Trip Reports – NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network Telling Nevada's story 365, 24/7 Wed, 10 Oct 2018 13:18:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 NevadaGram #205 – Hold that Tiger (and those Bears) Wed, 01 Aug 2018 13:43:31 +0000 Lily in her pool at Safe Haven Refuge Nevada

I don't quite know how to introduce the strange place in the desert we visited early in July. Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge billboard, I-80 Nevada at Mill CityIt is only ten miles off Interstate 80 at Mill City but far removed from what you expect to find in the Buena Vista Valley. It's called Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary. You're welcome to visit, but call ahead first — 775-538-7093 — to make sure the gate is open. From Mill City drive south on Nevada 400; about 10 miles along you'll pass a small tan cinderblock structure on the right and then take the first road to the right, maybe a quarter mile farther on.

This graded gravel road leads straight to the base of the mountains, but the marked turnoff to Safe Haven is about a half-mile along. Pass through the gate as pre-arranged and continue to the small compound that is headquarters for the fenced and double-gated retirement community for wild animals unfit for the wild.

Photo Tour of Safe Haven Wild Animal RefugeIt is not a zoo, it is a refuge. For a variety of reasons — defanged or declawed, born in captivity — the animals here can't survive in their natural habitat. The tigers, the bears, the lion, the coyotes and the various cats will live out their lives here.

The extreme fencing is one of many requirements imposed to ensure the animals don't wander off. The enclosures are quite spacious, furnished with shade and climbing platforms, and constantly overseen and maintained by a paid staff of two and as many as five interns depending on the season.

[caption id="attachment_35976" align="alignleft" width="235"]Black Bear at Safe Haven Wildife Refuge, Nevada Photo Tour[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35974" align="alignleft" width="235"]African Serval at Safe Haven Wildife Refuge, Nevada Jasper[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35981" align="alignleft" width="235"]Bengal tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge Carli[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35978" align="alignleft" width="235"]Bengal tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, Nevada Lily[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35975" align="alignleft" width="235"]Bobcat at Safe aven Wildlife Refuge Mandy[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35979" align="alignleft" width="235"]White tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, Nevada Christopher[/caption]

Safe Haven Tours

Tours of the grounds are available seven days a week, at 9 am, 11 am or 1 pm depending on the season, by appointment only (775-538-7093).

  • Personal tours are available to the general public and offer a comprehensive view of our facility and residents for $10 per adult. Kids 12 and under are $7.
  • Educational tours are available to classrooms hosting children in grades 1-12 for a nominal fee. These tours offer children a first-hand educational experience with exotic wildlife and well-researched presentations from our staff.
  • Photography tours are open to amateur and professional photographers for $50 an hour, with a 2-hour minimum. Meet our residents, while exercising your creative muscles.

Demanding as the care and feeding of the residents can be, raising the money that pays for it isn't easy either. White tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, NevadaCorporate sponsors include mining companies active in the area and a number of foundations that have supported the effort since it relocated here in 2006. In addition to the daily tours described at right, fundraising events include a Full Moon Tour just completed (Snores 'n' Roars), and a Tee off for Tigers golf tournament held at Reno's Arrowcreek Country Club on Saturday, September 29.

This story began more than 20 years ago when Lynda Sugasa was driving in rural Illinois and saw a little raccoon lying beside the road. She stopped and began a frustrating search for help that taught her how little help is available for injured wildlife, and how hard it is to find.

She eventually located an animal rehab center where the raccoon was taken in and by the time it was released back into the wild, Lynda had enrolled as a volunteer. There she helped heal and rehab the local wildlife brought in for treatment: orphaned fawns, injured opossums and flying squirrels, all kinds of critters to be restored to health and released back into the wild.

As America celebrated the 4th of July 2016, four African servals and two caracals, approximately 2-6 months old were seized from individual who had allegedly intended to sell them illegally as pets.

In 1998 Lynda and her husband David established the 5-acre Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary in Illinois, and for the next eight years they cared for and reintroduced hundreds of native fauna, and took in an increasing number of abandoned and surrendered exotics. These can't be reintroduced to their original habitats even if they haven't been declawed and/or defanged by previous owners, because they've become habituated to humans and lack appropriate fear, or they've never learned survival skills in the wild.

The required security improvements and the space limitations impinged on the operation. David Sugasa had been baptized in Winnemucca and has relatives in Lovelock; his awareness led them to Buena Vista Valley.

In the dozen years since they arrived, Lynda, David, the Board of Directors, the interns and volunteers have made the Refuge into a highly respected, fully licensed and accredited facility that receives rescued animals from all over the USA and around the world. Neighboring ranchers, wary at first, have become enthusiastic supporters.

Safe Haven’s suggestions for necessary animal rescues

1. Prepare a container. Place a soft cloth on the bottom of a cardboard box with a lid, a cat or dog carrier will work as well. Make sure there are air holes. For smaller animals, you can use a paper bag with air holes punched in.
2. Protect yourself. If possible, wear heavy gloves. Some animals may bite or scratch to try and protect themselves, even if they are injured or sick. Wild animals commonly have parasites such as fleas, lice and ticks, and may carry diseases.
3. Cover the animal with a light sheet or towel.
4. Gently pick up the animal and put it in the prepared container.
5. Warm the animal if it’s cold out or if the animal shows signs of being chilled. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low or fill a Ziploc bag with warm water. Wrap it in cloth and put it next to the animal. Make sure the container doesn’t leak or the animal will get wet, increasing its chill.
6. Tape the box shut or roll the top of the paper bag closed.
7. Note exactly where you found the animal. This will be very important for later release.
8. Keep the animal in warm, dark quiet place. Do no handle it. Do not give it food or water. Keep children and pets away.
9. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency or wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. Don’t keep the animal at your home longer than necessary. Keep the animal in a container; don’t let it loose in your house or car.
10. Wash your hands after contact with the animal. Wash anything the animal came in contact with such as towels, jackets, blankets and pet carrier. This will prevent the spread of diseases or parasites to you or your pets.
11. Get the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

Make a visit to Safe Haven, maybe you will become a supporter too.

Editor's Choice

Kids at Burning Man

Bringing Kids to Burning Man

So, you’ve decided to bring the kids? Great! It may prove to be the best field trip you could ever take them on.

With a little thought and care, the experience can be more fun for you, your kids, and everyone around you. If you’ve taken your kids camping, you’re already halfway there. Many of these ideas apply to different age ranges, of course, so make your judgments based on your kids’ ages and abilities.

Anybody under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian aged 21 or older in Black Rock City. Read More Here

Independence Lake

Bikepacking in Northern Nevada

Gravel Rides, Summer 2018

by Kurstin Graham

I went into Great Basin Bicycles to chat with Rich Staley asking what was hot in bikes for 2018. Gravel bikes were at the top of the list along with mountain hardtails and full suspension trail bikes. From other popularity reports I've gotten I think 2018 will be the year of the gravel bike.

While the discussion of what is a gravel bike might be lengthy, let it be a fat tired (28mm and wider) disc brake road bike.

Read More Here

Here's your invitation to Nevada's Reno-Tahoe Territory.
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Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Since late in 2010 the necessity of defending the Virginia City National Historic Landmark against surface mining has meant interrupting the NevadaGram from time to time.

Comstock Mining Inc is hard at work putting toxic dust into our air

Comstock Mining Inc is hard at work putting toxic dust
into our air.

Compared to the other frustrations and annoyances we and our neighbors have been subjected to since the arrival of CMI, this is minor but it still leaves gaps in the story.

I’m now filling these gaps retroactively by writing Updates about the open pit mining situation here.

I started in January, working forward to catch up, and backward as I can find the time (I have the complete CRA archive of correspondence and documents to draw from).

The Updates are all presented below, most recent at the top.

Read the whole thing here

Overheard at Cafe Del Rio in Virginia City: If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you've got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

John Toll back home in Gold HillMy son John and I arrived in Elko late on a sunny summer afternoon.

photo by Max Winthrop

Elko: the coolest little city in the world.

John had spent 15 months as a platoon leader in Baghdad, and this excursion into the sagebrush was our first chance to spend time together since his return to the States. We’d spent our second day traveling from Winnemucca by way of Golconda, Midas and Tuscarora, and we were ready for a taste of city life.

And what a tasty little city Elko has become! It’s a favorite of mine, right up there with Paris, Prague, and Pahrump.

photo by Max Winthrop

Upstairs at Capriola’s: old Elko.

Elko still shows its cowtown roots everywhere you look, but it’s also showing cosmopolitan touches it never had before.

The best place to see this for yourself is on the sidewalk at Fifth and Commercial Street. Capriola’s is on the same corner it has occupied since time immemorial, selling everything for the rancher, cowboy and dude. Downstairs is a rich display of snap-button shirts, broad-brimmed hats, tooled belts and purses, and precious metal doodads ranging from belt buckles to spurs.

Upstairs is the rope and saddle shop and a small museum dedicated to the shop’s heritage which dates back to the famous J.S. Garcia store established in the late 19th century. This is the Elko your grandfather would recognize, and you're welcome to come up and have a look.

Read the whole thing here

What They're saying About Us: "Let's make Hoover Dam into a giant battery."

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

[sc name="Lander County Tourism 120x300"]

The First Annual Festival in the Pit was a huge success, and Battle Mountain is still experiencing the bliss.

Battle Mountain Armpit billboardThis flamboyant and flourishing offspring of the Ultimate Insult and the Old Spice deodorant company, drew several thousand visitors over its three-day run. Visitors enjoyed a varied schedule of activities and events at Elquist and Lions Parks and informal activities at the Owl Club and other hot spots around town. Hot spots in Battle Mountain? Yes, and a big parade. Gene Weingarten, author of the Washington Post Magazine article which branded Battle Mountain as The Armpit of America, was an honored guest. There will be a statue of him here some day, he’s done more for Battle Mountain than anyone since the railroad came through.  [ MORE photos and stories about the Old Spice Festival in the Pit ]

Read the whole thing here

Parting Shot —

The post NevadaGram #205 – Hold that Tiger (and those Bears) appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #204 – Kingston, Night Out at Lake Tahoe and Mountain Biking Trails of Carson Valley Fri, 06 Jul 2018 15:12:05 +0000 Miles End B&B, Kingston Nevada

The best way to get to Kingston is by way of US 50 to Austin, then west down into the Reese River Valley a couple of miles and then south on the road marked for Big Creek. At Big Creek you turn east and climb into the Toiyabes.

But don't do it in the family sedan. There are some tough stretches in the heights, and the switchbacks are a special challenge; for these you want a four-wheel drive or an atv.

The easy way to get there is by driving Old Lonely to Big Smoky on the east side of the Toiyabes, where US 50 is the top bar of a tee with Nevada Highway 376 as its stem leading south. Kingston is about 16 miles from the turnoff, beyond  the little cluster of homes in the sagebrush at Gillman Springs.

Access to Kingston is by two inconspicuously marked access roads from Highway 376, Tahoe Road and Kingston Canyon Road, both of which will take you to the third largest community in Lander County (after Battle Mountain and Austin) at the mouth of Kingston Canyon.

Groves Lake near Kingston NevadaSilver discoveries higher up Kingston Canyon in 1862 brought a community called Bunker Hill briefly to life, and mining persisted in a small way into the 1880s when a serious revival took place. The ruins of the Victorine mill at the top of town date to this revival. There have been flurries of interest, but no mining activity currently in the canyon.

Groves Lake near Kingston NevadaInstead there is camping, hiking, fishing and lollygagging under a shade tree going on here now. The road up the canyon is good until it isn't, but you don't need to go that far to enjoy yourself.

Groves Lake is a favored spot, for obvious reasons, and is seldom crowded.

Kingston is home to about a hundred people in the mostly modest homes scattered around in the sagebrush. The splendid Miles End B&B, is at the center of town. Across from it is a minimally stocked General Store and the Silver Spur Saloon, hours 2 - 9 pm, is just down the road. The one-room Kingston 376 Motel & RV-Park-in-progress occupies Jim Kielhack's former Sales Office. There's a volunteer Fire Department, a clinic and a Town Board.

Kingston is as quiet as a ghost town. There are dozens of occupied homes and a small handful of businesses, but nothing moves except an occasional car, seldom more than one at a time anywhere in town, and then it is quiet again..

Miles End B&B, Kingston NevadaAnd there is a ghost, although he doesn't haunt the place. At the beautiful little pond near the center of things, a cluster of ducks gliding about making eye music, there is a bench with a name on it: Carl Haas. Sit down, enjoy the quiet, the greenery, the water, the reeds, the ducks. Carl isn't like the Lady in Red at the Mizpah (where he was an enthusiastic visitor) — he didn't leave any ectoplasm behind and won't appear suddenly on the bench beside you — but his presence is everywhere you look.

[sc name="Lander County Tourism 120x300"]

Carl owned the RO Ranch 20 miles farther south, and had "created, from what was generally accepted to be a wasteland in Central Nevada, a cattle empire that would ultimately encompass an area larger than some eastern states" as he wrote in his autobiography "Around the World in Eighty Years". It's available at the Miles End B&B for $20, all proceeds to the town —

When a California developer gave up his option on the abandoned Schmidtlein Ranch at the mouth of Kingston Canyon, Carl stepped up and bought it.

For the Schmidtlein property Carl had a grand vision. "It should be master-planned to resemble a European Village," he wrote. "Home sites designed to fit the terrain with deed restrictions, a village site, open spaces. . . ."

His next paragraph begins "The cost would be enormous".


Converting an abandoned 19th century ranch without electricity into a modern living village in the later 20th century turned out to require constant expenditures: two motels, a restaurant , a water system, intensive research into deeds and water rights, costly title searches, endless efforts to persuade the power company to bring electricity, expensive lawyers and expensive heavy equipment. Plus moving the Miner's Union Hall up from Tonopah; that's the General Store. Oh, and the twin-engine Cessna for flying in the pigeons who didn't have planes of their own.

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I visited Kingston during that hectic period, in company with Don Bowers of Nevada Magazine and had the unforgettable experience of hearing Carl Haas recite Edgar Allen Poe's "Cask of Amontillado", from memory, start to finish. I am still in awe of that performance. I'll bet he did it for the pigeons too.

The village-building project came to involve Jim Keilhack who had a real estate license and an enormous fund of optimism, and Don Cirac, Carl's old pal from Tonopah High who became Kingston's ambassador to Las Vegas.

And Don's son Paul —

Kingston! 14 years old, living at the RO Ranch 20 miles south.

Get up at 6, feed the horses, milk the fucking cow.

Cook breakfast, pack a lunch (lotsa canned corned beef) THEN go to Kingston to work. Clearing brush, greasin’ equipment, moving 4” sprinklers (effin mosquitos!!!) All the stuff slaves do, and the lifestyle too: slave wages, $5 a day, room & board — cook your own grub from Vigus’s store in Austin (a branch of the fabled Kent’s Market in Fallon).

A workman’s lunch of baloney sandwiches, and cold Campbell’s soup out of the can — Chicken Gumbo was a fave — and hard-boiled eggs, and eating cherries and pears from the trees in the village orchard . . . I learned how to drink brandy in that orchard, taught by an old itinerant jack-mormon brick layer (he did the Washoe County Library, too) and then catching a trout or two by hand to take home for dinner, and putting them on a willow gill stick to stay cold in the crick til work was over.

Friday nights, swimming at Darrough’s, diving for pocket change. An old guy named Cleo Bordine would toss it into the pool so we could then go to Carver’s and maybe get a cheeseburger and shoot a game of 8-ball. Then home on the ass end of Chris Loomis' Hodaka 100, me holding a flashlight ‘cause the headlamp didn’t work. Ha! Never hit a cow. Petted a few, but never hit one square-on.

Best summer of my life.

Del and Carl were married in the late '60s. Del’s father Bud Loomis owned the Bundox Restaurant in Reno across the river from what was Norman Biltz's Holiday Hotel back then. They were both pilots, so the village had an airstrip off to the side, not just for their own convenience, but for the pigeons — prospective customers — flying in to look at property.

Miles End B&B, Kingston NevadaThey pulled down the old ranch house to make a place for Carl's big stone house. He called it Valhalla, "a rock house with walls of stone 3½ feet thick, which would withstand the elements for 1,000 years" and it is now the Miles End B&B at the center of town (note the round window).

Candace and Chad Kelly at Miles End B&B, Kingstn NevadaThe great stone structure is the unexpectedly modern Miles End Bed & Breakfast (and dinner can be arranged too), created and operated by John and Ann Miles over the last 10 years, and now by Chad and Candace Kelly (at left). With its ancient apple orchard in the lawned back yard and the outdoor kitchen and bar, the wood-fired hot tub, the unbroken quiet, the mountains rising up against the star-spangled sky at night, this place is a secret you'll never keep to yourself.

Miles End B&B, Kingston Nevada
Miles End B&B, Kingston Nevada
Miles End B&B, Kingston Nevada

Carl-freakin’-Haas built it, and Del's brother Chris and I hauled endless truckloads of rock from a quarry at the south side of the crick at the mouth of Kingston, just up the hill from what used to be the “Lodge”.

jsloane+jdaniels275x350The guy who actually built the rock house was named Jim Sloane (left, in the photo). A good guy, and the first “hippie” to invade Smoky Valley. He was fond of kicking off a meal with:

“Here’s to you and here’s to me.
And may we never disagree.
But, if, my friend, we ever do,
Well then my friend, to Hell with you.”

He was a man of conviction and a pretty fair painter — his watercolor of Cloverdale hangs in my living room. His wife Greta was a concert violinist, and I got to hear her play Bach for us in the meadow at Cloverdale as we put up the hay with Edsel Ford’s ne'er-do-well kid Tom, who was hiding out in central Nevada dodging divorce papers. We just about killed that poor sap by handing him a pair of T-handled hay-hooks. Haha!

Carl Haas at the entrance to his 1000-year stone houseThe best story about the rock house is that Carl decided, in his strange, forward-looking way, to set an old steel tank in one of the walls in order to provide “natural" wood-heated hot water for the manse — an automatic wall cracker, due to heat expansion. I believe it’s now a circular window adjacent to the kitchen, on the north wall.

When a pigeon was flying in, he’d buzz us and waggle his wings to let us know he wanted to land, and then it was up to the nearest kid to grab one of the chariots — the 1914 REO touring car or the ‘32 12-banger Lincoln limo — and haul ass down to the airstrip to open the barbed wire gate that kept the cows in.

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In three years Carl was broke. Not just because of the development costs, which were humungous, but also because of the "100-year flood" that destroyed one of the motels and many of the homes, and the rise in gasoline prices, and the collapse of the water system, and, and, and. He sold everything he'd accumulated, a lot of it at discounted prices because he needed the cash in a hurry, and spent the money on his dream until it was all gone.

"Kingston Village was a financial failure," he wrote, "so i felt i might as well walk away and let Kielhack, Cirac and the other brokers have it." He paid what debts he could with land and moved from his Valhalla back to the Wine Glass Ranch. Don Cirac moved to Las Vegas with Paul and little Lisa, and launched a barrage of publicity about Kingston, and when a curious pigeon drove up, there was Jim Kielhack to meet him.

