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Quests: Travel, Discovery+Adventure MAY 2013

Northern exposure

Bears, bugs and the Bering Sea Diggin' dinos with the kids Plus other family jaunts

Roads less traveled

See the sights — not the crowds

Secret stones A Quest for ancient pe troglyphs

Water park preview

Nosh & Swig’s tapas trot the globe

Wet and woohoo!



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editor’s note


Run for the borders Quest is such a freighted word. It

Next month in Desert Companion

Feast your eyes on our first annual photo issue

2 | Desert

suggests purpose, a bit of seriousness, and perhaps even a smidge of grandiosity. Isn’t questing, like, for knights of yore and World of Warcraft players? No way. To be sure, travel is about relaxing, rebooting and, of course, Instagramming a continuous stream of humblebraggy pics into the grills of all your Facebook friends. But what about that sort of travel that’s arduous but rewarding, difficult but meaningful? The musty adage is that it’s about the journey, sure, but sometimes it is about the goal. Thus a resonant motif for our fifth annual travel issue: quests. In this issue, you’ll meet people whose idea of travel entails much more than jet-setting to poolside getaways. Hey, I like to kick it spa-style with cucumber slices over my eyes as much as the next guy, but there’s another kind of vacation — strenuous, jarring and fulfilling — that offers a richer kind of stimulation. From Northern Nevada, writer Allyson Siwajian searches for — and finds — one of Nevada’s richest troves of ancient petroglyphs a mere 20 miles from Reno. It’s a quest not just to snap pics of some awe-inspiring rock art. It’s a search for artistic inspiration — and for answers: What do these petroglyphs mean? Why did ancient native Americans choose this site to place these ancient symbols? As with any quest, there’s always a twist. Read her story on page 64. Adam Bradley took the idea of a quest and ran with it — and swam, pedaled and paddled with it too (page

Companion | May 2013

60). This extreme outdoorsman literally traveled from his doorstep in Reno to the shores of the Bering Sea in a 5,000-mile trip by foot, bike and canoe. In this case, Bradley’s quest was multifaceted: He didn’t do it just to see if he could do it (an admirable impulse all its own), but also to catch a longing glimpse of wilderness and human communities that are facing grave and unprecedented impacts from global climate change. The sights, sounds and, in some cases, tastes (oh, you’ll see what I mean) of his quest make for a gripping read. Of course, more modest trips can require as much of a sturdy spirit and unflinching constitution; I’m talking about that ritual of rounding up the tykes and teens for the annual family vacation. For clans with a yen for adventure beyond the typical rollercoaster road trip or campsite crawl, check out “A family affair” (page 34) for vacays that will have an unusual effect on the ties that bind: Shockingly, you may just like each other more after sharing some of these experiences. And if it’s a true getaway you’re seeking — that is, getting away from everyone else trying to get away — you’ll enjoy “The road less traveled” (page 52), in which we proffer quieter, saner and more affordable alternatives to classic trips. Avoid the crowds, save your sanity and come back with a treasure trove of envy-inspiring Instagram pics? The modern hallmarks of a perfect getaway.

* * * If you’re reading this before May

5, I have a simple message for you: HURRY UP! The deadline for the Desert Companion “Focus on Nevada” photo contest is looming like that weird uncle in awkward family photos; there’s still time to enter at Whether you’re an avid snapper or just like to gawk at glossy pics, though, our June photo issue will feature not only contest winners of every skill level, but also gorgeous photo essays we’ve commissioned from some of the best shooters in Southern Nevada. Missed the deadline? Dry your eyes — and keep shooting for next year’s contest. Andrew Kiraly Editor

DREAMS WELCOME! 4 color process

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contents desert companion magazine //



All Things to All People

Writer, explorer, dirtbag By Alan Gegax



A slingshot and a prayer By Emmily Bristol



Wet and wooohooo! By Mike Prevatt



A family affair By JoAnna Haugen



Didn’t see that coming By Brock Radke


From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture


End note

Needle in the desert By Dawn-Michelle Baude

FEATURES 52 Roads less traveled These getaways have all the fun — without the crowds

60 To the river, to the sea

An epic (and buggy) quest from Reno to the Bering Sea

64 Art in a hard place Petroglyphs beckon the adventurous — and inspire the artistic

on the cover

Photography Christopher Smith 4 | Desert

Companion | May 2013

To m m o u l i n : L u k e O l s o n ; F l a g s ta ff e x t r e m e : M i c h e l l e Ko e c h l e ; D i n i n g P h oto : S a b i n O r r



A portrait of a feisty Jewish woman who has survived some of the major events that shaped the 20th century with humor, guile and spirit.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN The notorious imposter who inspired the award-winning movie and musical tells his story.






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Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley. Publisher Melanie Cannon Editor Andrew Kiraly Art Director Christopher Smith Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’

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Website: Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photos, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Chris Bitonti for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.

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to all people



Getting a grip: Tom Moulin


p h oto : L u k e Ol s o n

Author, explorer, dirtbag Tom Moulin lives out of a white Dodge Sprinter cargo van. During the day, he rock-climbs. Home, for Tom, is on the rocks. He’s a dirtbag. That’s not an insult. In the rock-climbing scene, “dirtbag” is an honorific, denoting those who’ve completely given themselves to their love of rock climbing, eschewing the 9-to-5 and the house in the ’burbs in favor of a simpler life with a schedule set by the sun and the seasons. Think the Southwest version of surf bums. “‘Avid’ does not properly describe my relationship with rock climbing,” says Moulin. “While there are quite a few people who go rock climbing, there is a smaller group to whom rock climbing is a way of life. It’s how they define their life and find purpose and meaning in their lives. I’m one of those people.” That intense relationship with the outdoors has resulted in more than conquering perilous climbs and bagging peaks. Moulin’s fixation has inspired him to publish what may be the definitive tome on all things Red Rock: the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Guide, published by Snell Press ( The countless color photos that adorn almost every page are a testament to Moulin’s dedication. So is the fact he catalogued every major species of plant at Red Rock. (He kept a meticulous spreadsheet listing the areas where flowers could be found and the dates he hoped to see blossoms.) Turns out the histories were even tougher to collect than the flowers. Little about Red Rock’s pre-BLM history has been preserved. Ar-

Hear more

Care package Handmade without the hassle. That’s what motivated Lauren Thorp to launch Umba Box. After a frustrating search for handmade items for her wedding, Lauren found a promising niche: Women wanted to buy handmade goods and accessories, but they didn’t have the time to sift through the profusion of products available online. “Buying handmade lets you take charge of the types of products that you bring into your home, items that are ethically and responsibly made,” says Thorp. But what about convenience? She started Umba Box

chival newspapers had some information, but Moulin also had to rely on oral histories handed down to tour guides and curators. All this he artfully stuffed into a book small enough to fit in a hiker’s back pocket. “When researching and working on the book,” he says of the two-year process, “nearly all of my waking hours were devoted to work on the book.” Given that Moulin lives in a van, publishing the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Guide wasn’t as hard as you may think. His well-appointed Sprinter is more like an RV than a van, complete with kitchen and work station. He’s got day-to-day living down to an art, too. He showers by way of a gym membership, and over the years he’s figured out where he can park without being harassed. After a day of climbing, he’ll take his van somewhere he can get a good wi-fi signal and do more writing — and continued on pg. 12 somewhere close to where he plans to climb the next day. That’s the entire purpose of the dirtbag lifestyle. “There is also a negative connotation to dirtbag, as in a leech,” says Moulin. “Although I did live off dumpster diving for the better part of two years and currently live in a van, I hope that I don’t fit all the characteristics of a dirtKeep up with Desert bag. Perhaps a ‘passionate chuffer’ would Companion events, news better describe myself, since I can rock and bonus features at climb, but not at the highest levels.” Or just call him a lover of the outdoors who’s found a way to share his passion with others — no van required. — Alan Gegax

Tom Moulin talks more about his guidebook on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at | 11

to address that, too: It offers curated handmade goods offered via a monthly subscription and an online store. For $25 a month, Thorp and her team tuck handmade treasures — home goods, jewelry, stationery, bath products — into a box and send it to subscribers’ homes. Customers can rest assured the goods are, well, good. Swahili for “create,” the word umba reflects the company’s commitment to working with handmade artists and small-batch producers. That’s why you might see Thorp at First Friday, building relationships with artists. The entrepreneur recently moved to downtown Las Vegas from Washington to “tap into the amazing community that’s developing here.” Already, she’s even considering a mobile boutique. A physical shop would be a new venture for her, but she says there’s no better place than Vegas to try it. She says, “The city itself is like a start-up.” — Elisabeth Daniels

e duc a t i o n


ON THE TOWN How can you possibly make Romeo & Juliet more poignant and stirring? Setting it to dance. That’s what Nevada Ballet Theatre does May 11-12 at The Smith Center. Info:

12 | Desert

Old school, newschool idea

Companion | MAY 2013

The Meadows isn’t just another Vegas Valley prep school — it’s one of most prestigious (and, yes, expensive) in Las Vegas, ranked among the finest in the West. The majority of the 89 faculty members have graduate degrees. The teacher-pupil ratio is 1:11. Students wear uniforms, learn Latin, and take place in first-rate arts and sports programs after school. “We’re so retro it’s radical,” says Head of School Henry Chanin. This is no small feat, given that in 1984 The Meadows was but a configuration of trailers in the stillhypothetical suburb of Summerlin. But the most recent advancements happening on campus are part evolution, part revolution. Following up on a schoolwide tech upgrade 18 months ago — think beefed-up wi-fi, interactive whiteboards in every classroom — next year The Meadows is downloading a major update. It’s piloting a package of online tutorial programs developed by the Khan Academy (, the web-based learning powerhouse founded by Wall Street wizard-turnededucator Salman Khan. The pilot program with Khan will see 120 Meadows students in lower and middle school take Khan courses, while upper school students will be offered the opportunity to take economics and select science electives through the program. Meadows teachers will keep journals on student progress, while Khan will keep more data-driven tabs. “We call it the ‘flipped’ or hybrid classroom model, where students are given more freedom and also more responsibility to direct their own basic learning via the information access the computer makes possible,” says Chanin, “while teachers are freer to focus classroom time on higher levels of discussion, analysis and extended applications.” The school will also be partnering with the private online Laurel Springs School,

offering courses in world lit, history, statistics and Mandarin. In the words of one Meadows faculty member, it transforms the role of the teacher from being “the sage on the stage to being the guide on the side.” Perhaps it’s so radical it’s, well, retro. “This is an exciting evolution of teaching for the 21st century, but it isn’t really a stark new thing,” says Jeremy Gregersen, assistant head of the school. “Correspondence courses and distance learning have been around for a long time. Almost all classes in areas such as English and history, where there’s a lot of reading involved, and students go home to absorb that material and then come back to class for discussion and group analysis, demonstrate the flipped classroom format.” But this is certainly a new thing: Next year, students at grade 6 and above will be required to tote their own computers or tablets to school as part of Meadows’ BYOD (“bring your own device”) initiative. “Personal devices have the potential to replace the book as the most powerful learning tool,” Chanin says. However, all this talk of software doesn’t mean he’s lost sight of Meadows’ core mission: better-educated students. “This isn’t touchy-feely stuff. We’re still high-level academics here,” says Chanin. “We teach calculus.” — Kris Saknussemm

I ll u s t r at i o n : B r e n t h O L M ES

continued from pg. 11


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Companion | MAY 2013

Patrick Reilly World traveler, photographer, lawyer PHOTOGRAPH BY beverly poppe

• Local attorney Patrick Reilly took his first overseas trip as a kid, when his dad set up an almost punishingly whirlwind tour of Europe. “It was one of those American Express tours where you’re hitting 14 countries in 18 days, which is great, but it’s way too much and you’re exhausted by the end.” But he really discovered his penchant for adventure when he took a school trip to France — and quickly ditched the class and went out on his own. “The teachers trusted me and I spoke the language pretty well, so I was kind of unsupervised, which was a blast. That’s where I learned how much fun it is to see how people are really living. The tourist thing is fine, but I prefer to see how the locals live. I like to go somewhere and really experience it.” • Travel tip? “Plan your trip — but not too much. You want to be flexible,” says Reilly. Case in point: When in Iquitos, Peru, in 2012, Reilly and family attended Sunday Mass, which happened to be hosting dozens of high school students from around the country. Reilly and his family tagged along for the next leg of the high schoolers’ trip: the zoo. “We literally walked out of Mass, hopped on a bus and spent the day with 100 high school students from all over. It was one of the best days because it was such a great surprise.” (Meanwhile, to minimize unpleasant surprises, he swears by Rick Steves’ travel guides. “They’re invaluable for saving both time and money.”) • Close calls? He’s had a few. On a 2007 trip to Kaktovik, Alaska, he was photographing the polar bears that gather to feast on the discarded bones from the annual whale hunt. The guide warned everyone that polar bears are stealth animals, which sounded absurd — until they realized one had sneakily sauntered up to their vehicle. “The bear wasn’t threatening or angry, but it was definitely unsettling,” he says. “He had this expression on his face like, ‘You

guys got any sandwiches in there?’” (You can see this pic — and countless other outtakes from Reilly’s travels — at • Here’s a work perk that suits Reilly’s globe-trotting lifestyle: At Holland & Hart LLP, where he practices as a business attorney, partners get a paid, threemonth sabbatical every five years. “People come back refreshed and recharged saying, ‘I can’t wait for the next one,’” he says. His inaugural sabbatical kicks off in June. Not surprisingly, Reilly plans to spend a lot of that free time on the road. “We’re going to rent a car and just drive around Europe.” See? Not too much planning. (Though photographing the White Cliffs of Dover is on his bucket list.) • His world travels, Reilly says, have made him more accepting and understanding — not to mention more adventurous. “I grew up in the Midwest, in a lily-white suburb of Chicago where everybody was the same, the food was the same,” he says. “The idea of exotic food in Palatine was Taco Bell.” He’s also learned that there are a few things that are universal — such as teen angst. He notes that his photo collection is brimming with smiling children, smiling adults, but the adolescents always look glum. “I’ve learned that no matter where you are, teenagers are universally ticked off at the world.” • If world travel isn’t in your budget or schedule, Reilly says our own Southwest backyard has more than its share of exotic locations — he finds himself visiting and shooting there often. “There’s a reason the rest of the world comes here to visit — because there’s some amazing stuff nearby: the Grand Canyon, Utah, Valley of Fire, Red Rock. It’s unbelievable. If you’ve got three kids, get a camper and go explore.” — Andrew Kiraly | 15


