I took a drive to Gold Ranch today; I needed to get out of the state for awhile. If all goes to plan I will be worth 75k, 17 or 345 million bucks, or out $20.
I officially commited myself to the trip when I hit 4th and Ralston. It looks pretty much the way it has for the last 50 years. The Silver State Motel has been replaced with dozens of storage units, but they did have the courtesy to name it Silver State Storage; I used to live where unit #23, building 7# is now holding an old queen bed, and several boxes of bric a brac.
Micasa Too has been there long time, the Safeway to the north is now a mortuary. The Tombstone Territory has been there longer, it has changed a lot but yet very little. Used to get car parts at Reno Auto Wrecking, it is the same. There is the old gay bar, at the foot of the rise and before the corner. The Arrowhead Trailer park is still there, the trailer my sister lived in 40 years ago is still there. The two restaurants are there, different names, still look to rich for my tastes.
The three small motels are gone; my wife, our two month old daughter and I lived in one of them 36 years ago, that’s sad. The next few miles to Lawtons is boringly the same. At Mogul I am forced onto the infamous Interstate 80, for a very short drive exiting onto Business #80, or to me US 40.
I head west on the Verdi road. I head past the River Belle Market. A few yard ahead, just east of the post office, I drive over a smooth path of asphalt, that once was crossed by a set of railroad tracks that I helped install in 1971. I was a two day Gandy Dancer. Levering a long iron rail, and then hammering stakes into the ties. This is histroic; I feel like a Chinese coolie working on the pass over Donner Summit. After two days, I have a whole new regard for Chinese coolies.
At the Verdi Inn I take a right on Bridge St. and drive on, there is the bridge, could this be a reason for the street name, an iron span across the Truckee, two narrow lanes, I follow the road to the left. I pull over on the intersection of Bridge St and Dog Valley Rd and gaze across the field. I see a large white building, it is the only one left of the Donner Ranch House. It was a Dude Ranch for divorcees, they called them dude ranches, although it should have been dudettes.
After it closed and the last building had been torn down a friend and I went out into the field with a newly accquired metal detector and spent a few hours waving it around, we found a fork. It was a hell of a restaurant.