All of that is ancient history now. It has mostly faded from memory except for those who were there to experience it first-hand. But if you have a taste for digressions, make this one the next time you're driving US 50. You'll see the remnants of a dream, an inviting Bed & Breakfast, make a beautiful canyon drive, explore the roadside ruins of the Victorine mill, sit for a quiet moment with Carl at the pond. Time well spent.
Robin and I attended a unique Chattauqua at Lake Tahoe a few days ago in which a talented group of presenters created a vivid history lesson in the South Shore Room of Harrah's. It's called “Solid Gold Soul” and led by Bobby Brooks Wilson, the presenters acted, sang and danced the story of how American music evolved from Motown to Disco. It's an ambitious pageant to produce, and it's terrific!

Solid Gold Soul at the South Shore Room at Harrah's TahoeI was barely aware of these cultural currents as they swept past from 1959 into the 1970s. I lived in the canyon in Gold Hill with an old (tubes) Philco console radio that only got one station, and only at night: WGN Chicago. I don't recall any music at all.

My musical awareness ended with the Beatles but when Bobby threw himself down on the stage and burst into song, I got interested.

Bobby's father was Jackie Wilson, one of the early stars in this universe of song, and Bobby's lineage was obvious when he sang the first million dollar hit "Just Say You Will". And he told how Alonzo Tucker wrote music with his dad, and when Jackie was rehearsing "Baby Work Out" Alonzo would yell at him, "Shout Jackie, Shout!"

Jackie shouted.

Solid Gold Soul at the South Shore Room at Harrah's TahoeAnd Barry Gordy heard, which is when Motown was born. Maybe it wasn't quite that simple but soon enough Bobby was singing Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" and telling how Otis had been a roadie, and at a recording studio one day he was tinkling around on a piano while the band was setting up. Someone failed to show up at the session and Otis was recruited to take his place. Kismet.

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Little Anthony and the Imperials, they moved down into the audience shaking hands, high-fiving, bumping knuckles, giving little hugs, blowing kisses and otherwise connecting. Sam Cooke, Diana Ross and the Supremes,  Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Donna Summer, and Marvin Gaye.

Bobby introduced one big name after another to sing one big hit after another. "Good Golly Miss Molly!", "In the Name of Love", "I Just Called to Say I Love You", "the Book of Love", "Natural Woman".

The audience by this time had risen so often in standing ovations that many of then stayed on their feet, boogieing in place as the band wailed on. It's a rich show, smartly produced and beautifully performed. The musicians, the costumes, the dancers, the singers — there is so much to it, all top of the line, and Bobby did his daddy proud.

Solid Gold Soul at the South Shore Room at Harrah's TahoeSolid Gold Soul runs five nights a week through September 3, with Tuesday and Wednesday dark.  It will also be off for two days during Celebrity Golf, Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14.  On Friday and Saturday nights they turn the room following Solid Gold Soul and open at 10:30 as PEEK Nightclub.

Editor's Choice

Cutting, Pasting, and Rearranging Reality in Las Vegas

by Francesca Berrini and Lindsey Rickert

Sprouting from the desert brush, dinosaurs nudge post-modern pyramids. The Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building topple. A cowboy waves and the Statue of Liberty salutes her torch. Neon signs overshadow world-famous works of art, and kitschy stars circle the scene like party decorations hung from the ceiling.

No single component of the scene is artificial, but none of them are quite real, either. The image above, titled Vacation Delirium, was assembled using photographs of sculptures and landmarks in Las Vegas, many of which themselves are recreations of natural phenomena, prehistoric beasts, and iconic monuments. Together, the elements combine to create, as the collage artist Francesca Berrini and the photographer Lindsey Rickert describe it, “an impossible postcard.”

Read More at Atlas Obscura

From the history of Carson Valley

The Lampe Story

140 years ago in Hanover Germany, Wilhelm Lampe and Marie Winkleman fell in love. He was 20 and she was 13. Marie’s brother, Henry had already come to Carson Valley and was working on a dairy farm. Shortly thereafter, Wilhelm also decided to immigrate to our valley and worked for Henry and others until he could afford to bring Marie to join him. It took 9 years of hard labor, but finally, he was able to go back for her. Her father accompanied them to make sure that she would be provided for, and when he was satisfied she was able to stay with Wilhelm.

Read More at Visit Carson Valley

Is Elko a Destination for International Tourists?

The Commercial, Elko

by Toni R. Milano

With media writers from around the world arriving to see and experience western culture – and encourage others to visit – the answer is quickly becoming: “yes.”

Read More at the Elko Daily Free Press

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Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

I can tell you where to get coffee in Battle Mountain at 4:30am: Bakker’s Brew, within a stone’s throw of the central freeway exit on Battle Mountain’s busy south side. . . . And the Cookhouse Museum, 905 Burns Street, will hold its annual sit-down barbecue dinner on September 14. The Museum, once the cookhouse at the 25 Ranch northwest of town, is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am – 4 pm, an impressive building now put to effective use as exhibit and activity space . . . Jack Jacobs writes from the Jacobs Family Berry Farm in Carson Valley:

“We picked 59 pints of Triple Crown blackberries today — they are delicious! Also, we received our first 48 jars (16 oz) of honey this week and are selling it for $8. This honey is from bees working at our berry farm. Let us know if you want honey in larger sizes as our bee keeper is holding 250 pounds and there is a price break for larger containers.” . . . At their last meeting the Storey County Commissioners approved a liquor license for the Virginia City Tourism Commission. If you think that’s strange, the Storey County School District has one too. Meet you in the Principal’s office for Happy Hour . . .

Read the whole thing here

Overheard at Cafe Del Rio in Virginia City: I know there are decent honest caring people in the world, and when I was somewhere in my 40s I decided I would try to be one. I wish I'd thought of it sooner.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Since he went to Baghdad at the head of the Surge, my son John and I have been planning a celebratory cruise through the sagebrush sea on his return home.

John Toll back home in Gold HillLast month we spent four days out in the quieter parts of the state, and I recommend the experience (and the route) to anyone who wants to explore the wilder regions of Nevada.

We set out from Virginia City, just a mile from home (no, we don't live on the Ponderosa Ranch) and the perfect jumping off point for a Nevada journey.

Carson River NevadaWe took the steep, twisting Six Mile Canyon Road to US 50. This was once a major highway, and it was up this road that a galloping rider brought the news of Lincoln’s assassination to Virginia City in 1865. It was paved a few years ago and now serves as a commute route from the bedroom communities of the Dayton Valley to Reno and Sparks.

We continued across US 50 and followed the Carson River to Fort Churchill, about a 15-mile drive on a well-maintained dirt road. It took well over an hour because the river is so inviting we stopped three times to let Shorty prospect for jackrabbits and give ourselves a chance to enjoy the cool river moving quietly through the desert landscape.

It was here, as we paused to watch the river slide by, with Johnny Cash and Louis Prima filling our world with music, that I finally believed he was home. And wondering just how it was that the chubby-cheeked 5-year-old who used to pedal his bike around Gold Hill had become this big ranger-trained paratrooper. How did that happen?

We spent most of another hour inspecting Fort Churchill. After 15 months in Iraq John found it easy to imagine the lives of the soldiers in their adobe barracks, serving under the burning sun.

Read the whole thing here

Ward Charcoal Ovens Historic Park near Ely

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park near Ely Nevada

Nevada’s 25 State Parks offer ample photo opportunities, and from now until July 31 participants can submit their entries for America’s State Parks 2018 photo contest on the official parks photo contest website:

In last year’s contest, the #1 winning photo above, chosen from more than 8,000 entries, featured Nevada’s Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. The six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens here were used from 1876 through 1879 to help process the silver ore discovered in the area. Once mining ended, the ovens were used to shelter travelers and even had a reputation as a hideout for stagecoach bandits. The ovens remain today, and are open for touring.

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Goldfield’s 4th Annual Land Rush Auction will take place August 23. Dozens of parcels, in town and out, will be auctioned off (but with no guarantee of clear title).

Goldfield HotelThe magnificent Goldfield Hotel is the most spectacular property on the list, but the Coaldale Junction truck stop is also for sale (with some EPA clean up requirements attached) and there’s Fish Lake Valley acreage too. I’m planning to be there, hoping for a stake in Goldfield. If you’d like to be a modern-day Tex Rickard, call 800-884-4072.

An E-Mail from Ely, Cambridgeshire, England brought greetings from John Sime. “It’d be fun to be in touch with fellow Ely people particularly as my wife and I are planning a trip to California next year, and may visit Ely. So it’d be nice to get some more info about the place — meet some folks. Hope you can help.”

We forwarded John’s note to our friends in Ely (Nevada, that is), and we wonder how White Pine County compares with Cambridgeshire. Perhaps we will find out.

Read the whole thing here

Parting Shot —

Groves Lake, near Kingston Nevada

Groves Lake, Kingston Canyon - by Max Winthrop

The post NevadaGram #204 – Kingston, Night Out at Lake Tahoe and Mountain Biking Trails of Carson Valley appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #203 – Last Chance Joe, Wandering, Cold Springs Station, Old Time Fiddlers Sat, 02 Jun 2018 12:16:30 +0000 Last Chance Joe, Sparks Nevada

There's a paunchy, nearly toothless bewhiskered old guy who's always wearing a goofy grin and has been a familiar figure on Victorian Avenue in Sparks for more than 50 years — since it was still B Street in fact. When he became suddenly homeless in 2014 a number of local folks made a big effort to help get him cleaned up, rehabbed and relocated. Last Chance Joe has finally returned to his old neighborhood, but across the street, in front of the Sparks Heritage Museum. You can't miss him, he's 32 feet tall.

Joe had stood for 56 years at the entrance to the Sparks Nugget when a new owner decided he was old and in the way. Now, after four years in limbo he's back on the Avenue, all spruced up and glowing with . . . fresh paint.

All this has been accomplished at considerable expense and effort; the whole Last Chance Joe story is here. If you live in Sparks, or just want to dress up your ride, you can put Joe on your car fore and aft in the form of this Special Plate from the Nevada DMV.

He has also been patched and puttied, painted, polished and placed just west of the entrance to the Museum where he will be dedicated and welcomed home at 5:30 pm on September 22. There's something contagious about that smile he's wearing . . . I think I'll go.

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I like to think about just getting in the car and driving out some randomly chosen road, following my nose out into the mountains (the car is a 4wd FJ-Cruiser), making spontaneous decisions about which way to turn, stopping whenever the impulse demands it, and ending up God knows where.

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I don't allow myself to do it very often — only once since we got this car four years ago — because of the demands of my trade, which hold me to a schedule. Every drive I take is timed to take in any available attraction because we're always looking for what's new and interesting along the main lines of travel — paved roads — and that's the antithesis of wandering.

It's easy to imagine wandering in to Cold Springs Station Resort when traveling on Old Lonely, not so easy to imagine it as the Pony Express station it once was. The resort is a combination restaurant, bar and gift shop with two rows of motel units and two RV areas. This place is positively modern — there are banks of solar panels deployed out back.

So it's not the Cold Springs Station that greeted the Pony Express riders dashing in from Middlegate Station In 1860.

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In that year Sir Richard Burton, a famous British explorer and writer of the time, traveled with a mule train along the Pony Express Trail. His diary provides some of the clearest glimpses we have of central Nevada in that period, including this entry made two stations west at Sand Springs Station, on October 17, 1860.

At last at 2:30 am thoroughly 'knocked up,' we sighted a roofless shed, found a haystack, and reckless of supper or of stamping horses, fell asleep upon the sand. . . .
"Sand Springs deserved its name. Like the Brazas de San Diego and other mauraises near the Rio Grande, the land is cumbered here and there with drifted ridges of the finest sand, sometimes 200 feet high and shifting before every gale. . . .

The water near the vile hole was thick and stale with sulfury salts: it blistered even the hands. The station house was no unfit object on such a scene, roofless and chairless, filthy and squalid, with a smoky fire in one corner, impure floor, the walls open to every wind, and the interior full of dust. Hibernia, herself, never produced aught more characteristic. Of the employees, all loitered and sauntered about desoeuvre's as cretins except one, who lay on the ground crippled and apparently dying by the fall of a horse upon his breastbone.

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Tuscarora is about 50 miles north of Elko via the Mountain City Highway (Nevada 225) and Nevada 226. There is no store. No cafe, no saloon, no commerce in the usual sense. There are only homes, studios, workshops, the post office and now the Society Hall, which will be staffed by volunteers on August weekends.

Jan Peterson pays homage to Tuscarora's pioneers.

On this Open Studios day Jan Petersen’s cemetery tour provided intriguing glimpses of life in and around Tuscarora since the discovery. The Curieux, the Packers, the Van Normans, the Pattanis, all in their quiet rows. Guitardo Pattani died young in 1902. He was out with a couple of his cousins rounding up strayed horses, and he climbed a power pole to get a good look out over the rumpled landscape.

“Hey, Guitardo,” one of the boys yelled up at him, “I dare you to touch the wire!”

Rest in Peace, Guitardo.

Read the whole thing here

So much for the romance of the frontier.

And because we are not wandering at all, we haven't stopped for a glimpse of historic authenticity but for its precise opposite.

We've come for the fish.

Specifically we've come for the "Fish Fry in the Desert", a Cold Springs tradition on the 3rd Friday of each month (except December) for the past ten years or so: A delicious clam chowder and as many big chunks of Atlantic cod as you can put away.

Furthermore the modern Cold Springs Station is now a Resort under new owners George and Barbara McNeil, with a roof and chairs and everything, all sparkling clean and nobody dying quietly in the corner.

We couldn't accommodate any more than the three big pieces of cod that came on a bed of french fries, but the fellow at the next table was a shark. George told me that the house record is six pieces.

So . . . Most times we whiz right by (if we didn't bypass it altogether by taking Old 50 — now Nevada Highway 722) but we knew about the 3rd Friday Fish Fry and made sure to get there early. If you'd been driving that evening and decided on a whim to pull in for dinner, you'd still be describing the experience to friends. And Cold Springs is open every day. . . .

We drove on to Eureka after dinner and were up early for another experience available to wanderers: we swept the downtown sidewalks.

Editor's Choice

World’s Fastest Motorsport Comes to Ely

New Air Races in eastern Nevada June 13-16

When you have around 4,000 people in your town and you consider putting on a show, you might not endeavor to be the biggest. But there needs to be that special something that catches a person’s eye…something to make them stop and think,

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“Whoa, I can’t miss that!” So while the inaugural Ely Air Races and Air Show — held June 13-16 — may not be the largest air race you’ve ever seen, it will be the highest.

Read More at Nevada Magazine

More Important for Nevada's Future than Tesla

Recreation is redefining the value
of Western public lands

Visits to public lands and consumer spending grow, as agency budgets atrophy

Once, the West’s public lands were valued primarily for the timber, minerals and fossil fuels they held, which were extracted and then sold around the world. Small communities swelled with loggers and miners and the businesses that supported them, providing an economy that helped preserve the West’s rural feel.

Today, though, natural resource economies are waning and the West has joined the Northeast as the two most urbanized regions in the country.

Read More at High Country News

Discover the biking trails of beautiful Carson Valley!

If you had wandered to Eureka and were drifting past the Library on Monroe Street a little after 8 o'clock, you'd have seen us. Clean sidewalk in Eureka NevadaWe were among the volunteers pulling on t-shirts, collecting brooms, shovels and voluminous plastic bags, and then setting out to sweep the sidewalks on Main Street.

And if you'd wandered up and held out a hand, somebody would have put a broom in it.

About a dozen of us worked both sides of the street for a couple of hours. Highly satisfactory.

And if you had lunch and then strolled around exploring the town for a while, you could have joined the crowd at the Eureka Opera House for the Nevada State Old Time Fiddlers' Contest that afternoon.

Nevada Fiddler's Contest at the Eureka Opera HouseOf course we come to this event in complete ignorance, and that may be the best way. Nevada Fiddler's Contest at the Eureka Opera HouseIt certainly didn't interfere with enjoying it and it encourages discovery. A series of contestants came out on the hallowed old stage with one or two accompanists, generally guitar and bass, and fiddled like mad.

By the second round we were ranking the contestants and picking winners like experts. And had to restrain our impulse to object to wrong-headed decisions by the judges.

Old Time Fiddlers at the Eureka Opera House on US 50 in Nevada
Among the 100 or so in the audience — most of them out-of-towners — was Kathy Bly of Carson City Community Radio KNVC who recorded her visit here:


“Discover Nevada State Parks” Saturday June 9

Everyone is invited to “Discover Nevada State Parks” on Saturday, June 9 for a free day-use admission and free fishing (no license required) at all of Nevada’s State Parks.
Click here for details.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

In Reno and Las Vegas, landmark structures are being demolished. In Silver City a rock wall fell down.

The Grosch BrothersThat rock wall in Silver City had been built by two brothers from Pennsylvania, Allen and Hosea Grosch, who had come west to California as ’49ers. After a season placer mining they had crossed the Sierra to Nevada and found men panning for gold in the little creek flowing down Gold Canyon.

Like their neighbors they built a rough cabin, dry-stacking rock against the wall of American Canyon, building the other walls and the roof of logs and limbs. In 1856 they wrote home, “Native silver is found in Gold Cañon; it resembles thin sheet-lead broken very fine, and lead the miners suppose it to be. . . . One of these veins is a perfect monster.”

But before they could record their claims, Hosea drove a pick into his foot and died of blood poisoning. Allen struck out for California, was caught on the Sierra by winter snows and died there of exposure.

Through the years of bonanza, and the borrasca that followed, the significance of the stacked rocks was forgotten. No plaque, no-one left to remember. Yet the wall remained intact.

Until last spring, when it tumbled down into a heap, and the last remaining handiwork of the men who located the Comstock Lode became just a meaningless jumble of rocks.

Grosch brohers' wall runs in Silver City NevadaAround the state there are many historic treasures that are being protected, restored and revived. But at the mouth of American Canyon a big piece of our history was lost when that little wall came down. And it's still lying there.

Read the whole thing here

Breaks, Brains and Balls

"Joe Conforte, whose battle with Nevada legal authorities, "Breaks, Brains and Balls" by Joe Conforte and David Tollpoliticians and the public spanned some 35 years, is one of the state's most notorious 20th century figures. Over a series of interviews with respected Nevada historian and author, David Toll, Conforte tells his story in his own words, sparing no one including federal judges and prominent lawmakers.

It is a breezy read that often borders on the comical yet sheds light on the history of legal prostitution albeit with a prejudiced view.

Although it is difficult to find any sympathy or decency in the derelict protagonist, it is a must read for those that want to understand the brothel business and Nevada in the 60's,70's and 80's." — A review by KG Guy of Las Vegas at

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

The other day someone drew my attention to a website purporting to offer Nevada travel information. When I visited the site, I found this:

Northern Nevada is a vast expanse of mostly unexplored desert terrain interrupted by stark and jagged mountain ranges. The region is primarily comprised of the high desert of the Great Basin.

Few of the cities in the north are well known. Carson City, the state capital at the foot of the Cascade Mountains, is technically in the northern part of the state, though just at the southern edge. The few notable cities in the region are all along the I-80.

Coming down the Cascades from Lake Tahoe traveling northeast the I-80 first passes through the city of Winnemucca, then Battle Mountain, followed by Elko and then Wells. Perhaps the most notable attraction in the area is Ruby Lake in Humboldt National Forest. This region is popular with rugged outdoor types, who like to explore the harsh and unforgiving desert wilderness.”

After I stopped laughing I fired off a note. “I am rendered nearly speechless by the wildly inaccurate info you are publishing,” I fumed. “There are a few correct facts here, but the overall impression is of profound, abysmal ignorance.”

