Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day Eight: Virginia City Revisited

A bit of nostalgia yesterday. It was almost 50 years ago that Linda, Sandy, Peg and Steve visited Virginia City. LK fondly recalls that there is a picture of her sitting at Mark Twain's desk, so yesterday it was off to find that desk and take an updated picture.

Virginia City is only about 30 miles away from Reno across desert and up a pretty steep mountain. Once you get there, you realize you are technically dead center in the middle of nowhere. High up and overlooking miles of dirt, the former mining boom town now exists apparently only as a tourist spot.

The town is quite obsessed with the fact that Mark Twain was once a reporter for their newspaper. In fact, Samuel Clemens first used the name Mark Twain while in Virginia City. It's a small place to visit - maybe four blocks long - and it was easy to find the Mark Twain museum, which is in the basement down a set of rickety stairs from a general store.

That's a picture of LK next to the desk she sat at long ago. They don't let you sit at it anymore, but still it was kind of neat to revisit it. There are other pictures of the museum and a few more of the city here. The last picture is just a sweet shop called Reds', which I took for my father whose name is also Red.

There were two slight disappointments about Virginia City. The first is that there isn't much to see there as the shops are all almost tourist spots with funny t-shirts and cowboy paraphernalia. It wasn't real crowded, but I did notice that most of the folks wandering around there looked as if they were prime candidates to shop there.

The second disappointment is quite a blow for those of us who watched Bonanza in the 60's. That cowboy show was set in Virginia City, but it turns out there was no Ponderosa Ranch. And here I had patterned much of my life trying to be just like Hoss.

Oh yeah. There was a gun shooting show at 1pm, in which they closed a wooden gate and let you sit on some wooden bleachers while actors not good enough to make it in Reno did a bit of a cowboy retrospective. We decided we could skip that one.

Back to Reno in the afternoon. Linda went out into the very hot day to check out shops. I watched the Red Sox beat the Orioles. (Thank God they finally broke their losing streak!) A little bit of time in the casino, beef and a huge salad from the salad bar for dinner and by 10:30 I was acting like an old guy and wanted to go to bed.

Absolutely nothing is likely to happen today. We are driving a couple of hundred miles to Elko. Looking at the maps, there doesn't seem to be much between here and there. And in fact, it doesn't look like there's much there once we arrive. It's really just a rest stop on the way to Idaho. (And you know how bad a place has to be to be called that!)

And finally, I didn't have the camera with me when I posted about Lake Tahoe. If you want to see some of those pictures, they are here.

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