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A golden opportunity Pool season is just the around corner, and it’s easier than ever to get a head start on your tan with the latest in modern sun worship: mobile tanning. Stephanie Robertson of Illuminate You Mobile Tanning ( shares tips on getting the golden touch. Desert Companion: Mobile tanning? How does that work? Stephanie Robertson: First, I set up a backdrop similar to a photographer’s backdrop to contain any overspray. Next, I apply a barrier cream to the client’s hands and feet. The client then ties up or covers their hair, and the spraying begins. Once I’ve sprayed the client, I dry them with the warm air attachment machine. After the client is dry, I wipe off the barrier cream, take off the hair cap, pack up the backdrop and apply some powder if there are any areas that aren’t quite dry. It’s simple and quick. DC: How long does it last? SR: This depends on follow-up care. I remind

16 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013

everyone to avoid mineral oil after they’ve tanned. Any lotion or body wash containing this will break up the tan, making it look like a dry lakebed or alligator skin. The more you moisturize — but not with baby oil — the longer it will last. DC: What’s the strangest place you’ve tanned someone? SR: Being mobile, my base of clients are locals or hotel guests, but it surprises me how many people will tan on their lunch at the office. I’ve tanned clients in a tiny garage, in the back yard and even someone on a high-rise balcony overlooking the Strip, which scared me, because I’m afraid of heights! It’s more the occasions for tanning that sometimes get me. I’ve tanned families through weddings, proms, bat mitzvahs, babies, vacations, job interviews, just because and even funerals — yep, funerals. People just want to look their best truly for any occasion. CM

Shedding light: Stephanie Robertson







Y o u r c i t y, b l o c k b y b l o c k

South Commercial Center District

5 W. Sahara Ave

This unassuming stretch of Maryland Parkway is much more than a launch ramp from the University District to downtown. In its own right, it’s got eclectic eats, cool boutiques and spicy salsa — both on your plate and on the dance floor. Market St

18 | Desert

Hacienda Del Rey 4 This newly opened restaurant serves all the Mexican mainstays — but the setting may have you lingering over your margarita: The high, wood-beam ceilings and open tile floors feel like you’re feasting in a posh estate south of the border. 2797 S. Maryland Parkway, 541-8671

Companion | MAY 2013

Magura Restaurant 6 Really? Wagon-wheel chandeliers and mannequins draped in Bulgarian folk drag? The ambience is so thinly wrought because Magura’s too busy making awesome food: Fresh shopska salads blanketed in feta, rich seasoned meatballs and chicken and peppers served with crunchy pizza bread. 1305 Vegas Valley Drive, 693-6990

Violin House 7 From his charmingly cluttered shop, Oscar Carrescia quietly nourishes Vegas culture with violins, lessons, repairs. And concerts: For more than 25 years, he’s directed the Las Vegas Camerata and the Las Vegas Youth Camerata orchestras. 1305 E. Vegas Valley Drive, 733-0482



Laguna Ave

1 2 3


Vegas Valley Drive 5

Loop da Loop 8 Arts and Crafts dining tables? Mid-mod desks? Drexel bedroom sets? There’s something to this name: Antique store Loop da Loop is happily all over the place. Hours can be odd, so call ahead. 1305 Vegas Valley Drive #G, 693-5667, Original Thai BBQ 9 Ah, the spicy kerfluffle over Original Thai BBQ:




Word on Yelp is that it’s a phantom of its former glory, but I’m happy to report the signature barbecue chicken, after melting on your tongue, still enters your bloodstream like a drug. A rich, saucy, chickeny drug. 2680 S. Maryland Parkway, 363-5800 — Andrew Kiraly

p h oto s : b r e n t h o lm e s

Goldilocks Bakeshop 2 Imagine a Denny’s — breakfast-joint booths, bright colors, squeakysoled servers — but with Filipino fare. Try the crisp lumpia, stuffed with fresh veggies, minced meat and drenched in a sweet sauce the waiter only called “The Formula.” Get your pan de sal on at the bakery

The Mayan Club 3 Wear your flameretardant undies to this late-night Latin nightclub. The seasoned dancers who flock to this unlikely storefront hotspot on weekends bust some seriously crotch-scorching salsa moves. 2797 S. Maryland Parkway, 425-0313

Smuggle Inn 5 Themed bars are usually like umbrella drinks: showy but shallow. Not the venerable, invitingly dim Smuggle Inn, whose crusty, pell-mell naval tchotchkes — barrels, crates, lanterns, ship wheels — are probably actual jetsam culled from the high seas. 1305 E. Vegas Valley Drive, 731-1305

Maryland Pkwy

A Second Chance boutique 1 Question: What does it say about this middleaged man that I stood momentarily transfixed by this surprisingly classy storefront rioting with shemannequins dressed up for cocktail hour, poolside brunch, girls’ night out on the Strip? And then I went in and browsed? Don’t answer. 2797 S. Maryland Parkway #29, 734-2545,

counter. 2797 S. Maryland Parkway, 368-2253


The governor and the Legislature are having a tax policy showdown. Hear a discussion on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at



A slingshot and a prayer These hungry activists aren’t letting the deep-pocketed Goliaths intimidate them from taking their shot in Carson City

By Emmily Bristol | Photography Christopher smith

20 | Desert

Companion | May 2013

Let’s talk about it: Planned Parenthood’s Annette Magnus

For all its small-town charm, Carson City can feel like a pretty intimidating place during the spring of every odd-numbered year when the Nevada Legislature swings into gear. Each legislative session, the town floods with politicians and lobbyists, sure — but also lots of grassroots activists. Against all odds, these idealists trek back to the state capital again and again, never letting the death of a bill be the death of a dream. Meet some of the 2013 Legislature’s most promising Davids, taking their shot against an army of Goliaths.

A nnette M ag nu s The cause: Championing comprehensive sex education The reason: Magnus got her first job with Rep. Dina Titus, then a state senator, when Magnus was just a teenager. The native Las Vegan sits on the steering committee of the Nevada Women’s Lobby and organized this year’s Grassroots Lobby Days, in which bus-loads of regular folks head to Carson City to learn the ways of the Legislature firsthand. The public affairs manager at Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada, Magnus has been one of the chief organizers behind a comprehensive sex-education bill (AB230), which would update current abstinence-only requirements passed in 1980. “This is something I take very personally,

having gone through the Clark County School District (sex education),� she says, adding dryly, “It was two weeks of my swim teacher telling me not to have sex.� The odds of victory: Too close to call. A similar bill failed to clear committee before the deadline for bills to move from one house to the other last session. And there’s a lot more heat this time around after Assemblywoman Lucy Flores (D-Las Vegas) revealed her abortion at age 16, during testimony in favor of the bill at an April 1 hearing. But Magnus is undaunted. “We feel a groundswell. I think we’ve built some credibility in the Legislature building.� V e n i cia Consi din e The cause: Bringing hope to underwater homeowners The reason: The Legal Aid center of Southern Nevada staff attorney has been in the trenches working to help homeowners who’ve been buried by an avalanche of paperwork and legal red tape, locking them in bad mortgages and forcing them into foreclosure processes that have spanned years. “Prior to 2009, almost every person who walked through our door was a foreclosure,� she says. Considine’s work on the Consumer Rights Project led her to the Homeowners Bill of Rights (SB321), a bill modeled after the legal framework that binds the five biggest banks to the National Mortgage Set-

Against all odds, these idealists trek back to Carson City again and again, never letting the death of a bill be the death of a dream. tlement, which sunsets in 2015. But the settlement, which requires a single point of contact for homeowners (rather than the maze of different loan servicers and banks) as well as consolidated document tracking, doesn’t extend beyond the Big Five. That leaves other banks open to continue the Catch-22 cycle that keeps homeowners in limbo between loan servicing

companies (often largely automated by computers) and the actual banks that hold the loan. (Which is what helped turn Nevada’s real estate landscape into the Dead Sea.) In addition, SB321 would keep the settlement protections in place after 2015. Having spent her formative years in Las Vegas, Considine takes the work and this bill personally. “(Homeowners) are not just numbers. They’re not just some nine- or 10-digit number. They are human beings.�

The odds: With similar bills in the works in California, Illinois, and Colorado, the odds are in favor of SB321. H owa r d Watts , III The cause: Chiseling away at Big Mining’s tax cap The reason: A Las Vegas native, Watts has a deceptively deep reservoir of knowledge of Nevada’s political history, something that tends


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issues to work in his favor in legislative meetings and lobbying trips to Carson City in which he is often one of the youngest people in the room. But now the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada field organizer is taking on perhaps one of the toughest battles at the Legislature this session — the push for SJR15, an amendment that would strip Big Mining of a constitutionally protected tax cap that prohibits taxing net proceeds. Watts says, “No other corporation has those protections in NeMining for change: vada, not even gaming.” Howard Watts He’s taking what he learned from PLAN’s similarly Equal footing: themed ballot initiative in Jane Heenan 2010 that failed due to lack of signatures. “The mining corporations had attorneys from Jones Vargas, (at the time) the biggest firm in the state. And then there’s us,” he says, chuckling. “What it came down to was we didn’t have the money to pay people to go get signatures. We’re a nonprofit. We go out and get the signatures ourselves. But it ended up raising the profile of the issue.” And Watts hopes that translates into the momentum needed to get SJR15 not just through both houses, but passed by the people in two consecutive elections, which is required of any constitutional amendment. The odds: SJR15 passed easily out of the Senate in April. Watts says at least half a dozen Assembly Republicans have signed on in support. But it may be a fierce battle for PLAN’s existing the Employment Non Discrimination lone lobbyist against nearly two dozen lobbyists Act. This session, the activist has an eye on sex representing Big Mining and related concerns. trafficking bills, including AB67. “My opposition is to some provisions, as they can criminalJane H eena n ize people who aren’t actually sex trafficking The cause: The transgender — as in human trafficking — but are engaged rights watchdog in sex work, which many transgender people The reason: Rather than focusing on get into because of job security and discriminaany one bill, the longtime activist keeps watch tion issues,” says Heenan. The comprehensive over several bills each session, looking for red sex-ed bill is also of particular interest. “Gender flags that signal potential trouble for the transnon-conformity is broader than transgender gender community. An instructor at the Colpeople. It’s about anyone who does not match lege of Southern Nevada, Heenan is a founding what society dictates in the gender binary.” member of Gender Justice Nevada, which got The odds: Whether or not the bills on nonprofit status in 2011. The new nonprofit is Heenan’s watchlist make it through, the odds dedicated to promoting gender equality and diare good that the activist won’t rest until Neversity. Heenan was a leading voice in last sesvada is a more equitable place for people of sion’s successful campaigns to include protecall genders. tions for “gender identity and expression” into

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Companion | May 2013


H. Lee Barnes discusses writing about war experiences on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at


At the Whiskey River An excerpt from H. Lee Barnes’ new novel, “Cold Deck” Photograph Brent HoLmes


A floorman, no more than twenty-five, cut an eye at the game and told Dean to change it up. The young boss was stuck watching five games, four of them busy. Dean’s face strained from concentration as he shuffled and stripped the deck. He nearly fumbled one strip. Angel turned his head, faked a cough and whispered, “This is Jake.” Confident now we could pull it off, I laid two chips in the betting circle. I would follow the plan, start small, build up bets — the goal a thousand dollars, then walk. If someone wises up, grab the checks and hustle out, but don’t run. As Dean offered the deck for a cut, Patty Lane eased down on first base. She leaned forward and placed a twenty-dollar bill in the betting circle. Dean’s eyes snapped in her direction. “You want the money to play, ma’am?” “What does that mean?” she asked. “Do you want to bet the whole twenty?” “Do I have to?” She’s got him on the hook, I thought. I had to wonder myself if it was an

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act or if she was sincere. In either case, she was ideal bait to reel him in. “No, ma’am.” She looked at the two-dollar-minimum sign and said, “Oh, I see. Just ... two dollars.” “I’ll change it up for you.” She smiled up at him. “Thanks.” Intent as he was on estimating Patty Lane’s cup size, Dean failed to case the layout before pitching the cards. His delivery wasn’t graceful, but he

Pap e r C r a f t : A s ha n t i M c g e e

In H. Lee Barnes’ new novel “Cold Deck,” protagonist Jude is a longtime casino dealer who’s seen his share of Las Vegas history — in fact, he barely survived the deadly MGM fire in 1980. Now Jude is still barely surviving: More than two decades later, he’s still at the tables, a tired, middle-aged divorcé trying to be a good father to his children while struggling with crushing debt. After losing his job and totaling his car in an accident, Jude finally gets a lucky break. A friend offers to help him get another job, and Jude jumps at the chance — but soon realizes that what seems to be a fresh start is part of a complex casino cheating plot. In this excerpt, Jude participates in the scam for the first time. “Cold Deck” is published by University of Nevada Press and is available on its website at or at

Artist’s rendering. Card not available.

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books managed to get the cards to all of us. I held my first card face up, a six, so Angel could see it. He flashed his discreetly — a five. We’d likely go for an eleven to make the hand or double down if Dean showed a three through a seven. Angel’s second card was a nine, mine an eight. Dean’s up card was a seven. I pinned the six underneath my chips and laid the eight on top. Patty Lane leaned forward so that her breasts pressed together. She exposed her cards, two queens. “Should I split these?” she asked. That was all the distraction Angel needed. His hand whisked over the felt. He snatched up my eight and simultaneously dropped the five, the exchange so smooth even I couldn’t see it. I turned over my cards and matched my bet. Dean, entranced by Patty Lane’s tan cleavage, was still explaining the risk of splitting tens. The man playing the middle, also mesmerized, pinned his cards under the money without looking at them. The floorman, eyes wide, glanced at Patty Lane, looked away at another game, then back at her. Dean, the floorman, the man in the middle seat, all of them rendered hormone-dumb.

Angel took a card and stayed. The dealer pinned a card behind my bet, wished me good luck, and turned over his hole card. He had a seventeen and seemed pleased that he did. His eyes straying toward Patty Lane, he exposed my double-down card, a nine. He nearly knocked the chips over as he paid off my bet. He pushed with Angel, then turned over the cards of the man in the center spot and looked around as if seeking a witness. When he gathered his wits, Dean said, “Did you know you stayed on a nine, sir?” The man grinned meekly. “It’s a new strategy.” Dean locked up the man’s bet and moved to Patty Lane. “Guess we know what you got.” He smiled and paid her. As Dean turned over Patty Lane’s hand, an unexpected sensation took a grip on me. Blood rushed to my head, then drained away an instant later. My pulse slowed. The bells and buzzers coming from the slots, the subdued roar of human voices, and all the blended other noise that so defines a casino seemed to diminish. I looked about and saw objects with

the kind of acuity I’d had as a teenager. “You should be betting more,” the man in the center seat said to Patty Lane. “And you should have taken a hit.” Patty Lane looked up at Dean. “Should I bet more?” “Ma’am, I can’t say.” She looked at Angel, then me. “What do you two think?” “I’m betting more,” Angel said. “Dean here is our lucky dealer.” He put another five on his hand and another dollar bet out for Dean. “We’re pressin’, my man.” The con proceeded just as Ben had mapped it out. I bumped my bet to thirty. I won five more hands, then reduced the bet and lost it intentionally. In setting up my hand, Angel often improved his own. Even Patty Lane was making money. A few hands later the floorman came over, introduced himself to each player. He asked if we’d like drinks. Ben had advised me not to worry if a boss stood close to the table. The best way to detect a gypsy move was in the peripheral vision, from a distance. Nor did a boss expect anyone to cheat right under his nose.

