Let me tell you a story that happened about 3 years ago in the middle of nowhere. A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender,
"What the hell is there to do around here?"
I looked over like a giddy school boy with the answer. School's in session.
Nevada: A State of Mind
Now you won't find this state on any map. In this state, the clanking of the slots doesn't apply and while anybody can live in Nevada not everybody will consider themselves a true Nevadan. For most people, Nevada is imagined as little more than quick gaming stays, caberets, cheap buffets, and hearsay. We're a state easily judged and not fully understood. A Nevada state of mind is a rare outlook where one appreciates simpler things and looks beyond the blazing lights. A Nevadan will strive understand the Great Basin -- a place that is difficult to be defined by words, and with it, a lasting unexpected take on Nevada. This my friends, is the Nevada state of mind.
The Nine Year Itch
Slick canyon roads. Long open pavement. This journey began some nine years ago on the most boring day of the week: a Tuesday, which made it perfect for escaping out of town after a hard day's shift.
Photo taken in 2007.
It's only fitting then that my first historic marker was #7, a rather uneventful marker at the busiest crossroads in Dayton. Five o' clock busy: everybody cruising right on past this old stone marker on the way home from the daily grind, kind-of-busy. Looking a bit overly touristy with my huge camera wrapped around my neck, the notion hit me like a sack of flour. How many people were aware of their history in this mad rush? I wagered not many, and for me that was a safe gamble.
I catalogued a few more markers that day on my way home -- my next ones being #61, #1, then #134 respectively. My completionist heart declared that I finish Lyon County - the following day. True to my word I bagged Lyon's last remaining marker #255 ... five days later. In celebration of this conquest, I broke open a cold Dew and threw a solo tailgate party. With nothing but the sound of the river running through Wilson Canyon, Nevada Landmarks had been born accompanied by a perfect Silver State sunset.
Pancake Range, Nevada. Photo taken in 2008
I was like Forrest Gump who just started running. When I returned to reality the next day I figured why not do "one more." It wasn't until halfway through my third county that my quest morphed into a new all encompassing mission: to personally record and conquer every state historical marker. I did not think about risk, cost, or sanity. Nevada was my home after all. Boom or Bust. Why not let it all roll on the green felt, or in this case, the Sagebrush Ocean?
Soon, I headed out into Churchill, then Pershing, then Lander, and to the southern needle of Clark. I was immediately hit by the enduring ways of the past in a state challenged by progress. In our gray-goo society so stuck in our phones, slaves to gizmos and struggling with constant change, even the very passing of time remained irrelevant. Through Nevada's rich heritage, even the most hardened techie would feel humbled and completely enraptured in the unparalleled freedom that is without peer. And in these sights was history calling, waiting to be found.
US 95 in between McDermitt and Paradise Valley. Photo taken in 2009.
Number of sick days taken: 84
Number of nights beneath the stars: 2,140
Gallons of caffeine consumed: Not enough
Miles driven: 80,000+
Pairs of tires replaced: 14
Windshields replaced: 2
Number of Towns visited: 86
Number of Counties visited: 17
Nevada Atlases lost: 7
Photos taken: 250 gb
Hours behind a computer: Countless
Number of website rebuilds: 3
Money "lost": $48
New friends met along the way: 186
So like any twitterpated fool I carried on this labor of love: a love of history, exploration, and storytelling. I call it a love for all things we take for granted. While some have called it a hobby, others liken it insanity. The majority declare it passion and I trust that many of you who've stumbled upon this manifest share a deep loving respect for Nevada. At the very least, I hope you possess a quiet curiosity about what I call the Nevada state of mind.
Getting nice and picturey at Franktown. Photo taken in 2010.
With so much material at my disposal, I taught myself web design. I had originally planned the website to be nothing more than a gray database to store the notes and information I had compiled from behind the wheel, but I was unaware at just how many of my fellow Nevadans shared the same wanderlust. I'm proud to say since this website's debut in 2007, viewers from the far reaches of the state and beyond have experienced the same magnitude of awe that Nevada has provided me over the years. And let me say: this has been no easy feat. Plenty of comfortable beds, warm meals, and clean shaves were overlooked in favor of the quest. Most of my nights were spent under the stars imagining the same life as that of an early Nevadan. High Rock. Jarbidge. Ione. Black Rock. McDermitt. Belmont.
That's how I did Nevada.
(c) Nevada Appeal, February 2011
My work was far from over back in the real world. It's still far from over. In addition to crumbling ruins, knee-high sagebrush, and mountain views, this adventure took place equally among concrete walls, elevator music, and knees bent at a laptop. A generous portion of my "marker hunting" has amounted to endless hours of research in libraries, state archives and government offices with plenty of phone calls and working lunches. I've pled with ranchers for land access, networked with government officials, and happily jabbered through dead-end conversations for the sake of furthering the hunt. Dividing fact from rumor and recording notes and photographs long into the wee hours of the morning sometimes took the excitement out of what I was seeking in the first place: fun and freedom. All of this hard work showed when Nevada Landmarks made its first front-cover newspaper debut and a two-page article in the Nevada Appeal, February 1, 2011. A few days later, KOLO 8 News Reno ran this segment on my adventure to capture history:
|KOLO 8: Nevada Landmarks!|
We all swoon over a love story and this journey is a labor of love.
Yup. You've arrived at a pretty cool place! And we think Nevada's not bad either. We have no doubt you'll find just about everything you've ever wanted to know about this fascinating state we call home. Nevada Landmarks is unique because in addition to its accurate and interactive database of all 271 historical markers, we decided to add another half of this website consisting of what we call the "Nevada Portal." The Nevada Portal covers just about everything remotely Nevada related. Name it, and we've probably covered it. Gracie and I don't believe in spoiling surprises so get on with your bad self and discover it for yourself!
Thanks for stopping by! Stay calm and be Battle Born.