A reply came the same afternoon, offering me the opportunity to rewrite the text for them gratis. “Neither [my writer] nor I have been to Northern Nevada making it that much more difficult to accurately describe.”

Bummer. But the skiing is great in the stark and jagged Cascades!

Read the whole thing here

A few copies of the first edition have been found still in shrinkwrap from the printer These are the last unsold copies of the first edition, available here for $75 hardcover, $45 paperback.

Here's a revealing excerpt about local Nevada politics in the 1970s — the Nevada history you seldom see written down.

The Nevada Division of State Parks is getting ready to unveil a pair of new state parks.

Ice Age Fossils State Park is located in North Las Vegas Valley near the Floyd Lamb County Park.  The park is an important paleontological site where Carbon 14 dating technology was first used to determine the age of fossils. Its abundance of fossils date back to the most recent ice age.  The park will embrace interpretive walks, a Visitor Center and campsites with a grand opening in July.

The Walker River Recreation Area, in Mineral and Lyon counties will incorporate 29 scenic miles of the East Walker River in Western Nevada and is made up of four former ranches. Much of the property of the park has not been open to the public for 125 years. Besides hosting fishing, hunting, hiking, equestrian use, OHV use and camping, the park will be important to the restoration of Walker Lake and protection of the Walker River watershed.  A grand opening for the Recreation Area is planned for September.

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Nevada State Parks Administrator Eric Johnson talked with Roger Moellendorf about these interesting additions to our state's attractions on Carson City Community Radio KNVC in Carson City.

The post NevadaGram #203 – Last Chance Joe, Wandering, Cold Springs Station, Old Time Fiddlers appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #202 – Rural RoundUp in Tonopah, Big Spike in Boulder City, Reno Night on the Town Tue, 01 May 2018 00:40:30 +0000 Peter Barton and Gernor Brian Sandoval at dedication of the new NSRy bridge to Henderson

Rural RoundUp, the annual grand conclave of tourism workers from all around rural Nevada, was held this year in Tonopah. The speakers were insightful and entertaining, the workshops apt and informative, the meals ambitious and delicious and the schmoozing pleasant and productive . . . but what we most remember is the wind.

The bitterly cold, furiously battering wind that blew without letup, disturbed our hair, chilled our bones and drove us indoors.

We were greeted at the Opening Reception by Fred and Nancy Cline on the ground floor of the Belvada building. The Clines' arrival in Tonopah was like a heart transplant for the old city. They restored and reopened the Mizpah Hotel in 2011.

They've since opened the Tonopah Brewery and rib house up the street and the Mizpah Club across the small parking lot on the north side of the Mizpah, and now they're rehabbing the Belvada.

Belvada Building, Tonopah Nevada
Belvada Building, Tonopah Nevada

This was the toniest business address in the brash young city in 1910; but after the boom, as the air went out of the economy in the 1920s and the professional class departed, it became apartments, at first desirable and then less so. By the time the Clines acquired it from Nye County, which had acquired it for nonpayment of taxes, it had been looted of even its windows and interior doors. It will be — guess what? — another hotel. Thus are the Clines restoring Tonopah's grandeur piece by piece. What an amazing gift!

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

My posse was down to one when we arrived in Laughlin. I don't know where the other one went. Much of life is a mystery to me, actually, but as long as I have a full belly and a warm place to sleep I don't worry about it.
Shorty the Wonder Dog at Harrahs LaughlinWe checked into Harrah's for two busy days of photo shoots and research. I conduct research by nose, up close and personal, so we were up early the next morning. Even in May the days get hot; early mornings and early evenings are the best times to explore the North Reach Trail to Davis Dam.

There's a fascination to the river, even for a little yellow dog. It's perfectly stationary, and yet it's constantly moving. That is, it flows past but it stays just where it is. It's a puzzlement.

I have to admit I'm a little miffed that the posse has absconded with one of the very nice bowls the Harrah's people included in my Doggy Swagbag when we checked in. They use it as a candy dish and think they're very funny.

The Wonder Dog

Larry Friedman's absence was deplored and three of tourism's silverbacks were paid tribute — Ed Spear of Ely, Bob Perchetti of Tonopah and Jim Marsh, who is at home all over Central Nevada.

We left after the Awards Banquet Thursday night and drove south to Pahrump where we took a space at Camp Wal-Mart for what was left of the night, and hurried on at dawn to Boulder City and the Nevada State Railroad Museum, home of the Nevada Southern Railway.

The little depot on Yucca Street was just coming to life when we arrived, not with choo- choos but with railbikes. These are industrial grade quadricycles-built-for-two that run on railroad tracks when pedaled, and they can be joined together so that whole groups can travel as one, all pedaling . . . gently at first, and then going like mad. Great fun!

Their adventure takes them west on track originally laid in 1931 to connect the UPRR from Las Vegas to Black Canyon and the Boulder Dam construction site, ending just northwest of the Railroad Pass Hotel/Casino at the US 93/95 Freeway. This has also been the end of the line for the weekend excursion trains since they began in 2002.

But on this day that would change in a big way. A special train was waiting to carry invited guests to a ceremony at the opening of a new bridge carrying the rails across the new Freeway to Henderson.

Celebrities arrived one by one and two by two; Governor Sandoval, Senator Heller and 40 or 50 people representing constituencies, contributors and participants in the project. And at 11 o'clock we got on board the two coaches, a dining car, an open-sided observation car (all acquired from Utah's "Heber Creeper" in 1992) and the VIP Caboose and a vintage diesel pulled us gently to the bridge.

In 1985 the Union Pacific Railroad sold its Las Vegas-Henderson spur to the City of Henderson with an agreement that the city would maintain the rails and the UP would continue 5-days-a-week service to the city's industrial businesses. Beyond Henderson the line was unused, and in 1988 NDOT paved over the rails that crossed the highway.

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By 2000 the State Railroad Museum consisted of the track, the big shop across Yucca Street, the shaded platform and the fully rehabbed equipment from Utah. All of this was accomplished by the sole employee on site, Greg Corbin, working with contractors.

All that was lacking was running trains, so in 2002 Museums Administrator Peter Barton contacted southern Nevada members of the National Railroad Historical Society and asked if in addition to loving railroads they'd like to run one. It turned out they would, and they formed the Friends of the Nevada Southern Railway to fire up the locomotives and carry 2000 riders on the run to Railroad Pass the first year.

Annual ridership is now about 37,000 on the weekend runs plus the Special Trains — during December the Holiday trains all sell out, and carry some 10,000 passengers.

Preparations for the advent of Interstate 11 have had a big impact on the operation of the NSRy, starting with the redesign of US 93 and US 95 at Railroad Pass. When those plans were announced, Corbin reminded NDOT that the original rails had been paved over 20 years before, even though the right-of-way, despite being unused at the time, had never legally been abandoned. As a consequence the bridge we'd gathered to inaugurate was added to the highway realignment plans and constructed by NDOT. The small bridge a little farther west carries the bike trail.

Another consequence of I-11 was that Boulder City officials realized that rerouting highway traffic around the city would hurt local business. They came to the Railroad Museum wondering if it could be expanded to become a more significant attraction.

Governor Sandoval drives spike spike at new bridge over US 93/95 FreewayThat, of course, is up to the Legislature and it's

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anticipated that funding the three phases of development will take a mix of public and private financing. A federal grant is being sought to develop and maintain the biking/hiking trails, and the museum itself will be a mix of State bonds and private money. Phase One is a $15 million Visitor Center/Passenger Depot at the now undeveloped east end of the property. Phase 2 is to be development of the access drive from Yucca Street into a landscaped greenbelt roadway, and phase 3 fills in the gap between the current platform and the new Visitor Center with more exhibits.

Oh but that's just the beginning. After the ceremony by the bridge (after hearing that Governor Stanford went 0 for 3 when trying to drive the Golden Spike at Promontory Point in 1869, Governor Sandoval practically got onto his knees to tap-tap-tap the Silver Spike carefully into place) we reboarded the train and made the first passenger run to Henderson.

The tracks don't extend very far beyond the highway crossing yet but preliminary plans suggest that an operating agreement now being negotiated with the City of Henderson will extend the run on a regular basis by about a mile, to the end of current UPRR directed freight service. An anticipated operating agreement between the City, the Museum and Union Pacific would allow Special trains to a Henderson passenger platform where the tracks run near to Water Street, the original downtown, and ultimately to the area of the Fiesta Casino, about seven miles west of the bridge.

Tourist trains back and forth between the two cities are a natural; there are even giddy thoughts of establishing daily commuter trains from Boulder City all the way to Las Vegas.

Hurry up with it, ladies and gents. We want to ride that train too.

She came out dancing

I’ve never seen Tina Turner perform, and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard her on the radio or tv, so when Stephanya came skipping out from the wings at Sammy’s Showroom in Harrah’s Reno and announced that this would be a Rock and Roll night, not a Sinatra night, I was a little bit disappointed. I like Sinatra.

But along with her there were four dancers, two back-up singers and a five-piece band wailing away in the antic sprays of color spiraling down from the lights spinning and doing cartwheels on the ceiling.

And in out there in the middle of it all was Tina, head shaking, teeth flashing, singing loud and nonstop:

We don’t need another Hero!
We don’t need another Waco! (Can that be right?)

And then a surprise! In came a man in a pink dinner jacket, prancing in time to the tumultuous music and flinging himself — OMG! It’s Mork!

It wasn’t though, it was Rod Stewart, singing his heart out at the top of his lungs:

I want your hind legs!
Hind legs and saddle shoes!

That doesn’t sound right either, but it didn’t seem to matter at all in the endless flood of music, the audience and the performers alike iridescent in the lights sparkling down from above, Tina back on stage, standing in the spotlight but not standing still: arms up, arms out, head back, voice enveloping the room, high energy buoyed up by high spirits.

What’s love got to do with it?

And then Rod was back with a sob in his throat:

Maggie I really tried!

And he waded into the flood, pulling the audience in behind him:

He sang: I wish                    We sang: I’d never seen your face
He sang: Forever Young      We clap-clap-clapped

And throughout it all the dancers danced, the singers sang, and the musicians each (except the drummer) stepped forward for a showcase solo that suggested a wider repertoire than allowed by the relentless, urgent, ecstatic drive of tonight's playbook.

If Tina Turner was as good as Stephanya it's no wonder she was so popular.

That effervescent show was the high point of our night on the town, but there were a couple of other events that made it perfect.

Before the show we had the Friday/Saturday night Steak and Seafood buffet at Carvings. The experienced buffet browser understands the difficulty of keeping food both warm and fresh indefinitely, and deploys his tongs accordingly. The rare roast beef makes every other offering on display into a side dish; choose the ones you see as they arrive from the kitchen. The desserts are excellent.

After the show and a nightcap in the Sapphire Room we returned to the dog-friendly 4th floor where we'd left Jones and Mojito watching Fox News in one of the recently renovated pet-friendly rooms.

Pet-friendliness seems to consist most obviously of tile floors replacing carpet for the sake of cleanliness. Unlike, say, Bert Woywod's Prospector Casino/Hotel in Ely, there's no big dogbed in the corner for Pooch to spread out on. Still, with a walk on the rainy streets of Reno, and a visit to the postage stamp size poop zone on 2nd Street the dogs were quite content, and so were we.

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And speaking of downtown Reno hotels, there's one — the Whitney Peak — that's included in a list of the World's 12 Coolest. Not the World's 12 Coolest Hotels, although it is a very cool hotel, but the World's 12 Coolest Climbing Gyms.

Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno NevadaSay what?

"The popularity of indoor climbing has skyrocketed in recent years, and so have the number of gyms," says the Travel Channel. "We looked all over the world to find some of the coolest, many of which have saved historic buildings from being demolished. Pack your climbing shoes next time you travel. You'll want to see these places first-hand."

First on the list is CityROCK in Colorado Springs, Colorado, followed by fabulous-verging-on-astonishing climbing venues in Spain, Scotland, Germany, even Canada. And then, #6:

Fifteen Years Ago
in the NevadaGram

One of the unforgettable images I carry around in my mind is from the Carson City Rendezvous a few years back. Participants are intensely committed to practicing the lifeways of the frontier, each striking his own chord in this mad mix of historical moments. The men wear extravagant whiskers, the women are subdued. I was strolling past an Indian village in a crowd sprinkled with civil war soldiers, Scottish clansmen and gun-toting desperados of every colorful kind when I noticed a couple walking toward me through the turbulence.

They were splendidly made up as Mountain Man and Mountain Woman in dressed hides and furs. Their breeches were decorated with conchos and fringes, and they both wore big knives in their belts. Maybe they were on their way back to their booth, but they cut a majestic figure as they promenaded along together, accouterments ajingle. and as they passed me I turned to watch them go. And saw that their breeches were seatless — chaps, really — and that these two large people were butt-naked at the back-end of all their finery. Their butts were big and dead white, refrigerator white, huge beacons of brilliance reflecting the early summer sun, the King and Queen of Authenticity on parade. You’ve gotta like that.
Overheard at The Stockmen’s in Elko: “So I asked this Swiss guy, ‘How come you’re so docile about paying such high taxes?’ and he said, ‘What’s it worth to live in a country with no homelessness, no hunger, where everybody has access to health care and a good education?'”

Basecamp at Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno, Nevada

It probably does not surprise you that the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall is at a hotel in Reno, Nevada — little Vegas. It’s worth a visit. The 164-foot-tall climbing wall at Basecamp scales the side of the posh Whitney Peak Hotel. If that’s a little too tall for your liking, you’ll also find 40-foot auto-belay routes alongside the big one and a 3,200-square-foot bouldering gym indoors.

Don't let the dismissive silliness of that "Little Vegas" remark start a fight; most people outside Nevada are ignorant about our cities, even the famous ones. (An article about the hotel in the Huffington Post had this notice at the bottom: "CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated Reno was “not far” from Las Vegas. If you plan to hit Sin City after your climbing adventure, be advised that Las Vegas is about a seven-hour drive away.")

But these guys do know Climbing Gyms, and the Whitney Peak may be the only one you can rent a room inside of. It is indeed posh, but not in a way you've seen before. Everything about it seems ultra new, already halfway into tomorrow. As such, it's the opposite of Harrah's (see above) which is all about nostalgia, from the superlative Steak House to the international buffet to Sammy's Showroom itself, all still reliably top of the line as they've been since Bill Harrah's day.

We enjoyed the contrast between the two and recommend you visit them both in either direction during your next night on the town in Reno.

A Foodie Find in Las Vegas:
The International Marketplace at 5000 Decatur in Las Vegas is a great food shopping experience with thousands of products from all over the world.  You could easily spend an hour or more just going down the aisles to see what’s available. It’s a huge store, more like a warehouse than a standard grocery store.

Lots of canned and packaged goods as well as fresh produce and fresh and frozen seafood.  The fresh seafood is beyond anything you’ll see in traditional food stores.  Some fish are even raised on site and you can see them in the huge tanks.

The produce was interesting with unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. There is also Asian kitchen equipment, accessories and dinnerware.  We purchased some products we were familiar with like haggis, assorted pates and dolmas.  And we purchased many that we had never seen before or even knew what to do with, like some soy bean pastes from South Korea, which we’ll experiment with for flavor additions.

The one thing we didn’t find was lamb bouillon which I brought back from Scotland many years ago and have never been able to find again.

— Robin Cobbey

Parting Shot —

The post NevadaGram #202 – Rural RoundUp in Tonopah, Big Spike in Boulder City, Reno Night on the Town appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #201 – Art, Skiing, Driving Old Lonely, the April Calendar Sun, 01 Apr 2018 16:41:07 +0000

Skiing in Nevada

by Curtis Fong “The Guy From Tahoe”

Miracle March? March Madness? During this past month the Storm Door finally opened and Mother Nature brought winter back to northern Nevada… Gotta hand it to Punxsutawney Phil!

And, as I write on this first full day of Spring, a Winter Storm Warning is posted with the caveat that this system includes an Atmospheric River (i.e. Pineapple Express) to bring much needed rain to our valleys and snow at higher elevations. How much more snow before the end of the month? Stay tuned, as it’s not over until it’s over or until the Fat Skis sing! . . .

Read More

Art and Artists in Northern Nevada

by Dana Nollsch

ana NollschHere's how April is shaping up in Northern Nevada.

Carson City
Carson City has a very positive arts community with many summertime events and art galleries as well as the Nevada State Museum.

Next month we will come back for a closer look at the art happening Carson City.

In the meantime, check out an artist reception at one of my favorite Carson City art galleries, Artsy Fartsy.

(Also Ely, Fallon, Reno and Sparks) . . . Read More


Robin and I drove east along The Loneliest Road and made our first stop in Fallon. This old farm town has become surprisingly well-known for its eminent cultural presence at the Oats Park Art Center, and now — even more surprisingly — it's known for its food. We count half a dozen excellent sources of deliciosity in Fallon. And the Churchill County Museum has some interesting quirks.


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Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

The signature scene that remains in my mind from Rural Round Up 2013 took place in a hallway leading off the casino floor past the poker room and the big bingo parlor to the meeting rooms, where it makes a right-hand turn to get to the bowling alley.

It’s not a particularly wide hallway, although it widens out after the turn, and Jack Sanders was set up in the narrow part with a long table from which he and three assistants were pouring tastes of the wine they make at the Sanders Family Winery. Right at the corner was the cash bar.

Rural Roundup, Pahrump 2013So at six o’clock when the corks were popped and the tasting began, the hallway was jammed with people. Eventually they all had tastes, some more than one, and after priming their pumps with these thimblefuls of bottled sunshine, graduated to the bar for bigger glasses of lesser stuff. As they did, the wider part of the hallway at the entrance to the bowling alley slowly filled up with people from around the state happily babbling together.

I was a part of it, immersed in a conversation with a couple of guys about the nature of life, humanity and civilization, and back around the corner the corridor was still jam-packed at the tasting table. The hallway was buzzing like a hive full of bees.

Rural RoundUp in Elko 2017Which is when the bowlers arrived for Thursday Night league play, two, three, four at a time, pulling little carts full of accouterments and pushing silently into the mass of chatter. The crowd of eagerly conversing wine tasters parted before the silent advance of the bowlers, and closed back up again behind them until the next little cluster came pushing through. This went on for a semi-surreal five minutes, so zany it could have come from Jacques Tati or the Marx Brothers.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

I am talking about the Photo Booth which sometimes travels with museum Director Dan Ingram to public events, where it quickly becomes the center of attention.Photo booth at the Churchill County Museum Fallon Nevada It's not really a booth — i would call it a funny-looking gizmo — but it does what a photo booth does, which is to accept a $1 bill and snap a picture of whatever is in front of it. If that's you, when the photo appears it shows you standing in front of a hallowed Fallon landmark! It's hard to snap just one!

History Sox at the Churchill County Museum Fallon NevadaIn the Gift Shop, along with History Socks at $10 a pair there are lots of Nevada books . . . pus a collection of head-scratchers. "Cool Comfort: America's Romance with the Air-Conditioner" was one, along with "Jesus & Gin", "Toothpick: Technology & Culture", "Footnotes on Shoes", and "Eating for Beginners". This oddly charming agglomeration of strange books lends a mite of whimsy to the atmosphere.

More fun: Tours of Hidden Cave are offered on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month (excluding federal holiday weekends). On these days the museum opens at 9 am, the BLM guide arrives at 9:30, and at 10 participants caravan out to the cave site.

