In this edition:
Strawberry Fire Update
On August 8, 2016, smoke was spotted in upper Strawberry Creek drainage, on the north side of Great Basin National Park. In a few hours, what had been a 15-acre fire expanded to over 2,000 acres, sending up a huge smoke column. Firefighters couldn’t even enter the canyon at first, as the whole entrance to it was on fire, from the ridgetop down to the stream and up to the other ridgetop.
Wheeler Peak Campground was evacuated and the Scenic Drive closed, as the Strawberry Fire was getting close to those locations. Over the next two weeks, the fire grew to 4,567 acres, and at the maximum of over 500 fire personnel were on scene. Unfortunately, a fatality occurred during the fire, when a snag fell and hit firefighter Justin Beebe. A memorial was held for him in Montana on August 20.
The Wheeler Peak Campground and Scenic Drive have reopened, but Strawberry Canyon and the Osceola Ditch Trail remain closed for public safety. A Burned Area Emergency Response team has evaluated what needs to be done to stabilize the area, as flooding is expected. Amazingly, Bonneville cutthroat trout survived the fire in some parts of the creek. Park staff relocated them to Silver Creek.
Astronomy Festival, September 29-October 1
Great Basin National Park’s annual Astronomy Festival will be held September 29-October 1. Join astronomers to peer into the dark skies over the park from 8 pm to midnight Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Other activities include the popular ranger talent show Thursday night, on Friday a guided observatory walk at 10 am and at 7 pm, the keynote speaker, Dr. Anil Seth, speaking about the Andromeda Galaxy. Saturday you can learn about how the Baker Archeological Site was laid out according to celestial observations at sunrise (6 am), attend a night photography workshop at 1 pm, and learn more about bats at 7 pm with the park’s bat biologists. Many more events for adults and kids will be held, with the full schedule on the park website.
— Gretchen Baker
Don’t miss Gretchen’s great outdoor adventure blog, Desert Survivor!
A Walkable City & Alabam the Toilet-paper Man
Everyone has seen something that looked like something but which they are sure couldn’t really be. In front of the historic L.A. Water and Power Building in Boulder City stands Alabam in glorious bronze. Now, most bronzes commemorate very special well-connected people. This is because making any bronze is very expensive and usually reserved for presidents, kings and county commissioners. You might drive buy this particular bronze statue hundreds of times and think, that sure looks like a guy holding a bunch of toilet paper, but keep telling yourself, ” Nah, can’t be toilet paper.” Who would make bronze toilet paper? Boulder City, that’s who.
It is an homage to the common man willing to do whatever it takes to get by, and with a great attitude. This is why one should walk Boulder City. Alabam the Toiletpaper Man was the “sanitation engineer” responsible for cleaning and putting toilet paper in the latrines for Hoover Dam’s 7,000 workers. He was called “Alabam,” though that was not his real name, because everyone got a nickname when there were so many Johns and Roberts. He was probably from Alabama, or maybe not. A story was told that Alabam was once found trying to fish out his jacket from the latrine. When told that it was probably ruined, he replied, “Don’t care about the jacket, but my lunch is in the pocket.”
But since we’re walking we can also take a closer look. Stephen Liguori, the sculptor of Alabam, has given us a fascinating story. A proud aging face of a man that has a job and a purpose. Dungarees and a well used handkerchief tell the story of the fashion of the common man — and what may be the most amazing depiction of toilet paper the world has ever known.
Walking changes one’s perspective on everything. The early residents of Boulder City didn’t have a lot of cars. It was the Depression. Public transportation was basically to transport workers at the Dam. The rest of the time they hoofed it. The town was a very walkable place.
The Walking Tour is the product of the Boulder Dam Museum, located in the Boulder Dam Hotel. It’s debuted just in August and only has 11 locations, but each stop can be accessed via a QR code which takes you to a photo relevant to your location and a map showing you where all the locations are. The narration and the photos are from the Museums archives and it’s amazing stories. Check it out. I am.
