NevadaGram #200 – Skiing the Rubies, A Foodie in Vegas, Shopping in Winnemucca


Introducing a new section of the NevadaGram, Let’s Go Outside with Curtis Fong.Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience

Curtis Fong“I remember the guide telling us what line he was going to ski and indicating a stop point at the bottom and with specific instructions to ski to the right of his line only. As he skied down below us, my heart was beating faster with excitement and hoping that I don’t blow this and do cartwheels down this face. I dropped and remember making the first 3 turns and feeling the skis slide through the snow as the powder flowed over my boot tops and up and over my knees, feeling each turn and flowing in rhythm, attempting to keep the same radius turns as the guide, and, also trying to remember to breathe.

“Helicopter skiing is almost a religious experience — I was chanting “OMG” with every turn — more like an out-of-body experience, because I could imagine myself making each turn in a slow motion segment of a Warren Miller movie. RIP Warren Miller!” Read it all here

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

When Tom Sanders ran away from home at 13, he was taken in by an Indian couple and for most of the rest of his life he lived among the Indian people of Nevada.
This is one of the recordings Tom made for The Gold Hill NEWS. He would sometimes stop by with a handful of new stories on cassettes, other times he would take a chair out behind World Headquarters and tell a story into the recorder.
Ideally you are seated in a comfortable chair with a refreshment at hand, mind prepared to cast the modern moment aside and drift into a different world as you punch the Play button and Tom tells the story he called “Pullin’ Teeth”:

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

In last month’s NevadaGram (near the bottom) I mentioned the new hotels blossoming near the freeway offramp on Elko‘s east side and elsewhere. Our own preference is downtown above the DLC Gallery & the Gallery Bar, next door to Capriola’s.

Once upon a time this was the Clifton Hotel, a haven for nine old men who lived above the smoke trap called Jack’s Bar. Now the upstairs rooms are being being refurbished and remade with two bathrooms and a shared kitchen, in preparation for listing them with Air b&b, HomeAway and similar services.

Among the amenities is the south facing deck at the end of the upstairs hall. It overlooks the lawned and leafy backyard. Weddings are held there in good weather, and when a visiting band brings a crowd, the bar’s customers spill out here on warm summer evenings. In the morning, the deck is a perfect place to settle down with a self-made latte from the kitchen and watch the sun rise over the Rubies. And the stuff across the alley too.

Downstairs it’s Jacques’ bar now, with a superb wine list and Nick behind the bar. The name derives from the art on its walls and spilling in from the gallery in the next room — paintings, ceramics, photographs and more from local area artists.

Coffee Mug restaurant Elko NevadaBut the main attraction is what’s outside: downtown Elko.

Down the block to the right is the Coffee Mug Family Rrestaurant, an Elko favorite now at its third location over the years, and the recently opened Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum. Originally built for the Garcia Harness and Saddle Shop on Silver Street, the building was later moved to its present location and served as offices for the Elko-Lamoille Power Co. and NV Energy until 2016.

The Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum's recently restored building at 542 Commercial Street was built in 1907 by master craftsman G.S. Garcia to house his saddle, harness and tack shop.The gleaming pressed tin façade restores the building’s brand new 1907 appearance. Inside, Garcia’s shop has been replicated from photographs provided by the Wright family, proprietors of Capriola’s, which is next door to the Inn, at the corner of Fifth Street.

This is the modern descendant of the hallowed Garcia Saddle Shop and a reliable source of boots, hats and other western goods, including the heirloom-quality leather and silver work.

A visiting journalist wrote in admiration in the New York Times some years ago that Capriola’s “sells everything for the cowboy and his horse, from a box of horseshoe nails to a $3,500 saddle.” A hand-made saddle crafted to a classic design might cost a little more nowadays, but they are still made right here, along with the other leather goods and the tack that account for most of Capriola’s world-wide business.

Luciano's, Elko NevaaMachi’s, one of our faves, is just across 5th street and the venerable Stockmen’s Hotel, with its very nice $10 prime rib, is another block west. A block south on Silver Street is the Star Hotel, the hallowed Basque restaurant, and Luciano’s Italian dinner house, both very popular.

