Nevada Correspondence – January 2017

In this edition:

Baker, Ely, Eureka, Las Vegas, Laughlin, Lincoln County, Mesquite, Mineral County,

South Lake Tahoe



Cross-country Skiing

January is a great time to head out cross-country skiing, especially with the snow we’re hoping to get soon in and around Baker. A good place to go is the Baker Creek area in Great Basin National Park. Drive up to the gate just before Grey Cliffs (a pit toilet is available there), then ski (or snowshoe) up the road to the Baker Creek Campground. Head down through the campground and take the trail to Grey Cliffs Campground, then back up to the road to make a nice two-mile loop. If you’re looking for something longer, head further up the road to the Baker Creek trailhead. You can take the Timber Creek trail and then head over to Pole Canyon to make a six-mile loop.

Other good places for cross-country skiing are up the Snake Creek road (not very steep) and up the Lehman Creek trail from Upper Lehman Creek to the Wheeler Peak campground (quite steep). You might see wild turkeys on these routes, and listen for mountain chickadees and nuthatches, birds that stay around all winter.

                                                                                  Ely Birkbeiner cross-country ski race

The Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts are holding the Bristlecone Birkebeiner race on January 21, which will be a cross-country ski race if there’s enough snow. Otherwise, it will be a trail run. Last year there was enough snow to ski, and it was a great event for folks of all ages.

The Sheepherders’ Party

                        The legendary Sourdough Slim wows’ em at the Sheepherders’ Party

Another event will be happening nearby the weekend before. The Sheepherders’ Party begins Friday, January 13 at the Border Inn with an open mike event, featuring stories from those in and friends of the sheep industry. Saturday, January 14 starts with a pancake breakfast, time to enjoy local attractions, a musical performance, a Basque-style family dinner, and a dance. For more information, see the Great Basin Natural Heritage Area’s website.

— Gretchen Baker

Give Gretrchen’s Desert Survivor blog a look-see! Outdoor adventures for kids and grownups all around Baker and Great Basin National Park.



Fire and Ice Festival Snow and Ice Sculpture Competition

Cave Lake State Park is the location for the Snow and Ice Sculpture Competition that takes place January 13 through 15, 2017. Contestants have two days to build their entries for the judging that takes place Sunday afternoon.

In addition to the ice sculptures, also enjoy food sold by local vendors.  Other activities include ice bowling, golf, sledding, skating, and ice fishing on both Saturday and Sunday at the lake. The horseshoe tournament is Saturday, January 14 at 11 am. Sign ups are at 10 am.  The fireworks over the lake on Sunday evening top off a great day in the high mountain desert area of eastern Nevada.

All sculptures must be completed by 3 p.m. on Sunday, with the winners announced that evening at 6 p.m. right before the fireworks show. The first prize winner will receive a grand prize of $1,000. Second place will receive $500 and third place $250. For more information check or call 775-289-3720.

The Fireworks Express train runs Friday evening, January 14, at 6:00 pm. Fireworks are set off from the moving steam engine train as it runs through downtown Ely. As far as we have been able to determine, there is no other place that shoots fireworks from a moving steam train.

— Lorraine Clark



New Murals adorn Main Street buildings

The new Eureka mural by artist Erik Burke depicts the historical processes of making charcoal for smelting silver ore, pouring the molten silver to make silver bars, and the Eureka & Palisade train that transported them to the transcontinental railroad at Palisade. (photo by Robin Cobbey)

A mining mural and a cowboy silhouette were recently added to two historic buildings on Main Street, Eureka, with the hopes of helping revitalize the downtown.

Eureka Restoration Enterprise (ERE), a small non profit whose goal is to help beautify and rejuvenate the downtown area, commissioned two muralists with a request for a mural that depicted Eureka’s rich mining and agricultural history.  “We want to entice entrepreneurs to help create a vibrant downtown for the local population as well as to entice the many Highway 50 travelers to get out of their cars and spend time in Eureka,” said Amanda Pearce, ERE co-founder.

                                                    Muralist Erik Burke at work

After raising funds from an art and wine walk held in May of this year, the group set out to find an artist whose work embodied their mission.  After noticing an article in the Reno Gazette-Journal about muralist Erik Burke and his work at the Reno Aces Ballpark (which depicted the local history of a train traveling through Donner Pass and a portrait of railroad surveyor Theodore Judah) they knew he was the one for the job.

