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Goldfield Days was an adventure.
We have rich memories of Goldfield.Robin and I were married there. More recently we shared a family outing with three of the sibs, an adventure we all still treasure, and in 2005 I was the Grand Marshal of the Goldfield Days Parade, an honor I haven’t yet got over completely.
You might think that would be the high point of the event for us, but our visit was full of high points. Another one was John and Chris teaming up with a local man named Lucas to enter the 3-on-3 basketball tournament. They trounced a team of game 8th-graders before losing to Kyle and his deadly 3-point shot in the finals.
Shorty’s high point must have been taking Best of Show in the pet parade, (details here).
As you see, Goldfield is in our family DNA.
But the event is so casual, so simple in concept and execution that anyone can enjoy it: eat, drink, shop, and enjoy the unique environment.
|A California Teenager
Austin street scene.
Photo by Max Winthrop
My family and I began our trip in Reno, then traveled east on highway 50. We spent one night in Austin, then two nights in Ely before cutting south onto highway 6. We then stayed in Goldfield for a night, then in Las Vegas for two nights and headed home along the Eastern Sierras.
I had the initial impression that Las Vegas would be the hotspot of the trip. In retrospect it was the vast openness of Nevada that captivated me the most.
I was completely enthralled by the overwhelming power that nature still
held over man-made constructs; the rugged, nearly inhabitable desert landscape and above the countless old mining towns such as Bodie that had been reclaimed by nature. I had never before seen a town void of all life and reclaimed by over a century of wind and erosion. It both fascinated me and sent shivers down my spine knowing that I was walking through history…I felt a childish glee knowing that I stood on earth treaded by outlaws and gunslingers, and it felt worlds apart from watching Clint Eastwood casually playing the part of a cool vigilante on TV.
If I was disappointed by anything, it was by the cattle fence that now runs along Highway 50 from California to Utah. I can’t compare the experience of being among the desert valleys, the high mountains, and the vast sky of Nevada to anything else. It’s really a one-of-a-kind thing being able to appreciate the power and beauty of the natural forces that way, and it’s upsetting to see that certain individuals would bar that off from locals and travelers alike, unintentionally or otherwise.
It is also causing immediate damage to local wildlife. Larger animals such as deer often make it onto the highway and are then trapped on the road due to the fence. This is a major hazard to drivers as it drastically increases the chance of a collision. As small as the fence is relative to everything else, it left its mark on me and there are many who feel the same as I do.
If it’s true that you remember the negative experiences better than the positive ones, I should have never gone to Las Vegas. I would have been happy as a clam to have stopped in Goldfield and to have turned back to California then.
Now I know it takes a special kind of person to appreciate all of Nevada. There’s an innate and indescribable beauty about the terrain of Nevada that most people don’t understand. Give it a chance and you won’t be disappointed.
We had a great time doing the things you do at Goldfield Days, starting with the the pancake breakfast at the Fire House and continuing through a warm sunny day with the parade, the property auction, hot food, cold drink, historic presentations
in the Court House. Radio Goldfield (89.1 fm) toured the town with an atv and big speakers spraying music into the air (including family favorite “My Ding-a-Ling”) and Alan Metscher presided over a highly enjoyable Bus Tour of the old city.
Alan is one of the three famous Metscher brothers from Tonopah, mainstays of the Highway Department there for many years and steeped in the lore of this fabulous region. “My brothers, when they retired, they wanted the city life and moved to Reno. I wanted a quieter place than Tonopah, so I moved to Goldfield.”
He showed a school bus full of visitors the path of the great flood of 1913 and the area burnt in the great fire ten years later. His tales sometimes began “Legend has it that. . . .” That is not a quibble, a place’s legends help to define it, I mention it to indicate that he did not permit the facts to stand naked and alone in his presentation, but coiffed them and shod them and put feathers in their hats to show them at their best.
Underneath these traditional enjoyments there was a subcurrent of anticipation throughout the day: the president of the Chamber of Commerce had promised to set a school bus on fire that night.
Chad Sorg has for a while now been a resident and a docent at the “International Car Forest of the Last Church”
visible from the highway south of town. Chad is an artist and creative spirit who was inspired by his vision of Goldfield to become a candidate for president of the Chamber. Once elected he was further inspired to add an “End of the World” party to the Saturday night schedule.
He envisioned 7 bands, at least 100 people camping out ($25 donation, kids free), “only a 10 minute walk from the festivities of Goldfield Days” and he asked campers to leave their guns in the car. “It’s really turning out to be the party of the year,” he enthused. “We’ve got a hand full of bands playing our stage and people coming from all around the region to be here.
One band is coming all the way from Portland, OR. We’re calling it the End of the World Party (the FAR END)”
But when Robin and I visited the Car Forest about 5 pm Saturday — it’s visible from the highway in the south end of town and well worth the brief detour east on Crystal Street —
we couldn’t find anyone around except other visitors gazing in wonder on the decorated/desolated landscape as a magnificent sunset began to create itself in the western sky.
“It was fun but not at all what we’d expected,” a crestfallen Chad explained later, “It was not huge . . . not huge at all. The party just moved to our house, which is right there at the beginning of the Car Forest. Campers stayed in our yard or inside and it was intimate. Bus burnt, did you get to see that?!?”
No, because by then we were back in town enjoying ourselves with some local folks and other visitors and we didn’t want to miss the bed races. On top of that that, it rained sudden and hard — a crashing desert downpour.
“I think next time . . . .” Chad wrote. “Well, who the hell knows.”
