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19 April 2006 - Wednesday

     When we awoke at 5:45 am Tom turned on the coffee maker just as he had done so many times during the past two weeks.  The light came on but the pot wasn’t perking!  And just when we thought those early morning predicaments were behind us.  Since the maker was purchased at the beginning of our trip it surely couldn’t wear out that fast!  After fooling around with it for a short while we gave up, as it appeared that the device was getting electricity but the heating element had just died.  Soon we got on the road and stopped for coffee at a McDonald’s; the stop turned into breakfast, as we had to wait for a new pot of coffee to brew.

      At about 7:00 am we entered Interstate 80 at an elevation of 2000 feet and headed east into the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.  As the altitude increased we encountered snow along the side of the road that appeared to be at least three to four feet high and many drifts twice that depth.  Eventually we crossed through Donner Pass where the height above sea level is 7245 feet.  Here we

Fred & van at Donner Pass, California

began the long descent that would eventually take us into Nevada.  We stopped in this area for a break whereupon Fred bought some gasoline as he thought we were already in Nevada.  All through our trip as well as in California we had avoided paying $3.00 a gallon for fuel.  When Fred discovered that we were still in California and the gas was priced at an astounding $3.26 a gallon he quickly stopped the pump! A complete fill-up could wait until the prices were more reasonable.

     After passing through   Reno   we   called  ahead 

to  our cousins  Pat  and  Sue  Scruggs  to let them know that we would be arriving at their home by the late afternoon.  Utilizing our mapping software we calculated that we were about 470 miles from Salt Lake City.  All in all, the ride through Nevada was uneventful with one notable exception.  As we cleared a hill just east Elko we were pleased to see the snow-covered Ruby Mountains glistening in the afternoon sun light.

Ruby Mountains on Interstate 80, Nevada

  Although we were to see many snowcapped peaks during this day this sight would surely stay with us for some time to come.  Upon entering Utah we were treated with another extraordinary sight of the Great Salt Lake Desert where for about 50 miles we drove over the famous Bonneville Salt Flats.  Here we looked at mile after mile of land so level that it is where the World speed record of over 600 miles per hour was set.

      Around 5:30 pm we finally entered the Salt Lake City area and by 6:00 we found the home of our Cousin Pat Scruggs where we were warmly greeted by he and his wife Sue.  As Sue has been an avid genealogist for more than two decades we were eager to compare notes on our Scruggs family line.  Our hosts offered us the use of their guest room that included two single beds and our own bathroom.  After many nights sleeping in the van we certainly did not take such good fortune lightly.  Following a wonderful meal prepared by Sue we settled down for some pleasant conversation about a variety of family topics including the current Scruggs DNA mystery.  Subsequently, two very tired travelers sought the refuge of the glorious beds awaiting us.  We had traveled over 600 miles this day, the longest of our journey.

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