And in between breakfast and dinner were 16 miles of mostly pavement walking. But we made the best of it, stopping to turn around and admire the view behind us (thanks
At Thomas Creek Road, we turned onto a lovely pedestrian path and meandered through the sparkling new neighborhoods of south Reno. Another hour of walking had us longing for a sidewalk restaurant with plastic chairs where we could order a cafe con leche. (Also, we were reluctant to drop trou in someone’s front yard and pee in their shrubbery.) Google maps suggested a route that would take us down to South Virginia Street, where we could encounter some commercial establishments. As we passed by a new subdivision the waving pennants and big sign caught our attention: “Model Homes – Now Open!” We would like to see what the latest homes in Reno look like, so we popped inside. The sales agent told us, “sorry”, we could not use the model bathroom (due to Covid restrictions?), but we were welcome to use the sani-hut in the parking lot. That was the cleanest outhouse I have ever used.
We trudged along the shoulder of noisy, busy South Virginia Street only as far as the first restaurant where we took a lunch break and rested our legs. Now we had to weigh the tradeoff between the shorter straight-thru run on this hectic road versus the longer detour that would take us on quieter streets but add a mile and an uphill climb. After 4 1/2 days of walking, we were like horses bolting for the barn, and the difference between the 6.1-mile straight shot and 7.4-mile “scenic” route felt significant. But we chose the longer, quieter, scenic route and were rewarded for our decision. We passed by lovely meadowlands, and through the covered bridge at Bartley Ranch Park. On Lakeside Road, we fed “Gloria” the front-yard chicken, with the grains left out to bypassers by the homeowner. At Virginia Lake Park, the geese followed children around, in hopes of a handout. And we talked to a fisherman who explained the necessity of heavy-duty rod & reel for the 20-pound carp he hoped to catch that night.
As we approached downtown, we both felt the excitement of nearing our goal: the bridge over the Truckee River in downtown Reno. We shifted east one block onto Virginia Street, so we could walk through Reno’s funky Mid-Town district, and have a proper entry into downtown. Our families had been texting us all morning, trying to fix our arrival time, and they were excited, too, and planned to greet us and celebrate. As we walked the last few blocks, we took a moment to reflect on our journey and share the gladness in our hearts of knowing a new friend and kindred spirit.
And finally, after 5 days and 65 miles, we set foot on the Virginia Steet Bridge. We each had carried a small stone since leaving our homes. At the bridge, we tossed the stones into the Truckee, along with the burdens they represented, and let the river wash them away.
Epilog – our families met us at the river, carrying a homemade banner proclaiming our accomplishment. They awarded us with our “Compostelas”: Spanish wine, a keepsake stone, and a custom patch for our Minden > Reno Camino 2020 (including a yellow arrow!)