains

On the road to Tahoe

The snow covered road ahead

And then suddenly while we were stuck in the jam, some white thing started to fall.  It was snow!  It started to snow and it fell straight.  We were all ecstatic as we all saw for the first time snow as it fell.  The kids were also all excited.  As the snow died out a bit, traffic began to move.  Apparently due to the snow, traffic was stopped.   Along the way, I drove our van very slowly on top of ice.   It was a bit jittery to drive on ice for the first time.  The whole traffic jam was very long as we drive through the snow filled cliff sides and highway.   We even passed a snowplower along the way trying clear up the snow along the way.   There were parts of the road that appeared to be under about 4 feet of snow.
On the road to Tahoe

Kids snowboard near the rest stop in Cisco Grove

On the road to Tahoe

My brother and I experience snow for the first time

On the road to Tahoe

The whole family plays under the falling snow

The whole mountainsides were full of snow and we were driving very slow.  And so we decided to pull up to another exit and try to experience the snow.   We stopped at the exit of Cisco Grove which is within the Tahoe National Forest in Colfax.   There were also quite a number of cars dropping by on that same stop.  Well apparently there was a snow camp nearby.  So while we were there, every played for the first time snow.   And it was very fortunate while we made our short stop there, snow once more fell, quite heavily.   We all were excited and had our times of our lives.  It was such an enjoying experience.   It was way cooler than the hail storm I experienced when I was in Bruges.

Since we were still quite far from our destination, we decided to push through after about 30 minutes of stopping there.   And the snow continued to fall all the way until we got ourselves downhill once more.   When we reached Truckee, we made a quick stop for toilet break.  It was starting to get dark already that time.   Also around this point we checked our tire chains to be sure they are all okay.  Our van had a lot of icicles formed up near the wheels and all over after snow melted and froze again.

On the road to Tahoe

Snow plow clears up the road as the thick snow falls down

On the road to Tahoe

Heavy snowfall on our path

On the road to Tahoe

Highway Signboards are covered by about 6 foot of snow, see how high the snow is cut

So we pushed further in the dark past the lit up city of Reno.  Further south of Reno is the Carson.  On our way, i experienced one of the scariest time in my driving experience.   There were roads along the way that have frozen and was very slippery.   I hear the van screeching when it is sliding.  And a car in ahead of us even slipped to almost a 180degree turn on the slippery road.  Scary.

On the road to Tahoe

Bright lights of the Smallest Big City of Reno

Upon arrival in our hotel in Carson, we settled down to our rooms and I almost lost my wedding ring.  Fortunately I found it in my pocket.  I think because of the cold I didn’t feel the ring slipped from my finger.   Also that night, we decided that instead of pursuing our path to Lake Tahoe to experience the snow, we will just head back to the same petrol station in Cisco Grove.   This is because the road from Carson to Tahoe is more crooked and there was heavy snowfall that night.  We worry that we might again be trapped in traffic on that route as we will be driving back to Los Angeles the day after.  Also we were no longer opting to stop to see the casinos of Reno.

The very next day, we had our breakfast in a nearby McDonald’s restaurant.  And it was just morning that we realized that Carson was not like a city that we have thought it was.  As there were not many buildings structures around and we are still quite far from the city center.

After breakfast, my brother drove us back to the same path we took passing by Reno and back to the mountains where Cisco Grove is located.  That morning the snow have already melted and so the roads were clearer and easier to drive through, at least until we reached the summit area where Cisco Grove stop is located.
Playing with Snow

My nephew Nathan and my daughter Janine making snow angels

Playing with Snow

Janine enjoying the snow

Playing with Snow

Our first experience of snow

Playing with Snow

A torn American flag flying under the bright morning in Cisco Grove

This time the sun was up and the skies were clear but still very cold.   We all took scoops of snow and played snowball fight.  Something we all did the first time.   It was such a great experience.   We spent about an hour in this stop jumping over the snow, making snow angels and simply playing with snow.   The snow as about 4 foot high and apparently during that same week the eastern coast of the US and Europe have experienced terrible snow and blizzard.

Gilroy

Gilroy Premium Outlet, the ladies are excited

Then we once again head back down to the Bay Area and made a quick stop at my mom’s friend near Oakland and making another quick stop in Gilroy Premium Outlets before going home straight to Los Angeles.   On our way back we passed through the garlic fields of Gilroy and once more at the stenchful cow fields of Coalinga.   Anyways this long trip definitely made our whole US tour of 2010 much more memorable.

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