A-Z of summer
is just around the corner, but we here at the RN&R offices still have to come in to work and produce this fine weekly newspaper, so it’s not all 24/7 fun in the sun for us. But you can bet that we’ll be out and about on the weekends, drinking and adventuring and taking in the local art and entertainment scene. We’ve compiled an A-Z list of summer activities for you to reference throughout the next few months. So kick up your feet, strap on a harness or open up another beer—summer’s here.
A is for astronomy, the universe above. The Fleishmann Planetarium has a full menu for any summer, including feature movies and star programs. Just this month, dome showings began of Coral Reef Adventure and Tales of the Maya Skies. Added to those are the long running Pink Floyd’s The Wall (weekly showings) and Attack of the Space Pirates (daily). For more information, go to http://planetarium.unr.nevada.edu/Now_Showing.html#Light .
B is for Bowers, a historical place. The Bowers Mansion county park is located on Old 395 19 miles south of Reno. (Some websites say it’s on Franktown Road, but if you see the turnoff to Franktown, you’ve gone too far.) The 1860s mansion itself was built by wealthy Comstockers Lemuel and Eilley Bowers. It is surrounded by a spring-fed swimming pool, picnic areas, a playground, and the graves of the Bowers can be reached with a small hike up the hill. Some of the most interesting features were stripped from the property in an early 1970s renovation, but it remains a charming, easygoing park. More information is at www.co.washoe.nv.us/parks/parkdetails~pkid=1
C is for Capitol, where business gets done. At one time this building contained offices for the executive, legislative and judicial branches. It should be noted that technically, this is no longer Nevada’s capitol, though everyone calls it that. By definition, the capitol is the structure containing the representative assemblies, and the Nevada Senate and Assembly in 1971 moved into a new structure a few hundred feet south, across the Capitol Mall. Now, one of the old legislative halls upstairs is used for large meetings and the other is a museum, and the former Supreme Court room is also a meeting room. There are portraits of all the governors in the building and a frieze runs near the ceiling around the entire first floor. On the mall there is statuary of significant figures in state history and a memorial to fallen police.
D is for Donner, that infamous name. But Donner Lake’s reputation is significantly more positive than that of the Donner Trail. An easier reach than most of Lake Tahoe, Donner has boating, fishing, hiking trails, public docks and a number of inns and restaurants. The original two-lane U.S. 40 follows the north shore, then rises to the architecturally striking Donner Pass Bridge. The elaborate Donner Memorial State Park is on the east end of the lake, but for just a day’s picnicking and swimming, the West End Beach is more easygoing. Donner Lake is immediately adjacent to the equally interesting pioneer lumber town of Truckee, also filled with good restaurants.
E is for elevation, so look to the sky. There are peaks all around us—Peavine, Mt. Rose, Sun Mountain, Crystal Peak, Pond Peak. Climb some of them. Or if you are even more ambitious, climb Boundary Peak—the highest mountain in the state. Or there’s Wheeler Peak, one of the most picturesque—and it comes with the bonuses of the Lehman cavern and a grove of bristlecone pines, the second oldest living things on Earth. Mountaineering has it all over climbing a wall that was designed to be climbed.
F is for fountains, creating a splash. In Carson City when you visit the capitol, walk directly across Carson Street and see the large animal fountain. In the early 20th century, a group called the National Humane Alliance donated fountains to dozens of towns around the nation for cattle, horses, dogs, cats and people. The Carson City fountain was installed in 1909. There is a large circular trough above for the largest animals, and smaller fountains closer to ground level for smaller animals. Emblems marking the location on the Lincoln Highway through Carson, but those were removed in the 1990s.
In Sparks, take your children to the fountain in the plaza on C Street in front of the downtown theaters. A couple of dozen nozzles shoot streams of water up out of the sidewalk. The happy cries of children ring out all summer long. Even if you don’t have children, it’s a delight to watch.
G is for geology, that rocky subject. At the Mackay School of Mines on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, there is a small mining museum that is little-known even to residents. Not just a collection of rocks—though those are certainly there—it includes mining machinery, historic photographs, maps and a mock-up mine superintendent’s office. For more information, surf to www.mines.unr.edu/museum .
