Happy Nevada Day!!!

Those were the words gleefully shouted all day today in Carson City for the 151st anniversary of Nevada becoming a state. We were blown away by the enthusiasm and genuine kindness of our neighbors just off the hill.

We headed out early to watch the majesty of several balloons taking off right on Carson Street. The RE/MAX Nevada Day Balloon Launch is operated under the assistance of the Great Reno Balloon Race - another first I hope to accomplish one day.

Next stop was the Republican Women's Pancake Breakfast at the Governor's Mansion.
Our $6 breakfast included pancakes, eggs, ham, orange juice and coffee, and was a scholarship fundraiser.

The highlight of today was the Nevada Day Parade. We watched for over two hours and saw only 90 of the 180 entries. Wow!
One of the Grand Marshals was actor, Jack Waggon, a local boy done good.

Ben Rupert rode with Sherry Rupert, the parade's first Native American Female Grand Marshal.  
Día de Muertos was celebrated with costumed equestrians.
New cars and old were proudly on display.

Governor Brian Sandoval walked amongst his people.
This is a "Where's Denise?" moment. Somewhere in there is our own Tahoe Bagpiper, Seán Cummings.
Military of all kinds were showcased in the parade.
This Paws 4 Passengers pup wandered the crowd for petting opportunities.
Law enforcement was represented in many ways. I loved this old Highway Patrol car best.
I am incredibly emotional when it comes to Veterans. Every war was represented, and the cheers were hopefully enough for them to know how much we appreciate their service.
While the parade marched on, we decided to explore more of the Day. Intriguing to me was the 41st annual World Championship Single Jack Rock Drilling Contest.
Contestants use 4 1/2 pound hammers and 3/4" steel bits to drill as deep and as fast as they can in a 4,320 lb piece of Sierra White Granite from the Yosemite area (the hardest known granite in the region). Contestants have 10 minutes to pound the drills into the solid stone, their only help is from an assistant who runs water into the hole so the loose stone chips are splashed out with every stroke of the hammer on steel. The deepest hole wins. The contest goes back to the Comstock mining skills of earlier times, when blast holes for dynamite were punched into ore bodies by hand. Steve could hardly watch. The thought of a hand getting mangled was too much for him.
Okay, so we missed a couple of events. I'm most sad about the beard growing contest. There's always another year... And with all the hoopla of Nevada Day, we almost forgot it was Halloween. These two lovers reminded us. This was a diverse and unique day of small town fun and sincere State pride. We loved it all.

There is the land that I love the best,
Fairer than all I can see.
Right in the heart of the golden west
Home means Nevada to me.
-Bertha Raffetto, Nevada's State Song

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Day #1 of Nevada Day...

I have mentioned before how much we enjoy firsts. Today was a pretty delightful one- Day #1 of Nevada Day in Carson City. It is Nevada's Heritage Celebration, a gathering of community spirit on the last week of October to salute the state's past and look ahead to its future.
A perfect introduction was the Carson City Historical East-Side Tour, led by Bernie Allen and Eileen Cohen of the Preservation Coalition. A large group of us gathered at the Capitol (1870) for a two mile walking explore of the unique, historical and unknown to us- east side.

We meandered through turn of the century neighborhoods. I was intrigued by the 'what use to be' sites. This is the location of the Nevada Orphans' Home (1870). In 1903, the first building gave way to a larger one, constructed of sandstone from the state prison quarry. The stone building was replaced in 1963, in accordance with the modern concept of family groups, by numerous cottages.
The Virginia and Truckee Railroad began operations in 1869 and three short years later business was booming, with more locomotives and rolling stock, making a new shop building necessary. The railroad decided to relocate the new shops to Carson City and by 1874 it was in full operation. The V&T shops were impressive. There were 11 full-size bays and so much work that it was the largest employer in the city.

After over eighty years of continuous operation, the massive shop building was finally closed in 1950 and razed in 1991, to the chagrin of those old timers on our tour.
Our tour guide, Bernie Allen, who will be next year's Nevada Day Parade Grand Marshal, was a wealth of knowledge and a really neat guy. A local since 1941, Bernie knew so much history and even took us by his interesting childhood home.
All of Nevada's museums are free today and tomorrow so we decided to celebrate Nevada’s natural and cultural heritage at the Nevada State Museum, which incorporates the historic Carson City Mint building. Twenty-one galleries of engaging and unique exhibits showcasing diverse collections tell the fascinating Silver State story.
This happy neon guy is a reminder that gambling is part of the history. I always like his "howdy".
No trip into history is complete without a cemetery explore. Lone Mountain Cemetery did not disappoint. Encompassing 40 acres, individuals buried elsewhere in the town's early burial grounds were relocated to here in the mid-1860s. The most famous for us was Hank Monk (1826-1883), the legendary stage driver. He is famous for the ride he gave to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune- Carson City to Placerville in 10 hours!

