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Brian Sandford: More Nevada surprises for a happy newcomer

Brian Sandford

The more one ponders all the obvious characteristics subtleties that distinguish Nevada from other states, the more fascinating distinctions come to mind.

This column has focused on those distinctions the past two weeks, and this week I’m going for the trifecta. I’d be interested to hear your own thoughts about the topic; I welcome you to email me at the address at the end of this column.

Politics: I’d expected Carson City to be much more politically conservative than the Seattle area, and indeed, I saw more Romney bumper stickers in my first week here than I did in my final year up there. But I quickly learned that the term “conservative” has a different meaning here. I’ve spoken to residents who identify as such but have positions some would see as liberal, such as being pro-environment and anti-strip mining, pro-medical marijuana and tolerant of the brothel industry. Nevada has a libertarian streak many outsiders are unaware of.

Alcohol: I enjoy a vodka tonic now and again and was amazed when I bought a bottle of my preferred brand for $19 here. The same bottle goes for $44 in the Seattle area, and until Washington’s law changed about a year and a half ago, it was only available in state-controlled liquor stores during certain hours. Alcohol is both inexpensive and available seemingly everywhere here — and at all times. A friend who grew up in Nevada told me an amusing story about his visit to Washington state some years ago. He was at a bar about 1:30 a.m. when the bartender yelled, “Last call!” He looked around and said, “Last call? What … what is that?” He couldn’t comprehend that he had money in his pocket and the desire to continue spending it, yet was barred from doing so. For Nevada newcomers, the lack of a “last call” at some drinking establishments is an equally big adjustment.

Wind: I keep a basketball in my trunk, and sometimes I’ll randomly stop at a school or park and shoot hoops to relax. Well, at least I did until I moved here. The last time I tried to shoot a basketball outdoors in Carson City, I couldn’t hit the basket from the free-throw line because the wind would blow the ball back. I like the wind here — there’s something calming about it — but many of us probably feel differently when flying out of Reno-Tahoe International Airport. I flew overseas every summer while growing up, and I never encountered turbulence as bad as what can exist over our windy state.

Sunsets: Given that Carson City is some 700 miles south of Seattle, I looked forward to later sunsets in the winter and not being plunged into darkness in the 4 p.m. hour, as Washington state is. It hadn’t occurred to me that 9,000-foot mountains to the west would be a rocky impediment to watching the sun set — and that darkness and lower temperatures would come more quickly here than most places.

But given the beauty of the Sierra Nevada, I’ll take it. In fact, I’ll happily take everything about Northern Nevada, a beautiful and fascinating place to call home.

Editor Brian Sandford can be reached at bsandford@nevadaappeal.com.