We Finally Visited the National Automobile Museum in Reno

Bill Harrah who built and owned Harrah's Casinos had a enormous car
collection (over 4000 cars). When he died in 1978 most of the cars were
sold. But 175 of them became the core of the National Automobile Museum
in Reno
. It is located right on the Truckee River downtown across from
the Reno Aces Baseball Stadium

Duke's brother Jim and his wife Marilyn were visiting last week. Their visit gave us the perfect excuse to finally visit the National Automobile Museum. We have lived in Reno for three years and this was our first visit to the car museum. We took a docent lead tour. The guide was fantastic. He knew a lot about the cars and he made the tour really interesting. I can't over emphasize how much I enjoyed the museum. I'm ready to go again.


I especially liked the early camping displays.


and this 1956 Corvette and matching pedal car.


After touring the Car museum we were hungry so we headed over to the Nugget Diner and shared a couple of Awful Awfuls the best hamburger and fries in Reno.


If you would like to see all my pictures from the National Automobile Museum and the Nugget Diner they are available on Flickr here.

April 2010 Road Trip in North Central Nevada – Falls Creek Falls – Jacks Creek – Elko

A couple of weeks ago Duke and I took a short road trip through north central Nevada. When we take a road trip we like to get off the beaten track and follow the back roads. What that means in Nevada is that we often go hours without seeing another vehicle. It also means that we see a lot of gorgeous scenery and interesting wildlife.

On our most recent trip we camped the first night in the Santa Rosa Range in Falls Creek Canyon and hiked to Falls Creek Canyon Waterfall.  Falls Creek Canyon is just off US highway 95 forty miles north of Winnemucca. The camp site is about four miles east of the highway at the end of a very rough rutted road. It was a beautiful site and we had it to ourselves.

The hike to the waterfall is short and relatively easy. We had to cross the creek a few times and I got my feet wet. Duke did better. The route is described as hike 5 in the book 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada by Mike White. We were there April 25th and there was a lot of water in the creek and snow on the peaks surrounding us. We were camped right next to the creek.




It was a wonderful warm evening. We cooked our steaks over the fire and watched a marmot play nearby, When the full moon came up it was the perfect end to a wonderful day.



From Falls Canyon we drove around to the east side of the Santa Rosa Range to the Singas Creek trail head which is described as hike 6 in 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada. We did a short hike and then headed east across the Owyhee desert to the Independence Mountains and camped at the Jacks Creek camp ground. Along the way we had a flat tire and had to turn around at one point when the road was washed out. Since we no longer had a spare tire and since a big storm was coming in we decided that it probably wouldn't be prudent to explore any remote back country roads. so we headed to Elko.


We stopped to look for interesting rocks and fossils at several sites in the area including the old mining town of  Tuscarora.


Elko is a town we stayed in on one of our road trip last year. There are four Basque restaurants in Elko. Last year we ate at and really enjoyed Biltoki. This time we tried The Star Hotel Basque Restaurant which is the oldest of the four. They were very busy even though we were eating late. We also noticed that there were a lot more woman than men. That was undoubtedly because Elko is such a  thriving mining town. The food was wonderful , the service was great and ambiance was fun.

If you would like to see all of my pictures form our trip you can see them on Flickr here.

Basin and Range by John McPhee

Every list of suggested reading to learn about Nevada includes John McPhee's book Basin and Range. Basin and Range is about Nevada's landscape and geology along interstate 80. 


People who've never been to Nevada often assume that Nevada is one big flat dessert. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Driving across Nevada you pass mountain range after mountain range separated by flat basins. It is a stunning landscape. Mcphee describes how this landscape was formed and how geologists came to understand it. Duke and I recently took another road trip exploring northern Nevada. I finished reading Basin and Range on the trip. It was fun to see some of the formations McPhee describes and to understand what we were seeing. Basin and Range is about geology, the history of geology and the history of Nevada.



McPhee is a fantastic writer. His descriptions are lyrical and his science is engaging and understandable. Many years ago I read his book The Control of Nature. In it he describes our attempts to control mud slides in southern California and Lava flows in Iceland. That book has stayed in my mind as very few books do. Basin and Range was as compelling and memorable.