“We originally wanted the entire mural to depict the Eureka & Palisade Engine because of its importance to Eureka’s mining history and also because it is really a beautiful engine,” noted Garney Damele, another ERE co-founder.  “We also wanted an artist that was good at interpreting history.”

“In regards to the mural design, I included the train but wanted to illustrate more of the unique history of Eureka and why the train was even needed,’ Burke said. “Since the train was our focus, I placed it closest to the street where most passerbys (sic) will see it and used the shape of the charcoal ovens to tell the story of the silver smelting process.”

Local business owners Maria Urena and Santiago Martinez who own and operate the Urban Cowboy Bar & Grill (formerly Ratazzi’s), agreed to allow ERE to use the exterior of their building as the first site for a mural.

L to R: Garney Damele, muralists Nick D’Auria and Erik Burke, and ERE member Amanda Pearce

A second mural was added to the old Pavilion owned by Mike Rebaleati. Artist Nicolas D’Auria came up with the idea for a silhouette of a cowboy, but wanted a local influence.  Fifth-generation Eureka native Mark Damele agreed to stand in for the job.  The two artists projected Mr. Damele’s profile onto the side of the building after dark and finished that project in one evening.

“Mural projects all over the country are using collaborative public art projects to improve neighborhoods,” said Pearce. “We would like to join forces with the local businesses and the County programs to continue improving our area.”

The local non profit first traveled to Ely where they visited with the Ely Renaissance Society, who were instrumental in beginning the mural project there with the belief that it would attract businesses and tourism to the area. “They stressed to us how once the art component of revitalization was introduced, they started to generate more interest from the locals,” Pearce said.

In addition to funds raised from the wine walk and raffle, ERE received financial support from the Nevada Arts Council and the GRP Pan Mine.

— Garney Damele


Las Vegas

Inside Las Vegas

Since the weather outside in January could still be a little frightful in Las Vegas, it is time to stay indoors and find something different to occupy your time. KA Theatre at MGM Grand allows you to take a free insider tour of their $165 million production facility every Tuesday at 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. These open house tours last from 20 to

30 minutes each, and guests of all ages are welcome. You will receive an incredible amount of technological information regarding the production, along with a rare appreciation of the backstage antics in producing KA. There are seven moving backstages, along with 5,000+ speakers surrounding the audience. There is a tremendous amount of artists, technicians, musicians, and more than 10,000 costume pieces for each 90-minute show. This is truly a unique way to learn about the Cirque du Soleil shows and see the elaborate coordination the personnel go through for each and every show.

Why not give your opinion on the latest CBS TV shows that are about to be introduced by CBS Television? At the CBS Television City Research Center in the MGM Grand in the Studio Walk you can sign up for a 1 hour time period between 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. each day. Then, arrive 10 minutes before your viewing time to screen shows that are upcoming or could already be in production. There are 4 studios and you are given a device to register your opinions. It should last an hour which includes the viewing and survey opinions on the device. Children over the age of 10 are allowed if accompanied by an adult. And, if you are really lucky they might give you coupons for hot dogs, drinks, a souvenir, or even cash for your opinions.

                                                                         Chinese New Year display at Wynn Las Vegas

If you are looking for some luck in the upcoming Year of the Rooster, the Chinese New Year is January 28th. The Las Vegas Resorts will go out of their way to bring out everything Chinese to celebrate this event. You will see lion dances parading through some of the hotels. Beautiful floral displays and decorations with symbols of luck will abound at the Venetian, Bellagio, Wynn, and Encore Hotels. And, as you probably already know, a new Casino Resort, The Lucky Dragon, just opened last month on Sahara Avenue just west of Las Vegas Blvd. (down the street where SLS is located).

Las Vegas has some of the best Chinese restaurants in the country. At the reasonable level for meals is Ping Pang Pong at the Gold Coast on Flamingo, directly across from both the Rio and the Palms Hotels. Lunch featuring dim sum is served between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. with dinner between 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. Attire is extremely casual.

Another outstanding restaurant to fulfill your Asian cravings is Noodles at Bellagio. They have traditional noodle dishes from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and other areas served between 11 a.m. and 2 a.m. each day. Their dim sum is available Friday through Sunday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Attire is casual.

