Truckee, California

Saturday JQS and I are up to a slow and sleepy start. First we have breakfast with MJN and Carol at the lodge. MGN drops by with Natasha and Theresa and JQS goes off with them to the hot springs. By the time I join them, they are anxious to go on to Truckee. JQS and I decide to catch up with them later. I prefer long and lazy soak in the hot springs to rushing around. MJN is off to visit a friend in Reno and Carol is going to stay at the lodge and relax.

Truckee is no bigger than Knutsford and even has a High Street and a Church Street. The main street, named Donner Pass Rd after the infamous party, is lined on one side with boutique shops. We might as well be walking down West Pecan Street in Austin.

We go into the small diner “Coffee And” which looks like a greasy spoon but actually has wonderful home-made food, reasonably priced. This day we have hamburgers. The accompanying fries are made from real potatoes, light and not the least greasy. Monday, on our way back to Reno, we return for a cup of decaf and a slice of cherry pie (our Twin Peaks homage) which we ate with requisite Dale Cooper grins. Whole Foods Market needs to learn to make pie crusts from these people.

After lunch we walked along the storefronts and spotted a strange building above us on High Street. Next to it was an even stranger structure that looked like an observatory. We walked up to discover that it houses Truckee’s Rocking Stone.

A natural glacier formation, or the work of an unknown tribe as a form of altar. It’s exact origin will never be known. The perfectly balanced stone would, until recently, rock at the touch of a finger.

This last line struck us as particularly hilarious. We imagined the Simpsons on vacation in the Rockies and Bart “breaking” Truckee’s famous Rocking Stone.

From the tower we were able to look out toward Lake Tahoe, which lies 13 miles south beyond the first rise of mountains. This is the very track that Englishwoman Isabella Bird rode alone on horseback in September, 1873.

postcard: TruckeeLooking toward Lake Tahoe

The first two chapters of her A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains describe her adventures around Truckee…

…the center of the ‘lumbering region’ of the Sierras, is usually spoken of as ‘a rough mountain town,’ and Mr. W. had told me that all the roughs of the district congregated there, that there were nightly pistol affrays in bar-rooms, etc., but he admitted that a lady was sure of respect, and Mr. G. strongly advised me to stay and see the lakes. I got out, much dazed, and very stupid with sleep, envying the people in the sleeping-car who were already unconscious on their luxurious couches.

The next day she rents a horse and rides toward Lake Tahoe.

The forest was thick, and had an undergrowth of dwarf spruce and brambles, but as the horse had become fidgety and ‘scary’ on the track, I turned off in the idea of taking a short cut, and was sitting carelessly, shortening my stirrup, when a great, dark, hairy beast rose, crashing and snorting, out of the tangle just in front of me. I had only a glimpse of him, and thought that my imagination had magnified a wild boar, but it was a bear. The horse snorted and plunged violently, as if he would go down to the river, and then turned, still plunging up a steep bank. When finding I must come off, I threw myself off on the right side, where the ground rose considerably, so that I had not far to fall. I got up covered with dust, but neither shaken nor bruised. It was truly grotesque and humiliating. The bear ran in one direction, and the horse in another.

Our adventure was limited to an overwhelming choice of candied apples in the confectionery shop. I bought a caramel one and JQS chose the fudge chocolate.

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