North across the enormous parking lots that were once the noisy, disruptive and dangerous railroad switching yard and are now a huge convenience: plenty of free parking in the center of the city, is the Western Folklife Center, the organization that stages the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The gift shop is excellent, and the adjacent gallery is always worth a visit.

A little farther north on Fifth stop for a refreshment at the Stray Dog, a latte at Cowboy Joe’s or something delicious at McAdoo’s. Idaho Street, Elko’s main drag, is just beyond, presided over by the exquisitely anachronistic Anacabe’s Elko Mercantile, opened in 1936 and going strong. A block east is Roy’s Market for the things you forgot to bring, or treats to take back to your room.

Gallery Bar, Elko NevadaAs for Night Life, did I mention that the Gallery Bar is right downstairs?

Now that I’ve spelled it out like this I realize we have (almost) everything here we’d have at a Las Vegas Strip mega-resort, just not in-house. Plus plenty of free parking.

Overheard at Bakker’s Brew in Battle Mountain: If you had to choose a time period to be born into, but you didn’t get to choose what race, gender, income level, social status, country/location, etc. you were born into, when would you choose to be born?

On a recent afternoon Diamond Jack Bulavsky, one of our prize-winning Las Vegas Correspondents, joined a group of foodies from New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin to enjoy the showcase dishes at four top restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip. Here is his dispatch.

I had joined a ‘Lip Smacking Foodie Tour‘ that would introduce me to some of Las Vegas’ most highly regarded and glamorous restaurants.

Right up my alley in other words.

Donald Contursi, president of the company, had invited me to join him and share the experience. I was delighted to accept.

Aria Las Vegas“We have afternoon and evening tours and the afternoon tour is great for those going to a show later in the evening,” he said. “We operate daily with tours on the Strip and Downtown. Each one takes up to three hours and guests are given the VIP treatment. At the same time, tour guides are talking about the city, its history, and describing point of interest along the way as they walk from one restaurant to another. It’s a unique and informative Las Vegas experience.”

Javiers at the Aria Las VegasThe out-of-town foodies were thrilled to meet Diamond Jack as I introduced myself and explained who I was, but contained their excitement somehow. We started the afternoon at Javier’s at the Aria for fine Mexican food. Other restaurants on the schedule that day included Estiatorio Milos at Cosmopolitan, Momofuku at Cosmopolitan, and Cucina by Wolfgang Puck inside Crystals. Another tour might feature Bardot Brasserie from Michael Mina at Aria, Sage from Sean McLain at Cosmopolitan, and Scarpetta from Scott Conant at Cosmopolitan.

As we neared Javier’s, we were immediately greeted like Vegas VIPs and escorted to a selected area in the main dining room. carving steakFresh tortilla chips were waiting for us along with Javier’s three signature salsas: Javier’s House, Roasted Tomato, and Roasted Green Tomatillo. Then came two enchiladas: one was filled with shrimp, Dungeness crab, garlic and onion in a tomatillo sauce covered with melted Monterey Jack cheese and garnished with avocado slices and sour cream; the second enchilada, stuffed with chicken, was layered with Guajillo sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado slices and sour cream.

We yelled “ole!” except for the couple from Texas who found the enchiladas too rich.

After Javier’s, we took a short stroll to Milos in the Cosmopolitan for some internationally-acclaimed Mediterranean seafood. On the way I chatted with the couple from Wisconsin. “What fun!” they enthused. “This is our second trip to Las Vegas and our second Foodie tour. We enjoy the commentary as we walk between restaurants as much as the food.”

At Milos we started with a Greek salad accented with vine-ripened tomatoes, virgin olive oil and barrel-aged feta cheese. Then sushi quality, grilled Mediterranean octopus accompanied with lightly-fried zucchini, eggplant tzatziki and kefalograviera cheese.

seafood at Estiatorio_MilosZorba the Greek never had it this good but the Wisconsin couple left the octopus on their plates.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

On the anniversary of The Great 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race Robin and I put on our goggles and dashed south to join in the festivities. Saturday March 22 was devoted to a re-enactment of the exciting day a hundred years ago when the Thomas Flyer came careening through the sagebrush into Tonopah, well ahead of its European rivals, paused briefly and then sped off to Goldfield.

