I was in Reno for four days, and when I wasn't with my friends, I hated it. I hated the rain and snow that bombarded the city, hated the dying hulks of casinos stripped bare of slot machines, left to die in the waning flashing of their lights. I hated the ever-present stench, the thin air, the dryness that required twice a day moisturizing. I hated the view out of my window, and the sweep of the Sierras with snow shrouding the very top of the range.
What did I do? I paced. I grumbled to all and sundry. I got very little done, save for laundry and some sparse writing. I formulated a quiet, tired hatred of the city of Reno, and ordered copious amounts of coffee through room service. I brooded in my in-room jacuzzi, I brooded over the laptop, and I brooded all the way through the garishly decorated casinos.
So, a little bit about the room at the Peppermill.
In 2010, the economic downturn was significantly worse than it is right now. Reno wasn't seeing much traffic. Hotels were dirt goddamn cheap, which is how I ended up with this palatial jacuzzi-having suite.
The room was laden with gold-encrusted, gold-painted, and gold-trimmed furniture. Style of the day was ornate, baroque, and distinctly overstuffed. The walls were thick enough that I only heard my neighbors once or twice.
The bathroom was absolutely coated with marble, and separated out into three rooms - one dedicated room for the toilet, one huge, glass-walled shower, larger than some bedrooms I've had, and the main room, with a three sink, gold-edged, pink marble vanity and a mirror stretching the length of the entire room. It was in this room that I spent a fair amount of time, drinking wine or coffee in the jacuzzi and watching bad cable TV.
It was a weird kind of luxury, but at least the wine was cheap.
Reno is dying. Reno is an aging town that exists to prey on the grandmas who, at 3AM, can still be found pulling the arms of slot machines with glazed eyes and practiced, nigh-mechanical precision that falls into sync as they congregate. The restaurants are full of bloated vacationers and befuddled, disappointed tourists: the streets are filled with empty storefronts and bums.
On the last day, the rain stopped. The wind picked up, and the power lines swung back and forth. I visited my friends for the last time in their apartment. Twenty minutes in, power cut out abruptly to their building, victim of the high winds. We sat in the dark by the light of my LED flashlight, making shadow puppets and joking about the terrible cell reception to be found in the city.
I left my friends around midnight, planning to get an early start over Donner Pass. As I left, I passed a utility truck on its way to the apartments. Five minutes after I got to my hotel, the power came back on for my friends.
I packed my things, I set my alarm for 5AM.
I got up… at 8AM. I mean, come on, it was my vacation - and by the time I got up the pass, it turned out this was wise. It was still chain control over the summit.
It was time to go.