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Photo Courtesty of Max Whittaker for The New York Times
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By a great stroke of good luck we happened to be in Elko when the Festival of Trees was held at the Convention Center. This is both a major art event and a community tradition. Individuals and businesses decorate Christmas trees and wreathes and build gingerbread villages, set them up and silent-auction them off to raise money for a half-dozen local charities. Last year the event raised $28,000.
It is a magnificent spectacle, the Art of the Christmas Tree in brilliant three-dimensional technicolor, 109 beautifully decorated trees — from the traditional to the avant garde — filling every available space on the main floor. Visitors of every age from babes in arms to doting grandparents pass along aisles between them, inspecting them closely
and now and then someone kneels down to write a bid to buy the tree
There are so many trees and so many visitors that it seems as if the building must bulge out from the pressure. the Festival of Trees was held at the Convention Center. This is both a major art event and a community tradition. Individuals and businesses decorate Christmas trees and wreathes and build gingerbread villages, set them up and silent-auction them off to raise money for a half-dozen local charities. Last year the event raised $28,000.
It is a magnificent spectacle, the Art of the Christmas Tree in brilliant three-dimensional technicolor, 109 beautifully decorated trees — from the traditional to the avant garde — filling every available space on the main floor. Visitors of every age from babes in arms to doting grandparents pass along aisles between them, inspecting them closely, and now and then someone kneels down to write a bid to buy the tree.
Many are there just to take in the splendor of it all, and to taste the delicacies catered by Elko’s restaurants — it’s the food that makes it a Festival — but there is plenty of spirited bidding going on as people decide which tree they really really want to have.
And sometimes two people really really want the same tree.
|Postcard from Shorty
I’m just back from a final sniff-around in Elko before my book goes to press.
We were there for two days and two nights and the days never warmed up to zero. But the friendly people made up for the cold weather, and my tail was wagging non-stop from one end of Elko to the other.
One thing that surprised me was how many stores welcome dogs, and even give us treats (just say “Shorty sent me”). Those busybodies at the Health Department won’t let us in restaurants, but there’s almost always a water dish outside Cowboy Joe’s (except when it’s so freezing cold) and in good weather well-mannered dogs can join our people on the patio behind the Flying Fish.
We’re going to have a book-signing party at Bookstore when the book comes out, and some of Tammi’s neighbors in the Rancho Plaza are joining in to make it fun. Silly Cynthia was busy moving into her bigger store so I missed my belly-rub this time, but Karen and Carrie teamed up to give me a wash and a comb, and I finally met Minka and the Live Rude Girls. I don’t know why they call themselves that! And Cynthia! She’s not silly at all. Anyway, when the weather’s warmer Minka and I are going to take our people on a walk up to the Peace Park and back.
P.S. — Here’s my Nevada Magazine article.
Photo by Robin Cobbey
They or their allies hover, each watching for the other to up the bid, whereupon they swoop in and top it. Whereupon the other spotter flashes the high-sign and his man rushes in to >up the bid again. As the magic hour of seven o’clock approaches, the bids are written ever more slowly and reviewed with careful deliberation before being snatched away by a determined rival, who then writes his bid with exquisite slowness to the frustration and distress of the other.
Some bidders bring blockers, who move into position as the second hand starts its final ascent toward the 12, and prevent competing bidders from getting within arm’s reach of the form, no matter how they try to squeeze between them or crawl through their legs.
This year the event concluded without casualties, and with great jubilation from the winning bidders, whose $33,000 will go to the designated charities.
In early January we were in Elko again, serving as roadies to our celebrity dog and we tried three new restaurants — each one of them is a candidate for our Restaurant of the Year award.
Blue Moon opened on East Idaho Street in November as Elko’s third Sushi bar (The Flying Fish is downtown; Kubuki is in the west-end shopping area near Raley’s) along with a wide array of other Asian dishes. We were there between meals but couldn’t resist sharing a Phoenix roll. It was both beautifully presented and deliciously different, and we will certainly be back for more.