— Pauline Cimoch


English Fish & Chips, Norwegian Lutefisk & Some ‘Elevated’ Weddings

                                                   Gordon Ramsay’s superb Fish & Chips, including our favorite, Mushy Peas.

Fish & Chips are synonymous to England (Diamond Jack loves visiting England) and that bit of England is now here at Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips in the LINQ Promenade on the Strip. The award-winning celebrity chef prepares the authentic dish with hand-cut, sustainable true Alaskan Cod filets. The fish is served with chips that are slightly salted or seasoned with truffle and parmesan. Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips opens daily at 11 a.m.

Speaking of cod, The Vegas Viking Lodge of the Sons of Norway is hosting a Lutefisk dinner at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Boulder City Elks Lodge.  Lutefisk is codfish soaked in lye and then drained and dried. It has a reputation all its own and somehow millions of people love it. Other dinner items include roasted pork, boiled potatoes, peas and carrots, lefse (potato-based flatbread), Norwegian cookies, and Aquavit, the “water of life,” Tickets are $20 and $5 for children. Proceeds benefit the non-profit Sons of Norway Vegas Viking Lodge that promotes Norwegian heritage. 702-869-5775

Have you been thinking about getting married in 2017? Or maybe renewing your vows? Popular wedding dates that will bring the best luck include 1/7/17, 7/10/17 and 7/17/17 – seven being the luckiest number in Las Vegas. Couples walking down the aisle can get a head start on booking the perfect wedding destination at a variety of venues including a glass-enclosed cabin on the world’s tallest observation wheel with the best views of the city (LINQ), to the largest hotel chapel on the Strip (Caesars Palace), or to the romantic observation deck of the Eiffel Tower (Paris Las Vegas). Tie the knot in these over-the-top venues surrounded by family, friends and neon lights. It’s Vegas, baby!

       A cabin on the gigantic High Roller observation wheel at the LINQ, one of the more unusual wedding venues available in Las Vegas

By the way, my friend won two box seat tickets for the 2017 Super Bowl plus airfare, hotel accommodations and $1,000 for miscellaneous expenses. When he won them, his wedding date had not been finalized. Now it turns out the only date available for the church wedding is Super Bowl Sunday … so he can’t go. If you’re interested and want to go instead of him, it’s at First Baptist Church at 5 p.m. She is a fairly nice looking girl about 5’5”, clean, cute, and her name is Kelly. She’ll be the one in the white dress.

— Diamond Jack Bulavsky


English Talent Ilona has Four-Day Residency at Freedom Beat

London-based singer Ilona will make it a mini-British invasion when she visits Freedom Beat at the Downtown Grand for four nights, Jan. 5-8. Her visit will set an emphatic tone for 2017 as she prepares to embark on a worldwide tour.

Since beginning her musical career only a few years ago, Ilona has already achieved an amount of success winning awards, jamming with Ed Sheeran, and owning airwaves of radio stations in Great Britain and abroad. Along with her own headlining, ILONA has supported artists as diverse as Passenger, Adam Ant, Paul Rodgers, Willy Mason and Daniel Bedingfield.

Canadian rock star Burton Cummings returns to Orleans

Musician and songwriter Burton Cummings, who began his career in the 1960s as lead singer of Canadian rock band The Guess Who, will return to The Orleans Showroom on Jan. 11-12 at 9 p.m. each night to perform his hits. Tickets start at $39.95.

The group produced hits “These Eyes,” “American Woman,” “Hang On To Your Life” and many more.

The band became the first Canadian group to reach No. 1 on the United States Hot 100 charts.

As a solo artist in 1976, Cummings earned a Gold record for his debut single, “Stand Tall.” More hits followed, including “I’m Scared,” “My Own Way to Rock” and “Timeless Love.” Cummings continued his career by starring in several top-rated television specials, going on tour as a member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band and releasing his first live solo album, “Massey Hall,” in 2012.

DLVEC will host New Dance Music event series ‘Zoology’

British record producer, DJ and engineer Billy Kenny

In January, the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center (DLVEC) will host a new dance music series, “Zoology” by Collective Zoo. The event will kick off Jan. 6 with performances by Billy Kenny, Bixel Boys and Justin Jay, and continue Jan. 20 with Shiba San and Will Clarke. Tickets are $20 general admission and a drink-and-dance package deal is $50.

