NevadaGram #167 – Adrift at Lake Tahoe, Comstock Mining Update

Imagine that you’ve made arrangements for an exciting weekend with a friend who shares your enthusiasms and at the last minute it all fell through, leaving you alone and adrift at Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe! But what does one person do when delivered to one of the world’s most desirable vacation/recreation destinations without a plan? One consults the handiest and most comprehensive resource I’ve ever seen: “What’s Happening at Tahoe South” is an exhaustive listing of everything that’s happening at the South Shore, both Nevada and California, day by day. Other lists (here’s a good one) will alert you to the top goings on, but this one has everything.

My day was Saturday May 30, and on my way to the lake I passed the encampment of the US 50 Wagon Train that would head out for California the next day. There were RVs and pickup trucks as well as pitched tents and covered wagons all in a long jumble at Zephyr Cove. I thought an interview with these intrepid pioneers would make a good way to end my day at the Lake on my way home.

From our Las Vegas Correspondent

Tommy Bahama Las VegasThere are hundreds of Tommy Bahama retail stores around the globe, but the Las Vegas store is one of only 14 with an “island” (meaning a retail store with a restaurant). It’s about a mile south of the Strip in the Town Square Shopping Center (6635 S. Las Vegas Blvd), and it has become a favorite with Las Vegas locals. The menu offers ambitious island fare including Jerk Chicken Tacos, Grilled Chicken and Mango Salad, Lump Blue Crab & Avocado Salad, The 702 Burger (smoked mozzarella, candied pepper bacon, fried egg), Caribbean Rubbed Mahi Mahi, Macadamia Nut Encrusted Snapper, Kona Coffee Crusted Ribeye, Piña Colada Cake, and Key Lime Pie. It’s good to be on this island. 702-948-8006. tommybahama.com. Opens daily at 11 a.m.
— Jack Bulavski

I began at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center’s Pancake Breakfast & Rummage Sale, $5 for pancakes, sausages, eggs, juice, coffee/hot cocoa. This is located at 3050 Lake Tahoe Blvd, in the same cluster as the California-side LTVA Visitor’s Center.

Al, Jo and Tony entertain at the Lake Tahoe Senior breakfastThe pancake breakfast is served at 8 am on the 3rd Friday of the month. On this Friday — the 4th Friday instead of the 3rd because of a Memorial Day conflict — not only do we get breakfast for our $5, we get Tony and Al, who play the American Legion Hall on Thursday evenings, and Jo, who has a ranch in Placerville and drives up to sing with them from time to time. No-one at the Lake does a better breakfast than this (except for the decor). Everyone working there was a volunteer, and all the customers had come to contribute to the Center; my day was off to a good start.

Next stop was the Taylor Creek Visitors Center, which is further west on Lake Tahoe Boulevard

to the Y and then north on 89 about three miles. On the way there the road passes Camp Richardson where the Renaissance Faire was getting organized, and at the entrance photographs were being taken of the grandly-costumed participants.

As I went by the cameras were focused on nine or ten men in leather armor and iron helmets brandishing long-handled sharp-pointed axes. Halberdiers, they were, wearing those puffy, elaborately-pleated panties they like so much. Frenchies by the look of them. Maybe Swiss.

Lake Tahoe is Bear CountryAt Taylor Creek — one of 63 creeks that dribble down into Lake Tahoe — the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit was hosting the fourth annual Native Species Festival. It was billed as a free family event, and “a great way to spend the afternoon outdoors and learn about the native species of the Lake Tahoe Basin.”

taylorcreekmeadow300x200It was a bit early when we arrived. My pal for the day was not Robin, who was in West Virginia at an academic conference, but Jones, who was doomed to a day full of long waits. taylorcreekpath200x300Parking the car involved a search for a shaded (and preferably isolated) parking place, and then a walk with Jones.

There’s something frolicsome about the word “Festival” that was missing from the dozen or more booths manned and womaned by career Forest Service employees and eager, earnest young volunteers devoted to protecting different aspects of the natural world within the Tahoe basin (the American black bear, native bats, the American beaver). Taylor Creek, Lake TahoeAlso, walks were led by field professionals and local students to illuminate the secrets of native Tahoe yellow cress, the invasive Eurasian water milfoil, the basin’s native Lahontan cutthroat trout and the invasive American bullfrog.

