Summer guide

12 weekends of summer

Remember to schedule the sort of weekend you’ll soon forget.

Remember to schedule the sort of weekend you’ll soon forget.

Forget the 90-odd days of summer. They don’t count if you’re stuck in class or a cubicle, and you sure can’t trip balls, sell all your worldly goods or properly romance someone on a given Wednesday. You can on the weekends, though, so we’re here to guide you through the 12 that loom ahead.

Crafty Weekend

An artsy, crafty weekend is as fun as it gets, provided you don’t make it too big of a deal, since that messes with people’s creative mojo. In other words, don’t gather everyone ’round and be all clap-clapping, like, “Guys, we’ll start with a group selfie at 3:17. Billy, you sit here. It’s all nontoxic paint, and we’re making a collaborative composition with equidistant dots. They shall under no circumstances resemble eyeballs or nipples. And no splatters on the carpet, please.” Oh my god, fuck that. No. Find you some brown craft paper, cover your table or porch with it, add an armload of random art supplies and found or recycled objects, then see what happens. And consider the following:

An anchor item to get you started. It may be cool wood from a trash pile; a stretched canvas from Michael’s; an old box, shell or animal skull to paint; or string/wire for beads. Maybe it’s a pair of jeans you want to mess with. Whatever. Bring it out.

Inspiration pages pulled from magazines. Yep, just like in high school.

Glue, rubber cement, markers, pastels, brushes, paint or other obvious supplies (try the thrift store before you spend real money). And a water cup, too, if you’re painting.

Broken jewelry, mate-less earrings, fridge magnets you’re sick of, and other shiny things.

Small, somewhat flat items that have sentimental value but now live in a box, such as old greeting cards or pet tags. A collage or decoupage can give them new meaning.

Wine or beer or whatever, especially if you have guests over. Music helps, too.

Lost Weekend Weekend

We recognize that we are not the first media outlet to point out that Northern Nevada is a great place for binge drinking. However, we may be the first to promote the idea that the behavior is beneficial to mental health, as long as it’s kept to the confines of a two- or three-day weekend. This is more than a shopping list, it’s a way of life. Rule 1: Don’t be drunk in public. Rule 2: Don’t use social media.


Kioke Coffee: Kahlua, brandy, coffee

Bloody Mary: Vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt, pepper, celery salt and horseradish.


Mimosa: Sparkling wine and orange juice

Bellini: Sparkling wine and peach puree


Beer (pick your poison, go light to dark)


Whiskey negroni: Bourbon, Campari, Sweet Vermouth

Margarita: Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice


After dinner




Nothing beats fire and meat, but going green makes for an even better ’cue.

Medical marijuana

Two Advil


A Weekend of Day Trips

This is taking the easy way out—not staying home, but not having to make all the arrangements for a full-fledged week or weekend, either. Again, what you take with you will depend on the nature of the trip. A friend suggests, “Wine. Wine carrier with glasses and picnic utensils. Camera for taking photos and tablet for posting to Facebook.” Also take an ice chest, food and all the usual precautions in this desert state—water, above all.

Now, where to visit?

Nevada City, of course, one of locals’ favorites, filled with gold rush country color, jewelry stores, concerts

Lake Tahoe, not by any of the usual routes, but by driving south through Douglas County to Woodfords and then take one of the most beautiful drives in the West to Meyers (take a camera).

Loyalton, just over the border in California, is an 800-person logging community where, Wikipedia tells us (so it must be true), people are “escaping from the growing Reno-Tahoe area” and where there is the Loyalton Museum, great hiking, and—if you go for the Fourth of July holiday—a parade (it turns around and comes back, if you miss it the first time, and no, we’re not making this up) and the Rotary Picnic.

Highway 89 from tourist attraction Truckee to tourist attraction Tahoe should be itself an attraction, given the lovely scenery, the Truckee River burbling alongside, the entry to Squaw Valley where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held, and the River Ranch Restaurant where lunch can be had on a deck over the river.