Billy Kenny, creator of record label This Ain’t Bristol, is known for his aggressive combination of all things UK garage, house and techno. Joining Kenny are Los Angeles dance music duo Bixel Boys, and Justin Jay, one of his San Francisco label’s rising stars.

Bristol-born Will Clarke hails from England. After gaining popularity in 2014 when his “Big Booty” EP was released on Worthy’s Anabatic label, Clarke joined the Dirtybird label. Paris native Shiba San is 2015 International Dance Music Award-winner for “Best Underground Dance Track.”

B & B Ristorante at the Venetian to host Olive Oil Dinner

A first for Las Vegas, B&B Ristorante at The Venetian will host a six-course feast centered around the first pressing of extra virgin olive oil from the Medici-era villa, Tenuta di Capezzana (Italian for “estate of Capezzana”). The dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. will be taken on a tasting journey guided by Beatrice Contini-Bonacossi, whose family owns Capezzana, the 345-acre farm that has produced olive oil and wine since the time of Charlemagne (742 – 814). During the dinner, she will discuss the unique history of the estate, as well as the oil-making process. The dinner and wine pairings experience is $165.

— Jackie Brett



Pointer Sisters to appear at the Edgewater

The Pointer Sisters will headline the E Center at the Edgewater on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. Today, the group includes original member Ruth Pointer, her daughter Issa and granddaughter Sadako. They perform the music of The Pointer Sisters all over the world. Tickets range from $35 to $65.

The four original members of the American R&B singing group were June, Anita, Ruth and Bonnie Pointer. The ladies are the daughters of Reverend Elton Pointer and they began their formal vocal training in their father’s church in West Oakland, Calif. The ladies went on to achieve worldwide fame and secure a place in pop music history.

Their first performance was at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, and their debut album was in 1973, with the single “Yes We Can, Can,” which reached No. 11 on Billboard magazine’s pop singles chart. Over four decades, the sisters’ repertoire included such diverse genres as pop, disco, jazz, electronic music, bebop, blues, soul, funk, dance, country, and rock. The group had 13 U.S. top 20 hits between 1973 and 1985, have won three Grammy Awards, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994.

Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan bring ‘Grits & Glamour’ to Avi

Singers Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan are currently traveling across North America on their Grits and Glamour Tour and will visit the Avi Grand Ballroom on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. Veteran performers and recording artists, they grace the country format with style, flair, and undeniable talent that is captivating and timeless. Tickets are $30 to $50.

Combined in their nearly four-decade careers, they have recorded 28 top 10 hits, sold more than 18 million records sold, and had 12 number one songs. They have rocked arenas, helmed world-class symphonies, and toured most every continent. They have garnered Grammys, CMA Awards, movie credits, television appearances, and Broadway performances.

Tower of Power will bring rhythm to Harrah’s

American R&B-based horn section and band Tower of Power will bring their original kind of soul music to Harrah’s Fiesta Showroom on Friday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are  $45.

For close to 50 years, Tower of Power has been touring the world. The group’s sound can be hard to categorize, but the band’s leader and founding member, Emilio Castillo, has labeled it “Urban Soul Music.” Tower’s rhythm section lays down a groove like no other band. The way they approach everything, from writing and arranging to mixing and performing, is totally their own. Combine all of that with an outstanding lead vocalist and you have a truly dynamic group of musicians.

Riverside Resort keys in on Headliners

                                     The Kingston Trio

Don’s Celebrity Theatre at the Riverside Resort has a variety of headliner acts lined up for January including The Kingston Trio, The Righteous Brothers, and Doug Kershaw.

In the middle of the month, Jan. 10-15, The Kingston Trio will perform Tuesday through Sunday at 7 p.m.  The Kingston Trio emerged from San Francisco’s North Beach club scene in 1957  to take the country by storm, bringing the rich tradition of American folk music into the mainstream for the first time. During the late ’50s and early ’60s, the trio enjoyed unprecedented record sales and worldwide fame. The threesome, 58 years after their hit “Tom Dooley” shot to the top of the charts, is still on the road 30 weeks providing great memories. Tickets are $32.

                                                                                            The Righteous Brothers

The Righteous Brothers, featuring Bill Medley and Bucky Heard, will appear Wednesday-Sunday, Jan. 18-22 at 7 p.m. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo, which was Medley and Bobby Hatfield before his passing, topped the charts in four decades.  Now Medley joins forces with one of the most versatile vocalists in America, Bucky Heard, bringing the Righteous Brothers back to the stage with such hits as “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Unchained Melody,” and Medley’s Grammy-winning “Dirty Dancing” theme “The Time of My Life.” Tickets are $35.

