NevadaGram #151 – Boulder City, a Post Card from Shorty

Boulder City street sculptures
Boulder City’s street sculptures add an element of surprise and whimsy to the breezy little city.

We are doing ourselves a big favor by visiting Boulder City in February. It is the perfect cure for a Comstock winter, if you’re not going to Belize. When we are snowed in and battling the gale to get to the woodpile and back, they wear t-shirts and drink wine at sidewalk cafes.

CRA Files Court Complaint
vs Lyon County and CMI

On Friday January 31 The Comstock Residents Association filed a Complaint in Lyon County District Court asking the judge to reverse the Lyon County Commissioners’ January 2 decision to grant Comstock Mining Inc’s Master Plan and Zoning change request. CRA asserts that the Commissioners departed from precedent, acted contrary to law and procedure, and were unduly influenced.

By Friday February 5 the county and the mining company had been served with notice of the complaint.

The battle for Silver City has begun!

Further details about the Complaint are here.

Nancy Dallas’ News Desk report: Complaint filed in Comstock Mining dispute

Read the Complaint here

I admit, that’s part of the reason Boulder City was chosen as City of the Year, but we’re lucky enough to be visiting during one of the little city’s biggest events of the year, the Dam Short Film Festival.

Since 2008 the Festival has been held in the 1931 Boulder Theatre. The Festival plays short films with any content and in any style so long as they are 40 minutes or less in length; more than 100 short films are shown over the course of five days. Here are the 2014 winners.

Dam Short Film Festival MarqueeWe took in a retrospective showing of comedies and were delighted. It wasn’t that we rolled in the aisles laughing the whole time, although we had moments.

See the whole movie here

Some of what we watched seemed more funny-strange than funny ha-ha, but it was all brief enough that it didn’t pall. One of them starred Ed Helms, currently highly visible on television, as a Zombie-American sensitive to widespread prejudice.

It seems to me adding these films to the commercial movie screens would be a draw — “Come see the latest Big Movie, and get a random fun small one too.”

The Festival brought half a zillion film makers and their pals to town, and they were engaged in lively conversations of all kinds at the tables outside Milo’s, The Dillinger (where Shorty was introduced to a Schnauseranian(!) — half Schnauser, half Pomeranian) and the other sidewalk cafes downtown. In addition to food and drink there is also shopping, heavy on the antiques and with a big dose of kitsch.

But there’s more for visitors to Boulder City than the downtown.

Boulder City Veterans' Cemetery
Boulder City Veterans’ Cemetery

Drive west to Buchanan Street (where US 93 turns north up the hill), and drive south to the Boulder City Veterans’ Cemetery, an attraction in its own right, or beyond it past the golf course to the airport and Skydive Las Vegas, a long-established purveyor of thrills.

The Nevada Southern Railway
The Nevada Southern Railway operates four trains a day on weekends except January.

Return to the highway, drive further west to Yucca Street and turn north. Immediately ahead you’ll see the southern branch of the State Railroad Museum, which is part exhibits of railroad locomotives and rolling stock and part operating railroad.

The Nevada Southern Railway runs four trains a day on weekends, except in January when they shut down for maintenance.

On special occasions a Dining Car is attached.
On special occasions a Dining Car is attached.

Trains depart at 10 and 11:30 am, and 1 and 2:30 pm, plus special trains during holiday seasons. The run proceeds west approximately three miles to just behind the Railroad Pass Casino using the right of way and track developed by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1931 to supply materials for use in the building Hoover Dam. The round trip takes about 45 minutes.

Soaring over Bootleg Canyon
Soaring over Bootleg Canyon

The exhibits are quite accessible, there’s a small but very nice Gift Shop, and you’re free to wander as you please with a leashed and mannerly dog, so long as you pick up after him.

Further north up Yucca Street, take a right turn on Industrial and watch for Flightlinez, the company that operates the Bootleg Canyon zipline. It was the inspiration of Brett Thompson, who began developing a series of hiking trails here as a form of therapy when his doctor recommended exercise. So productive were his efforts that the City hired him to keep it up.

Flightlinez, Bootleg Canyon
Fliers glide from one platform to the next.

That eventually led to his making connection with Greenheart, a Canadian company that works in parks and protected areas to create a global network of conservation-based ‘aerial trails’, and to this project. It adds a new, safely adventuresome dimension to Bootleg Canyon with minimum infringement on the existing landscape, including the existing trails.

Nowadays Flightlinez launches as many as 300 customers a day out into the air to glide swiftly down to the next of four platforms extending one after another about a mile and a half down the canyon. It is so successful that over the past 3 years it contributed $300,000 to local charities.

Approaching the Hoover Dam Overlook.
Approaching the Overlook.

We also made our first visit to the new bridge over Black Canyon that bypasses the Dam, and I nearly choked to death.

The Hoover Dam Overlook walkway
The Overlook walkway.

