Here’s what Fallon has been so carefully guarding from the world: There is no quieter, calmer, sweeter or more secret getaway in Nevada than Fallon.
I know, right? Does not compute. That’s how clever Fallon has been.
But it is true and anyone can prove it by arranging a Perfect Day for themselves. This is how you do it.
Then get to Fallon in time to arrive by 9:30 on the Saturday morning at the Churchill County Museum for the BLM tour of Hidden Cave. If you’re having breakfast beforehand, choose between the Courtyard Cafe at the north end of downtown, or Jerry’s on US 50 on the near west side (see list below).
The Tour is free and begins with a video at the Museum, after which the group caravans to the trailhead by car. From there it’s a half-mile walk up to the cave entrance, and in you go. Once inside you’ll hear about the lives of the people who used the cave, and made the art on its walls.
Things move at a slower pace in Fallon, a part of its appeal, so there is time to visit the Museum after the Cave.
You’ll see the march of civilization from the prehistory you’ve just laid eyes on, through the time of the 40-Mile Desert and Ragtown until . . . until . . . until about 1950. And while new Director Dan Ingram struggles with questions of space, digitization and access he’s also wrestling with questions about when history stopped, and who was the last pioneer. Aren’t the Freys today’s pioneer family as they transform agriculture in Churchill County from the 19th century to the 21st? Stop in from time to time [yes, of course, pun intended] and let’s see how he handles it.
Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram
A Message from Marta Becket:
A year ago I had a very realistic nightmare! It became very real when we had the next board meeting at the Amargosa Opera House. Prior to that, I had been in the hospital for 8 weeks for a hip replacement and broken wrist. During that time several of the board members decided to try to remove me and those loyal to me from the board and the Opera House facilities!
It’s been over 45 years that I have been the founder and it is still hard to believe these individuals would stab me in the back. We now have a law firm who has helped to straighten out this mess. So I can report that we are currently OK. I have reconstituted and reorganized the board. It seems incredible that such a devious plan could have destroyed one of America’s treasures.
For 45 years I have shared my artistic talents with audiences who come back again and again, so I ask in some small way, help the Amargosa Opera House continue to offer the classics for which I have dedicated 45 years of my life. I’ll need your help more than ever. And I thank you and I am grateful for what ever you can give!
With warmest personal regards,
Marta Becket, Founder and President of the Board
And after lunch a visit to Frey Ranch Distillery about ten miles south of town (1045 Dodge Lane, 775.423.4000) and open to the public for tastings and tours every Saturday from noon to 4. This long-established ranch has moved a long way from its beginnings, first by planting wine grapes and then making wine (also available for tasting on Saturday afternoons) and now by making vodka, gin, absinthe and whiskey from the grains and other crops they grow.
Recommended Dining in Fallon
J.D. Slingers – Prides itself on its steaks, makes scrumptious burgers too.
You can taste the wines and then stagger over to the spirits and taste them too. Or vice versa, but not back and forth.
In any case, there’s time to repair to the motel for a snuggle and a snooze while Good Dog Jones watches Animal Kingdom until dinner time.
Ah, dinner out in Fallon. Shall it be the Stockmen’s for cocktails and steaks? Or Sand Winds for a glimpse of March Madness? Or just a really, really good burger, in which case the choice is between Top Gun on west Center Street and J.D. Slinger’s on the south side of US 50 west.
And then to the theater, in our case most recently to see Kahulanui, a Hawaiian swing band making a tour of the mainland that had just swung in from Alaska and was thawing out at the Barkley. Once out on stage they blazed right up and applied their hot licks to the hula: nine guys in flowered shirts, black suits and dinky pork-pie hats wailing away Big Band style. The house was packed with an enthusiastic audience — everything front, center, bright and upbeat all the way.
Part of the pleasure is in the venue. The Art Center occupies a former school beautifully reimagined into a gallery displaying exceptional art of every kind, including an indescribable fabulosity in a room of its own (take the corridor to the right, last classroom on your left).
Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram
Here’s an event I wish I hadn’t missed:
The Rockabillies come from all over the world, but mostly they from the USA. They stand out in any crowd because they dress and comb their hair and swagger around with a pack of luckies rolled up in a t-shirt sleeve, like they did — or wanted to — as kids 50 years ago.