— Allan Goya
Photos by GOYAphotography
September Hiking in the Rubies
September is often the best time to hike in the Ruby Mountains, as the temperatures have cooled off and the number of hikers has dropped with the end of summer vacations. Two of my favorite trails that I try and hike every year are located in Lamoille Canyon. The first is the Island Lake Trail. This trail starts at Roads End and winds its way above Lamoille Creek. You have a great view of Lamoille Canyon as you climb above the valley floor. Before long, you reach the end of the trail at Island Lake which sits in a glacial carved basin. It is the perfect spot for a lunch under the shade of the pine trees and for the adventurous you can hop in the cold water for a refreshing dip.
The other hike I enjoy is the Thomas Canyon Trail. You park in the Thomas Canyon Campground in Lamoille Canyon, and there is a short walk to the trailhead. The trail follows Thomas Creek and its many waterfalls, cascades and beaver ponds. After two miles, it ends in a glacial carved basin with lush meadows and a small beaver pond. I would rate both trails as moderate because of the gain in elevation, but the short lengths of both trails make it nice for most hikers. Check in with the Forest Service at 2035 Last Chance Road in Elko (775 738-5171) to get maps, and updates on current conditions before you go.
Music at the Western Folklife Center
Southwind, a local three-piece string band has been performing at the Western Folklife Center on the 3rd Wednesday of the month for over a year now. This free show is an excellent family event to break up the week. They play a wonderful mix of Celtic, folk, rock, and Americana music in the Pioneer Saloon. The bar is open during the show, which runs from 6-8 pm. Whether you are a local or a visitor, this should be on your to do list. Call the Western Folklife Center at 775-738-7508 for more info.
Edible Elko Basque Style
Ogi Deli is a new deli in town that brings a fresh twist to Elko’s Basque dining experience. Anamaria, the owner has created several basque sandwiches for the lunch crowd. These treats include the Chorizo, Solomo, and Jamon & Gazta sandwiches. At 282 11th Street, they are open for breakfast and lunch and have a great menu, including gluten free and vegetarian options. Check out their website at ogideli.com.
— Doug Clarke
Great Basin College Fall Field Trips
Two field trips are being offered by the Great Basin College during the Fall Semester. These are introductory classes with no prerequisites.
Great Basin Ecology (Biol 299) on September 9-11 will examine rangeland plant communities, soil types, landforms, water, and wildlife of the Great Basin. Discussions will focus on soil/plant/climate correlations and hydrology. Water quality measurements will be taken at various sites. Classroom meeting is Friday at the Ely Great Basin Campus, Room 116, from 6-9 pm. Travel on Saturday to Spring Valley and Mount Moriah and Sunday to Railroad Valley.
The White Pine Mining District (Hamilton) (Geol 299) on September 23-25 will examine historic mines and ghost towns of the district. Mineral deposits, rock formations and the geologic history and development will be discussed. Classroom meeting is Friday at the Ely Great Basin Campus, Room 116, from 6-9 pm. Saturday and Sunday travel will visit the historic ghost towns of Hamilton, Treasure City, Eberhardt, Shermantown, the Hidden Treasure Mine, Belmont Mill, Mount Hamilton Mine, and Monte Cristo.
Participants must be registered and complete required Team Travel and Class Waiver forms one week prior to class. Each field trip is one credit and costs $117. Travel is at student’s expense. All maps, charts, and discussions will be provided. Attendees must provide their own reliable transportation-preferably with four wheel drive. Camera, binoculars, hand lens and other outdoor gear are recommended.
For more information or field trip details call Veronica Nelson, Ely Center Director at 775 289-3589 or course instructor John Breitrick at 775 238-0508.
— Lorraine Clark
Welcome to beautiful, cool and relaxing Las Vegas!
The SPE Wacky World of Sports is being held on Saturday, 9/17/16, at Sunset Park (southeast corner of Sunset and Eastern). You can set up a team and pay to play in Bubble Soccer ($40-4 players). This is where each person puts on a huge bubble balloon and plays soccer (must be hot in those things!). They also have FootGolf ($40-6 players) or KickBall ($100-10 player with at least 3 females) and a multi-game discount for playing Golf & Soccer ($70). All players must be over 18. If you have the players you can sign up using this link. Please pay special attention to their program details. No coolers are allowed and the games start at different times.
