As we started to pack the Astro (out of shot to the right in this photo), we stopped to admire a "rolling meet" on Fernley siding, where the timing was such that neither of the two trains had to make a complete stop.
The roads were clear and mostly dry (except where vehicles like ours were dropping snow on the highway), but progress through Reno slowed to a crawl due to emergency road repairs on Interstate 80. We jumped off the freeway in Reno and drove out 4th Street (old US-40) as far as we could to the point where you're forced back onto the highway. Unfortunately, there's a spot where there's no connection by surface road between two points and you have no choice if you want to keep going west. However, we still did manage to avoid the worst of the backup that way.
We stopped at the Gold Ranch casino on the edge of Nevada to use the restrooms and so I could get coffee. travelswithkuma saw this special for the restaurant and asked if we could stop for lunch. We told him that we'd already eaten.
The trip over Donner Summit was thankfully uneventful. Caltrans crews have done a great job clearing the road. As we worked our way up to the summit, a snowblower truck was cutting back the banks, throwing snow in a high arc away from the road. It was not as spectacular as the rotary plows the railroad uses, but it was still a good show.
Between the two storms we had in Fernley (with an intervening rain that melted all of the first storm's snow), we had around 30 cm of snow in Fernley. Up at Donner Summit, it looked like there was more than 300 cm (3 meters, around 10 feet) of snow on the ground. There was a lot of mist at the summit itself, but Lisa could see a lot of people on the ski slopes. This must be the sort of conditions the ski operators were praying for: plenty of snow with four days of good weather centered on the weekend.
Traffic was light and driving conditions were excellent, and we made good time to Sacramento, where we visited my sister for about 90 minutes. Kuma Bear made his acquaintance with Barnabas, Kelli's bear. My sister was happy to see me, and looked pretty good. She'd like to go home, of course, but nobody will tell her or me about any prospects for finding a way to get her into a home-care situation.
Lisa drove for a while after we left the nursing facility and I called my mother to confirm that I'll be coming up to Dobbins in the Yuba County foothills tomorrow. We then changed drivers again at the Fry's in Sacramento and I drove us to Marysville. We used to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Yuba City, but it's now a Best Western, giving me no incentive to stay there, and it made more sense logistically anyway for us to stay at the Comfort Suites in Marysville. Lisa was grateful for a full-size bathtub, and since the drought is nominally over, she also didn't feel guilty about using that nice tub in the hotel room. Conveniently, there was a Pizza Hut a block down the street, too, making dinner plans easy.
My initial plan had actually been to come down (without the side trip to Sacramento) and stay in Grass Valley, but for some unaccountable reason, it seems like every hotel room in Grass Valley/Nevada City this weekend is booked. I am unsure what's going on up there; however, I'm just as happy to do the circle trip via Sacramento so we could see Kelli. And while I'm capable of doing the down-and-back trips (it's about the same distance and time as the one-way trip to the Bay Area), I'd rather not do so if I don't have to do it.