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I took a hit on a thirteen against the dealer’s nine and busted. The con couldn’t have been better timed. Dumb floorman, I thought, and said, “I’ll have a diet Coke.” “I’ll get the girl.” The boss walked to the podium. I bet fifty dollars and placed a five-dollar chip in front of the betting circle for Dean. Little by little, it became easier. Angel had deft hands, and if there was an inkling we were being watched, we didn’t switch. I came to sense those times. When I caught a natural, I was strangely disappointed; I didn’t want to lose the rhythm of the move. When Dean’s relief arrived to send him on break, I stood and asked the dealer to color me up, said my lucky dealer was leaving and that I’d had enough. The new dealer was a woman no more than 23. She seemed angry about my leaving. I exchanged reds and picked up three green and eight black checks. Eleven hundred seventy-five, a nice score. “Think I’ll cash out too,” Angel said. From buy-in to cash-out, the scam had taken thirty-two minutes. I folded eleven hundred in

bills in my wallet and walked out into a world that seemed newly hatched. I’d committed a crime, but oddly I didn’t feel like a criminal. At a trash basket on Fremont I rid myself of the stale gum and glanced up through the light show at what had once been the Mint. The elevator was rising and I was on it, a 5-year-old again looking down, scared and elated. A wall of clouds surrounded the Sheep Range. A dusk-like sky darkened the street and the air was cool. The storm was closing on the city. Anxious to tell Audie of our success, I picked up the pace and hurried to the car. Even if I had reservations about us, I wanted her to be proud of me for pulling it off. She was parked on the second floor of the Horseshoe, listening to an FM rock station. I slid in, spread the wallet, and thumbed the bills. “All without a hitch. It was great.” I intended to tell her that I’d been dead for twenty years, that I was thankful for today, but before I could, she reached over, changed the station, and said, “Should I be impressed?” Just then Angel lumbered up to the back door, opened it, and sank into the seat. He

reached over and patted my shoulder. “You did good, Jude.” “Where’s Patty?” Audie asked. “A Slow Sally. Probably still cashing out. No clue and she still won most of her bets. Maybe I’ll have her pick some teams for me. Hell, it’d probably be as good as my system.” “Here she comes,” Audie said. Patty Lane climbed in the back beside Angel and kissed him. She heard the music and said, “Ick. Find us some soft rock.” I breathed in the heavy air, exhaled, and set the radio dial. Audie backed out, turned, and drove down the ramp. She took 4th Street to the freeway. Lightning sparked in the sky. Audie drove, eyes fixed on the road. Angel and Patty Lane held hands like high school kids. My pulse sounded at my temples. Not since the fire, I thought, not since then. * * * Ben ushered us in, said that he was on the phone, refreshments waited in the den, and we knew how to make ourselves comfortable. Audie lagged behind, saying she had to use the


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toilet. Liverwurst sandwiches sat on a mahogany service tray. Liverwurst was exactly what I wanted. I poured a glass of mint tea. Angel and Patty Lane filled their plates with fruit. I sat on the leather couch and bit into the sandwich. My imagination took off — a couch like this, marble floors, original art on walls. I considered the life money afforded people, envisioned a new one for myself, in which I could spoil my kids and I wouldn’t be just a two-second afterthought to dealers in a break room. Audie came in, laid her purse behind the blackjack table, and sank into a recliner. She drew her legs up, wrapped her arms around her knees, and stared out the window. Then a few second later, as if bitten, she sprang up, selected a cigar from Ben’s humidor, and said, “I’ll be on the patio.” On the way, she picked up Ben’s Tiffany lighter. “Might rain,” I said. She gave me a look that sliced into me. “I’m smart enough to come out of the rain.” She threw the door open and slammed it behind her. “She’s got a nose full of somethin’,” Angel said after she was gone. “It’ll stain her teeth,” Patty Lane said. “What?” Angel asked. “The cigar. Tobacco’s terrible on teeth.” Angel gave Patty Lane a patient, loving look. You’re either in or out, I thought. Now that I was in with Ben, was I out with Audie? Ben entered and said he was pleased we’d helped ourselves. He asked where Audie was. Angel said, “Outside.” Ben poured a glass of fruit tea, cut a slice of cheddar, and stood nibbling it and sipping from the glass. Audie sat poolside, puffing slowly on the cigar. He said, “Eighty-dollar Havana. That should come out of her cut.” He stared off as if something weighty occupied his mind. After a few seconds, he turned to me. “I just got off the phone with an old acquaintance, Jude. I got a little present for you. You start dealing this week.” I should’ve been pleased, and would have been if his present hadn’t been wrapped in such ominous paper. I looked outside at her. So, Audie, what now, I wondered, now that your friend owns part of me too? I was too wired to give much thought to what had gone down or my role in it. One important thing that escaped was that the proceeds we’d netted from the scam, when split five ways, wouldn’t put a dent into the lifestyles that Ben and Patty Lane enjoyed. If I’d thought on it, I would have realized that what had happened in the Whiskey River was never intended to be about money.


A P R I l 4, 2013 Hundreds attended the Spring Fashion issue event with Desert Companion at Fashion Show and enjoyed cocktails, savories, prizes, fashions and more! Be sure to visit or for more exciting event news and updates! |


What’s the future of Lake Mead? Hear a discussion on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion/hearmore


Splash attack: Cowabunga Bay’s Utah park


Wet and WOOOHOOO!!!

That’s the sound this total splash maniac makes at water parks. Which of the two slated to open this summer are worth getting lathered over? Here’s a wet ’n’ wacky head-to-head By Mike Prevatt That dude, over there? The one with the scalp stubble and Twilight vampire-pale skin? Wearing out-of-season swim shorts that actually fit him? Crawling out of an inner tube that just crash-landed into a chlorinated pool filled with that most precious natural resource of which we desert rats are purportedly depleting ourselves? That will totally be me this summer, when not one, but two water parks open in the valley: Wet ’N’ Wild, the first-ever source of fun in Summerlin, and Cowabunga Bay, Henderson’s newest babysitter. Now I don’t just visit water parks, I conquer them like a bloodthirsty Spartan charging the Persian army — in other words, half-naked, oiled

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up, sandaled and yelling in the face of near-death. I shame heroin junkies in my fiending for spills and thrills. And those screams of ecstasy you hear from my dropping, slipping, careening body? That’s me letting Sir Isaac Newton have his way with me. I may be twice as old as the lifeguard who will inevitably rescue me from man-made rip curls, but that won’t stop this insatiable thrillseeker from braving 115-degree temperatures and unforgiving teenagers to play real-life Chutes and Ladders at our two new wet spots. Here are all the rides and features I’m breathlessly looking forward to.

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department leisure

Something watery this way comes: Renderings and construction photos of Wet ’N’ Wild’s second coming

We t ’ N’ Wi ld Hoover Half-Pipe: For every skateboarder who has lusted after the wall of the Hoover Dam: After coasting casually in your inner tube through a tunnel, this parabola of pleasure will drop you 57 feet, where you’ll then race back up a nearly vertical wall, experience a couple seconds of esophagus-flooding airtime, and freefall back to earth. Whatever righteous dude gave Tony Hawk the engineering degree has my eternal thanks. The Rattler: Touted as the first of its kind in North America, this 360-foot open slide will shake the endorphins out of you and your raftmates with its two mega-tunnels, where you’ll swing up and down their walls and oscillate like a fickle politician. Don’t read the name and confuse it with that mystery medicine bottle you shook up, swigged from and

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passed around at college parties — though it’ll feel just as awesome. Desert Racers: I can’t wait for the chance to race five suburban fatties down this three-hump, 20-feetper-second, aquafied version of the traditional carnival slide, sledding face-first to the finish line, where I, victor, will raise my body mat above my freshly hurtled body — and subsequently shake my kidneys out of my ribcage. Royal Flush Extreme: There’s no other way to put it: This centrifugal marvel squeezes you out like last night’s enchilada into a giant bowl, your flailing body spinning under the rim until you’re flushed out. I’m all for reliving my swirlie days from middle school — as long as it’s physics administering them. The Constrictor: Another supposedly record-breaking slide — the “tightest banking turns,” it says, but the exact same serpentine slide has been open at the sister park in Phoenix since 2011 — that won’t stop until gravity crushes you and your innards into human paella. You’ll churn through obscenely banked corkscrews at around 18 miles an hour, effectively surpassing the average Summerlin speed limit.

Canyon Cliffs: Remember Der Stuka at the old Wet ’N’ Wild? That adolescent rite of passage, where we shakily ascended a 76-foot spiral staircase to our certain deaths, took orders from some UNLV dropout to lie down and cross our legs before he pushed us off a fiberglass cliff, resulting in all of Las Vegas flashing before our eyes and a day-long struggle to chisel out our swimsuit from in between our glutes? This is that slide redux, albeit three stories shorter. Splash Island: This nine-slide family playground complex also features an enormous bucket that dumps 300 gallons of water onto anyone wanting to know what Carrie felt like at the prom. Cowa b u ng a B ay Zuma Zooma: Reminiscent of the Bomb Bay at the old Wet ’N’ Wild, where we summoned our inner Slim Pickens and entered a warhead-shaped chamber, only to have the floor drop out from beneath us, sending us freefalling down a slide the length of California. However, this version is enclosed in a tube and ends in a horizontal 360-degree loop. A perfect perilous plunge, right? Almost. Other incarnations of this newer water-park favorite tilt the loop 60 degrees so you whiz through almost upside down. Now THAT would double my chest hair! But alas, this is Henderson, where you can only have so much fun.

Wet ’N’ Wild Scheduled to open May 25 Tickets and season passes from $39.99-$74.99

Cowabunga Bay Pour it on: Cowabunga Bay promises to deliver wet thrills this summer.

Good Vibrations: Also touted as a North American first, it’s — surprise! — the same exact concept as Wet ’N’ Wild’s Rattler. Which is to say each Vegas water park is pretending the other doesn’t exist, like neighboring casinos with the same food courts. But, just like the orange chicken I keep ordering, I’ll still queue up for it. Also in the copycat category: The adjacent Rock-a-Hoola — ostensibly a nod to the former SoCal water park of the same name that once sat off the I-15 in the Mojave Desert — mirrors the Royal Flush Extreme. It’s a dead heat in this game of Simon Says. Surf-a-Rama Wave Pool: The Southern Californian in me has always wanted to ride four-foot waves, but without the used prophylactics floating by and needles underfoot. This 32,000 square-foot faux ocean ought to grant me that longtime wish. Bonus: Inner tubes are free at Cowabunga Bay, so we don’t have to share one. Unless you’re hot. Surfin U.S.A.: This 55-foot, six-person bump-n-dip trumps the Desert Racers at Wet ’N’ Wild in that its final drop goes under both the ground and a bridge, coming back up for the finish. Forget coming in first — after I eagerly let this slide wriggle my spine like a centipede, I should finally be able to nail Reclining Hero Pose in yoga class. Cowabunga River: The obligatory lazy-river attraction. Which it means it’s slow, and ain’t nobody writing this article got time for that! Beach Blanket Bonzai: Or, the in-betweener, where your daughter can graduate from the kiddie area to a grown-up slide that won’t leave her shrieking like Yoko Ono in a Dora the Explorer one-piece. Groups of up to four in rafts wind down a 600-foot slide, and wouldn’t it be so much more fun if the individuals in that group rolled off the raft halfway down and slid down on their own, occasionally banging into one another and landing atop one another in the splashdown pool? I saw this happen on YouTube. And I would totally do it myself. Who’s in?

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Go behind the scenes of the Discovery Children’s Museum on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at


A family affair Strap in the brood and load up the car. These familyfriendly trips have something for kids of all ages (and your inner kid, too)


By JoAnna Haugen

L i k e di nosau rs had a m osh p it Nearly 200 million years ago, dinosaurs trod the earth around the shores of an ancient lake in southern Utah, and, in 2000, the first of thousands of tracks made by these dinosaurs and other animals was discovered. Today, visitors can put on their archeologist caps and make tracks to the Dinosaur Discovery site at Johnson Farm, where they can see and learn about the history and ecology behind this footprint-thick site in the Southwest. A short movie provides background and context for the dinosaur foot, skin and tail prints, as well as the active excavations taking place in the area. Tip: Dinosaur Discovery is best for older kids who have an interest in prehuman history. 2180 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, Utah, Co m i n ’ down the m o u nta ii i i i i i i n! Part natural wonder, part amusement park, part historic experience, Glenwood Caverns Mountain high: is an adventure park perched on a mountain in ColGlenwood Caverns orado with a plethora of family activities. The actual cavern itself features large, open underground rooms that can be explored with a 50-minute tour, and blast-from-the-past diversions include digging for fossils and panning for gemstones. Many of this western-themed park’s rides take advantage of the mountainous setting, including the giant canyon swing and the Soaring Eagle zip ride, which lets riders fly down the side of the mountain. To catch the best views of the Rocky Mountains, ride the Iron Mountain Tramway, a gondola offering a seven-minute ride up the mountainside. Tip: Ticket prices can be steep; look for discounts on Groupon and similar sites. 51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs, Colorado,

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Petal power: the wildflowers of Ridgecrest

Sweet dates i n a va ll e y . . . o f d eath ! For a short getaway from Las Vegas, combine an unusual piece of food history with a chance to enjoy nature at the China Ranch Date Farm located near southern Death Valley. A lush oasis in an otherwise barren desert, China Ranch is a small, family-owned operation that sells date-laden goods on site, but that’s not the only reason to visit. The ranch features an interesting mix of geology, botany, ecology and history, which can be explored via one of several interpretive guided nature walks and hikes that slip back into slot canyons, up to overlooks and through the



desert landscape. Keep your eyes open for wildlife — and buy a loaf of date bread before the ride back to the city. See the website for directions at D i g t hi s Wild West m i n i ng scene Hop on the party train — okay, a historic railroad — for an educational journey back to the Wild West. Your destination? Virginia City, Nevada. The period? The late 1800s. Admittedly a little touristy today, Virginia City was a major mining hub back in its heyday, and it’s retained much of its old-time charm. Arrive in style aboard the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, which was in operation for 80 years. The city is bursting at the seams with museums, historic buildings and a cemetery that offer insight into Virginia City’s past, but families might want to purchase an adventure package (available May through October) to bundle activities including trolley tours, mine tours, stagecoach rides and museum entries. Check for seasonal Wild West reenactment shows and quirky community events (the International Camel Races in September? Yes!) to enhance your visit. About 25 miles south of Reno, Nevada, Pl ay that f u nky m usic ( l i t e ra lly) Whether musical instruments are made from tin cans, rare wood or goatskin, music is a global language, and at the Musical Instrument Museum, the harmony of sound comes together. The museum has a collection of instruments from about 200 countries on display; some are historically significant, others are artistically intriguing and still others are simply a part of the local culture. Wireless headsets allow everyone to have their own musical experiences, and while older kids with an interest in music will most appreciate the museum, anyone can try their hand at music making in the Experience Gallery. Tip: Don’t feel the need to see it all. Though fascinating, MIM can be a bit overwhelming, so take a break mid-visit. 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, Arizona, a da ne good tim e in t his fa i ryta le v i llage Once upon a time, there was a village straight out of a dream. That village was called Solvang … So begins the story of a trip to California’s “Little Denmark” and the surround-

36 | Desert

Companion | May 2013

Top: The Museum of Musical Instruments Center: a Dane good time in Solvang Village Below: the historic train of Virginia City

ing Santa Ynez Valley, a trip that feels like you’re traveling to Northern Europe — no passport required. Families can easily get around this walkable and stroller-friendly town by foot, bicycle or even four-wheeled surrey cycles. The Solvang Trolley, a historic wooden streetcar pulled by a pair of draft horses, is a good way to get the lay of the land. Parents may want to squeeze in some shopping in Solvang’s boutique and antique shops, but when the kids want to run loose, there are a few in-town parks as well as fauna-friendly activities. At Ostrich Land, kids can view more than 100 ostriches and emus up close, and some outfitters offer horseback riding excursions through picturesque wine country. Two hours north of Los Angeles,

Q u i e t o n s et! Lights! Camera! Insight! Adults and kids alike who love movies or television will appreciate a behind-the-scenes peek at the Warner Bros. studios near Hollywood. Unlike some of the canned amusement park tours that more closely resemble rides, no two experiences at this studio are exactly alike. Guides quasi-customize the tours, so if you’re interested in a particular show that’s filmed on site, speak up — the guide may be able to get you on the set. The experience lets visitors walk on working film sets, watch as sound artists create effects, learn how sets are constructed and view famous props that have been used in film and television. Tip: Best for kids who can sit still for longer peri-

Enter to Win A Mother’s Day to Remember with Tickets to Andrea Bocelli! Desert Companion and MGM Grand partner to bring you and your mother a once-in-a-lifetime experience with Andrea Bocelli, one of the most recognizable voices in music. Make it a Mother’s Day to remember by entering to win tickets for you and mom to the Andrea Bocelli performance on December 7, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The package includes one pair of tickets and dinner for two at Fiamma Restaurant. * Thrill drill: Flagstaff Extreme Adventure

ods of time, as they’ll need to ride on the studio tram for at least two hours. 3400 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank, California, Fa m i ly bonds f o r g ed in thri lls ( a n d possibly terror) Forget those boring corporate team-building trust exercises. Here’s one that’ll truly forge some family bonds: Climb into a tree together and face your fears as you set off on a journey consisting of wobbling bridges, hanging nets, swings, scrambling walls and other adrenalin-pumping suspended challenges. At Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course, you work your way through progressively more difficult tree-suspended paths, cheering on family members as you combine fun with physical and mental fitness. Beginning climbers ages seven through 11 can start sharpening their skills in an environment made specifically for their size and skill levels (parents are treated to awesome photo-ready views) while older kids are welcome to hit the adult course, which contains four large circuits, each one becoming increasingly more difficult. Tip: Slots fill up fast, so make reservations in advance. Historic Fort Tuthill County Park, Flagstaff, Arizona,

ENTER TO WIN AT DESERTCOMPANION.COM/ANDREA BOCELLI Winner will be chosen on May 31, 2013 * See website for details. Must be 21 years of age to enter and a legal resident of Nevada. No cash value, no refunds or exchanges. Not liable if lost or stolen.

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News Reviews Interviews at f i r s t b i t e O n t h e P l at e


The dish

Tapas surprise


Eat this now

Heavenly deviled eggs


On the plate

Upcoming dining events


Tasty territory: Nosh & Swig’s sticky bun taco


At First Bite

Park on Fremont | 39


the dish


Didn’t see that coming From its unusual location to its globe-spanning small plates, Nosh & Swig is full of surprises By Brock Radke Photography SABIN ORR

40 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013

It’s hard to tell if restaurants define how we dine or if it’s our collective cravings that give rise to new eating options. Sometimes we make a discovery that blurs those lines even further — a fun restaurant seemingly offering the perfect food at the perfect time. In this case, it’s a casual spot with laidback style; all the excitement is in the food. It doesn’t have a specialty, instead dabbling creatively in tasty bites from all over. It’s sort of a tapas bar, so you can choose a few small plates or get a bunch and share with your crew, but the cooking is not restricted to Spanish-style cuisine. There’s Asian influence: sticky bun tacos with pork belly lacquered in soy and ginger, Korean-style chicken wings and Thai beef jerky. But there are plenty of familiar comfort foods, too: grilled cheese, fried calamari, chicken and waffles. It’s playful, but far

Clockwise from left: pescado torta, fried PB&J, sticky bun tacos. Above: Chef Steve Piamchuntar

from kids’ stuff, and yet presented with obvious skill and attention — these plates are as Instagram-ready as they are delicious. If you find this place, when you find this place, you won’t be wondering if the owners, Steve and Lorie Piamchuntar, designed it for the kind of curious, obsessed young eater who blasts their gastronomic adventures into the social media universe on a daily basis. You might, however, consider whether this restaurant, Nosh & Swig, has the potential to change the way you dine out in Las Vegas. Could every neighborhood use one of these? Absolutely.

Table 34 Featuring Chef Wes Kendricks’ contemporary American cuisine including safe harbor certified fresh fish, wild game, duck, lamb, angus beef, and comfort food classics. Conveniently located off the 215 and Warm Springs. Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 5pm until closing (around 10pm) The location of Nosh & Swig is the only thing that doesn’t make perfect sense. The vast majority of new, hip, diverse eateries like this one pop up in parts of town where there are clusters of action — Spring Mountain Road, pockets in the southwestern valley, or central locations near the Strip. Flamingo and Sandhill isn’t one of those clusters. In fact, this southeast suburban neighborhood seems to be a dining black hole, save for fast food outlets and a few chain cafeterias and tiny taco shops. That’s kinda why Nosh & Swig is here. “It was calling out to us, like it needed some love,” says Lorie Piamchuntar. The couple lives in Southern Highlands and looked around the west and southwest parts of town for a site for their first restaurant, but nothing seemed to fit. Plus, this location was more turnkey; they could put everything together themselves. “We’re a mom-and-pop shop to the tee,” she says. “When we opened (in December) the locals around here were amazing from the start. We heard, ‘You don’t know how bad we needed a place like this around here.’ We established some regulars pretty quickly and they’ve been really good to us.” In fact, the location itself might be part of the setting — that is, setting diners up for a pleasant surprise. “The hole in the wall stereotype, the mom and pop, that’s what I like,” says Steve. “When you walk into a casino restaurant, you expect the best. Over here, you expect fun. We catch people off guard. We saw the potential in this location to be a kind of diamond in the rough.”

Perhaps cook-it-and-they-will-come can work in the odd corners of the Vegas valley. Former food trucker Jimmy Cole opened his first restaurant, Top Notch Barbeque, in the adjoining room of a tiny Doc Holliday’s video poker bar on Eastern Avenue. Sheridan Su — like Steve Piamchuntar, an experienced young chef — dishes up Chinese-American food in the former diner inside the Eureka Casino, after operating a micro-cafe inside a hair salon. Nosh & Swig is a big leap for the Piamchuntars. Steve grew up in the biz; his family owns two Thai restaurants in Southern California. He began his culinary career in the kitchens of the just-opening Bellagio 15 years ago. Most of his experience comes from cooking at the Stirling Club before it closed last year. “He got offered some pretty awesome executive chef positions then, but he wasn’t biting,” Lorie says. “He didn’t want to do it all over again for someone else.” The idea of opening their own restaurant hit like a ton of bricks. “Gourmet food will always be in my blood, but bringing it back a little old-school, bringing back the fun, and not being restricted to do one thing is what this is about,” says Steve. “There are no rules in culinary, it’s just have fun, be an artist. I do (different stuff ) because I can.” From 2005 to 2009, the couple operated a catering business, dishing it up for lots of private events and weddings. It offered an opportunity to build a local following and learn how different people’s tastes can be. That may be why Nosh & Swig’s menu is so big, why it has something for everyone, and why it’s arranged by primary ingredient.

600 E. Warm Springs Road Las Vegas, NV (702) 263-0034

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702-589-7557 | 41

dining “And I come from an Asian background where we all sat at the table together and ate each other’s food,” says Steve. “So that’s what I’m used to, sharing, trying things little by little. Putting this menu together was all about if you want a little Italian, a little Asian, a little Mexican, you can have it all with a little fun and flair.” If you’re feeling piggy, there’s a rib stack, some chicharrones or the addictive Nachos O’Brien, potato chips loaded with peppered pork and Dublin cheddar. In a veggie mood? There’s assorted tempura, Mexican street-style grilled corn, decadent cheesefilled cremini mushrooms or crisp salads served in Mason jars for shakeable fun. Don’t worry, there are chicken, fish, cow, cheese and sweets sections of the menu, too. The Piamchuntars didn’t know how people would react to their menu; they really just built a place they’d like to go to. Turns out they have great taste. But they’re far from finished. The bar should be complete any day now, offering plenty of swigging to match all that noshing. And Chef Steve is brainstorming specials all the time, from lobster tails to lollipop lamb chops to spicy edamame to wild mushroom pasta. That means you won’t know what to expect on your next visit to a restaurant that’s already been an absolute surprise.

Nosh & Swig 3620 E. Flamingo Road, 456-6674 Daily 11a-10p

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42 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013

Sticky bun tacos. Everybody’s doing their version of pork belly buns these days. The Nosh & Swig twist uses an Asian-style steamed bread like a taco shell stuffed with explosively flavored crispy fried pork in a soy ginger glaze and a dollop of sour pickled cabbage. Good luck sticking with one order. Tiger Cry. Chef Steve Piamchuntar sticks to his roots with this take on Thai beef jerky, strips of tender, salty-sour beef with a side of sticky rice and a the perfectly mouth-tinging contrast of nam prik chili paste. Dr. Pepper braised short ribs. The chef takes you on a tour of his fine dining background with some of his small plates, including this serving of luscious, long-braised beef short ribs. Just a touch of fruity sweetness shines through the rich meat, served with rustic polenta corn bread. BR


May’s dining events you don’t want to miss

eat this now! Our favorite recent dishes that have us coming back for seconds

Indian Food Festival May 4. This festival aims to introduce the general public to the food and culture of Indian. In addition to authentic Indian food, this inaugural festival will also feature children’s activities and live entertainment, including Punjabi music and traditional Indian dancers. 2p9p. Free. Clark County Government Center Amphitheater, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway,

Uncork’d May 9-12. Now in its seventh year, Uncork’d offers celeb chefs, master sommeliers and avant-garde mixologists for four days of tasting and tippling. Among the events are a master series dinners with famed chefs, cooking demonstrations and the Grand Tasting. Various venues,

Get VIP access Subscribe today to Desert Companion. Not only will you get a year’s worth of our award-winning city magazine delivered to your door. But you’ll also be supporting quality journalism, fine writing and great design.

Project Dinner Table

Deviled eggs

at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill Bacon makes EVERYTHING better. Gordon is a smart man, which is why his version of the classic is chock-full of bacony goodness. His playful, interactive take — you spoon the deviled filling into the egg whites yourself — makes for a dish that’s as addictive as any I’ve recently had. You’re unlikely to find a better version anywhere in the valley. I know I certainly haven’t. Jim Begley

Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill Caesars Palace,

garlic bento at Rice Trax Teriyaki grill Rice Trax offers a variety of bentos — essentially Japanese boxed meals — with traditional Hawaiian ingredients. The most “local” of the bunch and my favorite is the garlic bento consisting of garlic chicken, teri beef and sweet potato tempura alongside two island favorites: Spam and a hot dog. Trade out the house salad for their outstanding mac salad and you’ll understand why Vegas is the Ninth Island. JB

Rice Trax 7780 S. Jones Blvd., 269-7439,

May 18. Join Chefs Bradley Ogden of Hops & Harvest, Angelo Sosa of Poppy Den and Sam Marvin of Echo and Rig Steakhouse and Butcher Shop for a six-course dinner under the stars. A portion of proceeds benefit Golden Rainbow and Women in Need Courts. 5:30 p.m., Tivoli Village. Tickets start at $175 per person,

Tequila Dinner May 22. Cantina Laredo has partnered with Chamucos Tequila for a dinner featuring four specialty courses paired with tequilas. Dishes include crab-corn quesadillas, tomatillo guajillo soup, grilled halibut on banana leaf and more. 6:30p. $49.99. 430 S. Rampart Blvd. #110 inside Tivoli Village,

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SUBScRIBE Today! | 43


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44 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013

Crunch time: Park’s take on chicken and waffles

At f i r s t b i t e

Park on Fremont By DEBBIE LEE | Photography by Beverly Poppe Hops, scotch and hopscotch. With the arrival of Park on Fremont, you can enjoy all three under one roof. Downtown’s first gastropub, which opened at the end of March, is the latest addition to the ever-changing Fremont East district. It also arrives hot on the heels of its nearby sister establishment, Commonwealth. But if Commonwealth (as well as its clandestine counterpart The Laundry Room) is designed for well-behaved adults, Park on Fremont encourages you to unleash your inner child. Here, Las Vegas’ adult playground theme is interpreted in the most literal sense. A tile hopscotch board is embedded into the cobblestone patio floor, a see-saw sits in a secret smoking section and whimsical objects — including a life-sized Cinderella carriage— are randomly placed throughout the space to provide a Wonderland-like atmosphere. While the hyper-styled décor straddles a fine line between beautiful and contrived, a menu of simple comfort food is playful and anything but pretentious. Fried chicken, crusted with crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal, is sandwiched between two waffles for a fantastic hand-held gut bomb. Grilled cheese comes in two forms: an unadorned, child-friendly

version and a gussied-up interpretation made with Brie, Serrano ham and an heirloom tomato slice. Even French fries are treated to an unexpected twist. Swipe them through a pool of ketchup and you’ll notice a blast of heat from the addition of Sriracha. (Unfortunately, a gimmicky Philly cheesesteak topped with macaroni and cheese was less successful — both the pasta and roll were heavy and bland.) On the bright side, they’ll serve as a sponge for all of the drinks you can expect to knock back. Hangover victims should look no further than The Derby Breakfast Club — a Bloody Mary with bacon-infused rye, bacon strips and a pickled hard-boiled egg — for an unforgettable hair of the dog. And a clever mix-andmatch beer and shot menu appeals to every palate, from the Jäger-chugging college kid to the Fernet Branca-sipping food snob. You can also just settle for a beer. If you don’t know your Old Milwaukee from your Old Speckled Hen, any of the preciously dressed servers can help you pick from more than a hundred selections. Because even if you want to revive childhood memories over house-made tater tots and a game of hopscotch, it’s better to leave the juice box in the past.

Park on Fremont 500 E. Fremont St., 798-7000, // Daily 11a-3a

OUTDOOR picTURe shOw on the green May - OcTObeR



+ saTURDay


Starting at 8:00 pm from May – August • Starting at 7:00 pm from September – October May 3

wreck-it Ralph

July 5

happy Feet

sept 6

George of the Jungle

May 4


July 6

happy Feet 2

sept 7

Mighty Joe young

May 10

Finding Nemo

July 12

born To be wild

sept 13

The incredibles

May 11

peter pan

July 13


sept 14

pee-wee’s big adventure

May 17

The Lion King

July 19

charlotte’s web

May 18


July 20

Lady and the Tramp

sept 20 The Odd Life of Timothy Green

May 24

willy wonka and the chocolate Factory

July 26


July 27

Despicable Me

aug 2


aug 3

surf’s Up

aug 9

Kung Fu panda

aug 10

Kung Fu panda 2

aug 16

alice in wonderland

aug 17

The Goonies

aug 23

Oz The Great and powerful

aug 24

The Lorax

aug 30

Free willy

aug 31

The water horse: Legend of the Deep

May 25


May 31

Rise of the Guardians

June 1

here comes the boom

June 7

Dolphin Tale

June 8

big Miracle

June 14

Madagascar 3

June 15


June 21

The Neverending story

June 22 annie June 28 escape from planet earth June 29 Thunderstruck

2225 Village Walk Drive, Suite 171, Henderson, NV 89052



sept 21

winnie The pooh

sept 27 March of the penguins sept 28 The pirates! band of Misfits Oct 4

hotel Transylvania

Oct 5


Oct 11


Oct 12


Oct 18


Oct 19


Oct 25


Oct 26

wallace and Gromit: The curse of the were-Rabbit

Dates, times and movies are subject to change. Weather permitting. No alcohol or glass allowed.




Southern Utah: Let the Journey Begin Take a downtown walking tour in st. george — with the help of our Stroll-through History Guide to relive steps of the past. Town (Ancestor Square)- Downtown Utah

The Painted Pony

The intersection of Main Street and St. George Boulevard is the commercial center of St. George. On its northwest corner lies Ancestor Square, six historic buildings and many new ones – all with a compatible décor to enliven the historical sense of the old city center. The shops, restaurants and art galleries create a favorite place for both visitors and residents.

The Painted Pony is located at 2 West St. George Blvd on the 2nd floor of the Tower at Ancestor Square. The restaurant is open daily for dinner at 4:00 pm and for lunch at 11:30 am Mon—Sat. For information or reservations call 435-634-1700 or go online to www.painted-pony. com. The family owned Painted Pony Restaurant in Ancestor Square is celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year with a generous portion of gratitude and a side of community reflection.

Visitors to this park-like area might have a challenge deciding which of the buildings are historic and which are new. Talented architects have worked to make it that way. The gardens between the buildings also interweave the atmosphere so the structures seem to fit together.

George’s Corner Restaurant & Pub St. George’s newest restaurant, George’s Corner, is paying tribute to one of 47

 offers two GREAT dining options 



St. George’s very first restaurants, the legendary Big Hand Cafe. Though more than eighty years separate the two establishments, they have many common bonds, the first of which is that they share the same location: the northwest corner of St. George Boulevard and Main Street. 435-216-7311

St. George Live

Patio Dining "Best Restaurant..." Painted Pony Restaurant

2 W. St. George Blvd. #22 St. George, Utah 84770 (435)634.1700

Casual Fine Dining | Contemporary American

The St. George Tabernacle, Brigham Young Winter Home and Jacob Handlin Home are all included in a 90-minute tour guided by pioneer settlers of the past. Tours are given Memorial Day through Labor Day. Call 435.634.5942 for reservations.

Tuacahn Amphitheatre The Tuacahn Center for the Arts is pleased to announce its 2013 professional theatre season, with five musical productions that will delight theatre-goers of all ages. Located in scenic Southern Utah just 110 miles north of Las Vegas, Tuacahn’s season is presented in a beautiful amphitheater naturally surrounded by red cliffs reaching nearly 1,500 feet in height.


E‘ S


George’s Corner Restaurant

2 W. St. George Blvd. #1 St. George, Utah 84770 (435) 216.7311 “Best New Hot Spot” | Great American Food 48

The Tuacahn Center for the Arts is located close to several state and national parks, with Zion National Park being just 40 minutes away. Snow Canyon State Park – with its beautiful, natural backdrop for hiking and photography – is adjacent to Tuacahn. The St. George area features more than 40 hotels and 12 beautiful golf courses. A variety of season and individual show tickets are now available for sale by visiting or by calling 800-746-9882

Kayenta, Utah Kayenta, Utah, in Southern Utah’s red rock country, is a tranquil enclave surrounded by protected lands. With 2,000 acres of sprawling desert landscape, it’s located 7 miles west of St. George. Kayenta’s beautiful setting gives visitors a sense of peace and helps them feel a direct connection with the natural landscape.  Easily accessible adventures like hiking, mountain biking, cycling, and climbing are a great way to fill the day and experience all that Kayenta, Utah has to offer.  Nearby, visitors can find excitement in the southwest’s abundance of places to explore. Zion


2013 Plein Air Artist Invitational

ZION NATIONAL PARK November 4 - 11, 2013

• See Zion’s Peak Autumn Color • 24 Nationally Known Artists • Paint Out and Auction • Buyers Preview and Sale • Free Daily Demonstrations and Lectures Zion National Park Foundation 800-635-3959

National Park, Snow Canyon State Park and The Grand Canyon are within a short drive.

Crescent Moon Inn Located in Kayenta, Utah, the Crescent Moon Inn is the perfect place to get away from it all. Relax and enjoy the picturesque desert surroundings and an unobstructed view of the night sky. The Inn is just a short walk or bike ride from Kayenta’s Coyote Gulch Art Village. 435-879-9076 © Disney

Coyote Gulch Art Village In the heart of Kayenta, the Coyote Gulch Art Village is a community of art galleries, studios, an outdoor gear and apparel store, day spa, a theatre, and a cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. An arts center, a retail center, or just a place to relax and explore, the Coyote Gulch Art Village is open to the public and everyone is welcome.

You May Have Seen Mary Poppins, BUT You Haven’t Seen It with a Spoonful of Tuacahn’s Magic! May 30 - Oct 25

Festivals & Events in Southern Utah Festivals and events in Utah Valley offer jampacked fun for families, couples and anyone! Come enjoy some of the best festivals in the west. Nestled in and around the mountains our festivals provide amazing vistas, weather, and first class entertainment.

U.S. Regional Premiere June 6 - Oct 24

TONY Award Winner for Best Musical on Broadway! July 4 - Oct 22

Utah Shakespearean Festival The Utah Shakespearean Festival is located in Cedar City. This season includes four Shakespearean classics, two hit musicals, an American stage icon about justice, and a regional premiere of a new play are all scheduled as part of the 2013 season at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The Festival’s 2013 season, its 52nd, will run from June 24 to October 19. Tickets can be purchased by calling 800-PLAYTIX, or by visiting us online at


A Tuacahn Premiere June 27 – Aug 10

Tuacahn Amphitheatre is surrounded by the red cliffs of Southern Utah, just two short hours from Las Vegas.

(866) 321-4953


Tuacahn Summer Arts Institute

Summer Music Festivals 2013



Photo: Charles Wood Photography

Classical Music Concerts in Southern Utah All free admission

Featuring world-class professional artists from across the nation and student festival participants

Professional Chamber Music & Piano Concerts Student Solo and Chamber Recitals Festival Orchestra Performance of “Scheherazahde” & Brahms Concerto for Violin and Cello

D ate: Ju ne 17 -29, 2 0 1 3

L o c at ion: St. G e orge, U T are a for more information

Calendar Kayenta Art Festival- 14th Annual. October 11–13. The Kayenta Art Festival takes place in October in beautiful Kayenta. There are several booths as well as galleries with art on display including acrylics, watercolors, oils, bronze sculptures, fused glass, gourd art, mosaics, photography, metal art, jewelry, pottery and more. Tuacahn Center for the Arts. May 30th - October 26th. Tuacahn Center for the Arts is pleased to announce its 2013 professional theatre season with a total of five musical productions which will delight theatre-goers of all ages. A variety of season and individual show tickets are now available for sale by visiting or by calling 866-321-4953. Re Max Country & Western Invitational. May 1-31. ReMAx is excited to announce that the ReMax Fine Art Gallery will be having its first invitational. The goal of the gallery is to give local artists an opportunity to show and sell their art. 100% of the proceeds go to the artist. 435-705-1040 Dino Days in Dixie. May 5-11. Dino Days in Dixie is celebrated each year in recognition of the discovery of the remarkable track site at Johnson Farm and other paleontological resources of the St. George area. 435-574-3466 The American Variety Show. May 23-Oct. 26. An electrifying performance of music, dance, and comedy with a tribute to the veterans, with a cross section of rock ‘n’ roll, Broadway, jazz, pop, and country music. 435-772-3224



IMAGINE. Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, Utah June 24 – October 19. The 2013 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival not only includes four Shakespearean classics, but also two hit musicals and a regional premiere of a new play. 800-PlayTix Fourth Annual Plein Air Artist Invitational at Zion National Park. November 4-11. The event will bring together 25 of the country’s finest landscape artists to paint in Zion Canyon. Park visitors that week will have many unique opportunities to witness these great artists at work in the park through daily demonstrations, lectures and workshops. 800-635-3959

Southern Utah Visitor Resources With its five national parks, 43 state parks and a wealth of recreational opportunities, Utah has your perfect vacation destination. For all the newest information on deals, packages, events and festivals in Southern Utah or to book a room contact the Travel and Tourism Bureau listed below. Capitol Reef Country/ Wayne County Travel Council 435-425-3365/ 800-858-7951

Cedar City

2013 Season

June 24 — October 19

King John • Love’s Labour’s Lost The Tempest • Anything Goes Peter and the Starcatcher Twelve Angry Men • Richard II The Marvelous Wonderettes

Cedar City and Brian Head Tourism Bureau 435-586-5124/ 800-354-4849 Garfield County Office of Tourism 435-676-1160/ 800-444-6689 Kane County Travel Council 435-644-5033/ 800-733-5263 Moab Area Travel Council 435-259-1370 St. George Convention & Tourism Office 453-634-5747/ 800-869-6635 Utah Office of Tourism 800-200-1160


Closer than you think! 51

The Road Less

Whether you’re seeking peace and quiet or pulse-pounding thrills, these trips offer it all — without the crowds, hassles and expense Story

52 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013

JoAnna Haugen


Rent a houseboat on Lake Mead

Stargaze in Great Basin National Park Look upward in Las Vegas and the Luxor’s blinding light clouds the view of anything star-worthy, so head It’s like: north out of the city for the world’s largest, most Checking out spectacular, free nightly show. Once you reach Great the stars Basin National Park, look upward on a moonless night anywhere for a feast of generally unseen celestial bodies. What else — but are those strange lights dotting the sky? Why, it’s a farwith darker out selection of thousands of stars, several of the solar skies system’s planets, meteors and satellites. Low humidity plus minimal light pollution and high elevation also make it possible to see the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way with the naked eye. A summer astronomy festival provides context and equipment for those wanting to hone their star-searching skills, but rangers offer information on the skies, one of the area’s greatest resources, year-round. Escape the campground with its glowing fires for the best viewing conditions in the park. Info:

54 | Desert

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Need to get the extended family together for a reunion? Check! Searching for the perfect place to hold a get-together for the college roomies? No problem! Staying in a vacation rental has become a popular alternative to booking a few hotel rooms. If you can handle close quarters with your family and friends, up the ante by renting a houseboat on Lake Mead. The dog days of summer are ideal for lounging by the pool, but with a houseboat, the world is your swimming hole. A number of companies offer houseboat rentals on the expansive body of water, many of which are as classy as any kind of accommodations found on land. Fully furnished kitchens, barbecue sets, flat-screen televisions, hot tubs and even water slides come standard on most boats. Price per night is high, but splitting it between everyone on the boat sweetens the deal. Info:,,

G R E AT B A S I N C O U R T E S Y O F N ationa l Par k S er v ice ; H ouse B oat courtesy of F ore v er R esorts

It’s like: Booking a vacation rental with a built-in swimming pool

I N N C O U R T E S Y I nn At E uro pa V i l l a g e ; W I N E C O urtesy Pointe E S TAT E W I N E ; D U S K P H OTO C O U R T E S Y O F S O U T H C O A S T W I N E R Y R E S O R T & S PA ; T E M E C U L A VA LL E Y : Lei g h C aste l l i P H oto g ra p hy

Sip wine in Temecula Valley Though California’s most famous wine regions along the Central Coast are worthy of recognition and worth the trip, you don’t have to return year after year to raise a glass to an authentic winery experience. Temecula Valley, a wine region within an hour-and-a-half drive of every major southern California city, is home to more than 35 wineries, 35,000 acres of photogenic vineyards and more than a dozen wine country restaurants. What was once a sleepy area in Southern California has become a hot spot for wine-lovers, many of whom seek a weekend getaway. Most wineries have tasting rooms but, with hundreds of wines harvested here, it’s impossible to taste them all — an excuse for a return trip. To navigate the grapes, take advantage of one of the self-guided tour suggestions offered by the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, which groups wineries into themed categories to make decisions easier. Info:

It’s like: Napa, Sonoma and the Central Coast once you’ve “been there, drank that” | 55

Go back in time in BerlinIchthyosaur State Park Strap on skis in Cedar City

Ghost towns are typically skeletons of the past with a few lonely buildings and the occasional passing visitor. But they’re missing It’s like: one thing that Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada has: preVisiting a historic fossils. Around 250 people lived near the mining town of ghost town — Berlin at its peak, and you can poke through remnants of these with a long-lost days, but travel back in time by several million years to prehistoric discover the first true inhabitants of the area. Giant marine reptwist tiles used to rule the waters when Nevada was covered by a warm ocean, and today these bones mingle with the shadow of mining days. Visit during the summer months to tour the Diana Mine and fossil shelter for the best of both skeletal worlds. Info:

It’s like: Skiing in Park City — without draining your checking account

There’s something prestigious about skiing in Park City, Utah, but that name recognition comes at a cost. Adults can expect to pay more than $100 to hit the slopes in Park City for the day, and while the mountain is worthy for a reason, this price tag comes with the baggage of crowded lifts and lodges. Instead, pack your bags for a trip to Brian Head in southern Utah for less than half that price — $49 for a non-holiday, full-day lift pass and $56 on a holiday. At this price, you can afford to ski more often and, with minimal lines and a manageably sized resort, trading Park City for a more accessible experience is a no-brainer. Brian Head sits at a higher elevation, which means bluebird skies and cooler temperatures are the norm. Dress warm to enjoy the light, fluffy champagne powder, which stays “powder” longer because of the temperature. Info: 56 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013

Get wet on the Salt River If whitewater rafting down the Colorado River through the iconic Grand Canyon is on your bucket It’s like: list, make plans now to do it … at some future date. Rafting the A bureaucratic nightmare of permit applications and Colorado weighted lottery systems makes it downright nightRiver through marish to launch a noncommercial raft on the river the Grand (the FAQ on how to apply is 21 pages long — yikes!). Canyon — Though there are commercial companies running without the the waves through the Grand Canyon, parties need to frustrating book far in advance to reserve their desired seat on the water. Skip the lines and get wet now by heading wait time to the Salt River, located in Central Arizona, where noncommercial rafting is also available. Instead of navigating the unpredictable waves of government regulations, however, noncommercial rafters simply need to purchase a daily permit and sign a waiver, while commercial companies offer an easy alternative for getting on the river today. Info:,,

S K I E R C O U R T E S Y B R I A N H E A D ; F ossi l and S H O P courtesy N e vada S tate Par k S ; N orth R im courtesy nationa l par k ser v ice ; R afting courtesy l u k e urbine ; C owboys courtesy graddy photography

jangle your spurs in Tucson

Peek into the Grand Canyon from the North Rim Somewhere beyond the exhaust-spewing tour buses and camera-toting tourists is a gigantic hole in the ground known as It’s like: the Grand Canyon. Every year, nearly 5 million people squeeze Exploring shoulder-to-shoulder on the South Rim of the canyon, angling this natural their cameras to catch a photo before crawling back onto a shutwonder from tle bus to reach the next overlook. As awesome as the Grand the South Rim — Canyon is, the South Rim is the epitome of a tourist trap in comwithout the parison to the North Rim, which receives a mere 10 percent of crowds the park’s visitors annually. The North Rim is more difficult to access and isn’t on the way to anywhere, which means day tours don’t hijack the view, and, even on holiday weekends, it’s possible to snag a camping spot (though you should book in advance to avoid disappointment). To escape the crowds almost completely, take a lengthy day hike to claim the canyon for yourself. Info:

It’s like: Visiting a dude ranch in Wyoming — with a much shorter drive

Grab your spurs and hop on a horse … it’s time to leave the digital age behind and head back to the Wild West — and it's as close as Tucson. While cowboys may have pitched their tents beneath the stars, guests at these Arizona dude ranches have comfortable accommodations, access to swimming pools and Southwest-inspired dining options. Despite these amenities, the hope is you’ll spend more time in the saddle than in the sauna. Tanque Verde Ranch and White Stallion Ranch both offer several types of horseback-riding experiences for visitors with a variety of harness-handling skills. With options ranging from breakfast and sunset rides, slow and fast rides, mountain and foodie rides, wannabe cowboys are sure to find something to suit their fancy. Info:, | 57

Hike in Kolob Canyons

Eat locally in Central Arizona Farm-fresh food is all the frenzy along the West Coast, but lush greenery is not a prerequisite for an agricultural adIt’s like: venture. Tucked among the desert landscape near Mesa, The farm-toGilbert and Queen Creek, Ariz., are a number of local food table trend producers who, when strung together, create a culinary — but this trail that rivals those found in other parts of America. cuisine tempts Start at the Orange Patch, where fresh produce is plucked the palate from the orchard, and, down the road, visitors can learn with a desert about the dairy-making process at Superstition Farm. For lunch, eat at Joe’s Farm Grill, a centerpiece in the local twist co-op community, Agritopia, which promotes a simpler, community-centered lifestyle. Moving on, stop by the Queen Creek Olive Mill, Arizona’s only family-owned and -operated working olive mill and farm, where visitors can learn about the production of extra virgin olive oil. In the spring, cross the road to Schnepf Farms, where plump peaches are ripe for picking. Info:,,,

58 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013

Zion National Park is a fan favorite. Visitors love to hike The Narrows in their hip waders and thousands of people make the treacherous journey out to Angel’s Landing every year. It’s an accessible, family-friendly park with activities that cater to everyone’s strengths and abilities. But if you’ve “done” Zion a hundred times before, chances are you’re still missing something. In the northwest corner of Zion is an region called Kolob Canyons. It takes longer to reach this area, but those who make the drive are practically guaranteed solitude in this part of Zion that is no less impressive than its southern brother. Three hiking trails of varying distances give visitors the chance to wander along cliff ridges, deep into box canyons and through primitive wilderness areas scattered with wildflowers and awesome canyon views. Make plans to visit now before word gets out about this secret corner of Zion. Info: kolob-canyons.htm

ko l ob canyon courtesy cedar city- brian head tourism bureau

It’s like: Visiting the southern portion of Zion National Park — without the stress

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60 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013


With just 800 miles to go on his 4,738-mile, bikingwalking-and-paddling quest from Reno to the Bering Sea, the bugs were starting to get the best of Adam Bradley. He’d pedaled away from the grizzlies scavenging for dandelions and green shoots on the side of British Columbia’s Stewart Cassiar Highway. He’d floated most of the massive Yukon River, starting at its Bennett Lake headwaters, crossing into the Arctic Circle and dodging huge, upturned trees and their spiraling root balls in his foldable, plastic-skinned canoe. He’d even gotten himself past the mercurial customs agents at the Canadian-Alaska border at Frasier with his 12-gauge shotgun — a vital piece of survival gear — after a Kafkaesque dance around seemingly changeable regulations in which he was very nearly accused of being an arms smuggler. But the bugs were something else. You remember Bradley. He’s the notable Nethe carbon dioxide that I was putting back out,” vadan and ultra-light, ultra-fast speed hiker (trail Bradley recalls. “Even with bug dope, if not for handle: “Krudmeister”) who walked the length my head net, I literally couldn’t breathe without of Nevada’s controversial renewable energy corinhaling thousands of bugs.” ridor from Las Vegas to Reno in 2010, after setting the shared speed record (with buddy Scott Williamson) on the 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail The maddening scenario in 2009. was very nearly pushing him ‘What His most recent jaunt, completed last sumto his breaking point. After else mer, was a purely human-powered roll, ramweeks in his canoe, padcould go ble and paddle from his front door in Reno dling under the midnight wrong?’ to Alaska’s Bering Sea, a quest he dubbed BLC sun to avoid the 30 mph day(for Biggest Little City) to Bering Sea. time zephyrs that threatened On his way there, he rolled past antelope in to dump his 600-pound payload the Sheldon National Wildlife Reserve in northinto the swollen torrent, he was short on sleep. west Nevada, biked in and out of Oregon and Despite being in the middle of one of the largmerged onto the Adventure Cycling Associaest wilderness areas in the world, he’d been havtion’s Transamerica Trail in Idaho and Montana. ing trouble finding a good place to camp. After He climbed through the jaw-dropping landa winter of above-average snowfall and higherscape of British Columbia’s Icefields Parkway in than-average spring and summer temperatures Banff and Jasper National Parks — seeing up to — a convergence Bradley attributes to the effects 25 mature grizzlies along the way — to reach the of climate change in one of the most ecologically Yukon Territory. Once there, he ditched his bike sensitive spots on earth — the Yukon’s massive for hiking boots to go up and over the notorious riverbed was shuttling well over a quarter milChilkoot Pass before finally unfolding his canoe lion cubic feet of icy, glacier-fed water toward on the shores of Lake Bennett to join the Yukon. the sea each second. That meant the mid-chanBut here, as he faced this Battle of the Bugs nel gravel bars — usually mud- and bug-free more than 1,000 miles downstream, none of island refuges for river paddlers — were comthose previous accomplishments seemed to pletely gone, even though they still appeared on matter much. the pre-plotted maps of his GPS, his canoe floatNo, the only thing significant in Adam Brading over them like a bloated ghost ship. ley’s life at that moment was the fact that he His only options for camping were on the rivcould not breathe without inhaling a lungful of er’s muddy, buggy banks. After resigning himself protein. He was fighting for air amid swarms to that fact, he dragged his canoe through a mud of mosquitoes, no-see-ums and horseflies, each bog and set up his tent amid the swarm, finally jockeying for a taste of his blood. He could not collapsing into a deep, murky sleep. bare a single inch of his wind-chapped and sunIt would last for just ten minutes. When he beaten skin to the elements — despite 90-dewoke, he was in a puddle of his own sweat, the gree days — without some maddeningly small, high, midday sun that relentlessly pierces through winged and buzzing demon laying claim to it. the thinner ozone layer near the poles quickly “Every time I took a breath, they’d home in on turning his tent into a 100-plus degree sauna. 62 | Desert

Companion | may 2013

He bolted from the tent in nothing but his underwear, instantly presenting a feast of flesh to thousands of flying, hungry mouths. He jolted toward his canoe in hopes of finding a space blanket that would keep the sun off his tent; instead, in his desperation, he pulled on his boat, which sucked against the mud and popped one of its critical aluminum braces in a spot that was decidedly inaccessible for easy repair. All that was left to do was scream — which is what he did, loud and boisterously, turning to the sky and asking anyone who could hear: “What else could go wrong?” Having traveled nearly 4,000 miles under his own power, his goal in sight, here he was, knee-deep in mud on the banks of the Yukon so far from his Reno home,

P H oto s : A d a m B r a d l e y

It all boiled down to the bugs.


driven mad by bugs, standing alone in his underwear and screaming at God. “All I could do at that point was go back to the river. So I waded out into the water and crouched down to my neck so only my head was exposed. I stayed in as long as I possibly could, until I was shivering, and then got a little sleep before paddling away.” Not far downstream, he intersected a small outpost where the Alaskan Pipeline The crosses the Yukon, a lasttemptation ditch way station offering of home truckers and roughnecks a place to resupply — and suddenly, a tantalizingly easy exit point for Bradley from the turmoil of his trip. “I started thinking in my mind that if I wanted to quit, I could, right there,” Bradley says. Quit, and go home. After all, this quest was always really just about coming home anyway. A native Alaskan who was born and raised in Anchorage, Bradley had embarked on his journey to return to his place of origin, and experience the land of his youth before the ever-widening extremes of hotter summers and wetter winters changed it forever. “My thinking was that I had better do this now, and not wait until I retire,” says Bradley, who works at outdoor re-

tailer Patagonia in Reno. “I’m glad I did.” An ardent conservationist whose 2010 hike through Nevada’s Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP) corridor helped raise awareness for the Nevada Wilderness Project, Bradley is vigilant about the impacts his own adventures have on the environment. “The human-powered aspect of this was important,” Bradley says. “I need to lead a self-examined life to do the most I can, and leave as small a footprint as possible while I’m here.” It’s an element of Bradley’s expeditions that’s close to his heart: to see and perhaps even help protect the wildest places before they’re gone. He says the allure of speed-hiking has faded for him (“I want to take the time to really see the places I go now”) even as another race has begun: to explore the planet’s wildest places before they become unrecognizable. “One of the things I’m seeking, and one of

the reasons I wanted to do this in a completely human-powered way, was to connect as much as possible to those environments that are becoming impacted at a rapid pace,” Bradley says. “It’s obvious that Alaska, especially as you get closer to the pole, is one of those places.” One of the most startling signs of that change, he says, were the collapsing banks of the Yukon itself. Usually held stiff by permafrost, the banks have gotten softer in recent years to the point where huge slabs of dirt and sediment can calve off in seconds, leaving overhanging terraces of mud and vegetation at the river’s edge. Mixed with last summer’s unusually swift current, that meant a constant deluge of soil and earth collapsing into the foam. “When I first got on the river, I started hearing these loud booms, especially at night. I couldn’t figure it out at first — it sounded like gunfire — but it was the banks falling in on themselves,” Bradley says. “It took me a while to get used to it.” Traveling through the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve east of Fairbanks, Bradley enChange is countered Park Service coming scientists who were sampling water in lakes adjacent to the river. Usually clear and free from the glacial sediment in the river itself, the scientists observed the pH balance of those lakes changing, too, evidence that the softened soil was actually wicking river water underground. “Climate change scientists are flocking to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and YukonCharley to see how the plants and animals are dealing with how quickly this change is coming on,” says Bradley. His goal on future trips is (continued on page 78) | 63

QUESTS discovery

64 | Desert

Companion | may 2013

Outside of Reno, one of the world’s richest petroglyph sites attracts the adventurous — and inspires the artistic

in a hard (and beautiful) place

“I love it here,” Colby Stephens says as we drive a dusty 4 x 4 trail roughly 20 miles east of Reno. “The sky is huge.” In the back seat of his old Chevy Blazer, I push back the thin tinted window to reveal a cyan sky with wisps of white clouds. As a Las Vegas native, I’ve spent most of my time within bustling city limits. I gained an appreciation for neon and antiquated building implosions at an early age, and a landscape sans palm trees seems foreign. But for Reno-based conceptual artist Colby and his wife, artist Clairissa “Claire” Stephens, the natural landscape begs to be explored and appreciated. With their deep respect for earth’s treasures


Allyson Siwajian

and their desire to inspire people to think more deeply about their relationship with the land, we’re on our way to the natural subject of Colby’s latest work: Lagomarsino Canyon Petroglyph Site, the largest known collection of prehistoric rock art in Nevada. Far from Reno’s smoke-ridden casinos, Tahoe’s snowladen ski lodges or even Virginia City’s historic haunts, this site has art that no museum or gallery exhibit can contain.

