An Unexpected Adventure

What do a bus station, a train ticket, colored pencils, snow, and a whimsical garden have in common? They’re all part of an adventure…Keep reading and you’ll find out!

It all started when my daughter came to visit from Nevada. She stayed a couple of days, and was going to go home on Tuesday. We got the bright idea that, since she was planning to come back in a couple of days and bring the kids anyway, I might as well go along for the ride. I would go home with her on Tuesday and come back with them all on Thursday. It would only be two nights…friends Carlos and Kate would come check on Foster. It would be his first time staying overnight by himself, with free run of the house.  It made me nervous, but it was only for two nights.

I was majorly  out of my “box” with this, but I thought I really should take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with my grandkids. Especially if I wasn’t going to have to drive there by myself. (Now THAT will be an adventure if I ever get up the courage to do it…don’t hold your breath though.)

So, even though it went against every speck of my Swedish DNA, which requires careful planning for a week or so before embarking on any major adventure, I did it. We all decided Mark would be proud!  I actually made a spur-of-the-moment trip to another state!


The view from their house was amazing. There was so much snow on the mountains, but it wasn’t too cold. It was fun to spend time with my grandkids. Of course any time my grandson and I are together, drawing is in order!


The first thing I tried drawing was Zarissa, my granddaughter’s cat. Now if you’ve read my post on Cat Sketches, you will remember that drawing cats’ eyes is the hardest thing for me and you can see I haven’t mastered it yet! Below you see the first, second and third tries to get it right.

Since I had only brought my Sakura Moonlight gel pens with me, I decided to use my grandson’s colored pencils on this one.


The finished product!

Then of course we had to do a whimsical garden with the gel pens. This is actually a combination of gel pens and colored pencils. The ants underground were my grandson’s idea. He mentioned that it would be cool to draw this scene on their bathroom door, but since they are renting we decided against it!


Unbeknownst to us, while we were doing all this drawing, the weather over the mountain was getting worse and worse. There was a mudslide, an avalanche warning, and the roads that were open had chains required, not to mention high winds with gusts of 75-80 mph. One day both the kids’ schools closed due to the weather. Trees were falling down left and right. The river flooded over the freeway between Carson and Reno. Here are before and after pictures of a really pretty tree that fell.  The “lake” you see in the picture below is actually a field underwater.


Every day we checked the road conditions and every day they seemed to be worse! Every day I texted Carlos: “Still here, can you check on Foster tomorrow?”

I might mention here that by this time I was having major Foster Withdrawals. Carlos and Kate had to send me pictures so I would feel better. I was now going on five nights away from home, which I never do even on a planned trip!  Three nights is about my limit for being away from home before I start to get antsy.

This is the Amtrak station in Reno.

Then, on Saturday night, we were exploring our options for getting me home. I was starting to feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, but I didn’t have any ruby slippers so I was kind of stuck. That’s when it occurred to me to take the train! The 395 had just opened up that day, so it would be possible for us to get to the train station in Reno. We went online and reserved a one-way ticket on Amtrak.



Sunday morning the weather was beautiful. We got to the Amtrak station at about 8:00.

I am not making this up! We looked at each other and I said “Is that me?” Yup. It was me. The lady at the counter explained that there were railroad tracks under water and so the train from Reno to Sacramento was canceled. But they were bringing in a bus to take us there, since the I-80 was now open.

Looking toward the mountains from the Reno Amtrak station.

There was going to be a layover of a couple of hours in Sacramento, then I would take another bus to Stockton and then take the train to Fresno. By this time I was so ready to go home that even the possibility of the bus careening off the edge of the mountain was not enough to deter me. At this point my philosophy was, to quote Queen Esther in the Bible, “If I perish, I perish!”

Apparently there was a marathon run going on in downtown Reno that day. I’d never been to Reno before, and I thought this view from the bus was really pretty.

So the journey began. The snow was amazing. I took tons of pictures. You would have thought I had never seen snow before.


Here you can see how the snow had been plowed, leaving a wall on either side of the highway. It was kind of aggravating that there were so many reflections off the windows, but I still liked the way the pictures came out.


snow-5Okay, have you seen enough snow yet? Wait, I have more….


Finally, the California state line!

Then we made it to Sacramento. It was pretty cool being able to look at the GPS on my phone and see exactly where we were at any given moment! The modern day answer to the age-old question: “Are we there yet?”

In Sacramento I discovered that there was an earlier bus to Stockton and I wouldn’t have to wait two and a half hours after all. Armed with my newly revised ticket, I was once again  on my way.

When we got to Stockton the train was delayed for half an hour due to a fire in Antioch. But the weather was still beautiful so standing outside waiting wasn’t too bad.

Finally the scenery started looking like Beulah Land, and I knew we were almost home.



Yay! My friend was there to pick me up and before I knew it I was home safe and sound! And there was Foster, no worse for the wear, ready for “night-night” just like nothing ever happened!