Back in the saddle

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Did you notice I was gone most of last week? Didn’t think so.

Three members of my family and I went to Great Basin National Park last week. One member, the 17-year-old, stayed home to work her part-time job. I guess you know what that means: Things are changing.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I’ll tell you a little about my trip. For one, Great Basin is the most underused park I’ve ever been to. It’s the height of summer, and there is no lack of camping spots. The park has Wheeler Peak, the second-highest peak in Nevada (13,063 feet elevation), and the Lehman Caves, huge limestone caverns.

Kathleen, Danny, Hunter and I headed up Wheeler Peak on Thursday. I made it to about 12,000 feet when I got sick—nauseous, dizzy, weak-legged—so, fearing elevation sickness, Hunter, 7, and I, 42, came down. Kathleen, 43, and Danny, 15, made it to the top. I guess the view was OK.

The park is stunning. The forests are about half coniferous, half deciduous. It’s far enough east (about 8 miles from the Utah border) that the rain shadow effect is negated. There are streams and brooks and rivulets and breezes and grasses enough to make you forget you’re in Nevada.

The most exciting part of the trip, for me anyway, was letting the 15-year-old drive on the highway for four hours. If you think a mountain view will get the heart pounding, wait ’til your learner’s permit driver tries to make a left turn off the highway while pulling a trailer at 35 miles per hour.

I’m going to warn you about one thing. The town of Baker doesn’t really offer amenities to tourists. Bring cash because the store doesn’t accept out-of-town checks or credit cards or ATM cards for some purchases. Bring all the food and fishing tackle (including bait) you think you might need.

Reason to vote No. 37: If you want some say in whether your tax dollars are spent on prisons or schools, you need to cast a ballot.