It was late summer 1964 that my mother decided to visit her four brothers who lived around Lake Tahoe and take us three kids with her to experience it. We grew up on a small ranch in north central Nebraska and this would be the biggest trip we had ever taken. All of our uncles grew up on the ranch, but relocated to Nevada and Lake Tahoe. The Union Pacific “City of Los Angeles” took us to Ogden, Utah where we picked up another train to go to Reno. It was early evening when we disembarked and I first saw the “Biggest Little City in the World” sign. I remember the bright lights, but I mostly remember the pure, beautiful pine smell that permeated the night…..I was in love from the beginning.
My Uncle, Red Rockholm, lived at the intersection of Humboldt and Mount Rose in Reno where I could sit on his “mountain lodge” deck and see the lights of downtown. We spent two glorious weeks in the area with trips to my other uncle’s house on north shore Tahoe where we had the biggest family reunion in history. I remember riding in my cousin’s Austin Healey Sprite up Mount Rose highway with the top down and thinking “it doesn’t get any better than this!”
A few years later, I spent the summer in the Carson Valley working with another uncle who lived in Minden/Gardnerville. We worked on a sod farm and I got to drive the truck up Kingsbury Grade to south shore where we proudly landscaped the Tahoe Keys area and enjoyed evenings back in the valley visiting with “Cass” at the old Minden Inn or going to one of the great Basque dinners.
A few years later, my wife and I honeymooned at Harrah’s on Lake Tahoe. In the ensuing years I came back often for ski trips, summer vacations with the kids at a condo in Incline, fishing trips with my uncles and many other fond experiences. I was a Nebraskan, but Nevada captured my heart.
Suddenly, it’s 2014. It’s the Nevada Sesquicentennial and I find myself on the planning and development committee for the Nebraska Sesquicentennial in 2017. I reach out to Nevada and everyone there is fantastic in helping us plan for our grand event while they celebrate theirs. I fly to Reno and immediately when I get off the plane I breath in that precious beautiful pine scented air I remember from 1964. This is a special place. I go to Carson City to meet with the Nevada 150 staff and Scott Carey says, “Hey, you have a great story. You should tell it on the Nevada 150 website!” So here it is…….with deep appreciation to all my new friends in Nevada and some very fond memories. Happy Birthday Nevada from your dual citizen from Nebraska……!