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Resolving to travel this year
by John L. Smith
Jan 23, 2011 | 716 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s a new year, and, of course, I have written a list of resolutions.

In addition to losing some weight and exercising more, one of my big goals is to become better organized and more decisive. Trouble is, there are too many choices and never enough time. So in the coming days I’ll gas up the car, load up the daughter, and pick a direction. Nevada Smith country has no shortage of events to enjoy.

One of our favorite destinations is the annual Ely Rotary Club Ice Fishing Derby at Cave Lake. (775-289-8877.) This year it falls on Saturday, Jan. 29. Although the derby offers a chance for lucky anglers to catch 25 tagged trout worth $100 each and one lucky lunker worth a $5,000 grand prize, the best part of the day isn’t the chance to grab some cash. It’s the opportunity to gather around a hole in the ice with friends and family and have a good time.

I know, it doesn’t sound like a lot of laughs. The Ely area is one of the coldest sections in the country, and when the wind blows it’s like getting caught in a Jack London short story.

Amelia and I have been going for several years, and we always seem to catch a few good hours of warm sun. We catch few fish, but our group has a great time.

The ice fishing derby is great, but this year the climax of the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the Elko Convention Center falls on the 29th as well. I have yet to figure out how we can fish in Ely all morning and still make it to Elko for the evening performance of the best cowboy poets and folk singers in the country. (775-738-7508.)

You don’t have to be a college literature professor to enjoy cowboy poets. They write about ranch life, their favorite horses come and gone, and the occasional pile of steer manure.

No, really. Actual steer manure.

Perhaps the best-known cowboy poet is Baxter Black, a large-animal vet who has performed his work on national television and in just about every auditorium and theater west of the Pecos. He also writes a newspaper column and offers commentary on National Public Radio.

At this year’s 27th annual event, which starts on the 24th, Elko’s Western Folklife Center will highlight the traditions of Hungarian horsemen. I know what you’re thinking: I had no idea Hungary had cowboys.

But the fellow I really want to see is Grammy-winning cowboy singer Rambling Jack Elliott. Ramblin’ Jack was born in New York, but at 14 he ran away from home to join Colonel Jim Eskew’s Rodeo. He bounced around the rodeo circuit and worked ranches in the West. He also developed his cowboy musical chops.

How many blues performers can say they’ve recorded with Woody Guthrie, Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan? Ramblin’ Jack can.

If Irish and Scottish folk music is more your style, on Jan. 28 Men of Worth will perform at the historic Eureka Opera House. (775-237-6006.)

But just when I was certain we were heading north, I get a call from Rich Regnell. He runs Death Valley Junction, home of Marta Becket’s wonderful Amargosa Opera House. Rumors to the contrary, Regnell says the opera house is open for business.

Marta, who fell and broke her arm, is on the mend, and graciously greets visitors to the opera house, which on weekends screens the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Amargosa.”

As you can see, there are plenty of options in Nevada.

The tank is full. All I have to do now is pick a direction.

As for the New Year’s diet, well, who am I kidding?  

John L. Smith writes a weekly column on rural Nevada. He also writes a daily column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact him at 702-383-0295 or at jsmith@reviewjournal.com.
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