Part 4: VIRGINIA CITY: A Bonanza of a Town

Friday morning dawned early for this not-so-young English writer, and that meant only one thing – coffee!!! My unabashed addiction for cappuccino was ably satisfied at Sips Coffee and Tea, a charming little coffee shop located inside the Silver Legacy. Armed with my steaming beverage, a monstrously thick oatmeal and raisin cookie and an almond cream pastry (I was feeling a little peckish), I returned to my room to capture what was to be, a stunning sunrise over the city.

Sunrise over Reno – Photo Credit: Mark Blasdale

The plan for Friday was to visit the historic town of Virginia City, situated between Reno and the state capital of Carson City. But before that plan was affected, Teresa, having picked me up from the hotel, sped me out to a local, independent coffee shop – Hub Coffee Roasters. It was a glorious, sunny morning and having taken the requisite staged coffee photograph, we took a stroll along the Truckee, talking about all sorts and generally putting the world to rights.


The casual reader must not be alarmed to discover that much of my day (be it home or abroad) is spent drinking coffee. Consequently, it should be of little surprise to learn that leaving Reno to its own devices for the day and following a very pleasant drive out to The Summit, our next stop was a handsome Starbucks where, presently coffee-less and seated demurely next to a window, we found Melinda.

View from The Summit looking back towards Reno – Photo Credit: Mark Blasdale

I have always associated Virginia City with cowboys and The West; a name so familiar since infant boyhood, but for the life of me, I could never seem to recall why. I knew, of course, that no lesser personage than Samuel Clemens had first cut his literary teeth there as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise. Indeed, Virginia City should be rightly considered as the birthplace of the pen name – Mark Twain – as he first used that nom de plume whilst resident there in February 1863. But it wasn’t until we three walked into the Bucket of Blood Saloon and saw autographed maps and other assorted memorabilia that I realised Virginia City was home to the Ponderosa Ranch in TV’s Bonanza!

Lunch came courtesy of the Palace Saloon & Restaurant, located on S C St. Here I sampled authentic Sarsaparilla and tucked into an Elk burger which, I must confess, was absolutely delicious. It was whilst sat at the table that I realised I’d lost my sunglasses – a brand new pair of Oakley’s. To the miscreant who appropriated them (and I strongly suspect I know who it was), “Merry Christmas!!!”


Leaving the tourists, the Vote Trump 2020 banners and bumper stickers – and my sunglasses, we next headed out to Boot Hill, the iconic cemetery located just out of town. The surrounding scenery was stunning, and by virtue of there being so little rainfall in those parts, tombstones dating back to the mid 19th century looked almost new. From here, we said goodbye to Virginia City and commenced a short driving tour, taking in Silver City, Carson City, an infamous dwelling – The Bunny House – other assorted Cathouses, and Washoe Lake before returning to The Summit (where we safely deposited Melinda at her car) before heading back where, left to my own devices for the evening, I spent some of that night walking the streets of Reno, taking in a couple of bars – and more in the way of coffee shops.