If you don’t want to participate you can just go there to hang out and watch the action from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. They will have over a dozen food trucks available with various offerings for purchase. Youngsters can enjoy games, climbing walls, a bounce house and a zip line for starters, along with other activities.
Sunset Park has free admission and is beautiful, with a huge pond, picnic tables with and without shade shields, a playground, trails, and fishing, if you choose. The Park hours are 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. At this time of year the average high is 95 degrees, so go and have a picnic!
The Life is Beautiful Festival, covering 18 city blocks in Downtown, will be held from Friday 9/23 through Sunday 9/25 this year. The art, music and food festival is for everyone over the age of 2. Single-day tickets are $125 or $295 for VIP . Three-day tickets are $285 for general admission and $655 for VIP. There are also taxes and fees added to the above prices.
A 3-day shuttle pass wristband is $45 and will take you from either UNLV T&M Bus Lobby
(which is just outside the Tropicana Parking Garage, where you can park for free) or Treasure Island to the Carson Ave./Sixth St. parking lot. Be advised that you will have to choose which pickup/dropoff location (UNLV or T.I.) when you purchase your ticket! Pickup every 30 minutes from 1:30 p.m. until the last return bus at 2:00 am. The festival entrance at Fremont and 7th opens at 2 p.m. and closes at 1 a.m. if you are staying in the downtown area.
At least 40 food vendors will be set up around the grounds, and you also have many restaurants to choose from in the area of the Fremont East Entertainment District. Let’s just say you won’t go hungry!
Oh my, oh my, oh my! Do you like beer? Do you like sports? Do you like beer and sports? Then you have to divert from the normal casino bars and hit the Beer Park at Paris Hotel & Casino instead. This is a 10,000 sq. ft. rooftop bar and grill with picnic tables, outdoor grilling, life-size games (giant Jenga or giant tricycle riding anyone?) and is open at 11 a.m. every day. You can enjoy beer and great cocktails while looking at the gorgeous strip at night or shooting pool. This has been open since a year ago, when the famous Clydesdales trotted their stuff down the Strip to kick off the opening.
It’s time to get cool — from the inside, that is. Have you been to Handel’s Ice Cream yet? They opened in Las Vegas over a year ago and are located at 10170 W. Tropicana (northeast corner of Tropicana & Hualapai in Sienna Town Center). They started out in Youngstown, Ohio in 1945 and have been growing across the country ever since. They literally have hundreds of flavors of ice cream and yogurt which are all hand-made fresh daily. Their $2 Tuesday special for a 1-scoop cone (regular or sugar) or in a dish is great for kids. And their 4-scoop sampler in a container is only $4.25! These are large scoops, folks, with lots and lots of fresh ingredients and toppings! Be prepared to wait, though, because this is not a restaurant with seating. It is a walk-up-window establishment which can have long lines for service. They do have a few benches to sit on, which they kindly put in after requests from their patrons. But even if you do not get to sit, this is the place to go for ice cream lately! Handel’s is open every day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
— Pauline Cimoch
The Best Thai Food in North America and More
Lotus of Siam has always been a hard-to-find, unpretentious and very good Thai restaurant. That’s why Diamond Jack enjoyed it so much. Then, in 1999, Chef Saipin Chutima bought the place and it became very, very good. How good? Chef Saipin was named Best Chef in the Southwest in 2011 by the James Beard Society, and shortly thereafter, several magazines, including Gourmet, described it as “the best Thai restaurant in North America.” Diamond Jack already knew that.
Chef Saipin told me that her distinctive Northern Thai cooking was passed down from both her grandmothers and her husband’s grandmothers. This allows diners to step out of their comfortable Asian dining zone into a world of hearty herbs and spices, true Thai curries, wontons, noodles, fried rice dishes and heat – lots of heat. Lotus of Siam is at 953 East Sahara Ave. in Commercial Center. Call 702-735-3033 or visit Lotus of Siam’s website.
