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By Brett Fisher The last vacation I took was more than five years ago in Las Vegas. Being the country boy that I am, my arrival to the “Entertainment Capital of the World” was filled with both excitement and angst. I hadn’t been back to Sin City since I passed through with my folks in 1986. Those were still the days of Rat Pack-era hotel casinos that hadn’t been razed yet to make way for bigger, brighter and more extravagant resorts. Fremont Street in the heart of downtown was still an actual street without the "experience," per se. From my home in Carson City, I made my way across U.S. Highway 50 east and down to U.S. Highway 95 at Schurz. Then south all the way into Vegas. Cresting that last rise out of Indian Springs and dropping into the Las Vegas Valley, the first man-made landmark that caught my eye was the Stratosphere, the tallest free-standing observation tower in the United States rising 1,150 feet above the city and taunting its Seattle look-a-like more than a thousand miles away. Traffic picked up seemingly all at once from the outskirts of the metro area, and before I knew it, I felt like Marlin and Dory getting caught up in the powerful East Australian Current. My hotel was the Excalibur, right on the Las Vegas Strip, so I had to go deep into the dragon’s lair and run smack-dab into its gaping maw. Before my vehicle even left the freeway, I was already a fish out of water — pun intended. I was admittedly slack-jawed by the time I reached my exit. In front of me was a shimmering Egyptian pyramid, a medieval castle straight out of storybook Arthurian legend, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower all within a few blocks of each other. Now I felt very out of sorts. Was this really Las Vegas or some sort of strange dream? It certainly wasn’t the Sin City I remember seeing briefly as a kid. I’d never seen so many taxis in one area, either. Obviously, I had never been to the Big Apple for comparison. Then there is the Strip at night: A cacophony of glittery neon making up a veritable sea of color and artificial light. Downtown Vegas is so bright, in fact, that I actually neglected to turn my headlights on more than once. There were all sorts of characters roaming the sidewalks up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, too. I met Marvel heroes Spider-Man, Iron-Man and Captain America all gathered together admiring my Superman t-shirt. They even invited me to join them. Not a bad impression to make for a guy advertising DC comics. There were also Michael Jacksons, Tina Turners and, of course, Elvis Presley impersonators. To borrow a phrase, I was feeling “all shook up” by this modern entertainment experience. But I eventually settled in and enjoyed my week-long urban adventure in Las Vegas. I credit the dozens of service industry workers and enthusiastic street personalities I came in contact with for helping me feel more comfortable and welcome in my unusual surroundings. If not for them and their friendliness, Las Vegas would have been just another check off my bucket list instead of somewhere I’d like to visit again. I did just that about a year later. This time I took an eastward detour at Tonopah to drive State Route 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway, so I could stop by the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel and feel what it's like to be a stone's throw from Area 51. I continued on eastward to the junction with State Route 93 and headed south on the Great Basin Highway through the Pahranagat Valley on my way to Interstate 15 and Mesquite. I visited Overton, parts of the Lake Mead Recreation Area and the Valley of Fire State Park before making my Vegas return. On the trip back home, I checked out Beatty, Tonopah, Goldfield and Hawthorne again along Highway 95. With two notches now on my belt from the Nevada Southland, I felt more like a local and less of a stranger. I was just beginning to get my Gila Monster on, in fact, when it was time to return to my little Northern Nevada oasis in Carson City. Although I came for the sights and tastes of the region, the people made my two trips both delightful and memorable. I am grateful to the front desk agents, valet attendants, park service personnel, food servers, retail cashiers — all added to my experience and made me feel more at home in a strange land. The fact is, no one I know likes to be out of place or feel that they don't belong. Nobody I know enjoys being treated as an outsider absorbing contemptible glares from locals. There is no worse feeling as a tourist than being unwelcome. That's why people can make the greatest difference, turning an ordinary vacation either into a trip to forget or one for the books. Considering there exists a rather spirited rivalry between North and South Nevada, I half expected to be treated more like a Red Sox fan at Yankee Stadium — or vice-versa — than a guest in the Mojave Desert. Thankfully, that wasn’t my experience at all. It should never be this way for any Nevada traveler. During National Travel and Tourism Week, I remember what it’s like to be a tourist, an out-of-towner, a visitor to an entirely new and exciting place. Having been one myself, I appreciate more those who choose to visit my town. Vive el turismo de Nevada and happy trails to all. — Brett Fisher is a former journalist and wannabe novelist living in Carson City.