Many of the pom-padours and DAs have gone gray, or survive as combed-over parodies of their former glory, but the look hasn’t changed, and younger people are even more into it! Now the gathering so dominates the Gold Coast that it is sold out for the weekend, and one complete tower at the nearby Orleans has been set aside for the Rockabillies too.
Participants in the Burlesque Shows are chosen in advance online. La Cholita was the top vote-getter among this year’s candidates. Her self-portrait: “Half Glamour Half Gangsta and as hot as a shot of Tequila! I would love the opportunity to twirl my tassels. . . .” But how can you choose with slick chicks like Flame Cynders, Ophelia Handful and Bonbon Vivant in the running?
When there’s a performance in the theater, the Art Bar opens an hour before curtain time. I taught the cheerful volunteer bartender how to make a Manhattan cocktail with Irish whisky, thus enriching her life and those of Art Bar patrons for years to come.
The concert series began in 1986, with performances wherever there was space available when the band was coming through. City Hall, the Library, the High School, virtually every public space. So by the time the theater was completed and ready for the astonishing procession of performers from around the world in 2003, it had already accumulated an audience to support it.
Even without a performance you can stop in during the business day just to enjoy what’s on the walls; there’s also a small but exquisite gift shop. If there is no-one in the building — the small staff is hoping the next grant cycle will provide furniture and computers for the offices so they won’t have to work at home — you’ll find on the door a note inviting you to call for the key.
Do it; home is just five minutes away and they are glad to show you what you’ve come to see.
We gave the Center our very first Must-See Must-Do Award as a Hidden Treasure for being such a bright gleaming jewel in plain, placid Fallon.
Sadly, the Art Bar doesn’t reopen after he show, so if you want to share a quiet cocktail or a nice glass of wine, venture back downtown to 85 S. Maine, Jo’s Stillwater Tea Room. Or Telegraph Coffee & Tap next door to Jerry’s for a less quiet experience, especially on Wednesday which is open mic night. The coffee part is a lifesaver at 6 am; Starbucks opens in the Safeway store at 6:30.
If the theater is dark you can substitute an inviting event such as Spring Wings May 19-20, the Ranch Hand Rodeo August 4-6, the beloved Cantaloupe Festival, August 24-27, Tractors & Truffles September 23rd or the World Fast Draw Championships October 6-8. Here’s the whole list.
There’s your Perfect Day in Fallon. But why stop with just one?
Another perfect day awaits when you add a Sunday drive east on US 50 a little more than ten miles to Grimes Point, which is a little spur of hillside overlooking what was once a thriving marshland. Hunters watched for game from here, and left their marks on some of the boulders. These petroglyphs are glimpses into time itself, through a window that closed long ago. The boulders obtrude from a rather uninviting landscape which is in itself a reminder of change: this place was teeming with life when the designs were pecked into the rocks.
Head back on US 50 about halfway toward Fallon and turn east on Harmon Road to Stillwater, once upon a time the Churchill County seat and now embracing the Paiute-Shoshone reservation and the Wildlife Refuge of the same name.
The Stillwater Wildlife Refuge attracts birders by the hundreds to scan the very air we breathe for signs of life, the feathered kind — nearly 300 species of birds — that congregate here by the tens of thousands over the course of the year. And visit the Roundhouse Gallery at 7133 Stillwater Road where Adam Fortunate Eagle, Discoverer of Italy and Liberator of Alcatraz, is an active presence. When you’ve explored to your satisfaction make it back to Fallon for a late lunch.
Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram
Maarten van der Meide from Holland, made a 15-day, 1000-mile bike ride through Nevada last month and writes:
Well I’m back from the States and must say it has been fantastic holidays! With nice weather and no flat tires!!
Let me tell you something more:
15-03 The flight to Las Vegas was not too bad. I planned to go to Hoover Dam but because of the jet lag I spent the whole day in Vegas; just relaxing and sleeping and cycling across the Strip at night.
17-03 On my birthday I made the trip to Pahrump via Red Rock Canyon. It was a tough route, especially to Mountain Springs. Quite cold at the summit. In Pahrump some nice people invited me at the evening. So I drunk some champagne on my birthday! Skin was sunburned this day.