Click the sign to see the Must-See Must-Do Awards for 2013. The restaurants mentioned here are all worthy candidates for the high honor.
I tipped off owners Mark and Jian about rye whiskey, and am hoping for a Manhattan cocktail when we come back for dinner next time.
Luciano’s, on Silver Street between 3rd and 4th Streets, is a nicely-appointed lunch (11-2) and dinner (5-9) house serving exceptional food. Robin had lobster ravioli and I had duck breast on linguini after a plate of Calamaretti Fritti as antipasti. Superb. Alas, no rye whiskey at the bar, so no Manhattan cocktail. Somehow I’d expected old-time cowtown Elko to be a hold-out for rye whiskey . . . finding out otherwise is truly sobering.
Mr. Dunbar, who established B.J. Bull’s Pasties & Pies Shop on the edge of the downtown at 208 W. Idaho Street, was a pioneer with a vision, and he prospered by serving up pasties (PASS-tees) frozen to take home or hot to eat at his counter. Now, with Chef Rita in the kitchen good has become great. This lady is a cook as well as a baker; she has improved each recipe and brings a whole new range to the menu. We stopped in shortly after Thanksgiving and couldn’t resist trying the Thanksgiving Dinner pasties — which were magnificent. On this visit we arrived just as the first batch of chicken currie pasties were coming out of the oven. Think of it as gourmet fast food — it’s fabulous.
|Here’s an update on the ongoing degradation and destruction of the Virginia City National Historic Landmark by Comstock Mining Inc.
When Storey County Manager Pat Whitten announced the County would not enforce Condition 5 of CMI’s Special Use Permit he saved CMI’s bacon. Condition 5 requires the mining company to limit its trucks to 10-wheelers and keep them off the highway, and it had been in place for 12 years. I reported previously on the topic here.
Now there are ore trucks on the highway in Gold Hill and the issue is in District Court. Read more
Fly in Austin
Fly in Tonopah
Las Vegas has celebrity chefs, but rural Nevada has celebrity bartenders, and none stands higher among this colorful collection of keepers of the long board than Gary Fly. He has mixed and served drinks and poured beer in saloons all over the state. I have personally been served by Fly in Gold Hill, Virginia City, Austin and Ione, but I didn’t recognize him when I bellied up to the bar at the Mizpah.
His luxuriant whiskers were gone, and he was bareheaded. I’d never seen him in that condition before, and it wasn’t until he spoke that I knew him. A drink at the bar at the Mizpah is always an occasion; prepared by Fly it is an occasion of state.
Quick notes from beyond the mountains: The Los Angeles City Council has approved a $1.6 billion, 25-year contract to purchase solar power from a company that will build nearly 1 million photovoltaic panels on 2,000 acres of the Moapa River Indian Reservation. The facility will go on line in 2016 (More) . . . I was so focused on the
burning bus during Goldfield Days that I overlooked the arrival in town of Kevin Grace a few weeks before. Kevin is a great fan of Joe Gans, the Lightweight Champion of the World and the first black American sports super star. In 1906 he fought Oscar “Battling” Nelson for the championship in Goldfield.
Chad Sorg was president of the local Chamber of Commerce when Kevin came to town with a commemorative banner under his arm, and he wrote about the visit.
Adding to the long list of Things I Didn’t Know Until Now: Joe Gans used some of his Goldfield prize money to buy a 3-story hotel near New Hope Circle and renamed it ‘The Goldfield’. It’s gone now, torn down in the 1970s to make room for a new Post Office, but it was a happening place in its day, with Eubie Blake playing piano in the lounge, including his signature “Tricky Fingers” (if you listen carefully, right at the start when Eubie introduces the tune you’ll faintly hear the name Joe Gans) . . .
Photographer Marc McAndrews spent five years photographing 33 of NevadaÕs (legal) brothels for Nevada Rose: Inside the American Brothel. Here is a preview at Slate and it looks terrific . . .
Overheard aboard the Pat Nixon Centennial Flyer, between Ruth and Ely: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”