Thursday, June 21, 2012

Over Donner Pass to California

We left Sparks, NV and headed over I-80 toward San Francisco. To get there, we have to cross Donner Pass, famous for the Donner Party that was stranded in the winter of 1846 causing almost half the 81 people to perish. Fortunately, the weather was great when we crossed and the Cummins 400hp Diesel made the climb with ease. 

The first "super highway" over these mountains was built by the Central Pacific Railroad who finally crossed the mountain in 1868. Heavy snow was a huge problem and constantly blocked the rail line, so the railroad built a series of snowsheds, which are essentially wooden tunnels for the trains to run through. Much to Rick's joy, there are still a number of the sheds in use, which can be seen in the distance on the side of the mountain. 

 When we crossed into California, we thought about the many prospectors who followed this same path (only on foot and in wagons) during the Gold Rush of 1849.  We were happy to cross the summit and head down the long grade toward Sacramento.

 Hmmm .... Looks like the rumors of traffic jams in California were quite true! We a bit surprised to see so much traffic on a weekend and could just imagine how bad it must be in rush hour. We did notice the temperature outside had skyrocketed - from about 72 in Reno to 101 in Sacramento. Wow- we turned on the generator and air conditioner and life was great.

 We went through Sacramento and finally cleared the traffic, only to hit traffic again as we passed north of San Francisco Bay. I would guess the traffic added a couple hours to our trip, but compared to the 49'ers who came in the old days, we had little to complain about.

Finally, we got to our RV site and found a beautiful, cool park -- the temperature was now down to about 68. It was amazing to see these temperature variations in a hundred miles or so.

No comments: