Tag Archives: Elko

The Joys of Fall

Autumn is upon us, with its crisp fall air that makes a person want to long trot several miles first thing of a morning.  Ahh, those frosty mornings – wild rags are fluttering in the breeze, cotton gloves are holding the reins, and guys are getting bucked off at the Span. 

I have decided that the American cowboy population constitutes a subculture,and not just because I substitute teach in the winter and cowboy in the summer.  (Get it…SUBculture?  Nevermind.)  There are notable cultural differences.  When fall arrives, other demographics in America (the blue-collar working class, the white-collar working class, celebrities) hold football parties in each others’ homes.  Cowboys (the dirty-collar working class) hold shipping parties at Basque restaurants.

Mainstream American citizens (hereafter known as “regular people”) enjoy getting themselves purposely lost, and hopefully subsequently found without dialing 911, in corn mazes.*  Cowboys (hereafter known as “cowboys”) could do the same thing with willow patches.  How fun would that be – an exciting adventure of thrashing around in the willows, wading through mud bogs, swatting mosquitos, and getting your hands bloody with scratches!  Before entering, participants would receive a list of inventive cuss words, as they’re sure to use all the ones they already know, and a Border Collie.  Hey, you never know when they might find a remnant steer.

By this time of year, regular people’s children have been back in school for several weeks.  Cowboys’ children are back in school, too.  We’re brushy, not dumb.  Plus, it’s a federal law.

In a couple weeks, regular people will hand out gobs of candy to neighborhood children.  Cowboy-type people, not having any neighbors (no, the pack rat in the mud room doesn’t count), will watch Good Old Boys and eat all the stale Snickers bars left over from last Halloween, when (big surprise) no trick-or-treaters arrived.**

Right now, regular people are carving pumpkins.  Right now, cowboy people are, too.  Dude, they sell ’em at Raley’s. 

Regular people are currently raking fallen leaves.  Cowboys have leaves to rake, too.  Except they won’t actually rake them because 1) the 3 total trees on the high desert don’t generate too many leaves and 2) that’s rawzin-jaw work.

As we plod through fall (aka “the fall works,” aka “no sleep ’till Thanksgiving”), I am overcome with an urge to bake fresh apple pies on a regular basis – like, every 3 hours.  Elko County residents have to purchase apples at the grocery store like lowlife scum, unlike in my native California where we picked them freely at will from the tree in the front yard/back yard/cow pasture up the road.  Purchasing fruit goes against the grain of my moral being; it’s worse than voting for a Democrat or wearing sunglasses indoors.  I won’t do it!

Okay, maybe I will.  I really want an apple pie.

*Am I the only one who thinks it’d be more fun, if not somewhat redundant, to call them “corn maizes”?  Get it….MAIZE?  Nevermind.
**Avoid eating the ones with obvious pack rat teeth marks in the wrappers.  Unless you’re really craving chocolate.  Then, pretend you didn’t see them and chow down.

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Sagebrush Telegraph #1

The Sagebrush Telegraph
News from where the FM stations are static-y and nobody knows how to swim

 Elko County residents removed their wild rags and tentatively stored their down jackets just in time for the glorious Fourth. Cattle are turned out for the summer, cowboys are taking their ropes down every time the boss goes to town, and lock ‘er up if she’s young and pretty when the TS crew hits Elko on Saturday night.

The YP Ranch threw a big party last weekend to celebrate the completion of branding. Rumor has it a live band entertained the guests, who partied like the cows were never coming home. You know what they say: Be there or be sober.

Just down the road from the YP, Michael and Madison Mori welcomed a baby boy, Pete Robert, on June 4. He joins big sister Marinna (Marenna? Marynna? Marena? Eh, close) and attended his first branding at 8 days old. He did not rope.

For the older kids, school’s out, and young Anna Van Norman made her first honest-to-goodness, bring-your-own-cattle circle last week. She may not be old or stout enough yet to stop the whole herd in a run-back, but she doesn’t miss any cattle and she’s one heck of a drag-bringer-upper.

Anna’s aunt, Tilly Van Norman will become Mrs. Freeman next month when she weds longtime Elko resident Jason Freeman (no relation to Asher and Barak). The beautiful bride-to-be currently spends all of her waking (and probably half of her sleeping) moments planning for her dress, her bridesmaids’ dresses, flower girls’ dresses, flowers, the reception, food, music, invitations, groomsmen’s attire, the cake, the guest book, should the ring bearer remain standing with the wedding party or sit down with his mother during the ceremony?, the honeymoon trip, and how to decorate her new home. She spends approximately 6 ½ hours each day on the phone, not including time spent dialing. Luckily, she has an understanding roommate who doesn’t consider communication with members of the outside world a personal necessity.

For members of the outside world looking for a big break, the historic Reed Station division of the JP Bar Ranch is currently accepting applications for a full-time cook and housekeeper. The position is unpaid and housing is sketchy, but mismatched pots and pans are supplied. BYOS (bring your own spatula). Applicants must hold a two-year degree from a US accredited culinary institute or have at least 3 weeks’ experience waiting tables at Denny’s. Call the Telegraph for more additional information; serious inquiries only.

Larry Goicoechea has taken over owner/manager/chef responsibilities at Lone Mountain Station once again, and Jim Young was spotted dining there on Saturday night with a redheaded gal. They both enjoyed Larry’s famous prime rib while she sipped red wine and he drank Coors Light. Mr. Young was unavailable for comments, but word around the sagebrush is she’s a writer of some sort.

For upcoming events, the ever-lovely Denise Moody will be making a special guest appearance at this year’s Elko County Fair. She looks forward to watching the novice snaffle bit class, where her daughter may or may not fall off going down the fence. Ms. Moody is excited to trade in her duties of teaching horsemanship to troubled children in Southern Arizona and buckaroo for a couple days. A quick heads up: she will take in the afternoon horse races, so clear the way to the betting windows and hang onto your money. Mama knows how to pick ’em.

Enjoy the summer; both weeks should be great.  Take a deep seat and a faraway look in your eye 🙂

 

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A Rodeo Survival Story

We all survived the Spring Creek Ranch Rodeo, and I don’t mind saying just barely.  Luckily, there were no wrecks requiring an ambulance or vet, and the only incident to note involved a cowboy’s right rein breaking during the branding contest.  I won’t mention any names, but he works at the YP, was riding a big Paint horse, and answers to Tim Kershner.  Not too sure what exactly happened, but he finished the event with only half his steering ability and did just fine.

I got “voluntold” to help with the calcutta prior to Saturday evening’s performance.  I’d never helped with a calcutta before, and it turned out that  “helping” meant running a footrace with myself carrying receipt books up and down bleachers and collecting checks from large, menacing women who said they owed $195 while my calculations said $205.  I barely survived.

After my public service stint, I sipped a gin and tonic and mingled.  Katie and I had prettied ourselves up at her house before the rodeo, and between the pre-event cocktails and giggling, I ended up with an Oscars-worthy updo.  I wore smoky eyeshadow, black eyeliner, and a  you-can’t-tell-it’s-not-real-leather biker jacket.  Seven-year-old Anna said “You look like you should be on a motorcyle!”  I felt like a bad a$$.  It was fun 🙂

During the rodeo, I finalized the details of my next job, lined up interviews for articles, conducted an interview, ate some French fries, cuddled the world’s cutest six-month-old (he belongs to you, Becky!), and pinky-swore a high school junior that I’d substitute teach school one day on the rez next year.  I hope I survive.

After the rodeo, we enjoyed smoke-free ambiance and conversation at the Star, then headed to Stockmen’s to dance.  The band was good and the drinks were weak, but due to the chain smokers we were all guaranteed to feel ill the next morning.  We somehow survived.

I decided partway through the night that I would be sober driver, but my change of plans was thwarted when I realized I didn’t have my pickup.  After the band quit, I drank big cups of water and listened to the guys tell stories about getting frapped harder into the dirt by the pickup man’s run-off horse than the actual bronc, starting colts in Kentucky last fall, and drinking in Nashville (“There are twenty-six bars in that town, and we went to all of ’em in one night!  I don’t remember most of them, though.”  Really?  Weird.)  They barely survived.

Finally, Christina and I took the boys to their motel at 4 AM.  One of them offered me a ride home, and I told him Christina was taking me.  He offered again, and I told him if he needed a place to stay, we had two extra rooms.

He looked at me with a level gaze and said, “But, I wouldn’t want to stay in one of those rooms.”

“Well, that’s where you’d be stayin’,” I replied.

“You mean, we can’t just make out for a little while?”

“Um, no,” I said and (because I laugh at everything), I laughed. 

He shrugged and laughed, too.  “Well, don’t be mad at me for trying.”

“Oh, no, I’m flattered, thank you.  But that’s just not going to happen,” I said as I grabbed my purse and headed for Christina’s pickup.

Whew!  I went to bed early Sunday night and I’m teaching third grade today, which is a survival story in itself.  Can’t wait ’till Jordan Valley Big Loop….hope I survive 🙂

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Some Things Just Don’t Really Matter

Last Friday I decided to take a vacation from trying to be noble.  I was fed up with objectively studying myself as a sub, taking feedback from regular teachers, and adjusting my technique only to have a student ask me on Thursday afternoon “Are you going to be here tomorrow?”

“No.”

“Yessssss!”

I sent him to the office, then sent myself to the Star on Friday to practice my drinking skills.  Usually, I’m a one-glass-giggly kind of girl, but Friday I was in a foul mood unimproved by booze.  I kept up with my drinking buddy, only he was drinking beer and I was downing gin.

By 11:30, when the ranch rodeo at Spring Creek got over and that crowd joined us at Stockmen’s, I had a pounding headache.  I was the angry-looking person sitting along the back wall, glaring at the band.  Everyone else was tuned up and feeling good, and I was slightly hungover.

I just can’t handle my liquor.  My dad says it’s genetic; he used to always throw up after a night of drinking.  I’m rarely the drunkest one at the party, but I’m almost always the most hungover.  I mean, throwing up water, violently shaking hungover.  Not attractive.

I knew going into my five o’clock Friday that no good would come of overserving myself.  Since I drank two Mexican coffees and one Irish coffee (it was like multicultural night in Elko) I laid in bed an hour after I hit the sheets, further exhausting myself for Bible study the next morning.  Good decision, only not so much you’d notice.

One thing jumped out and grabbed me by the jugular at Bible study: Ronda quoted Dan Romans (I think) and said “Some things just don’t really matter.”  Meaning, we put too much thought into and emphasis on some decisions, happenings, etc. that are kind of a wash in the grander scheme of things.

What a relief!  I DON’T have to be Supewoman, Best Sub Ever, Most Likely To Brighten Everyone’s Day Simply By Appearing In It, or Writer Of The Year No Make That Century.

It’s ok to have a bad day, week, whatever.  I can obsess over making sure God specifically told me to work there, date him, don’t date him, never ever have a sip of alcohol, write that story, buy that pickup, move to that state, go to that rodeo, order my steak medium rare, or wear jeans instead of khakis.

It doesn’t really matter!

Since God’s in control anyway, it’s impossible for me to mess up my life.  He knew what I was going to do before I did it.

This raises the question of what, then, is the point of life?  What does it mean to be human?

I will definitely give this some thought.  But, in the short run, it sure is nice to not be inordinately angry at the world anymore.  Whew!  No more binge drinking.  No girl looks pretty with a pickled liver.

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Cowboy Poetry Craziness

Another National Cowboy Poetry Gathering has come and gone, taking with it the crowds wearing purple hats, prairie skirts, spurs (??) and obscene amounts of leather fringe.  It is now safe to eat at JR’s in a flat hat and not have tourists wearing bolo ties nod their slouch felt hat in your direction in a tacit “Howdy, pardner.”

  My cowboy compadres, I must report that according to the Poetry People’s attire, you are not fashionable unless you are sporting a silver-engraved scarf slide that could double as a post horn cap.  Poetry People own expensive handmade western jewelry, custom hats, high-top lace-up boots rarely seen outside of 1800s tintypes, hat bands adorned with beads/hitched horsehair/conchos/tassles/all of the above, and riatas.  They display all these items on their persons at all times when walking down Commercial Street hoping to catch a glimpse of Michael Martin Murphy.

I missed MMM, but I was lucky enough to score front row seats to Baxter Black.  That pretty much made my Poetry week!  I have long been a fan of his talented, witty, insightful writing, and was thrilled to discover BB is even funnier in live performance.  The man has a theatrical, dry, genuine manner, timing the pauses in his delivery to perfectly crack up the audience right on cue.  I loved every minute. 

I enjoyed the Milner family’s music and storytelling, even though they’re from Oklahoma.  I visited with Chuck Milner after his show, and it turns out we know several of the same people from Texas.  My favorite CM song lyric: “I went to town and signed another note/The bank’s got plenty of money/It’s been three years since they went broke.”  Great guy, and a Christian to boot.  I highly recommend his down-to-earth, wholesome, hilarious entertainment.

The Midnight Dance played by Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans was terrific.  I smoked a delicious vanilla cigar (thanks, John!), sipped some gin and tonic, and spun around the hardwood with some skilled leaders.  I narrowly avoided bodily injury when Malachi decided to use my body as a human missle, launching me into unsuspecting fellow dancers, but there may be a small dent in the wall by the Stockmen’s dance floor.

My dad and stepmom stayed with me for several days, so that was fun.  This is the first time I’ve had a really nice house to play hostess in, one that smells nice and doesn’t have mice running across the beds at night.  I think the change was appreciated by all.

