Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Great Ta-Hoe-Down

The story of the great Ta-hoe-down began as a journey to South Lake Tahoe for Cousin B’s wedding. We left at about 5 am or so, which is not a sane hour to be departing from anywhere for me. But we did none the less. It was myself, From Russia with Love, Bro and his girlfriend Cheese-Cake and my parents.

And after leaving at such an unholy hour in the morning, most of us slept all the way to Elko. I somehow managed to wake up at the break of dawn going across the Salt Flats. I have blogged about the dessert many times before, so all of you know how much I love it. And especially at these times of the day, where the weak sunlight makes you feel so detached from your environment, you might as well be in a dream. I managed to get out my camera and snap a few shots of this magnificent land:

This also gave me the idea of a photo project I could do on the way back. I decided to do a little study on the Salt Flats as viewed from the back seat of a car. I have called it the Salt Flats Project (subject to change). I will have those pictures up on the photo blog soon. Now back to the story.
After that, I went back to sleep, and woke up at our first stop: Elko, Nevada. I did not take any pictures of this place because, well, there is simply nothing there. And for those of you wondering what Elko is like, I will save you the trouble: the entire town smells like sage brush and port-o-potty.
That is all.
After switching drivers there, it was my turn at the wheel. Nothing much to say about the rest of the drive, other than the periodic construction slowing. It’s not really all that scenic. It was just a quiet drive, until we got to the next pit stop.
I don’t recall the name of this town, because it was not planned, just a potty break. We stopped at a combination convenience store and bar to stretch and what have you. This was the place:

We went in and made use of the bathrooms and looked at the mostly bare shelves, when this dog we noticed on the way in started whining at the front door. And not just whining, but almost a full on yelp as if someone had beaten him with a bat and he needed to go to the vet. It was a black and white and matted pitiful thing, and naturally we all felt bad. We asked the clerk of the store (also the bar tender next door) who this dog belonged to, and if it was ok. He said the dog is fine, in fact his owner is a regular at the bar, and the dog just cones up to customers and begs for food.
“That dog lives better than you or me” he said.
But we still felt bad and decided to buy the dog some beef jerky, just because the thing was so sad looking.
“These ones are his favorite” said the clerk.
And we should have taken that as our warning. As soon as we gave the dog the jerky, he went off to lay down in his spot in front of the bar. No tail wag, no hanging around, no petting or anything. When we left, it even turned it’s head with a look that said ‘ha-ha… suckers!’. We had just met the greatest con-artist dog I have ever seen, and he had the best of us. Don’t just ‘beware of dog’, beware of this dog:
I drove for a longer while, and then we switched again and I went back to sleep. I awoke when we parked in Virginia City, an old mining town turned campy tourist attraction. This place was kind of cool, and they even had a Mark Twain museum. Apparently, he had worked there as a reporter for a while. We did not go into the museum, but the town had plenty of other cool things to do. Our fist stop was in this old church:

Inside was pretty cool. Very old looking, and some interesting (I thought) stained glass windows:

And there was this baptismal thingy:
And I thought I would go into the confessional while I was here to loosen some of the baggage from my soul. But there was this sign outside:

Did they just give up on the people here? Or is Hell just full? Or does this Priest just not care? Or has it been moved to a near by casino? One can only wonder…
The rest of the town was pretty cool. In fact, I decided to take the pictures ‘old timey’ style to fit the ambiance of this place. So here’s the town of Virginia City, in sepia tone:

And we found one of ‘those things’, and naturally From Russia with Love and I hopped behind:

We also found this thing called the Suicide Table. It was an old card game table, and every owner had apparently killed himself after loosing everything he owned in one night. Interesting. Here is the infamous table:

And in glorious Technicolor:

Fun times. Then it was off to South Lake Tahoe, to check into the hotels and meet up with the family. We arrived at our hotel, rested up a bit and all of us decided to go to dinner. We chose a restaurant in one of the casinos there, and it was particularly hard to find. My Uncle D asked one of the employees there where we could find this eatery, and the douche in the suit said:
“No such restaurant exists sir.”
And after a bit more wandering we stumbled upon it. The great non existent phantom restaurant that was actually quite tasty; and good times were had by all.
The next day we walked about in South Lake Tahoe, looking for things to do and planning activities for the next day. We decided on doing a few things. They have a zip line thing at the top of the gondola ride there, and at the lake they also have para sailing. Both sounded great to me. We picked up our information, and after walking around town we stopped into a nice Indian restaurant for lunch. As many of you know, I have a passion for curry, and could sustain myself for the rest of my life on it. And this place did not disappoint. I stuffed myself stupid.
The next day it was time to take part in the previous day’s planned activities, and the first thing on the list was the zip line. And it was closed due to the wind. As it turns out, everything was closed due to the wind. Even the para sailing. The only thing that we could really do was rent a jet ski and ride the gondola. The gondola was pretty, it took you up high, and you could see a lot.
Naturally, with all of the planned activities I did not bring my camera, so alas: no pictures from the gondola. At the top of the ride, they have a nice bar and grill, and a few hikes that you can take if you were wondering what point there is in riding to the top of a ski resort in summertime.
Then it was back down to the beach to see if we could do anything fun there. And of course, due to the wind, the only thing that we could do is rent a jet ski, so we did just that. I did not get on the thing, because I am not a fan of jet skis in choppy water. Yes, waves are fun, but when that is all there is, it just beats the hell out of you. Bro and cheese-Cake went out first, then Bro took From Russia with Love out. I spent a nice hour relaxing in a canoe in the shade, listening to the water with the leaves right over my head. Really, I felt like I was in a Corona Beer commercial, except without the beer. Any way, here are some quick shots of around town in Lake Tahoe that I took the day before:

R.I.P. Fredo:

There was also lot to see as far as pretentious art goes. For example:

Then it was back to the hotel so we could change for Cousin B’s wedding. We changed, and she and some others got into a limo, and we all followed them up to a place called Emerald Bay. Apparently a hot spot for weddings, and not without good reason. The view was really good:

And Cousin B's Wedding Dress:

Just kidding. it was more like this:

The ceremony was sweet. I will not go into too much detail, because it really is just a family thing, and everyone who needs be concerned with the details was there. Aunt L also had organized an excellent meal afterward through our hotel, and once again, good times were had by all:

Cheese-Cake sneaks Lil' J's food...

Uncle D and Lil' J:

The next day we spent a little more time in Tahoe, then departed for Reno. It was about an hours’ worth of a drive to our next hotel. We checked in there, and rested up a bit, then it was off to downtown Reno.
Our first stop was the Circus Casino. I was hoping for the entire circus, but alas it was just the freak show. Weirdos and loosers were abound, and the whole place was one of the largest parades of the worst of humanity that I have seen in a long time. I really think that if that entire city came to a catastrophe, no one would care.
However, we did find a very nice steak house in that casino, and had one of the best steaks I have had in a long time. It was prime rib. I love prime rib. That was the same thing that I had eaten in the non-existent restaurant in Tahoe as well. Mostly I love the flavor of beef on horseradish, and when paired with a dark wine, you are in a culinary heaven…
After dinner we decided to check out a car show that was in town, the Hot August Nights celebration. Lots of old cool cars, some rather new, and all very souped up. Now, for those of you who know me well, car culture has not been something that I am usually a fan of. Yes, they are pretty, yes they are fast, yes they are expensive. But after the ‘shiny’ wears off, aren’t they just a car? If you bought one of those, and as time went on, the allure will fade, and after that, isn’t it just a car? People put way too much time into these, and I guess they must get some kind of return out of it. I don’t think I would get out the same rewarding experience. Car work just irritates me like no other. Here are a couple of pictures of the casino where the car show was:

But the point of going there was not to see the cars, even that’s what we all did, we mostly just spent some quality family time, free of our daily grinds. And as life goes on, that becomes a rarity and an eventual cherished memory.
The next day we departed Reno and went back home. I wish that I had something more to say about the drive across Nevada, but I don’t. that state is terribly boring, even just looking at it. I’m serious, you can not even play an ‘Eye Spy’ game in the car. There is nothing out there. Just dirt. Oh, we did stop in Wendover, and I lost about $4 in the video black jack machines.
That is just about the whole trip folks. Please keep your eye on The Cinema Project. I should have a review up of Pineapple Express soon. And please see the Photography page for my pictures of the Salt Flats, and other parts of Nevada (the ones worth looking at).