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I may live in Oregon now, but I actually grew up in Nevada. I left the desert for the Pacific Northwest a little over three years ago, and am currently paying my ol’ stomping ground a visit. For most of my life I lived in Reno (a miniature Las Vegas) but my wife and I took a drive out to the Big Smoky Valley to visit my mother-in-law, Kim, who built herself an incredible straw bale house and has simplified her life to an astonishing degree.

When I left Nevada I couldn’t wait to leave the desert behind. I was happy to trade sagebrush for lush green trees, and the old casino and mining towns for a more “hip” place like Portland. I love Portland and am glad I moved, but came to the realization with this visit that Nevada truly is a beautiful place. People told me that my whole life, but as they say, you truly don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

We drove from Reno to the Valley just as the sun was beginning to set, and after passing Fallon there were long stretches of nothing but untouched, magnificent desert, beautiful canyons, and high-reaching mountains. I’ve taken out my camera and am trying as best as I can to take it all in and capture what I’m seeing. After spending a few years in “the big city,” you begin to truly appreciate the more down-to-earth, laid-back lifestyle of what is still very much the “Wild West.”

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