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Giving thanks from the road
by John L. Smith
Nov 27, 2010 | 1149 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s been a challenging year in Nevada with the economy slumping and work hard to find. I consider myself fortunate not only to have a job, but also to have been able to spend part of the past 12 months on the road in the real Nevada that starts just outside the city lights.  Fortunately, I’ve often been able to see the state with my daughter, Amelia, my able navigator and favorite traveling companion. Wherever we go, she always manages to steal the show. When people see her coming through the door in her wheelchair with a warm greeting and a smile on her face, their day just seems to brighten. I’m basically Amelia’s chauffeur as we crisscross the state in search of homemade ice cream for her and apple pie and coffee for me.  In addition to giving thanks for being her dad, I’m grateful for all the wonderful people we’ve met in the past year.

In Death Valley Junction, Calif., on the edge of Nevada Smith country, brittle but beautiful Marta Becket graced the stage at the Amargosa Opera House with help from her friend and creative familiar Sandy Scheller. They make quite a pair. Add to that the jack-of-all-trades expertise of Mary Lee Chavez and Rich Regnell, who do everything from baking delicious pies for the café to keeping the electricity flowing through the patchwork power and phone system, and you have a dedicated team that promises to carry on Becket’s legacy.

Those are great characters, but the region has no shortage of them. I only wish I had space to thank all of them.

Another favorite is Bob Eddy, the intrepid captain of the Desert Lobster Café in Mina. (You can’t miss it. It’s the only café in town with an enormous boat out front.) Bob lost his run-in with the federal government for the legal right to grow and serve his own lobsters, and that has to be one of the worst decisions in the history of the state. He still manages to serve a mean burger and dishes up plenty of political scuttlebutt at no extra charge.

While I’m giving thanks, I can’t forget the kindness of Nye Commissioner Joni Eastley and husband, Dennis, who loaned us a car after my Subaru blew an engine outside Tonopah just before New Year’s Eve. They saved the day and kept a smile on Amelia’s face. But that’s the way it is in Nevada, even in hard times.

A tough economy hasn’t sidelined the intrepid operators of the Stage Stop Bakery on the edge of Yerington. Tom Talamante, Gustavo Novoa and Gretchen Redwine provide a bakery that brings together members of the diverse community under one roof.

At the Windmill Ridge Restaurant and Bakery outside Alamo, Kim Turley and Kris Higbee manage one of the sweetest cafes in rural Nevada. We’ve made a point of stopping there on trips to Ely and Elko.

And for some reason the car can’t seem to pass Margaritas Mexican restaurant in Ely and the Star Hotel Basque Family Restaurant in Elko. If you’re beginning to get the feeling all we do is drive around Nevada and eat, well, that’s not far from the truth.

From ice cream at the Genoa Country Store to breakfast at Boulder City’s Coffee Cup café, we haven’t missed many meals. (I’ll save my weight-loss goals for a New Year’s resolution column.)  In the process, we’ve met great people in Beatty, Goldfield, Tonopah, in Clover Valley and at Cave Lake. I can only hope the coming year brings more adventures in the Silver State.

In the end, I’m thankful for those of you who take time to read the column. I hope to meet you on the road in the coming months. Hopefully in a place that serves apple pie and coffee.  

John L. Smith writes a weekly column on rural Nevada. He writes a daily column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact him at (702) 383-0295 or at
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