Washoe County Republican Precinct Meetings

Saturday I attended the Washoe County Republican Precinct Meeting for my precinct. Two years ago when I attended the Republican caucus for the presidential election there were several hundred people and McQueen High School was overflowing. I would guess that 40 to 50 precincts meet at McQueen High School. There are 261 registered Republicans in my precinct and I have no idea how many Republicans in all the precincts that meet at McQueen.


The meeting started out with all the attendees from all the precincts in the entry way of the High School getting instructions. I would estimate that there were about 50 people in total attending. We split up into our precincts and went to separate rooms for the actual precinct meeting. There were two people from my precinct, myself and another woman. So I was the meeting chairman and she was the secretary. We elected ourselves as delegates to the county convention and central committee. Then we voted in the straw poll for our choices for the senatorial and gubernatorial races. Then we adjourned.

You would think that if you were a hard working well organized candidate you would try to attend the these meetings or at least have someone there representing you. It was interesting to note that only two candidates were represented. It makes me wonder if the other candidates even care about the people they would represent if they were elected.

It was quite impressive that Sharron Angle's husband was handing out campaign literature and she was at the meeting. Sharron Angle is running for the U.S. Senate. Angle and her husband live in our general area. She said she was going  to try to attend  all the precinct meetings around Reno. I think the other represented candidate was Brian Sandoval but I'm not sure. I talked to Sharron briefly and had my picture taken with her. I was impressed with her and I liked the fact that she makes her positions very clear on her web site. Many candidates don't. I was a little put off by the fact that another woman I talked to said that Angle is just too much of a right wing fringe candidate. My politics are probably closer to independent than to Republican but I find the whole political process fascinating.


The straw poll ballots were counted later in the afternoon at the Washoe County Republican headquarters. I got  an email with the results.

Jim Gibbons            45.6%
Brian Sandoval       41.4%
Mike Montandon     12.6%
Brian Krolicki             0.4%

Sharron Angle         42.9%
Sue Lowden            18.4%
Danny Tarkanian    15.2%
Mark Amodei           10.0%
Bill Parson                  5.8%
Brian Krolicki              5.5%
Robin Titus                 1.3%
Chuck Kozak              0.3%
Mike Wiley                  0.3%
Brian Sandoval          0.3%

Men to Match My Mountains by Irving Stone

I have read quite a bit of American history over the last year. I've enjoyed it and learned a lot. But everything I have been reading took place in the eastern half of the U.S.  So I decided I wanted to read Men to Match My Mountains by Irving Stone about the explorers and early settlers of California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. I wanted to be able to visit the locations and learn more about the history of the area where I live.


Men to Match my Mountains was written in 1956. The writing is not as compelling as the best current history writing but the story itself is so compelling that the book is a classic. It took me a long time to read. In fact it is overdue at the library. But Men to Match my Mountains filled the bill and enlightened me about history that I knew little about.

It was fun to read about Theodore Judah who laid out the route for the first train route across the Rockies. I followed that route when I took the train back from Sacramento last week.

It was interesting to read about how California was settled by the Mexicans, how the Americans moved in, the enormous role that John Sutter played in settling the area around Sacramento, and how the American Lieutenant John C. Freemont  in 1844 on one of his exploring trips came south from the Oregon border.

"The next two weeks were spent in this frightening death like country until the party reached a thirty five mile long lake which Fremont called Pyramid Lake and from which his men gorged themselves on salmon trout. On this newly garnered strength they pushed through to the present site of Reno and south of that to the Carson River."

Last summer Duke and I explored that area north of Reno in a wonderful road trip.

Virginia City which is a very short drive southeast of Reno was the center of the silver mining that was done on the Comstock Lode. It was fascinating to read how the rich silver deposits were discovered and opened up.

The miners were looking for gold and ignoring the fact that the Mexicans kept talking about how much silver was in the area. B. A. Harrison  from Truckee Meadows collected some rock from the area and sent it to be assayed. The editor of the Nevada Journal in Nevada City, California split it in two parts and sent it to two independent assayers.

