Our region is about as diverse as it gets when it comes to the outdoors. It's one of the reasons I absolutely love living in Northern Nevada. And there's one activity most people have never heard of that's perfect for our backyard. It's called land sailing.
Confused? I don't blame you. What the heck is land sailing?
"Land sailing is the second-fastest way to sail on the planet; ice sailing is first," said Bobby Guerrero, who has been land sailing and introducing others to the activity for almost three decades.
"A dirt boat is a boat," Dave Littman added. "It has a hull, essentially, it has a sail, and it has the same types of controls that you have on a sail boat. You utilize the wind, which is solar energy, to move around on this surface and can do something that was always theoretical, and that's go three times the speed of the wind."
Just an hour and 15 minutes from Reno, we drove out to a dry lake bed outside of Doyle, Calif., and west of Pyramid Lake to meet with Guerrero and Littman, who have been close family friends of mine for years. They introduced me to land sailing a few years ago, and now I usually bug them at least once a summer to join them for an outing.
I never have to twist their arm too hard, as they love taking friends to a nearby dry lake bed or "playas" to take the "boats" for a spin. Included in their group of friends on this particular trip was Charlotte Rayfield, who has cerebral palsy. She was introduced to Littman years ago through Achieve Tahoe and their adaptive ski program at Alpine Meadows, where he has been a long time instructor.
"That was really, really, really fun, and I think I would probably do it for the rest of my life if I could," Rayfield said with a smile after riding around on a land sail with Littman.
It was these kinds of interactions that inspired Guerrero to get into land sailing in the first place.
"In the mid 90s I was a recreation therapist and a friend of mine, a paraplegic, got turned onto this sport by a friend," Guerrero said. "He couldn't use the hand-up feet controls, so they attached and made a hand control and I thought, 'Man, I could do this in my job, I could introduce all kinds of disabilities to this.'
"It's a very adaptable sport. We've had hemiplegic, paraplegic, amputees, quadriplegic."
For all involved, it was a day filled with laughs, screams and lots of dust. And on any given day when the wind is blowing right, Guerrero can be out "boating" with friends in less than two hours.
"Nevada is the dry lake capital of the world," Guerrero said with a grin. "And there's no charge."
Another reminder of why I love my backyard!
Nevada Sports Net's executive producer Alex Margulies features a local recreation activity in his "Exploring Our Backyard" feature. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @marguliespxp.