Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Update from the Road: It's Finally Fall

So there I was, traveling west on I-80 late last week — just after our first rain sans snow (except for at the high elevations of a few mountains east of the Sierra, like the Humboldt and Sonoma Ranges, which top out at 9836 and 9396 feet respectively), and before our most recent larger rain and snowstorm of this past weekend — when I came to the marshes that border the west end of the Fortymile Desert.
One of the marshes bordering the west end of the Fortymile Desert,
just northeast of Fernley (location).
I was pleased to see that the marshes were fairly rich in water, and that even the median between the eastbound and westbound sections of freeway had patches of water. The volume of water in the marshes, in the median, and in the adjoining playa and Fernley Wildlife Management Area varies considerably, and though the area has been somewhat drier than usual this last year, I've never seen the marshes completely dry. I enjoy driving this section of I-80: I often see birds in the marshes, including American avocet and black-necked stilt.

I passed through Fernley, stopping briefly at the Gilpin rest stop (AKA Wasdworth rest area), always a good place to find excellent fall colors.
Trees at Gilpin.
And a closer, brighter view.
I had already crossed the main bridge over the Truckee River, between the west Fernley and west Wadsworth exits, and I had been surprised to see that the trees along the river were still yellow. They had been, I thought, nearly at peak about two weeks prior, so I really didn't expect to be seeing much besides some faded golden brown leaves or maybe even mostly barren trees.

Instead, fall was in full swing, and I was reminded that the same was true just almost exactly a year ago when I passed through and decided to exit at Painted Rock to get a closer view of the leaves.
Cottonwood trees along the Truckee River, October 24, 2013.
The river and colorful trees, from the one lane Painted Rock bridge (location).
This year, I didn't exit anywhere along the river (besides Gilpin/Wadsworth), opting instead to move through the canyon as quickly as possible (such are the vagaries of a traveling life).

After driving into Reno, I navigated the notorious Spaghetti Bowl, turning north onto 395. Eventually I stopped at the Honey Lake rest area.
Maple tree at Honey Lake rest area, October 30, 2014.
Same maple tree on October 24, 2013.
The changing leaves and general fallishness of the marshes reminded me of a detailed sequence of events from last year — of the bright golden leaves turning and falling in the canyon of the lower Truckee River, of other leaves turning and falling elsewhere along the road, and of the bright yellow aspen leaves in our yard, also turning and falling. We don't have aspen trees in our yard anymore (we had to make space for gardens and trees that don't perpetuate themselves through annoying, ever-present and ever-growing roots and sprouts), so we don't have our own bright colors and fallen leaves (except for on a few small plants in the midst of growing), but I know that fall will always come about this same time every year — often with bright colors — and possibly I will always feel nostalgic for the days gone by.