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Fallon is the jumping off point from the solid ground of modern civilization into the shock of the desert. The deeply rooted havens of Middlegate and Cold Springs Stations cater to the travelers on the Lonely Road.

Through Austin, over the Toiyabes, down the other side and out again into the sagebrush. Finally, at the last rise before Eureka — we see . . . a mirage.

Not the shimmering dazzle across the pavement ahead that we see on a sweltering afternoon, but — a Supermarket!

Out here?

Raine's Market was a tradition on Main Street since the Raine family bought it from the Kitchen family about three generations back, and began decorating the walls above the shelves in the high-ceilinged old building with taxidermy. They seemed to stock all of life's necessities on the jam-packed shelves and could help you find them. "Wax paper is right below the moose head over there." The Raine's met the needs of the community with graceful efficiency but increasing difficulty because of the old structure's limitations and stricter health codes.

Raines Market in Eureka Nevada

This big new store — it's no mirage — contains a Nevada State Bank and an Ace Hardware as well as a cornucopia of groceries and a full-service deli. It is spacious and open and sparkling new, a striking contrast with the old store's maze of narrow aisles and oiled wood floors. This would be a very nice store anywhere. Out here it is spectacular.

Customer service at Raine's Market in Eureka NevadaIt's good to see the old city looking busy again. The closing of the Ruby Hill Mine just uphill to the west and the Pancake Mine east of town had sucked some of the energy out of this happily remote community. Without those jobs, For Sale signs sprouted in dispiriting profusion.

And now the profusion is of white pickup trucks, most of them mud-spattered with red banners flying, cruising in and out of town. Mining has come awake again, and Eureka is waking up with it.180 N.Main Street in Eureka Nevada The Gold Bar Project on the southwest slope of Roberts Mountain — formerly the Atlas Mine — is expected to put about 200 people to work in construction, and 150 to operate it once it's built. The Tonkin site around the mountain on its northwest side is also being evaluated. To the east the Pan Mine is being prepared to go back into production and the word on the street is that a second pit is being considered there as well. Rentals are scarce and the For Sale signs are coming down.

Baskets at Eureka Restoration EnterpriseThere is no Visitors Center in Eureka, but out-of-towners are welcome to bring their curiosity about Eureka County, food and lodgings included, to the Court House where the staff is glad to answer your questions during business hours. On weekends during spring and summer the Eureka Restoration Enterprise, a local organization devoted to to helping create a more inviting community (thus the murals beginning to appear around town) opens its doors at 180 N. Main to offer regional art and homemade Nevada products. The volunteers are happy to help you find your way around.

The Owl Club has been at the center of the action for visitors to Eureka since Ted Carrion bought it in 1981 and his son Ron came from Lake Tahoe to manage it in his convivial style. Now Ron's daughter Eleny Mentaberry runs it with her husband Scooter. The tone that Ron established for his restaurant has been retained, with a full bar adjacent and a big room used for banquets and dances just past the bar.

Rich McKay grew up here, and in 1983 he confronted the career options facing every graduate from Eureka High: #1) live and work on the ranch (if you have one, which Rich's family did), #2) go to work at the mine (if the mines were running (which they were in '83), or #3) go to work for the County. Rich took Option #4) which is to leave, and went off to college in Idaho. That became his springboard to a career in high-tech in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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He didn't have any thoughts about coming home until he had kids, and then he did, more and more. So when Aunt Margie's Sundown Motel across Main Street (US 50) from the Owl Club became available, Rich came home. With his nephew Giovani Minolete, he bought it, along with the Chevron station at the uphill corner and the Eureka Hotel/Cafe at the downhill corner. Now it's likely to be his wife Crystal who checks you in at the motel while Rich is stocking the shelves at the gas station,  or working on the hotel rooms he's renovating above the Eureka Cafe. This was a Chinese cafe for more than 50 years beginning in the 1940s. It's not ready to reopen yet, but the Eureka Saloon is going strong, just a few steps up the block.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

CMI drill rigs poisoning the air in Gold Hill

Stayed home to resist the destruction of the Virginia City National Historic District by Comstock Mining Inc.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin Cobbey

One of the town's great treasures is underneath that Cafe: an intersection of elaborate brick tunnels built to connect various buildings in town to facilitate moving around in the frozen winter. One tunnel connected the home of Governor-to-be Reinhold Sadler to his store on Main Street so he could walk between them without concern about the weather. Or to avoid talking with his neighbors, as another story has it.

Rich is thinking about how to conduct tours of this underground wonderworld, but he is pretty sure it wasn't wasn't built by Chinese workers. "At the time the tunnels were built the Chinese were relegated to menial tasks and trades and it's doubtful there were skilled Chinese bricklayers available for a job this big. The style suggests a European tradition, and I'm guessing the tunnels were built by English or Italian workmen who were here in large numbers."

I was struck by Ely's plan to beautify 12 downtown blocks by way of an NDOT grant. Add that to the murals already on so many walls, and to the Cuchine Collection Art Show, an exhibit of nearly 200 pieces from Wally Cuchine's fabled collection of Nevada art. At this rate we will have tourists from all over the world visiting Ely and descending eagerly into the basement gallery beneath the Garnet Mercantile.

The Opening will be April 1 with a reception for Wally from 2-4 pm.

But that's not all the excitement in Ely. Mark Bassett, Director of the Nevada Northern Railway says that last year was the best for revenue in the lt 30 years, and this year is shaping up to be even better.

"We hit the Trifecta of publicity last year!" he told me.

First, he said, the New York Times included the railroad's "Be the Engineer" program in a December article about unusual Christmas gifts and they sold lot of 'lifelong memories'.

Then, on Christmas morning CBS broadcast a special on the railroad's Star Train and the phone immediately began to ring. "We had to break away from Christmas and come to the office and book orders. The Star Train schedule was sold out for the year before it even started!"

Then in February the photographer who manages the traditional Winter Photo Shoot phoned to say that the railroad was featured on "The Big Bang Theory" in an episode all about Sheldon getting a "Be the Engineer" ticket on the Nevada Northern!

And finally (check my math, but I think this makes it a Quadrifecta), there is an Iron Rule that engine crews are to be on hand and ready to roll 45 minutes before the scheduled departure. One morning as Mark was checking the railroad's Facebook page he was horrified to see a that video had been posted showing the engine crew cooking bacon on a shovel in the locomotive's firebox. Mark sprang for the telephone.

"David!" he cried when he reached the volunteer who'd posted the video. "Get that video down! That's a clear violation of the rules! We can't have that up there!"

And as he waited he noticed that the video, posted two hours before, had already been viewed 20,000 times.

As Mark watched, the video was deleted.  He sprang for the phone and called the volunteer again.

"David!" he cried. "Put the video back!"

The restored post accumulated clicks at the rate of 20,000 an hour and eventually totalled 1,200,000 hits.

And on September 2nd this year the NNRy will host the first Iron Horse Cook-Off at the depot in East Ely.

Upcoming Events

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Click Here to browse the Nevada Events Calendar

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Laughlin is a great place for having fun and I am a big Fats Waller fan, so I’m snapping my fingers and strutting on down to the Ramada Express where Ain’t Misbehavin’ is playing for 10 days. So unless your feet’s too big, bring your honeysuckle rose and get there, because the joint will be jumpin’. Across the street at the Flamingo The Comedy Stop is performing two shows nightly, 3 comedians each show, with new comedians changing out each Monday. Laughlin NevadaThe following weekend is Laughlin River Days, a citywide boat racing spectacular with a Beach Boys concert.

David Walley’s Resort about 1.3 miles from downtown Genoa (oldest settlement in Nevada) is welcoming guests for a Memorial Day Weekend of peace and quiet in the bubbling hot springs pools with their beautiful views of the surrounding valley and majestic mountains.

Walley's Hot Springs pool, Genoa NevadaIt’s delightful and serene with lots of amenities: restaurant and deli, massages in a full spa, swimming pool. They have time shares they also use as a hotel open to the public, Yep, that’s the event, peace and quiet. A little slice of heaven.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

[caption id="attachment_32947" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Truth is Beauty at Burning Man in Nevada
Parting Shot
'Truth is Beauty' by Marco Cochrane, photo by Eleanor Preger, in the New York Times

The post NevadaGram #201 – Art, Skiing, Driving Old Lonely, the April Calendar appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

]]> 0 NevadaGram #200 – Skiing the Rubies, A Foodie in Vegas, Shopping in Winnemucca Fri, 02 Feb 2018 14:49:18 +0000 Ruby Mountain summits near Elko

Introducing a new section of the NevadaGram, Let's Go Outside with Curtis Fong.Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience

Curtis Fong"I remember the guide telling us what line he was going to ski and indicating a stop point at the bottom and with specific instructions to ski to the right of his line only. As he skied down below us, my heart was beating faster with excitement and hoping that I don’t blow this and do cartwheels down this face. I dropped and remember making the first 3 turns and feeling the skis slide through the snow as the powder flowed over my boot tops and up and over my knees, feeling each turn and flowing in rhythm, attempting to keep the same radius turns as the guide, and, also trying to remember to breathe.

"Helicopter skiing is almost a religious experience — I was chanting “OMG” with every turn — more like an out-of-body experience, because I could imagine myself making each turn in a slow motion segment of a Warren Miller movie. RIP Warren Miller!" Read it all here

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

When Tom Sanders ran away from home at 13, he was taken in by an Indian couple and for most of the rest of his life he lived among the Indian people of Nevada.
This is one of the recordings Tom made for The Gold Hill NEWS. He would sometimes stop by with a handful of new stories on cassettes, other times he would take a chair out behind World Headquarters and tell a story into the recorder.
Ideally you are seated in a comfortable chair with a refreshment at hand, mind prepared to cast the modern moment aside and drift into a different world as you punch the Play button and Tom tells the story he called “Pullin’ Teeth”:

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Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

In last month's NevadaGram (near the bottom) I mentioned the new hotels blossoming near the freeway offramp on Elko's east side and elsewhere. Our own preference is downtown above the DLC Gallery & the Gallery Bar, next door to Capriola's.

Once upon a time this was the Clifton Hotel, a haven for nine old men who lived above the smoke trap called Jack's Bar. Now the upstairs rooms are being being refurbished and remade with two bathrooms and a shared kitchen, in preparation for listing them with Air b&b, HomeAway and similar services.

Among the amenities is the south facing deck at the end of the upstairs hall. It overlooks the lawned and leafy backyard. Weddings are held there in good weather, and when a visiting band brings a crowd, the bar's customers spill out here on warm summer evenings. In the morning, the deck is a perfect place to settle down with a self-made latte from the kitchen and watch the sun rise over the Rubies. And the stuff across the alley too.

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Downstairs it's Jacques' bar now, with a superb wine list and Nick behind the bar. The name derives from the art on its walls and spilling in from the gallery in the next room — paintings, ceramics, photographs and more from local area artists.

Coffee Mug restaurant Elko NevadaBut the main attraction is what's outside: downtown Elko.

Down the block to the right is the Coffee Mug Family Rrestaurant, an Elko favorite now at its third location over the years, and the recently opened Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum. Originally built for the Garcia Harness and Saddle Shop on Silver Street, the building was later moved to its present location and served as offices for the Elko-Lamoille Power Co. and NV Energy until 2016.

The Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum's recently restored building at 542 Commercial Street was built in 1907 by master craftsman G.S. Garcia to house his saddle, harness and tack shop.The gleaming pressed tin façade restores the building's brand new 1907 appearance. Inside, Garcia’s shop has been replicated from photographs provided by the Wright family, proprietors of Capriola's, which is next door to the Inn, at the corner of Fifth Street.

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This is the modern descendant of the hallowed Garcia Saddle Shop and a reliable source of boots, hats and other western goods, including the heirloom-quality leather and silver work.

A visiting journalist wrote in admiration in the New York Times some years ago that Capriola's "sells everything for the cowboy and his horse, from a box of horseshoe nails to a $3,500 saddle." A hand-made saddle crafted to a classic design might cost a little more nowadays, but they are still made right here, along with the other leather goods and the tack that account for most of Capriola's world-wide business.

Luciano's, Elko NevaaMachi's, one of our faves, is just across 5th street and the venerable Stockmen's Hotel, with its very nice $10 prime rib, is another block west. A block south on Silver Street is the Star Hotel, the hallowed Basque restaurant, and Luciano's Italian dinner house, both very popular.

North across the enormous parking lots that were once the noisy, disruptive and dangerous railroad switching yard and are now a huge convenience: plenty of free parking in the center of the city, is the Western Folklife Center, the organization that stages the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The gift shop is excellent, and the adjacent gallery is always worth a visit.

A little farther north on Fifth stop for a refreshment at the Stray Dog, a latte at Cowboy Joe's or something delicious at McAdoo's. Idaho Street, Elko's main drag, is just beyond, presided over by the exquisitely anachronistic Anacabe's Elko Mercantile, opened in 1936 and going strong. A block east is Roy's Market for the things you forgot to bring, or treats to take back to your room.

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Gallery Bar, Elko NevadaAs for Night Life, did I mention that the Gallery Bar is right downstairs?

Now that I've spelled it out like this I realize we have (almost) everything here we'd have at a Las Vegas Strip mega-resort, just not in-house. Plus plenty of free parking.

Overheard at Bakker's Brew in Battle Mountain: If you had to choose a time period to be born into, but you didn’t get to choose what race, gender, income level, social status, country/location, etc. you were born into, when would you choose to be born?

On a recent afternoon Diamond Jack Bulavsky, one of our prize-winning Las Vegas Correspondents, joined a group of foodies from New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin to enjoy the showcase dishes at four top restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip. Here is his dispatch.

I had joined a 'Lip Smacking Foodie Tour' that would introduce me to some of Las Vegas' most highly regarded and glamorous restaurants.

Right up my alley in other words.

Donald Contursi, president of the company, had invited me to join him and share the experience. I was delighted to accept.

Aria Las Vegas"We have afternoon and evening tours and the afternoon tour is great for those going to a show later in the evening," he said. “We operate daily with tours on the Strip and Downtown. Each one takes up to three hours and guests are given the VIP treatment. At the same time, tour guides are talking about the city, its history, and describing point of interest along the way as they walk from one restaurant to another. It’s a unique and informative Las Vegas experience.”

Javiers at the Aria Las VegasThe out-of-town foodies were thrilled to meet Diamond Jack as I introduced myself and explained who I was, but contained their excitement somehow. We started the afternoon at Javier’s at the Aria for fine Mexican food. Other restaurants on the schedule that day included Estiatorio Milos at Cosmopolitan, Momofuku at Cosmopolitan, and Cucina by Wolfgang Puck inside Crystals. Another tour might feature Bardot Brasserie from Michael Mina at Aria, Sage from Sean McLain at Cosmopolitan, and Scarpetta from Scott Conant at Cosmopolitan.

As we neared Javier’s, we were immediately greeted like Vegas VIPs and escorted to a selected area in the main dining room. carving steakFresh tortilla chips were waiting for us along with Javier’s three signature salsas: Javier’s House, Roasted Tomato, and Roasted Green Tomatillo. Then came two enchiladas: one was filled with shrimp, Dungeness crab, garlic and onion in a tomatillo sauce covered with melted Monterey Jack cheese and garnished with avocado slices and sour cream; the second enchilada, stuffed with chicken, was layered with Guajillo sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado slices and sour cream.

We yelled “ole!” except for the couple from Texas who found the enchiladas too rich.

After Javier's, we took a short stroll to Milos in the Cosmopolitan for some internationally-acclaimed Mediterranean seafood. On the way I chatted with the couple from Wisconsin. “What fun!” they enthused. “This is our second trip to Las Vegas and our second Foodie tour. We enjoy the commentary as we walk between restaurants as much as the food.”

At Milos we started with a Greek salad accented with vine-ripened tomatoes, virgin olive oil and barrel-aged feta cheese. Then sushi quality, grilled Mediterranean octopus accompanied with lightly-fried zucchini, eggplant tzatziki and kefalograviera cheese.

seafood at Estiatorio_MilosZorba the Greek never had it this good but the Wisconsin couple left the octopus on their plates.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

On the anniversary of The Great 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race Robin and I put on our goggles and dashed south to join in the festivities. Saturday March 22 was devoted to a re-enactment of the exciting day a hundred years ago when the Thomas Flyer came careening through the sagebrush into Tonopah, well ahead of its European rivals, paused briefly and then sped off to Goldfield.

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The Thomas Flyer was photographed in Tonopah on March 22, 1908 on its way to Goldfield, San Francisco, Siberia and Paris.

The car had been churning through the sagebrush on its muddy way from Ely when six teeth broke off the drive pinion and the transmission case cracked. The driver, George Schuster, rented a horse at the ranch and headed off in the dark for Tonopah, 75 miles away. There he solved the parts problem in the good old Nevada way: “From a doctor’s Thomas we borrowed the parts to repair ours,” he wrote in his memoir of the race, “and drove it onto Tonopah at 11 pm that night. Everybody in town waited up and rang fire bells.”

[caption id="attachment_31315" align="aligncenter" width="300"]2008 Great Race Tonopah Nevada Tonopah 2008[/caption]

A parade of Tonopah cars escorted the Flyer to Goldfield, then the leading city of the state, where “there was a riotous welcome with cowboys and miners firing pistols. The street was jammed with people when we arrived, and it was a crowd such as could only be found in a western mining town. After a banquet we were on our way again toward Rhyolite.”

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

Momofuku and Cucina were just as tasty with the finale being a colorful and delicious dessert from the kitchen of Wolfgang Puck.

It was the first Foodie tour for the couple from New Mexico and they were impressed by the architectural beauty of the restaurants and the varied art contained within City Center.

“We knew these restaurants were going to be nicer than truck stops, but this is much more than we expected,” they said. “And when we walked in, it really was VIP treatment from our private table to the food being served within minutes of our arrival. It was a real Las Vegas experience.”

There are several tours available and the most unique and extravagant is “Savory Bites & Neon Lights.” The evening begins with a VIP gourmet experience at five distinguished restaurants followed by a helicopter tour of the Strip’s famous shimmering lights via Maverick Helicopters.

“Our mission is to introduce visitors and locals alike to the best signature dishes and exciting adventures that make Las Vegas, well, Las Vegas,” said Contursi. “The local newspaper has voted us ‘Best Tour’, ‘Best Fine Dining’, and ‘Best Brunch.’ Those are honors we take seriously.” — Diamond Jack

Jack and Elaine Jacobs, berry farmers in Gardnerville NevadaWith retirement in mind, Jack and Diane Jacobs bought the historic Lampe family home in Gardnerville in 2002. Now retired and living there, they have transformed the core of the old Lampe ranch into a unique attraction. blackberry at Jacobs Family Berry FarmThey grow berries and keep bees, host weddings, family reunions and other events on the Jacobs Family Farm.

We have it on our calendar to visit Carson Valley in late July when the berry harvest begins in earnest and a visit here can be the centerpiece of a lovely day in Carson Valley. In the meantime you're welcome to stop in for honey, berry jam and essence. Call ahead in the off-season to make sure someone's here to serve you: 775-525-0450

Save American Poetry, Read A Cowboy

The Elko Convention Center looks like just about any convention center in small-town America: It has harsh fluorescent lights, ghastly cream-colored walls, and a beige-and-gray carpet that seems especially effective at masking stains.

