Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cruising Carson City

My Beloved has a soulmate of nearly 30 years, Phil. Phil has been a rather wistful bachelor all the years MB has known him, expressing gentle envy for our state of wedded bliss. We had some vague knowledge that he had been married in the past but we didn't pry and he didn't volunteer, so we just accepted his roughly 30-year singlehood.

Turns out this sweet man, who never forgets a birthday or an anniversary and even sends cards, collects teddy bears and decorates his house with them, and loves racing cars, had a girlfriend in high school, Donna, to whom he gave his heart 40 years ago. Apparently, she gave hers, too, although they broke up 'way back then (she was only 16 after all) and have lived separate lives ever since, each marrying and Donna having three (now grown) children along the way.

They reunited last fall when Phil made a driving trip to Oregon and contacted her just to explore old times. The result was electric and immediate - they were back in love instantly. Within a very short time, Donna kissed her kids and moved to Carson City where she and Phil have been blissfully together ever since.

They got married last weekend with all three kids in the wedding party. We were invited to share in their happiness, so we packed Cora into the new car and headed east. The wedding was joyous, warmly welcoming, unpretentious and family-oriented, really one of the nicest weddings we've ever attended. Phil's three sisters sang "Unforgettable," his cousin and uncle were the officiants, and his good friend Sherrie stood up with him as Best Woman. Seeing these two lost-and-found lovers so happy will remain a highlight of the year for everyone who was there.

We had some time to kill between wedding festivities, so we drove out to Virginia City, a wonderfully funky tourist trap among abandoned, rusting mines out in the middle of nowhere; explored the local community college campus, complete with a Planet Walk that leads you up with stone monoliths, each describing one of the planets in the solar system,
to their planetarium; and photographed the "guest ranches" just outside of town, where adult entertainment is celebrated.

We had to chuckle when we saw the billboards advertising the delights of the guest ranches. The names alone should give you an idea of what goes on at the Squeeze Play Gentleman's Cabaret, the Bunny Ranch, the Kit Kat (affectionately known as Miss Kitty's), and the Love Ranch.
Just in case one's naivety is profound, as you drive in to the Bunny Ranch, there are street signs with silhouettes of rabbits making bunny love along the way. These clubs offer free tours, gift shops and, reassuringly, "no sex required."

Carson City is the state capitol of Nevada. The city is organized in a long strip bordering Route 395, which starts and ends in strip malls containing every chain store known to man. The center of the strip, however, is a charming older section surrounding the governor's mansion and stately capitol buildings with big old shade trees and Victorian charm.

Just off this strip is a wonderfully whimsical restaurant called Red's Old 395. Decorated with old wagons, machinery, posters, photos, harness, a fountain, prints and hundreds of beer bottles encased behind plexiglass, it is a sight to behold. We were given two menus, lunch and dinner, as we were there rather late for lunch. Unable to decide, I asked the waitress what Red's is famous for and with a big smile she said, "Barbecue," so I ordered a half rack of what were quite simply the very best pork ribs I have ever eaten.

They were meaty, smoky, painted with a lick-your-fingers sauce that was at once mellow, gently spicy and not at all sweet, and served on a bed of crispy onion strings. The onion strings were delicious, too, although I couldn't eat them all. The accompanying cole slaw and baked beans were served in tortilla cups, a nice touch of color on the plate. The ribs were so generous that I couldn't finish them without eager assistance from My Beloved, who happily polished off the last two.

Red's Old 395 is a must if you are ever in Carson City. If you are planning to go out to one of the guest ranches, however, don't start with lunch at Red's - we were
good for nothing but a nap in the motel after lunch there.

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Blogger Chilebrown said...

I have eaten ribs at 'Reds Old 395' also. I will verify that you will probably want to take a nap after eating them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010  
Blogger Greg said...

Wow! What a journey. The BBQ looks incredible.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010  
Blogger Moonbear said...

Nice post Zoomie! I love the love story and it reminds me of yours.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010  
Blogger namastenancy said...

What a lovely, charming story and the description of Carson City made me LOL! If you ever want to make the trip, Virginia City is a lot more historically interesting. It's got it's share of tourist traps (and maybe a few of the sexy types as well) but it also has some great old houses and, off the main drag, a real feel of what a gold/silver rush town must have been like.

But true love forever! I love happy endings to "lovers separated" stories.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

So no actual bunnies at the ranch then? :(

Tuesday, April 13, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Chilebrown, we enjoyed both the ribs and the snooze.

Greg, it really, really was!

Moonbear, yes, we older lost-and-found lovers are charmed by the similarities.

Nancy, we'll return to Virginia City for a more thorough exploration one of these days. Nothing like "Bonanza," is it?

Morgan, only the signs, which made us laugh out loud.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010  
Blogger Louis la Vache said...

The wedding story is similar to that of a woman in the parish «Louis» et Mme la Vache attend. High school sweethearts reunited, now happily married. Nice story, Zoomie!

The 'cue looks fabulous!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Louis, happy endings are my favorites, always.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010  

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