I recently turned 34, and this is where I found myself.
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.
Spring in Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite seasons. Snow still blankets the mountains of the Sierras, and the lower elevation rivers rise as the days grow longer and warmer. It is this time of year that I find myself having to make the difficult decision of skiing vs kayaking.
As I prepare for an upcoming California road trip, I can tell you that the gear I am planning on taking is getting a bit overwhelming. Just thinking about trying to fit it all into a little biodiesel powered VW TDI has me wondering if I need a semi-truck.
No matter what the weather dictates, I inevitably find myself catching up on whitewater community sites like boof.com and americanwhitewater.org, as well as looking through old kayaking photos to remind myself that I still know how to boat. Here is a little slideshow of some kayaking” I have accumulated from years past. Can you tell which ones I took with an old 35mm camera and slide film and then scanned?
Friday night I took in a little bluegrass at Jannus Landing in downtown Saint Petersburg, Florida. Lots of crunchies and self-indulgent ragers running around, but Yonder Mountain String Band laid it down and it was well worth going.
On my way to the bar I took a special interest in this sign and decided to snap a photo. I made a few more trips to the bar, and then some time later found myself in front of Photoshop.
In the animal kingdom certain colors say poison, others say sex. We humans are creatures of color with response dictated by a combination of nature and nurture.
What is interesting to me is that each image has it own decidedly different feel. The composite might be an onslaught for some, but either way the combination of message and hue draws the eye.
What do you see after a few of the old Makers Mark?
Last weekend I made my way to Charleston, South Carolina to spend quality time boating, fishing, and camping with some good ole childhood friends. I have been somewhat deprived of the Lowcountry over the course of the last decade, and while there have been many changes, much is still the same.
Despite being December, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and some of us even took a dip in one of the creeks. The highlight of the trip for me was doing an 8-mile loop around Bulls Island, which is a part of the Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge. It is filled with wildlife and incredible scenery.
There is a section of the hike called, “The Boneyard” where dead trees stand and fall at the water’s edge. Beaten by hurricanes and bleached by sun and salt, they appear like fossils being pulled into the sea.
The remnants of an old fort made out of oyster shells lies at the north end of the island. Built some time in the late 1600s or early 1700s, it served as a lookout for marauding pirates who would often ambush incoming ships carrying their cargo to Charleston and beyond.
I am growing tired of the mediocre camera I am using to shoot video. The lack of image stabilization and high resolution are disappointing. Time for a new one. Any recommendations?
Now, if that does not get you excited to watch this video I don’t know what will! Either way, you can look away or choose not to hit play. ;~)
This is some footage from this past summer that I had sitting around, and being the type of person that does not like to waste anything, I decided to slap together a quick video. The main point to it is – the video is of a friend of mine, Brad Brewer, who I met in college at Clemson University, and subsequently taught me how to creek boat years ago.
Around 1995, there were not nearly as many whitewater kayakers as there are now, and there were even fewer people running steep creeks and big waterfalls. Brad was one of the few. He also knows a thing or two about playboating…
This shot was taken on top of Harrah’s Casino in dowtown Reno. I’ll let you derive the metaphors.
For the week of July 4th I found myself at the bottom of a river canyon with no cell phone reception, no Internet connection, and nothing to do but kayak and kick it with a dozen friends who were all there to do two things – paddle Cherry Creek and forget what we do on a daily basis.
Cherry Creek is such a perfect combination of hydrology, geology, and geography that if I were to stand up and give a presentation on what constitutes the ideal class V river it would be this place. If you are a confident class V boater then it presents few worries and plenty of excitement. Basically, everything goes but in a big way. To quote Lars Holbek and Chuck Stanley,
“This is where they come to strut their stuff or to get stuffed while strutting.”
The only stress I experienced over the course of the entire week was the unfortunate run-in with a rattlesnake. Several of us were in the midst of an extremely competitive bocce game when we first became aware of its presence. It crossed a dirt road that we were on and hunkered down in a hole presumably built by a mammalian species. I threw a warning rock across its bow and hoped that it was the last I would see of it; but alas, it was not.
Later on that evening it presented itself again. If it were not for the fact that we had a campground full of paddlers sleeping on the ground and dogs oblivious to the powers of poison, I would have left it alone. I don’t like killing things unnecessarily, but in this case it was a problem.
Kayak paddles can serve multiple functions, some of which do not involve actual paddling. A swift blow to the back of the head, a few saw-like motions, and it was not long before I had extinguished the life of this poor yet deadly reptile. I thought for sure I would pay for this action on the river the next day, but as luck would have it I was spared. Regardless, I am sorry rattlesnake. It is not your fault that you were engineered with an extremely effective defense mechanism. It just so happens that humans have a pretty good one too.
Now for the video. There are a few rapids not featured, but if you are new to Cherry Creek then this compilation should give you a pretty good idea. It’s a definite “Splash Party.”