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Goodness Gracious ...
Great Balls o' Fire!

The Reason for the Trip

As y'all might remember, the Pirate family journeyed to Virginia City and Carson City, NV to delve into first-hand research for a state report being done by one of the piranha. Carson City is the state capitol and we did get several pictures of the afore-mentioned piranha standing by various Significant Monuments, which will be included in the report. However, they are incredibly dull and boring ... you won't be subjected to them here. :-)

Brief Background

However, Virginia City is a whole 'nother story. :-) In a nutshell, Virginia City is the site of the famous Comstock Lode, which resulted in the richest find of silver in the US, circa 1859. From a population high of 30,000 in the 1870's, once the silver became too difficult to mine, the population declined and today the residents number about 700 (or thereabouts ... depending on who you're talking with). It's at 6200 feet elevation and is all by itself on Sun Mountain. If you're in Virginia City, it's cuz you wanted to be there .. not because you were on your way to somewhere else and decided to stop.

Amusing Anecdote

I believe it's a town requirement that any current resident must first and foremost be a Colorful Character. Trust me ... they are. :-) One of the more Colorful Characters was Billy. (Past use of the verb is intentional). Now, ol' Billy was a miner ... he had a claim that he still worked. It wasn't revealed to us how successful Billy was or whether the mine just kept him supplied in whiskey money. However, about 8 or so years ago, it seems ol' Billy emerged from his mine drunk as a skunk. For those of you who know how drunk skunks can be, realize that this is a Serious Condition. :-)

Well now, mining is hard work. Those tunnels are small, dark, cramped and damp. It's back-breaking work to pound an iron rod with a sledge hammer into the mountain side, create a hole for the blasting powder, fire it off and then clear out the debris .. all in the hopes that the desired, elusive, shiney metal is in the rubble.

It seems that this particular time, ol' Billy was drunker than usual. And tired. And hungry. After all, mining is hard work. So, when he was done that particular day, he laid his mining equipment, blasting power, caps and fuse on the table, put some grub (we Western-types always call food "grub", unless we call it "vittles" ... it adds a certain amount of flavor to the mental image, doncha know) in the microwave, which was on the same table .. hey ... just because Virginia City is literally in the middle of nowhere, high up in the mountains, doesn't mean that it doesn't have modern conveniences!

A Small Digression

And yes, there are flush toilets .. why, it was only a few of years ago, in 1994, that the EPA, in their infinite governmental wisdom, declared that all the outhouses in Virginia City were detrimental to the environment and therefore to illegal to use for their original purpose. (gee whiz .. what a load of crap, ya know? :-) ) Anyway, the sturdy citizens of Virginia City, being onery cusses, weren't going to take that Decree from Afar sitting down .. nosiree! Just to show the EPA that they weren't craven cowards, blindly submitting to the will of Big Brother, they created the now-annual Outhouse Races. Right down the middle of Main Street. This year (2000), the Outhouse Races will be held on October 7th, if you were interested in attending .. gosh, maybe even participating! :-)

Meanwhile, back at Billy's

Anyway, back to ol' Billy .... last we knew, he was heating up some grub (there's that word again) in the microwave. But, being drunker than a skunk, he passed out before the grub was ready to eat. It is extremely unfortunate that Billy's microwave was somewhat disfunctional .. umm ... somewhat like all the Colorful Characters who live in town. Now, it's not certain exactly what happened, but somehow the microwave kinda/sorta ... uh .. blew up. And kinda/sorta ignited the blasting powder sitting next to it.

Ol' Billy was blown clean outta the house... from the front, clear down the hallway and out the door. It was a minor miracle that, being drunk as he was, he was so limp and limber that he just rolled with the blast and was able to walk away, relatively unscathed. Needless to say, Billy's house wasn't as lucky .. it was kinda/sorta destroyed. :-) And seeing that Storey county (where Virginia City resides) is the smallest county in Nevada, it is no exaggeration to say that pieces of ol' Billy's house were scattered all over the county.

Anyway, that's just one small example of the type of Colorful Character that lives .. or lived ... in Virginia City. Although ol' Billy survived the Great Microwave Explosion, he succumbed to pneumonia sometime later. Needless to say, we didn't meet ol' Billy, but we sure did meet and talk w/ other Colorful Characters of the town. :-)

The Event of the Weekend

Well, with that as background into the kind of settlement Virginia City is, we weren't at all surprised, when we rolled into town on Saturday afternoon to find some sort of festivity in progress. We were surprised, however, at the sheer number of people milling about .. all in front of the hotel where we had rooms reserved for us. There were hundreds of people. Well.. more than 100, at least. It turned out that we had inadvertently chosen the weekend that Virginia City was hosting their Annual Mountain Oyster Cook-off.

oyster-sign-small (14K) You think I make this stuff up???? You think I have nothing better to do than to sit around here and conjure up Tall Stories???

/me rolls her eyes ... get real. :-)

For proof that I'm speaking God's Own Truth, take a look at this sign that advertised the location of the event.

After we checked into the hotel and divested ourselves of our luggage, Mr. Pirate and I checked out the .. uh.. "fry". The pirates-junior were intent on stimulating the local economy and off they went. Mr. Pirate & I were somewhat puzzled as to why some of the booths were vacant and/or closing up ... it was 3:30pm .. but not really time to close up shop. Turns out that those booths had run out of vittles. :-)

blazin-balls-small (16K) However, one booth had obviously anticipated the demand and the line at their booth was about 2 city blocks long.

Their sign was so well thought-out and descriptive ... boy, it really gave you the flavor of what they were offering ... that I knew I had to share it with y'all.

So, here for your edification and amusement is a chili sign that you needn't be sheepish about looking at. :-)

A Local Watering Hole

bucket-small (17K) I've mentioned one of Mr. Pirate's favorite watering holes in Virginia City .. well.. strictly speaking, that's not quite true. It's not the water served at this venerable establishment that is the attraction. After all, it's not a watering hole that draws the crowd but an alco-hole. [grin]

And you guys thought I make this stuff up. [guffaw]

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