I’m aware of all this because Chad has written copiously about the event and its aftermath in emails and in his interesting blog, and I bring it up because in the end Chad gave up the presidency of the Chamber of Commerce but renewed his commitment to Goldfield. A few weeks after the bus burn fiasco Chad organized a Goldfield clean-up day and led a group of 18 volunteers filling trash bags up and down the streets.
photo courtesy Domenic Marti
In my thoughts I am still chewing on a spicy slice of Pizza at the Red Dog Saloon while listening to the music on stage on the evening of June 13 this year. What a great evening this was!
The group will meet on September 22 for lunch and to remember our Nevada Days June 4 to June 14, an intensive ten days.
At the end of our visit we were given the problem to reflect on the proposal Nightingale, a planned roof to the Nevada Museum of Art at Reno. With a rather windy climate it seems that the Museum cannot make use of the rooftop for events as they would like to do. Will Bruder’s proposal is very subtle, increasing the basic idea of the layoured facade concept with a floating roof on top. The building would even look better with this addition, an oceanliner stranded at the corner of Mill and Liberty Streets.
“We collected 27 bags of trash and donated 10 pounds of aluminum cans toward the financial goal to restore the Goldfield High School,” he wrote. “So, very proudly, I’d like to thank the town of Goldfield for coming together and seeing this project through to completion. Let’s keep this energy going!”
I’m tempted to think he has made a kind of journey, going from the spectacular to the mundane, from burning buses to picking up trash off the street, from “Hey, look at me” to “Here, let me help.” Kinda cool.
Quick notes from beyond the mountains: The feds have put up a new website detailing recreation opportunities on public land. It urges visitors to “Discover the best American experiences, from the majestic outdoors to important historical and cultural landmarks. Get inspired to explore America!” It looks like a terrific resource, and Nevada is well represented. . . The Nevada Wild Fest is coming to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas October 25th – 28th. Southern Nevada’s Music Festival & Fair
is bringing in the biggest State Fair Carnival Experience to the Las Vegas valley, with over 35 large format carnival rides, daily celebrity meet & greets, a free festival music stage featuring KWNR’s hottest country acts, Blood Village’s Haunted Maze, Vegas’ best gourmet food trucks and food vendors, beer and wine gardens, the world’s largest sling-shot, and specialty arts, crafts and retail vendors. All net proceeds from this event are donated to the Lili Claire Foundation to help special needs children with free programs and services at the UNLV School of Medicine. Cost is $9 for adults, $7 for senior citizens & militaryï»¿. Children 3 and under are free . . .
This sounds like fun: pig races in Gardnerville! Thanks to the Corley Ranch on US 395 a short distance south of town, the Douglas County Historical Society will receive the funds from guests participating in the “Pumpkin Patch & Harvest Festival Pig Races” on Sunday, October 14. Races are held at 12 noon, 2 pm and 4 pm. Participating Pigs are: Pumpkin 1, Bacon, Charlotte and Wilbur. Guests purchase ‘I hope You win’ slips ($1 each), and place them in the 14-Years-&-Under bucket or the Adult bucket of their favorite pig. Winners will receive gift certificates.Information: 775-782-2555 . . .
In Fallon Lattin Farms hosts a Fall Festival on Saturdays in October from 10am-6pm. You can take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch, ride the cow train, meet the farm animals up close and build your own scarecrow (Oct 13 & 20). Pick up locally grown produce at the old fashioned produce stand (Monday-Saturday 8am-6pm, Sunday Closed): squash, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and more. The Country Kitchen serves lunch Tuesday-Saturday 11am-2pm, already famous for freshly baked fruit breads, B.Ann’s famous cinnamon rolls and now a new lunch menu featuring fresh, made-from-scratch goodies . . . The Nevada Northern Railway in Ely — yes, yes, it’s actually East Ely, but let’s don’t quibble — has established an ambitious and innovative schedule of special trains and events through the year.
For the convenience of visitors the Nevada Northern Railway Museum has created three brand new lodging packages. Prices range from $99 to $189 including two adult tickets for either the Haunted Ghost Train or the Polar Express plus lodging at the Ramada Inn & Copper Queen Casino, the La Quinta or the Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall. Packages must be booked directly with the Nevada Northern Railway and are subject to availability. The first Haunted Ghost Train sold out, but there are four more in October: every Saturday night (Oct. 13, 20, 27) plus one Friday (Oct. 26) at 7 pm. Polar Express begins running on November 17 and continues on select dates through Dec. 29. Steam excursions continue on the weekends through Oct. 28: Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. For more info call 866-40-STEAM or 775-289-2085 . . .
and the Pumpkin Tower Lighting on October 20th at dusk. The Moonlight Mazes will be October 26 & 27. And of course the Country Kitchen will be open for meals and the Old Fashioned Produce Stand will be stocked and ready . . .The Carson Valley CVA, joined at the hip with the Chamber of Commerce for many years, is now enjoying a separate existence and has produced a new logo to proclaim it. After extensive research and discussion the organization selected a soaring eagle beneath the words “Rugged Relaxed, Reachable” . . .
The 2013 Nevada Historical Calendar is now available. Nevada Magazine has produced this expressive calendar for more than 40 years. For $18 (including shipping and handling) it makes a great holiday gift — and why not subscribe to the magazine while you’re at it? You get the calendar, plus a 1-Year (6 issues) Subscription for $29.95. And the mag has announced its annual Photo Contest winners. Check out these gorgeous photographs! They’re one reason the magazine won so many awards, starting with General Excellence, from the Nevada Press Association this year.
Overheard at the John S. Cook Bank building in Goldfield: “Don’t just be yourself. Be someone a little nicer.”