Friday, January 26, 2007

Quaint Iniquity Days Ahead

Gotta Go
Well, it must be that time of year again because I realized that exactly one year ago I booked the same trip for the exact same days (well, days of that same week - the date on the calendar has shifted by one) as the one I just booked! There must something about the end of January that makes me ready to leave the rainy Northwest for just a bit. And so, it's been decided that it's about time for another little trip to Reno. Southwest Airlines Vacations has a crazy deal if you go during the week (under $350 for two round trip air & three weeknights at hotel).

Why I Like Reno
I really loved Reno when we went last year. People warned me that Reno isn't quite like Vegas, and that's partly why I liked it. Don't get me wrong, Vegas is fun, but Reno is a little more low-key, a lot smaller, and has a charm of its own, especially if you just enjoy it on its own merit and don't insist on comparing it to Vegas. And it's cheaper - budget travel is my specialty. So, Reno is kind of "quaint" in some ways, but my thoughts have already turned to all the iniquities to enjoy - chain smoking, free drinking while gambling, eating and eating and eating ($9.95 prime rib dinners!) - all in excess (well, when you play nickel games, it only feels like excess, but your $20 can last the whole night if you are lucky enough), and then doing it all again the next day, and the one after that.

Day Trip to Tahoe and Virginia City
Last time we rented an SUV (Dollar Rent A Car was in our hotel, but for selection, we took the free shuttle to the airport and rented from the desk there) and took the drive up to stunning Lake Tahoe and drove around the loop (click on the link, and that's almost what we did, but instead of taking Hwy 50 to start in the middle of the east side, we took the Route 431/Mt Rose Hwy exit for the great view heading into the basin and started at the north end and then went counter-clockwise. Even though it was at a different starting point on the loop, we printed out this little Frommer's guide) - everyone should do this at least once - but please be careful in winter, go prepared. After that, we drove to Virginia City (used this link but coming from Tahoe - again, really, in winter be careful, go prepared).

(Side note: I know a lot of the stuff I've read claims that you can drive up to both year round, but that does NOT mean it's always a good day to do it safely. If the roads are bad, pick another day. And then go prepared in case the weather gets a little wacky. Keep this stuff in mind, and be safe.)

All of that was a wonderful day trip, but this time we don't feel like we really have to pay to rent a car and take time away from all that other fun stuff unless the spirit moves us, so there's no pressure. Gosh, I feel relaxed already.

Sleeping with the Clowns and Eating with a Pimp
Last year we stayed at Circus Circus Reno (in downtown area on the little "strip"), and we'll do the same this year. The Sky Tower rooms are cheaper by about $20.00 per night than the North Tower (Casino Tower) rooms, and no matter what some reviews say on different travel sites, it's really not a long walk from the Sky Tower side to the main casino side with all the other entertainment and food (the walk is all indoors, less than 3 minutes to walk even at a stroll), we did not see a bunch of "thugs" or other "undesirables" no matter what time in the wee hours we did the walk, and the little tram will take you between the two if you are too tired (or drunk) to make the walk. The tram is cute and kind of fun as a novelty, but it's not any faster than walking, really. Even in the cheaper Sky Tower rooms, if you ask for a higher floor and a view to the west, you will have an awesome view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Gorgeous!

What's cool, too, aside from actually watching the circus acts (that makes you feel like a kid even when you are getting old) is that Circus Circus is actually connected to the Silver Legacy Hotel and the Eldorado on the second floor level - in fact, you barely know that you've passed out of one and into the other on the little path. How nice not to have to go out into the cold or roaming around outside late at night, which we did and thought it was kind of creepy. But it was worth it to eat an Awful Awful Burger and all those fries at the very back inside of the Nugget (near Fitzgerald's and the Reno Arch) next to a pimp who was upset with one of his "girls" - whose price (the burger's, not the girl's), sadly, just went up to $5.50 after being only $3.50 for 40 years - see this article - I'll still go there, though, because it's delish!. I keep reading that it's cash only, but I can't remember if that's true - so bring some or win some just in case.

Cool Site
Cheapo Reno is a cool site that helped me find the best deals in gambling (like $0.50 roulette at Circus Circus), eating, and even how often the free cocktails wander by at various casinos, so I'll have to read up on all this again. Now I'm all excited and looking so forward to some time away to enjoy all my favorite sins at once - and on the cheap.

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