Tag Archives: nevada

Historic Photos of Reno, Nevada

Historic_Photos_of_Reno I was recently contacted by Turner Publishing with the offer to receive a complimentary copy of “Historic Photos of Reno” by Donnelyn Curtis. All they asked of me in return was that I provide an honest review of the book here on my website. I replied that I would be happy to do so, and the book appeared at my doorstep just a few days ago.

As an amateur photographer and writer, a graduate of the University of Nevada, and a former resident of Reno, I assumed I would find great pleasure in combing through the composition of someone who has made a career out of compiling and organizing historical information about the area. I was not disappointed.

Donnelyn Curtis is the Director of Research Collection & Services and head of Special Collections at the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries, where she has been a librarian since 1998. She embarked upon the painstaking task of compiling some of the most poignant and compelling black and white photographs, complete with text and captions, that Reno historians have meticulously gathered over the years. The combination of context and imagery provides a window into the raw soul of a city that has weathered a a rich and sorted past.

The images, text and captions are organized in distinct periods:

  • Hub of the Mining Boom (1868-1909)
  • Emerging Playground (1910 – 1949)
  • New Approaches to Economic Development (1930-1949)
  • Growing and Thriving (1950-1979)

The “Biggest Little City in the World” has always taken an unconventional approach. Long before Las Vegas, Reno, Nevada was referred to as “sin city.” Gambling, prize-fighting, prostitution, and divorce were prevalent. There was a certain lawlessness that attracted people to Reno. Adversely, since Reno’s beginning a strong, moral community of men and women have carved out their lives against the beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Truckee River which rolls through the center of town. These lawless and law-abiding factions contributed to a menagerie of people and pursuits that have defined the course of Reno’s creation and expansion. There are so many facets to Reno, Nevada, and “Historic Photos of Reno” brings that to light.

It is eery, exciting, and educational to follow your way through the pages and see the history of the city of Reno, Nevada unfold. Curtis digs up forgotten people and places that stare up at you from the pages and remind you all things change and human time is fleeting. The photographs project personality and feeling that speaks a thousand words. You will look into the eyes of both ordinary and exceptional individuals that contributed to the uniqueness of Reno’s identity. You will learn for whom the city was named after, how it got its start, and what carried it forward into the modern age.

What is it about us that loves to peer into the past? I for one saw so many similarities to where Reno was and is now. Entrepreneurs and motivated minds working hard to reinvent the city and carry it forward into the future. A relentless desire for a new and improved identity, and yet, a strong connection to a proud history and the land it was built on.

Curtis will be doing a book signing at signing at the Meadow Wood Court Barnes & Noble on June 14th from 2-4pm. Get out and pick up a signed copy. It is the good storytellers who give us greater context.

Earthquake: Reno, Nevada

Earthquake Accident The rash of recent earthquakes in Reno, Nevada reminds me of my own experience with this particular fault line. About three years ago, I was driving my brand new Subaru Outback up the canyon of Highway I-80 towards Truckee, California to go whitewater kayaking when an earthquake struck. I was moving along at about 70 mph just past the Floriston exit when a large boulder arced off of the steep hillside to my right, struck the adjoining lane, and quickly began tumbling towards me. It looked like something out of a cartoon, and my disbelief was only cut short by my sudden realization that I was going to die. In a split second I slammed on the brakes and immediately impacted with the boulder.

Anyone that has ever been in an accident knows when an air bag deploys it can be a lot like getting punched in the face. As I began to collect myself and determine whether I was severely injured or not my first thought was – I’m going to be hit from behind! Fortunately, the other cars behind me had been able to stop in time. The inside of the car smelled strongly of gun powder, the windshield was smashed, and the entire passenger side was caved in.

I got out of the car half expecting to not be able to stand, or for blood to suddenly start spurting forth from some area of my body, but I was fine. I nervously scanned the hillside wondering if any other boulders might suddenly decide to dislodge themselves but none came. I took note that my kayak was no longer on top of the car, not that I particularly cared at that moment, but my eyes soon fell upon it on the other side of the road. It had shot off the top of the car, careened across the oncoming lanes of traffic, and somehow managed not to cause another accident.

The police soon arrived, and the first comment I received was, “Boy, you are lucky to be alive.” The  second thing they told me was that there had been an earthquake of a magnitude 5.0. I never felt it.

The section of I-80 between Reno and Truckee is a dangerous one for many reasons. As the area continues to experience more tremors, and even faces a potentially much larger earthquake, keep this story in mind if you are driving this section of road. There are a lot of exposed hillsides containing countless boulders that are precipitously placed for a quick fall, and trust me, you don’t want to hit one.