20-03 I made a bike trip to Dantes View without all the luggage. Unfortunately I made a mistake downwards and had some blood on my legs. That afternoon I took a shower and swum at Furnace Creek Ranch and ate a big steak at night.
21-03 In the morning I made a trip on my bike to Badlands. In the afternoon with high temperatures I went to Stovepipe Wells. I met some nice people from British Columbia, Canada and we drunk some beers.
24-03 Sunday. Bike trip further to Tonopah. Not many miles today but this was planned.
25-03 Start early in the morning (05.30), very cold. Beautiful but tough route to Warm Springs and then in the afternoon along the Extraterrestrial Highway to Rachel. 110 miles that day!
28-03 From Overton to Valley of Fire and then further along I-15 to Vegas. Through Valley of Fire was scenic, but along Interstate terrific and bad.
31-03 A relaxing day with Stratosphere Tower visit and basketball on TV.
02-04 Arrival in Amsterdam in the morning, quite satisfied with the trip I made. Total distance cycled: 1000 miles.
Beside the memory of the champagne on my birthday my best memories are from Highway 375 where I rode lonely in beautiful scenic landscapes. Thanks again for all your information.
And then on to Lattin Farms, west on US 50, south on McLean Road, another old ranching property that has moved into the 21st century, but on a different trajectory from the Frey family. Here the product is not turning farm produce into nicely packaged and meticulously marketed intoxicants but nostalgia, nourishment and sunshine, served up family style, along with jams and jellies from the farm kitchen, produce of all kinds plus pumpkins and a corn maze in the fall.
For our farewell dinner: VN Pho, yet another excellent restaurant in Fallon, this one praised as “best Asian food in northern Nevada”.
Yes, but what if you come during the week when there’s nothing special going on. Then you are in for a treat that’s only available in the most western of western towns — Fallon Livestock a few miles west of town holds its auctions on Tuesdays; Nevada Livestock Marketing, in town on the west side, does it on Wednesdays.
The last time I was at the in-town auction the Small Barn Animals scheduled for 10:30 began at 11:45, but I didn’t much mind the wait because sitting in the stands reminded me of the first time I’d sat there — in the same chair, as best I could remember — about 50 years before, with Don Bowers, a Fallon native who was editor of Nevada Magazine at the time.
On that day the auction began with a duck ($6), on this one it was goats, and then the cattle, one after another, in from one side of the tiny arena, out the other while the auctioneer sings Tibetan rap and scats Basque in a dreamy monotone. It’s a decidedly different way to spend an hour or so, and the ladies in the office are happy to answer your questions. Both places have well-attended cafes on the premises.
So it’s really easy for visitors to have Perfect Days in Fallon, and of course you’d have even more if you lived here, which is why those who do live there keep the secret to themselves, I suppose.
It stays a secret because Fallon is still so much the easy, amiable, tree-shaded little burg as it has been for generations, revealing nothing in particular and inviting no questions. Come on a warm summer’s evening, after a scurrying rain squall has wet down the fresh-cut alfalfa and dusk has set the frogs and crickets to singing — that’s when Fallon is at its comfortable best. One of the most pleasant moments in my memory is from the baseball diamond at City Park, of a very little Little Leaguer lost in the vastness of center field, the tail of his number 7 tucked halfway down into his pants, waving a glove the size of a satellite dish at the baseballs flying over his head.
That was another perfect day in Fallon.
|What They’re Saying About Us:
It takes him a while to get there, but Carvell Wallace has something interesting to say about Elko and the Cowboy Poetry Gathering. And here are four more for a complete handful: Gerlach: the Darkest Town in America, Photography, Wineries And Cowboys: Nevada’s Rural Tourism, Eating’s a Ball in Virginia City, US 50: The Loneliest Road to Old West History,
Overheard at Susie’s BBQ in Fallon: “I swear to God I thought I’d somehow overnight become a magic lover but then I found out she had asthma.”
Here’s a terrific commercial for The Mizpah in Tonopah.
The Nevada Calendar for April 2017
The Reno Tahoe area must be eager for spring this year as there is quite the cluster of events this April. In Carson City check out the Mountain Picassos: Basque Arborglyphs of the Great Basin on April 3rd through the 7th at Western Nevada College Gallery. Then on April 19th come on out to the Carson City Wide Short Film Competition. Then on April 20th is the Capitol City Farm Days. . . Travel east on Highway 50 to Fallon for the Top Gun Raceway Drag Racing Season that lasts through October 31st. Also in Fallon go to Churchill Arts and see Ginkgoa, “A French-American electroswing pop band, the quintet crafts French songs with an American vibe” on April 22nd
. . . Further east on Highway 50 stop in Austin for their annual Lincoln Highway Car Show on April 8th. Then in Eureka go to the 4-H Mr. & Miss Contest on April 15th at the Eureka Opera House. The Crescent Valley Easter Egg Hunt is also on April 15th. . . On the eastern edge of Nevada in Ely, Nevada Northern Railway Trains Begin Running. On April 8th and 9th is White Pine Weekend – April 8-9, and Ely’s Bristlecone Bowmen Golf Tournament is on April 23rd. . . Off Interstate 80 in eastern Nevada in Elko is the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Dinner on April 8th. Then on April 15th is Elko’s Annual Easter Celebration http://everythingelko.com/home/new-calendar/. . . In the west off Interstate 80 you won’t want to miss the Reno Ukulele Festival in Sparks at the Nugget Casino on April 6th through the 9th. Next door in Reno you absolutely must attend the Reno Aces vs. Nevada Wolf Pack on April 4th. Reno will host the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival on April 6th. Then on April 20th there will be a 420 Reno Fest at MYNT. On April 23rd is at Idlewild Park come on out to Reno Earth Day. Then on April 28th through the 30th is Reno Jazz Festival. Also on April 30th is Reno’s Downtown River Run. You can also go to the Reno Xtreme Barrel Race on April 30th at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center, or to Reno’s Cinco de Mayo Festival that is scheduled for April 29th and 30th at the Grand Sierra Resort. . . Up at the north end of Lake Tahoe is the Tahoe Truckee Earthday Festival on April 22nd at The Village at Squaw Valley. Then in South Lake is Spring Loaded at Heavenly Mountain Resort that lasts through April 9th. On April 16th go to Easter Brunch on the M.S. Dixie II. Then on April 22nd go southward to the Annual Salsa Showdown at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort. On April 29th you can also attend South Tahoe Earth Day at Bijou Community Park. . . Up on the Comstock in Virginia City come on out to St. Mary’s Art Center’s Spring Reception on April 15th. Then on April 29th and 30th check out the annual Virginia City Grand Prix . Down the hill in Silver City go to see Gurf Morlix Live in Concert on April 13th at 7-9pm at the Silver City Schoolhouse. . . In Carson Valley travel to Genoa on April 28th for the Genoa Cowboy Festival. You can get some good fishing in at the annual Topaz Lodge Fishing Derby through April 16th. Or you can fly high at Wave Camp at SoaringNV on April 20th through the 23rd. On April 23rd Carson Valley celebrates Earth Day on Main Street Gardnerville. . . Down south off US Highway 95 stop in Tonopah for a Ghost Walk on April 8th, then a Kids Easter Egg Hunt on April 16th at Barsanti Park. . . Travel farther south to Pahrump for the Pahrump to Dakar Rally on April 7th through the 9th. . . In south eastern Nevada go to Logandale for the Clark County Fair & Rodeo on April 12nd through the 16th . Then in Mesquite a Street Painting Festival will be held at Kayenta Art Village on April 29th and 30th. . . In Las Vegas on April 5th through the 8th indulge yourselves at The Nth 2017 Ultimate Whisky Experience. Then on April 15th attend the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. Las Vegas will host it’s Annual City of Lights Jazz and R&B Festival on April 29th and 30th. . . Next door in Henderson is the Crazy Spokes bicycle event on April 8th. Then on April 15th go to the Henderson Heritage Parade & Festival. . . Over by the Hoover Dam in Boulder City is the Best Dam Wine Walk – Egg Hunt on April 8th. Boulder City will host it’s Annual Spring Fine Art Festival on April 22nd and 23rd. . . In Nevada’s deep south travel to Laughlin for it’s Annual Gamblers Classic Car Show on April 20th through the 22nd. The go to the Laughlin River Run on April 26th through the 29th.
Parting Shot —
Easter Egg Hunt, Lake Lahontan