Side view, Taylor Creek, Lake TahoeI was already taking walks with Jones, and most of the trail walks were scheduled for the afternoon, so I made do with traipsing along the Rainbow Trail through the associated meadows and marshlands to the underground chamber allowing a trout’s-eye view of Taylor Creek. You can stand there and watch the life of the creek through “picture windows” and in the fall when the bright red salmon are spawning, it’s a brilliant spectacle. The half-mile walk itself is calming and informative as it wends from the pines down to creek level and back again, introducing some of the non-lake elements within the Tahoe basin.

I drove back the way I came, and by this time in late morning there was a constant stream of traffic going north on Highway 89, almost no-one going south, so when I passed Camp Richardson again I was able to pull over and snap these long-lens photos of performers practicing for the Faire which will take place June 6 and 7. These people look ready!

Lucky Beaver Bar & Burger

The Lucky Beaver Burger at Lucky Beaver a few steps east of Harrah’s at Stateline.

Lucky Beaver burger with fries

. . . . with fries

Lunch was back in Nevada at the Lucky Beaver (no comment), once the site of Bill’s Casino a few steps east of Harrah’s. I came for the burgers, spent $14 for one, and left satisfied, even fortified. Good quality ingredients (ooh-la-la, the french fries!) made into big, bold, even extravagant variations on the theme. So as not to torment Jones during his waits in the car, I ate all of what might otherwise have made two meals. No problem. In fact, recommended.

From our Lincoln County Correspondent

The hot springs at Ash Springs, locally referred to as Little Ash, is not open to the public at the present time. Big Ash, which is adjacent to Little Ash, is private property and has been closed to the public for quite some time.Ash Springs NevadaLittle Ash on the other hand, is on public land, and managed by the BLM. It was open to the public for many years but in 2013 the Caliente BLM office closed Little Ash with a big chain and lock on the gate to keep everyone out. Effective, too.

BLM cites “unsupervised maintenance” as the reason for closing the popular spot. The bricked swimming hole was about chest high in warm water. If truth be known, it’s that too many visitors from the Las Vegas area came up in large groups nearly every weekend. So much unsupervised traffic began to break down the wall of the pond and eventually it broke down and drained completely.

A committee of concerned Alamo and Ash Springs residents has been working on a plan to have the pool and picnic area repaired and reopened, but with no tangible result yet.
— Dave Maxwell

While I was there I overheard three men at the next table talking about a clever new promotion to bring Californians up from the central valley to spend time at the lake.

“The idea is to remind people suffering from the drought in the central Valley that they can come up to the Lake and play in the water. Gurgle! Splash! Yes, we feel the drought in some important ways, but we still have this big beautiful lake.”

At another nearby table the talk was about the recent settlement of the Park Family disagreement, with one faction getting the Montbleu Hotel property plus agricultural acreage in the Carson Valley, the other getting the Hard Rock (the former Horizon), the Edgewood golf course and the original Friday’s Station. Feudal politics, well-suited to the Renaissance Faire.

Young John MuirThen back across the line to California to the South Lake Tahoe Library where Robert Hanna introduced an SRO audience of about 60 people to his great-great-grandfather John Muir. Mr. Hanna’s presentation called “Growing up Muir” was a fascinating telling of Muir’s life from the perspective of his family, illustrated by family stories, photographs and writings.

Robert HannaI was surprised to learn that John Muir had been an ardent inventor as a young adult, and produced working models of his Wake-Up Bed, which stood the sleeper upright and deposited him onto the floor when the alarm went off, and the Loafer Chair, which fired a pistol under the seat when someone leans it backward. I hadn’t known that he was blinded in an accident, promised God that he would give up all monetary efforts of he could but see again — and recovered his vision. John Muir, wife Louie and daughters June and Wanda at their Martinez California homeHe brought Ralph Waldo Emerson to Yosemite in 1871 and Teddy Roosevelt in 1903 (TR called that visit “the best three days of my life”), was a founder of the Sierra Club and a genius at communicating his passionate vision of the natural world. We learned a little about his relationship with his remarkable wife Louie — they both married late; he was 44, she was 35.