Gravity Check in Reno-Tahoe

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that I have a certain affinity for Reno and Lake Tahoe. After all, I lived there for almost ten years. The area is big, beautiful, and full of fun things to do. It also happens to be home for a handful of hair ball hucking base jumpers who like to boost it off of high places.

Vegas has their slogan, “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas;” and good for them. Reno should get something going like, Go Big in the Biggest Little City or Go Home…because that is exactly what these guys did.

I love the fact that Reno as a city can pull off something like this. I mean where else are you going to see some guys base jumping off of a giant ramp located on top of a tall building with skis on? Warren Miller should be proud. 

Of course, the video speaks for itself, and you can check out more base jumping videos here. I just hope this means Reno-Tahoe is going to have a ripping ski season because I am praying for snow.

Also, here are some sicko pics courtesy of the RSCVA.



Leaving Reno-Tahoe

There is a reason why I have not been blogging lately. I have a felt a certain vacuousness, like my brain is a barren and desolate place devoid of any real desire to communicate or express emotion. This feeling was initiated by the harsh realization that I was going to have to leave the Reno-Tahoe area.

I have been operating in some state of denial. Refusing to accept that I would have to say goodbye (for now) to the Sierras, to Tahoe, to Reno, to the West, and to all the friends I have had the pleasure of encountering within these realms. After almost 10 wonderful years of western exploration and experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world, I am heading East to support my wife in a career move that we could not refuse.

Julia was offered a job by the New York Times to head up their online initiatives out of their regional office in Tampa, Florida. It is what she has worked towards all these years, and I am supporting her just as she would do the same for me.

I heard a funny comment yesterday, “Tampa is a place for newlyweds and nearly deads.” Whether or not that is true, I can tell you the highest point in Florida is 250 feet. No mountains, no snow, no big beautiful whitewater rivers. What it does have, which a kayaking friend so eloquently put is, “atmospheric conditions at flood stage.” In other words, high humidity.

I will have to draw balance from the beaches and the water and the practice of discovering new places not yet seen or experienced. Fortunately, I grew up surfing, so I will be making frequent trips to the Atlantic side to try and feed my insatiable outdoor enthusiasm.

The other great positive is that I will be staying on with Twelve Horses. It is a web technology company composed of many smart and connected cohorts who telecommute from all over the globe. I will certainly miss the day-to-day interaction with all of my colleagues in the Reno office, but I suspect that I will be back for business from time to time. Our CEO, David LaPlante even suggested I leave my powder skis at his house.   

Still, it will be hard to fill the void. Even now I am overwhelmed with emotion as I contemplate my impending departure. My house is empty, my car is packed, and 2,800 miles away my wife awaits my arrival.

A picture from my final night in Reno taken in the backyard of what is no longer my house. Aside from the sunset, what else do you immediately notice? Trees. Reno is not a desolate desert devoid of life. It is a place with a subtle charm and beauty and a lot of promise. It has been a great base camp for me, and I will certainly miss it. Goodbye!


Ride the Radar

This shot was taken on top of Harrah’s Casino in dowtown Reno. I’ll let you derive the metaphors.

Swinging My Way to Golfer

Historically, I have not been much of a golfer. The sport never really fit in to my busy schedule as a kayaker, skier, mountain biker, and general mountain enthusiast. But I have been a few times, and in each case I have enjoyed it despite the tests of patience and humility.

This past Friday might have been a turning point for me. I found myself out at the Lakeridge golf course for the A2N2 annual golf tournament. My friend and colleague, TJ Crawford lent me some clubs and took me under his proverbial wing to show me the finer art of what constitutes a real golf swing, as opposed to stepping up to the plate for some grass and window removal work.

By the end of the day I felt like I was really progressing. There might actually be something to this golfing thing. Who knows, it might even be time to include a bag of golf clubs to my arsenal of outdoor accoutrements. Or was it the alcohol?

Here is a little video I put together of our day.

Truckee River Canyon

Every once in a while there is something in the news that makes me smile; and on a Friday no less!

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Voracious Vegas

Back from a weekend in Vegas, and needless to say I am feeling a little rough around the edges. The primary motivation for the trip was to catch The Police at the MGM Grand. They ripped it up, and I just hope that I am still kicking that much ass when I am their age.

Also hit Pure, Rain, the Ghost Bar and various other locales that serve up beats with bountiful amounts of alcohol. Stayed at the Flamingo because of the central location, pool size, and affordability. The place is getting a little old, but it did the trick.

Vegas is still experiencing mad construction. I am amazed at the sheer velocity of growth. I think the population is around 1.9 million, and flying in to the airport, looking down at the development, I would believe it. How is this growth sustainable? I don’t know, for the Stakes are High for Las Vegas Water. 