There’s a pleasant wheelchair-friendly dawdley stroll up from the parking lot to the spot where the bridge soars out over the river, carrying fast-moving automobile traffic and a very very narrow walkway with a very very low railing along the north side of it on which people walk (or roll, if they’re in wheelchairs or strollers) out over the river to the Dam Overlook.

If you look down right there, while you’re still standing on solid ground, you can see the river far, far below.

Hoover Dam
A good long look at the great artifact, but not for the faint of heart.

That’s what I did, and it prompted my testicles to climb up inside my body and wrap themselves around my larynx so tight I nearly strangled to death.

So I can’t tell you from personal experience what the view is like from out there, but I can see from the photos that it’s great. We tottered back down to the parking lot, where we’d left Shorty in the car — also against the rules — and returned to town to continue our explorations.

The restaurant in the Boulder Dam Hotel has re-opened to good reviews, and there are a half-dozen other excellent dining choices downtown and along the western approach to the little city.

Milo's Boulder City

If you have only a little time in town: the Bistro Cafe. If you haven’t dined here, you must; if you have, you’re free to roam among the other excellent choices: Mel’s Diner for instance, and the Coffee Cup Cafe, both downtown, and the Southwest Diner on the west edge of it. If you stayed at the Boulder Inn & Suites across the street, you come over here with your slip of paper and they will fix you a nice breakfast. I know there are good dining choices in Boulder City that we haven’t found yet, so if you can recommend one that we missed, please use the Comment form at the bottom to nominate it for the 2015 Must-See Must-Do List.

A Postcard from Shorty

Shorty goes bye-byeI like to get in the car find myself a comfortable spot while the posse is loading their crap in around me. They’ve always left room for me up to now, but I don’t like to take chances.

The problem is that while I’m saving my place in the car, I miss the chat about the trip, so I’m never quite sure where we’re going. Not that I care, but I’m the boss dog around here and I think I should know. But I don’t, and, well . . . I don’t care about that either.

It turns out we went to Tonopah and we stayed at the Mizpah Hotel. And I learned something there that makes me feel very, very proud. Very proud.

You remember that the posse was invited to attend the hotel’s “Grand Re-Opening” in August 2011, and they asked Nancy Cline if I could come too. And she was busy with a hundred important details about the event, and this was a question that hadn’t been discussed.

Shorty gets treats at the Mizpah
Everyone was nice to me at the Mizpah! I got a Doggy Swagbag with a toy in it!

But the posse had enclosed a photo of me looking very nice and small and obedient and mature. And then her phone rang with a really big problem, so she just said yes and I became the first dog to stay at the Mizpah under the new regime.

Of course that made me proud, but here’s the part that makes me prouder still: because I set such a good example, the Mizpah is now officially Pet-Friendly! YES! On behalf of dogs everywhere I’d just like to say “Thank you, Nancy” and I am preparing a nice big plaque for the wall in the lobby with my picture on it.

Proud tailwags
Shorty T. Wonderdog

Boulder City was only half the fun we had this month, we also went to Winnemucca for an event I’d been eager to attend since they started it: the Dog Trials at the Ranch Hand Rodeo. We had attended the Rodeo on a fondly remembered weekend (it included a celebration of Edna Purviance‘s birthday at the Martin Hotel), but the Dog Trials are an early part of the event and we had missed them when we arrived.

This year we made sure to get there on time, and I’ll have all the thrilling details in the next NevadaGram.

The Carson City Visitors Bureau has launched itself firmly into the 21st century.

Carson City Visitor Bureau logo

The organization is fervently embracing new technology and social media as it reorganizes and rebrands itself. The Bureau has the obligatory redesigned website and logo but behind those things is a whole new way of thinking about modern-day marketing, and how to carry it out with new tools and skills.

As a part of the website overhaul THS Visuals produced 5 videos which show people enjoying our world and talking about how much fun it is to be here. Here’s one:

Right behind the website overhaul came the apps, available for Apple and Android, which you can download here. I’m not techno-savvy enough to say anything about its capabilities except that it’s exciting the geeks.

And in the process of creating these tools, a social media effort began to show exceptional results, which led to an extraordinary new initiative. On March 21 and 22, the Carson City Visitors Bureau, in co-operation with NCOT, will welcome delegates from rural Nevada tourism offices to a Social Media Symposium.

“We attended the SoMeT13us, a Social Media Tourism Symposium where destination marketing organizations learned more about leveraging social media within the tourism industry,” new CVB Director Joel Dunn says, “and we realized that developing a Nevada Symposium would be a terrific tool for everyone in the rural communities. Carson City is the state capital and we’re a major innovator in using the new technology to best advantage, so we’re the natural epicenter of social media for rural Nevada tourism.”

Overheard on the sidewalk outside The Dillinger in Boulder City : “You can fool some of the people some of the time, Petey, and that’s enough to make a decent living.”