Where roads end In the Northwestern Nevada desert, we travel a path few venture onto due to the difficult trail, need for a high-clearance vehicle and demand for a guide — that is, someone who knows the trail’s turns, its natural landmarks and its design so as to avoid trespassing on private lands along the journey. Amid the expansive vistas, our truck rolls along the dirt path. We pass a thin horse with splotched ruddy hair and a dull black mane, nosing the dry desert earth. Pushing aside tumbleweeds, the horse searches the land we’ve come to survey for something more substantial. Colby guides the truck near the remains of a roofless, one-story building constructed of hand-stacked bricks. He thinks this may be an old municipal building, perhaps from Nevada’s early statehood days. Toppled red and gray bricks litter the area, no doubt once part of the crumbling walls. Beyond the stone threshold, a makeshift fire pit of stacked rocks and burnt charcoal doubles as a collection bin for broken beer bottles. | 65

Blaze the trail As we inch along hilltops, I hold my breath, hoping we have clearance to crawl atop boulders and navigate narrow paths along cliff edges. But the Chevy Blazer isn’t doing a bad job of it. Colby cracks a smile. He likes the technical challenge of 4 x 4 trails. “But,” he says with a glance at his rearview mirror, “I probably wouldn’t bother doing them if they didn’t happen to be in a beautiful location.” I grip the open window’s edge as the truck splashes across a stream beside the sunken shell of a rusted pink car. Beyond a grove of skeletal trees, a metal gate stops our progress in the vehicle. We abandon it to hike a footpath designated by a printed sign. 66 | Desert

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Getting there Lagomarsino Canyon Petroglyph Site is 20 miles east of Reno via I-80. For similar sites in Southern Nevada, consider Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, Grapevine Canyon Petroglyph Site, Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Just ahead, we perceive a change in the hillside parallel to the trail. Pecked markings — circles, lines, swirls and animal shapes — speckle the basalt rocks’ surfaces. Against a saturated sky, thousands of these rocks form an expansive cliff face and an adjacent slope. Colby scans horizon lines and grips his sketchbook. I walk along the extensive rock art wall, which stretches into the desert beyond my line of vision. Near the cliff’s ridge, wide grooves form grandiose designs, spotted with green spores and rust-colored lichen. Then at its sloped base, jagged-edged rocks reveal small, deeply pecked symbols, visibly pale against the dark patina — the desert varnish — of the rocks’ surfaces. Claire and I team up to find our favorite symbols and guess what these might have meant to ancient inhabitants. This could be a handprint. That might be a bighorn sheep. Perhaps these pitted lines denote a game. “We try to see recognizable shapes in the abstract,” Claire says, “because we want to ascribe meaning to it.”

P r e h i st o r i c pet r o g ly p h s Researchers don’t know why prehistoric peoples created these symbols, likely carved by varied small groups over a time period predominantly dating from 4,000 to 10,000 years ago. Modern archeologists agree, including Dr. Angus R. Quinlan, Executive Director at The Nevada Rock Art Foundation. But while no knowledge is certain without direct access to the original artists, field professionals have made educated guesses over the past century. Early anthropologists, including ethnographer Julian Steward in 1929, speculated Lagomarsino Canyon served as a site for hunting-magic rituals, where carved symbols strategically placed guaranteed success in the hunt and in finding water and food. Then in 1958, researchers Robert Heizer, Martin Baumhoff and Albert Elsasser published theories of Lagomarsino’s origins as a place where tribal shamans gathered power due to the area’s proximity to perennial springs. In 1962, Baumhoff and Heizer also espoused huntingmagic theories and proposed hunters herded

P E T R O G LY P H S C O U R T E S Y O F T he N eva d a R oc k A rt F oun d ation ; H orses : A llyson S i wa j ian

“It’s a shame,” Colby says as we survey the area. I catch sight of fluorescent orange obscenities scribbled above the decayed doorway. “Most folks do, in fact, do a good job of respecting and stewarding the land,” he says. “The problem is the outliers, I suppose.” Back on the barren path, we see a band of healthy wild horses amble past dried shrubs, stones and juniper trees, making their pilgrimage across the road, up the mountainside. Soon, the sure-footed creatures mount the ridge. Claire motions toward a hand-built brick chimney. Unlike the decrepit municipal building, this tiered tower rises untouched amid roadside sagebrush and brambles. It is a monument to the Nevada homestead, an obelisk of gray stone with a repeated pattern of orange bricks. Claire tucks her hands into her pockets and says this is her favorite building we’ll pass. “That attention to detail,” she says of the brick design, “gives the ruins a narrative that comes alive in my mind of who might have lived there and called that ‘home.’”

prey over the cliff into an ambush to ensure a continued food source. But that fruitful speculation stalled. In 1981, The Bureau of Land Management Nevada reported a significant “void in the prehistoric record” due to a lack of contemporary research. Decades later, Washoe Tribe elders examined the designs and drew allusions to patterns found in Washoe lifestyle pieces, like hunting nets and woven baskets. Then from 2003 to 2008, The Nevada Rock Art Foundation performed thorough fieldwork, led by Dr. Alanah Woody, and established a complete archeological record, forever preserving the area’s 4,600 rock art motifs. What researchers once believed to be a place of preparation for the hunt — think a locker room where the team gets pumped up — is now revealed by modern archeologists to be something more like a motel room where the big players stayed as they pass through town on their way to the big games. Today, Lagomarsino Canyon Petroglyph Site, although recognized within the National Register of Historic Places, remains largely untouched by visitors and researchers alike. The location’s ambiguity sustains its lifespan, allowing the original petroglyphs to avoid defacement and the landscape to project a hushed sense of awe to occasional visitors. “It’s one of the finest rock art sites in all of the western U.S.,” says Quinlan as we discuss Lagomarsino two weeks later in his humble Reno office at a wooden desk piled with field notes. “The rock art, the landscape, the tranquility of being in a place like that — you

With its rugged landscape, wildlife and profusion of petroglyphs, it's little wonder that conservationists consider Lagomarsino Canyon a treasure.

could be out there, and you wouldn’t even realize that Reno is 20 to 30 miles away.” T h e p o we r o f p l a c e In such places, “everything else fades away except the land,” Claire says. “My senses are heightened, and everything feels a little more raw.” Colby has this awareness too. Lagomarsino represents to him a place of significance, prompting him to photograph the location’s horizon line for an ambitious art project in which he’ll transform horizon lines of personal meaning to him into a musical staff — ultimately turning landscape into sound. “It’s open to be incorporated into different cultures and traditions in novel ways,” Quinlan says of the site. “The most important thing about it is: It is one of those

strange features in the landscape which prompts a response. It does keep provoking cultural responses over long periods. Maybe that’s the true meaning of it, rather than one specific story.” As a place of cultural significance for Nevadan populations, Lagomarsino Canyon Petroglyph Site lends itself to continued interpretation. But as its meaning changes with each person who explores its pecked crevices, this rock art remains a visible reminder of an enduring past. “The past endures,” Quinlan says, “and past actions endure into the present. That’s something people can actively see and actually draw upon when they’re at these places. That’s what makes them significant.” These etchings are our history, set within the natural environment rather than a museum room, like abstract art embedded upon a natural medium. Now we, even millennia later, are the audience. “History itself survives as marks in the land,” Quinlan says. “Land — it provides us evidence of our ancestors, your actual cultural history. … That is the power of place.” | 67

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Hard to imagine the Fabulous Thunderbirds playing inside the Smith Center — how are people ever gonna do some rock ’n’ roll hairflailing and appendage-waggling in them fancy seats? That’s why they’re playing outside at Symphony Park. Best of all: Drinks spilled on the lawn don’t stain. The Fabulous Thunderbirds perform 8p May 10 at Symphony Park. Tickets $20-$40

If you’ve ever done the desperate crotch-clamp hustle in search of a bathroom while your bladder painfully balloons, you’ll appreciate “Urinetown.” It’s about a dystopian future in which an evil conglomerate owns all of society’s public restrooms — until a hero who has to pee REALLY BADLY challenges its reign. “Urinetown” is performed 8p May 3, 4, 9 and 11, and 2p March 5 and 12 at UNLV’s UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre. Tickets $20-$30

Man, what a wreck. Oh, that’s a compliment when you’re talking about the photos of Fred Mitchell. His digitally warped and twisted photos make a commentary on the impact and aftermath of car accidents in the Las Vegas Valley. “Photographs with Sculptural Tendencies” is on exhibit through May 24 at Clark County Center Rotunda Gallery. Info:

The infamous con artist who inspired the movie “Catch Me If You Can,” Frank Abagnale has impersonated a pilot, college professor, pediatrician, FBI agent and more. Mindbender: Can we be sure this is really him and not an impostor? Frank Abagnale will tell stories from his notorious career 7p May 30 at Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center. Tickets $24-$59

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Fun fact: Long before Las Vegas became Sin City, it was a rough ’n’ tough Wild West town where the women lactated nickel beer, babies had handlebar mustaches and spurs were a popular breakfast item. Relive the magic at our annual Helldorado Days. Helldorado Days takes place May 16-19; the parade is 5p May 16 on 4th Street from Gass to Ogden Avenue. Info: | 71

ART I’M SORRY WE LIED Through May 10.Krystal Ramirez’s mixed media installation of photography, drawings and video reflects on the construction of our public identities through technology and social media, including the editing of our settings and selective posting and oversharing through obsessive status updates on Facebook and Twitter. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery PHOTOGRAPHS WITH SCULPTURAL TENDENCIES Through May 24.Destruction prompts construction in Fred Mitchell’s new exhibit. Photos of vehicular collision sites are printed and reconstructed into three-dimensional forms, resulting in large-scale objects resembling wreckage from around the city, reinterpreted as deformed photographic sculptures. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery SUSTAINABLE STYLE: FASHION AND PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT Through June 16.The Springs Preserve has gone couture! Organized by the Fashion for a Cause and the Springs Preserve, this fashion exhibit features designs constructed from recycled or reused materials, sustainable fabrics or locally-produced wares. See how fashion can make a positive impact in the community. Free for members or included with paid general admission. Big Springs Gallery at Springs Preserve ART IN MOTION: THE KINETIC WIND ART OF MARK WHITE Through Sep. 30.Mark White’s kinetic wind sculptures were designed to encourage self-reflection. They are precisely balanced to respond to the lightest of breezes, yet strong enough to withstand 100 mph winds. Free for members or included with paid general admission. Springs Preserve

MAY 9 | 6 P.M.


Join us to learn expert tips for a happy, well-behaved dog — and how to teach your pooch some cool tricks. This is a pet-friendly event – for friendly pets. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT US ONLINE AT WWW.DESERTCOMPANION.COM/DCONTOUR

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Companion | May 2013

FIRST FRIDAY May 3 & June 7, 5-11p.Downtown’s monthly arts and culture event continues to grow bigger and better, featuring art exhibits, open galleries, live music and DJs, food trucks, performances and more. Free. Arts District and Fremont East in the Get Back Alley, WHITE ROSE EXHIBIT May 13-Aug. 22.Chronicling the student resistance group that peacefully opposed the Nazi regime during World War II. The exhibit includes 47 panels of photos, text and biographies depicting the actions of White Rose, the members of which were executed in 1943 when their activities were uncovered. UNLV Lied Library,

a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t

The Perfect Future is Sanitary ... The Sanitary Future is Purrrfect! May 21-July 12.Jesse Smigel’s vision-ascaricature of the future proposes that all humans live on spacecraft and are addicted to antibacterial hand sanitizer. The installation of sculpture and paintings, including an iron lung for an animatronic house cat, narrates a dark comedy about the collision of the presentpast with the future. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery

DANCE KARPAY DIEM May 3, 7p; May 4, 2p.Featuring the music of Robert Karpay, the College of Southern Nevada Department of Fine Arts’ Dance program’s spring dance concert includes performances by the Kremer Dance Collective, Nevada Repertory Dance Theatre and the Las Vegas Ballet Company. $8-$10. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, Cinco Folklorico May 4, 7p.Xyachimal Folklorico will recreate in dance the Battle of Puebla. The show features traditions and folkloric dancing from Puebla, Yucatan, Nayarit, Michoacán, Sinaloa Chiapas and Jalisco. $10-$12. Winchester Cultural Center Theater,

ROMEO & JULIET May 11, 7:30p; May 12, 1p.Nevada Ballet Theatre, under the direction of James Canfield, transforms one of Shakespeare’s most beloved tales into dance. $35-$128. Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center, TASTE OF POLYNESIA AND THE PHILIPPINES DANCE CONCERT May 19, 2p.Dancers from Hawaii, Tahiti, and the Philippines will dress in handmade costumes from Hula Halau O’kaleo O’kalani and perform native and new generation dances in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Free. Clark County Library Main Theater

a video containing the latest images from space (projected in HD on a giant screen above the stage) created by celebrated director/producer Duncan Copp in cooperation with NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratories. $46-$94. Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center, CSN JAZZ COMBOS & JAZZ SINGERS May 5, 2p.Matt Taylor and Kevin Stout lead College of Southern Nevada’s student jazz ensembles and Dr. Mark Wherry directs the Jazz Singers in both classic and contemporary works. $5-$8. CSN’s BackStage Theatre,

CINCO DE MAYO MARIACHI CONCERT May 3, 7p.Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the best and brightest groups from CCSD’s Mariachi Music Program. Performances by Von Tobel Middle School, Monaco Middle School, Canyon Springs High School, Rancho High School. Free. Clark County Library Main Theater

TASTE OF JAPAN AND OKINAWA MUSIC CONCERT May 5, 2p.Korabo Taiko and Shima Time use traditional folkloric instruments and intricate choreography to create a special concert of exhilarating drum rhythms and heartfelt string and percussion melodies in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Free. Clark County Library Main Theater

CELESTIAL BODIES May 4, 8p.Las Vegas Philharmonic presents a special performance of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” While the orchestra plays, watch

CSN ORCHESTRA May 6, 7:30p.This concert is conducted by Christopher Davis. $5-$8. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre,

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CSN CONCERT BAND and MARIACHI BAND May 7, 7:30p.The Concert Band, conducted by Dr. Richard McGee, and the new Mariachi Band, directed by Albert Garcia, perform in the semester-end concert. $5-$8. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, CSN BIG BAND & STEEL DRUM BAND May 8, 7:30p.Both the Wednesday Night Jazz Band, directed by Dr. Richard McGee, and the Calypso Coyote Steel Drum Band, led by Robert Bonora, will perform. $5-$8. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, CSN SPRING CHORAL CONCERT May 9, 7:30p.Three choirs: Chamber Chorale, Jazz Singers and students of the Voice Classes will perform at this end-of-semester concert. $5-$8. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, LAS VEGAS WIND QUINTET MEETS SIERRA WINDS AND FRIENDS May 11, 2p.Two quintets join with additional players to perform Anton Dvorak’s Serenade, Op. 44; Richard Strauss’ Serenade for Winds, Op. 7; and Leos Janacek’s Mladi. $10-$12. Winchester Cultural Center Theater, VANGUARD UNIVERSITY GUITAR ENSEMBLE May 14, 7p.This small, specialized ensemble is dedicated to studying and performing music of various styles and periods. They will perform duo, quartet and full ensemble compositions by Annette Kruisbrink (Netherlands), Andrew York (USA), Jurg Kindle (Switzerland) and Celso Machado (Brazil). Free. Clark County Library Main Theater Sky Sketches May 17, 7:30p.The Desert Winds, Las Vegas’ premiere contemporary wind ensemble, will hold its final concert of the 2012-13 season featuring “The Sea to Sky Suite” by composer Ralph Ford as well as selections from The Wizard of Oz and other pieces. $10, Community Lutheran Church, 3720 E. Tropicana Ave.,

THEATER RAPUNZEL! RAPUNZEL! A VERY HAIRY FAIRY TALE May 3-4, 7p; May 4-5, 2p.Presented by Rainbow Company Youth Theatre, the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel comes to life in this lively and funny musical appropriate for the whole family. Enjoy a new twist on an old tale from the writing team that created “How I Became a Pirate.” $3-$7. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St., URINETOWN BY MARK HOLLERMANN & GREG KOTIS May 3-12, 8p.A humorous musical set in a time

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BOB MILLER May 15, 7p.The Literary Guild of Sun City MacDonald Ranch in Henderson is hosting former governor Bob Miller to talk about his experiences and launch his book, Son of a Gambling Man. Attendees get a 20 percent discount at the restaurant on event day. Free. Henderson Community Center, 616-9703.

