Then we drove around Reno including the Strip. It looked much different in day light – modest and not flashy at all. We also drove through University of Nevada Campus which was very big and pleasant (still not as beautiful as in Missoula but much better than in Boise).
Our next place to visit was Virginia City. We went there already couple times before and enjoyed it every time. Unfortunately, it was pretty hot there – I would say in low 90th. Virginia City came to life at the end of 19th century as gold and silver mining town when famous Comstock Lode was discovered. During the peak of the boom this was boisterous town with more than 30000 people living there and more wealth than any other city in America and possibly in a world. Fortunes were made and lost there. Peak production from the Comstock occurred in 1877, with the mines producing over $14,000,000 of gold and $21,000,000 of silver that year (about $310,056,250 and $465,084,375 today). At today's prices, the Comstock produced total $4.5 billion in silver and $10.8 billion in gold. Comstock gold and silver paid for the Union victory of the Civil War, built San Francisco and bought most of Southern California.
Now city's population is down to about 850 people but it still has old Wild West appeal. Interestingly, all people associated with the discovery of the Comstock Lode ended up badly – dying in odd situations and completely broke.
We visited small local museum with very interesting exposition of old mining equipment and period memorabilia. They were also running pretty educational films about Virginia City history. We learned many interesting facts about it. For example, when silver mines got really deep, they reached the area with hot springs. At this point temperature there reached 140F (or 60C) plus hot water was everywhere. Miners were able to work there only in 15 minute shifts.
Other interesting fact we’ve learned was that it was here in Virginia City where young journalist Samuel Langhorne Clemens took his famous pen name Mark Twain. Failing as a miner, he started writing under the name of Mark Twain, news stories in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.
Then we drove to our final destination South Lake Tahoe. On a way there we drove by a new open pit Comstock mining operation. From what I learned in Internet, company that is doing mining there is confident that an estimated $5 billion in gold and silver still exist on eastern slope of the Virginia Range. Is this a new era in Comstock Lode bonanza?
Then we arrived to our last hotel - Alden Inn that was nice and friendly hotel. Our room was very clean and tastefully decorated. Unfortunately, it had two problems 1) no AC (not a huge problem since temperature went down at night); 2) no desk or table.
Eating proved to be a problem. During 4th of July weekend population of Lake Tahoe area swells tremendously. All restaurants were very busy. We decided to go to Chevy’s assuming that we will get consistent Chevy’s quality there. Wrong! After waiting for 30 minutes we finally were seated. Service was slow and impersonal, floors we littered with broken corn chips. We ordered 2 Margaritas and these were the worst Margaritas we ever had. Our glasses were stuffed with ice and whatever little liquid was added to this ice had nothing to do with Margarita – it was bitter and had no alcohol in it; simply undrinkable. After I complained my Margarita was replaced with almost the same shit with just a bit more flavor and less bitterness. However, their steak fajitas were fine.
To be continued...