Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Reno is getting the Diamondbacks' AAA franchise in 2009. I have nothing intelligent or insightful to say about that, but I'm kind of bored this evening, so I figure this is as good a time as any to tell my Reno story.

In 2003 I took a month-long-find-myself road trip. Just me, my car, and about 8000 miles of two lane highway. I played it mostly by ear, but I did have my copy of Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen. I used the book for sights, but found my own food and accommodations for the most part.

The night I made it into Reno followed a wondrous day. I woke up that morning in Moab, Utah, and went hiking in Arches National Park before dawn, watching the sunrise from Delicate Arch. Later, I went back to town, had a great breakfast, and then hit the road across Utah.

I was going to stop in Ely, Nevada for the night, but I got there much sooner than I thought I would, mostly because I kept the cruise control at about 100 mph for a good part of my day (U.S. 50 past Great Basin isn't heavily patrolled). After a bite to eat and a look around Ely, I decided to bust across Nevada and make Reno before bed. So I did, again breaking all kinds of speed records while contemplating the scenery and my place in the cosmos. I rolled into Reno sometime after 9pm, if I remember correctly.

Euphoric from a wonderful day on the road, I was in the mood to try something different, so I let Jamie Jensen and Road Trip USA guide me to some local color in the form of a motel they called "quaint" and "retro" and "charming" named "The Heart O' Town." From the street it looked, well, OK. It had a neat neon sign and didn't look too seedy, so I figured what the hell. I went inside to ask for a room.

The office -- attached to the manager's apartment -- smelled like cabbage. An old lady came out and took my name, money (cash only, please) and gave me a room key. I was starting to regret handing over my money and giving my real name, but I decided that I could handle anything that day.

I walked up to my room and opened the door to see: a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. A TV from the Ford administration. A red velvet bedspread with multiple questionable stains. The stench of bug spray and (maybe) death. Before I let my bag hit the floor, I turned on my heel and walked out.

Back in the office, not wanting to insult the proprietor, I mumbled something about making a mistake or mixed up plans or something and meekly expressed my desire to get my money back and leave. The old lady wasn't having it, though. No refunds. No way. Not possible. Because I was on a hiatus from practicing law -- and thinking about maybe never going back to it -- I had no stomach to argue my rights. It wasn't a lot of money, and I was willing to leave it on the table. As I walked out, the old lady yelled encouragingly "you can keep the key until morning if you want! The room is yours all night!"

My exhaustion catching up with me, I decided to go Velveeta that night, so I got on the freeway, got off at Sparks, and checked into a suburban Cross Country Inn situated next to an Outback Steakhouse. Ah, home! When I checked in I soon realized that some Cal-Nevada girls high school volleyball tournament was in town, because the lobby was filled with scores of tall and athletic sixteen year-old girls, most of them blond and most of them wearing bikinis as they made their way to the indoor pool. I was a five days unshaven and dusty dude wearing ratty clothes with full legal rights to a no-tell motel downtown all night, so I quickly separated myself from the surrounding nubility -- I wasn't really tempted, but given my appearance, one sideways glance could have gotten me arrested -- got into my room and immediately went to sleep.

The next morning I planned to hang around Reno, but my friend from LA called me to tell me he had scored Angels-Mariners tickets for that night, so I decided to drive down a day earlier than planned. I have my priorities.

So that's my Reno story.

1 comment:

Jason said...

my first thought channeled Chevy Chase at the picnic in Vacation, upon seeing Christy Brinkley in the pool:

"this is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy"

Guess you had your "the dog peed on the sandwiches" moment, huh?