H is for hot dogs, all you can eat. Some foods just taste better in the summer—like the humble hot dog. The dogs at Aces Ballpark are pretty good, though they’ll cost you an arm. And if you decide to get a beer, about all they’ve got is banana-flavored Coors Light, which will cost you a leg. (Seriously? You’ve never noticed that Coors Light tastes like banana?) If you’re of a more vegetarian persuasion, they offer tasty veggie and even vegan dogs, along with beef, turkey and pork, over at Freeman’s Natural Hotdogs, 106 California Ave., 322-3434.
I is for Icky, our favorite to drink,
After a pitcher, you’ll stop and you’ll think,
This beer is the best, a great IPA,
But my bladder is full, so now I pee, eh?
But then I’ll want more, so please go pour us
Another pitcher of Ichthyosaurus.
J is for jail, where we’d not like to stay. We drink, and we drive, but never the same day. Nobody likes to party more than your friends here at the RN&R. If you’re out and about at an event in downtown Reno, particularly one with alcohol, you’re as like to bump into a RN&R staffer as not. So by all means, party it up this summer. But be smart and be careful. If you’re going to partake of illicit substances, know your sources and take it easy. Remember this rule: Never break more than one law at a time. Oh, and this rhyme:
When you’re out drinking, remember this, please,
To call up a cab, just dial seven threes.
K is for kisses, all hot and wet. According to some sages, lips taste best when they’re drenched in sweat. Summer’s the right time for making out … on the beach, in the car, on your roof, at the park, or anywhere else—especially in public places where it will be sure to disgust, embarrass and irritate passersby. You’re already all hot and bothered. The more lascivious letters—Q, for example—might encourage a full bodice-ripping intercourse, but there’s something to be said for the small, innocent pleasure of a big, wet kiss on a hot summer day.
L is for Lake Tahoe, you’d be a fool not to go. Kind of a no-brainer. It’s summer, and one of the most beautiful bodies of water on the planet is less than an hour away. Sure, you might want to uncover some hidden cultural gems, but sometimes the cliché attractions are the cliché attractions because they’re awesome. It’s deep and it’s blue, surrounded by crisp mountain air, beautiful beaches, and aromatic pine trees. For grub, we recommend T’s Mesquite Rotisserie, 901 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village, 831-2832. Those burritos would almost be worth the drive even without the gorgeous lake.
M is for music, the Bard’s “food of love.” Locals love to complain about the music scene here in Reno. And sure, we’re not Portland or Seattle or Austin, Tex. (Reno does however have a better music scene than Austin, Nev.) But often the people who complain the loudest are the ones who spend their Saturday nights at home playing Xbox or knitting scarves or whatever. You’ve gotten halfway through this alphabet guide now, so that probably means you’re willing to read our paper, so you probably know that the best place to find out about the musical happenings in this town every week is right here in the RN&R. Check out our weekly concert grid. Whether you’re into rock or jazz, dubstep or lieder, grindcore or easy listening, there’s something going on every week. So get off your ass.
N is for neighbors, the people next door. Sure, you’ve had naked dance parties on Friday nights, realizing a moment too late that your neighbor can see in your dining room window. And has. It’s their precious look of abject terror and embarrassment that will linger in your memory when you try to invite them over for a beer or a cognac and a Cuban. But invite them, you should. You never know when somebody’s going to have to accept delivery of that package from erowid.com.
O is for open, and maybe a case. What letter better symbolizes summer better than the letter O? As in open a beer, open-air sex, or open your heart. There are many art openings this summer that will demand your presence. Open-air markets and yard sales are great summertime activities. In fact, O brings many wonderful things to mind—as long as it’s not Oprah, who may distract from the Big O we’re really thinking of—but as long as you keep an open mind, you’re going to have a great summer.
P is for Pyramid, no finer lake. Pick your summer activity: Lizard hunting, check. Wakeboarding, check. Stargazing, check. Beer drinking, check. Rattlesnake hunting, scorpion searching, rock skipping, check, check, check. Tahoe fans aside, there is not better body of water in the region for doing all those things that fall under the heading, “Fun in the sun.” Just remember, this is tribal land, so show respect and pay your fees for day use or for camping. After all, P also stands for pokey, and that’s where you don’t want to end up.
Q is for quickie, with someone you like. C’mon, what newspaper do you think you’re reading? People you love definitely get the longies. Here’s our idea. Grab a blanket, one of those ready to eat, complete, deep-fried chicken dinners at the deli at any local grocery store, a bottle of red, a corkscrew and a couple hard plastic glasses, and go someplace remote but scenic (and not too remote, there’s a certain button that gets pushed at the prospect of getting caught), drink the wine and then do it like your ancestors did—at home, in the dark and ashamed.