Muir+Roosevelt200x300Robert introduced us to their two daughters, and and then their grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Muir’s old age, when he fought

unsuccessfully to save the Hetch Hetchy valley from becoming a reservoir for the City of San Francisco. This was a splendid event and Jones got an extra-long walk afterward, during which he proved his genetic connection to Shorty by not only attracting a chick, but by endearing himself to her. As we walked away she said to her companions, “That’s the kind of dog I want.” Good dog, Jones.

By this time it was mid-afternoon and I was geared up for a visit to the Wagon Train encampment at Zephyr Cove on my way home. If I were staying over I could have taken in the Lake Tahoe Club Crawl and toured five of the hottest bars and clubs in all of South Lake Tahoe. Or The Male Room at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa, where every Saturday Opal Nightclub is transformed into “the ultimate spot for a girl’s night out, filled with screaming women” — hmmmm, maybe not. And there’s the Improv in the Cabaret Theater at Harveys Lake Tahoe, starting at 9 pm every Wednesday through Sunday. On top of that my handy “What’s Happening at Tahoe South” lists a dozen venues for live music besides what’s on stage at the casinos.

My satisfaction with the day ended abruptly at Zephyr Cove. The wagon train was gone. There was a disagreement with the management, the gate guard told me, and they packed up and left, presumably getting an early start for California. Dang.

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

When Robin and I return home from the northeastern part of the state, we try to get home in daylight so we can unload, start a fire and otherwise reconnect with the mother ship before it’s pitch dark. Which is why we tend to come hurtling westward along I-80 in the late afternoon, when the sunlight comes in low across the landscape.
I-80 Nevada, late sunWhat is at noon a stark and gritty nowhere is made magical by the slanting light in its prelude to dusk. Faraway hillsides are made of tawny velvet or melted caramel, then sharply striped with black canyons. Each brushy weed at the edge of the road is suddenly splendid, blazing with golden light. The whole sagebrush sea around us is swept with that brilliant glow. The sun is a molten glob in the scalded sky; on the ground everything is delineated by sunbeams, bright, sharp, hot and distinct. It’s like a new kind of weather there at the end of the day. It’s the anti-pogonip; I wonder if the Paiutes have a word for it. I’d like to persuade a real photographer to come out here and spend a week taking pictures in these 60 “empty” miles.
This is a big part of what I love about living in Nevada: the sudden sense of a different dimension on the verge of discovery . . . when the light comes glancing in just so. I am forever grateful for these little glimpses of the cosmic circus I moved here to join.

Read the whole thing here

Comstock Mining Update: Early in the week of May 3, persons unknown erected a sign near the junction of Main Street, Silver City (Highway 342), with the Truck Route (Highway 341).

Sign at Silver CityThe sign blamed Comstock Mining Inc. for “Irresponsible Mining”, the Storey County Commissioners for “Lack of Oversight” and the Nevada Department of Transportation for being “Slow to Learn”, thus allowing the closure of the highway between Silver City and Gold Hill.

On the morning of the third day afterward, the sign had been obliterated and removed by a second party of persons unknown. . . . Read more here

Overheard:at Sharkey’s in Gardnerville: You know Teri, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common: they don’t change their opinions to fit the facts, they change the facts to fit their opinions.

lovelockskull200x200What they’re saying about us: It’s hard to say who wrote this telling of the Red-Haired Giants story involving Lovelock Cave, but it gives a sense of the unnerving tale and its grip on the imagination.

Brief Notes from Beyond the Mountains: Sharkey's dining room, Gardnerville NevadaSharkey’s Casino in had a festive ribbon-cutting and Grand Opening in downtown Gardnerville, and visitors discovered that the entire interior has been made over. The Silver Dollar Bar has a multitude of beers on tap and you can order food from a Bar Bites Menu. The Jackpot Café is open daily 7 am – 10 pm, the casino has over 200 slots and videos, and the Sports Book is taking action of all major sports . . . Reno’s Wild River Grille announces the return of “Dinner with your Dog” each Monday throughout the summer months. Shorty at Wild River Grille in Reno

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

One of the pleasures of the freeway is getting off of it.
So when I was driving I-80 last month I made a detour at Carlin. Nevada Highway 278 goes south out of Carlin and proceeds 92 miles to US 50 at Eureka. At about ten miles along you’ll come to a turnoff to the west marked Palisade. Take it around the shoulder of a hill and across the river on the broad new bridge and you’re at the outskirt (an upside down school bus in a bed of dried mud) of Palisade. Palisade NevadaThe trains of two railroads come crashing through here day and night, engines roaring, horns blaring.

