Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mike's Manly Vacation, Day 6

Our last full day in Nevada we went to Lake Tahoe, once the favorite stomping ground of Old Blue Eyes and the Rat Pack. It is a jet set paradise with Wagnerian vistas and good table games. The casinos are on the lake and the gondola comes right to the front door. I doubled my money at roulette.

Mike's Manly Vacation, Day 5

Walks in the desert can be manly or not, depending on the granola touchy feely factor. If you're out there to find wisdom like Carlos Casteneda you're not being manly enough. If you're out there to find wisdom like Billy Jack you're a man. Me, I was just out there. We were supposedly there to look at petroglyphs, which the women enjoyed a lot, but Grimes Point also offers a great view of the runway at Top Gun, so we watched the jets doing touch and goes, take off in tandem, and go through precision maneuvers like when four of them would circle in low in close formation and then peel off one at a time. This being a cow town we hit the livestock auction, but we didn't buy a cow. That night we ate at a Basque place at the Oveland Hotel. The rib eye was fantastic.

Mike's Manly Vacation, Day 4

Day 4 we went over the hill to visit grandma. Not particularly manly, but something every man should do once in awhile.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mike's Manly Vacation, Day 3

Speaking of violence, my stepfather Jerry is an old cowboy/hippie with a great gun collection. We went out on Monday and burned of some powder, which is one of the things I'd most been looking forward to in my visit. He brought out a .357 revolver, a .44 magnum revolver (though we shot off lighter loads in both of them), a 9mm pistol, Jerrry's 1911 .45 ACP, his five shot .38 special snub nose, a beautiful .22 Ruger target pistol with an aim-point scope, and my completely rebuilt and revamped .22 Ruger 10-22 rifle, set up for long range plinking with a target stock Jerry made himself and some nice Buress optics. I shot all of them. A lot. The .22s were the most fun, though, becuase they were the most accurate. At 110 yards I was spinning old bowling pins around with both of them, and with a pistol--even from a bench rest--that's some pretty good sooting.

Best part was when a cow wandered onto the range and my mother called out "Cow" as though it were a perfectly normal occurance. The cow meandered around among the bowling pins for awhile and then wandered off.

Cows and guns. There are some reasons to love Nevada.

Mike's Manly Vacation, Day 2

We Spent Saturday night in Red Rock Canyon with my SCA friends Mark and Dianne. They own a 70s vintage A Frame house and a few acres in an old homesteading area about thirty-five miles north of Reno and about four miles east of California. They have five horses, which in itself isn’t particularly manly, but it’s what they do with the horses that is testosterone fueled in the best way. They hunt. They belong to a hunt called Red Rock Hounds, and, since there isn’t’ much Fox in that part of the country, they hunt Coyote. If that won’t raise the hackles of your average PETA Nazi I don’t know what will.

Their description of a coyote hunt on horseback is great. I’ve seen Coyote up close and personal, so I know they are about twice as smart as humans. The stereotype of the Wily Coyote is completely accurate. According to Dianne, when you set the dogs onto a coyote the coyote will run ahead for awhile and then wait for the dogs to catch up. When the dogs get close they run again for awhile and then pause waiting for the dogs. This goes on a couple more times until the Coyote decides the dogs aren’t going to give up. Then the Coyote disappears. It simply vanishes. The coyote will calmly trot over a ridge or behind a bush and when the dogs catch up it’s gone without a trace. No sign, no scent, nothing. In four years they’ve only caught three coyotes, and all of them were old and sick and wouldn’t have survived the winter in any case. The Indians are right about Coyote.

So, anyway, I got to ride horseback and get my SCA equestrian authorization (advanced). That means I can joust, but only at a trot. Jousting is very manly.

Later we went to fighter practice, which meant I got to hit people with sticks. I’d flown my armor out with me so I could cross swords with Duke Rolf in my 28 year quest to actually beat him just once. I still haven’t done it. Then we had a barbecue and ate steak. Red meat and friendly violence! What would be more manly?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dr. Mike's Manly Vacation, Day 1

Probably the most manly place to vacation in the US is Nevada, and the most manly part of Nevada is Northern Nevada. While Las Vegas has more people--mostly transplants from Caliofrnia--Norhtern Nevada is old school Nevada, where a combination of Mormonism, real cowboys and libertarian values created a society where gambling, whoring, and fully automatic weapons are all legal.

We aren't even vacationing in Reno. We're in Fallon, a town of 8,000 people and three times that many cows, current home of Top Gun, and for some strange reason a stop on the NHRA circut. It also has a 1/4 mile dirt oval right next to a trap range, a great big Walmart and six small town casinos. Real cowboys and real sailors roll into the Nuget to play Texas Holdem all night long.

On our first full day here we did what everybody else was doing. We went to the high school rodeo. That's right, Fallon has a high school rodeo. This is where real cowboys are born and raised. They went through all the regular events except for bull riding. That night we drove to Reno, a much more manly town then Vegas any day, to celebrate a friend's birthday. We went to a steakhouse, of course. Ruby River, which had prime rib you could cut with a fork. It's right accross the street from the peppermill Casino, and a world away from New York City.