Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This is Life

Sorry we haven't been posting much during November, this is what we've been up to:

Other than two days over the Thanksgiving holiday, we haven't seen a lift line!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More culture in Carson City - yes, I said Carson City

Whoa Nellie, we went from breakfast at Heidi's with the windmill circling outside, to the Nevada State Museum, where we celebrated la Dia de los Muertos with Aztec dancers, to the Carson City Brewery Arts Center for a baroque concert featuring virtuosos from as far away as Chicago and San Francisco.  What a day!  Here it is in pictures!

I thought the day couldn't get any better that this when we tucked into the breakfast of champions: a Yodeler, a Farmhouse Skillet, and an Empire Skillet.  Heidi's is fantastic - great food, great service, great windmill!

It was tough to believe the day could get any better, but when we walked into the Nevada State Museum, we discovered it was la Dia de los Muertos! 

On la Dia de los Muertos, we honor our ancestors who have died, by creating ofrendas (offerings, displays of things that were loved by the departed or that remind us of them), by celebrating and remembering them.  What a wonderful holiday and a wonderful concept.  I'm a devout atheist, but I am also not so foolhardy as to rule out anything.  The thought that we should honor my wife's father by remembering his favorite whiskey and brand of cigar, or my departed uncle's favorite magazine and vodka, or my aunt's favorite song, and that we should do this every year not in sadness but in celebration, makes this a beautiful holiday and a great hedge in case they are actually watching over us every day.  On top of this, the Nevada State Museum is a gem amongst small museums, well-funded, well-presented, and educational.  The displays were fantastic, and the dancers were amazing.

So, you're thinking, surely we couldn't absorb much more culture without having our heads explode?  The coup-de-grace was the Reno Baroque Ensemble in an intimate setting in the Carson City Brewery Arts center.  This was an intimate and up close concert that really brought history to life for our son, already a huge history buff.  In his words, "wow, there's no way I can download this on my iPod".

Our son with cellist Farley Pearce, who laid down the back beat for a fantastic concert!

Our son with conductor, musicologist, and vocalist Eric Gault, who conducted the Reno Baroque Ensemble.

Our son with featured violinist Martin Davids, who also arranged one of the compositions that we enjoyed tonight.  Along with inspiring guest violinist Ruth Lenz, and stunning violinist Olga Archdekin, they put on an incredible show.

Who'dve thunk it in Carson City, Nevada?

But that's not all!  Tonight I stopped into the High Sierra Brewing Company after the concert to sample their great stout and IPA.  Just when I thought life couldn't get any better, in walks one of the members of the Phanton of the Opera orchestra, and Mark D. Williams, the Phantom of the Opera himself (seated on the far right below).  It was a pleasure buying them a beer!

It just doesn't get any better than this!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Carson City - a bit of "culture" - family demands break from camping when it snows!

So we've ended up in Carson City, NV, a great little town that offers a bit of culture after camping.  We've had a blast eating, drinking, and hitting the local children's museum. 

We traveled on the winds of the incoming low from the Bay of Alaska.  It was breezy enough to whip up the waves of Topaz Lake near the CA-NV state line.

Once we landed in Carson City, we ended up staying in Hardman House, an inexpensive but clean hotel right near a number of attractions we wanted to visit - the Carson City Children's Museum, the Nevada State Museum, and the Community Center where Phantom of the Opera happens to be playing this weekend!

Once we settled in, the next requirement was, of course, food!  We wandered into Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint because there was a giant movie-theatre-sized sign that indicated "BREWERY" right next door.  The meal was OK, and the beer was strong, so they evened out.  I had the Jamaican jerk pulled pork sandwich with a habanero slaw, which was nicely spicy but greasy, with the upgrade to the sweet potato chips.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

Our son, when freed from the normal choice of broccoli or broccoli that is usual camping fare, went for the bacon bleu burger (surprise, surprise).  It was a bit dry, but he loved it none the less!  After a couple of cream sodas, he'll eat anything and give it 5 stars!

Finally, my wife went for the savory pie, a mix of pork and butternut squash under a layer of mashed potatoes.  It looked great, but unfortunately, the cook gave her the knuckle off of the pig, so it was full of gristly bits, and not so nice to chew.

Sorry if the pix above are a bit blurry.  I will say one thing about the iPhone vs Droid - the iPhone blows the Droid away as far a pictures are concerned.  The Droid just seems to be getting more and more finicky about taking pix, while the iPhone just gets better with age.  Now, Verizon still blows AT&T away for service, reliability, and cost, but the Droid camera is a joke compared to a three-version out of date iPhone (3GS). 

After we slept the meal off, we walked across the parking lot to the Northern Nevada Children's Museum.

It was a hoot!  It's not big, and it's not fancy, but we were the only people there on a Friday morning, so we could play with the toys with unlimited access.  Our son does his best Michael Jackson Billie Jean impression...

The virtual tilting maze took up hours....

...and we had fun with the balloon launcher (click on the image below for animation!).  I failed to mention, we also actually learned some Nevada history and facts about the minerals and geology of the state, but I didn't take any pictures of that!

Finally, we played Angry Birds with our son's head.

Next, we topped up the tanks at Z Bistro, which has the BEST FRENCH FRIES IN THE WORLD.  Really, these fries were that good.  It was like they had been blanched in sugar-water, then deep fried - they were sweet and super-crispy on the outside, but the inside was soft as...well, you know.  Ooo-la-la.  Here's a picture of my z-burger, our son's french onion soup (also very good), and my wife's ratatouille crepe made with buckwheat flour in the true Norman style.

Now we're off to Phantom of the Opera in our best camping wear..we're lookin' purty, and rarin' for some dessert on the walk back.  More on this later!

OK, it's a little blurry but no flash photography...as a matter of fact, I caught an earful from the wife for even bringing the camera!

I had no idea this show was a complex as it was, and the Carson City troupe presenting it was incredible.  The layer upon layer of singing and choreography, the show within a show, was fantastic, almost as amazing as moonrise over the Tetons.  I'm just glad that our son is now old enough to realize without being told that the music he's been hearing for the last 9 years on various TV programs came from this show, not the other way around.