I was fortunate enough to hang out with 6 top saddlemakers (Gaylerd Thissell, Doug Krause, Andy Stevens, Bob Park, Steven Mecum and Don Butler) for a few days in pursuit of a story.  That’s the best part of journalism; writing a story gives me free rein to ask interesting people all kinds of nosy questions.  I learned a ton and can’t wait to put my new knowledge into an article and share it!

Sorry if this post is marked by a distinct lack of smooth transitions between topics.  I stayed up until 4 AM and woke up at 7. 

All in all, a good week for visiting family, meeting new people, enjoying some smooth guitar-pickin’, and advancing my freelance writing career.  Now, the pressure’s on: I only have 365 days to find a purple hat.

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The Cow Town Of Elko…

I heart Elko, Nevada.  I work at JM Capriola’s, and hear conversations like this:

Clerk to shopping buckaroos: “How about some speed burners?”
Buckaroo #1: “What do I need those for?  I never catch”
Buckaroo #2: “At least you could see your rope in the fog”

Customers come in and discuss who got bucked off a gentle horse, who got canned at which big outfit, how much snow is piled up on Lamoille Pass, and the cattle market as it applies to one’s ability to buy Christmas presents.  Area ranchers use Cap’s as an exchange point.  We recently held half a dozen pies and a plastic pumpkin full of Halloween decorations behind the counter awaiting pickup. 

A pipe line worker’s wife came into the store at Thanksgiving and marveled that we didn’t have a shopping mall.  She’s right!  By golly, how can a town survive in contemporary times without a regular mall?!  Elko boasts 5 western wear and feed stores, however.  I guess that tells a person where the citizens’ interests lie. 

It seems Elko is 4 hours from anywhere.  It’s a 4-hour drive to Boise, Reno, and Salt Lake City.  But then to others, we ARE the destination.  People drive over from Winnemucca to purchase items stocked at our Wal-Mart that they can’t find at theirs.  To folks in Tuscarora (both of them), Elko is a roaring metropolis.  When I’m at home at night, I look a couple miles down the hill to Elko and see a basin full of twinkling lights.  It’s just the right amount of lights; they have a definite visible boundary, and the hills to the east and west swallow them up.

Yesterday, Allie came home and asked if I’d noticed the smell of propane wafting around the county.  I guess there’s been a gas leak for a few days now, and no one knows what’s causing it.  I wasn’t concerned, though.  This is Elko – it’s just a little rough.  The miners and cowboys who frequent this town boldly look a woman up and down in broad daylight, you can play the slot machines at any grocery store, the smell of cigarette smoke in the casinos will make you sick the next day, and washing clothes at the laundromat takes courage. 

I read in the Elko Daily Free Press today that Elko county reported no new murder cases for 2010.  See?  It’s a friendly place.  A person might be scared half to death at times, but you won’t be all the way dead 🙂

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Adjusting To Elko

I moved to Nevada from Yreka, California (that’s way up north, 40 miles from Oregon) in mid-August to cowboy for Van Normans.  At first glance, Elko seemed to be a dirty mining town.  At the laundromat, I was so scared that I drank a bottle of wine while my clothes dried.  In Nevada, the casinos are open 24/7, it’s legal to carry an open container of booze while you walk down the sidewalk, and there are slot machines at Albertson’s. 

This town is uncouth!  Immoral!  Wild and crazy!  I love it!  Nobody in this state wears a seat belt.  Nevada’s version of a drunk driving class is “put your beer in a cupholder.”  I’ve seen 3 cops since I moved here, and 2 of them were pulled over on the side of the road visiting with one another.

Mountain City Highway, towards Owyhee, covers some pretty country.  This country is big, wide open, and desolate.  I can’t get enough of the sagebrush flats, jagged Rubies on the skyline, and subtle reds of the willows in the meadows.  Now that I’ve moved to Elko for the winter, I’m gaining a new appreciation for the town.  I’m working at Capriola’s, a renowned western store, which is a top-notch place to visit with some neat old buckaroos, stylish young guys and wanna-be’s.  I’ve decided Elko isn’t so dirty and scary; I was just hanging out in dirty and scary places like Jet Coin Laundry and The Horseshoe.

I just found out this morning that I’m going to Vegas for a week to work Capriola’s booth at the National Finals Rodeo.  Woo hoo!!!  I’m very excited.  So far, Elko has produced a multitude of opportunities for me…and not just to party in Sin City.  I’ve gotten some good regional writing assignments, invitations to freelance, cowboyin’ opportunities for next year, a really nice room to rent for the winter, and even met a few people who call me their friend in public 🙂

Well, that’s my upbeat post for the day!  What to write about next time?  Cowboying?  Men?  Horses?  Uh….ok that’s pretty much the only three things that come to my mind.  Not sure what that says about me, but we’ll go with it.  Good night!

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