On this winter morning, however, the center is alive with an unusual scene, even for rural Nevada: a sea of about 8,000 bobbing cowboy hats. At this moment, several hats are gathered around Paul Zarzyski, a 66-year-old man with a bristly handlebar mustache that covers his upper lip and extends down to his jowls. He looks like someone who's spent years of his life working the rodeo circuit—which he has. Now, he's talking excitedly about meter and onomatopoeia and synesthesia and other poetic devices. Read More

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Little Spoken Truths of Three Generations at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Upon first arriving in Elko, Nevada, for the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, I experienced something unsettling there that I also experienced in Reno just the week prior.

The Friday before the gathering, I attended a talk on Bertsolaritza, Basque improvised and sung poetry, and how women rose through the ranks of the once male-dominated art form. Upon conclusion of the presentation, Q&A proceeded. A man attending the talk re-explained the main points in different words for about three consecutive minutes. The encounter struck me in the moment, but I chose not to call attention to it.

Then on Tuesday, the first talk I attended at the poetry gathering was on a similar subject: female bertsolaris, the Basque poets, and their push to redefine themselves as speakers and not things to which men refer. To my surprise and muted dismay, the same longwinded guy from Friday was at the Tuesday talk. Read More

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Johnny Quick's plaqueIn your newsletter of November 2001, you mention a man named Johnny Quick, who claims to have been a member of Bill Haley and the Comets. Extensive research — including interviews with members of the Comets and Haley’s family — have failed to uncover any evidence that a Johnny Quick was ever a member of the Comets. He certainly was not in any way involved with the recording of Rock Around the Clock. The drummer on that record died in 1995.Clearly Mr. Quick qualifies as a “local character,” but his claims should be taken with a grain of salt.
For more information, I direct you to my Bill Haley’s Who’s Who.
Alex Frazer-Harrison
A proud member of Bill Haley Central

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

There’s lots of good shopping and browsing in Winnemucca, especially for the ladies.  Clothing, kitchen, wellness, antiques and junk.  Here are some of the places where I spent some time and money the last time I was in town.

Weezies, Winnemucca Nevada1. Weezies Kitchen Gadgets 1063 W 4th Street just east of Ridley's

A lot more than gadgets in this fully stocked, fun to peruse, kitchen store.  Cooking, baking, entertaining, serving, preparing, small appliances --  and a lot of cool gadgets.  Best kitchen store on I-80, including Reno

Cat's Meow, Winnemucca Nevada2. Cat’s Meow 310 S Bridge St

This is an antique and “junque” store that you can spend a lot of time browsing because there’s such an assortment of items and some very unique “art”.

Tapestry, Winnemucca Nevada3. Tapestry 45 W. Winnemucca Boulevard

This women’s clothing store may be the largest in Winnemucca, with big selection and some unique styles – definitely au courant.  There are also accessories, handbags, jewelry and a small line of foundations.  I bought a nice sweater here.

Welless, Winnemucca Nevada4. Essential Oils and More, 337 S. Bridge Street

This store is going through a bit of a change as the focus has broadened to all around wellness. You’ll find the oils but also supplements for health, skin care, body lotions and clever natural home made treats for pets (including "French fries"!).  The name of the establishment will change shortly to reflect the broader focus on health and wellness.

There are many more interesting shopping options in Winnemucca, most of them right downtown in walking distance from the Visitors Center on Winnemucca Boulevard. — Robin Cobbey

2108 Reno-Tahoe EventsThe 2018 Reno Tahoe Events & Festivals brochure is now available and you can click the image to see it online. The brochures will be distributed in visitor centers and chambers throughout Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Virginia City, Fernley, Fallon and Minden/Gardnerville.  For a complete listing of all events and entertainment in the Reno Tahoe area, click here or click here for our statewide Calendar of Events.
Let's do 80 on 80. The Nevada Department of Transportation has raised the speed limit from 75 to 80 mph on a 30 mile section of Interstate 80 in eastern Elko County between Wendover and Oasis. In May 2017 the speed limit was increased to 80 mph between Fernley and Winnemucca, except for a section through Lovelock.

But not in a bus. Five Nevada communities on I-80 have been pruned from the Greyhound bus schedule. The company no longer offers bus services from Salt Lake City to Wendover, Elko, Battle Mountain, Lovelock, Winnemucca, and Reno.

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You can still buy bus tickets in Reno, just not for the affected cities. An Interline partnership with Amtrak allows its customers to use tickets booked through Greyhound on the train service. Amtrak provides service to Elko, Winnemucca and Salt Lake City.

Wendover is hoping Congressman Mark Amodei will put back on track the Amtrak station/stop discussed a few years ago in Wendover, but that will take a lot of hoping before it comes true. For now in Lovelock, Battle Mountain and Wendover there is no near-term solution in sight.

Parting Shot —

Boulder on US 50 between Carson City an Lake Tahoe

Welcome to Nevada: Boulder on US 50 between Carson City and Lake Tahoe

The post NevadaGram #200 – Skiing the Rubies, A Foodie in Vegas, Shopping in Winnemucca appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #199 – Skiing in Nevada, yep Thu, 01 Feb 2018 21:42:38 +0000

Curtis Fong, "The Guy from Tahoe"

Our Guest Author this month is Curtis Fong, “The Guy From Tahoe”. He has been a familiar figure on the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe, on the tv screen and on the radio, for years. He has also created several of the most prestigious bicycling events in the state: Bike The West, America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, Tour de Tahoe-Bike Big Blue, and OATBRAN (One Awesome Tour Bike Ride Across Nevada).

Starting next month Curtis will cover Skiing and Bicycling in a new section of the NevadaGram we're calling "Let's Go OUTSIDE in Nevada". We will add ATVing, Hunting and fishing, Hiking and Climbing, all the outdoor activities available throughout the public lands — sunbathing? lollygagging? — as opportunities permit. His look at Nevada skiing is a preview of what's to come.

by Curtis Fong
“The Guy From Tahoe”

When anyone asks, “Where are you Skiing?”, most people respond with the obvious names of well known resorts — Heavenly, Vail, Park City, Killington — or a geographic location such as Tahoe, Colorado, British Columbia. Others describe their skiing by Mountain Ranges: the Sierra Nevada, Rockies, Wasatch, Cascade or Bugaboos.

Skiing in powder at Heavenly Valley Lake Tahoe NevadaNobody ever says Nevada when it comes to winter sports, but there are several resorts in Nevada where skiing & snowboarding are prime — and they are not in the Sierra Nevada.

Heavenly Mountain Resort has many of its lifts and runs on the Nevada side at Stateline on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. Heavenly North, as it is referred to, has two base lodge facilities that skiers and riders can start from: Boulder Lodge and Stagecoach Lodge, both located off of Tramway Drive at the top of Kingsbury Grade (Nevada 207).

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Nine lifts & tows (out of a total of 28) are accessed out of these two lodges serving terrain on Heavenly’s Nevada side, and there are 52 named trails (out of a total of 97) on the Nevada side. One can ski back and forth from Nevada to California and vice versa, from the top of either side of the resort when there is a normal winter snow pack. This winter has started off slow and if it were not for their snowmaking system, there would be very few lifts and runs open at Heavenly Mountain.

Snowmaker, Diamond Peak Ski, Incline Village Lake TahoeHeavenly has one of the largest snowmaking systems in the west and has been known to lay down as much snow, equal to 6” deep, overnight, on a full football field, when conditions and overnight temperatures permit. With this year’s slow start to winter, their snowmaking system allowed them to open the top of the Nevada side with Dipper Express on November 21. Comet Express was opened the next day, and by December 8 they were able to open Stagecoach Lodge and fire up Stagecoach Express to access the Upper Nevada side of the mountain.

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Shorty's Paw-tograph PartyMy paw-tograph Party in Elko was so much fun! Dogs and their posses came and they brought scrumptious home-made treats — it was like a pot-luck buffet for dogs.
Shorty signs his paw-tographI signed book after book and I ate a lot of treats I had never tasted before. My new fave: banana and peanut butter! Who knew?
Minka was there, and Dino. Sadie, Jake and Tallulah came, and Lexi-Lu.
When the party was over, each dog got a Doggy-Bag full of treats to take home. I’m still eating mine because the posse won’t give them to me all at once, which I really prefer.
S H O R T Y  The Wonder Dog

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

The Nevada side of Heavenly also has some of the steepest and most challenging terrain of all the Tahoe resorts, with both Mott & Killebrew Canyons, steep and narrow avalanche chutes with no room for errors. I recall when the Mott Canyon Lift was built, I toured this area with their mountain manager and skied “The Y” and “Bill’s Run”. It was steep and narrow, and you had to set up every turn through the bumps and hope you didn’t blow an edge or get too far forward or back on your skis.

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When it snows big time, all the way down with snow in the Carson Valley, many adventure skiers and riders ski down this backside to base of Kingsbury Grade with a little bush-wacking and skirting private property lines. On these days you can see skiers putting their thumbs out looking to hitch-hike back up. Nowadays there is a ride-share parking lot and a bus stop at the bottom of Kingsbury with shuttle bus service between Gardnerville and Stateline.

Gondola Base at South Shore Lake Tahoe just west of Stateline NevadaIn the 1970-80’s, Heavenly hosted International World Cup Events, and the Nevada side of the mountain had a fully homologated FIS Women’s Downhill Course, still called “Olympic Downhill”. This run started at the top of their Olympic Lift on the mid mountain and ran straight down the Nevada side with a steep drop to the finish. The finish area was served by its own lift, the Wells Fargo, which was removed many years ago and the run closed off. Most skiershave no idea this run ever existed, but its re-vegetated footprint is visible from Nevada 207 (Kingsbury Grade) at the top of Daggett Pass.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

The Border Inn, Baker NevadaIn 2004, Denys Koyle had the best idea of her life. Denys operates The Border Inn, about 5 miles from Baker on US 6/50 at the Utah line. Baker is the enchanted village at the entrance to Great Basin National Park. As she was reflecting on the great popularity of Elko’s Cowboy Poetry Gathering, she thought, “What about a party for sheepherders?”

Denys Koyle at the Border Inn, Baker NevadaAnd so she threw one.

She thought 40 or 50 people might show up for the supper of lamb stew, fried spuds and baking powder biscuits. Ninety came, most of them from the southern Idaho, western Utah, eastern Nevada region where the dwindling sheep industry still survives.

Sourdough SlimThe popularity of the event has drawn more participants each year, and Denys is expanding her main building in large part to accommodate the party. But as enjoyable as the party is, there are fewer and fewer sheepherders to enjoy it.

“The last of the Basque sheepherders working around here left the range in 1977,” she says. “After that it was Scotsmen and then Navajos; they’re all Peruvians now. And where I used to have 30 or 40 of them in here on a Saturday night, I might get 8 or 9 now.

Old Sheepherders Party, Baker Nevada“So when people say to me, ‘Your party will be as big as the Cowboy Poetry Gathering before long,’ I say, ‘No it won’t.’ But I’m not doing this to build a big event. I’m doing this to make some old men happy.”

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

Although nothing beats sliding on real snow, their machine made snow, when it’s machine packed & groomed is a satisfying surface for any skier or snowboarder and most welcomed when Mother Nature doesn’t deliver the goods in a timely fashion. The investment in snowmaking has proven to be extremely beneficial for Lake Tahoe resorts to provide a product when Mother Nature takes a break.

Diamond Peak in Incline Village was the first resort to invest in snowmaking in the West. Originally known as Ski Incline, this resort installed snow making when it was opened in 1966. Here is an excerpt from Diamond Peak's History:

"Art Wood, an entrepreneur from Oklahoma, and his associate Harold Tiller envisioned the creation of Incline Village -- a master-planned vacation resort community on the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe. Ski Incline, now known as Diamond Peak Ski Resort, was one of Art Wood's cornerstone recreation amenities in his master-planned "Pebble Beach of the Sierra." In 1966, Luggi Foeger, a renowned Austrian-born ski resort consultant, was hired to design and build the resort.

Diamonid Peak Ski Resort, Incline Village"Art Wood put his faith in Foeger and committed $2 million to build Ski Incline. While everyone in the ski industry predicted failure, Foeger's vision turned out to be even more profound, since his new ski area was designed to include the first snowmaking equipment in the western United States. With the installation of snowmaking technology, Ski Incline became the first resort in the West to employ this insurance policy against Mother Nature's stinginess. Time and again, during drought and late-snow years, these systems have enabled the resort to create a top-quality ski experience. Soon many other Tahoe area resorts followed suit."

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When Ski Incline opened on November 19 1966, just four months after construction began, it featured three chair lifts, a T-bar surface lift, and snowmaking equipment.

In 1985, Ski Incline got approval to install the mile-long Crystal Quad Chair to the top of the peak and expand the lift system and snowmaking capacity. With this steeper and more advanced terrain, the resort changed its name to Diamond Peak at Ski Incline… to reflect Black Diamond Terrain… Since then, “Diamond Peak” stuck and “Ski Incline” was retired.

With Diamond Peak’s snowmaking system, they were able to get open for top to bottom skiing and riding on December 14. Although only a few runs were opened, snowmaking was the difference, as it has been in other low snow years.

Mount Rose Ski Tahoe is another great Nevada resort. When I first started to ski in the Tahoe area, in the mid to late 60’s, there were two different resorts at the top of Hwy 431, Slide Mountain Ski Area and Mount Rose Ski Area, and there was a fence dividing the resorts between their lifts and runs at the top of the mountain.

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Maryjane Sisters at the International Hotel, Austin NevadaMeet the MaryJane Sisters, Mary and Jane, whose idea of a dream vacation is to travel together around Nevada and enjoy the local flavors: "You know how people tell you "you can't get there from here?" Mary asked me. Or was it Jane?

"Well it's not like that in Nevada. You can get almost anywhere from anywhere in Nevada. The network of unpaved roads will take you on a journey through the real Nevada, which can't be seen from the highway. You may even go back in time as you trek the desert valleys and mountain canyons.

The Maryjane Sisters on the road in Nevada"We like to have a tentative itinerary subject to modification as we go," she said. And so it was that the Sisters were dancing with some cowboys in Elko one night when somebody mentioned the two-headed calf at the Jiggs Bar. "He said the Jiggs Bar was the best place in town, not to mention the only place in town. Besides, his uncle owned the Jiggs Bar.

"Jiggs isn't exactly a town but it definitely has the two important buildings any town in Nevada should have: the town saloon, and across the road, the garage for the volunteer fire department. Now that's a well-planned town.

"The Jiggs Bar was old. We walked in and said we were looking for the 2-headed calf. I felt like I walked in off the desert but we got lucky. 2-headed calf in the bar at Jiggs NevadaNot only was the two-headed calf on the wall, there was a boar, deer, jackalope and numerous antlers and a white porcupine in a glass display case. There was a pool table but no juke box. A donation to the VFD earned us souvenir hats.

"We asked the proprietor and his patrons for advice about the route to Eureka and we were given detailed directions regarding the 50 miles of unpaved roads ahead. We were told, "don't make any left turns until you get through the valley."

On the road to Eureka Nevada"The county road was easy to drive and the scenery was awesome. The sky was clear and the Ruby Mountains were subtly radiant in shades of blue and gold in the late afternoon sun. We were the only ones on the road, which made our journey even more exciting. The feeling of freedom that comes with traveling Nevada's open roads is hard to beat."

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

I recall driving up from Sacramento and passing Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Ski Incline, Mt. Rose and skiing more times at Slide Mountain. It was wide open and there were no crowds and I helped organize my college ski club to spend new years ski trips staying in Reno and skiing at Slide Mountain. I recall one of the best things after skiing was heading to downtown Reno and stuffing my face at the El Dorado Casino Buffet — for a mere $1.85, well worth the big money then, when lift tickets were $6 and gas was 20 cents a gallon.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe is steeped in history and the two resorts combined in 1987/88 under one ownership and has continued to develop as a modern, efficient resort. Mount Rose Ski Resort, NevadaMt. Rose on one side and Slide Bowl on the other and connected with upgraded lifts at the top, more runs, more grooming machines, snowmaking and most recently, the additional to some of the steepest and challenging terrain offered anywhere. In 2004/5 they opened the Chuter Lift and skier/rider access to “The Chutes”.

In the new Nevada Magazine

Nevada MagazineIn the small eastern town of Ely you can take a vacation back in time. The Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark offers touchable history that can completely immerse you in the past. Time appears to have stopped at the museum; it’s as if the workers went to lunch and never came back. Continue Reading

These are a series of gated, full-on avalanche chutes that are controlled by their Professional Ski Patrol (Snow Safety, Controlled avalanche blasting & mitigation) before they are open for skier & riders to take the plunge.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe’s high base elevation continues to receive snow as global warming affects snow levels at lower altitude resorts. They do have snowmaking gear and use it when necessary, and they received enough natural snow to be the first resort to open this year on November 8. Since then, while other resorts are depending on snowmaking, Mt. Rose has received enough natural snow to open both sides of the mountain with all lifts & trails accessible, minus the Chutes.

These 3 resorts — Heavenly, Diamond Peak and Mt. Rose — are in the Carson Range, not the Sierra Nevada. Now that’s something to ponder.

There is skiing in other parts of Nevada as well, and next time I will visit with Ruby Mountain Heli-Skiing and Elko Snobowl. Heck, I might as well cover What Happens in Las Vegas - Stays in Las Vegas as not too many skiers and riders know about Ski Las Vegas – Lee Canyon Resort. Tune in next month.

Home2 Suites under construction at Elko NevadaTravelers to Elko find a lot of new hotels to choose from these days. The new Hampton Inn added 80 rooms and Ledgestone added 84. A 107-room Home2 Suites by Hilton is under construction on East Jennings Way and a 98-room Holiday Inn is being built on Ruby Vista Drive. Completion of these projects will provide 2,385 rooms awaiting travelers in Elko.

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The existing Holiday Inn Express on Idaho Street will become a Sheraton 4 Points franchise. And that's not all. The Oak Tree Inn, has become a Baymont Inn and Suites, and the hallowed Stockmen’s on Railroad Street is now The Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel.

Can't wait to try one? Book a Room in Elko (Or anywhere in the world)

Parting Shot

John Arant demonstrates a perfect Picon Punch at the Martin Hotel in Winnemucca.

The post NevadaGram #199 – Skiing in Nevada, yep appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #198 – Must See-Must Do, Hot Spring Getaway Mon, 04 Dec 2017 16:07:00 +0000 China Camp, near Tecopa

It is traditional for us to unlimber our Nevada 'Must-See Must Do' list in this first edition of the New Year. In the past Robin and I (and once, Shorty — he loved the dog-friendly Harrah's in Laughlin!) have made each selection. This year, though, many of them have been submitted by our Correspondents around the state — no-one knows what's happening better than a savvy local. And we've made it a point to include more restaurants than before, as food can be the highlight — or the downfall — of any journey. Our purpose isn't to make a list of Bests — always subjective — but to call attention to some of the excellence occurring daily in Nevada that doesn't always get the attention it deserves.

