Nevada – Days 1-5: Out and About in Reno and Las Vegas

On my way to Nevada I was stopping in Lake Tahoe to meet my host. I somehow missed that I was running low on gas as I passed the last gas station on the mountain. I tried to remain calm and told myself that I couldn’t completely run out of gas yet because the gas light hadn’t come on yet…

Then the gas light came on and I still had eleven miles to go… I usually have the gas light come on right as I’m pulling into a gas station. I’d never pushed it eleven miles before. I was trying so hard not to panic. There were hardly any other cars on the road and it was dark and raining. What was the likelihood that someone would stop and be willing to go get me gas and bring it back to me in this weather?

Luckily at this point I’d started descending the mountain. I figured at the very least I could just coast the rest of the way to the bottom. Surely there would be a gas station at the bottom, right…?

Right. Whew. Unfortunately the first gas station at the bottom of the mountain was crazy expensive. I’d just left crazy expensive gas prices in California and was not about to prolong that experience. I retaliated by only getting one gallon of gas. Literally one gallon. Just enough to make it further into town to a cheaper gas station.

At the cheaper gas station the first pump I tried didn’t work. I swiped my card and stuck the pump in the gas tank and nothing happened. I had to cancel that transaction and drive back to another pump. Thankfully that one worked just fine. I have an app on my phone called GasBuddy and it said gas would be even cheaper in Reno proper, so I just got a few more gallons, enough to get me to Reno and decided I’d fill up there.

I met up with my host and her friend at Gunbarrel Tavern and Eatery in Lake Tahoe. My host’s friend works at Gunbarrel so we got an employee discount. I had the beet salad which was delicious, but tiny, so I’m glad I also ordered a side of fries. I’m also glad we got a discount because I would’ve been really mad if I paid like $12 for not even two beets… After dinner we drove the rest of the way to Reno and called it a night.

The next day I went to Barnes and Noble to work on the blog. Barnes and Noble had a terrible internet connection. I shall refrain from straying from Starbucks in the future. That night my host and I went out with a friend of hers to celebrate his birthday. We started at Midtown Wine Bar and then went across the parking lot to Pollo Lounge.

The Wine Bar was packed. Lots of people over forty. There was a live band so people were dancing. It had a fun vibe, but it was packed so that kind of sucked. Pollo Lounge also had an older clientele as well as live music. Instead of a band like at the Wine Bar though, Pollo Lounge had a pair, Gemini Duo, who could sing pretty much anything. It was incredible. The female duo member had a freaking amazing range!

We stopped back in the Midtown Wine Bar for a minute but the band wasn’t playing anymore, so we took an Uber downtown to the casinos. We went to Roxy’s Bar and Lounge in the El Dorado resort and casino.

Roxy's Bar & Lounge, El Dorado Resort and Casino, Reno, NV.

Roxy’s Bar & Lounge, El Dorado Resort and Casino, Reno, NV.

I have never had my ID checked more thoroughly in my life. The guy took it, looked at it, looked at me, flipped it over, and then walked back out toward the entrance where there was more light so he could look at it some more. In the better light he pulled out his phone and pulled up an app that showed him what the IDs for each state looked like. He apologized and said he’d never seen a Kansas ID before. I said, well, it’s Arkansas… He scrolled back up on his phone because he’d looked up the Kansas ID… He finally saw the Arkansas one and compared it to mine. Apparently the app also tells you where to look for the holographs and special things that make IDs these days so hard to fake. He took out a mini magnifying glass and looked all over my ID and then whipped out a blacklight pen to highlight the hidden features…seriously dude?! Wow. I’d give him kudos for being thorough, but he didn’t even read the state correctly. Instead, I joked that he was just taking his time so he could memorize my address… Needless to say, I’m glad I don’t actually live there anymore.

There was a 2 for 1 martini deal through Yelp at Roxy’s so my host and I had two rounds of martinis. Then we went to a cowboy bar nearby, which I didn’t catch the name of and had a couple more drinks and danced. Eventually we both got tired and took an Uber back to her place.

The next morning she had to work early in the morning and was gone before I woke up. Her roommates were around though and I offered to drive them to go get their cars where they had left them the night before. After dropping both the roommates off I got Starbucks and started the seven hour drive to Las Vegas. Woo!

The drive was pretty and I caught up on listening to some Podcasts I was behind on, which was nice. In Vegas I was staying with my friends Sarah and Jay who I knew from New York. I hadn’t seen them in a few years so when I got to their house we spent the night catching up, which was super fun.

View on the drive from Reno to Las Vegas, NV.

View on the drive from Reno to Las Vegas, NV.

My first day in Vegas also happened to be the six month anniversary of my road trip and I wanted to do a special blog post about that so I worked on that for most of the morning and part of the afternoon. When I finally finished working Sarah and Jay took me to Frankie’s Tiki Room a, themed bar, which was pretty cool. Then they took me to Hop Nuts Brewing where we had a beer. We ended the night on Fremont Street where we had dinner at Park on Fremont. Fremont Street is quite the spectacle. From zip lining tourists soaring overhead to mostly naked “performers” posing for pictures with other tourists it was definitely something else.

