(I did not meet any of these guys)
Well, the air out there sucks, I lost every bet I made and I didn't have the chance do any communing with Mom Nature. At least I was able to drink.
I had to stop to change planes in Salt Lake City (home, of course, to the Utah Jazz- why didn't they change the name of the team when they moved to Utah?). I expected the airport to be crawling with Mormon's, wide-eyed and smiling. Yeah- I did experience that, but there were plenty of international travelers. I was able to imbibe at Dick Clark's American Bandstand restaurant. Dick wasn't there... but Wasatch Amber Ale was. Tasty stuff, and the by the time I was gonna hit my flight to Reno, I was ready to go look for the Book Of Mormon myself. Flying over the Rockies and the Great Salt lake was breathtaking, and seeing the Salt Flats from the aircraft was beautiful. There is a part of the Salt Lake that appears to be red from the sky... I figured it was mining waste run-off from a copper mine. Instead it was a result of bacteria in the water. Weird stuff.
The Great Salt Lake and the Salt Shore (that's not sand)
The view from 20,000 feet.
I lit out of the Reno airport, and the combination of being in thin air 6000 feet above sea level and fresh air coursing into my urban lungs almost put me on my ass. Somehow I survived, but I felt shortwinded the entire weekend. Additionally, as 95% of my time was spent indoors, the filtered air, heavily processed with cigareete smoke (everyone in the casino smokes and it permeates even the conference rooms) had me dizzy and coughing the whole weekend.
Part of the pool- Alot of kids- Who brings kids to a casino?
Gambling? Everywhere- at the airport there are slots, and the hotel we stayed at (The Peppermill is sorta 1/2 Caesers Palace and the other half looks like a gypsy wedding joint) is just ugly with 'em. And the people gambling? A real cross section of Americana- Bush country. Toothless, old Bush country to be exact.
I had real trouble with my room key- over the course of my first nite, the door kept refusing me entrance. I drunkenly huffed and puffed back to the front desk three different times (the hotel was huge and I was in the furhtest wing). Finally they changed my room- and upgraded me to a suite with a Jacuzzi- a sweet suite... And yes, I did use the Jacuzzi... but only after personally cleaning it to make sure that it was "love stain" fee from any other previous guests!
They gave me $10 free slot credit and I milked it over the weekend on 25 cent video poker- and grabbed every waitress possible for the gratis drinks (they'll keep bringing the booze if you keep at the machines or tables- so if you are smart about it, a pint of Guinness or Sierra Nevada ends up costing you only whatever you tip the waitresses). The casino's are built to keep you slightly off kilter and clueless of the time. There are no clocks or windows, the oxygen they pump in is to keep you awake, while the drinks are designed to keep you loose. The design of the place is all bells, whistles, lights and mirrors, to keep the excitement going.
A candid shot of a small part of the casino- if you take pix in a casino you could actually GET shot!
Over the weekend I was somewhat smart in my gambling, until I got stupid. I hit the craps table and the craps table hit me back. I was about even, and then dropped $40 on one bet- which was alot for me. The guy rolled a four and I bet against him rolling another one- so of course he rolled another four. Between that and a quick $20 dropped in BlackJack (the saving graces was the 3 Grey Gooses I was served), I had enuff of the gambling pretty quickly. Then I dropped $30 on some NFL picks ... they were parlays where you pick 4 games and win $130 for a $10 bet- I lost every game I picked!!!!!
So I decided to concentrate on business and drinking... because drinking is my business.
The coolest thing I did was attend the Great Reno Balloon Race and "glow" event. This was amazing. You get there at 4:30 am (I just kept drinking thru the nite because there was no way I was going to wake up - besides: how do you avoid hangovers? You stay drunk!) and there are thousands of people watching close to 80 hot air balloons. While it's still nite time, 6 balloons were deployed and the gases were fired up to make them glow. The sunrise coming over the mountains was spectacular. I had brought a bottle of Champagne (the good stuff- Andres) and popped it open to greet the dawning of a new day. Once it was light they raised all the balloons. You could walk right up to them. There was an enormous Darth Vader balloon that had trouble for awhile staying afloat- I guess the Dark Side doesn't play well with helium!
It is balloooooons!
This was the morning of September 11, and there were moments of silence for the murders of 10 years ago. One moment each for every tower attack, Pentagon attack, Shanksville PA plane downing and one each for the towers falling. Very emotional. As a NY'er, I represented with my Mets cap. The Governor of Nevada gave a speech, which was too long and was poorly read. He shoulda spoken "off the cuff".
Than the weirdest thing happened. There was a "missing man formation" flyover- that's when one plane veers off in another direction to represent those that were killed in combat. A minute later, a bunch of ducks flew over in the same formation and one veered off!!!!!
There was a "Pirate Club Crawl" in downtown Reno Saturday nite- lots of wasted teenagers and folks dressed up in Pirate garb. We grabbed some cloth hankies from a restaurant we dined at and pirated ourselves out.
I also met some very cool people. One of which was a guy working security. He was 20 years old, a former Army Ranger and he was all sorts of physically and mentally fucked up from 18 months over in Afghanistan. He got his discharge and Purple Heart from getting shot. What a cool guy, and at 20, he was already screwed. He walked really poorly, he was partially deaf due to concussion blasts and his memory was gone. And the fucking Government owed him $60,0000 on the GI bill and was not forking the money over.
So very sad.
And of course the other highlite was meeting this guy:
No, not Dean Martin... the amazing Jon from Poetry Is For Assholes. He drove 4 hours over mountains just to hang with lil old me for a spell. A way cool dude, impeccable music taste and an awesome blog- which you should be reading.
I'm still jet lagged. Fun time.