Monday, May 17, 2010

A Gathering of Humble Heroes - Day 2

Day 2, April 28, 2010

A bus tour, the old standby for reunion groups of all manner of nature and age, filled most of day two. It was cold in Reno and the weather, unsettled. We headed south to Carson City for lunch at Red’s 395, along highway 395 of course. Lunch orders were taken on the bus and called ahead so we were served in a large private room as soon as we arrived. All I can tell you is that the salad with chicken filled a plate that stretched from my elbow to the tips of my fingers. No senior citizen could be expected to consume such a huge quantity of food, few 20-somethings could. But the food was great and the snow flurries started before we finished and returned to the bus.

We turned west on highway 50, climbed in elevation and headed to beautiful Lake Tahoe. As the snow flurries increased we soon saw the incredible blue water of the lake, ringed by the snow covered boulders and mountain peaks. It was one postcard view after another. We made several stops including the old Cal-Neva Lodge, once partially owned by Frank Sinatra. As soon as we exited the bus to enter the lodge, I saw an 85 year old Nashviller make a snowball and exhibit a surprisingly good arm in throwing it at nothing in particular, with a mischevious grin on his face.

While full of history as a former hangout for the “Rat-Pack”, with one of the cabins used by Marilyn Monroe, it was a forlorn and still place. Not a single gaming table nor slot machine was to be seen. Sadly, a row of outdated video games stood alone against a far wall. The expansive circular bar with a a view of the property had but 3 patrons. The large room off the entrance that housed the famous rock fireplace that straddled the California-Nevada state line, background for thousands of photographs, was not even heated. Why and how the lodge remained open was a mystery.

Back onto the bus and headed north to the Donner family memorial, the snow flurries turned to wet snow and began to stick to the road as well as the windshield of the bus. People grew quieter, either out of a little fatigue or concern for the weather or both. We stopped briefly at the memorial but no one wanted to get off the bus. As cars and trucks were putting on snow chains heading west up the summit, we headed east on highway 80 and returned to Reno. Another good day with friends.

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