Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We spent several hours in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, looking at their fine collection of 225 vehicles. They range in year of manufacture from 1892 to 1980. About 25% are one of a kind or of a few known to exist. There were customized cars and vehicles belonging to celebrities – Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis, John F. Kennedy, John Wayne, Bing Crosby, etc. The mildly customized  49 Mercury used in James Dean’s last movie is there.

The heart of the collection (125 cars) comes from William Harrah’s vast collection; the non-profit which now owns them has added about 100. Included are racing cars made for  Indy, Baja 1000, Bonneville Salt Flats, and Grand Prix, plus dragsters, funny cars, and midgets. Placards with each of the cars gave their history and special characteristics. One will not find a copy of Uncle Dick’s Oldsmobile here, nor of any of the more prosaic cars I have owned.

Here are a few of the cars which struck my fancy enough to take pictures of them. Enjoy!



The first car displayed to those entering the museum is this customized 1938 Cord named the Phantom Corsair designed by and built for a member of the Heinz family. It seats four across in the front seat with two more facing the rear with their backs to the back of the front seat. Reportedly it could do 115 mph!


Many additional gauges were added to the dashboard.




General view of one of the four main display galleries. I was amazed by the sheer bulk of the early luxury cars. The practice was for the luxury automobile builder to provide just the platform (drive train, frame etc.) and for the body to be made by a separate coach builder. Remember Cadillac's advertising “Body by Fisher”? Cars displayed used gasoline, diesel, steam, electricity and turbines for power.



Early Ford Model T roadster.


The only car we were allowed to touch was this model T coupe


Model T motor home! Lots of special bodies could be bought for both the Ts and As.

IMG_8621Customized 1939 Ford Coupe. If memory serves correctly,this was owned by Sammy Davis Jr.


Vehicles specially built to run in the Baja 1000. No 10 is a Volkswagen.




This 1907 Thomas Flyer  is one of the icons of the museum. It was the only US made car in the1908 race from New York to Paris, crossing North America, Asia (Siberia) and Europe. This car won the race. It was authenticated by the chief driver after Mr. Harrah bought it. It was restored in his restoration shop to its condition at the end of the race.IMG_8628

Newest car at the museum, a 1980 Delorean, gold plated. Jo especially enjoyed seeing a Delorean as she has ridden in one.

Reno, Sparks and Virginia City

 After leaving the Pacific coast, our path took us to Reno, Sparks and Virginia City, NV. We spent a couple of days more there than anticipated as the motor home radiator required removal and steam cleaning to stop overheating. The main cause of the problem was that the crankcase breather tube emissions had never been rerouted so that they would not blow back on the rear radiator, despite extensive warranty repairs where the factory defect should have been corrected.


Reno and Sparks from the road between Reno and Virginia City.



Old Timer is Virginia City

(I did not hide behind the cutout very well!)



Street scenes in touristy Virginia City. It really is well worth the time to visit.


Lots of gold and silver was mined beneath the nearby hills of the Comstock Lode. I was told by a lady in the mining museum that a gold mining operation was soon to be opened nearby. With the current price of gold, ore bodies formerly uneconomic now economically can be mined.



Two tourist trains now are operated by the standard gauge  Virginia & Truckee RR.  One provides a ride of 35 minutes round trip using an old diesel switcher with 7 trips a day. The other is a daily train Thurs. – Sun from Carson City to Virginia City and back after a layover of 3.5 hr. in Virginia City. It is powered by a diesel locomotive on Thursdays and Fridays and a steam locomotive Saturdays.and Sundays. The longer ride takes about 1.5 hr. each way.


The city museum in Sparks has nice displays on the Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) facilities in Sparks.  Other displays show artifacts of historic daily life in Sparks. (Sparks is named for an early governor of Nevada.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011



One of the major suppliers of gift boxes of goodies often given at holidays is Harry and David’s. The corporation has over 100 retail stores in the US, but the majority of annual sales comes during the holidays from products prepared at its sprawling Medford facility. Their pears and peaches also are grown there. Visitors gather at the Harry and David’s Country Store in Medford and then are bussed to the buildings where the products are made and assembled. The store sells wine, cooking accessories, candy, nuts, fresh fruit and bakery items. The factory was just beginning to ramp up production when we visited in early August with the peach crop beginning to come in.


On this line baskets are being filled by hand with non-perishable items to be boxed and then kept in storage for seasonal sales.



Liquid ingredients, including butter, are added to this large pot, heated, and pop corn is mixed in to make caramel corn they call Moose Munch. We enjoyed a bag bought in the retail store!

IMG_8584The line at the right is carrying peaches just harvested for sizing according to weight before being packed in the boxes  The foam carriers go in the boxes, and their hole patterns are different for the various sized peaches. We saw two workers manning each of the horizontal lines in use here. What a labor intensive process!




Here truffles are receiving their chocolate covering.



Candy is being hand packed into boxes. Workers cannot sample products on the line. Rejects are taken to the lunch rooms for consumption. Unfortunately, visitors touring the plant are not invited into the lunchrooms!



The bulk chocolate tanker is being unloaded at the candy plant.


In the bakery the line in the foreground is assembling baklava, and fruit cakes are being prepared for the oven in the line in for background. No fruit cakes were available for sale in the retail store when we were there.


