Saturday, we drove to Reno encountering NO traffic. We were going to go on Friday, since C was off work with the pink eye, but it rained in SF, snowed in the mountains… not a lot, but enough to require chains at the higher elevations. I didn’t want to be a part of that!
The day was beautiful, sunny and mild. We stopped at the In n Out Burger in Auburn for lunch. At Crystal Springs, just above 5000 feet, we found snow on the side of the road. How exciting is that? It got deeper as we went up — Donner Pass is 7415 feet elevation — but not much more than a foot anywhere.
The snow had disappeared by the time we got to Reno, midafternoon, and the sun ruled the day.
We helped Brian do some stuff and went to an Italian place downtown for dinner that was pretty good, but not very good. How could I not mention food.
My seafood salad featuring scallops, squid, shrimp was very good. Spinach Ravioli with racotta cheese filling — not so good. Pasta dry and tough, filling bland, almost no broth or sauce. Carol’s and Brian’s meals were reported to be okay.
That was dinner, but we were eager to get on to the REAL DEAL. What does one do on the Saturday before an NFL Sunday? We swung by the CalNeva Sports Book on the way home. The big, fancy one is downtown, the one we went to is kind of a dumpy looking place in a downtrodden strip mall on Pyramid Drive, the main road leading to Sparks. We walked in. There were a couple rows of slots and at the back of the maybe 30 x 30 foot room a guy was standing behind a banged up wooden counter. The week’s games were listed on a board on the wall with the point spreads. Each team had a number, so you don’t say, “I want the 49ers,” you say “I want 209 for 55 dollars.” They were plus 6 1/2 points against the Packers. He took my cash and handed me a ticket. That was easy. Brian took the Rams at plus 9 against the Cardinals. Hot damn.
Sunday, we had the games on TV all day while we unpacked, sorted and hung Brian’s art and pictures. Little by little, the house is coming into shape. Both our teams lost, but came from way behind to cover. Whoopee.
Brian grilled a giant steak for dinner while Carol and I made homemade pasta with Swiss chard. Yum.
Brian was off to work on Monday. We went to the IHOP for breakfast about 9:30 and ordered from the “Senior Menu” so the portions aren’t SO BIG. Place was full of old people… I think there was only one empty booth by the time we left. It used to be the International House of Pancakes, but now it’s IHOP, and in Reno, that must stand for I (luv) Hungry Old People.
And speaking of seniors, we are slowly equipping “the seniors” bedroom and bathroom to suit our needs. So we were off to Target to find a nite lite for the bathroom and a coffee carafe and filter holder for our caffeine needs, since B doesn’t do coffee. Found the former, not the latter. Target is huge and there are plenty of friendly red-jacketed staff around, but the nite lite was baffling to most. Not with the lamps or bulbs. Finally, a guy unpacking a box in the lamp section said “46k.” K is the rear wall, 46 is the aisle. The electronics section. Duh.
Next to Target is a very large new shopping center that Brian described as “upscale,” but he hadn’t been there. Turns out its a factory outlet center with all the big chains, anchored by Sheels All Sports, a big outdoor store with a ferris wheel in the atrium. Not interested in that, but I got a fleece vest at the GAP for $12 and a plaid flannel shirt at Banana Republic for $20. Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Saks Fifth Avenue and so on and on. Its hardscaped to the hilt with fountains, bridges, level changes, and features a — very ugly — tall central tower to call attention to the center from I-80 nearby. We had lunch at JAZZ — A New Orleans Experience, where my Cajun beans n rice were real good, blackened catfish not so good and Carol’s gumbo okay. Seems to be a trend.
After, we flexed our Reno knowledge by finding our CalNeva sports book — the real reason we were out — to cash my winning ticket. Cashing a winning ticket is a RUSH! Guy runs the ticket through his machine and slaps a crisp Benjamin and Lincoln on the counter. Says, “Congratulations, wanna make another play?” “Not now, thanks.”
Oh yeah, that money was burning a hole in my pocket, but I was waiting for our scheduled big night at Harrah’s for Monday Night Football. The OVER was 48 and those are high scoring teams. Hell, their first game was 34-31.
At about 5pm we nailed a Kojak at the front door of Harrah’s. Finding the sports book inside was another matter. We passed petite hostesses wearing oversized NFL team jerseys, blackjack dealers who had no business wearing hot pants and halter tops, but that was their uniform, the high rollers poker game, craps tables and millions of slots and finally the sports book. Talk about a let down… three fifty inch TVs on the wall with no sound, some theater seats and a few small, round tables with chairs, next to a Quiznos. We placed our OVER bets anyway and looked around for a waitress. What we could see of a bar across the way was unoccupied. Two other guys were sitting in the sports book. This was no place to spend an evening.
We moved on to Peppermill to watch the game midst hundreds of people wagering on everything from the game to the ponies to hockey and the NBA. Three wall size TVs were turned to the game and the sound was on just enough to barely hear. 50 inch TVs were everywhere, some on the game, some on other sports and there were rows of tables with smaller TVs, one to a customer; many of those seats were reserved. The place was alive!
Food and drink were not featured, but there was one tall, totally beautiful and totally nice eastern European cocktail waitress with legs up to her ass — as they say — and nicely but modestly presented jiggly breasts. Brian and I managed to make our drink orders at different times so she came back often.
The game was good, tied 14-14 at the half, plenty of points on the way to our OVER bet. But then in the second half, it seemed like the teams were playing to win, rather than score, and there were a few turnovers after long drives, hampering scoring. In our dreams, time would expire with a 24-24 score, and we’d win in OT. Instead, there was a bunch of slogging around to a 20-17 final. Who cares who won… we didn’t. But dang… we had fun tryin’.
The drive from Reno to San Francisco is a study in contrast. On a lovely, sunny day like Tuesday, with light traffic, the drive through the mountains is beautiful, the road is good and the sky is blue.
We stopped at Newcastle Produce to stock up, as we left the refrigerator bare. it’s a lovely market with these wicker baskets to collect your produce. It also has soups and salads and sandwiches as well as locally produced jams, pickled vegetables and the like. A few miles down the road as you come out of the foothills the road becomes boring and ugly and that goes on for 70 miles or more through the Sacramento Valley. We take the Route 37 exit at Vallejo and BOOM we’re in Sonoma County and back to beauty.