Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Two More Road Trips: to Reno and Capistrano Beach

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Two More Road Trips: to Reno and Capistrano Beach

the Arch of Reno, Nevada
around Reno

The past two road trips were good but not as spectacular as these next two: a day trip to Reno from South Lake Tahoe and  going on to Capistrano Beach, California.

Road Trip 3: South Lake Tahoe, California to Reno, Nevada, and Back

the direct route to Reno
When Trisha, Deejay, and Kenji left, Bill and I drove to Reno, Nevada, only 1.25 hours away. Known as "The Biggest Little City in the World," Reno is a mini Vegas sitting in a high desert at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas. It is the second most populous city in the state (over 420,000 in the metropolitan area) after Las Vegas. I was disappointed, however, because the city felt mostly old. But maybe it was because we didn't see it at night when the lights would glitter.

Still, we found some interesting, colorful scenes. A huge "Believe" sign and a tall building's facade that alternates as a rock climbing wall for starters. Then there was the jaw-dropping hoisted bus that was the sign for the central bus station. I also could not help but have my photo taken at the unending gallery of greats who have performed in the city, And we were pleasantly surprised that lunch at a casino was still as inexpensive as we remember it used to be in Las Vegas decades ago.

around Lake Tahoe, another way back
So it was the road trip that was the highlight of our day trip. From South Lake Tahoe, California and Stateline, Nevada, there was fall scenery all around. Then the imposing Cave Rock greeted us as we were driving on US 50 East. As we descended the Sierra Nevadas, Carson City gradually appeared, presenting another kind of Nevada town. Then we drove on Interstate 580 North on the way to Reno.

But it is the way back that is unforgettable. We took the North Lake Tahoe route where small towns like Incline Village in Nevada and those in California like Crystal Bay with the lovely Memorial Point, King’s Beach, Tahoe Vista and Tahoe City are spread along a pristine shared waterfront, so different from South Lake Tahoe's compact city feel.

Sierra Nevadas and  Death Valley National Park 
Further on the southwestern part of the lake, other small towns continued this feel. They include Tahoma, Emerald Bay with Tahoe’s hidden Castle, Vikingsholm, an amazing little waterfall, Vista Point, and Camp Richardson with its excellent beaches and awesome lake views. It was an incredible drive in the glory of Fall. We should go back during winter to take in another kind of beauty.

Road Trip 4: South Lake Tahoe, California to Capistrano Beach, California
Riviera Shores

After our week in South Lake Tahoe, we drove for eight hours to Capistrano Beach, California. Bill took the little longer route through US 395 South instead of Interstate 5 South, going back to Livermore. It was a great decision because, from the time we left our Resort to the time we reached the outskirts of Los Angeles, I could not put down my camera.

To the west of US 395 South, the Sierra Nevadas kept us company. It runs 400 miles north-to-south featuring Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous US. As soon as we reached the California state boundary, the unique Death Valley National Park emerged to the East. Thus, for most of our drive, we had glorious scenery on both sides of the highway.
Dana Point 

At Capistrano Beach, our home for three nights was at another timeshare, Diamond Resort International's Riviera Shores, on the Pacific Coast Highway. It was also a 1 BR suite, this time with a view of the Pacific Ocean. At the nearby Dana Point Harbor, Bill and I had lunch with Dick (his college fraternity brother) and his wife, Marrene. As we all strolled around Dana Point, we saw many multimillion-dollar homes atop a cliff overlooking the Highway, the Harbor and Capistrano Beach Park below. 

Another draw was Mission Capistrano, founded in 1776, by the Franciscan Order. It includes the oldest building in California still
Mission Capistrano
in use, Serra's Chapel, built in 1782. But the Mission is perhaps best known for the annual "Return of the Swallows" observed every March 19 that makes it the favorite subject of renowned artists. Mission Capistrano has been immortalized in books and films more than any other mission.

Santa Monica Pier
After our three nights at Riviera Shores, we stayed at the apartment of my eldest granddaughter Krishna and her boyfriend, Mike. It is in Los Angeles near Santa Monica where Krishna works. Although it was an hour and a half from Capistrano Beach, it was just 30 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport. We loved the romantic dinner at the roof top of Ristorante Al Mare right on festive Santa Monica Pier. The next day, they drove us to the airport for our flight to Los Cabos, Mexico.

When we came back from Los Cabos, they picked us up from the Airport, and we stayed at their apartment for another night. The next morning, they took us to Venice Beach where we enjoyed shopping for souvenirs, flexing our muscles with the regulars at Muscle Beach, viewing the stuff at Graffiti Beach, and having
Venice Beach: Muscle and Graffiticomforta
brunch at a great diner. After the busy morning, we drove for six hours back to our base in Phoenix, Arizona, ending our eight months of travels.

We loved this combination of scenic drives on American roads, comfortable stays in resorts, and the chance to be with family and loved ones! This kind of road trip is the best way to explore the grandeur of the USA.

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