                      Doug Kershaw

The “Ragin’ Cajun” Doug Kershaw will bring his fiddle to the Riverside Wednesday-Sunday, Jan. 25-29 at 7 p.m.  Since his early days on a Louisiana bayou, Kershaw has been a phenomenal fiddle player. and by many he’s considered the king of this instrument.

He plays so incredibly fast that clouds of rosin soar from his horse hair bow, giving the impression that it is smoking. He can wear out two or three bows per song – playing, dancing and singing simultaneously. Kershaw has mastered more than 20 instruments.

Tickets are $25.

— Jackie Brett


Lincoln County

Fine Dining in Lincoln County

2013 Nevada Hotel of the Year Award

Windmill Ridge was awarded a Hotel of the Year Shout-Out in 2013

Lincoln County’s only restaurant of fine dining is the Windmill Ridge in Alamo.  Located along U.S. 93 about one-and-a-half miles north of town, the restaurant and it’s nearby companion, Cowboy’s Dream Bed and Breakfast, are owned by the corporation of the late Charles and Phyllis Frias of Las Vegas.

So when you are touring around rural southeastern Nevada, make plans to stop by. You’ll find it refreshingly enjoyable.

Windmill Ridge started out as a local restaurant owned and operated by two local women, Kim Turley and Chris Higbee. They first opened a small restaurant in downtown Alamo in 2003 in a small building that had once been a toy store, with another business in the other half on the downstairs floor and one or two small business ventures on the second floor.

Kim and Chris set out to make it a fine dining experience even in a little rural town like Alamo. And so they did. After about three years, the women decided they wanted to expand, and expand in a big way. In 2006, after getting the funding to purchase 10 acres, they hired a builder, Brimont Construction of Overton, Nevada, using 16 x 24 foot pre-cut log cabin kits from Middleton Timber Company in Cedar City, Utah. The restaurant would also have 15 surrounding motel cabins on the  ridge north of town; hence the name “Windmill Ridge.”

There is a real windmill on the property in the parking lot. Really pumps, too, albeit water recycled from a tank.

The unique part about the cabins is that each one is different, displaying an individual theme such as School House, Just-Hitched, Doll House, Barnyard, Hunting Lodge, the Dugout, etc. The Just-Hitched cabin is a bit more expensive, but it has a Jacuzzi bathtub.

Kim and Chris took classes from a master chef at a 5-star restaurant in Las Vegas to learn how to make the local dining experience even more pleasurable, but not too expensive for locals to afford, too.

In 2010, Kim and Chris sold the restaurant to Las Vegas businesswoman Phyllis Frias, who was building a large bed and breakfast lodging, Cowboys Dream, just a hoot and holler south on Highway 93.  She was intending to buy the restaurant, but Kim said they were looking to sell, and in conversations “one thing led to another.” Frias added another room on the south end of the restaurant and put in an additional 10 cabins, for a total of 25.

Current managers Esther and Robert Renturia, describe the restaurant and cabins as being in “a quiet peaceful location.” Twelve of the cabins are pet-friendly.

Mrs. Renturia said, if approved by the Frias front office, the southernmost room in the restaurant will later be themed “Panther Den” for the Pahranagat Valley High School team and decorated with pictures and memorabilia from the school and their athletic prowess.

Windmill Ridge is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 7 a. m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. However, at times when business might be real slow the restaurant might close earlier than listed.

Renturia says, “If travelers arrive after registration hours for the cabins, a phone number is available to call security to get them checked in.” Phone: 775.725.3686 or visit the Windmill Ridge website.

The homemade meatloaf at Windmill Ridge is a featured dish on the menu, along with their  chipotle pork ribs. The bakery, which was initially a very popular feature at Windmill, is being reestablished and is now  “making everything from scratch.”

— Dave Maxwell



Mesquite Outdoors hits its stride in the New Year

While the north country is shivering, Mesquite basks in beautiful sunny days and offers a full calendar of outdoor sports and events.  Mesquite works hard to earn its moniker, “Your Year ‘Round Playground.”