Travel Nevada CARSON CITY — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has issued a proclamation declaring the second week of May as Travel and Tourism Week in the state. The proclamation, issued on May 3, comes as part of a broader national celebration of the travel and tourism industries in the United States. First declared as an official period of reflection and celebration of one of the nation’s most important industries by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, National Travel and Tourism Week has inspired destinations around the country to rally in support of tourism-related business for 36 years. This year, the key theme of National Travel and Tourism Week is that “Travel Matters.” The intent is to focus on how travel and tourism positively impacts the lives, jobs, economy and broader quality of life for Americans around the country. “In every pocket of America — from the largest cities to the smallest towns — travel matters,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “I, like so many others, got my start in the travel industry, and it shaped my life in ways I could have never imagined. This National Travel and Tourism Week, we’re celebrating how travel powers our economies, strengthens our communities, and changes our lives.” In Nevada in particular, tourism long has been an integral component of the state’s economic makeup. Nevada’s visitors have generated significant revenue for as long as the state has been a part of the union. For that reason, it is all the more appropriate that Gov. Sisolak will continue the rally in support of tourism business by proclaiming the second week of May as Nevada Travel and Tourism Week, extending the period of National Travel and Tourism Week’s celebration and drawing focus to Nevada’s vast, varied landscape and unique offerings. As reported in TravelNevada’s recent publication, Nevada’s Tourism Ecosystem, the state of Nevada has invested significant resources into promoting the region’s myriad attractions, and the economy has been positively impacted as a result. “Travel is of incredible importance to our nation — and to our state. In fact, tourism business supports one in nine American jobs, including over 463,000 in our state. It has also helped us to generate over $21 billion in state income, which has allowed us to invest in our schools and keep our state’s landmarks in good condition,” said Nevada Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall. “With this proclamation, we celebrate the incredible impact of travel and tourism on our communities, and invite everyone to join us in saluting this highly important industry, supporting pro-travel legislation, preserving, and promoting those features that make our Battle Born State one of the most exciting places in the nation.” To learn more about travel in the State of Nevada, visit TravelNevada.com. To find more information about National Tourism Week 2019, access the United States Travel Association’s home page.
Travel Nevada CARSON CITY — TravelNevada debuts five summer experiences in five Nevada territories, encouraging travelers to follow ancient Basque pilgrimages, traverse ghosts towns, explore alpine lakes and rock formations, practice mindfulness and view meteor showers from one of the last remaining dark skies. With the highest concentration of mountain ranges and the most federally owned land in the nation, Nevada’s unpaved trails attract outdoor adventurists with a nod to cowboys and artists past. From desolation to neon, Nevada’s eclectic culture reserves a road trip for every traveler this summer. Eat, sleep and troupe like the Basques in Cowboy Country… or watch the Man burn The Ruby Mountains, or the “Alps of America,” offer more than 300 miles of trails throughout 90,000 acres of high-desert wilderness. Backpackers, climbers, hunters and horseback riders flock to the famed Lamoille Canyon — a glacier-carved, natural landmark and home of the 40-mile Ruby Crest Trail. After a day of hiking or off-roading Nevada’s largest sand dunes in Winnemucca (elev. 4,400 feet), The Martin Hotel & Restaurant (established in 1898) boasts some of the state’s best Basque dining. Similarly, the Star Hotel in Elko has served family style portions of locally raised lamb and beef since 1910. Nevada’s settlement of Basque sheepherders at the turn of the century has worked its way into American culture, proven by the infamous Picon Punch — an Americanized boozy cocktail, named the official drink of Nevada. For a more eccentric experience, the annual Burning Man Festival welcomes over 70,000 citizens from the “default world” back to the “real world” in the Black Rock Desert. Suggested Road Trip: The Rubies Route: Lamoille Scenic Byway and Jarbidge Historic Townsite. Stargaze in Great Basin National Park — and bring a friend! It’s gonna get lonely along Highway 50. A region marked by iconic transportation routes, the Pony Express Trail pays tribute to hundreds of horseback riders who delivered the nation’s mail from 1860-61. Today, travelers can loosely follow the pilgrimage along Highway 50, dubbed the Loneliest Road in America. The eastward stretch from Carson City to Baker is a gateway to Nevada history (and prehistory). In the City of Fallon, taste third-generation gin and whiskey at Frey Ranch Estate Distillery, or trace ancient petroglyphs at Grimes Point. Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge and Sand Mountain attract birders and off-roaders; while agritourists can take a bite of a homegrown Heart of Gold Cantaloupe at the annual Cantaloupe Festival. Pick up a piece of Nevada-mined turquoise and handcrafted jewelry at Little Blue Bird Turquoise in Austin, or take an evening dip in Spencer Hot Springs. At the end of the easterly trek, recline your seats and open the sunroof to the largest national park in Nevada, Great Basin National Park. Home to limestone caves and Nevada’s second-tallest peak, Mt. Wheeler, Great Basin is also a coveted astronomical viewing site with almost zero light pollution. Recognized by the International Dark Sky Association, the park attracts thousands of nature enthusiasts during the Perseid Meteor Shower in August. Suggested road trip: Great Basin Highway: U.S. 93 from Vegas to Ely, covering 8 State Parks & Great Basin National Park. Meet the Lady in Red (or a little green man) in Nevada Silver Trails. Travelers through Nevada Silver Trails are equally likely to see ghosts, aliens or desert art. The eerie haul from Tonopah to Las Vegas marks dozens of abandoned towns, which greatly outnumber populated towns in Nevada. Enjoy a cocktail at the historic and newly renovated Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, and say hello to its resident ghost, the Lady in Red. Travel 30 minutes south to Goldfield (one of many ghost towns) for a walk through the International Car Forest — a collection of rusted, painted, up-turned vehicles. The Extraterrestrial Highway (State Route 375) bipasses Area 51 and leads travelers to Rachel, the “UFO Capital of the World.” With a population of less than 60 residents, The Little A’Le’Inn is the town’s only restaurant, bar and inn. Practice mindfulness and swoon over art in Reno-Tahoe. Lake Tahoe, North America’s largest alpine lake, is a focal point for summer travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. With water sports ranging from clear-bottom kayaks to scuba diving — and land sports spanning from mountain biking to golf — Lake Tahoe provides a mindful escape to a diverse natural backdrop. Rent bikes at Tunnel Creek Cafe for a loop to Spooner Lake, or paddle to various lakeside restaurants and bars using the Lake Tahoe Ale Trail Map. After basking on Tahoe’s iconic sun-roasted boulders and sandy beaches, a plunge in the lake reintroduces travelers to last winter’s snow melt. The annual Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor invites acclaimed performances to an outdoor amphitheater, July and August. The 45-minute drive from Lake Tahoe to Reno welcomes a bustling art scene at the annual Artown festival — a month-long series of performances, installations and artist events throughout multiple venues in July. Enjoy a self-guided brewery tour through Reno’s Riverwalk District; or shop Burning Man-inspired clothing boutiques and farm-to-table restaurants in Midtown. The Great Reno Balloon Race, the largest free hot-air ballooning event in the world, takes flight in September. Suggested Road Trip: Lake Tahoe Loop: Reno to Lake Tahoe, through Carson Valley, Carson City and Virginia City. Float on a desert oasis in Las Vegas Territory. Internationally recognized for gaming, entertainment and fine dining, Las Vegas Territory encompasses more than neon. Escape the summer heat with a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon, or take a sunrise hike up Mount Charleston, Nevada's fifth tallest peak. Despite sizzling desert temperatures, water sources are not scarce. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in America with 165,000 surface acres of water sprawling across 110 miles. In addition to leisure boating, swimming and wildlife viewing, travelers can enjoy a 12-mile float down the Black Canyon Water Trail, from Boulder City to Arizona’s Mojave Desert. The narrated experience brings wayfarers through Hoover Dam history, waterfalls, hot springs and land formations with the opportunity to spot desert bighorn sheep, osprey and great blue heron, among other wildlife. The Nevada Division of Tourism, also known as TravelNevada, is part of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. It promotes and markets Nevada as a tourism destination for domestic and international leisure and business travelers through its marketing and advertising programs and by coordinating partnerships between public and private entities. TravelNevada also administers grant programs for local entities to market travel and tourism offerings and publishes Nevada Magazine.