We Installed New Hardwood Flooring

Duke (with a little help from me) has been busy tearing out the old worn carpeting in our family room and hall and installing new hardwood flooring.

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Over the weekend he finished installing the new floor and the new baseboard and we moved some of the furniture back into the room. He also installed a new book shelf that he built. Although it is not quite finished we filled it with books.

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We had a beautiful sunny weekend but today it is raining and blowing here in Reno. I think I'll go turn on the fire, enjoy the floor and read my book.

Dancing to the Precipice by Caroline Moorehead

I just finished reading Dancing to the Precipice – The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin.

Lucie Dillon, the Marquise de la Tour was a French aristocrat born in 1770. Her father fought with the Americans during the revolutionary war. She was a lady in waiting to Marie Antoinette, witnessed the French revolution, and barely escaped being imprisoned and possibly guillotined. She and her family escaped France on a ship for America and ended up farming in upper New York state. Eventually they returned to France. She knew Napoleon and Lucie's husband was part of Napoleon's government. She was friends with the Duke of Wellington and had played with him as a child. You can see why the subtitle of this book is eyewitness to an Era.

Lucie wrote a memoir and Caroline Moorehead used it as the foundation for this biography. I found parts of the book fascinating and at times even riveting. At other times Dancing to the Precipice dragged a bit. It is a classic example of how a biography can educate you about a period in history. I learned a lot from Dancing to the Precipice about French history, the revolution and Napoleon and I definitely enjoyed reading it.

This is book number 34 for me this year. If you would like to see a list of all the books I have read in 2009 you can find it here.

Exploring the back roads of Middle and Eastern Nevada

Duke and I just got back from 8 days and 1500 miles exploring central and eastern Nevada. We never drove on a paved road when we could drive on a dirt road. We had a grand adventure. Nevada is a stunningly beautiful and interesting state and we had it pretty much to ourselves. We would drive for hours and not see another vehicle.

Day 1 – Reno to Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park

Day one was mainly on paved roads heading east on interstate 80 and then highway 50 (which is billed as the loneliest road in the world) through Fallon. We stopped at Grimes Point Archaeological site to see the petroglyphs painted on the rocks by Native Americans sometime between 5000 BC and 1500 AD.


The first night we camped at Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park, a very interesting park. Berlin is a mining ghost town with lots of old buildings and mine equipment to look at.

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In the same park not far from Berlin we saw  the fossil remains of ichthyosaurs. Fossils of forty of these ancient marine reptiles have been excavated at this site.

Day 2 – Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park to Ely, Nevada

We were cozy in our tent but we woke up to snow on the ground. In spite of the fact that we had a nice blazing fire my fingers were frozen by the time we had eaten breakfast and packed up .

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Following the dotted and fine red lines in our Benchmark Nevada Road and Recreation Atlas we headed generally east. We saw the Round Mountain Gold Mine and Hadley the biggest company town in Nevada. In this picture of a woman and a girl roping a calf you can see the gold mine in the background.


We stop fairly frequently to stretch and look around. Duke always likes to look for interesting rocks. You can see him collecting in this picture.
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We drove through the town of Manhattan and eventually got to Belmont. Belmont is now pretty much a ghost town but the old court house built in 1878 before the town was abandoned is a state historic site.

Because of the cold we decided to sleep inside.We headed through a beautiful green canyon called Hat Creek Canyon, opening and closing gates as we went and eventually hit pavement at highway 6 and headed in to Ely for the night.

Day 3 – Ely to Great Basin National Park

We stopped a few miles south of Ely at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historical Park. The rock work in these charcoal ovens is beautiful. They were built in the late 1800's to make charcoal and are 35 feet tall.



In Great Basin National Park we did a hike in the snow up Timber Creek from the Baker Creek Trail head. I lost my GPS last winter after the last snow shoe hike of the year. Very upsetting! When I went to put on my winter boots for our hike guess what I found in my boot? Yep, my GPS! All I could do was laugh.


After our hike we headed to the Hidden Canyon Guest Ranch where we had reservations. It backs up to the park and it turned out to be one my top 5 best bed and breakfasts I have every stayed at. The canyon in which it sits is an oasis of green that you drop down into after you leave the highway and head off across the desert. The lodge and rooms are beautiful and the owners were very welcoming and friendly. They served a great dinner and breakfast. There is a long staircase up to the rim of the canyon behind the lodge. We climbed to the top and savored the view.


 Day 4 Great Basin National Park

On Tuesday we spent the day at Great Basin. A lot of  the snow had melted but the road up Wheeler peak to the 10,000 foot level was closed. We drove into the south end of the park and hiked to Lexington Arch. It was a beautiful day, the views were fantastic and we had the trail to ourselves.



Tuesday night we camped in the Baker Creek Camp ground. It was still cold and we had the campground pretty much to ourselves but the wind was much lower than the first night we camped and our fire was wonderful.

Day 5 Great Basin National Park to Ely, Nevada

On Wednesday we headed back to Ely. There are a lot of very interesting things to do in and around Ely. First we drove through Cave Lake State Park  and up the valley on the Success Summit Loop. In addition to being beautiful this is an area that apparently has a lot of deer and elk. They were all in hiding though because it is hunting season and we saw a lot of hunters. We also saw that the hunters at least in some cases had been successful.

We went to an overlook to see part of the enormous Robinson open pit Copper mine. The scale is indescribable. 



Day 6 – Ely Nevada

Thursday was another day in Ely. There really is a lot to do there. The railway museum is one of the best I have ever seen. Several years ago Kennecott the then owner of the Nevada Northern Railway gave the whole railroad and all it equipment and 32 miles tracks to the state of Nevada. It is now the Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark. We got to wander around the East Ely yard. I'm going to quote the walking tour guide because it gets the experience exactly right.

"It's an operating historical railroad. It's gritty. It's dirty. It smells of coal smoke, creosote and sweat"

It was very cool!!



After exploring the Northern Nevada Railway yard we drove out to the Garnet Fields rockhound area to look for garnet. We had lots of fun collecting rocks that look to us like they might contain garnet. We really have no idea but the guide pamphlet says

"The garnets usually occur as single crystals attached to small cavities known as vugs or vesicles within the rhyolite…. carefully break the rock to see what is inside"

We brought a lot of rocks home and will be doing the breaking maybe tomorrow.

From the Garnet fields we went to the White Pine County Public Museum. I love small county museums. They are full of lots of interesting stuff and are very real and approachable. The White Pine museum has a replica of a fossil cave bear skeleton that was found nearby. It also had a 1940s era washing machine that reminded Duke of what his Mom used when he was little, a toy cattle truck like Duke played with when he was little and even  a coke machine like the one we have in our kitchen.



Day 7 -  Ely to Elko

On Saturday we drove to Elko through the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Ruby Mountains. The drive up Lamoille Canyon into the heart of the Ruby Mountains was stunning. The glacial scenery reminded me of being in the Alps. I love Nevada scenery but this was not like the rest of Nevada. It was a highlight of the trip.



In Elko we ate dinner at one of Elko's Basque dinner houses – Biltoki. It was the best meal of the trip and we had some very good food. The steak was thick juicy, and seared on the outside. the fries were hot and fresh and I'm sure had never been frozen, the vegies, soup and salad were OK and the price was very reasonable.

Day 8 – Elko to Reno (home)

Before leaving Elko we toured the Northeastern Nevada Museum another really interesting local museum. My favorite things to see were the wooden strap on shoes with cattle hooves attached to the bottom used by an old cattle rustler who was eventually caught and jailed. The picture below is me in front of the Ruby Valley Pony Express Cabin in front of the museum.


If you would like to see all the pictures from our trip they are on Flickr here.

I've also made a Google Map of the trip. I'm still learning to use Google maps.

Carson Pass and Fall Colors

Yesterday we did an all day drive with some friends from the Newcomers Club down to Carson Pass to see if the fall colors were out yet in the mountains. We were a bit early but it was still a beautiful day.


Along the way we stopped to see Snow Shoe Thompson's cave.


We also explored a bit a Carson pass where you can still see the marks on the trees from where the pioneers used chains to haul their wagons over the pass.


We had some great sandwiches for lunch in Markleeville.



If you would like to see all of my pictures from our drive they are available on Flickr here.

Todd Martin – Chief Chef, Owner and Founder of the Tucson Tamale Company – Episode 7 Marion Vermazen Podcast

Todd Martin, the founder, owner and chief chef of the Tucson Tamale Company is my guest for this episode of the Marion Vermazen Podcast. Todd started the Tucson Tamale Company in November of 2008. We talked about starting a business, about making tamales, about his plans to grow the company and much more.

To listen to the  podcast you can use the following link.



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