Part 4.
Feeble attempts at the drive in the snow travels. First of all,, RV's do not belong on the road, in snow... its just not right.
Donners pass is a real good example of where NOT to travel as winter starts to set in. I had stayed over in Modesto Ca.. Right in the heart of Ca. fruit basket, and cows,
Yess,,,,, cows,, from Tulare to Modesto is a vast land of dairy cows,, Kinda like Texas,, Ya roll your window down, stick your head out the window and sniff a big ole wiff,,, Yup,, You are NOT in Kansas anymore Dorthy., So,, the window goes back up as you make a useless attempt at getting that taste off your tongue. Now when you leave Modesto,, you have to head towards Sacremento,, the heart of Ca.Legislation and the few stragglers of idiot drivers that migrated from L.A.
This is the route to I-80, the Northern route across the good ole U.S.of A. Not really much to write home about as you make your way towards that infamous pass,, Ole Donners pass.. The gateway to the west that didnt go as planned back in the day. Now you know your getting close to the pass as the hills become more and more steep with its usual switchbacks and curves and valleys,,, and a few snow flurries along the way. You travel along for another good hour, cruising through the state, you pass through Emerald lake, trecking through the Lake Tahoe national forest., You pass through the quaint town of Kingvale and Soda springs as you approach the actual *gateway of the Donner Pass.. As you get closer to the gateway, They have a very large pull off area,, used to hold vehicles if the pass becomes snowed over and allows for the plows to punch a hole through,, Its also used to install tire chains and cables. (Which is the LAW, when entering the pass in pre-winter and through out winter). No chains,, no go. I take advantage of the opportunity of a no crowds in the pull off area and dig out my tire cables. It doesnt take long to get the cables on the tires, (I'm running duallies so putting on cables on all four tires is a must. With a heavy load, I also put cables on the front tires). They have a Huge bar that comes down blocking the lanes from traffic, if weather conditions go bad on and around the pass. The only ones allowed, are the plow trucks. The Pass can go from real nice conditions to crap in a matter of minutes. (I have only been caught once towards the peak of the pass and had to wait it out in one of the numerous pull offs along the route). From a comfortable 50 degrees to minus 20 degrees in a matter of a few minutes and snow drifts 4 foot high along side the truck. They do have *rescue crews who will stop and ask the stranded motorists if everything is ok, and will help you anyway they can. Several stranded drivers were taken to area shelters to rough it out as the quick storm passed through. In this case,, the storm only lasted about an hour and a half, but dumped a bit of snow. The plow crews are really on the ball and had the roadway cleared in no time. So back to traveling...  The next down I come across is Trucklee,,, Fuel stop and lodging ,,quaint little pull off. Excellent place to get weather conditions updates also.... So after topping the fuel tanks,, some hot coffee to go, and all go for clear road,, I hit the hwy. This is white knuckle country not for the queazy at heart. The scenery is beautiful and breath taking,, sheer cliffs and valleys,,
You just take your time, watch your speed and its an amazing drive. If your scared of heights,, I recommend doubling up on some depends, just to be safe. Next town,, Floriston,, Old railroad type area,, a few snow covered buildings and wood picket fencing.... feels like being back in the early 1800's.Its earily quiet yet serene. Your so close to Nevada,, you could almost throw a rock across the state line. You travel some more heading North as you cross over into Nevada heading towards Reno. This is an excellent place to pull off and grab a few sights and relax. As you relax and drag out your map, for the upcomming travel across the state of Nevada, There are small out of the way old towns,, that are worthy of having your camera ready. (I myself usually drive under the term, Horns into the wind,,, Bonzai driving of sorts,, point A to point B lets just get there.) You will come across towns like Fernley, Wadsworth,and Lovelock to name a few. Imlay is a nice pull off for a bathroom break and refreshments. If the weather is nice,, (about a 50/50%,, you can take the chains or cables off your tires),, But at this moment, I choose to leave them on.. This is by the way the Northern cold route. After your stop,, the next big town (so to speak is ) Winnemucca. Its a town settled in like an ole western town,, stocked with weekend snow boarders and tourists, but still a nice area to drive through. If your lucky,, they do have shops to browse. I myself, just pass through and continue my driving. My next point of interest is Battle mountain. It sits at the base of Renox mountain range,, where you can see the snow heavy clouds over the mountains with the white caps. Almost to beautiful to capture in a picture. There isnt really a whole lot to write home about again along this stretch of hwy till you get to Shoshone N.V.  