Hot August Nights Weekend

Renoites love to complain about Hot August Nights. The annual week-long event in early August is a lurid recreation of 1950s and 1960s culture and the giant, loud, obnoxious gas-guzzling American monstrosities known as “classic cars.” You want an event where 55-year-old wingnuts in Hawaiian shirts and khaki shorts get drunk, pretend to be teenagers, and drive around, congesting Reno streets with smoke-spewing deathtraps that are louder than Godzilla howling into a Marshall amp? We got it. It’s basically an ongoing celebration of midlife crises.

However, when there was talk a couple of years ago about the event moving out of town many locals realized it was one of those things, like Park Lane Mall or Deux Gros Nez, that, although we love to complain about them, we’d sure miss if they were gone. Not only do those car people spend money like it was coal to burn, but the event is one of those things, like Brussels sprouts, the Twilight movies or The Eagles, that’s just fun to hate. So, here’s what you might need to learn to live with Hot August Nights.

Earplugs (This is the most essential item for a peaceful coexistence with HAN, especially if you live in earshot of the freeway or any of the major thoroughfares like Virginia Street or Kietzke Lane, and have any desire to sleep. The earplugs won’t just protect your ears from the sounds of the cars, but also from 74-year-old Mike Love doing his nasal best to recreate his teenage pipes while singing “Fun, Fun, Fun” for the 500,000 time.)

Air conditioning (They don’t call it Hot August Nights for nothing.)




A bitchin’ home stereo system on which to listen to any music made either after 1966 or before 1945

A street map of the valley on which to plot alternative travel routes through the city

A stack of books


Six liters of water

A reliable internet connection

One bottle of lube

Couple’s Weekend

Knowing what to pack here is difficult, given that the weekend could be anything from a chichi hotel to camping in the woods. We asked for advice from a friend, who offered these hints: “My favorite trip is Calistoga for hot springs and mud baths and massage and facial and wine and food and museum or historical site or classical music concert. I would bring a bathing suit, the New York Times crossword puzzle app, a little black dress and very high heels for dinner out, a reservation for car service to get around the wineries, and maybe a reservation for a balloon ride or something like that. A similar couple’s weekend in Northern Nevada would be a similar trip but to Walley’s Hot Springs. My list of things to bring would be the same, but the wine tasting tour is out so I would go to Genoa Bar and some antique shopping in the area. I love the Genoa Bar. I actually used to go there in the spring/summer almost every year because the area is so pretty that time of year. You could still do the balloon ride.” Sounds like a camera should also be on the to-take list.

So, the first thing needed is a destination. Suggestions, in addition to those above:

Zephyr Cove Resort, where are cabins for rent and a sternwheeler right at the dock for dinner cruises to Emerald Bay

Hot outside? Stick your nose in a cool book.

Willits, California, where the Hilary Swank/Jason Robards movie Heartwood was filmed, where Seabiscuit spent his retirement, where visitors can ride the “Skunk Train” through gorgeous woodland to the Pacific coast and back, where a tribal casino can be visited, and where the second Reno arch, now the Willits arch, is now located

Portland, an hour’s flight away, where one of the world’s most livable cities offers great hotels, cosmopolitan dining, endless music, great museums, and one of the world’s largest used bookstores. You can get a map at the front door to find your way around.

Look around, and get out of the house. Reno is filled with major hotels that boast of features besides gambling: spas and salons, shopping, swimming, climbing, wine tastings, dining.

A Greener Barbecue Weekend

We’re going to assume you’re like most Americans, and you know how to slap a burger, hot dogs and a cob of corn on the grill. That said, we’d like to encourage you to plan for a greener barbecue this year. Styrofoam cups and plates are among the worst things people routinely buy specifically to throw away after one use. So plan ahead, and your friends, co-workers and family will be most impressed with your environmental bona fides. You can plan for a Saturday ’cue, but with proper planning, and friends who rally, you can make an entire weekend of it.

