We headed to Reno first and had an early dinner at the Eldorado Buffet (just after they opened for the evening), then headed up and over The Hill and down CA-20 to Yuba City, where we checked in to the hotel. At Lisa's suggestion, we packed an extra one-night-only bag of things into which we'll change tomorrow and then leave some stuff behind in the van. This also includes things we won't need until we get back from Detroit.
Tomorrow morning after dealing with some family business here in Yuba City that had to be done in July and for which tomorrow is about the only day this whole month that it can happen, we'll drive to Emeryville and check into the Hilton Garden Inn (cashing points, free night). I'll take the minivan to Fremont and drop it at my mechanic's shop. Lisa thinks that by the sound of things I'm only getting about 5 1/2 cylinders (out of six) and speculates that I've got a clogged or defective fuel injector in one cylinder. I'll then take one of the evening Capitol trains back to Emeryville and walk back to the hotel. On Sunday morning, we'll check out of the hotel, go to the Emeryville station, and catch the California Zephyr to Chicago.
If it seems strange to drive 300 miles west to catch a train that will be heading back the way we just came, to the extent of going right past our front door in Fernley, you're right. However, I bought these tickets on Amtrak points and it takes the same number of points to ride from Emeryville as from Reno, and the stretch through the Sierra is one of the most scenic parts of the trip. Furthermore, the options for getting to the Reno station to catch the train are bad. There's no long-term parking in the area other than parking in one of the casino's garages and hoping they won't notice you've parked there for two weeks. Even if I hadn't arranged to leave my van with my preferred mechanic for two weeks, I can park at Centerville station in Fremont for free, and I've done so before for extended stays. It does seem strange that the parking would be easier in Fremont than in Reno, but that's how it is.
Mind you, we would really prefer to board the train in Fernley; however, as the passenger trains stopped calling in Fernley before either of us was born, this was not an option.
We had a brief panic in Yuba City when Lisa thought she'd left all of her spare batteries for her white-noise-sounding radio at home. Fortunately, before we rushed back to Fernley (a 300 mile round trip), she found them, just not in the place where she would normally pack them.
I'm glad we're on the move. Planning is good, but there comes a time when you simply want to stop planning and start moving.