What was once a town of 300 overlooking the depot and transfer point for the Eureka mines is now an odd collection of metal buildings and stalled cars. The buildings are decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments, looking weathered and insubstantial in the bright light of day.

Palisade NevadaPeople who lived here in recent years had made a lavish Christmas display that brought families from as far away as Battle Mountain to see it. Kids gazed out through fogging car windows at the bright show on freezing December nights. But then the author of this visual confection died, and the lights twinkled no more.

Back in the days when Palisade was busy with freight and passengers, local comedians entertained themselves by staging gun fights on the depot platform as trains pulled in from the east. Frightened passengers hid under their seats and gave up their waiting dinners at the depot cafe rather than face the flying bullets, and went on hungry and half-traumatized, to Winnemucca. It was a wheeze!

Read the whole thing here

This event benefits local non-profits providing services to animals in our towns, starting with the Shakespeare Animal Fund in May and June, and then the SPCA of Northern Nevada in July, August and September. Dog owners can enjoy an afternoon or evening with their canine companion on the riverside patio, while 10 percent of their check will go back to the charities . . . On June 2nd the Mindenfest Farmers Market revs up in Carson Valley on Esmeralda ave. The 7th annual Street Vibrations Spring Rally rattles windows in Reno and Virginia City from June 5-7th. Big, loud motorcycles, live bands, slow bike races, ride-in shows, poker runs, scavenger hunts, and 80+ vendors . . . Also on June 5th Carson City hosts the Smackdown Bull Riding Event at the Fuji Park Fairgrounds . . . Not to be missed, On June

Valhalla Renaissance Faire


photo courtesy Canyon Cassidy

5th, 6th & 7th is the wondrous Valhalla Renaissance Faire, celebrating its 23rd Anniversary at Camp Richardson Resort, South Lake Tahoe. Travel back in time to astonishing scenes of Elizabethan England unfolding before your very eyes in an idyllic sylvan setting . . . The Reno-Tahoe International Film Festival will include a Meet the Filmmakers Party on Friday, June 5th, screenings of many shorts, documentaries and narrative features on June 5,6 & 7 at Century Riverside 12 Reno, Galaxy Theatres Sparks and Art Haus Tahoe City, capped off by a Sunday Awards Gala and After Party from 4 to 11 pm . . . Ride the 1926 Edwards Motor Car in Carson City at the Train Museum on June 6-7 . . . On June 6th the “Grillin’ & Chillin’ BBQ and Blues Cookoff” commences in the historic downtown, Minden Park . . . Down south in Laughlin on June 11th is the Chefs Food Fest. Laughlin’s best chefs from the Colorado river come together to serve up tantalizing platters for every connoisseur . . . Tour de NezOn June 13 The Tour de Nez, the famed annual bicycle races or as we cognoscenti say it, “criteriums”, run through the streets of Reno since 1992, follows a one-mile course bounded by California Avenue, Ridge, Sierra, and Hill Streets; 16 categories of criteriums ranging from 35 minutes to an hour in length, starting at 8 am on California Avenue . . . The 105th Annual Carson Valley Days Celebration will be held on June 11–14th . . . In Eastern Nevada the Downtown Elko Margarita Walk begins at 3:00 pm Saturday, June 13th. The price is $25. Call 775-340-4550 for more information . . . On June 11-13 Las Vegas hosts the Las Vegas Wine and Music Festival . . . In Virginia City on June 13th, Muckfest: Mining, Whiskey & Cigars; Celebrate Nevada’s mining history and the glory days on the Comstock with mining displays and demonstrations in the Delta parking lot in the center of town . . .

