Nine of Cups
California, Here We Come
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With David's Mom, Becky, on the mend and doing quite well,
we offered her an early Christmas present: a road trip to visit
her big sister, Edna, in Marysville, California. They hadn't seen
each other since Becky's 90th birthday, so both were excited
at a chance for a reunion. With the help of MapQuest, we
planned the 1,200 mile roundtrip with 4 travel days, coming
and going, and 3 days in Marysville for visiting. With a
resounding chorus of "California, here we come", we headed
out mid-morning en route to our first stopover, Tulare,
CA...about 350 miles away.

We planned rest stops every 1-1/2 to 2 hours and managed
quite nicely with a max of 350 miles/day. Though Becky was
clearly exhausted at the end of each day, the thought of
spending time with her sister far outweighed the exhaustion.
We traveled I15 from Las Vegas across the
California border, retracing our steps from our
previous LAX-Las Vegas trip and crossed the state
border at Primm, NV.
There were a number of covered rest stops
along the way for picnics, leg stretches and
potty breaks.
We enjoyed the drastic scenery changes
as we traveled across the Mojave
Desert  from Las Vegas across the
California border. The terrain changed
from desert to the southern California
foothills, then to the flat agricultural lands
of California's Central Valley.

From Joshua trees and prickly pear to
grape vineyards, almond trees and citrus
groves...we enjoyed the distinct
differences as we covered the distance
to Marysville, just north of Sacramento
...our final destination.
Truck  o' garlic...we saw endless open double-
trailers full of garlic bulbs.
What the heck is this and how do you
say it?
We passed through Boron, California... "Borax
capital of the world" and Selma, California...
"Raisin capital of the world". Spanish-named
towns like Paso Robles were off the highway and
road names like Twenty Mule Team Road and
Ghost Town Road sparked our conversations.
A giant flock of windmills high on the barren
hills took advantage of  ever-present winds.
WWI vintage bi-plane coasts by as it crop
dusts the local fields. Agriculture is a main
industry of the Central Valley of California.
Finally, the turn-off for Marysville
We went directly to Aunt Edna's place and
the first reunion was sweet.
Marysville, California... In the days of the Gold Rush, the ranch was a stopping point for
riverboats from Sacramento and San Francisco that carried miners on their way to the digging
grounds. A sign on the roadside as one enters Marysville still carries the slogan: "Gateway to
The Gold Fields." Marysville, California, gained its name from Mary Murphy Covillaud, who
was a Donner Party survivor. It is also known as California's oldest "little" city.
The nearby Sutter Buttes are
renowned for being the
"Smallest Mountain Range in
the World." The range is
actually circular with a diameter
of 10 miles and covers an area
of about 75 square miles and
are the remnants of a volcano
that has been dormant for over
a million years. South Butte, the
highest peak is 2,117 feet
above sea level.
We took a daytrip to view the nearby
Sutter Buttes.
Sutter Buttes view
The Lount Sisters - Becky (left) age 93 and
Edna, age 105.
Aunt Edna treated us all to a lovely dinner at The
Refuge in Yuba City. From left, Joe, Per, Judy, Marcie,
David, Becky & Edna. A fun evening and great food.
Found an old family photo. Edna (age
2)  is in her standing mother's arms,
far left c.1907. Great hats, huh?
Aunt Edna surprised David when she pulled
out an old teak chest which belonged to her
father, David's grandfather, Otto Lount,
which he acquired in the Philipines during the
Spanish American War.  Edna has
bequeathed this precious piece of family
history to David. He's both honored and
Lake Tahoe viewed from the Tahoe City
covered bridge.
All too soon it was time to head back to
Las Vegas. We had planned a return circle
route past Lake Tahoe through the Sierra
Nevadas and the northern Nevada desert.
Above, a view of Donner Lake.
A rest stop at the Pioneer Museum near
Donner Pass named for the infamous and
ill-fated Donner Party.
Picturesque Lake Tahoe with the Sierra
Nevada mountains as a backdrop.
Soon we were back in the desert of north-
western Nevada, keen to get into a hotel.
David found a shortcut on the map, unpaved,
but passable.
Passable that is, until we came to a slight
obstacle...a stream. David surveyed and
figured it was fordable in the car...and it
was. Thank goodness, since it would have
meant another 80 miles.
We stopped in the small, friendly desert town
of Hawthorne for the night. Known primarily
for its US ordinance plant, we felt
somewhere between safe and incendiary as
we drove past the Ordinance Museum with
all its missiles and torpedoes on display.
A quick overnight stop and we were off again
on the final leg back to Las Vegas. Above,
ordinance bunkers dot the flat, desert
landscape as we depart from Hawthorne.
Temperatures hovered above 100F.
We passed lots of small desert towns and   
abandoned shacks along the highway
heading south, long deserted when gold
mines were worked out.
Lots of opportunities presented themselves
along the way,  but we didn't take advantage.
At last Mt. Charleston came into view and the
skyline of downtown Las Vegas. On arrival at
home, Becky headed straight for her easy chair
and sighed in relief. "Good to go...good to get
home." Sleeping in her own bed was wonderful!

As for us, we planned leaving in two days for
our cross country trip to see friends and
relatives throughout the USA before heading
back to "Cups" in New Zealand. A quick
unpack, laundry, car check, repack and we
were ready to head out.
Join us on our cross country trip. First
Zion National Park, Utah.
Marysville, California - 39N05.9 / 121W34.2
We saw very few birds on our trip, but
have included them in the
Birds of the
West/Southwest USA page. Check it out.