Living in Reno goes a little somethin’ like this…
You go out of town for a work conference or perhaps a family wedding and the conversation comes around to where you currently live.
Once you say the words “Reno, Nevada” you either get a blank look or one I have termed the “Sorry You Live In Reno” look. The comment that follows this up is generally A- “At least it’s close to <insert “cooler” place> like Tahoe, California, or Vegas (which is the funniest of the 3 being that it is a 7 hour drive away from Reno) or B- A joke about the early 2000(s) Comedy Central mockumentary TV Show “Reno 911!”.
I have to admit that before I lived here, I too thought it was a sad, smaller, and more run down version of Vegas. I remember how in one of the Muppets movies they rescue Fozzie from a bleak existence in Reno. I hadn’t forgotten Johnny Cash singing about shooting “a man in Reno just to watch him die”. I also recall hearing about a string of old Hollywood films, like “The Misfits” starring Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, centering around Reno as a kind of “divorce capital”. I definitely did not have the best impression of the area.
Having been brought here by a very unexpected divorce in 2011, I can’t help but see the irony. However, having now lived in Reno for 9 years, it really has grown on me. I don’t think about moving away and I don’t see that happening anytime soon or ever for that matter. I can attest to just how awkwardly awesome this city really is. So much so that I write to you today.
I think, as locals, we are genuinely surprised at just how genuinely surprised people actually are when they see how great Reno is. So, it is in this spirit of singing the praises of the lesser-known greatness of my home city that I include the city of Reno in my series called “what lexi loves”. I love to prove people wrong, especially in the context of moving a negative outlook into a more positive one. Something about finding an unexpected gem just inspires writing about it. In this series, I will share those gems, those loves, worth sharing.
One more thing before I list out why I dig Reno so. In addition to the cool parts, you get the quirkiness. It is truly a land of big trucks and AWD Subarus, trailers and RVs. Many people who’d choose camping over a 5-star hotel every time. There are also quite a lot of divorced people trying to make the best of co-parenting, trying to make the best of life as a single parent and there are a lot of people who have battled or are battling addiction. What does this imply? Hmm. The way I would frame it is, with Reno, what you see is what you get. These people have been through things and are open to tell you their story, even when they are still in the process of figuring it out. Having lived in places over the years where people put on a carefully crafted facade and smile wide when behind them their lives are burning to the ground, I find the realness of Reno people endearing and refreshing.
10 things I love about my home of Reno, Nevada:
1//Minimal traffic, small town vibe. Feels like everyone knows everyone because..they pretty much do. When you friend a new person on Facebook in Reno, you will find out what other friends of yours in Reno that they happen to already know. No six degrees of separation here, more like a half degree.
2//Lots of sunshine with an average of 70% of days being sunny every year.
The high desert setting against the Sierra Nevada mountains makes for amazing sunrises, the coolest of cloud formations (in both warmer weather due to the wind and cooler weather that give you Middle Earth/Lord of the Rings vibes) and my oh my, THE most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen…and that includes Hawaii.
3//Raising kids doesn’t cost a mint, especially comparing with where I moved here from in So Cal. The schools are far better than the national rankings would have you believe. It’s a very outdoor town with the kiddos in mind.
4//Just around the corner from hiking, kayaking, camping, snowshoeing, fishing, skiing, tubing. Hikes to waterfalls, hikes in the mountains, hike to lakes, hike around lakes, go cliff jumping, hike to castles, to super cool, abandoned railroad tunnels, hike along the gorgeous Truckee River. Truly an outdoor paradise in every direction.
5//Reno is known for its numerous unique, local festivals, my favorites being: The Nugget Best of the West Rib Cook-Off and The Great Reno Balloon Race. At the time of this post’s release, it is would normally be the week where both of these festivals take place every year. On a normal year, this week would also be right after the world famous Burning Man festival celebrating community, art, self-expression and self-reliance, which takes place 100 miles from Reno. Normally thousands would be flying into the Reno/Tahoe airport to attend these festivals. All 3 are cancelled for 2020 due to Covid, but I think we are all already looking forward to next year.
6//Countless great day and weekend trips. Whether it be the Scottish vibes of the Oregon coastline’s lush green landscape, the beautiful national parks like Crater Lake, Yosemite, Sequoia and the Redwoods, the beaches of the California coast under four hours away, the sand dunes in Southern Idaho, and year round cheap flights to pop down to Vegas for some sunshine and world class food and shows. And oh yeah, you have drop dead gorgeous Lake Tahoe under an hour away and super cool Pyramid Lake too. The cheap flights to the Hawaiian islands from Reno are not a bad deal either! As a good friend would say, “Not mad at it.”
7//Food for every mood and every taste – Mexican, Ethiopian, Korean, sooo much all you can eat sushi, Thai, pizza, Vegan, ramen, barbecue, Indian, great breakfast places galore and there’s always multiple locations of the the legendary In n Out that our family frequents on a normal basis.
8//An ever-growing art and culture scene connected with our ever-growing University (UNR) including the Annual TEDx University of Nevada Conference, art exhibits and film festivals. Also, there is an awesome event called Art town happening every year throughout the month of July – music, dance, theater, visual arts, workshops, art walks and the majority of the events are free!
9//Cool and crunchy, but not pretentious. Farmers markets, co-ops and community farms. Craft cocktails, beers and tragically cool hipster venues, oh my. Wine walks, Beer Crawls, Superhero Crawls, Zombie Crawls. We have it all.
10//And most of all: The people. It’s a great place to put down roots. Like any home you seek to make for yourself, it comes down to the community that you become part of and grow to love as the family you choose. As the lyrics go:
“Momma once told me. You’re already home where you feel love.”
The Head and the Heart
Listen to “Lost in my Mind”
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Lexi King is a wife and a mom of 2 teens and a new Marine. She has been Executive Assistant to a Reno area CEO for almost a decade and is the writer/creator of the lifestyle blog, Rhythm&Rubbish: One wise-ish mom to another: Finding joy in the tension between the daily routines we embrace (the rhythms) and the unexpected nonsense we endure (the rubbish). Her dream is to travel, to share stories, to write, and to make a living doing all 3.
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