Make a guest list.

Make a menu, and make a list of what you need from the store.

Add vegetarian options to the menu.

Pick up extra propane or charcoal and lighter fluid.

Hit up some thrift stores for mismatched flatware, cloth napkins and plates.

Pick up the food from WinCo, Costco, whatever.

Get some beer, wine and soft drinks.

Buy some aluminum foil for cooking the vegetables.


Barbecue sauce (and other condiments)

Fire extinguisher



Clean the dog poo out of the lawn.

Set up 5-gallon buckets or large trashbags for throwaway food, recyclables, and reusable plates and utensils.

Book Lovers’ Weekend

What you need most for a reading weekend is a setting. At home, you can shut off the phone and entertainment units—music would be the sole possible exception—and curl up in your favorite spot. Or there’s the backyard in a hammock, law chair, or stretched out on the lawn.

Leaving the house, there’s always the city’s parks, coffee houses, coffee houses in book stores, and—of course—the library. In the latter case, since we are talking about relaxing and just reading, we recommend the downtown Washoe County Library branch with its still-gorgeous interior that won architectural awards and a letter of praise from the White House when it was first constructed. It’s like being outdoors but climate controlled, and you won’t have to go far to look for something to read. Try these:

A Cold War Story by Jim Conkey, a fact-based national security novel by a Renoite

Free Lunch by David Cay Johnston, the Pulitzer winning financial reformer who wrote our 2011 cover story “Myths and Lies”

The Great Awakening by Jim Wallis, a view of religion’s role in society as something other than a political weapon

Great Basin National Park by Gretchen Baker, 300 pages of history, maps, photos, and travel suggestions that should help suggest a future vacation

Roughing It by Mark Twain, the great Nevadan’s recollection of his time in Nevada and travels to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii)

Garage-Sale Weekend

Expand your horizons, friends.

Want to lighten up? Empty your house. The more you walk by the hideous, unused coat rack your favorite aunt gave you, the guiltier you’ll feel in ways that are subtle but powerful, so best to let someone else use it and love it. Remember, a good garage sale is less about profits than purging, so if you want real folding money, deal with eBay. Here’s how to rock things in your own yard:

Set a date, then post it online and via fliers a week in advance.

Buy different colored stickers for price tags. If everything marked in green is 50 cents, for example, you won’t have to write much.

Start your merch pile. Include consumables like printer paper you never use, unopened shampoo you don’t want, granola bars that suck but haven’t expired, etc.

Find backup. You can run the sale on your own, but you’re going to have to pee at some point.

Talk with everyone who comes. You aren’t running some fancy boutique, son.

Display a free beverage—say a pitcher of iced tea with plastic cups—at the entrance to your sale. There should be a cartoonishly huge “FREE” sign next to it, for snagging people.

Model an easily removable item, such as a scarf or vest, with the price tag visible.

When you’re ready to shut down, just start giving stuff away. Everyone who makes eye contact with you gets a free litter box or shoe insert. No take-backsies.

Psychedelic Weekend

Summer is a great time to discover some version of yourself that might be unlocked using psychedelic drugs. Perhaps this is a version of yourself that you’ve come to know well over the years, or perhaps it’s entirely new to you. Perhaps you’d like to deepen a connection to a new friend or lover by sharing a profound spiritual experience. Perhaps you’d like to shake off the shackles of a day-to-day routine that has left you hindered or oppressed. Or perhaps you just want to get silly in the desert. Remember, as always, set and setting are important. Be mentally prepared, with people you trust, at whatever place is conducive to the kind of experience you want to have—this could be out in the desert, or at the beach, or even in the comfort of your own living room. It often helps to plan for an un-strenuous physical activity, like dancing or hiking.

