Virginia City, Nevada

Hubby and I spent a day in Virginia City, Nevada last month. We had been there a couple of times before but we’d never dallied about the old west town before.

We started the day with a ride on the steam locomotive that goes from Virginia City to Gold Hill and back. The conductor on the trip was well versed int he history and had some great jokes and one-liners. He was very entertaining. The most interesting part of the train trip in my estimation was the fact that leaving Virginia City the train ran backward to Gold Hill. My husband and I rode in the outside car. Meaning we didn’t have a roof. On the way to Gold Hill there were interesting sites and the conductor told us history and how the railway came to be. The air was crisp and only a faint hint of coal being burnt in the steam engine. On the way back they drove forward. The first burst of the engine to get up the short hill out of Gold Hill and the people riding in the open car were brushing soot from their clothes, arms and hair while breathing in the black sooty smoke from the engine. It was realistic of the travel back in the 1800s. Here are some of the photos:

Our train
Gold Hill
Tunnel ahead! Everyone get ready to breath in the hot, moist steam and soot.

After walking down to the depot and riding on the train, we walked back up to the main street. If you haven’t been to Virginia City it is on the side of a hill. Everywhere you walk besides Main Street is either up or down. Many of the buildings in town are old. The sidewalks in some parts of the street are still boards. They are uneven and you have to pay attention when you walk for fear of stubbing a toe or stepping lower than you had anticipated. But the old town feel is captivating.

On a trip before I strolled through the MacKay Mansion Museum. It was fun to listen to the person telling of the history of the house and the history of the town.

While I strolled through the stores, hubby would sit on the benches on the sidewalk and visit with people. As we sat drinking tea on the outside deck of a coffee shop, we decided we were going to come back and stay in Virginia City for a few days within the next year. We didn’t make it to the cemetery and there is a gold mine tourists can go down into. Not to mention several other museums in the town and we didn’t watch the sideshow. I plan to see them all when we return to Virginia City for an extended stay.

Taking Time and Exploring by Paty Jager

This past weekend hubby and I took a quick trip to Reno, Nevada. I’d won a two-night stay at the Peppermill Casino last March at the Left Coast Crime conference. We needed to get the certificate used and realized once our daughter and her family left to join her husband in Maine for the winter, we’d be stuck home feeding her cattle. So we made reservations and took off.

The casino had changed a lot from the last time- 20 ahem-years ago that we were there. It is as sprawling and opulent as a casino in Las Vegas.  We had a beautiful room with a jacuzzi tub! I was so excited I couldn’t wait to use the tub. That was one of the “oops” in our new house. We forgot we had a beautiful old clawfoot tub we could have put in for a bath tub and instead asked a plumber friend to get us a soaker tub. Well, if you are a four-year-old, the depth of the water is just fine, but for an adult there is no soaking. There is getting your bottom and legs wet. So I was excited to have a nice long hot soak.

We also received spa credit in the package I’d won. I had a massage and hubby had a gentleman’s pedicure. I will go back there again for the beautiful room and the spa facilities. They were amazing! I’ll know what it is all about the next time we go. Yes, we will return sooner than 20 years the next time.

Looking from the upper part of Virginia City down the hill.

On Saturday, we drove out of the fog in the Reno valley and up to Virginia City, which was above the fog. It was like flying over the clouds, looking down at the fluffy whiteness between the peaks of the mountains.

At Virginia City we walked the main street browsing the stores. Then we walked the streets uphill from main street looking at all the old houses with beautiful detailed wood working. We noted there were half-a-dozen Bed and Breakfast places. Ideas of yet another get-away.

One of the old houses on the upper side of Virginia City.

We stopped at a nice quiet coffee place for a light lunch and then as we drove around the lower streets, I noticed a sign saying open. It was for tours of the MacKay Mansion. I am always a sucker for seeing inside old homes.  There were some amazing pieces of furniture. Many that the owner, John Mackay made and carved himself. Even though he was a billionaire, he enjoyed wood carving. It was an occupation he’d learned and used on his way to making money.

Mrs. Mackay’s bedroom

The history in the family was interesting. So much so, I’ll be purchasing a couple of books about them that I hope to later use the info to add a character in my historical western series.

These chairs were made and carved by John Mackay. His wife Marie sewed these cushions when ex-president Ulysses Grant came to visit.  

The tour guide talked about the place being haunted and how she’s had experiences and some ghost hunter show filmed an episode there. She showed us a 3 second clip of the show that aired that showed a dark shadow walking across the room. I believe in ghosts but tend to be skeptical when it is used as a means to make money.

Child’s bedroom. Marie lost a daughter to disease and another fell down stairs becoming a cripple. But after marrying John, he took the child to the best specialists in Europe and she could walk again. They had three sons and one died while racing a horse. 

After Virginia City, we returned to the Peppermill, where I lost money and hubby made money. We came home with the same amount we left with and had purchased meals and some gifts. So not a bad trip and it was definitely relaxing!

On the 6 hour drive there and back, I wrote blog posts for the places I’ll be guesting on my blog tour next month and this post. Back to getting the second Hawke book written this week.

I hope you had a great weekend and take time out this time of year for yourself.