When you live in the desert but are an ocean girl at heart, you’re often hard pressed to find beauty in your everyday surroundings. At least that’s the case for me. The ocean is my happy place. The damp, salty air, the sound of the waves and gulls, the smell of sea creatures and kelp; I love everything about it. Five minutes at the ocean and I am the vision of peace and calm. Seriously.
Like I said, I live in the desert. In Nevada. The wind blows quite a bit here and there’s lots of dirty dirt; nothing like ocean breezes and beach sand. But thankfully, I live in northern Nevada. No, it’s nowhere near Las Vegas. We’re nestled in a valley near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Which is a good thing because after the ocean, my next favorite place to be is in the mountains. And we don’t have to drive very far to get me to the mountains.
Wow, I sound like a whiny brat! Probably because for a while after moving here, I kind of was a whiny brat. It took me some time to decide to make the most of this desert and to choose to see the beauty that it has to offer.
The ever-changing landscape is very noticeable here. Partly because it’s a farming community and much of it is planted and harvested every year and partly because it is a valley nestled between mountain ranges. Though the wind can set me on edge, with it comes diverse weather patterns. A standing joke around here is that you can experience all four seasons in one day. It really is true. One minute you can be sweating because of the blistering sun and the next thing you know, hurricane force winds start blowing, bringing dark, broody clouds that dump gallons of rain in a matter of minutes. Sometimes winters here are wet and snowy and other times they are dry and bone-achingly cold. Sometimes Spring comes early and other times we barely have any springtime. Summers are always hot and Fall varies in length like Spring does. But the one thing I can always count on is the sky.
Our place is situated so that I have a beautiful view of the morning sky. When I remember to take the time and look out at the sunrise, I am never disappointed. The colors are breathtaking and the feelings they impart to me stay with me the whole day. When the wind blows, the clouds roll over the hills on the west side and make their way across the land, giving us a show of unmatched magnificence. Sometimes, the clouds lay on top of each other in layers giving the illusion of ocean waves and if I listen closely, I can almost hear them crashing upon each other. Sometimes we get giant puffy white clouds, other times we get flying saucer clouds and the thunderheads we get are impressively intimidating. The sunsets are nothing to sneer at either. I never realized how many shades of pastel there are. Pinks, lavenders, yellows, grays, various hues of blues…even varying shades of white. Every bit of our northern Nevada sky is amazing.
I often say that our view of the sky is the best part about where we live. And it is. Because if we didn’t have this wonderful diversity in our skyscapes, I might be hard-pressed to find something to get excited about around here. That sounds shallow but it’s how I feel because the desert just isn’t my favorite. But here’s a funny tidbit. For the past few months, Mr. SBF and I have been traveling around a bit, checking out other places here and there, poking around to see if there is somewhere else for us to be and much to our bewilderment, no place else has quite felt like home. Every time we return to our humble abode from one of our outings, we breathe a big sigh of relief. How’s that for irony? Maybe it’s because this is where we raised our children. Or maybe it’s because the rural lifestyle suits us so well. Maybe it’s because this is our comfort zone. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason, it seems pretty clear that, for us, Nevada means home. At least for now anyway. And that’s okay. For richer, for poorer, at the ocean or in the desert, my sweetheart and I are together and that is definitely what matters the most.
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It’s a funny thing, living in Nevada. When we first moved here from California and would tell people that we live in Nevada, they would say, “Oh! Do you live in Las Vegas?” No, no we don’t. So, we learned early on to say, “We live in northern Nevada.” Now people ask, “Oh! Do you live near Las Vegas?” No, no we don’t. Las Vegas is about 360 miles south of us. We live near Reno. Sort of.
The state of Nevada spans 109,781 square miles and has a LOT of vacant land. The Las Vegas area (southern Nevada) has more population than the rest of the state’s cities and towns combined. Northern Nevada is rural. Even the cities, like Reno (“the Biggest Little City in Nevada”) and Carson City (the state’s capital) have a rural feel to them. In between the various towns and cities are wide open spaces with an abundance of wild horses and plenty of other desert fauna to see.
In order for us to get to a shopping center with retail chains, we have to drive a minimum of fifty miles. Reno is the only city near us with a shopping mall and it’s about 75 miles northwest of us. But we’re not complaining. We’ve been here for going on fifteen years and the rural life suits us just fine.
Much of the area still has an “old west” feel and even though the towns and cities are spaced far apart, there is a genuine sense of community in northern Nevada. One of the things we love about it is that every city has a plethora of small, locally owned and operated businesses. Sometimes we will take a drive to another town specifically to visit one business or another. Fernely, NV has our favorite Chinese Restaurant, Fallon, NV is home to our favorite distillery, Gardnerville, NV has our favorite pizza place, Dayton, NV has our favorite hair salon, Carson City, NV is where our favorite panaderia is, Reno, NV is where our favorite sushi restaurant is located and Lake Tahoe, NV is where most of the snow is. Oh, and Yerington, NV (aside from being where we live) is home to our favorite florist!
Sometimes I wish that shopping was a little more convenient (by that, I mean that we lived closer to shopping centers) but then again the internet makes shopping these days pretty convenient! In fact, I did most of my Christmas shopping online this past Christmas and I am seriously considering subscribing to one of those grocery delivery programs! But I digress. Living in northern Nevada, for the most part, is pretty nice. Like I said, rural living agrees with us and I honestly don’t think we would ever be able to go back to the city life.
Oh, and the real purpose of this article is to let you know that the “Local” tab at the top of our website is where I am going to be sharing more about our northern Nevada area, so come back soon and see what there is to do when you’re in Nevada (but not in Las Vegas!)