A good cigar in Las Vegas became even better with the addition of the Montecristo Cigar Bar at Caesars Palace. Notable cigars are paired with fine beverages in a contemporary 4,000-square-foot environment featuring a walk-in humidor with up to 1,000 cigars. A state-of-the-art ventilation system ensures a comfortable visit, along with the 100-seat bar/lounge and its oversized video wall of nine television screens. And what does Diamond Jack prefer? There is Montecristo, Romeo Y Julieta, H. Upmann, Padron, La Flor Dominicana,
Arturo Fuente and Ashton. And each goes so well with a rare spirit such as Pappy Van Winkle, 18-year-old Elijah Craig Single Barrel and Thomas H Handy Sazerac “Antique Collection.” The Montecristo Cigar Bar is adjacent to Old Homestead Steak. 866-733-5827.
There’s no place like Las Vegas for entertainment, and the city takes center stage Oct. 19, when it hosts a presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will debate before hundreds of delegates, thousands of journalists and millions of television viewers across America. According to Rossi Ralenkotter, president/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), more than $4 million has been allocated to cover debate expenses.
“We’re looking forward to showcasing Las Vegas and expect the event to generate as much as $50 million worth of publicity for Southern Nevada,” he said.
— Diamond Jack Bulavsky
Siegried & Roy’s Tiger Cubs Celebrated Their First Birthday
Siegfried & Roy’s newest tiger cubs, Hirah and Maharani, celebrated their first birthday in August at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage. The two girl cubs played with papier-mâché “1” piñatas and were treated to big juicy watermelons and presents, while guests enjoyed cookies decorated with a white tiger face.
Smash Mouth will perform a free concert at the Fremont Street Experience over Labor Day Weekend closing out this year’s Rock of Vegas concert series on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 9 p.m. on the 3rd Street Stage. Smash Mouth is touring with their new album “Magic” and entertaining troops in Japan, Guam, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Formed in late 1994, Smash Mouth began recording demos and showcasing in both San Jose and Hollywood, California. The free concerts downtown are celebrating their eighth season.
Jerry Lewis at 90 is going strong. He will headline his one-man show at the South Point Showroom Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Tickets are $50, $55, and $60.
Prior to that engagement and after a 25-year absence from the big screen, the legendary comedian, actor, producer, and director Jerry Lewis returns in his latest film, “Max Rose.” The movie will open locally on Sept. 23 at the Regal Village Square Stadium at West Sahara.
“Max Rose” stars Lewis as an 87-year-old retired jazz musician whose wife recently passed away. Devastated by the loss after his 65-year marriage, Rose discovers his wife’s jewelry with an intimate inscription from another man, causing doubt about his marriage. The drama has Rose searching for the mysterious suitor.
— Jackie Brett
Ever been on a Scorpion hunt? Neither had I, so my wife and I decided to go on one being offered July 30 at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge south of Alamo.
A very reasonable question is how do you hunt scorpions? Answer: With an ultraviolet flashlight, explained Visitors Services Specialist and ranger Tim Parker. About 15 people, locals as well as a few from Las Vegas, gathered at the south end of Upper Pahranagat Lake for the hunt. The purpose is not to catch or kill, just to look.
Parker stated that scorpions are, “just like us, but completely different.” That seemed odd, so he explained further. Humans have five senses; scorpions have at least four. Humans have legs; scorpions do also, albeit eight in number. Humans have two hands; scorpions have two front pincers. Humans can see and touch; so can scorpions. Humans need food, water, and air to breath; so do scorpions. On a completely different side, scorpions are part of the Arachnid family (spiders and such, but they don’t spin webs).
So the group, including a couple of pre-school kids, gathered at a meeting point at the lake about 8 p.m. as night was falling. After a brief orientation, we all walked to the other side of the lake. There’s a dike that crosses the lake, in case you were wondering. You hunt for scorpions in the dark, because they are mostly nocturnal, avoiding the daytime, because they can then be prey for birds and foxes, even snakes.
Scorpions glow when exposed to ultraviolet light, so they are easy to see scurrying around. Don’t touch, just look, is the rule. Scorpions move fast, so try to allow at least two feet of distance. Some like to even climb up on shrubs.
“The little ones, especially the Bark Scorpion like we have here at the Refuge, have the most powerful sting,” Parker noted. “If you get stung by one of those little guys, it’s strong enough to require a doctor’s immediate attention.”
Surprisingly though, scorpions don’t have to give a full dose of their venom Parker said. “Depending on the level of threat they sense, they might just give you a partial dose. The reason for that,” he said, “is that after giving out a full dose, it takes quite a while for it to rebuild, leaving the scorpion somewhat vulnerable for a time.”