R is for rocks, when learning to climb. You know you’ve had the exact same thought: I’d sure like to climb to the top of that thing at CommRow. You held off all winter, but now the kid is out of school, and you’re again eyeing that top set of handholds. Isn’t this the kind of training you’d need before you tackle Half-Dome in August? Doesn’t this seem like more fun than looking at the fat rump in the front row of the cardio section at the gym? The prices are pretty reasonable, and this might be the sort of thing your children can do while you have a quick cocktail, or whatever. (See the letter Q.) Check out http://commrow.com/BaseCamp.asp for more information.
S is for siesta, the best kind of nap. Is it just us, or does siesta have connotations of outdoor sleeping? It’s the hottest part of the afternoon. You haven’t been day drinking—yet—but an after-lunch lethargy has descended upon you. You bought that hand-woven hammock during your last trip to Tijuana to buy over-the-counter pain medicine and antibiotics. It’s been gathering dust in the front closet since the day you got back. Well, you can’t wait for the cherry trees to grow large enough to support it. Why don’t you just lay a nice big towel down in the shade and have a snooze?
T is for Truckee, the river downtown. Be prepared to purchase new inner tubes after your ride down the Truckee River because it’s going to be a rocky ride unless you go this week. But there’s always the kayak course at Wingfield Park. And if you’re really, really lucky, while you’re enjoying a cold, frosty beverage at the Sierra Tap House, you’ll see a beautiful creature swept off his or her feet and thrust downriver. Acting with unusual speed and stamina—almost like a superhero—you race down to the steps, where you thrust out your hand, grasping, grasping, and pull the beautiful one to shore. In gratitude, your quarry buys you another drink. That happened to us last summer.
U is for underwater, the murky lake depths. Explore the ecosystem below Lake Tahoe by scuba diving. Altitude diving is a bit different from snorkeling, so take a training course and use professional-grade gear. Take some pictures while you’re at it—rent or buy an inexpensive underwater camera and capture the fish, plants and who knows what else. And heck, if you really want to dive deep, we’re only about three hours away from the Pacific Ocean. For Tahoe scuba equipment or lessons, check out www.sierradive.com or www.laketahoequest.com/scubaDive.htm .
V is for vacation, that elusive treat. Summer is the time to take that vacation you’ve been putting off for months. Depending on your destination, take a few days—or weeks, if you’re lucky—and go adventuring. Or take a mental vacation instead, and hang out at home. Catch up on some reading while basking in the sun. And turn your phone off while you’re at it. Don’t worry, those missed calls and emails will still be waiting for you when you get back.
W is for wanderlust, a longing to explore. If you decide to take a vacation, might as well cross some bucket list locations off your list and go big. Take a road trip or cash in those frequent flier miles. Or, if you’d rather stay close to home, check out the Wanderlust Tahoe festival at Squaw Valley from July 26-July 29. Watch performances by Ziggy Marley and Beats Antique, do some yoga, and get inspired by motivational speakers. www.squaw.com .
X is for x-treme, though it’s a bit of a stretch. We live in a natural playground, so challenge yourself to break out of your comfort zone. Try the rock climbing wall at CommRow (see “Rocks”), or hike up the mountain to Job’s Peak in Alpine County—a difficult hike, but worth it to see the great view of the Carson Valley. If you’re really a thrill seeker, try hang gliding, white water rafting or sky diving. Local Company Thermal Sky Sports offers lessons and equipment. www.thermalskysports.com .
Y is for yoga, so prepare your limbs. What’s great about yoga is that you can do it anywhere—at a festival, on the beach, in the desert, in your house. It’s free, if you watch some tutorials on YouTube, or you can rally your friends together and take a class. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try acroyoga, which is a combination of yoga, acrobatics and spirituality. Yoga is especially fun when you can jump into a pool or lake afterward to cool off. Be careful trying the tree pose or downward facing dog while intoxicated—unless, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.
Z is for ziplining, so hold on tight. Despite a recent episode of South Park lamenting over the boredom of ziplining, few things are cooler than gliding through the forest hooked only to a harness. Ziplining is an easy day trip and it might satiate the adrenaline junkie in you without breaking the bank. www.ziptahoe.com.