NevadaGram #65 Carson City, Virginia City, Gold Hill, Carson Valley

What They’re saying About Us

Ishmael Reed rides the Holiday Train to Reno.
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This time I had meant to reveal the many persuasive signs that our state capital may actually be a city at last. But a blizzard intervened and forced me to postpone my survey of Carson City’s cosmopolitan touches.

Photo by Max Winthrop

Capitol Plaza, Carson City; that’s Adolph Sutro with the pick. It’s a long story.

That will wait until next time, but there are still a few things I can tell you off the top to make your next trip to the capital more useful and more fun.

First, shopping. Two of the five best Nevada gift shops are in Carson City. One is at the State Railroad Museum on the south side of the city; most of the books and merchandise on sale here is choo-choo stuff of course, but it’s good choo-choo stuff, some of it quite exalted, with a broad enough selection to find something good for every grandchild on your list and half the adults.

For the rest of them you will find something exceptional at the gift shop in the Legislature Building just south of the Capitol. Walk in through the front door just like an influence-peddler, get an

affable nod from the pistol-packing concierge, and continue eastward into the building. About half way toward the back entrance you’ll see the shop ahead on the left, a surprising range of Nevada goods, from books to parkas to cocktail glasses, nicely displayed and all bearing the Nevada state seal or that of the Legislature. For selection, quality and prices, this is a real hidden treasure.

Just over the Douglas County line to the south are a pair of large mercantile campuses with national name stores. The most-appreciated: In-N-Out Burger and Trader Joe’s. I’ll bet

Photo by Max Winthrop

Gift shop at the State Railroad Museum provides treasures for grandchildren. They’ll also like the new model railroad now taking shape in a corner of the museum — more about that next time.

the traffic between Carson City and Reno is down by 10% since Carson got its own Trader Joe’s.

Carson City is also the home of Adam G. Baker, who operates a barber shop on West Winnie Lane, and who paints portraits as an avocation. Adam was one of 16 Nevada artists who joined the competition to paint the official portrait of Governor Kenny Guinn as he was leaving office. “None of us got the chance to do the $20,000 portrait” he says. “The Nevada Arts Council, with the blessing of the Governor, outsourced the job to all 50 states. They picked this really awesome artist from Washington State. But many Nevadans, me included, think it should have been a state competition, and not a national one.” So Adam decided to take his painting of Governor Kenny on his own ‘national porcelain gallery tour’.”

Photo courtesy Adam G. Baker

Kenny makes the first stop on his Big Adventure, in the basement Men’s Room in the State Capitol building.

As you’ll see, if you follow the link above, Adam put Kenny on display in the men’s rooms of every state capitol in the USA (Hawai’i still to come), starting right here at home in Carson City.

Photo by Max Winthrop

Lt. Pierce Powell of the Silver City Guard (left) was among the many local celebrities who turned out to congratulate Hugh Roy Marshall on the opening of the new Ramada Hotel in Virginia City. Powell owns the old V&T freight depot across E Street from the new hotel.

After many years of planning and preparation, Hugh Roy and Cynthia Marshall have built and opened a new Ramada Hotel in Virginia City. Hugh Roy has been involved in mining at Virginia City, Ione and other interesting localities, and the Marshalls operate the Marshall Mint at the old Assay Office at C and Sutton streets in Virginia City. The hotel is located on E Street across from the old V&T freight depot and is welcoming guests from around the world.

Another Great Moment in Nevada Art occurred in Gold Hill on the evening of New Year’s Day when one of the state’s great artistic treasures — thought lost to the world for 40 years — was unveiled.

photo by Joi Davis

“Buffalo Bill meets Hiawatha”, artist(s) unknown. Bullet holes along the bottom spell out a rude remark.

“Kit Carson meets Winnemucca” is among the first known examples of Interactive Art, conceived and executed long before the internet came into existence. The scene, silk-screened on two aluminum sheets, shows an Indian chief in Great Plains regalia pointing the way out of town to an elegantly coiffed wagon train pioneer. In the background, however, other pioneers are already unpacking the wagons. I call it “Trouble ahead”. The 6′ x 8′ artifact was once a billboard on the eastern approach to Carson City and it was there that the large caliber bullets were so eloquently applied by passersby. With the back-lit bullet holes it’s not only a magnificent piece of the Nevada Ouvre, it’s a nice night light too.

Photo by Max Winthrop

St. Augustine’s hovers over Main Street in Austin.

My friend Bill Roberts of Tonopah, until recently publisher of the Central Nevada Newspapers, is now a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He’s written a nice piece about historic St. Augustine’s Church in Austin.

