Bound for the Belvada
by Bob Naugle
We just had to get out of Vegas for President’s Weekend. These days dealing with COVID, and the stress of school, required a break. Besides if I stayed home, I would have remodeled something else in the house.
Skiing is our normal trek this time of year, but it was obvious with room rates and crowds that it needed to be avoided this weekend. Wed been saving a trip up to the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park for warmer months, but after seeing last month’s NevadaGram, we decided to set up our basecamp at the new Belvada Hotel in Tonopah and visit Berlin-Ichthyosaur from there.
With Tonopah so close to Vegas, we drove up Thursday night so we could get to the State Park the next morning. We checked into the Belvada getting two rooms, a Queen with kitchenet for us and a double Queen for the kids.
The entire hotel is decorated in turn-of-the-20th-century style. The lobby is spacious, with small gathering places for groups and families. When social distancing expires, this will be a fun place to meet with friends. There is even a more secluded area with upscale chairs in the old bank safe, and next month the hotel will open a coffee and pastry shop attached to the lobby.
There are only 40 rooms in this truly boutique hotel, which housed a bank at street level when it opened, and offices above that. The room rates are very affordable, so we were able to have the two rooms for a couple of nights.
The teen kids were ecstatic to not have to share a room with their parents and each had their own queen size bed. The rooms all seem to have unique layouts. For example, in the 2Q room the beds were not side by side; they were each in separate areas with an open wall between them. They each had their own TV which seemed odd since the TVs were almost back to back. Found out our kids took turns on what to watch, so competing volumes weren’t an issue.
Our one-queen bed efficiency was comfy. I would have liked to see a luggage stand or something other than the kitchen table to put a suitcase on. There is definitely room for more furniture. Kinda jealous the kids had end of bed ottomans in their room. While both rooms were very spacious our bathroom was small. In the bigger room you could do a morning jazzercize class (is that still a thing?) for two in the bathroom. I would suggest if you have any absolute needs on bed types, bathroom size etc. that you call to make the request. We found the staff very accommodating and wanting to ensure everything was right.
Speaking of which, since we knew our room had a kitchen, we decided to bring some cinnamon rolls to bake for morning breakfast. It is obvious they are still growing into the hotel. The kitchen had a couple of pans and basic dish and glassware sets for two. No kitchen specific towels or the thing we realized we needed, a baking pan. We asked if they had any options for a baking pan. Seems like we were the first to request the item since their recent opening in late December. They didn’t have anything that night but the next day they had one waiting for us in the room. Sandra Hausaman, the hotel manager, also followed up upon our return the following evening to ensure our expectations were being met.
Next time we visit, I want to get a room facing the front. While it is on the main street through town the huge windows you see from the outside look like they would be a treat on the inside.
Berlin Day Trip
Timing was perfect for our trip from Tonopah to the Park. The drive is just over two hours on paved roads. The overnight snowstorm made the roads wet, but the mountains had beautiful blankets of snow draped over the ranges as we headed north on US 95. Our Vegas kids were excited as we hit a few snow squalls crossing over the mountain passes by Mt. Ferguson near Luning. On the way down the other side we couldn’t resist stopping for a snowball fight.
When we arrived at the Park our first stop was the once-lively ghost town of Berlin. While at the pay station (because I left my State Park Pass in the other car) I found some keys. I hope the ranger found them hanging on his door and got them where they need to be. The town buildings range from piles of dirt and wood to completely intact houses. Some of the main buildings have obviously undergone restoration and rebuilding. Glad to see there are ongoing restoration projects happening. Seeing the history in the buildings themselves is much better than just reading plaques next to a pile of boards.
My wife caught a pic of my daughter on her phone while we were looking in and around some of the old machinery. At first glance you may think “kids and their phones, ugh.” But no, she wass nerding out and doing gear ratio calculations on the machine in front of her. Love it!
After we hiked the interpretive trail around Berlin, we headed up the road to the Ichthyosaur display building. For some reason I always find myself here when it is off season or after hours, so I still have not been on the Ichthyosaur Tour of the display. There are windows at each end of the building and information by the building entrance that tells you all you need to know. Only being able to peek thorough the windows made my wife say that we would be back when they reopened. The Ichthyosaur is Nevada’s State fossil and the state dinosaur. All I know is you wouldn’t want to get something this big on the end of you fishing pole.
At the bottom of the hill from the display was a nice picnic area. We found a great picnic table for a lunch stop under cover next to Bob’s Boxcar. We were able to stay dry from the melting snow and sheltered from the breeze.
On the way back to Tonopah we drove around Gabbs to reaffirm our need for some real city life in Vegas. My son was shocked to see a football field with no grass. Seeing these ‘living’ ghost towns is sometimes more educational than fully abandoned ghost towns. It makes you realize there are all kinds of lifestyles and ways people live.
With the warmer day time temperatures and dry conditions at the lower elevation, we decided to take the shortcut back to Tonopah. Cuts off 30-40 minutes, but you also leave the pavement and get to finally use the all-wheel-drive that you paid extra for.
After we got back, we headed to our favorite spot to eat in town, the Tonopah Brewery Company. We usually just get a quick BBQ sandwich as we pass through, but since we had time we had the full Family combo dinner. It included ribs, brisket, turkey and pulled pork. All the meats are smoked on site. Our biggest surprise was the moist, delicious turkey. It will be ordered from now on, even when just passing through. Tryptophan be damned! I’ll just drink more caffeine. The cornbread, sauces and side dishes also are exceptional. Finally I got to sample more of their beer as well. My favorite is the Mucker, Irish Red Ale. They also brew the popular styles like IPAs, Lagers and Hefs, and a seasonal beer is also available.