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Last month, award winning advertising agency SJ Marketing turned its annual client-gift project into a community support campaign, raising more than $1,250 for area non-profits. Proceeds from the campaign, “You’ve Been Givted,” went to four local charities: Awaken Reno, a human trafficking awareness organization; PetNetwork, a Tahoe-based animal shelter; Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT), a local grassroots effort; and the Reno-Tahoe area Meals on Wheels organization. SJ Marketing owner Kelly Houston said, “When the team met to talk about this holiday’s client gifts, all the usual ideas fell flat. Everyone agreed that ‘stuff’ is fun to give and get, but, in the end we wanted to help others who could use some support which led us to the ‘Givted’ campaign.” “You’ve Been Givted” provided clients an option to support a local charity in lieu of a holiday gift from the agency. “The whole ‘givt’ concept signifies the combination of getting and giving a gift at the same time,” Houston said. Account services director Diana Evans said, “To come up with the charity list, each member of the SJ team offered their favorite local organization—one with personal meaning, then we all voted on the top four.” The agency’s creative team designed an email blast to its client list. The four charity options were included and clients asked to choose to support. SJ collected those choices and made donations to the charities in the clients’ names. About the CharitiesAwaken Reno provides support and rescue services to women and girls caught in commercial sexual exploitation. Their services include long-term and emergency support, mentorship, counseling, transitional housing, transportation, financial aid for college, legal and medical assistance, and a drop-in center. PetNetwork provides shelter and adoption services to unwanted animals in the Lake Tahoe area. The organization has been active in the area for more than 30 years. Families for Early Autism Treatment works to provide early intervention for children with autism in Northern California. The group focuses on advocacy for children from lower-income families. Meals on Wheels is a well-known national organization that supports more than 5,000 local senior nutrition programs in the U.S. The group provides meals and social interaction for isolated senior citizens to improve health and quality of life. Houston said, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of the campaign. And we’re so thankful to our clients for their awesome response and engagement in the effort. The whole thing was definitely a win.” SJ Marketing is a creative-based advertising agency founded in 1980 and located in Incline Village, Nev. The agency specializes in travel and tourism marketing, but has clients that reflect all aspects of business and trade. Creative services include marketing strategy, R&D, campaign concepting, design and implementation, digital marketing, email marketing, website development, SEO content campaigns and social media management. Visit the SJ Marketing website at sjmarketing.com.
Event Date: January 20, 2018 - 10:00am Guy Clifton, Travel Nevada CARSON CITY — History enthusiasts who missed November’s sold out Frances Humphrey Lecture on the future of Stewart Indian School have a second chance this Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Nevada State Museum. Sherry Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission, will give a brief history of the school and focus on future plans for the historic facility. The event is Saturday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. in the museum’s South Gallery. The doors open at 8:30 a.m. Stewart Indian School was established on the outskirts of Carson City in 1890 with a mission to assimilate American Indian children into mainstream culture. It was one of the first 25 of hundreds of boarding schools across the nation. The school was open for 90 years and saw more than 30,000 American Indian students educated in the stone buildings on the 110-acre campus. It closed in 1980 and many of the more than 60 buildings that remain have been boarded up. But change is under way. In its 2017 session, the Nevada Legislature approved Gov. Brian Sandoval’s request for $4.6 million in capital improvement funds to begin renovations of several of the school’s historic stone structures. In his State of the State Address before the start of the session, Sandoval called the school, “An important piece of Nevada that holds a special place in our state’s and nation’s history.” Immediate plans include converting the former Administration Building into a Welcome and Cultural Center, which will include a museum dedicated to sharing the story of the school. Its historic gymnasium and theater are also scheduled for renovation. Rupert, a University of Nevada, Reno graduate, is the first American Indian woman to be appointed a member of Sandoval’s cabinet. She is a past president of the Native American Chapter of the University of Nevada Alumni Association. She is the chairwoman of Nevada’s Indian Territory, a volunteer marketing arm of the Nevada Division of Tourism, and was awarded the 2007 and 2008 Excellence in Tourism Award as well as the 2011 Statewide Excellence in Tourism Award from the Nevada Division of Tourism for her success in promoting and advancing tourism in Indian Country. Rupert was also awarded the 2009 Human and Civil Rights Award from the Nevada State Education Association for her work in the advancement of Indian education in the state. She was elected president of the board of directors for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association in January 2014, and has been named to the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. The cost of the lecture is $8 for adults; free for museum members and children 17 and younger. Seating is limited and reservations can be made by contacting Mary Covington at [email protected] or 775-687-4810, ext. 224. For details about the lecture, contact Bob Nylen, curator of history, at [email protected] or 775-687-4810, ext. 245.