Reno, Nevada

The Biggest Little City

Nevada has never been a state I have desired to go visit, let alone live for thirteen weeks. I am sure Nevadans feel the same way about Indiana. I have never been to Las Vegas, and as far as geography goes, I thought Reno was located where Las Vegas is, and vice versa. When I think about Nevada, the desert, casinos, and the wild west come to mind. I would like to apologize for the misunderstanding. Nevada is exactly that, but also a whole lot more!

If you just look at a map it is easy to see why this place would be quite beautiful. There are more mountain ranges in Nevada that in any other state in the United States. It is home to many national parks, trails, and refuges including; Great Basin National ParkLake Mead National Recreation AreaDeath ValleyTule Springs Fossil BedsPony Express National Historic TrailRed Rock CanyonBlack Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon TrailsHumboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. There are wild mustangs, burros, antelope, big horn sheep, and black bears that roam and run around here. Wildlife is plentiful. Sagebrush, the native flower is a beautiful sage green color in the summer but becomes yellow in the fall and you will see it everywhere!

If you are looking for minerals, Nevada has a lot of natives gems. Two-thirds of all the gold found in the U.S.A. is from here along with silver, copper, and black opals. Nevada is also the best state to search for turquoise of various shades.

The fires that began in July and August in California (the Carr, Ferguson, and Mendacino Complex) have become some of the largest record fires in history. Unfortunately my first experiences in Reno were filled with an awful lot of smoke haze that settled for weeks.

MIDTOWN

This old mining state has become hip with lots of new restaurants in the downtown, sparks, and midtown areas. With the amount of thrift stores and art placed throughout the city, it is no surprise that Burning Man takes place just outside Reno in the desert. Everywhere you look, artists have taken walls or something as basic as an electric box and turned it into something beautiful. Some of the art from Burning Man actually ends up in the Playa Art Park downtown off Virginia St.

Midtown is an area south of downtown Reno that has been rebuilt by entrepreneurs with a very young, hippy feel. A great resource for finding mural locations and the artist behind them can be found here. The Reno Mural Expo is Oct 13-15, which showcases thirty artists who transform thirty-one walls and alleys into an outdoor urban art gallery. I am excited to see what new murals are added to the city. Reno is no longer a gambling town, but a district rich in culture with coffee shops, bars, restaurants, night life, thrift stores, tattoo and piercing studios, art galleries, yoga studios, photography studios, farmer’s markets, food truck Fridays, musicals, concerts, and shopping for the whole family. There are plenty of places to eat outside, inside, on the patio, along the river, or on the rooftop. There are some really great places to eat in Midtown compared to the rest of downtown Reno. I included some suggestions from my favorite places below. Also, check out a sliver of art that is found around Reno.

The Truckee River goes through the heart of downtown. It is beautiful and unlike how you would picture a desert town surrounded by mountains, it has lush green river trees with dark blue rapid waters flowing through the heart of the city. Along this river and through downtown is a really nice walking and cycling trail. Unfortunately, like any larger city there are some downsides. The homeless population is very present here. If you are used to being in the city, you will get past that. Just be kind and do what you can to help when you can.

Truckee, Ca

If you follow the Truckee River west from Reno, it will take you to an adorable town right off the railroad tracks called Truckee in California. Depending where you are coming from in Reno, it is about a twenty to thirty minute drive southwest on I80 W. This town is one of my favorite day trips to take from Reno or stop at when returning from north Tahoe. There are so many great restaurants here and shopping is bountiful.

Virginia City

Highway 50 was the first part of the Lincoln Highway and America’s first paved transcontinental road. It is also called the “loneliest road in America” due to only seeing approximately 600 cars a day. You can travel from Reno on Hwy 50 going East towards Middlegate Station and Austin, NV, just under two hours. If you take Hwy 50 from Carson City East about 20 mins, and you will arrive at Virginia City. This is the best preserved western town in Nevada, and maybe even the country. Silver was discovered on top of the Comstock Lode in 1859 and a little known Samuel Clemens first used the pen name Mark Twain here in 1863 while reporting at the Territorial Enterprise. The Red Dog Saloon is known for having a lot of big name musicians start here, such as The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. The Silver Queen is a hotel and bar that Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) used to sit at and write. It is also a wedding chapel. Inside there is a fifteen foot tall “Silver Queen” on the wall that has a gown full of over three thousand silver dollars minted in Carson City.

There are so many shops along the wooden boardwalk to check out here. This is also the perfect place to pickup some native stones, such as my favorites the ajax torqouise, dry creek turquoise, and blue ice turquoise. If you are not a fan of turquoise, there are plenty of other options! For the best selection, check out Jewelry House, Stone Age Quarry, and Blue Buffalo. Talk to Mike at the Blue Buffalo, he is the expert on stone authenticity and has some amazing Native American pieces. You can score a beautiful geode of agate or red jasper at the Stone Age Quarry for a great deal! Enjoy the drive along Hwy 50, it is a stunning drive through the mountains… and don’t forget to look out for the wild horses.

LAKE TAHOE

My first travel assignment as a nurse has taken me to this big little city. The first week, I decided to check out and get comfortable around Lake Tahoe. From Reno, you can take I80 W to 267 S which will take you into California through Truckee to North Lake Tahoe, or Hwy580/285 S to 431 (Mt Rose Hwy) S which will take to the East Lake Tahoe or the Nevada side. Either way, it is about fourty-five minutes from Reno to Lake Tahoe. One of the oldest lakes in the world, Lake Tahoe is around 20 million years old. It is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada and the largest alpine lake in North America. With a circumference of 71 miles, maximum depth of 1,644 feet, length of 21.3 miles, width of 12.2 miles, and an elevation of 6,229 feet. The views are breathtaking. There is no bad view here. I was told if the Empire State Building stood in this lake, the top of the tower wouldn’t even reach the surface.

There is so much going on during the summer here. The Shakespeare Festival has ballet, musicals, plays, and orchestra almost everyday of the week during the summer. I was able to see Macbeth in late August and the sunset was spectacular. Listening to the waves crash into the beach as a Scottish Macbeth is speaking between three evergreen trees and an almost full moon above the mountains. Magical! The color of this water and the rocks that are part of it, are an unreal blue-green. There is no bad day here. So go hiking or grab a book or a kayak and play while the sun warms the air. Eagle Falls Loop at Emerald Bay is just a quick hike for a beautiful view. Be sure to go sailing with Tahoe Sailing Charters in Tahoe City. What a beautiful way to see the lake, especially at sunset. For $70 you will partake on a two hour cruise with free appetizers and booze. Prosecco cheers!

California Side

Kings Beach

Tahoe City

Emerald Bay

South Lake Tahoe

Nevada Side

Incline village

Sand Harbor

Secret Harbor/Secret Cove

Zepher Cove

TESTED & APPROVED

FOOD

BREWS

SWEETS

COFFEE

activities

Whether it is the food, the art, or the mountains that are calling. Check out Reno, Nevada and you will be pleasantly surprised.