On the other hand, Elko holds an annual national Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and until it closed a few years ago, there was a museum in Nevada dedicated solely to the life and times of Liberace. See? Culture. And the town of Henderson holds a three-day Native American Arts Festival every year, too. Culture out the wazoo. Did you know Nevada's the country's number one producer of silver and gold? Of course, it also relieves a lot of tourists of silver and gold, too, but that's another story. A good bit of the state actually belongs to the federal government, and more than 80% of it is designated for public and recreational use. One final tidbit before we look at some pictures: in 1864, the entire text of the Nevada state constitution was sent from Carson City to Washington, D.C. via Morse code, making it what must have been the mother of all all-day telegrams.
Ready to take a virtual tour now? Better gas up first. Lots of long stretches of what's dubbed the loneliest road in the world with little to see but sand and mountains.
You've probably heard of Area 51 before. That's the (hush-hush) top secret area of Nellis Air Force Range and Nuclear Test Site, which is rumored to have been used to house UFOs and conduct alien research.
Hoover Dam, the largest public works project ever undertaken in the United States, took a workforce of 21,000 men five years to accomplish. Construction worker hardhats were invented specifically for this workforce, but weren't invented until 1934, just a year before the project's completion. Something tells me a lot of workers were seriously injured prior to their invention.
Death Valley has a certain stark beauty at sunrise. Would you believe one of the critters that lives there ... the kangaroo rat ... can live its entire life without a single drop of liquid? (Of course, I have no idea how long it actually lives ...)
Nope, I didn't skip the country. This is Las Vegas, baby, where they like to say, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." From what I've heard, the thing that most often stays in Vegas is your money.
But, just look at this place! It's like a Fantasyland for grown-ups. Talk about sensory overload. (I wonder where Rick's pawn shop is.)
No surprise, but the first slot machine was invented in Las Vegas. That was back in 1899, by a fellow named Thomas Fey. For you trivia buffs, that machine was called Liberty Bell. (Yeah, it liberated people from their money ... they aren't called bandits for nothing!) Nowadays, this self-proclaimed entertainment and gambling capital of the world has more than 200,000 slot machines, and allegedly has more hotel rooms than anyplace else on earth. (Dunno about Mars.) I don't know if the state has ever had to resort to this or not, but supposedly, to break a tie in the state's gubernatorial race, the winner would be determined by a single cut of the cards.
The difference between Las Vegas and Atlantic City is the difference between getting conned by a beautiful call girl and getting mugged by a crack head. [Drew Carey]
Nevada's Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is built around the fossilized remains of (what else?) an ichthyosaur, and an old well-preserved silver mining camp. A bit of diversity there.
Nevada is the only state with legalized prostitution, and the Mustang Ranch, its first legal brothel. Its original owner Joe Conforte, made billions of dollars, which he (ahem) chose not to share with Uncle Sam. Tax evasion, a murder, and other scandals closed the place down for a while, but it's now reopened, and I assume, faring well.
Ever been anyplace like that before? No, of course not. Care to take a little peek inside, just out of curiosity? (Don't worry; I won't tell anybody you looked.)
One thing I found kinda funny while I was looking for a tour video. There's also a brothel called the Chicken Ranch, and another called The Bunny Ranch. Mustangs? Chickens? Bunnies? Never mind.
Okay, let's check out the laws. For a state known for legal prostitution and gambling, their laws have gotta be pretty liberal, right? We'll see.
- It's illegal to drive a camel on the highway. (Hard to fit them in most cars, anyway.)
- But it isn't illegal to hang someone for shooting your dog on your property. (Kinda like killing rats?)
- While the legislature is in session, it's against the law for any of its members to conduct official business while wearing a penis costume. (They can ACT like 'em, but they can't LOOK like 'em. Got it.)
- Chocolate is banned between February 21 and April 8. (Bad, bad law.)
- In Elko, everyone walking in the street is required to wear a mask. (I wonder what kinda mask they'd wear with those penis costumes?)
- In Eureka, men with moustaches are forbidden from kissing women.
- In Las Vegas, it's against the law to pawn your dentures. (Now, there's a law to sink your teeth into.)
- In Nyala, a man is forbidden from buying drinks for more than three people other than himself at a time.
- In Reno, it's illegal to lie down on the sidewalk.
- It's also illegal to hold a marathon dance, but it isn't against the law to post a notice on a fire hydrant about that dance. (And this makes sense because ...???)
- And it's against the law to hide a spray-painted grocery cart in your basement. (Leave it out in the yard.)
- Or to be named Smith.
- Benches may not be placed in the middle of the street, either.
- And last but not least for Reno, sex toys are against the law. (I'm not touching that one.)
Okay, boys and girls, it's that time again. Time for (ta-DA!)
The Weirdest News Stories of the Week
*** Didja hear the story about the brazen thief who stole all the toilet seats from the local police station? Yeah, it's a real shame. Authorities would love to nail the culprit, but so far, they don't have anything to go on. (Bazinga!) Well authorities in Trenton, New Jersey had a similar problem. Oh, they had plenty of seats. It was toilet paper that was lacking. Know that saying A job isn't done until the paperwork is complete? Well, a budget dispute left police departments and employees of various governmental offices unable to complete the job, so to speak. And we all know how full of it some politicos can be, so we're talking about a potential crisis here, folks. Fortunately, the mayor intervened and ordered an emergency supply of paper goods. Thank goodness someone stepped in to wipe up the problem. It could've gotten real messy.
This isn't exactly weird, but it is pretty darned amazing. This extremely well-done video compresses the story of pregnancy into a 90 second clip:
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.