World-class Nevada: part one

Most of the time, bar talk isn’t worth a whole lot. You know. You’ve been there. You’ve bored a few folks in your time, and, in accordance with the laws of bar karma (barma), been bored stiff yourself. Good ole bar talk—people gabbin’ away, makin’ noise, filling space, avoiding the awkward silences that are to a bar scene what Trent Lott is to body piercing.

Occasionally, though, bar talk gets interesting. At one such session last week, a lively discussion took place among five of us in response to the question, “What is world-class in Reno?” Not just good, or even excellent. World-class.

We held to a snobby, maximum-quality definition of world-class. Namely, if an Earthling wanted to experience the best ______ in the world, what blank-filling things would compel that Earthling to come to Reno/Northern Nevada?

Part one: The Natural Stuff. Let’s start with the obvious. Tahoe and Pyramid. World-class alpine lake and world-class desert lake, both total no-brainers. And when I say desert lake, I mean natural desert lake, as in non-reservoir. If a guy in Belgium developed a passion for desert lakes, a trip to Pyramid would be way up on his list. One hundred years ago, there was a world-class cutthroat trout fishery in the Pyramid/Truckee system, but evil honky voodoo took care of that in a jiffy.

In the category of sand dunes, there is Sand Mountain, the huge, singing dune about 20 miles east of Fallon. That’s a world-class pile of sand out there. The Black Rock Desert is one of the world’s great flat spots. Ask Richard Noble, the Brit who still holds the world land speed record, which he set on the Black Rock a few years ago.

In the category of “world-class recreational opportunities utilizing natural splendors,” we have at least two. The Flume Trail, which gives mountain bikers a chance to prowl the east side of the upper Tahoe basin, is considered by many to be a world-class trail. And glider pilots come from all over the country to experience the world-class thermals and wind conditions that flourish in the skies above Carson Valley.

One barfly thought our ruminations would be way off base if they overlooked a life form so ubiquitous that we were dangerously close to overlooking it: sagebrush. We all had to agree, a sagebrush-lover from Vermont or Romania would be in a gray-green heaven romping around in Northern Nevada. Also mentioned that night was not so much a world-class thing that we enjoy, but more of a general condition. We eventually agreed that it’s very world-classy of our area to be totally free of fleas. Maybe some of us were speaking on behalf of our dogs more than ourselves, but, in the final, beered-up analysis, Northern Nevada’s flealessness was judged to be absolutely world-class.

Next week, part two: The Man-Made World-Class Stuff. Will I be able to fill this modest space?