Nevada is a state of mind. Before you roll the dice you say, “C’mon honey, baby needs a new pair of shoes!” And everything outside of Las Vegas is Cowboy Nevada except for Incline Village, where we either have two houses or two jobs. Those with a job and a home are rarely like a straight flush. I happen to be one of the lucky guys to hit a straight flush.
Forty years ago, I lived on the island of Maui and was happy as an Ophi clam on a high tide when I vacationed in Tahoe to explore Ski Incline, now known as Diamond Peak.
As I rode the chairlift to the top, I looked over my shoulder and saw a blue lake that seemed to stretch to the horizon. The lady sitting next to me asked what I did and I told her I had a job that I thought should be illegal. “And what could that be?” she asked with a smile.
“Morning radio on the island of Maui.”
After a meaningful pause, she put her hand on my arm and asked, “How would you like to do radio here in the morning?”
So over the next two weeks I went from surf bum to ski bum and kept the same job, which I think should be illegal.
I had fallen in love with places before and lived in the comfortable borders of Cape Cod, Carmel and Kauai but never wanted to marry any place until I met Incline Village.
On the morning radio here I had to tell the kids if it was a school day or a snow day and they followed me around Raley’s while I shopped: ‘Mr. McAvoy, do we have to go to school tomorrow?”
“I don’t know, we’ll see how I feel in the morning…”
The appreciation was almost too great, and as if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, for reporting ski conditions I was invited to ski for free at all the ski resorts within driving range, including Diamond Peak, where I became the lucky owner of a locker!
Then Mark Twain gave me a pat on the back, and I began attending up to ten schools a week while teaching Nevada history and folklore. It’s been a magical journey spanning 35 years and 4,000 programs, culminating in a perfect off-ramp next summer with “Mark Twain’s Nevada” at St. Pat’s cozy outdoor amphitheater here in the village and Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City everything began.
There will be a few fun events in the meantime, and the one I’m looking forward to the most is Carson City’s first annual Mark Twain Days Festival on April 21st, 22nd and 23rd. For fun, check out the video below and the MarkTwainDays.com website for events. (Sam would be so damn proud.)
On my way out, I encourage people like you to consider giving yourself a second life through the art of Chautauqua, and I sincerely hope Chautauqua can start you on a journey as enjoyable as mine.
Head here to listen to this and other columns by McAvoy Layne.
— For more than 30 years, columnist and Chautauquan McAvoy Layne has dedicated more than 4,000 performances to preserving the wit and wisdom of The Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope, Mark Twain. As Layne puts it, “It’s like being a Monday-Friday preacher whose preaching, while not reverentially devout, is fervently American.”