FAMILY & FESTIVALS CSI: CRIME SCENE INSECTS Through May 12.Crime-solving insects crack the case, and you’re the witness! Inspired by the hit television series, this hands-on exhibit developed by ExhibitIQ invites investigation into the fascinating field of forensic entomology (the use of insects to help solve crimes). Free for members or included with paid general admission. Springs Preserve WILD SOUTH AMERICA - ANIMAL SHOW Through May, weekends and holidays 11a & 1p.From rainforest to desert, these animals in have adapted to survive in their unique habitats, much like the animals in the Mojave. Rotating cast of live animals may include snakes, macaws, llamas, conures, parrots, tarantulas, coatimundi, capybara, kinkajou, Patagonian Mara and the endangered Andean Condor. Free for members or included with paid general admission. Outdoor Amphitheater (weather permitting) at Springs Preserve

SPRINGS PRESERVE OHANA FESTIVAL May 18, 10a.Commemorating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and highlighting the importance of ohana (family) in Pacific Island cultures, the event will feature

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ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT ICE CREAM FESTIVAL May 11, 11a.Cool off and listen to live music while browsing stations serving ice cream cones, sundaes, novelties and root beer floats. Entertainment for all ages including airbrush tattoos, a souvenir


A MIDDLE AGE MUSICAL COMEDY REVUE May 19, 2p.A fun and fast-paced musical comedy that benefits the Gateway Arts Foundation Scholarship Fund. $15-$18. The Zion Room, Sun City Macdonald Ranch, 2020 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson.

photo station, a bubble play station, bingo and pony rides. Access to museums and galleries is free for children when accompanied by a paid adult (or included for members). $8 adults, $5 children, under 4 free. Springs Preserve

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8 May 10, 7p.Chronicling the federal trial for marriage equality, “8” is a staged reading of Dustin Lance Black’s powerful documentary play based on the transcripts of the federal court case that did not allow cameras. This production includes several local actors and is directed by Todd Espeland. A moderated discussion about marriage equality will follow. Free. Clark County Library Main Theater

learn more about how they are cared for and trained. $10 per person; a paying adult must accompany children under 5; all guests 2 and older must be ticketed for the Backstage Pass. Springs Preserve

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when water is worth its weight in gold and private bathrooms are outlawed. Restrooms are regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission. One hero plans a revolution to lead his fellow citizens to toilet freedom. $20-$30; $10 with UNLV student ID. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre,

Affordable classes. Flexible times. Subjects by request. > Browse personal and professional classes and sign up at

WILD SOUTH AMERICA - BACKSTAGE PASS Through May, weekends and holidays 2p.Touch and take photos with several of the animals from the Wild South America show, and | 75

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performances by local hula halau, crafts and games for the keiki (kids) and plenty of ono grinds (great food). $5 adults, $3 children, under 4 are free. Springs Preserve

FUNDRAISERS WHEN IN ROME 11th ANNUAL SCHOLARSHIP GALA May 11, 5:30p.Featuring the Champions of Health Care in Education Award, composer Tim Boatman, singers Rochelle Martinsen and Lance Taubold, opera performers from various shows on the Las Vegas Strip and the Nevada Opera Theatre, and live and silent auctions. Proceeds help fund educational scholarships and services for outstanding students. Black tie or Roman attire optional. $325, tables of ten $3,150+. Florentine Ballroom at Caesars Palace, LAS VEGAS 5K May 11, 8a.Beginning at Town Square, the 5K course runs straight down Las Vegas Boulevard, around the world famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and back. Runners will be competing for a cash purse set at $5,000, including $1,000 to the first place men’s and women’s finishers. “America’s Got

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Talent” season five winner Michael Grimm is scheduled as the headline post-race entertainment. $35. 18th ANNUAL LINKS FOR LIFE CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT May 16, 7:30a.Colliers International hosts this golf tournament that will benefit 50 local children’s charities. This year’s theme is “Awesome ’80s.” There will be player gifts, a raffle, a live auction and more. $400 individual, $1,500 foursome. Las Vegas Country Club, SHOOT FOR SENIORS May 17, 7a.Helping Hands of Vegas Valley hosts this event of clay shooting, food and raffle prizes to raise funds for its low-incomequalified pantry. Pre-registration required. Bring your own shotgun or rent one for $25. $200 individual, $700 team. Pro Gun Club, 12801 US 95, Boulder City, PROJECT DINNER TABLE May 18, 5:30p.Join Chefs Bradley Ogden of Hops & Harvest, Angelo Sosa of Poppy Den and Sam Marvin of Echo and Rig Steakhouse and Butcher Shop for a six-course dinner

under the stars. A portion of proceeds benefit Golden Rainbow and Women in Need Courts. $175. Tivoli Village, LAS VEGAS EPICUREAN AFFAIR May 23, 7-10p.The Nevada Restaurant Association sponsors the fourth annual tasting event which includes several gourmet restaurants from the Strip. Proceeds benefit NvRA’s educational and scholarship programs. The Pools at The Palazzo, BADASS DASH ADVENTURE RACE AND OBSTACLE CHALLENGE May 25.Benefits The Lili Claire Foundation. 7K course features more than 15 unconventional obstacles. Compete individually or as a team in two divisions. $50-$105. South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, 2013 SBA Small Business Awards June 6, 12-2p.Partnering with the US SBA, Vegas PBS hosts this annual awards banquet honoring local businesses in several categories. $45 individual, $400 per table of 10. Gold Coast Hotel & Casino,

To the river, to the Sea (continued from page 63)










You will see three plays:

You will see your choice of four plays:














For more information or to reserve your seats, please visit 1289 S. TORREY PINES DR. LAS VEGAS, NV 89146 KNPR.ORG CLASSICAL897.ORG

78 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2013

to assist such efforts by collecting samples and data from even more pristine and remote wilderness tracts before they change, too. Which is why, standing at that lonely way station where the pipeline crosses the river, as the thought of quitting his trip gained an ever stronger foothold in his mind, he knew he had to get back in his canoe. “After that point, there was no easy way back out. As soon as I had that thought of quitting, I knew I just had to get back in the canoe and get out of there. As soon as I was around the corner, I was down in there, and no longer had a choice. I just dealt with it by taking that choice away.” Just over two weeks later, on July 16, after paddling out to the salty waters of the Bering Sea, he paddled back upstream 10 miles to the Yupik Eskimo village of Emmonak, the terminus of his quest, his journey complete. On the beach there, he was greeted by village elders and their curious children, eager to help him with the load he had carried alone for so long. He shared licorice with the kids; their parents shared salmon jerky with him. They discussed the changing landscape he’d just experienced firsthand; they told him of the ice breaking up more quickly in the spring, polar bears who venture further and further south, sometimes a lack of game. “These people have been living in these areas for nearly 15,000 years, and they still choose to maintain a subsistence lifestyle today — they live the original green lifestyle,” Bradley says. “But they’re worried, in 10 or 15 years, whether their kids will be able to keep doing it. You don’t have to convince them of climate change, they see it firsthand.” And yet, for all the evidence of change he saw, he also reconnected with the Alaska of his childhood, something that gave him a stronger sense of home when he returned to work and life in Nevada. He says he now knows that his little house in the World’s Biggest Little City is connected, inch by inch, to the wilds of the North, to wild places that are only as far away as he chooses to push himself. “Knowing that all of the terrain that I saw connects right back to my front door,” Bradley says, “It really makes it feel more like home.” Fortunately, the bugs didn’t find their way back with him. For more on Adam Bradley’s BLC to Bering Sea quest, visit

Finding a needle in the desert (continued from page 80)

whistle from a ranger’s station reverberated against the mountain slopes. I figured water + lightning = danger, so I’d sprinted away from the creek, down the official state-park trail we’d finally identified amid clumps of exhausted yucca. But the storm moved south, away from our heads. 10) Review safety procedures for desert storms. My companion was methodically examining every hunk of flora as we shuffled along, nudging the grasses with his toe. 11) Buy metal detector. “No one has been up this trail but us.” He was right about that. While the adjacent Red Rock National Conservation Area attracts a steady stream of outdoorsy locals, the more modest Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is often empty. Families barbecue near the grassy field where the one-ton cow Matilda grazes, and they marvel at the spiffy ranch house where Howard Hughes once hung his hat, but few of them lope through the parcel, let alone set off cross-country through the foothills. “This is the wrong path again,” I announced.

“I can’t see the torso boulder anymore.” 12) Leave a trail of sunflower seeds as you go. 13) Learn the exact names of local landmarks. We reversed, started out again, and once more after that. My muscles ached from an overzealous workout at the gym the day before. 14) Do not set the elliptical trainer at level twelve. I grumbled along, my eyes dutifully scanning the rocky soil for the darn key. I was tired. Very hungry. I hadn’t topped off my water bottle at the fountain in the parking lot. The cholla spines, lodged in my thigh, pricked with each step. I could feel my irritation rising with the temperatures. 15) Ascertain if creek water is safe to drink. 16) Pack aspirin or mood-elevating supplement in first-aid kit. 17) Bring first-aid kit. Eventually we returned to the luscious hollow at the creek where we rested, once again, in the shade. The desert has countless unexpected beauties, but perhaps none are more enchanting than its hidden waters. The creek at Spring Mountain Ranch is banked by fern and cottonwood. Several varieties of wildflowers, some as bright as copper pennies, carpet the soil. Coyote

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and fox, hare and sheep, leave footprints in the mud. But neither the idyllic scene nor the gentle balm of humidity could brighten my mood. 18) Food. “It’s no use,” I said. “We’re never, ever going to find the key.” But he was already shambling through the greenery. “You’re insane!” I listened as the sound of his footsteps faded. Then all I could hear was the hypnotic melody of running water. 19) Learn to identify plant species. 20) Go to REI and spend a fortune on picnic gear. 21) Register at a Zen-do. “I found it!” he shouted through a bank of chlorophyll. I went to look. The key lay in the middle of the path like an abandoned orphan from Area 51, its high-tech bulk clumsily contrasting with reddish fragments of Jurassic sandstone. We stared silently — the moment deserved some respect. Then his hand scooped the key up and shoved it deep in a pocket just as the thunder rumbled above the mountains. 21) Trust the trustworthy. “No need to run,” he said.

Some of the benefits you’ll enjoy: Invitations to exclusive university events Mobile app for UNLV Alumni Free subscription to UNLV Magazine (uninterrupted delivery for UNLVIP members)

Free membership in your college or school alumni chapter Free e-mail account from

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end note


Finding a needle in the desert By Dawn-Michelle Baude

I was hungry. And so ready for fajitas. “We have to go back,” my companion said. I looked at him, standing helplessly next to the parked car, and decided he was crazy. “It’s a big key,” he said matter-of-factly. “We’ll see it.” That was true — it was a big, expensive, black plastic lump of electronics. But we’d have better luck at high-stakes slots than we would spotting a lost car key in high desert foothills. “We need help.” I ticked off the list: 1) Locate one of the Spring Mountain park rangers; 2) Convince him or her to drive us to the Red Rock casino; 3) Hail a taxi at the casino and head to the Strip; 4) Find a car rental on the Strip; 5) Drive to the Mazda dealership in Henderson; and 6) Replace the car key. He was already adjusting his backpack. “It could be anywhere,” I pleaded. “We weren’t on a trail.” “No,” he said. “We weren’t on a trail.” That was my fault. I’d made a wrong turn onto a burro track and plunged through the scrub where we’d wandered in the maniacal heat. At

one point I’d tripped and fallen into a cholla cactus, a deceptive breed that looks soft, almost furry. 7) Take a desert hiking class. 8) Remove cacti spines from flesh with tweezers. “Let’s go.” He marched toward the trailhead with a spring in his step. “We’ll start at the end and retrace our path backwards.” Now I was certain he was mad. No way could we pick the gully out of open scrub going backwards — you’d need an expert tracker from an aboriginal tribe to do that, one who could pinpoint a smudge of sunblock on a juniper sprig. 9) Order tracking book from Amazon. 10) Watch YouTube hunting videos featuring indigenous tribes. The only sensible approach was to retrace our steps from the beginning — I couldn’t imagine any other hope of finding the exact spot where we’d scaled the crumbling gully wall on all fours. “I don’t think it’s in the gully,” he said. “I think it fell after we’d crossed the creek.” Ah ... the creek. That was about an hour from the end, at about the point when thunder slammed, lightning speared, and the shrill (continued on page 79)

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IT PAYS TO PLAN YOUR EVENT BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS. BOOK BEFORE AUGUST 1 AND SAVE 20%. Every holiday season, you want to outdo what you did last year. This year, the Springs Preserve is giving you a discount to help you exceed people’s expectations without breaking your budget. If you get in early. The Springs Preserve is 180 spectacular acres of museums, gardens, culture and healthy living with a variety of indoor and outdoor event spaces. And it’s even more spectacular when it’s glowing with a colorful array of holiday lights. This year, if you book your holiday event before August 1, you’ll show how frugal you are with money, how you choose to go green because it’s a smarter choice, how you think ahead, and how you support your community. Outdo yourself this holiday season by getting in early. Chelsea Nicole Photography

CONTACT GROUP SALES Start planning your meeting, event or group tour by calling our event specialist, Pietra Sardelli, at 702-822-7746.

U.S. 95 and Valley View Blvd. follow us on:

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7 Tickets on sale now Tickets available at all

locations,,, or charge by phone at 800.745.3000.

Desert Companion - May 2013  
Desert Companion - May 2013  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada