September 9, 2007September 9, 2007Scott Schrantz By Scott Schrantz Motel Washoe Every time I drive by, I wonder how much time this old sign has left. Related posts: The Washoe Valley Boom Motel Washoe Motel Washoe Sign is Gone Washoe Canyon Then and Now Washoe City Washoe Valley Dams
In 1948, 59 years and 4 months ago, in late April, a blizzard was blowing across Washoe Valley; the wind was way beyond Zephyr as the wet and thick snow was blown horizontally across the Valley, creating total whiteout and heavy coats for the trees lining Franktown Road. In the stark white snow against the pitch black of the late night, no lights could be seen save the dim lights of a 1945 black Plymouth, its puny wipers unable to keep the windshield clear behind which two grim faces attempted to keep the disappearing road in view as they wended their way from Carson City to Reno, hoping to arrive at Washoe Medical Center before my birth there being no hospital in Carson City at the time coupled with my mother’s untimely emerging mumps and potential complications to mother and baby.
As they approached Davis Creek, the wind abated long enough for them to see the Theo Winters Mansion and my father knew the road then straightened out to the point where he could see the welcome lights from the Washoe Guest Ranch, flashing its white lariat and red vacancy, illuminating the road ahead and signifying the halfway point with the worst of the blizzard behind him. The road cleared a bit from the wind and he upped the speed in spite of the clanking chains in order to gain some momentum for the hill ahead into Paradise Valley, across the Steamboat Plains, and ultimate arrival at the hospital where I was safely born.
The storm blew east, my mother’s mumps cleared, and my parent took me home several days later on a sunny afternoon; in my mother’s arms, I’m sure my uncomprehending stare at the new world included this old blue sign which has always been a totem for me during my first on many, many trips back and forth across the Valley.
In 1962, two friends and I, inspired by John F. Kennedy’s physical fitness emphasis, decided to walk from Carson City to Reno and back in one day – sixty miles – once again in late April. The weather was supposed to be sunny, a nice, beautiful warm spring day in Nevada, so we all met at 6:00 am in our old tennis shoes at my house on the North end of Carson City and started walking up Lakeview Grade. Halfway up, I found an old shepherd’s pike which I used as a walking stick. As we reached the top of Lakeview Hill, the panorama of Washoe Valley, Slide Mountain and Mt. Rose, Washoe Lake(s), and the Virginia Range lay in front of us and I was suitably awed.
We continued walking at a good clip down the new straightaway across the meadows and by noon, we had passed the Winters derelict and stopped at the Washoe Guest Ranch sign where we took a breather and I rested my aching feet. The longer I sat there, the more my feet throbbed but finally, we arose and continued on our way, leaving the shade of the sign behind and tackling the hill into Paradise Valley. My friends, in much better shape than I, soon became distant dots in the distance as I lagged up the hill before I finally hit the downslope and gained some speed.
The flats of Paradise were Paradisaical but the slope to Steamboat Hill was my undoing. My friends were halfway to Moana and my feet were halfway to hell so I stuck out my thumb going south and a motor scooter driven by an acquaintance stopped and sped me back to Carson. More often than not, in those days, there was steady stream of traffic back and forth across the valley of people one knew to one degree or another.
Long story short, my friends made it to Reno, turned around, and walked back across Washoe Valley as a storm blew up, bringing icy rain and then blowing stinging snow which hit them as they walked up and over Lakeview Hill into Eagle Valley. One of the friend’s father drove halfway up Lakeview and over their protests bundled them into his car, laughing at their outrage . Our 60 mile hike became a 25 for me and a 50 for them.