Wednesday, June 23, 2004

"Let's Get the Hell Out of Reno"

...And other early-morning adventures in auto travel.

After leaving Aspen, we made a mid-day side trip to Arches National Park in southeast Utah, which was beautiful. (Pictures will arrive on the photo gallery at some point, I promise.) Unfortunately, it was hot--being a midsummer's afternoon in the desert and all--and mom isn't much of a hiker, like, even less of one than me, so after eating lunch and taking a looksee at a few easy-to-reach arches and one distant viewpoint of the famed Delicate Arch, we got back on the road.

There were lots of Sunday drivers. And boy, do we hate Sunday drivers. By the time we got to Salt Lake City, we were so full of malaise about the whole state that instead of keeping with original plans to stay the night in SLC, we kept driving west on I-80. This enabled us to have some amazing views of the salt flats in the late afternoon, which was a pretty surreal sight to behold. We ended up staying just across the border in West Wendover, Nevada, where the rooms were dirt cheap and the amenities remarkably good.

Monday morning was an easy drive: clear across Nevada (passing three "no hitchhiking--they could be prison escapees" signs) to Reno. Reno was confusing and sketchy, but we did find some good all-you-can-eat sushi lunch special near the mall/airport. We ended up staying at the Best Western near the airport, which looked good at first but ended up being stupid. They advertise all over that they offer wifi in all the rooms, but they mention nowhere that there is an exorbitant charge for this service. It was a bit of a fiasco that made us write an angry complaint letter. Also, the walls were paper fucking thin, and apparently my nose whistles and sounds like a baby crying.

Mom wanted to go to a casino and get rid of the pile of nickels she'd won at the border casino the night before, so I went along. We went to the Peppermill, which isn't in downtown, because we were afraid of downtown, and had dinner at the insanely flashy new Oceano. But the food was good. Then we spent way too long upstairs while mom kept winning nickels and I pissed away a $5 bill just so I wouldn't bug her to leave as often. And I lost constantly.

I learned that I really don't enjoy gambling that way. Maybe if I knew how to play the table games, it would be more enjoyable, but slots as they are now lack even the most elementary sensory stimulation to seem exciting. They're just surrounded by flash and insanity that I think could give me a seizure, and all you're doing is pressing buttons. It was worse than playing video games and bowling combined, two things I find intolerable, frustrating, and unbelievably dull. (Note: I do, however, like watching other people play some video games. I have no explanation for this. I just hate playing them myself.)

Also, the trashy old ladies who hover over nickel slots like that's how they're going to make their fortune are very sad.

When we woke up at 6:30, the room was pitch black. When we realized we were both awake and not disturbing one another's slumber, mom said: "Let's get the hell out of Reno, then." And we did.

It was a 3-hour drive to Tioga Pass on the east end of Yosemite, but another two hours across the park and back in to see the Valley. It was gorgeous, but hot and full of people. We realized it was probably out of our means to stay in the park, and mom didn't want to have to drive all the way back in the morning. So we decided we'd seen enough for this trip--I'd love to come back--did our business with scattering the ashes, and headed west.

Originally we planned to stop somewhere short of the Bay Area, a place at a junction in the road with a Comfort Inn, but when we got there, we decided not to and just kept driving. We made it to Oakland before sunset.

Mom wants to avoid driving and parking in San Francisco, so we're skipping that for now. We'll do it on our way back north. So today we're just going to some giant suburban mall and getting Margot to take the BART to Fremont and we'll pick her up. We'll head to Santa Cruz from there, a day early.

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