RENO, NV (IRIS) -- Thousands of us flock to whispering pines, gurgling streams
and crisp air of the mountains across America to escape, re-connect and set up a temporary camp. But as American
Baby Boomers retire, they are establishing permanent camps in these settings at an astounding rate, building new
homes, sometimes buying ghost towns and even old run-down abandoned cabins. Look into the mountains around any urban city
and they are there, hidden in the woods living out dreams and putting finishing touches on life-long legacies.
“When I said I was going to live here, first one in 80 years, I said, will I plow the road
or go over it?” said Dave Hensley, a former Las Vegas land broker who has bought one of the first mountain subdivisions
in southern Nevada. He was looking at his 1974 Thiacal Imp Franken snow cat that he now uses for the commute home in 10-foot
winter snows at his mountain cabin at an altitude of 8,730 ft.
like Hensley, moving into rural America, are expected to increase 30 percent by 2020 according to at 2009 USDA report. They
are breathing new life into rural America and in Hensleys case, revitalizing the past in unimaginable ways.
The story of his new, old mountain home in Mt. Charleston above Las Vegas began in 1932. Hensley
likes to look at an old news article from that year. It says that Union Pacific had big plan in this little place: To build
72 log cabins on 9 acres. For the people that lived down in the baking heat of Las Vegas, this little mountain island was
“If you had money, this was the place to be; deer,
hunting, wine, women and whiskey,” Hensley likes to imagine.
little housing project up here was a kind of precursor to the decades of development that would follow in the Las Vegas valley
below. It led to huge profits and then, eventually a collapse of the housing market that we know so well. Much like our recent
boom and bust, back then Union Pacific was on the loosing end. It finished just three model homes in this mountain enclave
and then the bottom fell out of the entire economy.
decades the three cabins and a little guard shack decayed, becoming homes to the quiet Ringtail Cats.
But one thing didn’t change, people kept flocking to these cool mountains to escape the Las
Vegas heat. Hensley was one of them. He came to the desert as part of the Air Force in 1974.
“Instead of going to casinos, I would hike in the mountains,” he said. He remembers the sheriff
in the area who would “sit up at the bar and drink whiskey. He wore a black shirt, black leather vest with a badge on
it, a cowboy hat and a six gun so that thee was no skullduggery.”
Hensley’s treks through the mountains, he came across a lot of colorful characters that took a permanent place in his
heart. Among the characters were these three, falling-apart cabins.
been trying to buy them since 1979.” He didn’t have much luck, not even getting answer from the current land owner
when he inquired. Then, he got into the land business, eventually brokering a deal trading 310 acres of private land for land
next to Las Vegas Boulevard. Translation: big bucks.
Of course, that
is not even the beginning of the big money land-brokering Las Vegas stories that Hensley holds in his head. If you are lucky,
he will share them with you at his little private resort on the mountain. Some of the king-maker stories will blow your mind.
This mountain retreat where he tells the stories is the end of the
story, this little mountain cabin where much of the land speculation began. The once rotting log cabin is a place that he
has always held in his heart. He finally has it and he would do anything for it. He remembers going in for the first time.
“You could see right through the building (the walls). We were
down on our hands and knees with tooth brushes cleaning,” he remembers. But fulfilling a passion like this can also
kill you and Hensley is testament to that.
Last year, he was working
on the cabin and staying in the little guard shack.
“We were baking
bread, cooking and the alarm went off.” It was the smoke alarm. He unplugged the alarms because all the cooking probably
set it off he said. Then he went to sleep with the rest of the family as normal.
woke up at 3:30 with a splitting headache,” he said. He called the police and “I knew what to say, but I couldn’t
say it, I was so disoriented.”
Medics came and took his family
to the hospital. He stayed. Later he got a call telling him to get out of the shack. They had severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
They could have died that night.
Hensley went back in and plugged in
the alarm. “Evacuate! Evacuate!” he remembered it screamed at him. They figured out what it was. “The fridge
almost killed us.” It was a propane fridge.
When the fire chief
asked why he stayed, he said, “By the way, the captain goes down with the ship.” The captain responded: “Your
ship went down a long time ago.” They both chuckled.
story is the contrary of a ship going down. You could say he has resurrected a ship and a piece of America that will live
on for at centuries. According to the USDA, the rural challenge is one that many retiring baby boomers will take on as a final
personal project, brining parts of rural America back to life. Each of their stories is unique and no doubt there will be
failures, but that is not Hensley.
Now, he has a custom dream like
no other place in the world. He has added the flare of a train theme that goes with the Union Pacific origins of the old cabin.
If you look around, it is a piece of America that seems to combine every powerful element of history in one little remote
place: The complicated politics of water trickles through his stream, railroad relics litter the property, colorful mining
tailings dot the landscape along with the old stumps of logging. Hensley knows all the inside stories and it is that oral
history which is at risk. It can only be conveyed by people like Hensley himself, covering land speculation, housing developments,
boom and bust, its victims and perpetrators. All of this is nestled in what you could call the purple mountains above Las
The missing link between the public and this story is that right
now, Hensley doesn’t have any plans to share this private legacy with every average Joe who comes wandering through.
Unless he changes his mind, this article is about as close as you will ever get.
like I said, there are lots of stories like his. Look into the mountains around any urban city and stories like these are
there, hidden in the woods. If you are lucky, you will find a person, their story and can share and relish their legacy like
I did. Happy trails.
RENO, NV - “The mountain is high, the valley is low and you're confused on which way
to go. So, I’ve come here to give you a hand and lead you into the promised land. So, come on and take a free ride!”
- Edgar Winter Group.
It’s not clear if anyone ended up in “the promise land,”
but like the Edgar Winter Group’s song, “Free Ride,” on Thursday June 21st RTC took people up mountains,
through valleys and eliminated confusion about buses through free rides. It was the first “Dump the Pump” day.
“It ended up being a record increase. The most people ever using public transportation
in our community,” said David Jickling, RTC Public Transportation Director. In his 22 years with the commission, this
is only the second or third time this has been offered. 32,000 passengers hit the bus, a 34 percent increase.
The big factor in the success is the economy, he says. “Most of our customers pay cash and people planned around
that day and If I save my shopping or doctors appointment we will get to ride for free, and for a lot of people that makes
a difference right now.”
While the economy is a factor getting people on the bus,
just like the Edgar Winter Group’s song, the obstacle preventing people from getting on is confusion,
"People see these buses and . . . ‘I don't know which one to get on.’ There is a nervous factor:
“Will the bus driver be helpful” . . . and that it is sort of a fear factor. So if we can overcome that with 'what
can go wrong here,' well it is free.’
While it is a free ride for the people, this
is not cheap for the RTC. The loss of revenue is about the equivalent of what it would cost to do a good advertising campaign in the media, he said. “And this really gets people on the bus. Just telling people
about the bus doesn't really seem to get them on the bus. This does."
So, the success
means they will likely do more free rides in the future. You not only get a little help for your pocketbook, there is also
a lot of help from other riders.
“There are a lot of regular riders and they can
tell who is a new person. That is important in the sense that they are happy to help you,” Jickling says.
The free events are important in a down economy because it helps expand the service he says. They plan on expanding
the rapid service to UNR and Summit mall. While the perception of a ‘promise land’ is relative, the RTC is trying
to make some pretty challenging promises with this service, hitting major destinations with fewer stop.
“We are really trying to compete with the car. If you are trying to go from your house to the Atlantis or Meadow
Wood Mall you can get there as fast as in your car and maybe even faster, especially if you had to find parking. With a bus you don't have to do that,” he said.
the RTC wants you to judge for yourself . . . “So, come on and take a free ride.”
Reno, NV (IRIS)-- In New York recently the bright stage was packed with cosmetic Goliaths
like L'Oreal, MAC, Kimberly-Clark, Beyonce and two moms from Fernley, Nevada. They were competing for the coveted Health and
Beauty Association’s 'Best Green Packaging of the Year Award'. And when the flash bulbs burst, the cameras were trained
on the two moms from a world away. Their unlikely rise is from the world of cosmetic mud that they dig up and package themselves
from their parents own ground.
“It is teaching the kids that the American dream
is still there,” says Shelly Egbert, co-founder of Black Rock Mud. “For two small town moms to put together and
idea and go against the big boys and win is the American dream and the American dream is still alive no matter what you hear.”
This American dream runs deeper than just a story of David beats Goliath. She and co-founder
Summer Powlson have 11 kids combined, and they are all getting their hands dirty in it.
we do is all by hand, by shovel,” she says and the kids, “They love it, they think it is awesome. My daughter
is starting a mud-dyed t-shirt company. We are teaching our kids how to be an entrepreneur and start a business.”
But that’s not the only American dream that has risen from the mud. This is an American
green dream. “Our plant is all off the grid, we are working off solar and wind power. We aren’t just saying we
are green, we are trying to do it and it is tough.”
It is all happening about a mile
from where they live in Fernley, in the even smaller town of Gerlach, Nevada on Shelly’s dads private property.
Not to be lost in all this New York fan-fare is the product behind their dream.
Complexion-concerned people spread the Black Rock Mud on their faces to pull out toxins and nourish the skin with
minerals. But this ‘mud’ is different. “The mud is a special kind of clay,” she says and it is only
found one other place in the world. Most face mud are mostly “Bentonite” clay which is a “filler”
“But ours is Illite and that is what makes us so special,” she says.
Most mud come from volcanic geothermal that smells like rotten eggs, not the kind of thing you want to spread on your face. But she explains that this mud comes from heat generated by friction
between the earths’ plates and that kind of heat makes the mud odorless. The end result is something that you want to
put on your face that “pulls toxins out of the body and it is naturally mineral rich that are really healthy for your
skin,” she says.
Now, like many companies that make mud, they could have just stuck
their mud in plastic containers. But they didn’t and that takes us back to the Green Packaging Award that they won last
week in New York. Their packaging is 100 percent recyclable and made in the USA.
product is unique, they beat out the cosmetic Goliaths, they are green, made in the USA and teaching their small town children
entrepreneurship. But there is still one piece missing from making this American dream come alive.
“We hope that some of this will start translating to orders some time soon,” Shelly says adding that
it is only available in Reno at You Microspa. She wants to sell more of it, not to make herself rich, but to enrichen others
lives in the small community. “Our dream has always been right here in Fernley we have so many friends and family that
are struggling and we would love to help them have a second income.”