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A sublime day in Fallon begins on McLean Road,
which angles off from US 50 on the western edge of town and leads to Lattin Farms, one of Fallon’s main attractions for locals and visitors alike.
The sun is high overhead in a clear blue sky with a few fluffy clouds thrown here and there, and the roadside is lined with cars for hundreds of yards in both directions — we aren’t the only ones with pumpkins on our minds. This is an October Saturday, when the farmstead celebrates the change of season with “Fall Festival”.
This event is devoted to family activities and farm-grown produce sales, with the annual corn maze the marquee attraction.
We enjoyed a dreamy hour here before departing with a load of white and gray-green pumpkins, warty squash and bright yellow melons and heading into town for lunch at The Wok on Maine Street. This is one of a half-dozen excellent dining choices in Fallon, and easy to recommend.
After lunch we checked into our motel, and after that Robin went shopping, Shorty stayed in the room watching the Animal Channel, and I went over to the 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’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.
Les Doigts de L’Homme, “Medley Manouche”
For me the great revelation from that conversation was that Django originally played the banjo-guitar, a sixing 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.
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.
And now the moment that everyone has been waiting for: the announcement of the annual Must-See Must-Do Awards for 2013.
This list reflects my personal preferences, no votes on the website, just me (and Robin). I welcome 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.
My list looks ahead to 2013 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 2013 Person of the Year
is Larry Friedman. Larry didn’t restore and reopen a historic treasure as Fred and Nancy Cline did last year, but as I scan the universe of people whose efforts will make a positive impact on Nevada tourism next year, it’s Larry who stands out.
Those efforts didn’t occur only this year or last, they go back into the dark ages when Larry hired on with the Nevada Commission on Tourism after a career in radio. As director of rural programs he invented and has presided over Rural RoundUp, the springtime rally of our Tourism troopers that will be held in Pahrump this year. Now he is Deputy Director of Sales & Industry Partners, with a world-wide assignment, and the cumulative results from his committed involvement are a big part of NCOT’s success. As one fan put it, “Rural Nevada has never had a better friend.”
Nevada Travel Network’s 2013 Hidden Treasure of the year
Lattin Farms, Fallon.
Fallon is named for Mike Fallon, whose farm became a small crossroads hamlet that grew into a village and then a town and became the Churchill County seat in 1896. Fallon has yet to become a metropolis, and agriculture is still a leading element in the local economy but no longer the only one. So it’s especially pleasing to see this modern-day family farm flourishing as a signature enterprise. Some of its attraction is depicted above (Fallon’s Oats Park Art Center was the Hidden Treasure for 2012) but you don’t have to wait until harvest season to enjoy a visit.
Nevada Travel Network 2013 City of the year
Carson City. Once upon a time Carson City bragged about being the smallest state capital in the USA. And beyond that there wasn’t much more to say about it. Lately though Carson has developed an almost metropolitan flavor, enhanced at last by the opening of the freeway and the removal of the endless tide of traffic from Carson Street. Now the downtown belongs to the people again and there are even hints here and there of glamor, and of life after dark.
Nevada Travel Network 2013 Attraction of the Year
Peppermill Concert Hall, Wendover. This $21-million 1,000-seat hall opened in July 2006 and has been nominated as ‘Casino Venue of the Year’ by the Academy of Country Music. It’s a magnificent showcase for the top-tier entertainers it presents (Willie Nelson, Pat Benatar, Lynyrd Skynyrd, even Cheech and Chong among them) and unexpectedly intimate — every seat is within 88 feet of the stage. It’s a long haul from just about everywhere except the Wasatch Front, so folks from Utah get most of the benefit, and more power to them.
Nevada Travel Network 2013 Hotels of the Year
Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah. We gave the Mizpah an Honorary Mention in this category when it reopened last year, and now it’s a winner in its own right. The restoration is excellent, the staff is superb, the experience is unique. Yet another good reason to stay the night in Tonopah.
Tuscany Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. This nicely-kept newish property off the Strip puts the casino action to the side so you can participate or not — even avoid it completely — as you please. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and every amenity is offered, in-room and out. My fave.
Windmill Ridge, Alamo. This new property in the beautiful Pahranagat Valley offers serenity and comfort not often found in rural Nevada. The restaurant prides itself on grandma-style cooking, including fresh-baked bread and other delicacies. 15 western-themed cabins.
Nevada Travel Network 2013 Restaurants of the Year
Pietro’s Famiglia Ristorante Italiano, Sparks. Upstairs in what was once a railroader hotel, this pleasing restaurant is unique in having a romantic crooner, Richie Ballerini, performing Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Martin Hotel, Winnemucca. A traditional Basque Hotel, ‘home-made’ meals served family style with a full bar offering the traditional Picon Punch. Friendly, fun and delicious.
Tiffany’s Cafe Las Vegas. Call it a greasy spoon or a dive cafe, this old-fashioned diner is inside the defunct White Cross Drugstore near the Stratosphere Tower. It’s been serving locals 24/7/365 since 1953 and hasn’t changed much, even when the drug
store died around it. Wolfgang Puck might not like it, but the locals obviously do.
Nevada Travel Network 2013 Event of the Year
The Ranch Hand Rodeo, Winnemucca. This is my candidate for Best Rodeo in Nevada because it is a competition between teams of buckaroos entered by ranches in Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and California, and the roping, riding and ‘restling (the three Rs of rodeo) is all done in the same clothes and with the same gear they do it back home. I like the team aspect of it, and I like the fact that the teams practice and develop together in the course of their everyday work. It’s bedrock authentic and a whole lot of fun.
Quick notes from beyond the mountains:
An agreement has been struck allowing Mexico to store some of its annual Colorado River allotment in Lake Mead for future use. More water in Lake Mead is an obvious benefit to Las Vegas. The agreement also allows the USA and local water agencies such as the Southern Nevada Water Authority to invest in infrastructure improvements in Mexico in return for some of the water the projects save . . . As long as we’re on the subject, Nevada Day 2012, the elevation of Lake Mead was 1116.48 feet above sea level, about half full. According to the federal Bureau of Reclamation, Mead’s upstream sister reservoir, Lake Powell, was slightly more full and the entire “system content” for the Colorado River was calculated to be 56%. . . . Nevada Indian culture is celebrated at ‘Under One Sky’, a permanent exhibit at the Nevada State Museum in downtown Carson City (open Wednesday through Saturday; admission$8). You can also explore American Indian culture at the old Stewart Indian School (established 1890, closed 1980) on Snyder Street on the southeast edge of town. Here former students describe their experiences on a self-guided audio tour accessed via your cell phone . . .
|I’ve mentioned the pleasant uses to which the Nevada Northern Railwayin Ely puts its trains — themed journeys of all kinds. But mere words cannot convey the mad hilarity of a Halloween ride on “The Ghost Train of Old Ely”. Now you can see it for yourself. Beware! Not for the Faint of Heart.|
Produced by Phil Hermansen, courtesy NNRY
The Say When Saloon in McDermitt is sporting a nice new paint job . . . McAdoo’s is an inviting new restaurant in Elko, occupying the space recently vacated by The Flying Fish, which moved a couple of block west to a larger location on Third Steet . . . The Nevada Southern Railway in Boulder City will operate its famous 5-car Santa Train on December 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd this year. Departures are at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00; boarding begins 15 minutes before departure. Santa and Mrs. Claus visit with all of the children on the train. Bring your camera! Tickets are $5 per seat (child carrier counts as a seat); for additional ticket information, call Peg at 702-486-5006 or send an email.