Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ely and Berkeley

As befits Berkeley, I'm not writing this post while entirely lucid. Blame Tim for mixing a wicked strong margarita. Wow. I mean, just, wow.

After getting the hell out of Vegas, which is of course by far the biggest city in Nevada, we headed up to Ely on (I think) highways 93 and 318, which are not billed the Loneliest Road in America as Highway 50 in Nevada is, but might as well be. This is where you see signs that say "No Gas for 111 Miles" and that sort of thing. When you have a gas gauge that isn't really even working, you pay attention. Nevada is big and empty. Vegas and Reno have grown in the past few decades; meanwhile, dozens of mining towns have turned into ghost towns. And they don't have gas stations.

We spent the next two nights at the Hotel Nevada in Ely. I've been there twice, and Justin has been there four times (once with his brother Zach, once with Jove and Whitney when he was driving the Jeep out to Virginia). It was built in 1929 and at the time was the tallest building in Nevada--at six stories--and the first fireproof building. Legal gaming came in 1931. The rest is history. Dozens of moderately famous people have slept there; we stayed in the Vicki Carr room, and if you know who she is (I don't, really) you can imagine the albums and pictures that decorated our room. Aside from the plumbing, which offers scintillatingly variable showers, the Hotel Nevada is a pretty cool, and very cheap, place to stay.

During our full day in the Ely metropolitan area, we went to Great Basin State Park, which receives, I believe, an average of 90,000 visitors a year. Not a lot, maybe because it's more than an hour from Ely, and even Ely is in the middle of freaking nowhere. But Great Basin is cool for several reasons: it encompasses the second-highest mountain in Nevada (Wheeler Peak, at 13,093 feet), the moderately famous Lehman Caves, which we didn't visit, and some millennia-old bristlecone pines, which we meant to visit but didn't, because the hike was a couple of miles at an altitude of 10,000+ feet and an ascent of 600 feet, and Justin's hip hurt, and I'm not in great shape, and we go to Ely so often that we'll see those pines someday.

The next day we headed to Reno to stay a short drive from the Bay Area. We went to Louis' Basque Corner for dinner, which was one of the best dining recommendations we followed. There are a lot of Basques in northern Nevada, and I'd never had Basque food, so it was a great experience. We had a six-course meal and got to choose our main course (anything from lamb, which I had, to sweetmeats, which I tried thanks to friendly neighbors); it was one of the most European dining experiences I've had since, well, Europe. Very cool.

The next morning, after a night at the Circus Circus (very cheap and centrally located) I woke up with some weird hive thingies thanks to God knows what, either bedbugs or some bizarre detergent they use on the sheets or odd Basque spices or something. Justin was unaffected. I'm still itchy, although alchohol helps. (!) We drove to Berkeley and have spent the past 24+ hours with Tim (a classics person) and his wife Joanna. I went out to Walnut Creek last night to see Cars with my cousin Peter (on the bookish, engineering-oriented Crawford side) and his wife Megan, whom I haven't seen since their wedding last summer. That was even more fun than I expected; it's odd with cousins (I've rarely met any who were automatically very close in age or affinities) how much you have in common once you start talking.

Today Justin met with his advisers while I puttered around Telegraph. When I met with Justin afterwards, he said, "I was wondering why I ever left until this crazy guy started yelling at me," which is how things go. Grow a beard and crazy people start shouting at you for no reason. Well, I wouldn't know, but Justin does. Anyway, we came back after hanging out with Joanna downtown, and Tim made us these insanely strong margaritas, so...Justin and Tim went to a classics party, and I'm blogging. Is this entry different? You can understand why. I didn't feel up to socializing, but I am blogging, so...draw your own conclusions!

Tomorrow, we're headed straight up to Seattle, as early as we can get outta here. Hopefully be there before midnight, Deo volente.

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