Octane Fest


photo courtesy Octane Fest

The “OUTSIDE these walls MUSIC FESTIVAL” will entertain crowds in Yerington on June 13th. On Highway 50, Fallon’s high powered Octane Fest kicks off June 12-14th . . . Farther East on Highway 50, Fears, Tears, and Beers is on June 13th in Ely . . . Boulder City will host the Best Dam Wine Walk on June 13th . . . Next door in Las Vegas the 12th Annual Blues, Brews, & BBQ will run on June 13th . . . The world-renowned Reno Rodeo begins Thursday, June 18th and continues for nine more days and nights of rip-roaring rodeo thrills, with its spectacular finale on Saturday, June 27th . . . In downtown Reno, the Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews & Blues Festival features a street party atmosphere with live blues and rock bands, a beer tasting with more breweries’ products than we can count entered, and lots of tasty grilled goodies . . .

Beaver Dam 49er Gravel Grinder


photo courtesy Lincoln County

Get on your bike and ride in the Beaver Dam 49er Gravel Grinder on June 20 in Panaca . . . Or ride in the 8th Annual Tour of the Carson Valley on June 20th . . . The dazzling custom cars and hot rods will be pouring into West Wendover for Cruise-In 2015 on June 19th & 20th, and there’s no charge for spectators . . . Don’t miss the ever-cherished Stewart Father’s Day Powwow at the Stewart Reservation in Carson City on June 19-20th . . . Also on June 19-20 is the Nevada Humanities Festival 2015 at Bartley Regional Ranch . . . Baker hosts the Snake Valley Festival on June 20-21st . . . Sample savory bites of Virginia City’s finest

Stewart Father’s Day Powwow


photo courtesy Stewart Indian School

fare at Taste of the Comstock. Tour the old city’s many restaurants as they offer delicious samples of food, drinks desserts and more on June 20th . . . Carson City will also host its own Taste of DownTown on June 20th . . . In Central Nevada the Koyote Kruise, begins at 8 a.m, June 20th. at Vesco City Park, Winnemucca; vintage and new vehicles are welcome . . . Fill up in Dayton at the annual Oodles of Noodles festival on June 21-22nd call 775-246-7909 for details . . . The Great Humboldt Duck Race is scheduled for Saturday, June 20th in Elko; “Adopt” a little rubber ducky for 5 bucks, and win a thousand if it floats down the Humboldt River to the finish

The Reno Rockabilly Riot


photo courtesy Sindex Printing and Graphics

line first! Proceeds benefit the Northeastern Nevada Museum. Call 775-738-3418 for more information . . . The Reno Rockabilly Riot runs June 25-28th, combining traditional hot rods and rockabilly music, is more than your usual hot-cars rally — it’s a cultural phenomenon. The Riot moves Downtown this year, with hot rods, muscle cars and some of the coolest rat rods ever created, all on display along Virginia Street from Court Street all the way up to 6th Street, plus actual drag races near the Sands on Arlington, and more. . .
Ely will have The Great Bathtub Boat Races at Cave Lake State Park on June 26-27th . . . Elegance and beauty will stun spectators at the Miss Nevada Contest in Las Vegas on June 26 . . . Summer is best in Lake Tahoe! The 3rd Annual Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival on June 27th at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Hard Rock Outdoor

Silver State International Rodeo


photo courtesy Silver State International Rodeo

Arena on Highway 50, Stateline, will feature a stellar lineup of top reggae acts, including Iration, Matisyahu, Don Carlos, The Expendables, The Green, Fortunate Youth, Vokab Kompany, Squarefield Massive, and more . . . Watch some of the best high school rodeo athletes from around the U.S. and Canada compete in over a dozen exciting events at the big Silver State International Rodeo, from June 30th through July 5th in Winnemucca.

Parting Shot —
The Long Branch Saloon, Luning, 2002 by Larry Angier

Long Branch Saloon, Luning, 2002 by Larry Angier
After years of driving by a seemingly empty building there along U.S. 95 in Luning, I lucked out and the door was open. It was time to stop by and take a look and wet my whistle after a long day driving up U.S. 95. I was still playing with a point-and-shoot digital but was turned off that the lenses on these early cameras was never wide enough and image quality wasn’t even close to that of film. Well, it was time to push myself and figure a work around.
Long Branch customers Bonnie Sichra of Luning and David Hasley of near-by Mina enjoy cool drinks with saloon owner and retired US Navy Chief Dick Hegg. For 32 years Hegg has run The Long Branch Saloon. Originally from New York, he joined the Navy in 1942 and served until 1963 and then “retired” to Luning where he ran this waterhole for many years. The Long Branch sits just a few feet from the edge of US 95.

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