Art and Connie's 2015 RV Adventure travel blog

Hello from Sparks, Nevada. We are staying in an RV park on the edge of town. It is a quiet, tidy park and each site is separated by a strip of artificial grass. As guests leave, the staff sweeps clean the strips of grass. We had very strong winds the other day with gusts of 45 mph and lots of leaves collected on the artificial grass. We chuckled as we watched the staff actually use a lawnmower to “mow” the grass and make it leaf-free. Well, at least they realize that Sparks is in the desert and didn’t put in real grass!

The RV park is within walking distance to a huge shopping center. One of the anchor stores is Scheels, a sporting goods store similar to Basspro. You name the sport and the store carries all the equipment you might need to pursue your passion. The place is huge – it is actually more than a store – it is an entertainment center. Within this store you can find a 65’ Ferris wheel, a two-lane bowling alley, a restaurant, an aquarium, and a shooting range. The weirdest thing is the walkway of the Presidents which contains three fully-animated talking presidents! You can listen to Lincoln give his Gettysburg address or listen to JFK remind you that it is not what your country can do for you. I don’t remember what Teddy Roosevelt was talking about – the place was too noisy.

Also near the RV Park is the Sparks Marina. The marina is the site of a former gravel pit which, in 1988, the city discovered was being contaminated by waste products from a nearby petroleum plant. The former quarry was cleaned up with the help of EPA funds and transformed into a multi-use recreational area complete with a 77 acre lake, a two-mile paved path circling the marina, playground, picnic area and swimming beach. It is a very popular place for walkers and joggers especially for those who live in the nearby condos that surround the lake front. The area is a work in progress with about 60 acres to be developed.

We decided to cycle around the lake and then continue onto the nearby neighborhoods. As we cycled away from the RV park, the neighborhood changed. Gone were the newly-built condos and, instead, were homes that were probably 50-60 years old and had seen better days. We questioned whether we should continue on. Were we safe here? I didn’t see any security bars on any of the windows and so we cycled on and found ourselves at Victoria Square, a public plaza in the old downtown section of Sparks.

Victoria Square was another redevelopment project and one that didn’t succeed. The square was a ghost town. To quote an article I read about the area “Victoria Square is a public plaza with no public.” Two empty casinos, one of them about 25 stories tall, were boarded up. Homeless people slept on the few park benches in the square. There was one block with a couple of restaurants with outdoor seating and a brewery but I wondered how much traffic these restaurants get. The place felt seedy and lifeless. Besides us, there were only a handful of people walking towards the Nugget Casino on the other side of I-80.

We stood there, two tourists astride our bikes and just shook our heads. We turned around and cycled back home to our cocoon.

But wait, there is hope for the area! Tesla is planning to build a huge battery plant called Gigafactory in the Sparks-Reno area that would employ about 6,500 workers. There is talk about building housing or converting some of the buildings in Victoria Square to condos or apartments to house some of the workers. This plant could be a big boost to the area and Nevada, in general. The Tesla plant is scheduled to be completed sometime around 2020. It would be interesting to see how the face of Sparks changes as time goes by.

(As a side note, we did venture out on another day and saw another, more affluent side of Sparks.)

Entry Rating:     Why ratings?
Please Rate:  
Thank you for voting!
Share |