At this point, you come to realize just how tiny you really are in this Vast land of mountains. Scattered along this vast hwy are small tiny towns,, some still holding on with people, some abandoned and left to the elements,, Several remnants of ghost towns scatter the landscape. Your next town to pull off in, is the town of Elko. It seems small at first, but its a town thats spread out and not as congested as you would see along coastal towns,, They even have an air port.  You know a town is important when they have an airport. After a stop there,, the treck continues,,, and you come across a town so small, that they have a sign that says welcome to and your now leaving COIN N.V.    This is a town you dont blink while passing through. About now your wondering if Im still using tire cables?.. I run my tire cables to a town called Ryndon N.V. which is a nice small town/city with a nice truck stop. Here is where I feel safe about taking them off before continuing the adventures. This is also a good place to grab a hot meal and grab a few ZZZZZ's. The trucker traffic isnt to bad with the occasional truck passing through the parking lot or heading to the fuel islands,, its quite soothing. After a good 4 hrs of rest,, You get up and stretch,, start a pot of coffee,(or go inside the truck stop). The furnace is humming as the RV is nice and toasty inside, with the temps holding firm at 27 outside. I choose to stay inside and make a fresh pot of coffee. While its brewing,, i get out a change of clothes and take a quick Hobo bath,,(wipe down with a warm wash cloth to freshen up a little). With clean clothes on and feeling refreshed,, the coffee finishes and I pour a big cup and sit down and glance at the map for the next few upcomming towns. (this is a good time to get the ole tootsies warm before putting boots on). I finally get up,,cant be wasting daylight and I turn the heater off, unplug the coffee pot and secure it in the sink.. I fill my coffee thermos,, do a quick check on everything in the RV, and head out. Locking the door, flipping up the steps,, realizing,, Oh crap its cold... I put the thermos in the truck,,, start it up and let it warm up a little and then do a walk around the truck and RV.. thump the tires,, watching the pack ice fall from the fender wells. I get out the tire pressure guage and check all the tires,, they all seem good to go.I work my way to the back of the truck and front of the 5th, and take my tire thumper and hatchet away at the pack ice that has accumilated on the front of the lower part of the trailer. Ive seen worse, but this is only about 6 to 8 inches thick. After about 10 minutes of being a so called lumber jack,, the ice block finally breaks free and drops to the ground with a thud. I wrestle the ice block and get it moved over to the side of the parking area on the shoulder. I wouldnt want anyone to hit that.
I kneel down and glance on the underside of the trailer and the pack ice underneath is only about 3, maybe 4 inches thick,, from front to back, but plenty of clearance above the axles. A few bumps in the road will break some of it loose along the way. I walk around the back one more time and double check the trailer wastes tube and its survived the barrage of ice and snow rather well, Only a few ice sickles are hanging off it. I make sure the tail lights are clear of snow and dirt and head for the warmth of the truck.. I head over to the fuel island to top my tanks, so I wont have to stop till Chimney Rock N.V. (Thats a turn off for hwy 93 to all points north and south from that point.) As you travel this part of the U.S. its a maze of hwy that weaves between the mountains, keeping at lower altitudes. Some areas are breath taking while other stretches are mundane and uneventful. After a quick stop in Chimney Rock, to again top off the fuel tanks and bathroom break, its back on the road for the next long stretch.. Destination, Wendover N.V and Wendover Utah. Yes,, this is a dual state city.. Some of the older lifer folks in town, call it  NUTAH. As you Leave NUTAH the highway will no longer be opposing hwy lanes, the lanes will split and be seperated by a median, ranging from 50 ft to over 500 feet wide. 
The travels through Utah will follow in part 5...  

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Comment by Russell E Johnson on December 10, 2015 at 7:48am

Lakota,  this is a wonderful followup to parts 1, 2, & 3. I have one time been through these towns and Donner Pass in the winter, sometime between the 15th of December to the 2nd of January. I got long breaks from school as my folks took their major vacation south for a 3 week duration.  But being in the old tank of a sedan is very different than with an RV. Thank you for the trip down memory lane with this recount of what it is like to travel during the winter months in California and northern NV.



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