Vegas has great entertainment, shopping, and restaurants, but I prefer Reno’s sense of community, size, and open space. The other huge differentiator – Reno’s got water. I hope the Biggest Little City will continue to make those attributes a priority. The other positive aspects of Vegas we can continue to integrate. Until then, it is just a short flight away.

Reno, Nevada: The Biggest Little City in the World

There has been some recent chatter in the local blogosphere regarding Reno and how much it kicks ass. For the most part I agree. The city has evolved tremendously over the past few years, and the renaissance that is going on in downtown Reno is fantastic.

I have a graduate degree from the University of Nevada, and I have lived and owned a home in Reno for three years now. I’m digging it. But if you took away Lake Tahoe? Hmmmm. That would make things a little tough. Of course, that is not the case, but it is certainly one of the reasons why entities like the RSCVA refer to the region as Reno-Tahoe. Its close proximity is a major asset to living here; and there are many more. Still, negative perceptions regarding Reno persist.

A friend of mine flew down to San Jose yesterday for business, and he headed into the hotel bar to wind down from a long day. He sat next to a rather large ad exec, and they struck up a conversation. The man asked, “Where are you from?” My friend replied, “Reno,” and the man immediately countered with, “I’m sorry to hear that.” Without hesitation my friend sarcastically replied, “Yeah, it sucks, you should definitely not go there.”

My friend’s response amuses me because it says so much with so little. I know so many people from Reno that would have immediately dove in to some long laundry list for why Reno is actually a great place to live. In part, they would have felt that it was their citizenry duty to stand up for the place they live, but the comment would have also triggered a certain amount of self-consciousness for which they would have felt compelled to defend.

My friend was not self conscious about the man’s comment, and he instead probably did more for the Reno brand than any long diatribe about its benefits. I have a suggestion for anyone here in Reno encountering this kind of negativity. Politely give the individual directions to the nearest I-80 onramp.

Nevada Business Journal

The following is an article I wrote for the Nevada Business Journal:

Blogging for Business
Why should businesses care about blogs?

There has been a lot of talk about blogs lately. Politicians and businesses alike are entering the blogosphere at a surprising rate. Why? Currently, more than 57 million American adults read blogs.

For a long time blogs were simply thought of as conduits for personal expression by individuals who were not in the buying stage. There seemed to be no real application for business. This popular misconception turned out not to be true.

Blogs are in fact websites. They are hosted on a server, built on the same programming languages, and most importantly, indexed by major search engines like Google and Yahoo. The major difference is blogs give businesses a personal voice, and they can be built and launched for far less money than it takes to build a website.

The Power of Search

“Internet penetration has now reached 73% for all American adults,” according to Pew Internet, which is an authoritative source on the evolution of the Internet. This means there are millions of potential customers that are online every day looking for specific products and services that you offer.

Internet users search for products and services by entering specific terms or keywords into search engines. These keywords or terms produce immediate results that introduce users to many different companies vying for their business. But how do they find you?

Search Engine Optimization

Search engines place a significant amount of importance upon fresh, keyword-rich content, and the more relevant content a business puts online the better. Blogging software helps you publish this information easily and frequently.

Search engines also put a lot of value into linking. Companies will find online conversations that are based around what their company has to offer. One blogger links to another blogger because they find value in what they have to say. This continues the conversation until multiple bloggers and websites are linking back to original creator of that content. This helps push your website or blog to the top of the search engine results.

Differentiation & Demonstration of Expertise

Consider for a moment that a potential customer is shopping online for a particular product or service that you have to offer. They type in a specific keyword or phrase, and several competitors appear in the search results. They click through to one of the websites and begin to analyze their offerings in regards to price, benefits and presentation. They return to the search results to compare that initial experience against other competitors. After a few more clickthroughs, the potential customer has not found any distinguishing differences.

But then they find your company’s blog. Your blog demonstrates a personality with a voice and a willingness to share information to further empower their customers to make the right decision about what they want to buy. Instead of representing an impenetrable and impersonal corporation with no direct connection with its customers, you are seen as a personable and interactive company that wants to engage its’ customers.

Bringing Businesses and Customers Together

Blogs not only help with search engine optimization and differentiation from competitors, they also offer a way for companies to understand their customers better. Blogs are a chance to establish ongoing dialogues with customers and receive useful feedback that empowers a business to become better at what it provides.

Blogging is a time commitment, and it is not for everyone. But if you love to write, and you are passionate about what you do, then you will find that blogging is a powerful tool for attracting new business, creating loyal customers, and developing a deeper understanding of what can make your company even more successful.