As you may recall, UndiscoveredWanderings spent a good chunk of summer 2016 in Reno, Nevada–part of our three-month inaugural road trip that took us across America, plus a couple excursions to Canada and Mexico. Our stay in Reno was short but memorable: we went drifting, found a swap meet for car people, visited a foreign country just outside Virginia City, and we even did a feature on the famous In-N-Out, which is something we’re sadly missing on the East Coast.What wonderful burgers that place has!
It was during our visit to In-N-Out that we noticed, around the corner, a creature hanging out on the roof of a neighboring building.
And that’s when we met the spider car sculpture, adorning the top of Scudder’s Performance automotive shop. Technically in the neighboring city of Sparks, the Spider Bug, as it’s locally known, is already famous among locals and car buffs. Once built for another purpose by artist David Farmbrough, Mr. Scudder rescued the spider–which has an old VW Bug for a body–from the scrap heap and made it the unofficial mascot of his business. The Spider Bug has sat atop Scudder’s Performance for the last several years now, making it a welcome fixture in a city known for quirky things.
What makes a nation? Wars? Declarations? How about someone who wants to make his backyard a little more interesting? Meet President Kevin Baugh–or more accurately, His Excellency President Kevin Baugh–of the Republic of Molossia. President Baugh runs this small micronation from his home…because it is his home. The Republic of Molossia exists in Mr. Baugh’s yard, near Virginia City, Nevada, as well as a couple claimed places in California, totaling a little over 11 acres.
Take the video tour!
What started as a teenage project with a friend in the 1970s has since evolved into a well-known state in the micronation community. President Baugh serves as Molossia’s head of state; his wife the First Lady and his daughter the Republic’s constable. Molossia has even gained mainstream media attention recently. Is it an actual nation? Well, the United States nor the UN don’t officially recognize it, but there’s no law that says it does not or cannot exist. So yes, it is a nation. Kind of.
UW Founder & Editor, Wanderin’ Mark, greets President Kevin Baugh at the border. Mark forgot his passport, but President Baugh was nice enough to let him in for a while.
What is a Micronation?
Micronations are not “official”, UN-recognized states, but rather the product of enthusiasts who enjoy taking the concept of having their own realm to a slightly higher level while (usually) not taking it too seriously. Think of it as a hobby. Most micronations are the size of one’s property and are almost always run exclusively by self-appointed presidents, kings, prime ministers, or dictators. We actually heard about one micronation that is simply a rock that is carried around in a shoebox. Guess it’s easy enough to manage.
UWanderings has been fascinated by the micronation movement since they started to gain traction with the public. If you’ve ever been to Key West, Florida, you’ve probably heard of the Conch Republic, which is one of many emerging micronations worldwide. One of the more famous and oldest micronations is the Principality of Sealand. Founded in 1967, it sits on an abandoned World War II gun platform off the coast of England.
Since UW was based in Reno, Nevada this summer, we of course had to visit the Republic of Molossia, especially since it’s only an hour away. President Baugh, who describes himself as a “Benevolent Dictator”–complete with medals, flag sash, and military-style uniform–was very welcoming and gave us a tour of his nation’s accomplishments and infrastructure, which includes a post office, currency and stamps, railroad, customs station (manned by a mannequin who never complains), and even a space program (see video above). Although not officially recognized by the United States, President Baugh was happy to receive a Christmas card from the White House not too long ago. And in case you’re wondering, he does pay U.S. taxes, but prefers to label them Foreign Aid, referencing the road conditions in America. “They [U.S.] need all the help they can get”, he explained.
We had a great visit. President Baugh enjoys giving tours of his nation, and welcomes you to schedule one by contacting him online(please do not show up unannounced). Tours are only offered certain months of the year.
Special thanks to Kevin Baugh and his family for welcoming and hosting us!
It’s no secret that Area 51 is a…um…secret, so what’s going on there, anyway? Well, we may never know. The reality is that the UFO phenomenon of the last 70+ years has a strong following in southern Nevada because of this mysterious place, but you don’t need to look there to enjoy the finer points of UFOlogy. You can have all your questions answered–and a bite to eat while you put your feet up for the night–at the Little A’Le’Inn, just a few miles away from ’51.
Our trip to Little A’Le’Inn. It was a windy day, which added some mystery to the ambiance. Learn why it’s called A’Le’Inn–it’s not the reason you think.
Located in the small town of Rachel, Nevada, off highway 375 (the famous Extraterrestrial Highway) and about 150 miles north of Las Vegas, the Little A’Le’Inn is a cozy inn with a bar and grill that will give any visitor the ultimate alien experience. UndiscoveredWanderings was founded to document places off the beaten path; this place is really off the beaten path! But it adds to the authenticity, so the trip is well worth it, especially if you’re on your way to Vegas from the north.
Started around the time of the famous Bob Lazar interview, which opened up Area 51 and its alleged collection of extraterrestrial spaceships to public scrutiny, Little A’Le’Inn proudly embraces the UFO theme inside and out, and throughout the years it’s welcomed visitors from every corner of the earth. Still no word if any ETs have shown up to stay there yet, but they would feel right at home if they ever do.
Inside the main building, with a “Welcome Earthlings” sign-wielding alien out front, you can enjoy the bar and grill, then use the gift shop to add to your collection of UFO memorabilia with every alien-themed souvenir you can possibly imagine, plus some local goods like quilts and even A’Le’Inn’s own brand of red wine. It’s a great stop before you take on Vegas, which is more or less its own planet, anyway. Enjoy!
For our American readers, half of you probably already know about the wonderful In-N-Out Burger restaurants, so you can stop reading now if you want. We won’t be offended, though please continue to check out the rest of UndiscoveredWanderings.com 🙂
For the rest of you, this is a (UW) public service announcement. A time-tested burger restaurant came into UW’s radar not too long ago. And yeah, maybe In-N-Out has been around for decades. Maybe everyone on the West Coast has known about its deliciousness and delightful service all these years. Maybe the well-traveled creatives behind UW were completely out of the loop on this one…
But we’re an East Coast company, after all. It’s not our fault! However, just because we caught up to this amazing restaurant a little late doesn’t mean we can’t still spread the good word.
For the foodies: It’s the best fast food as far as UW is concerned: best burger, best fries, best buildings, best service.
For the nostalgic: It’s got that classic retro look to it–even the logo looks retro-modern. We’ve been to a couple different In-N-Outs, and as far as we can tell, they’re all laid out the same way, so you’ll always feel right at home no matter which one you go to.
To all who have not experienced the joys of In-N-Out: Go now! It’s worth every penny.
Reno, Nevada is known for Lake Tahoe nearby, but Pyramid Lake deserves just as much attention, if not more. Located on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Reservation, the first thing you’ll notice as you approach it is how stunningly blue it is. The pyramid-shaped rock that gives the lake its name, though closed to the public, can easily be seen from most vantage points.
So how exactly did a giant lake wind up in the desert?
Pyramid lake is what’s left of the ancient Lake Lahontan, which covered much of what is today northern Nevada, as well as parts of California and Oregon, over 10,000 years ago. Unless you’re an enrolled member of the Paiute Tribe or have special permission, the proper way to access Pyramid Lake is to drive to the western side, which hosts the marina and RV park (see map point above), and check in at the Ranger Station adjacent to the marina. A permit for swimming for a day costs $10 (well worth it). Those who want to fish, boat and camp must procure additional permits, information about which can be found here.
From the marina, you can find a number of public beaches along the lake’s southwest side (maps provided at Ranger Station).
You can see the pyramid-shaped rock (focal point) that gives this lake its name.
Remember, Pyramid Lake has the undeveloped beauty that Lake Tahoe lacks–and that’s on purpose. The Paiute Tribe goes to great lengths to maintain this natural wonder. The Reservation is home to over 2,600 enrolled Tribal Members, so please treat this as their home and enjoy responsibly. The views while swimming are more than worth the trip to get there.
Special thanks to the Paiute Tribe for assisting with this article and allowing UW to visit.