Members of the tour group receive goodie boxes at the end of the tour.


After disembarking from the cruise ship in Seattle, our first stop was at Fall City WA to resupply the motor home for our travels south and east.  Fall City is named for falls in the Snoqualmie River, so we visited the site. They are said to be 100 feet higher than Niagara, and they were impressive. Some of the water is diverted to power two historic electrical generating stations operated by Puget Sound Energy so the falls would be even more impressive with a greater flow. 






Or next stop was at Ilwaco WA, on the north side of the Columbia River.The Corps of Discovery led by Lewis & Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean near Disappointment Cape. Clark’s journal spoke of him leading a small group up the beach on the Pacific Ocean a few miles north. In walking on the beach near Long Beach  WA we found this replica of the tree Clark mentioned that he inscribed on the side trip.


Lighthouse on Cape Disappointment taken from walk in front of Washington State Museum focusing on the Lewis & Clark expedition’s travels along the Columbia River and winter stay near Astoria on the south bank. High ground on the south side of the mouth of the Columbia might be seen through the coastal clouds.


IMG_8568We had a nice stay at an RV park three miles from the Pacific along the Siletz River  near Lincoln City OR. The salmon run was just starting up the river, but in 7 hours fishing from one of these docks I did not even get a bite!


Our next stop was at Crescent City CA in the Redwood country. We took a nice ride a few miles from the ocean up the Smith River, named for mountain man Jedediah Strong Smith.”Cousin Jedediah” and I share a common ancestor who migrated to America in 1630. Nearby is Jedediah Smith State Park featuring stands of old growth redwoods.


At Crescent City we visited with an old friend and client, Carole Schmieder, left, and her daughter Susan, who was in Girl Scouts with my daughter in grade school. The lady on the far right is their visitor from the Phoenix area. Carole maintains a beautiful summer home here.



On this typically cloudy day on the beach we enjoyed a fire made mainly from driftwood, flying kites and making (and eating with relish) Smores! We did not forget the hotdogs, either.


Driving south on US 101 we found many views like this of the offshore islands. They would be much more picturesque if the marine layer lifted, but that was not to be the case for us.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Jo and I traveled to Seattle in the motor home while Jo’s sisters Arla and Barbara, with husband Mike,  flew to Seattle the day before the cruise  began on July 29, 2011. The ship was Rhapsody of the Seas owned by Royal Caribbean. We stored the RV in an RV park in Bothell WA and engaged a limo to take us and the other three to Seattle’s Pier 91.


Arla, Barbara and Mike with limo driver, Steve, on way to the pier.


Seattle skyline as our ship prepares to depart.



Wide wake left by our ship as we left Seattle.


Arla, Mike, Barbara and Jo at our first happy hour on the ship



Shipboard “sale” of warm clothing around pool on a cool day! This was one of many such ”sales”.


Captain’s Reception before our first formal dinner on the ship. My facial hair was professionally trimmed just before the cruise.



Our waiter, Julius, taking order in dining room



Juneau was our first port of call. Arla and I visited Mendenhall Glacier, near Juneau, which has been receding for several years. Large waterfall is at right . The other three took a float plane ride over glaciers.



Entertainer at Juneau’s Red Dog Saloon performing original song titled “Sarah, Sarah”.


The waitress sure keeps busy at the Red Dog.




This is the first view we get from one side of the ship tied up to the dock at Skagway.  It is not really graffiti, but the painted names of the ships which have tied up there. The practice was started by the first ships to tie up to the nice dock there and the practice has become a custom. This picture was taken from deck 10 of our ship



Our first view of Skagway as we alighted from the shuttle.



Jo in the clutches of a bear at a souvenir store.



The White Pass & Yukon has built tracks right out on the dock for the convenience of passengers on the cruise ships.



The White Pass & Yukon is a 3 ft. narrow gauge railroad. Its single operating steam engine can pull only 6 cars; the two unit diesel-electric engines shown here pull 14 passenger cars. On our afternoon there we saw one train pulled by the steam locomotive and three pulled by the diesels. The diesels may have made a run earlier in the day as well. they were built in the 1950s and 1960s.


As we went up the canyon, this is our first view of the bay where the cruise ships are tied up.


The highway from White Horse, Yukon Territory, to Skagway bisects waterfalls coming off the mountain in the background,


As our train progresses to the right it will go up the side canyon and come back to the main canyon on the higher tracks shown here.


This shot is from the higher tracks shown in the last picture. An up bound train is on the lower track. On the far mountain the road to White Horse crosses the stream which is almost a continuous waterfall as it reaches the Skagway River.


At the top of the pass, just barely in Canada, the engines pass the cars to hook up  to what was the rear of the train to lead us back to Skagway. Passengers flip over the backs of their seats and those on the left on the way up (the scenic side) move to the other side so those on the right on the way up can have the scenic side on the way back.


Flags flying at the border .

IMG_8203  Abandoned trestle across Skagway River. Picture was taken from the last car on our train shown at left. The steel part of the trestle seems ok, but the wooden part is visibly in disrepair.



End of the abandoned trestle.


Nice drumhead on the last car. The Flashing Rear End Device (FRED) is above my head. It is the substitute for the caboose!


The “Cooper Girls” (Arla, Jo and Barbara) on their way back to our  ship after wrapping up the day with shopping.