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I had intended to finish out the year with a report from the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, but at the last minute was unable to attend.
I am told it was a success and a fitting beginning for the newly-enlarged agency combining Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
One mainstay of the Governor’s Conference is the awarding of awards. It’s gratifying to recognize the efforts of hard-working people, and since I wasn’t there to see it for myself this year, I got to thinking about the awards I would hand out if it were up to me.
My list looks ahead to 2012 because I want to emphasize that these wonders, excitements, pleasures, comforts and satisfactions lie ahead. Let’s do this and Let’s go there instead of Oh look what we missed:
The Nevada Travel Network 2012 Human of the Year
is [ta-daah!] two people: Fred and Nancy Cline, who have committed themselves to restoring Tonopah’s classic Mizpah Hotel, first to its function as a full-service hotel half-way between Reno and Las Vegas, and then to its rightful place as a premier destination in Central Nevada.
The Clines are winemakers in northern California’s Carneros Region, with family ties to the early days in Tonopah and Goldfield. They have the qualities and the resources to bring the Mizpah back in fine fashion, and Tonopah is already feeling the benefit. I could go on about how wonderful this investment is for Tonopah, but Senator Bryan and Governor Sandoval handled that job very well at the Grand Opening (Read about the Grand Opening here) so I will just say there have always been good reasons to stay the night in Tonopah, and now there’s a great one, right downtown.
We’re planning our Mizpah excursion early in 2012; if you’d like to experience “the finest stone hotel in the desert” with us, send me an email.
Nevada Travel Network’s 2012 Hidden Treasure of the year
Oats Park Arts Center, Fallon.
This pleasant little city — home town to Governors Grant Sawyer and Brian Sandoval — is the Churchill County seat, a grown up farm town with a Navy Base next door and this jewel within. This former school building has been transformed into a pleasing collection of galleries and a small theater. It is a setting for exceptional artists, musicians and performers of all kinds. Visit Fallon when you can take in an event and enjoy a hand-made Kirk Robertson martini at the Art Bar. Dine at the Overland, stay overnight, have breakfast at the Courtyard Cafe, and go home still talking about the concert or exhibit of the night before.
Nevada Travel Network 2012 City of the year
Elko. This vivacious little city is in its prime. Mining has sustained the local economy while it continues to evolve beyond its cowtown origins. The Starbucks is doing fine (at the freeway on the west edge of town) and so are a wide range of dining options, from fast to fine, and lodgings that range from budget to boutique. In its beautiful setting beneath the Rubies, this is an interesting and enjoyable place to visit almost any time, but add an event and it’s even better.More about Elko here.
Nevada Travel Network 2012 Attraction of the Year
The Nevada Northern Railway, Ely. “The Ghost Train of Old Ely” as it has been romantically called, has grown into a year around operation. Since the little choo-choo that rattled around the Ramada Express in Laughlin was mothballed, only one other railroad operates through the winter in Nevada: Amtrak. So far as I know, you can’t rent a locomotive from Amtrak, but you can from the Nevada Northern, and you can drive the train yourself. The railroad’s regular schedule offers passengers the authentic experience of early railroading, and the special trains throughout the year make riding the Nevada Northern an event to remember. A class act.
Nevada Travel Network 2012 Hotels of the Year
Hotel Nevada, Ely. If I limited this category to one winner the Hotel Nevada might take the prize every year. Guests come back because they love the place. I’ve written about it many times, here, here and here. Go with friends and book the Kennecott Suite if you can, or if it’s just you, ask for the Literary Murder Barely Averted room, #410.
Tahoe House, Virginia City. This historic lodging house dates back to Virginia City’s first decade, and was a hotbed of Copperhead sentiment during the Civil War. Recently restored into a glamorous inn with a balcony overlooking C Street, a private garden in back, a splendid Great Room in between and 16 high-decor Victorian rooms. A fine base for exploring Virginia City.
The Inn above the Gallery Bar, Elko. Once upon a time the Clifton Hotel was nine upstairs rooms over Jack’s Bar, next door to Capriola’s in downtown Elko. Now it’s the Gallery Bar, combining fine wine and cocktails with art in a most pleasing way and the upstairs rooms have been tastefully renovated for overnight guests, with bath down the hall, old-country style.
And yes, of course, the Mizpah, in Tonopah.
Nevada Travel Network 2012 Restaurants of the Year
Le Bistro Cafe, Boulder City. A personal favorite since we first wandered in a few years ago, keeps getting better. Intimate setting, friendly atmosphere, open kitchen, good service, great food.
Machi’s, Elko. We try never to leave Elko without a dinner at Machi’s. Hearty and satisfying food prepared with brio.
Soccorro’s, Mina. When she stopped cooking at the whore house, Soccorro opened this roadside stand where you can get burgers and fries and the best chocolate malt of your life. It’s painted bright red, so you can’t miss it. Don’t pass this one by.
Nevada Travel Network 2012 Event of the Year
The Old Sheepherders’ Ball, Baker. Or is it a Reunion, a Gathering or just a Party? It’s been called all of them and they all fit this unique event. Denys Koyle invented it as a tribute to the people who had sustained her business in its difficult early years when the sheep industry ruled this part of Utah and Nevada. This homespun event is about sharing food, fellowship and laughter in the face of the slow decline in the sheep business. True Americana, straight from the heart.
This list reflects my personal preferences, no votes on the website, just me (and Robin). I’ve enjoyed even this small exercise in reflection. I welcome any nominations in these categories for next year! And, I don’t want a long laborious list of categories, but I have a couple of more in mind, and will consider others if you care to suggest them.
Quick notes from beyond the mountains: I encountered a fact the other day that was new to me. An article in the Elko Daily Free Press mentioned that Ely is the most isolated city in the lower 48 states. If this is indeed a fact and not merely a grumpy complaint after the long drive in, I want to cook it down into a slogan on the “Get Away From It All” theme. The article ends this way: “Ely is a small town with a lot to offer year-round, but with the added holiday festivities, this season is a good time to visit our neighbors down south” See, Ely’s just a small town to the big city folks in Elko . . . Elvis Presley would have been 77 on January 8, so the Carson Valley Inn in Minden is celebrating with Elvis Week January 4 – 8. What better way to pass an idle hour than to immerse yourself in Elvis? Elvis impersonators Brian Andrews and Johnny Reno will entertain, and a few of his favorite dishes will be served in Katie’s from 11 am to 11 pm Friday – Sunday. Included in the pickings are Biscuits Smothered in White Sausage Gravy for $1.99, Fried Peanut Butter and Nana Sandwich on country-style white bread served with bacon strips for $2.99, Cornmeal-battered Fried Catfish with cole slaw and tomatoes for $4.99 and Banana Pudding with vanilla nilly wafer cookies for $1.99. I’m having the catfish, what’s yours? . . .
The Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City has been awarded a Historic Marker commemorating its role as the birthplace of the San Francisco Bar Band era with the 1965 appearance there of the Charlatans, playing their first gig . . . Also in Virginia City, mark your calendar for January 14th in big red letters: Piper’s Opera House: the Ghost of Twain has returned to his Old Haunts as McAvoy Layne brings the Master to life on the stage in a performance to benefit the wonderful old building . . . To illustrate the innovative charascter of the NNRY mentioned above, the Railway’s Winter Steam Spectacular Photo Shoots offer unique opportunities for amateur photographers to take great photographs, under the direction of professional photographer Steve Crise. There are two sessions: Feb. 3-5 and Feb. 10-12. Each session is limited to 30 persons, cost is $450, including continental breakfasts and lunches.