I travel quite a bit, but am never quite sure how to write about my experiences. Perhaps it’s because during my trips, I usually see only a handful of places – airports, hotels, long stretches of highway, and schools. It’s challenging for me to completely reflect upon a place I’ve only experienced a small part of.

By the same token, this is my blog and these are my experiences. There’s nothing that says I must experience something to it’s entirety before writing about it. Plus, the task of experiencing something to it’s entirety is quite subjective.

With that said, my Reno experience:

The first thing I saw when stepping off the airplane was a bunch of slot machines. What wonderful foreshadowing for the rest of my Reno trip.

Our hotel/casino: The Nugget. My first Nugget impressions? 1980s, smoke, smoke, smoke, flashing lights, sensory overload, smoke, smoke, smoke.

I must say, I saw far too many elderly people with blank stares parked in front of slot machines, chips in one hand, oxygen tanks in the other. It made me sad to think these people were gambling away money they probably should be spending on medication, decent food and really any activity that isn’t addicting and/or mindless.

However, back to the note of subjectivity – I am judging these people’s lifestyles by my standards/perspective rather than simply appreciating the fact that just maybe this is what makes them happy.

At the hotel/casino, we were on the non-smonking floor. And yes, I said smonking. I could not quite figure out what “smonking” was; however, as the floor was filled with cigarette smoke, I figured “smoNking” and “smoking” were not synonymous.

Here’s a view from the hotel. This was taken from the side with the pretty view.

This machine will NOT accept half dollars.

One evening, we had dinner at a restaurant just off casino grounds. As we were walking back through the casino, we came across a bit of evening entertainment. Please enjoy a snippit of the “Steppen Stonz”



Our last night in Reno was spent in a different hotel, as every last room at The Nug was supposedly booked. We took a cab from one casino/hotel to the other – THAT was an experience.

It seemed our cab driver was hot boxing the cab with his cigarette smoke. He told us he moved to Reno from Mass. to get away from the cold weather and because he is a gambler. He also told us the other cab companies in town were all a bunch of “arrogant bastards”. Perfect.

The cab fare was ~$12 and I gave him a $20. He did not hand change back. Here was our conversation:

Me: “Could I please get my change?”

Guy: “Oh, uh, I thought you said I could keep it.”

Me: “No, I didn’t. Unfortunately, I’m not authorized to give you a 65% tip for doing your job.”

Ok fine…so I left off the “for doing your job” part. But seriously. I presume he’s used to people not paying attention to him not returning change, or people giving 65% tip because what the hell…they’re on vacay! Unfortunately, I don’t have that monetary luxury. Or that desire to support him and his gambling addiction.

Our next hotel. Slightly less depressing…slightly less smokey…slightly more trashy…slightly more Christmassy.

So, the new casino was promoting the heck out of their Facebook & Twitter. Eventually, my curiosity got the best of me, so I hopped online to check it out. Upon reaching their Twitter page, I saw they were giving away a pair of Wynonna Judd tickets (she was performing that evening at the casino). After a quick search, I confirmed that no one had yet “entered” this contest. So of course I replied and BAM! Wynonna tickets were mine!

I’ve never been a Wynonna Judd type of girl, so we immediately pulled up as many Wynonna YouTube videos as possible, in an attempt to “learn” as many songs as possible. Shows are so much better when you know the words to the songs.

The show was in some sort of a multi-purpose hotel basement room. I think my favorite part of the show was the crowd. I’d say we were about 25 years younger than the average aged person there.

Many people in the crowd felt the necessity to heckle Wynonna. For the entire show. Wynonna ate this up at the heckling buffet. How did she react? Oh, you know, by heckling the crowd back. Between Wynonna’s heckling & liquid courage, I would say about 1/2 the concert involved various audience members screaming complete nonsense at Wynonna. I wouldn’t have asked for anything less.

Casino buffets. I don’t even know where to begin with this. I guess I could best sum it up with 2.5 words: glutton’s paradise. Here’s what I had for breakfast. Ravioli, pasta with red sauce, green beans, rice, eggs, potatoes, bacon, strawberries, watermelon, artichoke, tomatoes and some other meat thing.

Oh wait. I can’t forget my 2nd course of breakfast: ice cream and chocolate cake. So healthy.

Although I look happy in this picture, I really am sad by how horrible buffet restaurant mentality is. I walked by people who were so big they could barely walk, but still had plates jammed packed with bacon, pastries, ham, waffels, fries, rolls, pie with whipped cream and donuts.

I’m just as guilty as the next guy as I was there, therefore technically supporting buffets. …although I like to think I redeemed myself a little because I only ate what I was hungry for, rather than downing as much as was physically possible. Regardless, it made me sad. Womp womp.

By the last day, I had hit my max on sensory load, second hand smoke & breakfast buffets, so we decided to take a walk and get some fresh air:

Y ya. Finalmente, it was time to head home. All in all, the trip was good. I saw alot, I learned alot, but I must admit…I was pretty darn exhausted by the end of the week. Happy to have experienced Reno. Even more happy to be coming home to clean air, fruits & veggies.

Upon arrival to AUS, I took a shuttle to get back to my place. As the shuttle driver dragged my suitcase to the van, he said: “Do you speak any other languages?”. My first reaction was: Hmmm. What a dangerously specific 1st thing to say to someone.

I let him know I speak Spanish. One thing let to another and I ended up learning the following in the time span of about 10 minutes: He is from Cuba. He’s been in Austin for about 10 years. He was given a visa to come to Austin through some sort of visa lottery program. He really likes Austin. He does not know how to salsa dance. He knows how to speak Italian. He knows how to speak Italian because he used to work at a hotel in Cuba where there were alot of Italian guests. He speaks a little French. He likes Thai food. Especially Thai food from Thai Passion. Need more?

Upon arrival to my place, I expected the guy to hand me my suitcase y ya. Donezo. But no. This was not the case. In addition to handing me my suitcase, the guy proceeded to hand me the mix CD we had been listening to in the car…as well as a take out menu from a Thai restaurant. (what?)

I’d like to say I was perplexed by this complete and totally random bearing of gifts…however, based on the festivities of this past week in Reno, it actually seemed to be the perfect conclusion.

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