Three grams of dried mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe

200 milligrams of pure MDMA

Seven grams (approximately 1/4 oz.) of marijuana (preferably indica, which is more relaxing than sativa, and will counterbalance any harsher effects of the other drugs, including nausea caused by the mushrooms)

A secondhand copy of the Bardo Thodol, also known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead

The albums Tago Mago (1971) and Ege Bamyasi (1972) by the German rock band Can, preferably on vinyl

One sympathetic spirit guide, preferably some kind of wizard, mage or witch

The fearlessness to confront whatever you bring with you into the cave. It might be a towering cyborg dressed all in black and brandishing a red laser sword. This shadowy figure might represent your father, but then, when you chop its head off, its mask might explode. You’ll peer inside and what will you see? Your own face.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, chosen to taste. (Apples are usually good.)

Six bottles of lemon-lime Gatorade

One family-sized bag of Skittles

A beautiful planet on which to walk, swim and/or dance


Six liters of water


It’s Hot, But It’s A Dry Heat Weekend

Not every weekend can be a party weekend. Early this summer, take a weekend to prepare your property for this year’s wildfires. Yes, it’s work, so wear gloves and be careful on ladders. We particularly don’t suggest you combine this weekend with the Lost Weekend or the Psychedelic Weekend. Be sure to check the corners and behind outbuildings where flammable debris tend to accumulate.

Remove all dead vegetation within 30 feet of your home.

Whether it’s the Love Boat or the Banana Boat or the gravy boat, you might as well get on. Boats rule.


Clean dead vegetation from roof and rain gutters.

Trim trees to keep branches at least 10 feet from other trees and shrubs.

Remove all dead branches from trees, particularly over or near your home.

Remove or relocate woodpiles and lumber as far from buildings as possible.

Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.

Remove dead vegetation or flammable materials from under decks.

Keep the lawn healthy and at a maximum height of 4 inches.

Movie-marathon weekend

Some summer weekends, when it’s too hot outside to breathe, and you’ve already acquired a nasty sunburn and an even nastier hangover, and the whole goddamn landscape is on fire, you just want to stay in bed, set up the TV, curl up with a cuddly person, dog or cat, and just marathon through some recent movies or TV shows.

Reliable shelter, like a house or an apartment, preferably one with curtains, so that the pesky sun won’t disrupt your viewing experience

Microwavable popcorn

Family-sized bag of peanut M&Ms

Netflix account

HBOGo account (traditionally, passwords for this are “borrowed” from rich friends or family members)

Amazon Prime account

DVD or Blu-Ray player

A plan. Either pick one show from the ongoing Golden Age of Television, like The Wire, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, or Breaking Bad, and watch every episode in order, or pick a theme and plot a course. For example, you could decide, “Hey, it’s summer and even though I’m staying inside, I’m going to celebrate the season by watching movies about summer camp: warm up with Meatballs, then dive into the entire Friday the 13th franchise, change up the pace with Wet Hot American Summer, and then finish up with the greatest summer camp movie ever—the original Sleepaway Camp.”

The phone number of a reliable pizza delivery joint

Six liters of water

Six liters of cola

One bottle of lube

Water-sports weekend

When it comes to the Reno area, y’all, there’s so much to do—well, despite the fact that we’re in a desert in the midst of a drought and all.

Tear around on a jet ski.

Get scuba-certified at Lake Tahoe. Tahoe Dive Center is a popular choice, and claims to be the closest facility to the lake.

Catch a fish or two at Pyramid Lake, and enjoy some stellar solitude while you’re at it. Pyramid Lake Fisheries,, has tips.

If the Truckee River’s got volume, don’t wait—go tubing or wading.

Try kayaking or standup paddleboarding, if you haven’t yet. Kayak Tahoe,, has rentals.

Rent a powerboat, or make a friend who has one. Now you can water ski, parasail and haul screaming people around on an inflatable raft-thing.

Do some canoeing.

Take a sailing class.

Swim, damn it.