Nevada Restaurants of the Year

2018 Nevada Restaurants of the Year


Kerouac's, Baker NevadaThe Lectrolux Cafe, named for the spaceship Bill Rountree made from a vacuum cleaner and a chandelier and mounted on the roof above the door is now Kerouac’s, with new owners from New York City. Home of the Best. Pancake. Breakfast. Ever. as served on Saturday morning at Snake Valley Days. The re-do of the interior is moderne to the max without going over the top, a harmonious urban vibe. Yes, but it’s a 6-hour drive from everywhere but Ely! (and it closes for the winter)

Max Winthrop, Upper Lehman Creek Campground


Clean and comfortable, Happy Garden provides reliable service and consistent, delicious dishes. Menu includes soups based on homemade broths, crisp spring rolls, and a wide-range of entrees to satisfy any palate. Steaming plates of bright-colored fresh vegetables and crispy tofu please vegans among us. Open daily 11 - 9

Alexa Mergen, Ely

Metro Pizza, Henderson NevadaHENDERSON

Metro Pizza (four more in Las Vegas) is a family-run business with fantastic pizzas and fresh, delicious sauces for their spaghetti, fettuccini and huge ravioli and their chicken or eggplant parmigiana, baked ziti, calzones and stromboli. Lunch specials Monday - Friday, 11 am - 2 pm. Try different types of pizzas 50% off Monday through Thursday 2:30 to 4:30 pm.

Pauline Cimoch, Las Vegas Valley

Mr T's Rotisserie, Incline eillage NevadaLAKE TAHOE NORTH SHORE

As a family-owned business for more than 25 years, T’s Mesquite Rotisserie is a small yet popular Mexican food joint that offers perfectly skewered chicken, beef, and vegetarian options to enjoy right there or to go. Open from 11am-8pm daily, T’s can get really busy during lunch hour, yet the line moves fast.

Kayla Anderson, Incline Village

Latin Soul at the Lakeside Inn and Casino, South Shore Lake TahoeLAKE TAHOE SOUTH SHORE

On the bottom level of the Lakeside Inn and Casino is the hole-in-the-wall joint called Latin Soul. Breakfast includes traditional Huevos Rancheros or French Toast Toirijas with strawberry butter. Specialty dinners include scallops wrapped in bacon with espazote brown butter and chile Serrano salsa. You won't be disappointed.

Brendan Packer, Zephyr Cove

Bacchanal buffet, Caesar's Palace Las VegasLAS VEGAS

No visit to Las Vegas is complete without experiencing a buffet and the best in Las Vegas is Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. Why?: truffle deviled eggs, avocado toast, wagyu beef, dim sum, char-grilled lamb t-bones, Osso Buco, Japanese noodles, bone marrow with wild mushrooms, and made-to-order chocolate lava cakes.

Diamond Jack Bulavsky, Las Vegas

Mom's, Pahrump NevadaPAHRUMP

Mom's Diner, a small place at 1240 State St (off the main highway in the middle of the town) has the best customer service in the valley. The Chumley family takes great pride in the food and excellent service, and people come away with being one of the family. Recommended: chicken fried steak, homemade pie, ham steak and eggs.

Vern Hee, Pahrump

M&M's Sparks NevadaSPARKS

You may not think to find good ‘ole Southern food in Northern Nevada, but M&M’s Southern Café two doors down from Perfect Peace Community Church is all about feeding souls as well as bellies with authentic dishes such as frog legs, fried okra, chitterlings, hush puppies, and black-eyed peas. End the night with beignets and you won’t be disappointed.

Kayla Anderson, Sparks

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And All the Rest . . . .

2018 Nevada ity of the YearNevada City of the Year


Las Vegas is the greatest boomtown in history and the best-known city in the world, the youngest and brightest urban center in the American Southwest. The Las Vegas Strip is as familiar an American landmark as the Statue of Liberty, and the valley's population is now measured in the millions.
Las Vegas is one of the great man-made wonders of the modern world, an unofficial InterNational Park, privately owned and paid for by the direct, voluntary financial support of citizens from every nation on earth.

2018 Nevada Attraction of the YearRuby Mountains in Elko County Nevada

Nevada Attraction of the Year


This mighty range in Elko County is a geographical and historical Nevada landmark. It is not only beautiful to see pressed up against the sky, it is a vast realm devoted to outdoor recreation: hunting, fishing, hiking — the Ruby Crest Trail runs 40 miles along its back — camping, skiing, offroading, and the luxury of the Ruby 360 Lodge.

2018 Nevada Event of the YearRace the Rails at Nevada Northern Railway, Ely Nevada

Nevada Event of the Year


This is not a race against time or your fellow riders, you're racing a steam locomotive! When the train whistle sounds, mountain bikers and road bikers race on separate courses to get back to the depot before the train. Mountain bikers take a 10-mile course through the mountains surrounding Ely; road bikers take a 25-mile course along roads and highways,

2018 Nevada Hotel of the YearCosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Nevada Hotel of the Year


This luxurious property opened in 2010 and has already remodeled all its rooms, which are just gorgeous! Enhanced by art, and the Art-O-Mat which dispenses small treasures made by artists, the Wicked Spoon buffet, Secret Pizza (hidden, so find it!) and drinks at the Chandelier Bar, you needn't ever leave.

2018 NThe Wally Cuchine Nevada Art Collection show — Wally World in Ely Nevada

Nevada Hidden Treasure of the Year


It won't open until April 1st, but this superb fragment of the fabled Wally Cuchine collection of more than 2,000 pieces of Nevada Art is certain to be a grand occasion. With this show the Garnet Mercantile basement goes onto everyone's Ely to-do list. When the entire collection arrives, this basement will be Nevada's Louvre, thanks to Wally and the Ely Renaissance Society.


[sc name="CCVB 800x200"]Here's a woman intent on getting away from the grind and finding a hot spring to soak in. She found it at Tecopa. Introducing the first in a series about Finding It in Nevada.

by Evangeline Elston

Though I am a hot springs enthusiast, I had never even heard of Tecopa Hot Spring before I spotted it on a map in September. A trip to Tecopa for me was a two-day drive coming and going.

Day 1

Mizpah Hotel, Tobopah NevadaI took Highway 50 east from my place in Carson City and then Highway 95 south to Tonopah, where I spent the first night at the historic Mizpah Hotel: antique fixtures, claw foot bathtubs, high quality bedding and coffee served on each floor early each morning. The restaurant in the hotel, the Pitmann Cafe, is said to be one of the best in rural Nevada.

Also on Main Street is Whitney's Bookshelf, a favorite used bookstore. I rarely find a title I'm looking for, but I always find a book I want to buy. Larry Whitney, the store’s owner, is full of insight and a very interesting person to talk to. Whitney's Bookshelf, Tonopah NevadaThis visit I picked up Laughing Boy by Oliver LaFarge and Last Go ‘Round by Ken Kesey. With a few exceptions hard covers are $2.50 and paperbacks are $1.

The Tonopah Brewing Company, a couple of blocks uphill from the hotel, serves a variety of beers brewed on site, and BBQ. I liked the Mucker Irish Red Ale.

Tonopah has always had a weird vibe to me. It's an old mining town that has known booms and busts and it shows in the contrast between the old run-down houses and storefronts and the grand Mizpah Hotel and some of the new and thriving businesses. I always have the feeling that the next time I'm through I might find half the town boarded up again. But, at least for now, Tonopah seems to be thriving.
US 95 in Nevada

Day 2

This drive to Tecopa is full of childhood memories, interesting history, stunning views and solitude which I adore. Growing up, my folks would take us on winter camping trips to Death Valley for a break in the wintry weather and to see the wildflowers blossom in February.

It took me all day to drive down to Tecopa by way of Pahrump with many photo stops and an easy driving pace. Tecopa Hot Springs is made up of three small camping resorts, Tecopa Hot Springs Campground and Pools, Tecopa Hot Springs Resort and Delight’s Hot Spring Resort.

Tecopa hot springThe Tecopa Hot Springs Resort offers RV and tent camping, a few cabins and a small motel with private mineral pools for the rooms. I stayed here the first night. I enjoyed the private tub and the room was clean but not fancy.

The Tecopa Hot Springs Campground pools are wonderful, very clean with a low key, relaxing atmosphere. The men’s and women’s pools are separate and bathing suits are not allowed. The women’s area has two large tubs or small pools. The first tub is open to the air and the second has a roof. There are showers, toilets and benches throughout the small bathing area.

Delight’s Hot Spring Resort seemed to be the nicest of the three RV parks because it’s off the main road and has wonderful views on the desert to the east. I only went by it on my runs and didn’t investigate it.

Tecopa hot springI used these pools in the morning and evening each day. It was so calming and deeply relaxing. Other users keep their conversations quiet and everyone spends a lot of time in silence. I learned that many of the visitors who come regularly are retired Japanese folks from the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas. It makes sense given the popularity of hot springs in Japan.

Day 3

I woke up early, made some coffee on the picnic table outside my room and sat for an hour watching the morning light change on the colorful desert.

Shoshone storeIn the afternoon I drove the seven miles to the town of Shoshone. I needed an extra jug of water and I needed to get on the internet if I could find a connection. There is no cell phone coverage in the Tecopa area at all. In Shoshone I found a small grocery store with high prices and a lot of tourist stuff related to Death Valley. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Shoshone Museum across the Highway from the market. It has a bit of everything, settlement and mining history, native American culture as well as some paleontology with a dinosaur bone display.

The woman working at the museum asked my if I would watch the desk for her while she ran to the post office and I gladly obliged. There is a Wi-Fi hotspot at the museum, so while I was in charge I sat on the bench out in front and checked my work email.

Day 4

Tecopa hot springI started the day again with a run, to a good sized marshy hot pool called The Dip where at 8:00 am there were already happy folks soaking.

I went on up the trail to an area called the Mud Hills, a gorgeous five-mile round trip run followed by another soak at Tecopa Hot Spring.

China Ranch is about nine miles from the Tecopa hot spring resort area. Take Old Spanish Trail a couple of miles and turn right on China Ranch Road which becomes narrow and steep and feels very remote, which it is. The most common vehicle traffic is the off-roaders.

China Camp, near TecopaThe landscape is barren. The canyon is made of dramatically eroding, sparsely vegetated buttes and hills of white, cream, orange and brown. It’s reminiscent of Death Valley and the views around Zabriskie Point. China Ranch Date Farm is a family-owned working date farm located on the Amargosa River. The river is famous for running mostly underground, but the narrow valley through which it flows here is green, in lush contrast to the surrounding barren desert.

China Camp Date Farm near TecopaeI hiked to the top of a ridge where I was able to get views of the farm and much of the canyon. It was stunning: a lush date farm tucked out of sight in the middle of the harsh, mountainous desert. The orchards are planted in sections according to the date varietal and country of origin. The bakery serves date milkshakes, breads, cookies and muffins and sells dates grown on the farm. I sat in the shade outside and ate some date bread — which was delicious. The folks enjoying milkshakes looked very happy too.

Villa Anita, near TecopaeFrom the farm I drove back toward Tecopa to the Villa Anita, an ever-evolving art installation created by David Aaron Smith and Carlo Roncancio. It is a sprawling two-acre labyrinth of rooms, gardens, sculpture, works in progress. I spent a fascinating hour with artist David Aaron Smith. All the rooms in the “villa” are covered with his original art, paintings and sculpture, vintage and modern one of a kind furniture, found art, plants, flowers and trees and the fashion photography of Carlo Roncancio.

He explained that he uses plastic and glass recyclables to insulate the floors and walls and that the temperatures inside during the summer are pleasant when outside it can be 120 degrees. You can visit Villa Anita for the tour and the tea, or you can stay there and experience the art in total immersion; it operates as an Air B-and-B as well. And if you are an artist or find yourself drawn even further into the work, you can volunteer and arrange to stay for a time to help add to the vision.

Death Valley Brewing, TecopaI stopped in Tecopa at Death Valley Brewing. One of the owners was working the bar and served me an IPA. It was cold and good, and the atmosphere was casual and friendly.

It was my final evening at the hot spring and there was live music at the outdoor stage. I was curious so I headed there. It turned out to be the Executive director of the Hot Spring Conservancy who I’d met when I arrived, on drums, the gal who works in the camp store and gift shop singing and playing guitar and her husband also singing and playing. About 50 people gathered for the music, all sitting on hay bales or at picnic tables drinking their own beer and wine. They were locals and people from the campground. It was a very pleasant evening.

Day 5

Amargosa Opera House, Death Valley JunctionAnother repeat of my run and soak morning routine, followed by packing up to head back north toward home. I pulled out of Tecopa on Highway 127 toward Death Valley Junction. My Dad had taken my sister and me to the Amargosa Opera House when were maybe nine and ten years old. Amargosa Opera House, Death Valley JunctionMy sister was interested in ballet at the time and an eccentric artist and dancer named Marta Becket had been living in Death Valley Junction and performing ballet in the old opera house. She had also painted murals of audiences for the shows on the inside walls. It was odd and a little spooky and the memory of has never left us.

Driving north on Highway 95 it was wind with puffy white clouds and bright sunshine. The White Mountains to the west were dramatic with snow covering their peaks against the crisp blue sky. I made several stops to take photos and just watch as the clouds ran by. My destination was again Tonopah, where I spent my final night in luxury.

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Day 6

Wilson Canyon, Lyon County NevadaI continued north on Highway 95 back to Yerington but took Highway 208 through Smith and along the West Walker River to meet up with Highway 395 at Holbrook Junction. The river canyon gets very narrow and steep outside of Smith. It has tall rocky walls jutting straight up out of the water and the banks are covered with willows and cottonwoods. It’s a beautiful place to stop, stretch and poke around or have a picnic lunch.

I drove back into Carson Valley at dusk. It was cold, and the air was clear. Jobs Peak, Jobs Sister and Freel stood watch as always over the ranches and communities of Minden, Genoa and Gardnerville, their peaks dusted with snow. As I often do ending an adventure on the open road, I felt a melancholy yearning to keep going . . . maybe never stop.

Evangeline ElstonEvangeline Elston grew up in Silver City, directs the Valhalla Art, Music & Theatre Festival at Lake Tahoe and spends free time rediscovering Nevada.

Yes, we are aware that maps show Tecopa across the line in California. But have you ever seen that line? No. No-one has. It's not real. Tecopa, Shoshone and environs are firmly within Far Western Nevada which extends all the way to the ridge line of the Sierra and includes all of Owens Valley among many other interesting and enjoyable places. Far Eastern Nevada includes the Grand Canyon. Far Northern Nevada: Boise.

If you have a personal Nevada Adventure to share, please reply to this email with a brief description + video/3 sample pix.

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Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Gary Fly tending bar in Austin NevadaLas Vegas has celebrity chefs, but rural Nevada has celebrity bartenders, and none stands higher among this colorful collection of keepers of the long board than Gary Fly. He has mixed and served drinks and poured beer in saloons all over the state. I have personally been served by Fly in Gold Hill, Virginia City, Austin and Ione, but I didn't recognize him when I bellied up to the bar at the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah.

Gary Fly tending bar at the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah Nevada

His luxuriant whiskers were gone, and he was bareheaded. I'd never seen him in that condition before, and it wasn't until he spoke that I knew him. A drink at the bar at the Mizpah is always an occasion; prepared by Fly it is an occasion of state.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

Governor's Global Tourism Summit:

My most enduring recollection of this annual gathering of Nevada's Tourism professionals is of the High Roller. High Roller, Las VegasThis immense Ferris Wheel — 550 feet high, tallest in the world — seems to overtop everything in the increasingly high-rising Las Vegas Valley except the Stratosphere Tower. It takes most of an hour to make its rock-steady rise into the sky and back down again, and the views of the sprawling city are stupendous.

View from the High Roller, Las VegasFrom up here the phrase Global Tourism Summit seems quite apt, the golden city spreading out for miles, gleaming bright as day in the dark night, like a poster for the event. But it's at the Media and Tour Operator Marketplaces where the work gets done. There and over cocktails at the nearby bars.

Our experience of the High Roller was enhanced by a pair of fellow passengers who were determined to have some fun being silly and striking saucy poses, and who succeeded brilliantly.

I think of this marvel as a tribute to George W. G. Ferris, Jr., who invented the Ferris Wheel, and unveiled the first one at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, famous as the Chicago World’s fair. eeeeeeeeeeeEEAs every schoolchild knows, he was inspired by a water wheel at Cradlebaugh Bridge over the Carson River in Carson Valley.

Suffice it to say that the ride on the High Roller was the high point of the Summit for us.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Eagles and Agriculture in the Carson Valley

if you still think birdwatching is for pantywaists, try this: Carson Valley‘s Eagles and Agriculture

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On Wednesday morning participants will have a group tour of area ranches and can observe and photograph birds of prey up close as they gorge themselves on the nutrient-rich afterbirths during the winter calving season.

On Friday evening, a Birds of Prey Lecture and Cocktail Reception will feature a wildlife biologist with his live falcon, a local falconer with his live Northern Goshawk, and another falconer with his live Ornate Hawk Eagle. And on Saturday a second group tour of area ranches will be followed by a buffet lunch and group discussion on sightings. After that, there’s an Owl Prowl (visits to nearby barns and owl habitat) & Live Bird Field Demonstration.

Silver City Guard at the Governor's Mansion, Carson City NevadaThe Silver City Guard was called out for emergency duty in Carson City early in December, when Dayton artist Steven Saylor needed models for a painting at the Governor’s Mansion. Saylor is painting a representation of the 1909 dedication of the historic structure for its centennial in 2009.

The Guard, formed in 1860 and wiped out by Indians at the Battle of Pyramid Lake, is Nevada’s oldest military unit still under arms. Designated as Armed Rabble, its signature maneuver is the Tactical Withdrawal. It has received unit commendations for Graceful Disengagement, and is second to none when it comes to Pell Mell Retreat and the even more demanding Running For Their Lives. The modern Guard is best known for capturing the BiCentennial Wagon Train on its approach to Silver City in 1976.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

Overheard on board the High Roller while looking down on Las Vegas: "Oh, Charlie, I've never been able to figure out just what a feminist is exactly. But it's what people call me whenever I say something that sets me apart from a doormat."

Is Eli Kerr a name to conjure with? (Wait, Where'd He Go?)

Harrah's thinks it is. The hallowed Reno hotel has booked Eli to perform magic on the Sammy's Showroom stage through the winter. Robin and I were night-clubbing at Harrah's the other night and caught his mystifying act. With three assistants, two of them gorgeous, a cheerful non-stop patter and unobtrusive mind control, Eli Kerr demonstrated one impossibility after another.

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Eli Kerr performs magic at Harrah's RenoWe watched closely and as carefully as he snipped a piece of cotton clothesline into bits and then shook the bits out of his hand as one intact length of rope again. We watched, but we did not see. We watched as he slithered and shimmied his way out of a straitjacket, came popping out of a locked trunk — and that thing with the bowling ball! We only saw what he wanted us to see, and he made us laugh while he did it.

Enjoy dinner at one of the excellent downtown restaurants — including some right here at Harrah's — for a "special" Reno night out and then add Sammy's Showroom to make it "extra-special".

Black Rock City's Bikeageddon of 2017

This year, 3,754 bikes were abandoned by participants with no regard for the principles of being a Black Rock City citizen. Bikeageddon at Black Rock City NevadaPeople either dropped the bikes carelessly, or they left them unlocked to be stolen and abandoned. This created tons of work for other Burners just like them, who spent days cleaning them up and getting them hauled off playa. We’re sharing this story of how they pulled it off so Burners can realize the impact of their actions on their fellow participants, plan accordingly, and pack out everything they bring — including bikes.

Continue reading

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Fisherman at Pyramid Lake Nevada

Fishing is hot at Pyramid Lake right now. Go to the south end of the nets (near Sutcliffe), or the area around the Block House at the south end of the lake, or the very south end of the lake below Popcorn Rock. You’ll need a sinking line, 10 ft 8 w rod, shooting head, or teeny type 4 line. Woolly worms or foam beetles. Eggs RothchildYou can tie the beetle on behind the woolly worm.