This has been a season of considerable change for the state Tourism Commission. Chairman Lorraine Hunt is leaving the Lt. Governor’s office after two terms, replaced by former State Treasurer Brian Krolicki. The new Chairman immediately appointed his predecessor to a seat on the Commission, helping to ensure continuity in the state’s impressive tourism efforts.

photo by Max Winthrop

Bruce Bommarito (right) is now an executive for the Travel Industry Association of America in Washington DC.

Executive Director Bruce Bommarito has departed for a high-level job with the Travel Industry Association of America, replaced by Tim Maland, also a veteran of the casino-hotel business. Also in 2006 Art Director Denise Barr left Nevada Magazine to enter the fashion industry, Editor Dave Moore retired to his pleasure dome in the Dayton Valley, and Publisher Rich Moreno left the state to take a position with Northern Illinois University.
This is a brain-drain of considerable magnitude. Editor Joyce Hollister is an experienced editor at the Magazine, but otherwise it’s new faces across the conference table at staff meetings, and a new strategy to be adopted. Beginning in early 2007 Nevada Magazine will convert to controlled circulation. That is, it will be sent free to those who show up in the ultra-highest-income demographic as well as to subscribers elsewhere. The move is an attempt to establish a profitable platform for advertising, which provides most of the magazine’s revenue.

The legislature has mandated that the magazine must pay its own way, which turns out to be not so easy. Also not easy: appealing to the extra-rich and to Nevada-lovers at the same time.

I’ve become a connoisseur of Bad Beat Poker hands at the Carson Valley Inn. The Bad Beat prize pays when a 4-of-a-kind or higher hand is beaten by a still higher hand. Figure this: you’re playing Texas Hold ’em, and you have the 2 of clubs as a down card. The dealer rolls out the cards until the 3, 4, 5, and 6 of clubs are showing on the table. What do you do? You bet it big, of course, which is what Carson Valley resident Ken Bryant did. At the showdown, Vacaville resident Bill Mandrel turned over the 7 of clubs. His 7-high straight beat Ken’s 6-high straight, but under the Bad Beat rules, Ken got $500 to console himself with, Bill took an additional $300 along with the pot, and the other players at the table split the last $200 of the thousand-dollar payoff. How can you not like that? . . .

Quick notes from beyond the mountains:

Postcard from Antwerp
photo by Rudy
We had a very nice trip through Nevada but … very bad weather! It started to rain when we reached Austin, and then we had some terrible thunderstorms!!! All wet and cold we reached at last Ely and the Nevada Hotel.
But no complaining, Nevada is a beautiful state and the people are very friendly and motorminded. The next day the clouds were black and it was again raining and raining, we left Ely and lucky for us, one hour later we had again that beautiful Nevada sunshine.
In september we came back to the States and went from Las Vegas through Arizona, Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. Utah: Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon and back to Las Vegas. But this time we had a lot of sunshine and warm weather!

photo by Nest Adriaensen

Here’s a website with beautiful photographs and brief narrative about three great treasures of eastern Nevada: Ruby Mountains, Great Basin National Park and Leviathan Cave . . .The first Fun Train of 2007 is set for Friday, Jan. 26, launching the 44th year of the scenic mountain train trek that brings San Francisco Bay Area visitors to Reno for a Friday to Sunday getaway. The Fun Train is scheduled to run every Friday through March 23 except for Friday February 2, and it’s called “the greatest party on wheels” with good reason. The train includes a a dance car with live music, the Great Dome Sightseer Lounge, a piano lounge, a souvenir mini-mall, strolling minstrels, a card magician and round-trip meals served with reserved seating . . . Mark January 20 on your calendar and get yourself to John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks for Brew Ha Ha, starring Ruby Mountain Amber Ale, porter, Vienna-style lager and heifeweissen. This year’s event also stars “the incomparable Johnny A.” playing guitar. I thought it might be John Asquaga himself until I saw a photo — Big John would never trim his mustache like that . . .Andy Warhol’s last stop: “Andy Warhol’s Dream America” will be presented at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno from January 20 through May 27, the last stop for this touring exhibit of this legendary Pop artist’s portfolios featuring some of his most recognizable prints (Marilyn Monroe, Jacquelyn Kennedy, Mick Jagger, the Campbell’s soup cans). Several hotels are offering special room packages . . . Ramada Express in Laughlin is offering a cultural/adventure “Spirit Package” with shuttle service to three viewing areas on the Grand Canyon’s west rim, photo ops with Hualapai Tribe members, a wagon ride, a barbecue or cowboy cookout and access to the new Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River that opens in March. Packages start at $80. For more information, e-mail darias@ramadaexpress.com or call 800-243-6846. . . .

Overheard at the Overland Hotel in Fallon: “Men are nicer to the women they don’t marry.”

Happy Highways,

David W. Toll

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