RoadTrip America

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The Phoenix One Journals      Stories from the dawn of RoadTrip America

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October 25, 1998
Reno, Nevada

Pat & Peggy Whitten
Pat & Peggy Whitten
Tobi WhittenTobi Whitten

While we were enjoying Virginia City, Mark noticed that the Phoenix One was, contrary to her usual neat habits, depositing a pool of oil underneath the spot where her transmission resides. It was disconcerting, but we had an appointment in Reno scheduled for routine maintenance. Mark positioned some newspaper under the drip, and we enjoyed a few more days on the Comstock.

Early Wednesday morning, we bade farewell to Pat, Peggy and Tobi Whitten at the Virginia City RV Park, and descended into the valley. We found Reno-Sparks RV Repair without benefit of a map, and soon the Phoenix was up on a rack.

The news wasn't as jolly as we had hoped. "She needs a new transmission," was the word from the mechanic. Those five words added up to two nights in a hotel and almost $4,000. If you were thinking that life on the road is all singing Bobby McGee, mix facts like new transmissions into your dream. Freedom sometimes adds up to a little more than nothing left to lose.

Here's the good news. There was a La Quinta Inn only a few blocks from the garage. As members of La Quinta's "regulars" club, we'd accrued enough points for a free night. La Quinta, in case you're interested in such things, allows dogs at most locations and equips all its rooms with convenient modem jacks and coffee makers. These amenities (especially the one affecting Marvin) have put La Quinta at the top of our list among national hotel chains.

Bart Hadel of Reno-Sparks RV & Auto Service

The Phoenix was still up on the lift when we realized we wouldn't be sleeping inside her. The garage owner offered us a ladder, and while I held it steady, Mark climbed up and packed a bag full of toothbrushes and Marvin's food. He passed it down along with both our computers and Marvin, who was mightily nonplused at the proceedings.

He changed his tune when he saw the hotel room, however. Sometimes I have the distinct impression that Marvin is not a Road Dog at all. Should a Road Dog be ecstatic when he enters a carpeted room and realizes he's going to spend the night?

Emerald Bay
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Having rented a car, we decided we might as well put it to use the next day. We took a 360- degree spin around Lake Tahoe, which was in "get-ready-for-ski-season" mode. At the south end of the lake, we paused at Emerald Bay, where puffy clouds and bright sunshine made for beautiful views of the water and mountains.

The next day, we were back in the Phoenix, whose gears, I'm happy to report, now shift flawlessly. Our first stop was the University of Nevada at Reno, where Edw Martinez, an artist we'd met in Virginia City, was hanging his annual "Day of the Dude" art exhibit. He gave us a tour of UNR's art department, which he heads.

After our visit with Edw, we headed west to Verdi, where a flurry of snow dusted the mountains with snow and created a perfect rainbow.

This week, we're headed north to the little town of Gerlach, and from there we'll explore the Black Rock Desert and its legendary hot springs.

Reno, Nevada
October 25, 1998

Click here to read "Mining Memories"

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