A while back, I signed up to be a part of the Clever Cookie School of Blog, and since then I’ve gotten to be good blogging friends with some incredible bloggers from around the world. Each month on the 10th, some of us form a 10 on 10 photography circle. We share 10 photos (occasionally more – my bad!) from our life – a day of our life, generally – and one of us link to another. Our visitors have the opportunity to make their way around the circle. Some of you may have made your way here from Kathy at Peregrination Gourmande and if so WELCOME! Others of you will leave me and head on off to visit with Sam at The Annoyed Thyroid. I hope you enjoy!
For this month’s 10 on 10 Photography Circle, I’m sharing more of my very frustrating sunrise shoot in Virginia City, Nevada. If you missed the first two sets of photos in this series, you can find them here (some phenomenal sunrise photos if I do say so myself) and here. By the time the sun was more fully up and I made my way back to the Jeep to switch memory cards, ditch the tripod and lens hood, and remove the circular polarizer, I decided that if I was in Virginia City, I might as well take advantage of being there because lord knows when I’ll make it back up there.
In my most recent Photo Friday post, I relayed a bit of my history with Virginia City. When I was a middle school teacher in Reno, NV in the late 1990s/early 2000s, we used to take our 7th graders up to to the Comstock to do some historical research. I absolutely used to dread those field trips, mainly because I never felt like we had enough time to really learn much of anything. However, outside of work, I used to go up the hill quite frequently for things like the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival or the Camel Races or to do some thinking. The road to VC is steep and very windy. In order to survive it, you have to pay attention to the road.
While there is a lot of history in Virginia City. I would say that for most people, it’s a day trip. You might want to take a tour through the Fourth Ward School, which at one point in time housed almost 1,000 students. One of the things that people don’t know about this little mining town is that in its heyday, it rivaled San Francisco both in terms of money, people, and culture. Funny – in all those field trips, I only ever toured the school once because it was closed for massive renovations.
Besides gold and silver mining – at one point the richest gold and silver mines in the world – VC was known for her saloons. After hard days in the mines, people were looking for refreshment and entertainment. There were a plethora of choices for them, all with their own special attractions. As you drive up Geiger Grade, you see signs for things like the Suicide Table where three different owners allegedly took their lives over steep gambling losses (at the Delta) or the Silver Queen, a painting of a woman…decorated with over 3,000 Morgan silver dollars fashioning her dress (at the Silver Queen, site of the Captain & Tenille’s wedding) or the Washoe Club, which is allegedly one of the most haunted places in the US.
I didn’t get a picture of the Bonanza. Some of you may have been thinking to yourself, for some reason Virginia City sounds familiar. Maybe you’ve actually been for a visit. Or maybe you remember watching the old western TV show Bonanza starring Lorne Green and Michael Landon. At least that’s how I knew Virginia City before I moved to Nevada. What I didn’t know then but quickly learned is that the Ponderosa Ranch was too far away from Virginia City for those boys to be there as often as they were. The Ponderosa is at Lake Tahoe, which is a good 60-90 minutes away from the Bonanza in Virginia City. That’s in a car, and it’s down one mountain and up another. All of that to say that it just didn’t happen.
When I said that VC was once the rival of San Francisco in terms of money and culture, that was true. Mark Twain spent time in VC as a writer for the paper. Piper’s Opera House was a crown jewel on the Comstock. Notables such as Lily Langtry and Buffalo Bill performed on her stage. Due to renovations, I only toured the opera house once. The theater is allegedly haunted. One of the telltale signs of the ghost is a scent of cigar smoke.
I’m not exactly a believer in ghosts but I do know that while in the balcony of Piper’s Opera House with a group of students, one minute we just smelled the musty scents of an elderly building and the next we were choking on the scent of cigar smoke and there was a little puff of white smoke in front of us. You have not lived until you’ve heard 40 7th grade girls screaming because they’ve just “seen” a ghost. Real? I don’t know. It happened. I don’t know how it happened, but it happened. So. Yeah.
While you certainly still can get a drink in one of the saloons as well as something to eat, most of the historical district has turned into all sorts of shops. Some of them are relevant and related like the silver shop and the antique store but others are standard tourist trap offerings. I think there’s something like 2-3 candy shops, a great little coffee shop, small museums. All of the sidewalks are wooden, so watch your step because they are a little uneven in places.
As hard as life was on the Comstock, churches were very important. Fire destroyed many of the churches at least once. I never made it into the Presbyterian or Episcopalian churches but the interior of St. Mary’s is absolutely gorgeous. I have a thing for churches as it is, but beautiful, historic ones are all the better.
There’s a lot of whimsy in VC as well. One of my absolute favorite places to see is the Spite Houses. One man hated his rival so much that he built his house within a foot of the other man’s. The pink house blocks the view of the white house. Building the pink house required the owner of the white house to remove all ventilation on that side of the house. Who does that sort of thing?!
Then there are the old cars and flowers. Because this section of Nevada is in a high desert climate, I don’t ever really think of a lot beautiful landscaping. When watering restrictions go into place, it makes it difficult to keep plants alive. The beauty of the gardens and the creativity in use of materials and design was frankly amazing.
The final bit of delight comes as you are on your way out of town and heading towards Gold Hill. You find a strange little spot along the road. There’s an odd collection of junk – bottle trees, old boots, figures.
And there’s a Tardis. My BBF, a huge Dr Who fan, says that someone in VC is very clever. If she is remembering right, 11 “dies” near VC. I know that I went over my 10 photo limit…again. While I said that I think Virginia City is a day trip, there is still a lot to see, and I wanted to share it all with you. The walk down memory lane was enjoyable. None of the shops were yet open as I was wandering, so I didn’t linger. I was back at my Sner’s by 10:00.
Do you remember field trips as a kid? Were there ones that you looked forward to or ones that you dreaded? Let me know about it in the comments!
Now remember that this is a photography *circle*, which means that I’m only one stop on your photographic journey. If you’re here from Peregrination Gourmande, thanks for the visit and don’t forget to keep moving 😉 If you’re beginning with me, you’ll journey on to Sam at The Annoyed Thyroid and each subsequent blogger – leaving some comment love! – before making your way back to me.