Quirky little Cal-Nev-Ari for sale for $17 million
Las Vegas Review-Journal
CAL-NEV-ARI – This is one of those quirky, isolated, tiny places you come across in rural Nevada every now and then.
It’s also for sale.
Cal-Nev-Ari is so small, it takes less time to drive up and down every dirt road in town than it does to navigate the Spaghetti Bowl interchange at the Interstate 15-U.S. 95 crossroads up in Las Vegas.
The trip would be even quicker if the speed limit weren’t 10 mph. But then you’d kick up so much dust Clark County would probably have to issue an air quality advisory.
The 354 people who the county says live here aren’t included in the $17 million sale price, of course. Neither are the lots their mobile homes sit on.
Everything else is for sale by the original owner: The casino. The airport, RV park, market. The three deep-water wells. The sewer system. The utility company. A little more than 500 acres of dirt, about 70 miles south of Las Vegas.
Nancy Kidwell, who was 28 when she started this place in 1965 with her husband, Slim, can’t take care of it anymore.
“I have to think of the town,” said Kidwell, who won’t say how old she is. But a little math will tell you she’s on the high side of 70.
“I have to think of its future. What if I died tomorrow? Who else could do what I do?”
And so, Kidwell is hanging out the “for sale” sign. Again.
She tried selling a few years ago, and had a couple of developers competing for it.
Then the economy crashed. The deal fell through.
In the meantime, Kidwell can hardly keep up.
She runs the whole place, mostly herself. Slim died in 1983, and her current husband, Ace, is so ill he hardly gets out of bed.
Kidwell needs a caretaker to look after Ace when she’s working, even though she’s right down the street.
She can’t go see her mom, who is 91 and lives in Utah. She hasn’t taken a vacation “since I don’t know when.”
Kidwell spends almost all her time in a triangle-shaped pattern in the desert that Slim spotted one day flying back from wherever it is he went. It sat on Bureau of Land Management property along U.S. Highway 95 not too far from where California, Nevada and Arizona meet.
Slim figured the site was some old military training facility. Turned out he was right.
Kidwell and Slim met in Southern California. He was a flight instructor. She took lessons.
Slim pitched an idea to Nancy: Let’s get that land and build our own little community.
And that’s what they did. Cal-Nev-Ari, they called it, population: 4. There was Slim, Nancy, their dog and their cat.
They set about drilling wells. Lining up power. Installing sewer lines. They built hangars for small airplanes. They sold plots of land. Nancy remembers the first, an acre, going for $3,000 to a guy from up the road in Searchlight.
Gradually, the place grew. People moved in. The Kidwells built the casino. A market, the RV park. More people came.
Most are retirees. Folks such as Patrick Carmichael, 61, who’s tending bar in the casino.
He calls the town quiet, peaceful, and “not as hot as Bullhead City,” the Arizona town on the Colorado River where he used to live.
Carmichael retired and moved to Cal-Nev-Ari 15 years ago. Can’t stand the city, he said. There’s no traffic, smog or crime out here. If you have a four-wheel-drive, you can go pretty much wherever you want. The lake. The mountains. What else do you need?
Ila Kyle, 63, was a cocktail waitress for 25 years in Laughlin, the Nevada resort town on the river opposite Bullhead City. She retired to move here with her husband 12 years ago.
Kyle does pretty much the same stuff she’d do anyplace: play bingo, make bead jewelry, hang out with other retirees.
She’s a little worried about what might happen to the town after Kidwell sells it. What if some big developer comes in and starts building tract homes?
But she doesn’t figure too many people would want to live way out here.
“I don’t think things are going to change much,” she said.
Kidwell wants whoever buys the town to keep the airplane hangars around. She doesn’t want the lots subdivided.
She doesn’t think anybody would do that, anyway. What would be the point? If you want a tiny lot with no peace and quiet, you can live in the city.
Kidwell said the place is changing anyway. Many of the original inhabitants are gone, victims of old age.
“I worry that I might outlast them all,” she said. “I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t have any children.”
So, she’ll sell, but she doesn’t plan to leave.
After Slim – who was 34 years older than Nancy – died, she became close with his son, Ace, also a pilot. The two married a decade later.
But with Ace’s health getting worse, nearly all the work has fallen to Nancy.
She won’t go into the details about Ace’s health. But she makes it clear she feels run ragged.
She has a part-time bookkeeper who gives her some relief, but mostly she does the work herself. She feels uncomfortable leaving Ace with the caretaker, no matter how good the care may be.
“They take care of him, but they don’t love him like I do,” she said.
Slim is buried in a small cemetery in town. There are two more spots right next to his, Kidwell said. One is for Ace. One is for her.
“I intend to be here forever,” she said.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal