Thursday, April 11, 2013

Carson City and the Landmark St. Charles Hotel

We started the day with a visit to Genoa, which is situated just below the Sierras at the edge of the Carson Valley. (Everything in this part of Nevada is named after Kit Carson: cities, streets, valleys, counties, rivers, mountain passes, recreation areas, pets, and children.) This is a historic town where 49ers took a breather before struggling over the mountains to the gold clogged streams of California. Genoa was also a significant stop for the Pony Express. Today it hosts a great antique gun store with experts who freely share their knowledge of 19th century weapons.

TheShopkeeper was the first of the Steve Dancy series and it took place in Nevada. The Carson City St. Charles Hotel was a prominent setting for much of the story. Seven years ago, the St. Charles was a dilapidated flophouse. On this visit, I was pleased to see a restored exterior with thriving businesses on the ground floor. The manager was hospitable enough to give us a tour of the upper floors where the rooms are still in the process of restoration. One room is preserved behind glass in 19th century condition. The room is a few inches wider than the single mattress on the floor and personal belongings are strewn at the bottom of the bed. I took liberties in my book, and housed Steve Dancy in a suite on the third floor. The St. Charles is across the street from the capitol and legislative building and provides elected officials with a fitting reminder of Nevada history.

After the St. Charles, we visited the Capitol, Nevada State Museum, shopped, and ate lunch at an oddly themed Polynesian restaurant. Carson City has a Basque heritage, so we had an excellent dinner at a friendly Basque restaurant. Tomorrow, everyone seems to be going off in different directions, so we’ll share stories at dinner.

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