While the venom might work well on other creatures, Parker said it doesn’t work very well on another scorpion, if two of them should be engaged in a fight.
Everyone in the group spread out to look for the critters, and it was not too hard to find any. Parker knew that spot was a good one.
Often, when the ultraviolet light shined on one, it would scurry away under a bush, or rock or down a hole to its burrow.
One little boy, age 5, there with his mother said he saw one, “but it went down a hole and turned off its lights.”
Scorpions are carnivorous, and while preferring mostly “to hang out in front of their burrow and let unsuspecting food pass by. They have the two front pincers with which to reach out and grab,” Parker said. Some of the larger species, the giant desert hairy or Northern hairy, are active hunters and will go on the chase. However, in cases where enough insects, bugs or grub worms just cannot be found for the newly hatched scorpions, the mother will begin to eat her own young.
Scorpions are not year-round creatures; as the cooler weather of fall begins, Parker said scorpions will go into their burrow and begin a period similar to hibernation. “The body functions really slow down until the warmer weather of springtime.”
Amanda Schweistahl and Ryan Moss from Las Vegas said they came up for the Scorpion Hunt because they like hiking. “I am very weird about bugs,” she said, “and he (Ryan) is trying to expand my horizons. I like challenging myself to do new things. We do a lot of things with BLM, but I have not done anything with Fish and Wildlife.”
Parker said, “You will never see a head on a scorpion, because they don’t have one. The mouth and brain are all one part of the body.”
He said the most common question asked by people is “why do scorpions glow?” Scientists say they don’t know, it’s a mystery. Several theories have been proposed, Parker noted, including to help them figure out when they are under cover, but nothing definitively has been found.
Steven and Amber Palecek and their daughter Sheyla, a high school senior, said they came on the scorpion hunt, “Not knowing what we were in for, but we wanted to give it a try. We have camped at the lake, come to the Carp Rodeo a time or two. We had fun,” Amber said.
Daughter Sheyla said now she can tell her friends she went out and hunted for scorpions, “and they are going to think I’m crazy, but I think it’s cool.”
— Dave Maxwell
Lake Tahoe Is Lovely in September
Well, that’s a wrap on summer at Lake Tahoe. Wait, no it isn’t: September is the hidden gem month of the season. The weather remains beautiful, temperatures are very comfortable, crowds have thinned down due to school being back in session and family vacations are through for the year. The start of the month feels like the heart of summer but as the month moves toward the end, you start to get that autumn feel. It’s the other shoulder season here at the Lake, but instead of chilly spring and limited activities and entertainment you have the full spectrum of summer fun but with less hassle of the July and August crowds.
The month gets rolling with a celebration of labor; because we work so hard throughout the year we should give ourselves a holiday on the first Monday of September. It is the unofficial end of summer on Labor Day, and the community celebrates the fine work they did giving people from around the world a great time here in South Lake Tahoe. The conclusion of the Summer Concert Series at Harveys finishes in style with one of the most prominent and celebrated entertainers in popular music, Stevie Wonder, performing on Friday, September 2 at 7 p.m.
Saturday on Labor Day weekend is good day to hit the beach, and there is a plethora of sandy spots on the south end of the Lake. One such spot is Lakeside Beach and Marina, just down the road from Harveys at the end of Stateline Avenue. The beach is a nice spot to relax, soak up the sun and take a dip in the water or take a stroll down the beach. At the marina, they offer a variety of on-the-lake entertainment, with boats, jet-skis, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards. And let’s not forget parasailing, a very unique way to view the lake way up in the sky attached to a parachute. The marina closes down for the season this month, so choose your style or how fast you want glide over the lake.
September is the last chance to have a nice meal outdoors at one of the restaurants on the Lake. One seasonal place to get a good meal is Lakeside Beach House and Grill located at Lakeside Beach, just down from the south shore casinos at 4081 Lakeshore Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA. The Beach House Grill is an entirely outdoor establishment right on the beach, and it’s open for lunch and dinner. A great photo opportunity is awaiting you at sunset, as the sun goes down directly across the lake from your table. Have the house marinated Santa Maria tri-tip and chicken, plus signature sandwiches and burgers. If you happen to be up here on September Fourth, there’s the Labor Day Weekend Fireworks Extravaganza and one of the best places to view the show is, yep, you guessed it, Lakeside Beach. So spend the day and soak up sun and sights and maybe a beverage, then enjoy a light show over the water at the Nevada/California stateline beach.
One event that sadly won’t be happening this Labor Day weekend is the traditional sternwheeler race between the M.S. Dixie II and the Tahoe Queen. On the morning of August 16, the second deck of the Tahoe Queen caught fire as it was docked at Zephyr Cove, severely damaging the paddle wheeler. The vessel
has not been in operation for nearly a year, after running aground last October while returning from a cruise off the dock at Zephyr Cove. The Queen was undergoing repair when the fire occurred, and two workers were injured in the blaze. The future is uncertain for her, but maybe someday the Lake Tahoe icon will return to action.
Other happenings at Zephyr Cove that have occurred over the summer have been at the Zephyr Cove Stables across Highway 50 from the beach. A bicycle and pedestrian path was constructed from the stoplight at the campground through the stables to the firehouse at Warrior Way. It was put in to give visitors an easier way to get to the resort when the main parking lot is full, and the overflow parking is at the park across the busy highway. The path is just a start to what will be happening to the stables. In the next year, completely new facilities will replace the existing structures. According to the McGill family, who have managed the stables for the past 35 years, the Forest Service will be constructing new offices, corals, restrooms, and parking lots by next summer. Business has been hampered a little bit but not badly, and you can still go for a horseback ride until the snow flies. So, there is still plenty of time left to get up and explore the mountainside by horse.
September is the last hold-out of summer here at the Lake, and it’s usually a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Warm days remain, but they are fleeting, so get up here and take it in before the chill of winter moves back.
— Brendan Packer
The Virginia City Hillclimb
As August drew to a close, the Ferrari Club’s Virginia City Hillclimb brought some spectacular automobiles to the Comstock for the annual ritual to see how quickly the cars could make it from the bottom to the top of the Alternative Route on Highway 341 (affectionately known at the Truck Route to the local drivers). This 5.2 mile stretch of road that connects Silver City with Virginia City is perfect to test the handling and acceleration of any sports car and has been the site of the Ferrari Club of America’s Pacific Region’s for decades.
“We have 65 cars registered this year and have had some folks show up wanting to get in on the fun,” said Dennis Chiodo, event coordinator for the Ferrari Club. “We usually have the event in September and hope to return to September next year, as it is more convenient for our members. We have people here from Texas, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon, in addition to the majority of our members from the Bay Area. There are some spectacular local entries making this a well-represented event
The supercars were well represented with Ferarri, McLaren and Porsche cars, but there were some great classics (Sunbeam Tiger, Ford Falcon, Ford Mustang) and some imports laying down the rubber and tearing up the mountainside.
“Ultimately, our main focus is to have a safe event. Everyone driving today has a special relationship with their cars and nobody is going to push things to a limit that will put themselves in harms way. The most important thing for us is to have everyone drive to the awards banquet and talk about how much fun they had.”
From the looks of the crew at 5:00 pm on Sunday, they gave their all for the drivers. The racing stopped at 5:00 sharp, and everyone looked spent but were looking forward to the banquet at Pipers Opera House. In talking to the drivers, they love the venue, love coming to Virgnina City and had a really lovely time taking their cars up the hill.
Sadly, the venue did little to bring bodies to Virginia City’s C Street commercial district. An informal poll of shop owners indicated they were disappointed with the thin crowds, which were not engaged with the cars. As Saturday afternoon was winding down, a C Street Shop owner was heard saying, “All the traffic is clustered around the starting line in Silver City, and by the time the time trials are over, most shops are shutting down for the day. There was more action around the Comstock Cowboys [band] than there were with the cars. It would be nice if we could incorporate the cars and the businesses along C Street, since we are all paying money to promote this event.”
The crowds were thick at the starting line, and the spectators got what they came for, but the number and types of cars was down from years past. Hopefully, next year will deliver more action. For octane lovers, however, things looked and sounded great.
— Sam Toll