Jim Seagrave at The Stardust in Las Vegas writes: “Thank you for spreading the fame of ‘Eggs’ Rothschild in NevadaGram #17. Clams MarinaraAs you suspected, he’s one of the original Stardust owners, along with the infamous ‘Chicken’ Cacciatore and the sinister ‘Clams’ Marinara.”

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

Michael Jackson (the beer enthusiast, not the Thriller man) said "One of my favorite flavored beers is made in the town of Sparks which adjoins Reno, Nevada. The dry, herbal High Desert Harvest Ale, from the Great Basin brewery, contains pinon nuts, juniper berries and sagebrush, the latter a very bitter ingredient." I will add that my own flavored beer couldn't be farther away: the light and floral Delerium Tremens (from Belgium). Favorite Porter: Ruby Mountain!

That outburst was prompted by a conversation I had with Tom Young about specialty beer — the Harvest Ale is a good example of a seasonal style — what it is, how something like 'Maya or Maya Not' is selected for production, and what happens if it makes it to market.

Overheard on board the High Roller while looking down on Las Vegas: "Oh, Charlie, I've never been able to figure out just what a feminist is exactly. But that's what people call me whenever I say something that sets me apart from a doormat."

Happy/Sad News from Herb Robbins in Gold Point. He has turned in his badge as Sheriff Stone and Red Dog Lil is just Sandy Johnson again:

After 35 years for me and 25 years for Sandy taking care of guests here in Gold Point it is time to announce our retirement!!

Herb Robbins, Nevada Travel Hero of the Year 2016Before going any farther please note that our e-mail address will change to herbandsandra7 which you can start using now as it is ready to go so please update your list if you wish to communicate with us via e-mail. Our phone number, 775-482-4653, will remain the same.

SandyEffective the last day of this year Sandy and I will no longer be involved in cooking and taking care of large groups.

But don’t despair!! Walt said he wishes to continue with his friend Victor. Walt’s phone number is 775-482-4635.

So the both of them will take care of renting cabins and cooking food.

Sandy and I will still have the rv park and our 3 little cabins available but will not be advertising anywhere.

It’s been a lot of fun and we have a lot of great memories of all those years and we thank everyone for visiting and hope you’ll still come by and say howdy.

Happy Trails and Sunsets, Herb and Sandy

Parting Shot —

Cemetery, Gold Hill NevadaView from the office window by Robin Cobbey, Gold Hill

The post NevadaGram #198 – Must See-Must Do, Hot Spring Getaway appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #197 — Virginia City at Christmastime Sun, 03 Dec 2017 22:51:33 +0000

Virginia City is what's left of the Richest Place on Earth, and a major attraction for visitors in Nevada. It's a wonderful place to visit any time, but if you really want to catch the vibe, come in winter. Without the crowds of summer the old city stands out more clearly for what it is, and what it was.

Saturday December 2 is a red letter day on the Virginia City Calendar. You can truly call it fun-filled.

You can start early at the Virginia City Senior Center, a long block down 6-Mile Canyon Road where the Holiday Craft & Bake Sale opens at 9 am "until Sold Out". Enjoy the festive crafts with their creators. Bring the kids to meet the Christmas Care Bear from 2 to 3 pm. Call 775-847-0957.

St. Mary's Art Center, farther down 6-Mile Canyon Road, turn right at the stop sign on R Street, is hosting its third Annual Holiday Faire from 10 am to 4 pm. The works of exemplary artists and artisans from the region are displayed for sale.

The V&T Railroad's Candy Cane Express is running on December 2nd and 3rd, and again on December 9th & 10th. Check here to see if there are still tickets available. It's always fun to ride on the V&T's vintage, heated coaches and travel along the historic route to Gold Hill.

Parade of Lights, Virginia City NevadaCheck-in begins at 10:30 at the Visitors Center at C and Taylor Streets for another Virginia City favorite, a Saloon Crawl;  this one is "The Grinch Made Me Do It" and it starts at 11 am. It involves getting tipsy at as many of the C Street refreshment parlors as possible between 11 am and 5 pm carrying a cup that costs $20. Designated drivers are encouraged and should be required.

Virginia City loves a parade and happily launches at least one almost every month of the year. December's is the Parade of Lights which begins just as the saloon crawling spree ends at 5 pm. It's a rolling light show — or is it an art show? — along festive C Street.

David John & the Comstock Cowboys perform their traditional Christmas in the Sierra concert before a traditionally enthusiastic audience at Piper’s Opera House. doors open at 6:30 pm.

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Elko’s Festival of Trees represents for us the whole spectrum of Christmas activities around Nevada: a community event based on creativity and generosity that is also an art show and a holiday feast that has become an integral part of Elko. We wish you warmth and comfort at Christmas, pleasure and satisfaction in the new year.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

And that's just one day! The Candy Cane Express also operates the next weekend — December 9th and 10th — and St. Mary's Art Center offers its "Imagination" program for kids on December 9th.

Also on the busy weekend of December 9 and 10 the Piper's Opera House Players present Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas at the historic Piper's Opera House. I'd tell you more, but the show is sold out.

Old Corner Bar, Virginia City Nevada

And by the way there's a highly popular barroom at Piper's, operated in classic Comstock style: the Old Corner Bar, where Mark Twain, Dan DeQuille and the boys from the back shop stopped in for an aftershifter or two when they'd put the Enterprise to bed.

At some point in your visit you'll get to wondering about food. Here is a list of the restaurants in Virginia City. Each of them is somebody's favorite — you can browse here so as to know what to look for, and make your selection when you get to town.

Cafe Del Rio, Canvas, Delta Saloon, Cider Factory, Red Dog Saloon, Mark Twain Saloon, Palace Restaurant, Firehouse BBQ, Virginia City Jerky Company, Silver Spoon

And what is Christmas without shopping?

Shopping in Virginia City NevadaShopping in Virginia City NevadaWhen Virginia City was awakened to its new life as a tourist destination by the stunning success of "Bonanza" on television — Virginia City as Sleeping Beauty and the Cartwrights, father and sons, as Prince(s) Charming — it was a bit clumsy in the shopping department. I remember rubber tomahawks and coonskin caps crowding the shelves.

Since then, though, it has recognized the benefit of a more sophisticated approach and the shops are now considerably more inviting. Anyone living within 50 miles of Virginia City should take a day, or at least a long afternoon, to do some Christmas shopping here — it's more fun than any mall.

Hatmaker Pascal Baboulin at the Pioneer Emporium, Virginia City NevadaAntiques, jewelry, clothing — every doorway something different, and not a single chain store. Jan, at Primrose Lane Antiques, has been in business for 30 years, the Old Red Garter has the most complete stock of boots and hats of any store I ever saw, and the Silver Stope is a biker's delight for its stock of leathers for men and women.

And of all things, there's a hat-maker! Pascal Baboulin is French and he makes hats by hand — everything from a fedora to a derby to a ten-gallon buckaroo model — to order and perfectly fitted at The Pioneer Emporium on South C Street. Is he the only one in Nevada?

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The Nevada Calendar: Virginia City Events in December

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Tom Sanders, 1974"Squaw Tom Speaks", 34 Stories of Old NevadaSquaw Tom Sanders was a working stiff, and he lived with Indians most of his life. Over the years he became a story-teller, and in 1974 we began publishing some of his tales in The Gold Hill NEWS. Since then 34 of them have been published as a book.

Tom was literally a story-teller. He could read and write, but with difficulty, and he told his stories into a tape recorder for us to transcribe. In 1976 he was named Best Columnist in a Weekly newspaper.

This nontraditional Christmas story is one of my favorites.

In 1922 I worked on this ranch, and they had a man out there worked with sheep. He was a Basko, his name was Jesus. He was born on Christmas Eve, and the Baskos, they give him the name Jesus.

He was blue-eyed and had blond hair — by God, he even looked like Jesus. But he was a Basko and he herded sheep.

I got to be a very good friend of his. And I worked for this outfit quite a while and one day I quit. And this sheep tender, he left too. I never seen him anymore for about ten years. I asked the camp tenders where he was and they said, “Well, he went to Colorado.”

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Battle Mountain Santa

Season’s Greetings from the Battle Mountain Santa Claus and all of us at the Nevada Travel Network

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

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Well after ten years I come back and worked on this ranch again and here was this same Jesus. Well when he was up in Colorado herding sheep for ten years, he made a lot a money. And one day, when his birthday was gittin’ close, gittin’ close to Christmas Eve, he quit and went to Reno, to a Basko hotel there.

Every sheepherder, they carried a little strongbox with ‘em. They was about the size of a cigar box. Some of ‘em would make ‘em out of wood; some of ‘em would buy ‘em and put a lock on it. And of course this strong box had a key too all of its own, but he put a padlock on it too, you know.

He’d brought his bedroll over too, and his suitcase and he had a lot of money in a big roll in his strong box. And he had checks in there too from this big sheep outfit. And big rolls of $20 bills.

Well, he asked this Basko hotel what it would cost if he’d throw a big party, have a big turkey dinner for everybody on Christmas Eve. And then invite a lot of people to eat. And the wine too, ya know. Well they figured out how much they charge him, so much a head, and so much for the bottles of wine.

What They're Saying About Us

black bearThe San Francisco Chronicle reports that black bears are making their way east from the Sierra Nevada into the Great Basin of Nevada where the species disappeared about 80 years ago. More than 500 of the animals have returned to parts of their historic range.

So one day he invited me to the party. He said he was havin’ a big party in Reno. At the Basko hotel on Christmas Eve. That was in 1932.

I was invited to go up, and I went up.

And ol’ Jesus, he threw a heck of a big party.

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And man did he get drunk. And he’d go outside and holler, give a big sheepherder yell, and yell at all these hoboes.

“Come on boys!” he hollered. “It’s Jesus’ birthday! Everybody eats and drinks on Jesus’ birthday.” And he’d give a big sheepherder yell inside that hotel and boarding house, and man, that table was full.

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Horace Greeley liked it, you will too.

Very quietly the Carson Valley has become a travel destination of considerable appeal, with good food and lodging, a pleasant sparkle after dark, and sublime surroundings. “I had previously seen some beautiful valleys,” Horace Greeley wrote in 1859, “but I place none of these ahead of Carson.”

He had just bounced across Nevada in a stagecoach, and hated it. “The Humboldt, all things considered, is the meanest river of its length on earth,” he wrote, and went on and on. But he loved the Carson Valley.
Genoa Golf Course“This valley, originally a grand meadow, the home of the deer and the antelope, is nearly inclosed by high mountains, down which, especially from the north and west, come innumerable rivulets, leaping and dancing their way to form or join the Carson.”

He predicted the flourishing agriculture which gave the valley its character for most of the following century. Gardnerville was a ranching center in the 1860s, Minden was created a mile to the north in 1905 when the V&T Railroad started hauling farm produce to Carson City and Reno.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

He kept that up all day. He’d get up and go out and give another sheepherder yell and boy; these hoboes come flockin’ in.

There was hoboes and Baskos and Mexicans, Indians – everybody. He’d go out in the street and holler – “Come on boys! It’s Jesus birthday!”

Man, he was havin’ a ball.

Well pretty soon the party was getting’ over. And the guy in the hotel comes over and says, “Hey, you’re runnin’ a pretty big bill here.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he says. “Jesus has got lots of money.”

They knew he had quite a bankroll in that strongbox, $20 bills strapped to the outside, but they set a bunch of guys to watchin’ him and followin’ him around so he couldn’t get away.

And pretty soon he says, “Well, I’ve got to go to the bathroom,” and he went on back there. And those Baskos and Frenchmen they was a-watchin’ him pretty close. So he went out of the window. Closed the window and locked it.

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And he got a taxi, took him to the airport. He must of had it timed just right to get an airplane out.

And by God, pretty soon old Jesus was missin’.

The owner of that hotel he was lookin’ everywhere for Jesus and couldn’t find him. Finally they went to every bootleggin’ place and all over, but he couldn’t hear any sheepherder yells anyplace.

Some feller told them he’d seen him get in this taxi and head off to Sparks. He said, “I’ll be back.” Steered him on the wrong track see.

They looked all over Reno until it was Christmas morning, but they never could find Jesus anymore.

So they pried open Jesus’ strongbox and they looked inside. They found three big rolls of bills with $20s on the outside, but inside the roll they was all ones. And those checks, they was no good. And the bedroll had just about had it — he was plannin’ on buying a new bedroll anyway. All there was in his suitcase was a bunch of old sheepherder’s shoes, looked about like sled runners. They’d about had it too.

Old Jesus, he was long gone. He went back to the Old Country.

I think at one time they snoomered him out of some money, beat him out of a lot of money. Well, he got back at ‘em.

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What Happens in Wendover

Makes the Paper

This letter appeared recently in the High Desert Advocate in Wendover:

I recently accompanied my son and his family to Wendover to help with his antelope hunt. My main job was to provide a four wheel drive pickup to traverse the desert and transport the fruits of the hunt home.

My son drove his passenger car to Wendover and we stayed in one of your nice hotels. After a successful hunt my

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son left his car with me and took his antelope and family back home to Tooele in my pickup. My wife and I had a room for one additional night and we stayed to enjoy your nice buffets. My favorite saying is that “the best buffet in Utah is at West Wendover Nevada.”

While getting ready for dinner my son called from Tooele and said he had a puddle of oil in his driveway, that he had recently had his oil changed and that I should check the oil level in his car. The car in fact had no oil in the engine and it was late on a Saturday night. I walked to a local convenience store and purchased four quarts of oil.

A friendly taxicab driver asked if I needed a ride and I told her my predicament. A few minutes later she contacted me again and said that she had called the new Grease Monkey shop which was closed, but the owner had agreed to wait for me to see where the oil was leaking from and help me out.

After adding all four quarts of oil I barely made it to the shop. Mike Spillman and his brother were waiting for me. They were extremely friendly and accommodating. The foreign car need a special tool and Mike went back to his home to retrieve it.

The oil filter had not been installed correctly and was leaking oil. I was only charged a nominal fee for work that went well after closing hours and after the regular staff had gone home. I would like to thank the taxi driver that went out of her way to help out and the Spillmans for their help with a stranded traveler. Wendover is a great place and has friendly residents, which is getting to be a rare commodity in our modern age.
Ron Elton, Tooele Utah

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Atmospheric River Fills Lake Tahoe

The Snow King reports November's Atmospheric River unloaded so much rain, Lake Tahoe's water level rose about 4 inches in less than 48 hours.

The Mount Rose Meadows area at around 8,800' picked up a solid 3 feet of wet snow with a 5-inch dusting of powder on top for added bonus. The high elevation means snow when it rains at the lake.

The meadows are very popular with Reno and North Tahoe families for sledding, snowmobiling, x-c skiing and snowshoeing. Snowshoeing is the fastest growing winter sport for women.

Read the whole thing here

Dennis Parks' Ceramic Art for Sale in Wiegand Gallery

Dennis Parks sculptureThe Western Folklife Center is pleased to host "Land, Language and Clay", an exhibition of the ceramic artwork of internationally known Nevada ceramist Dennis Parks. Selected pieces from this exhibition are available for your collection. Click here for the individual photos and sales list. Please contact our Gift Shop at 888-880-5885 or 775-738-7508, extension 243 for purchasing assistance. Dennis Parks is perhaps Nevada’s best-known ceramist. He moved to Tuscarora, NV, in 1966, where he established the Tuscarora Pottery School. Parks pioneered a process of making ceramics using native clays that are single-fired in kilns fueled with recycled crankcase oil. Read more about Dennis Parks and the exhibition. Dennis' son Ben Parks carries on his father’s legacy of ceramic artwork and a few of his pieces are also on display and for sale through the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop.

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Overheard at The Roasting House in Virginia City "If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated."

The post NevadaGram #197 — Virginia City at Christmastime appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #196 – Following Mark Twain around Paris Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:41:18 +0000

On the 4th of July 1867, Sam Clemens was 32 years old and had acquired the beginnings of a reputation and a career by becoming Mark Twain. He had embarked on a 5-month tour of Europe and the Holy Land with a contract to produce 50 letters for the Alta California in San Francisco and a few more for some newspapers in New York.

The Quaker CityOn that Independence Day 150 years ago the sidewheel steamer Quaker City arrived at Marseilles after brief visits to the Azores and Gibraltar, and the passengers went ashore to the Grand Hotel du Louvre et de la Paix to await the next day’s train to Paris.

I decided to follow them.

I'm not the first to follow Sam around Paris

Paula Harrington was a Fulbright scholar in Paris for six months, trying to figure out why "our most famous American writer came to loathe the place that so many other famous writers have loved."

Here's her blog and here's the book she's since co-authored on the topic.

I've tinkered modestly with the the text to fit it into this package; you can read 'Innocents Abroad' online here; the visit to Paris is in Chapter 02.

There is an unfortunate scarcity of sidewheelers making the Atlantic crossing these days, so I made the first of many concessions to modern times by flying directly to Paris. In so doing I missed the chance to compare his unsatisfying experience on the French chemins de fer of the middle 1860s with today’s bullet trains that make the journey between Marseilles and Paris at 160 mph.

“It is hard to make railroading pleasant in any country,” he grumbled. “It is too tedious. Stagecoaching is infinitely more delightful." He then launched into a song of praise about his stagecoach ride to Carson City six years before.

But it wasn't Mark Twain who found the stagecoach ride so entrancing, it was Sam Clemens. That was in the summer of 1861 and Mark wasn't unveiled (in the Territorial Enterprise) until February 1863, and It seems to me that on this visit to the brightest and liveliest city in Europe Sam was seeking adventures suited to Mark's comic talent, and then handing him the pen. But sometimes, still so early in the game, the transition wasn't quite perfect.

We'll never know what Sam might have enjoyed on his own, but as Mark Twain he only liked two aspects of the train trip. He liked the conductor — "You are in the hands of officials who zealously study your welfare and your interest, instead of turning their talents to the invention of new methods of discommoding and snubbing you, as is very often the main employment of that exceedingly self-satisfied monarch, the railroad conductor of America" — and he liked the dinner stop at Dijon:

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"But the happiest regulation in French railway government is — thirty minutes to dinner! No five-minute boltings of flabby rolls, muddy coffee, questionable eggs, gutta-percha beef, and pies whose conception and execution are a dark and bloody mystery to all save the cook that created them! No, we sat calmly down and poured out rich Burgundian wines and munched calmly through a long table d'hote bill of fare, snail patties, delicious fruits and all, then paid the trifle it cost and stepped happily aboard the train again, without once cursing the railroad company. A rare experience and one to be treasured forever."

Hotel du Louvre, ParisOnce in Paris Sam and his fellow travelers took a carriage to the Grand Hotel du Louvre on the rue de Rivoli. Fortunately for me, our considerably less Grand Squat is within a block of the rue de Rivoli (via the exquisitely long and narrow Rue du Prévôt) and something less than a mile from his hotel across the boulevard from the Louvre.

I walked. And for all the changes that have transpired since his visit, a stroll along this teeming street is rich with interest: shops large and small in wild variety — my favorites for their names alone: 'Come On Eileen' and 'See U Soon'.

One of the more interesting changes since 1867 is that the Hotel du Louvre is now a Hyatt, with an elevator installed in the stairwell of the massive structure.