Brief Notes from beyond the Mountains: The 23rd annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry is set for March 15 in Virginia City so as to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day. More than 3,000 people come to nibble the nuts, watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade at noon and then enjoy the Beer Garden and the live Irish music. The hardiest — those still capable of crawling by then — will take part in the evening’s Leprechaun Bar Crawl . . . The Wells Band of the Western Shoshones will soon be opening a small strip mall on Reservation land on the northwestern edge of Wells on the hill just above the cemetery. They have a gymnasium, an administration building and now a new smokeshop . . .

George Knapp takes on the Water Grab

8 News NOW

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court to halt a right-of-way needed for the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s long-proposed water pipeline. If allowed to proceed, the pipeline would siphon more than 27.3 billion gallons of groundwater each year from the desert of eastern Nevada and pump it more than 260 miles to the Las Vegas Valley, with profound effects on people, wildlife and Nevada’s natural heritage . . . Caesar’s Entertainment is the first company to sign up for the EPA’s WaterSense H2Otel Challenge for organizations to encourage hotels to use best management practices that will save water and money, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions . . .

The Pahrump Balloon Festival brings together more than 20 hot air balloon pilots from the western states

Pahrump Balloon Festival 2014March 7 through 9, offering tethered hot air balloon rides, music and entertainment, great food and arts and crafts . . . Have you heard the whispers about new oil discoveries in Nevada? Check out the action in Butte Valley, east of Cherry Creek . . . The 1600-room John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks started a $50 million face-lift this month, starting with a semi name shift to Jay-Ay-Nugget and an additional shift planned in the future. A new high-tech Sports Book will open on the Casino floor. A Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall & Bar-B-Que is set to open in June and a new VIP lounge with slots, a sports bar and a deli will open in August as the new owners impress their brand on the hallowed property. Oh, and

Trader Dick's closes
Trader Dick’s closes

Dick’s is walled off and closed, the last relic of Dick Graves (I didn’t look to see if the golden rooster is still there or of the family took it with them), John Ascuaga’s father-in-law, who built the original Nugget . . . Las VegasErotic Heritage Museum may not survive. The Las Vegas Weekly quotes Amanda Morgan, a UNLV professor who teaches classes at the museum: “The museum has always had massive quantities of potential, but it’s never been met, because the advertising budget has been basically zero. I told them all we need is a sign twirler on Las Vegas Boulevard, because we’re only a block away from the Strip, and people there are bored and want to learn about sex” . . .

Lake Tahoe 2013
Lake Tahoe

As long as we’re in the Sierra: The Tahoe Restoration Act sponsored by Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller of Nevada and Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California authorizes more than $400 million over 10 years for environmental projects at Lake Tahoe if it is passed by the full Senate . . . The New Tropicana Hotel Casino in Las Vegas has unveiled its new 20th floor Sky Villa Suites luxury suites, a key part of a $200 million transformation that has affected all 1,467 guestrooms. The Sky Villa Suites are enhanced by soothing cove lighting, bold colors, his-and-her walk-in closets, a lavish whirlpool tub and the latest audio-video technology. The hotel offers eight other kinds of suites including the two-story Penthouse Loft suites, the chic Presidential Suite and Chairman Suite, and the Pool Villa Suites . . .

Mcavoy Layne is The Ghost of Twain
Mcavoy Layne is The Ghost of Twain

McAvoy Layne, who portrays Mark Twain on stages and in schools all over the USA, is presenting THE Nevada Sesquicentennial Show on the Cultural Center stage at 760 Mays Blvd. in Incline Village Saturday, March 29. The trouble begins at 7. McAvoy also writes a weekly newspaper column which appears in the North Tahoe Bonanza, the Comstock Chronicle and other papers around the Silver State. Read one here . . . Burning Man Pre-registration for individual sale tickets opened at noon Thursday, February 20, and closed 3 days later. Detailed ticket information here for the 2014 event ( August 25 – September 1) in the Black Rock Desert.

Parting Shot —

Scuba divers in Blue Lake Nevada

Situated about sixteen miles south of West Wendover, Blue Lake is a naturally heated body of water teeming with bass and bluegill and scuba divers. The lake is popular with landlocked divers who otherwise would have to travel much farther in order to hone their open water diving skills. And it’s a lot cheaper than, say, Cancun—in fact, it’s free.

The challenge is getting from the parking lot to the shore while being buzzed by hungry horse flies the size of cruise missiles—not to mention the occasional cruise missile. A plank boardwalk and shoreline blanketed with castoff casino carpeting will keep you from sinking into the ooze, and once you’re in the water the horse flies will back off. Surface temperature is about seventy degrees, and it gets warmer the deeper you dive. On the bottom is a sculpture garden that includes a sunken boat, a hammerhead shark, and a rhinoceros. Myself, I prefer just bobbing like baby Moses among the reeds and bulrushes, observing shorebirds at eye level.

I shot this picture with a Mamiya RB 67. RB, I think, stands for “really big.” I use it whenever I want to make a favorable impression on people like Paulene and Steve Youngberg, of Layton, Utah, who think nothing of running the gantlet of horse flies while freighted down with air tanks and lead weights in order to pursue the life aquatic in a most unlikely setting.
Richard Menzies



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