San Mateo to Virginia City

We left San Mateo at ten in the morning, and drove to Berkeley where we had a dim sum brunch with my cousin Nancy and her husband and daughter. From there we started driving west on Interstate 80. I had hoped to stop to visit a member of the Palo Alto church who now lives in the Central Valley, but the timing didn’t work out. We stopped at the rest area on Donner Summit, and I walked a little half mile loop trail through the heavily glaciated alpine environment. The little loop trail intersects the Pacific Crest Trail, and sure enough I passed two hikers with full packs on. We exchanged cheerful hellos, and I couldn’t help smiling at the similarities of, and contrasts between, driving on the interstate highway and backpacking on a long-distance trail.

We got to Virginia City, Nevada, at about five o’clock. We were too late for the tour of the Cobb Mansion, the bed and breakfast where we’re staying — and the house was interesting enough that we were sorry to have missed it — but we were in time for happy hour: a glass of wine, and time to chat with our hosts, Paul and Jeff, and the other guests. Paul made us a reservation at Core, a new restaurant in town. It was a little out of our price range, but this is our splurge day for this trip. The most memorable part of the meal was the appetizer: mussels in a light sauce with a touch of fresh mint; the delicate mint was a nice contrast to the rich seaside flavor of the mussels.

We stayed in Virginia City because we had both read Mark Twain’s Roughing It; this was the city where he got his first job writing for a newspaper, the beginning of his career as an author. Unfortunately, there was a big fire in Virginia City in 1875,after Twain had left the city, so there aren’t any buildings left from his time there. Nevertheless, you can see many of the things he describes: the little city perched on the side of Mount Davidson, the sage-brush covered slope of the mountain going up to the distant peak high above the city, the houses built into the side of the slope so that the main entrance to a house might be in the second floor, and so that the first floor of one house looks down onto the roof of the house below. And in honor of Mark Twain, I bought copies of the two little local newspapers, the Virginia City News, and the Comstock Chronicle.

Tomorrow we start driving to Salt Lake City.

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