1908 Great Race Tonopah Nevada
Tonopah 1908

The Thomas Flyer was photographed in Tonopah on March 22, 1908 on its way to Goldfield, San Francisco, Siberia and Paris.

The car had been churning through the sagebrush on its muddy way from Ely when six teeth broke off the drive pinion and the transmission case cracked. The driver, George Schuster, rented a horse at the ranch and headed off in the dark for Tonopah, 75 miles away. There he solved the parts problem in the good old Nevada way: “From a doctor’s Thomas we borrowed the parts to repair ours,” he wrote in his memoir of the race, “and drove it onto Tonopah at 11 pm that night. Everybody in town waited up and rang fire bells.”

2008 Great Race Tonopah Nevada
Tonopah 2008

A parade of Tonopah cars escorted the Flyer to Goldfield, then the leading city of the state, where “there was a riotous welcome with cowboys and miners firing pistols. The street was jammed with people when we arrived, and it was a crowd such as could only be found in a western mining town. After a banquet we were on our way again toward Rhyolite.”

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

Momofuku and Cucina were just as tasty with the finale being a colorful and delicious dessert from the kitchen of Wolfgang Puck.

It was the first Foodie tour for the couple from New Mexico and they were impressed by the architectural beauty of the restaurants and the varied art contained within City Center.

“We knew these restaurants were going to be nicer than truck stops, but this is much more than we expected,” they said. “And when we walked in, it really was VIP treatment from our private table to the food being served within minutes of our arrival. It was a real Las Vegas experience.”

There are several tours available and the most unique and extravagant is “Savory Bites & Neon Lights.” The evening begins with a VIP gourmet experience at five distinguished restaurants followed by a helicopter tour of the Strip’s famous shimmering lights via Maverick Helicopters.

“Our mission is to introduce visitors and locals alike to the best signature dishes and exciting adventures that make Las Vegas, well, Las Vegas,” said Contursi. “The local newspaper has voted us ‘Best Tour’, ‘Best Fine Dining’, and ‘Best Brunch.’ Those are honors we take seriously.” — Diamond Jack

Jack and Elaine Jacobs, berry farmers in Gardnerville NevadaWith retirement in mind, Jack and Diane Jacobs bought the historic Lampe family home in Gardnerville in 2002. Now retired and living there, they have transformed the core of the old Lampe ranch into a unique attraction. blackberry at Jacobs Family Berry FarmThey grow berries and keep bees, host weddings, family reunions and other events on the Jacobs Family Farm.

We have it on our calendar to visit Carson Valley in late July when the berry harvest begins in earnest and a visit here can be the centerpiece of a lovely day in Carson Valley. In the meantime you’re welcome to stop in for honey, berry jam and essence. Call ahead in the off-season to make sure someone’s here to serve you: 775-525-0450

Save American Poetry, Read A Cowboy

The Elko Convention Center looks like just about any convention center in small-town America: It has harsh fluorescent lights, ghastly cream-colored walls, and a beige-and-gray carpet that seems especially effective at masking stains.

On this winter morning, however, the center is alive with an unusual scene, even for rural Nevada: a sea of about 8,000 bobbing cowboy hats. At this moment, several hats are gathered around Paul Zarzyski, a 66-year-old man with a bristly handlebar mustache that covers his upper lip and extends down to his jowls. He looks like someone who’s spent years of his life working the rodeo circuit—which he has. Now, he’s talking excitedly about meter and onomatopoeia and synesthesia and other poetic devices. Read More

Little Spoken Truths of Three Generations at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Upon first arriving in Elko, Nevada, for the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, I experienced something unsettling there that I also experienced in Reno just the week prior.

The Friday before the gathering, I attended a talk on Bertsolaritza, Basque improvised and sung poetry, and how women rose through the ranks of the once male-dominated art form. Upon conclusion of the presentation, Q&A proceeded. A man attending the talk re-explained the main points in different words for about three consecutive minutes. The encounter struck me in the moment, but I chose not to call attention to it.