"We secured rooms at the hotel, or rather, we had three beds put into one room, so that we might be together, and then we went out to a restaurant, just after lamplighting, and ate a comfortable, satisfactory, lingering dinner. It was a pleasure to eat where everything was so tidy, the food so well cooked, the waiters so polite, and the coming and departing company so moustached, so frisky, so affable, so fearfully and wonderfully Frenchy!"

The moustaches are in shorter supply nowadays, but the Frenchiness abounds.

“All the surroundings were gay and enlivening. Two hundred people sat at little tables on the sidewalk, sipping wine and coffee; the streets were thronged with light vehicles and with joyous pleasure-seekers; there was music in the air, life and action all about us, and a conflagration of gaslight everywhere!"

It is the same today except for the gaslight. The great difference between Paris and our American cities is the vibrant life on the streets. Restaurants aren't behind closed doors, they spill out onto the sidewalks.

"After dinner we felt like seeing such Parisian specialties as we might see without distressing exertion, and so we sauntered through the brilliant streets and looked at the dainty trifles in variety stores and jewelry shops. Occasionally, merely for the pleasure of being cruel, we put unoffending Frenchmen on the rack with questions framed in the incomprehensible jargon of their native language, and while they writhed we impaled them, we peppered them, we scarified them, with their own vile verbs and participles.”

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I do this daily, with the same result.

Mark Twain gets a shave in ParisWasn't it Sam who struggled with French and Mark who wrote it up afterward?

And then Sam sought out a barber, which turned out to be another trial for Mark Twain to write about. "The incipient assassin held a basin of water under my chin and slopped its contents over my face, and into my bosom, and down the back of my neck, with a mean pretense of washing away the soap and blood. He dried my features with a towel and was going to comb my hair, but I asked to be excused. I said, with withering irony, that it was sufficient to be skinned — I declined to be scalped." Learning from his experience (and not having shaved for more than 50 years) I skipped this adventure.

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Robin went shopping, Shorty stayed in the room watching the Animal Channel, and I went over to Fallon's Oats Park Art Center where Lulo Reinhardt talked about his great-uncle Django and the music — now called Gypsy Jazz — that he made famous. Lulo lives in Germany, but his music derives from the Hot Club de France.

Lulo Reinhardt at the Oats Park Art Center, Fallon NevadaLulo’s band was one of the three groups performing that evening in a program called “In the Footsteps of Django”, each inspired by Django’s music and each taking off with it in different directions. He and guitarist Olivier Kikteff of ‘Les Doigts de L’Homme’ spent an hour talking about Django, his music and theirs.

Django and Stephane Grapelli

Les Doigts de L’Homme, “Medley Manouche”
For me the great revelation from that conversation was that Django originally played the banjo-guitar, a six string banjo with the neck of a guitar. It is tuned like a guitar but sounds like a banjo. We all know that he had suffered terrible burns to his left hand — his third and fourth fingers remained partially paralyzed and he relearned the guitar with only two useful fingers on his fret hand — in the process creating an entirely new style featuring minor chords and a hard driving percussive technique.

It’s a sound that has banjo all through it.

Lulo Reinhardt's Latin Swing Project, Mar y Sol.

We met up with the others in our group for an early dinner at The Slanted Porch, another of Fallon’s great restaurants, and after a promenade with Shorty we went back to the Arts Center for the evening’s performance. As planned, we arrived an hour before the

performance in order to meander through the galleries (major display: gas pumps from the early automotive era) and enjoy a refreshment at the Art Bar.

And then the music began, and I blissed out. Rather than attempt to describe it, I’ve embedded videos of their performances above so you can enjoy them directly, and easily find more. Thank you, Fallon.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

I also skipped billiards, which was next on Sam's agenda, and which Mark described: "The cushions were a good deal higher than the balls, and as the balls had a fashion of always stopping under the cushions, we accomplished very little in the way of caroms. The cushions were hard and unelastic, and the cues were so crooked that in making a shot you had to allow for the curve or you would infallibly put the 'English' on the wrong side of the hall.

"Dan was to mark while the doctor and I played. At the end of an hour neither of us had made a count, and so Dan was tired of keeping tally with nothing to tally, and we were heated and angry and disgusted. We paid the heavy bill—about six cents—and said we would call around sometime when we had a week to spend, and finish the game."

"Of course we visited the renowned International Exposition. All the world did that. We went there on our third day in Paris—and we stayed there nearly two hours. That was our first and last visit.

"To tell the truth, we saw at a glance that one would have to spend weeks — yea, even months — in that monstrous establishment to get an intelligible idea of it. It was a wonderful show, but the moving masses of people of all nations we saw there were a still more wonderful show. I discovered that if I were to stay there a month, I should still find myself looking at the people instead of the inanimate objects on exhibition."

Then they hurried to the Arc de l'Etoile where Napoleon III, Emperor of France and Abdul Aziz, Sultan of Turkey, were to review 25,000 troops.

"Presently there was a sound of distant music; in another minute a pillar of dust came moving slowly toward us; a moment more and then, with colors flying and a grand crash of military music, a gallant array of cavalrymen emerged from the dust and came down the street on a gentle trot. After them came a long line of artillery; then more cavalry, in splendid uniforms; and then their imperial majesties Napoleon III and Abdul Aziz. The vast concourse of people swung their hats and shouted — the windows and housetops in the wide vicinity burst into a snowstorm of waving handkerchiefs, and the wavers of the same mingled their cheers with those of the masses below. It was a stirring spectacle.

"But the two central figures claimed all my attention. Was ever such a contrast set up before a multitude till then?

"Napoleon in military uniform—a long-bodied, short-legged man, fiercely moustached, old, wrinkled, with eyes half closed, and such a deep, crafty, scheming expression about them!—Napoleon, bowing ever so gently to the loud plaudits, and watching everything and everybody with his cat eyes from under his depressed hat brim, as if to discover any sign that those cheers were not heartfelt and cordial.

"As for the Sultan, one could set a trap any where and catch a dozen abler men in a night."

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

I was lucky enough to visit Tonopah at the height of that second boom.

Back then there were a dozen mines working within 50 miles of the old city, and the Air Force was constructing a major facility for testing and perfecting the Stealth bomber, so the Air Force leased entire motels for their men.

The population went from fewer than 2,500 to more than 4,000 in about a year, and very structure with a roof over it was rented. Every vacant lot that could accommodate a trailer was put to use, giving the tangle of old streets an incongruous look: a flamingo-pink aluminum cube stuck between a swaybacked old cottage on one side and a fitted stone mansion on the other.

Photo by Max Winthrop

Prime rental properties during the boom.

At Coleman’s, the only grocery store in town, the clerks worked steadily to restock the shelves with almost 6 tons of groceries every day.

The Mizpah Annex Cafe was a crush of men in Air Force fatigues or the flannel shirts and blue jeans of construction workers and miners. Waitresses raced from table to table with pots of coffee and platters of flapjacks. Fleets of buses hauled the men out of town to work — 900 of them were building the great new Anaconda molybdenum mine and mill, and hundreds more worked in a dozen gold and silver mines.

Photo Gold Hill NEWS archive

Construction workers at the Anaconda molybdenum mine had their own trailer park.

The rattle of hammers and the snarl of saws was heard everywhere in town, and anything with a roof could rent for $300 a month.

Local people marveled at the revival, but it wasn’t until there was an armed robbery in a Main Street parking lot that they acknowledged Tonopah had become a city again.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

This is the kindest thing he had to say about the Sultan. In fact I was somewhat discouraged to read Sam's disparagement of the non-European people he met along the way. He knew about Napoleon III well enough — his story had been in all the papers. But what did he know about Abdul Aziz? Only what his appearance suggested apparently:

"Abdul Aziz, absolute lord of the Ottoman empire — clad in dark green European clothes, almost without ornament or insignia of rank; a red Turkish fez on his head; a short, stout, dark man, black-bearded, black-eyed, stupid, unprepossessing — a man whose whole appearance somehow suggested that if he only had a cleaver in his hand and a white apron on, one would not be at all surprised to hear him say: "A mutton roast today, or will you have a nice porterhouse steak?"

Today's Wikipedia is better informed: "Apart from his passion for the Ottoman Navy, which had the world's third largest fleet in 1875 (after the British and French navies), the Sultan took an interest in documenting the Ottoman Empire. He was also interested in literature and was a talented classical music composer. Some of his compositions, together with those of the other members of the Ottoman dynasty, have been collected in the album "European Music at the Ottoman Court" by the London Academy of Ottoman Court Music."

"We went to see the Cathedral of Notre Dame. We had heard of it before. It surprises me sometimes to think how much we do know and how intelligent we are. . . .

"They say that a pagan temple stood where Notre Dame now stands . . . and that a Christian church took its place about A.D. 300; another took the place of that in A.D. 500; and that the foundations of the present cathedral were laid about A.D. 1100. The ground ought to be measurably sacred by this time, one would think. One portion of this noble old edifice is suggestive of the quaint fashions of ancient times. It was built by Jean Sans-Peur, Duke of Burgundy, to set his conscience at rest — he had assassinated the Duke of Orleans. Alas! Those good old times are gone when a murderer could wipe the stain from his name and soothe his troubles to sleep simply by getting out his bricks and mortar and building an addition to a church."

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Today the long line of visitors waiting to enter the famous place requires more patience than we had available and so we took his word about the rich stained-glass windows embellished with blue and yellow and crimson saints and martyrs, and the numberless great pictures in the chapels that he'd tried to admire.

"Next we went to visit the Morgue, that horrible receptacle for the dead who die mysteriously and leave the manner of their taking off a dismal secret. We stood before a grating and looked through into a room which was hung all about with the clothing of dead men; coarse blouses, water-soaked; the delicate garments of women and children; patrician vestments, hacked and stabbed and stained with red; a hat that was crushed and bloody."

The Paris Morgue"On a slanting stone lay a drowned man, naked, swollen, purple; clasping the fragment of a broken bush with a grip which death had so petrified that human strength could not unloose it — mute witness of the last despairing effort to save the life that was doomed beyond all help. A stream of water trickled ceaselessly over the hideous face. We knew that the body and the clothing were there for identification by friends, but still we wondered if anybody could love that repulsive object or grieve for its loss."

Here was Mark Twain emerging more fully onto the page. He was dazzled by the splendid spectacle and the pageantry of the military procession, but here in the morgue he delved deeper and darker.

"We grew meditative and wondered if, some forty years ago, when the mother of that ghastly thing was dandling it upon her knee, and kissing it and petting it and displaying it with satisfied pride to the passers-by, a prophetic vision of this dread ending ever flitted through her brain. I half feared that the mother, or the wife or a brother of the dead man might come while we stood there, but nothing of the kind occurred. Men and women came, and some looked eagerly in and pressed their faces against the bars; others glanced carelessly at the body and turned away with a disappointed look—people, I thought, who live upon strong excitements and who attend the exhibitions of the Morgue regularly, just as other people go to see theatrical spectacles every night. When one of these looked in and passed on, I could not help thinking —

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

The recent Governor’s Conference on Tourism focused on Nevada’s new slogan, “Bring It On”. Poster Boy for the new campaign (and speaker at the Tuesday luncheon) is Glen Plake, an extreme skier who goes right on over the edge. He grew up at South Lake Tahoe and resides today in the hills above Lake Lahontan, where he water skis and bounces down country roads between winters.You can get a copy of the Commission’s new Adventure guide “The Dirt” here.

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The effort to bring attention to Nevada’s uncrowded outdoor activities is being greeted warmly in rural Nevada. Folks there are gratified at getting recognition at last for their unique recreational resource: the 85% of the state that is public land. Accessible and user-friendly, this immense realm of almost-unspoiled landscapes is a national treasure of enormous value and can be a great economic resource for the state for generations — until the rest of the country gets uncrowded again.

As if to emphasize this new direction for the state, Reno has been selected to host the ESPN Great Outdoor Games July 10-13,

Taking aim at the Outdoor Games

Taking aim at the Outdoor Games

2003. The 2002 Games attracted 60,000 to Lake Placid NY, and were seen on TV. Events include archery, rifle and shotgun target shooting, bass and fly fishing, three sporting dog events and eight timber events, from Log Rolling to Tree Topping. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports will televise more than 19 hours from the Rancho Santa Fe Park, the Truckee River and other venues to be announced. More information here.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

"Now this don't afford you any satisfaction — a party with his head shot off is what you need."

Alas, the morgue is no longer open to public visitation, but there is a modern attraction that centers on the dead: the Catacombs. Unlike the morgue though, there isn't any personal drama here. Among the vast collection of skulls and bones so artistically arranged, there's no way to tell which one was Yorick.

The sightseeing continued with an antidote to the morgue — visits to the Jardin Mabile and a similar amusement park in the suburb of Asnieres where he saw "the famous Blondin" walk a tightrope:

"He balanced his pole and walked the length of his rope — two or three hundred feet; he came back and got a man and carried him across; he returned to the center and danced a jig; next he performed some gymnastic and balancing feats too perilous to afford a pleasant spectacle; and he finished by fastening to his person a thousand Roman candles, Catherine wheels, serpents and rockets of all manner of brilliant colors, setting them on fire all at once and walking and waltzing across his rope again in a blinding blaze of glory that lit up the garden and the people's faces like a great conflagration at midnight."

The Can-canAfter the tightrope performance the party moved indoors, where there was "a drinking saloon, and all around it was a broad circular platform for the dancers. Twenty sets formed, the music struck up, and then —

I placed my hands before my face for very shame. But I looked through my fingers.

They were dancing the renowned 'Can-can.'

"That is the can-can. The idea of it is to dance as wildly, as noisily, as furiously as you can; expose yourself as much as possible if you are a woman; and kick as high as you can, no matter which sex you belong to . . . I suppose French morality is not of that straight-laced description which is shocked at trifles.

"I moved aside and took a general view of the can-can. Shouts, laughter, furious music, a bewildering chaos of darting and intermingling forms, stormy jerking and snatching of gay dresses, bobbing beads, flying arms, lightning flashes of white-stockinged calves and dainty slippers in the air, and then a grand final rush, riot, a terrific hubbub, and a wild stampede! Heavens!"

Can't Get to Paris?

Sage Room at Harveys Lake TahoeIf, for some reason, you are unable to visit Paris soon, head for Lake Tahoe's South Shore — not for a swim or a paddle, but for a birthday dinner: the Sage Room at Harveys is turning 70 and the party goes on for a year, in the form of a special prix fixe dinner ($70/person). I should add 'unforgettable' to the description because the meal is not merely served, it is hand-crafted at the table, a masterful performance involving an almost gymnastic combination of culinary sculpture and fire.

Robin and I attended a demonstration of this epic meal in the hallowed restaurant, and it was sensational. If you don't mind being the center of attention, put this on your agenda and add a happy memory to your collection.

Then the Louvre, which he didn't care for. "We looked at its miles of paintings by the old masters. Some of them were beautiful, but at the same time they carried such evidences about them of the cringing spirit of those great men that we found small pleasure in examining them. . . . But I will drop the subject, lest I say something about the old masters that might as well be left unsaid."

After that they visited the Bois de Boulogne, "that limitless park, with its forests, its lakes, its cascades, and its broad avenues. There were thousands upon thousands of vehicles abroad, and the scene was full of life and gaiety. There were . . . Dukes and Duchesses abroad, with gorgeous footmen perched behind, and equally gorgeous outriders perched on each of the six horses; there were blue and silver, and green and gold, and pink and black, and all sorts and descriptions of stunning and startling liveries out, and I almost yearned to be a flunkey myself, for the sake of the fine clothes.

"But presently the Emperor came along and he outshone them all. He was preceded by a bodyguard of gentlemen on horseback in showy uniforms, his carriage-horses (there appeared to be somewhere in the remote neighborhood of a thousand of them,) were bestridden by gallant-looking fellows, also in stylish uniforms, and after the carriage followed another detachment of bodyguards. Everybody got out of the way; everybody bowed to the Emperor and his friend the Sultan; and they went by on a swinging trot and disappeared."

He delighted in the spectacle of the Emperor's procession as much as he had deplored the paintings at the Louvre.

From there to Pere Lachaise, "the national burying-ground of France, the honored resting-place of some of her greatest and best children, the last home of scores of illustrious men and women who were born to no titles, but achieved fame by their own energy and their own genius.

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"This place is sacred to a nobler royalty — the royalty of heart and brain. Every faculty of mind, every noble trait of human nature, every high occupation which men engage in, seems represented by a famous name." Today the famous names are more recent and more familiar: Balzac is there, and Chopin; Jim Morrison, Yves Montand, Edith Piaf, Simone Signoret, Gertrude Stein — it's a long list, and at its head are Abelard and Heloise.

Abelard and Heloise"Yet who really knows the story of Abelard and Heloise? Precious few people. The names are perfectly familiar to every body, and that is about all. With infinite pains I have acquired a knowledge of that history, and I propose to narrate it here, partly for the honest information of the public and partly to show that public that they have been wasting a good deal of marketable sentiment very unnecessarily."

A long narrative of the story of the fabled lovers ensued, this passage earnestly written by Sam, not Mark.

Of Heloise he wrote, "I have not a word to say against the misused, faithful girl, and would not withhold from her grave a single one of those simple tributes which blighted youths and maidens offer to her memory. She was "pure-souled" and evinced a "noble, self-sacrificing love". But Pierre Abelard was a "cold-hearted villain", "unmanly" and "a dastardly seducer".

After Sam told their story in detail with such evident sincerity, Mark went for a drink.

American Drinks Artistically Prepared"We ferreted out another French imposition—a frequent sign to this effect: "ALL MANNER OF AMERICAN DRINKS ARTISTICALLY PREPARED HERE." We procured the services of a gentleman experienced in the nomenclature of the American bar, and moved upon the works of one of these impostors. A bowing, aproned Frenchman skipped forward and said:

"'Que voulez les messieurs?'

"Our general said, 'We will take a whiskey straight.'

"[A stare from the Frenchman.]

"'Well, if you don't know what that is, give us a champagne cocktail.'

"[A stare and a shrug.]

"'Well, then, give us a sherry cobbler.'

"The Frenchman was checkmated. This was all Greek to him.

"'Give us a brandy smash!'

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"The Frenchman began to back away, suspicious of the ominous vigor of the last order — began to back away, shrugging his shoulders and spreading his hands apologetically.

"The General followed him up and gained a complete victory. The uneducated foreigner could not even furnish a Santa Cruz Punch, an Eye-Opener, a Stone-Fence, or an Earthquake. It was plain that he was a wicked impostor.'

On their final day in Paris, the Quaker City passengers visited Versailles.

Versailles"VERSAILLES! It is wonderfully beautiful! You gaze and stare and try to understand that it is real, that it is on the earth, that it is not the Garden of Eden — but your brain grows giddy, stupefied by the world of beauty around you, and you half believe you are the dupe of an exquisite dream. The scene thrills one like military music! A noble palace, stretching its ornamented front, block upon block away, till it seemed that it would never end. . . ."

This is the only aspect of Paris that Mark — or was it Sam? — put in capital letters, and he went on and on about it, couldn't say enough about its perfections ("vast fountains whose great bronze effigies discharged rivers of sparkling water into the air and mingled a hundred curving jets together in forms of matchless beauty").

And then they got back on the train to Marseilles, went aboard the Quaker City and set off for Genoa.

Parting Shot —

Mark Twain's map of Paris

The post NevadaGram #196 – Following Mark Twain around Paris appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.