The following day I again started my day by utilizing the internet. I made a few Couchsurfing requests and searched for a backpack to take on my adventures once I ditch Charlie (my car). The night before Sarah had told me about the crazy number of accidents in Las Vegas and unfortunately I almost learned firsthand just how crazy Vegas drivers are. When I finally headed out on my adventures for the day someone cut me off and then slammed on their brakes. I hit my own brakes so hard my tires screeched and I’m sure I left a skid mark. I stopped only a few inches from the car in front of me and it was terrifying. Thus far, I’ve never *knock on wood* been in an accident where I was driving and I don’t plan to be. Yikes!

It was Pi day, and I love any excuse for dessert so I started my day in search of pie. The first bakery I went to wasn’t open. The second one didn’t have pie. I almost went to a grocery store and thought about finding a chain restaurant, but I really wanted good pie. No Joe Schmo pie would do.

This may look like a bakery, but be warned: there is no pie here... Gimme Some Sugar, Las Vegas, NV.

This may look like a bakery, but be warned: there is no pie here… Gimme Some Sugar, Las Vegas, NV.

I made a quick stop at the post office and realized the day was getting away from me. I decided to pause my search for pie and go to the Neon Museum instead, to make sure I had enough time to look around.

The Neon Museum was one of the museums on my North American Reciprocal Museum pass so I didn’t look it up, other than to check the times. Apparently they only let you go through the “museum” on a guided tour and the guided tours sell out relatively early in the afternoon. Lame.

At this point, with the way my luck was going this day, I figured I’d better make my way toward the theatre where my friend Matt got me tickets to see the Cirque du Soleil show he worked on or I’d somehow manage to miss that as well. Fortunately, parking was free and easy to find. I’d chosen to drive down the strip to see if there was anything I wanted to do as I drove to the theatre since I’d be kind of early. Unfortunately, driving down the strip took forever.

Matt told me to pick up my tickets between 30-60 minutes before the show and I was there a little over an hour and a half early. The show was just far enough down the strip that I figured by the time I got anywhere I’d just have to turn around and come back. I also hadn’t seen anything that I found super interesting, though checking out the Bellagio fountains might have ben cool. Whatever.

Instead I called Alex to complain about my terrible luck that day and then went and picked up my tickets and saw the show. The show was Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil. I’d never been to a Cirque show before but I was expecting more crazy acrobatics. Don’t get em wrong, there were some, but I just thought there would be more.

Additionally, I like Michael Jackson’s music, but the show didn’t seem to flow well. Ballads kept interrupting the more popular sing-along songs and I think there was some sort of story they were trying to tell, but I couldn’t follow it. Overall, the show was a bit too flashy, and a bit underwhelming in terms of the acrobatics. Which is not to say I didn’t like it, it just wasn’t what I expected. Which, in turn, goes to show that expectations can be limiting.

Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil, Mandalay Bay Resort, Las Vegas, NV.

Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil, Mandalay Bay Resort, Las Vegas, NV.1

There were parts of the show I really liked. For instance, the slack line guys who would just bounce their whole body on the line and then all of a sudden bounce and stand up. That was pretty impressive. The pole lady was also insane. She had such insane arm/core strength to do the things she did with her body… Same with the guy who climbed up the rope thing and twirled around, I’m not sure what that’s called, but it was pretty cool. Oh, and there was this one legged performer who kept killing it with his crutches. I really appreciated that inclusiveness and how it showed that sometimes the only limits to what you can do is what you think you can or can’t do.

Also, as I expected, the Thriller piece was great! They had trampolines and people would jump from a story or two high and then hit the trampoline and return to where they started. That was pretty freaking sick! (In a good way.)  Another sick moment happened earlier in the show when there had been three or four performers who would jump of a horizontal bar one at a time and swing in a circle, attached to ropes and come right up behind the person in front of them. It was crazy and made me really nervous that someone was going to be just a fraction of a second off and someone would get hurt. I can’t imagine teching that. Or stage managing it. I’d have a heart attack every day. No thank you. But major props to those who do. You people are awesome!

A sign of how unintuitive the show was – there were at least six different times when I thought the show was ending and it wasn’t. When it finally was the end I was like, wait, is this it? For real? And it was! I was so relieved. I mean, I’d enjoyed myself for the most part, I just couldn’t stand any more false endings.

I met up with Matt for drinks after the show and then headed back to Sarah and Jay’s. On the way back to Sarah and Jay’s I decided to stop at a McDonald’s for french fries because I was kind of hungry. While in the drive-thru I remembered McDonald’s has apple pies. While not at all what I had in mind, I figured it be better than nothing… Even McDonald’s didn’t have pie! What. The. Heck. Pi Day fail!

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