The most interesting was the tomb of P.H. Clayton (c. 1819-1874). This territorial-era attorney was involved in much of the early legislation that affected Nevada and was also a "notorious secessionist."

Hearing about all the sandstone the prisoners quarried, we had to find this place and learn a little something about it. Nevada State Prison (NSP) was a penitentiary located in Carson City. The prison was in continuous operation since its establishment in 1862 until its closure in 2012... one of the oldest prisons that operated in the United States.
In the early 20th century, this prison became the sole designated facility for executions by the state of Nevada. It carried out the first death sentence by gas chamber in the United States with the execution of Gee Jon in 1924. It was closed for budgetary reasons yet it is still designated as the site of executions for the State.
Sadly, license plates are no longer made at this prison. Such intriguing history... all of it.
Last stop was the Nevada State Railroad Museum. This is a place we have always wanted to visit which preserves the railroad heritage of Nevada, including locomotives and cars of the famous Virginia & Truckee Railroad and other railroads of the Silver State. Many were bought from Hollywood studios, where they were made famous in movies and television shows. Among 65 locomotives and cars in the collection, 40 were built before 1900, and 31 pieces that operated on the V & T Railroad.

We enjoyed seeing the historic 1910 McKeen motorcar taking enthusiasts for a ride.
Okay, so our day was incredibly fun. Nevada Day is all about preserving the State's history through education and to remind the citizens how and when Nevada became a State. Interestingly this is the only state in the Nation that continues to celebrate its historical entry into the Union, making it quite a unique event (and a legal holiday). This was only Day #1. We can't wait to see what tomorrow holds.

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"Life is Like a Camera"

My new favorite saying...

Life is like a camera.
Just focus on what’s important,
capture the good times,
develop from the negatives,
and if things don’t turn out
take another shot.

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Hard Rock's Oyster Bar...

Bob and Jenny are doing a staycation at the Hard Rock for Bob's birthday so we joined them at the Oyster Bar for a delightful dinner.

The restaurant really is a bar and dining there affords you quite a gastronomic 'show'. The entire time we were there, we kept grilling the chef, "Ohh what's that sauce? Wow, what is that dish called?". Poor guy, he probably just wanted to cook.

Because we are locals and it was mid-week, we got a 20% discount. This makes a unique meal an affordable one. Plus, hanging out in the Hard Rock makes us feel somewhere else.

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Virginia City for Bob's Birthday...

It wasn't lost on us that we have a mining theme happening this week. Virginia City is just one of those places in which one should meander every now and again.

Virginia City sprang up as a boomtown with the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver deposit discovery in the United States, and numerous mines were opened. At the city's peak of population in the mid-1860s, it had an estimated 25,000 residents.
How can one not love the town considered the "birthplace" of Mark Twain? It was here in 1863 that writer Samuel Clemens, then a reporter on the local Territorial Enterprise newspaper, first used his famous pen name. Oh and a banjo player accompanied by a player piano is pretty special, too. 
The main road to Virginia City was closed, so we entered through the trucking route. What a delightful surprise to see horses. Nevada is home to almost half of our nation’s free-roaming wild horses, and many of these elegant animals have decided to make the grazing lands around Virginia City their neighborhood.
The Virginia Range herd, steeped in the history of the Comstock Lode, is over 1,400 strong and can be found living wild and free between Virginia City, Reno, Dayton and Carson City. What a great end to our afternoon in this uniquely interesting place, celebrating our uniquely interesting friend.

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Bodie: The Ghost Town...

One of the reasons we stayed at the Virginia Creek Settlement (besides being able to say we slept in a covered wagon) was its close proximity to the beyond amazing Bodie State Historic Park.

Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (aka William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.

We have been coming here for years and each time we discover something new. It helps that Jenny and Bob are as curious as we are.
At one time there were 2,000 buildings here. Fire was the main destroyer so only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of "arrested decay." Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods.

This was the first time we recalled being allowed into one of these deserted homes. Clothes in the drawer, dishes on the kitchen table, a baby's crib in the corner. To think of an exodus that would make the residents leave everything behind is mind boggling and intriguing.

This is the residence of J.S. Cain, who was eventually the town’s principal property owner. Cain moved to Bodie when he was 25 and built an empire. He began by putting lumber barges on Mono Lake and transporting timber for Bodie – the same timber that was needed to support the mine shafts, stoke the boilers that ran the machinery, built the buildings, heated the homes and cooked the food. What was the most important contribution by the Cain family, however, was the protection of Bodie. When World War II closed the mines permanently, it really did become a Ghost Town. The Cains hired a caretaker to protect what was left behind so that we can enjoy it today. What forward thinking people.

There is beauty in the ruins. Bodie really is special where the past is preserved so interestingly. I know of no other place like it. We'll be back!

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