It's a cautionary tale: This what comes from living in the mountains where the air is thin and people clearly aren't getting enough oxygen...racing weird animals starts to sound like a good idea. And why stop at ostriches and camels? What the heck, toss in some zebras, emus and chickens while yer at it!
Good times at high altitudes.
I went prepared and folded some origami ostriches.
The drive up to Virginia City is total old west Gold & Silver Boom era. There are more picturesque buildings and interesting, strange old things than you can shake a stick at. Old mining equipment and buildings sit right alongside newer, still working stuff.
Plus, there's doodads!
I think this retaining wall is juuust about done.
This old building gave it up during our last 100mph windstorm.
The old saloons still operate and have thoroughly jumped into their history with both feet.
Gold Hill/Gold Canyon is just down the hill from Virginia City. There are old mines everywhere, it's quite dangerous to go walking out in the hills.
This place is closed, but the cool old sign remains.
The hills and rocky canyons are beautiful despite the heavy forest fire smoke.
The wild horses were everywhere today, right alongside the road. You have to be really careful driving in. This mare was watching over her foal who was having a snooze.
These guys looked like they were waiting for a bus...
The Fourth Ward school building, one of the old, cool buldings in town.
We parked at the fairgrounds, the hillside shows off some old buildings, mining stuff, Virgina & Truckee rail cars...and I love the camel race staff's t-shirts--'We don't spit'.
Across from the fairgrounds, looking out across a huge gully. Multi-colored piles of mine tailings.
And of course, more wild horses. There were piles of wild horse droppings everywhere in town, they are quite blase about wandering through the streets, ignoring people.
The view from the fairgrounds, several of the 1800's buildings.
The camels resting up before the races...
Camels and zebras and ostriches, oh my!
The kids were getting camel rides before the races started.
The V & T train made several runs throughout the day, you can see the yellow and green cars on the hillside.
The anmals were paraded before the event began. The were all obviously very well kept and healthy. The camels were quite slow and stately.
Then the zebras...one of the female jockeys was all dressed up in a harem girl outfit.
Then it was time to parade the ostriches! No slow, dignified walk here, they just turned 'em loose and they ran full-tilt around the track like the huge floofy goofballs they are, it was fantastic.
When they stopped and got distraced by fans with hotdogs, these guys helped keep them focused and headed towards the holding pen.
Time to race, camels first! The girl in the yellow shirt wore a GoPro during her rides. They alternated running camel & ostrich races.
Oops, distracted camels get tangled up and have to be untangled by the rodeo clowns.
#2 tries to juke across #3's path!
There is no pretense of steering with any of these animals by the way, which is a huge part of the fun...for the fans, anyway. The riders look kinda terrified and you can clearly see the regret and second thoughts.
The best you can hope for is to try and convince the animal to go in a certain direction by holding a hand up alongside their head.
...and then just fall off at the end of the run while your mount throws you under the bus and abandons you.
The local kids got in on the fun, they got to chase emus. The girl on the right really got into it, she came dressed as an emu.
Needless to say, the birds easily outran the kids.
Then all of a sudden the racing staff tripled and arranged themselves around the ring. We wondered what dangerous animal required that kind of presence.
Why, chickens, of course! They put a different colored scrunchy around each rooster's neck and assigned a kid to each...the object was to be the first to catch your chicken.
And...GO! Heck, I could have told them the best way to catch a chicken involves a cheeseburger.
This black banty roo was the cleverest and most nimble.
He was the last to be caught, and at one point came running right at us...I was sure I was gonna have to field a chicken.
There was a short intermission, which gives you a chance to buy barbeque and kettle corn (so good). The crowd was very relaxed and friendly, one of the nice things about attending small town events. Rarely do you have the stranger next to you making a trip to the concession stand and ask you if you want anything.
After intermission, it was back to camels! Slight hiccup when #3's starting gate didn't open, boy did he ever holler when it stuck!
But they got it open and off he went!
Hang on and hope!
Another ostrich race with 'Yeah, Don't You Wish' steering.
One of the raffle 'prizes' that day was a chance to ride a camel in a race. Some poor guy from Guatemala in a red shirt 'won'. Yes, this is how we treat visitors to this country, poor guy. His camel hollered and caterwauled the whole time.
At this point the poor man is just holding and waiting for Hell Featuring Camels to be over.
His camel started to wander and needed to be redirected. Stay on task, Mr. Camel!
Zebra time! These two waited all day to be brought out into the ring and then pee in tandem. There were all kinds of titters and 'when ya gotta go, ya gotta go' jokes from the crowd.
The zebras were quite speedy.
This guy rode with style, his camel warbling all the time.
Just to switch things up, the next ostrich race was with chariots.
The brooms are used to help 'steer' the animal, if they are so inclined to pay any attention to a broom held alongside their head.
Mostly these guys just held on.
The final race of the day. These guys were all over the place, the one camel gargling at the top of his lungs.
He also ran right at us, screaming at us all the while.
...and he stopped to visit the people who had snacks. The red shirts got him moving again.
After this it was time to go. On the drive out you are treated to a view of the V & T's yard with more cool old railcars.
One of the mines you drive alongside.
And off highway 50 we found this guy waiting to pounce on some poor unsuspecting BMW.
We lucked out, despite the heavy forest fire smoke there was a breeze and at least we didn't bake in the sun while we watched the races. It was a lot of fun and I'd highly recommend going!