"On July 1, 1858 the Nevada Journal published the results of the two assays: the black rock was incredibly rich. It not only proved the Mexican cry of "Mucho plata" with its one third assay of silver, but also contained high proportions of gold, antimony and copper.

Hundreds of miners walked out of the California mines and made their way over the Sierra Nevada on horseback, muleback and foot. The first legal claim office was setup in V.A. Houseworth's saloon. In Gold Canyon the old timers were lost in a flood of newcomers. By mid July all roads and trails over the mountains were jammed with thousands of men pouring into the new fields."

The money that came out of the Virginia City area is staggering. In 1875 "the Consolidated Virginia and adjoining California mine were the richest producing mines in the history of the world." At that time they paid over $1,000,000 a month in dividends  Today Virginia City is a small little town with an economy that seems to be centered only on tourism. What a change.

I'm looking forward to continuing to read about this area and to traveling around to see the sites I am reading about. Can you recommend any good books?

Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center at University of Nevada Reno

I've lived in Reno for two and a half years and there are Reno places I haven't been and Reno things I haven't done. I made a list. This year I want to do it all.

One place on my list is the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center at the University of Nevada Reno. We had a friend from the Bay area visiting the last few days. We were going to go snowshoeing but the weather has been kind of crumby (Rain!) so we decided to check out the Planetarium.


The planetarium is relatively small it has a 30 foot diameter dome over a 60 seat theater. The small museum and the gift shop are free and the shows in the planetarium are pretty cheap. As a senior I got in for $4 and my friend got in for $6. We saw The Living Sea show which was OK. The photography was pretty amazing but I thought the commentary was pretty boring. I wish we had done one of the digital starshows.


The free museum and gift shop were really cool. The gift shop had neat stuff like a book on soda pop experiments, ant farms and crystal growing kits. Purchases at the gift shop are tax exempt.

The museum had large rotating earth and moon globes, meteorites, a fascinating display about optical illusions and and a fun black hole demonstrator. For 25 cents we got several ball bearings to drop into the vortex and watch them orbit and accelerate into the hole. 

012 009 


I picked up a brochure about becoming a member of the Friends of the Planetarium and also a membership application for the Astronomical Society of Nevada. The whole visit was fun. I would recommend it.

An Interesting Story – Jimmy Beans Wool – Reno and Online

Even if you are totally uninterested in knitting you have to find the story of Jimmy Beans Wool in Reno an interesting one. The company was founded in 2002 by Laura and Doug Zander.  Laura focused on the store and the yarn and Doug developed the web site. 



Last Saturday I stopped at Jimmy Beans Wool to look at a knitting
pattern that I had found from their web site. There were two cash registers open and a line waiting to
check out. Jimmy Beans is Reno's best knitting store. A yarn
distributor I know told me that Jimmy Beans doesn't buy from distributors
because they sell so much yarn that the yarn companies want to sell to
them directly. Business sure seems to be good.

According to an article about them in Fortune Small Business article in July of 2007 the on-line business at that time accounted for 70% of their business. They recently expanded their back room into the store front next door. Often when I am in the store I can hear people on the phone with customers taking orders.

The shopping experience on their website is wonderful. Browsing the web site just makes me want to buy yarn and knit. Right now they have cashmere sock yarn in delicious colors on the front page. They have hooked me on the possibilities. I am probably going to buy some. 


Perhaps because I am a computer programmer at heart I find it inspiring that this website is their own, developed by them. I've always
thought that it would be fascinating to develop a web site and sell on line. But what a lot of
work. When you look at the complexities of the Jimmy Bean website and
store and yet how well it is designed for ease of use you really have
to admire the fact that the web site was created from scratch. 

Bottom line is that Jimmy Beans Wool is a real Reno success story. If you want to create your own business, work really hard, be a bit lucky and I am sure put a lot of money and sweat equity into your effort Jimmy Beans is proof that it is really possible to succeed.