Carson City

Waxing Gibbous Moon

The approach to Carson City on US 50 between Silver Springs and Dayton NV is drab and joyless. I walked with the enthusiasm of a dutiful husband being dragged into Ikea. 

After those 24 dry miles is an 11-mile climb to Carson City. When offered a ride by a passing trail angel, I gladly accepted. Food, air conditioning, a clean bed and a shower: beats the heck out of the Ikea braindead desert.

I have three recommendations so far in Carson City. For breakfast, try Heidi’s on Carson Street just a few blocks north of the Capitol. Really friendly staff and fine daily specials. Next is the Visitors Center right by the Nevada State Museum. Maps and info galore. And best of all, go to the Museum.

Inside you will find a terrific photography gallery and exhibits on mining, Nevada geology, natural history, and the now defunct Carson City mint. Quick, check your pockets for a silver dollar stamped “CC.” Might be worth a few bucks.

Which reminds me….my maternal grandfather, aka “Pop”, gave me two 1888 silver dollars when I was about four years old. My family was moving to Denver from Anaheim and I decided I should probably tag along. I brought my silver dollars with me.

Before long, I made friends with a kid two doors up from our house at 1815 Dahlia Street. One day we were digging little tunnels in his backyard and playing with tiny plastic Army men and a few proportionally tiny Army trucks. One of us had the brilliant idea that I should run home to get my silver dollars so we would have some treasure to put in the back of the Army trucks. Kids. Such fertile imaginators. 

You can probably see where this is going. We put the treasure in the back of one of the dark green, cloth-covered trucks and I pushed it elbow deep down the main tunnel. My friend Les reached through the other end of the tunnel with the intention of pulling it out the other side. In 1955, this was known as fun.

We were both stretched out on our bellies, absorbed, oblivious to the entire rest of the Universe and pretty soon, elbow deep became shoulder deep. I pushed the silver dollar-laden truck as far toward Les as I could, eventually losing contact with it. Oops.

I was pretty sure he could reach it. My surface grassline eyeball to eyeball estimate of the distance between us seemed like less than two armlengths. But he couldn’t feel it. And neither could I. 

Yeah, I know. You knew that.

Things got a little panicky. We started wiggling into the tunnel for all we were worth, trying to retrieve that truck, which was new and pretty cool, and those silver dollars, which were shiny and from Pop. 

The tunnel, not a Colorado engineering marvel, caved in of a sudden. We withdrew our dirty little 4-year old arms with some difficulty and looked at each other with what would, years later, be recognized as a classic Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid “Oh Shit” look. 

Back at the ranch, I got in trouble when I fessed up to the loving but stern Person in Charge. Dad had a way of silently communicating that what you just did, son, was not very bright, not up to Ostdick standards. He didn’t yell or give you a whupping. He just looked at you like maybe they made a mistake back at the hospital and you were really some dumbass’s kid. 

I felt bad. I still feel bad. To this day, I want to go back to Denver with a magnetometer and dig up that yard until I find my stuff. What if those dollars said “CC” on them?

Anyway, go to the museum. You can see a wooly mammoth skeleton and a horse skeleton together in the same exhibit. Cool.

Peace, Love, and Excavation,

Palomino

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