Even drive-by folks, who only know Mesquite from trips on I-15, know of its emerald golf courses and sports fields that beckon every age and skill level.  The courses, ball parks and soccer fields are in top form now, ready for high season.

Mesquite hosts UYSA soccer on January weekends at the Mesquite Sports and Events Complex at the foot of dramatic Flat Top Mesa.  Spectators welcome!

Meanwhile, downtown, Rocky Mountain School of Baseball holds winter ball camp Jan 14-16 at the City of Mesquite fields.  USA Winter Girls Fast Pitch contest runs Jan 27-29 at the Rising Star Sports Ranch.  (This new hotel/sports facility was featured in Mesquite Correspondence – October 2016.)  Information about these kids’ events can be found on Mesquite’s website,

For those who like to kick tires and cruise the main drag, Mesquite Motor Mania dominates town Jan 13-16.  Roll your fuzzy dice over to this outdoor car show that owns the town, exit to exit.  The annual event draws about 800 classic cars of all sorts, staged by the Las Vegas Cruisin’ Association.  Cars will be on display at all major casinos throughout town.  Car owners vie for prizes in many categories, and spectators can vote for their favorite ride.  A schedule of events can be found online at

Nothing is more breathtaking than a balloon festival. Mesquite welcomes back these beautiful highfliers January 20-22.  Balloon ascents are scheduled for early each morning, with a night glow ready to

thrill the crowd on Saturday evening, Jan 21.  Mesquite Gaming hosts this exciting event, which takes place at the CasaBlanca Resort event grounds. Go online at to sign up to volunteer to help crew a balloon.This free event provides spectators with fabulous photo ops.

January is the time to check out the 2017 Mesquite Senior Games lineup and sign up to compete against your own age group in your chosen sport.  Everything from golf to bocce ball awaits the over-50 athlete.   This is a premier senior competition, but is tons of fun for everybody who wants to try their hand (or foot) at winning.   Go to for all details.  See you at the Mesquite Senior Games in March-April!

— Linda Faas


Mineral County

Calling All Road Warriors

If you fit the description of a true road warrior today, you may be living along the highways in the comfort of your roomy RV while traveling the countryside. If you fall into this adventurous living category, you may consider a 450-mile trip from Las Vegas to Reno, Nevada to be an overwhelmingly long drive and thus be searching for a comfortable stopping point along Highway 95 which can provide beauty, exploration and safety as well.  Well, Hawthorne’s Whiskey Flats RV Park is your solution to an easy “Good Sam” camping spot, surrounded by convenience, choices and comfort. Call ahead for any information at (775) 945-1800, or visit online at

With an easy check-in by their helpful staff, you’ll find all forty-six drive through spaces located with wondrous views of Mount Grant, offering a picture-perfect environment. The clean laundromat, basic camping store and access to propane and Wifi and Cable TV will make your stay even more comfortable. You can sample local shopping and eateries nearby,  with the local El Capitain Casino providing evening entertainment, but it is the day jaunts that benefit amateur and professional photographers alike.

A quick 15 minutes north provides varying views of the historic ice-age lake known as Walker Lake. An estimated 7,500 pictures of Walker Lake are taken annually from the turnoff points, due to the unusual reflections, changing colors and the stately setting of the surrounding mountain ranges. There are also Wild Mustang herds found grazing in the area at the south end of the lake and Big Horn Sheep herds which come down from the western mountains of the Wassuk Range. Locals living in this hamlet of homes generally know where they can be found and the best time of day to locate a herd.

At the County Beach along Highway 95, there is a Walker Lake Monument, custom-made in local stone with a Geocache and informational guide. This is updated by the Walker Lake Crusaders with pertinent news and guidelines as to the current restoration of the lake’s process. Unusual rock formations line the beaches, as well as mini shells left from the millions of brine shrimp in the water. Black coots bob around in groupings during the winter months, appearing from afar as large ink spots along the water’s edge. Other dry camping facilities line the north end of the lake, but use caution in attempting to drive directly to the water’s edge, as many vehicles get stuck in the sand without 4-wheel drive. It is best to park safely and walk to the lake’s beach areas.

The majestic Mount Grant fills up with snow during the winter season to produce a spectacular photographic postcard scene, but there are still mining trails available, off-road rock hunting and other wildlife viewing opportunities within the region to enjoy.

