I've never been there but I wrote about it in Ruined Days, a thriller that got good reviews and few sales. I was there in my mind. Felt the dust and grit whipped up by the wind, saw the lone biplane, a yellow cropduster, rocking on its wheels until the desert wind subsided. Tri-cornered colored flags fluttered and snapped at an abandoned fireworks stand, and a lone telephone booth stood in the cheatgrass fifty feet from the flagged lot in its own version of abandonment.
The doors squealed on rusty hinges when Travis, my protagonist, entered the booth, and wouldn't quite close but who could hear him anyway? He made a call in that wood and glass booth, read off some coordinates from the cell phone he took in with him. The glass on the phone booth windows was somewhat frosted from the constant barrage of wind-borne grit. A half hour later a Cessna landed on the makeshift runway, but that's another part of the story.
I noired the community down some--it's bustling compared to what I wrote about it, but I needed it to be a bit more desolate.
The town is real. In the book it was for sale for fifteen million dollars. It went to seventeen mil a few months after Ruined Days was published, and now it can be had for eight million. Its name (pronounced CalNevAir) derives from its location in Nevada close to the California and Arizona borders. A couple named Slim and Nancy Kidwell pioneered the place about fifty years ago, Slim passed on, and now Nancy is ready to sell. As a successful prospect you'd buy the town, airstrip, casino with slots, a diner and a bar. Listed is a motel and various other businesses including a convenience store.
Of the 350 residents, some are pilots who keep their planes in their driveways and taxi to the nearby airstrip.
When the Kidwells came not much existed but a dusty military airstrip. They had to haul water from the Colorado River. They planted barley, dug a well, got a land patent from the BLM and the town was born. None of that was easy. They were true pioneers, the last of the breed some say. If she sells Cal-Nev-Ari, she plans to stay. She's been there over fifty years, and likes the view, the vibe. And the town likes Nancy, from what I've read.
If you're interested, there are reasons to buy. It's a casino town with its own airstrip. There's a motel. The highway, US Route 95, connects to Las Vegas less than 70 miles away. It's on the market and the listing is here. If you buy it, tell 'em I get six percent for pointing you there. Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal, but don't think Cal-Nev-Ari is ripe for a bunny ranch, as it's in Clark County where they're strictly prohibited. As of 2018, there's no income tax collected in Nevada. No corporate tax, no franchise tax, and no inventory tax. If I had eight mil, I'd be there. Writing and sculpting. I bet Freddie would even consider it. Great place for her jewelry and perhaps she'd learn to do a little cropdusting.
And it's sixty-eight degrees on this March third, compared to 20 in southeast Kansas. Maybe some of you well-heeled readers would like to go in with me. If you have a plane we could buzz over there.
This is as good a place as any to pitch Ruined Days, a pretty decent thriller. It can be accessed here.