Then on Tuesday, the first talk I attended at the poetry gathering was on a similar subject: female bertsolaris, the Basque poets, and their push to redefine themselves as speakers and not things to which men refer. To my surprise and muted dismay, the same longwinded guy from Friday was at the Tuesday talk. Read More

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Johnny Quick's plaqueIn your newsletter of November 2001, you mention a man named Johnny Quick, who claims to have been a member of Bill Haley and the Comets. Extensive research — including interviews with members of the Comets and Haley’s family — have failed to uncover any evidence that a Johnny Quick was ever a member of the Comets. He certainly was not in any way involved with the recording of Rock Around the Clock. The drummer on that record died in 1995.Clearly Mr. Quick qualifies as a “local character,” but his claims should be taken with a grain of salt.
For more information, I direct you to my Bill Haley’s Who’s Who.
Alex Frazer-Harrison
A proud member of Bill Haley Central

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

There’s lots of good shopping and browsing in Winnemucca, especially for the ladies.  Clothing, kitchen, wellness, antiques and junk.  Here are some of the places where I spent some time and money the last time I was in town.

Weezies, Winnemucca Nevada1. Weezies Kitchen Gadgets 1063 W 4th Street just east of Ridley’s

A lot more than gadgets in this fully stocked, fun to peruse, kitchen store.  Cooking, baking, entertaining, serving, preparing, small appliances —  and a lot of cool gadgets.  Best kitchen store on I-80, including Reno

Cat's Meow, Winnemucca Nevada2. Cat’s Meow 310 S Bridge St

This is an antique and “junque” store that you can spend a lot of time browsing because there’s such an assortment of items and some very unique “art”.

Tapestry, Winnemucca Nevada3. Tapestry 45 W. Winnemucca Boulevard

This women’s clothing store may be the largest in Winnemucca, with big selection and some unique styles – definitely au courant.  There are also accessories, handbags, jewelry and a small line of foundations.  I bought a nice sweater here.

Welless, Winnemucca Nevada4. Essential Oils and More, 337 S. Bridge Street

This store is going through a bit of a change as the focus has broadened to all around wellness. You’ll find the oils but also supplements for health, skin care, body lotions and clever natural home made treats for pets (including “French fries”!).  The name of the establishment will change shortly to reflect the broader focus on health and wellness.

There are many more interesting shopping options in Winnemucca, most of them right downtown in walking distance from the Visitors Center on Winnemucca Boulevard. — Robin Cobbey

2108 Reno-Tahoe EventsThe 2018 Reno Tahoe Events & Festivals brochure is now available and you can click the image to see it online. The brochures will be distributed in visitor centers and chambers throughout Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Virginia City, Fernley, Fallon and Minden/Gardnerville.  For a complete listing of all events and entertainment in the Reno Tahoe area, click here or click here for our statewide Calendar of Events.
Let’s do 80 on 80. The Nevada Department of Transportation has raised the speed limit from 75 to 80 mph on a 30 mile section of Interstate 80 in eastern Elko County between Wendover and Oasis. In May 2017 the speed limit was increased to 80 mph between Fernley and Winnemucca, except for a section through Lovelock.

But not in a bus. Five Nevada communities on I-80 have been pruned from the Greyhound bus schedule. The company no longer offers bus services from Salt Lake City to Wendover, Elko, Battle Mountain, Lovelock, Winnemucca, and Reno.

You can still buy bus tickets in Reno, just not for the affected cities. An Interline partnership with Amtrak allows its customers to use tickets booked through Greyhound on the train service. Amtrak provides service to Elko, Winnemucca and Salt Lake City.

Wendover is hoping Congressman Mark Amodei will put back on track the Amtrak station/stop discussed a few years ago in Wendover, but that will take a lot of hoping before it comes true. For now in Lovelock, Battle Mountain and Wendover there is no near-term solution in sight.

Parting Shot —

Boulder on US 50 between Carson City an Lake Tahoe

Welcome to Nevada: Boulder on US 50 between Carson City and Lake Tahoe




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