Whiskey Flats provides many ideas and informational guides for your enjoyment. Local museums and unusual displays are also common places to visit for photo-ops as you build your trip log. Don’t let the winter season keep you away, because snow doesn’t remain long, and it would be a rarity to ever need tire chains. Bundle up, and come enjoy our beautiful area!

— Sheri Samson


South Lake Tahoe

On New Year’s Day a lot of people wake up bleary-eyed and discombobulated from a night of saying goodbye to the old year.  2016 left folks with a sense of uncertainty and confusion about the future, and maybe that’s why we’re so happy when a year is over and a new one can bring a little hope, at least for a little while. Beginning 2017 on a Sunday is a good start; it’s a day of rest, a day of kicking back and easing into things to come.  South Lake Tahoe knows how to party, and all of the Stateline casinos each had a wild shin-dig that had revelers singing and dancing their way into 2017.  But it doesn’t stop with one night at the clubs: the party goes the whole month of January.  Visitors make the trek up into the mountains from the lowlands looking for a wintry good time, inside and outside.

                                                                                        Sledding at Spooner Summit

Seeing the look on the faces of people who have never been in the snow is great: even the smallest patch of snow brings joy, especially to children.  Sledding is perhaps one of the nicest and most convenient ways to enjoy a winter day at Lake Tahoe.  And it’s free, except for the price of a sled or inner tube.  Find a hill (Tahoe has a lot of

hills) and you’re on your way to an exciting day.  Spooner Summit, at the junction of Hwy 50 and Hwy 28, has a great sledding spot.  Sledders swarm to this very popular snow park.  The adventurous type can trek to the top and give themselves a wild ride, but don’t get caught up with safety if you choose an inner tube, because those can get out of control fast.  Trekking off into the woods isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, so the good people at Edgewood Companies provide a manufactured tubing hill, right in town by Mont Bleu Casino at the adjacent meadow.  Snow cannons blast out the snow even if the sun is shining, as long as the temperature is low enough.  Check off just about all winter fun activities at this one spot. They also have snowmobiling and sleigh rides there in the meadow.

                                                 Casey’s Cheeseburger & Fries

A day of sledding can build up a hearty appetite, and some refueling may be needed after a morning or afternoon of hurtling down a steep sledding slope.  Casey’s An American Cantina is a friendly and casual restaurant located in the Round Hill Center in the township of Zephyr Cove and minutes from the casino corridor.  A great place for locals and tourists alike, it opens at 8am for breakfast and closes when the last patron leaves at night.  Casey’s “Really Good Basic Burgers” are all fresh half pound beef patties from Tahoe’s locally owned Overland Meats. Try the Western Bacon Burger — delish!  Also, Casey’s is dog friendly, providing a watering station for Fido to cool his heels with the rest of the family.

Comedian Tommy Savitt at the Improv at Harveys (photo courtesy of Howie Nave)

After getting a belly full, go have a belly laugh at the Improv at Harveys.  In a new year, why not start it out with a nice chuckle? It may help you from screaming at the thought of having a game show host as the next president.  The Cabaret Theatre is a cool place to see some great names in stand-up comedy.  Howie Nave is the hilarious host/emcee for all shows, and he alone is enough for the price of admission.  Different comedians are featured every week, Wednesdays through Sundays.  Must be 21 or older to attend.  Call (775) 586-6266 for ticket information.

A night out at the comedy club can be relaxing and therapeutic while preparing for the next day of fun outside on the ski slopes.  The word from the top of the mountain is that the skiing is great, despite the lack of snow at lake level.  All the rain we received here at the Lake in mid-December was all snow at the upper elevations, and not wet “Sierra Cement” but surprisingly good powder, according to longtime local season pass holder and firefighter Patrick Olsen, who lives for fresh “pow” and good turns on the ski runs. Olsen recommends the upper runs, like Dipper and Dipper Woods at Heavenly, as long as the access is limited to the mountain.  As I write this, the lower elevation’s lack of snow has limited The Gondola at Heavenly Village as the only access to the mountain.  But Stagecoach lift on the Nevada side at the top of Kingsbury Grade (Hwy 207) is gearing up and opening soon. [Note: As of Dec. 28, 92 runs and 27 lifts at Heavenly Ski Resort are now OPEN.]

Happy New Year!  Let’s hope 2017 is a good one, but we have to make the best of it, and Lake Tahoe is a great place to do just that.

— Brendan Packer