RJ reporter finds himself off to the camel races in Virginia City

Updated September 7, 2018 - 10:35 pm

As someone who grew up in the Silver State, I’ve always known Nevada had its fair share of quirk.

From the strange statues at Thunder Mountain outside of Winnemucca to the ghosts of Rhyolite, there’s no shortage of strange but strangely fascinating things to do and see across this state.

Still, I never imagined I’d ever be sitting nearly 7 feet off the ground straddling the back of a dromedary camel in a racing chute in the same town where Samuel Clemons first used his Mark Twain byline in the local paper.

But that’s where I found myself Friday afternoon at the 59th annual International Camel & Ostrich Races in Virginia City.

I’d be lying if I said I’d been on a camel before. And in front of the few hundred people in the stands for the event, the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass myself by falling off or getting stuck in the saddle somehow.

Luckily I didn’t have much time to think about that.

“Bugle boy!” called out animal handler and the event’s emcee Monte McClurg, signaling the call to blare out over the speakers. My race was about to start.

I squeezed the taped-up saddle with my right hand, and held onto the surprisingly soft hair of my camel’s hump with my left. The chute opened.

Nothing.

Turned out my camel wanted to give the other two competitors a head start. He must have been confident in his abilities.

After a few seconds, a jolt. Dust flies. My head narrowly misses the top bar.

Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. Finally my new camel buddy and I were off, racing through the sand, bouncing more than any dirt road I’ve ever been on.

We made the turn. My camel took it wide. (I guess he wanted to say “Hi!” to the fans in the stands).

But it turns out my friend overestimated his athletic prowess. We came in third (also known as last). I artfully dismounted (basically fell off) and headed back to the stands, and my friend hoofed it back to the pen. Our 45 second-relationship was over.

And despite a newly ripped pair of jeans (don’t ask) and a last-place finish, my time as a camel jockey will go down as one of my all-time favorite Nevada memories.

And who knows? Maybe at next year’s 60th iteration of the camel races, I’ll make a new camel friend, and we’ll trample the competition.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like