That’s right, we visited:
Now most people I mention Reno to had the same response- “why?”
But before we get to that, I want to make a few important points about driving through the desert, of which there is a lot in southern Oregon and northern California.
We got up, left John Day and headed south. We got to Burns and had about a third of a tank of gas left. From Burns, the road heads west for about 20 miles, then heads south at Riley. Beyond Riley were a few little towns and then Lakeview, about 100 miles away.
I’ve mentioned this before but the rules for not dying when driving through the desert are- tell people where you’re going, don’t leave paved roads, take lots of water and fill up on gas.
Because I’m a horse’s ass and can’t be bothered with even the rules I set for myself, we drove through Burns without stopping for gas. Probably because the gas stations were all on the other side of the street and I couldn’t be bothered with all that, or some other such lame reason.
Riley had no gas. And those other other towns that were along the way. They were along the way, if you understand me. What’s left of them doesn’t include gas stations.
I was in borderline panic mode the entire way to Lakeview and the gas light was coming on when we finally hit town. (which was actually reassuring, because our car is the lowest-end model Toyota probably ever built and I wasn’t entirely sure it even had a gas light).
My wife was pissed because we didn’t really get to stop and take pictures and there was some pretty cool scenery along the way, like this huge saline lake. And more buttes. Some people prefer mountains, but I’m really a butte man myself.
Anyway, we survived.
So we made it to Reno. The reason we were going there at all was because when we started the trip, we decided that everyone would get to pick a destination. I said Portland, Seattle, my wife said Olympic Peninsula and my son said Las Vegas. Las Vegas?
It’s one of only two places he’s ever got to stay in a legitimately nice hotel and I think he knew Hawaii wasn’t going to happen. But I explained to him that Las Vegas isn’t exactly near the other two, so I suggested Reno.
Reno is not the wonderland that Las Vegas is. I don’t know about northern California, but here in southern CA, since Indian casinos have been built mere minutes from every city, we think of Vegas as less somewhere to go to gamble and more as somewhere to go party. And Vegas wisely has changed a lot to focus on that. I don’t know what’s up with Reno, but I don’t think it’s changed much in any direction for decades.
I won’t lie, the place was sketchy. We stayed at the Silver Legacy, right in downtown and the place was nice. Can’t complain. But we walked across the street to go to McDonald’s and there was a security guard, at the McDonald’s.
Also seen in the twenty minutes we spent wandering around outside- a woman with no shoes and no pants (what she had on under that t-shirt, I have no idea) saying “we can’t go in this bar, they’ll throw us out.” A woman swinging a big stick around her head yelling at people, while a police car made a hasty, screeching u-turn to head in her direction. And, more endearingly, some people leaving a 24 hour chapel saying “congratulations Mr _____” “Congratulations Mrs _______.”
Twenty minutes of downtown Reno was enough and then it was back into the casino. What was cool about the Silver Legacy was that it’s connected by skywalk to the Circus Circus and the Eldorado, as apparently the Silver Legacy was a joint venture between the two.
I don’t gamble, but we had a great time at Circus Circus playing arcade games. He’d been looking forward to this day the whole trip. After playing games, we went back to the room and watched Cartoon Network. Other than driving half the day, this was a nearly perfect day for my son.