waking up at Cave Lake my first thought of the day was: holybabyjesus it’s freaking cold. according to Klaus’ thermometer, it was a brisk 43° brr. yet i knew by the end of the day i’d see a 50° swing. what to wear? this question was made less complicated by the fact that i had somehow managed to pack ONLY TWO SHIRTS. as a PRODIGIOUS overpacker and a wardrobe whore of the widest stripe, i have NO idea how this happened. but it did. this is how i ended up in a turtlefur hat, mittens, and a tank top despite the chill. if you look reeeeeal close you can tell just how cold it IS!

after coming down out of the forest, i promised Klaus we’d stay on pavement for the rest of the trip. oof.

herein commenced the most boringest part of the trip. drive was decidedly unscenic, plus also construction. bleah. finally made it into Reno at about 1:30 and immediately went into a panic since i hadn’t the faintest idea how to find the hotel where i had randomly decided to stay. and the lure of the shower was IMMENSE by this point. i think, in fact, it was so powerful that it lead me to downtown Reno as if by magic. i got off the freeway by intuition, and went straight to the hotel without making one wrong turn. this is remarkable because even though i have always thought i had an excellent sense of direction, it turns out that in fact, it’s just that i’ve lived in the same town my whole life so i’ve been pretty much everywhere in it. most road trips i go on i spend more time turning around than going straight. this was a small but satisfying triumph.

i stayed on “the strip” such as it is, at Circus Circus. which was about as cheap as i could get. honestly $35 for a hotel room is pretty damn reasonable. i think i used that much hot water within the first hour of being in the room. shower… sweet sweet shower.

after having spent the $35 on my room though, i was left with a whopping $30 in cash money. eep. knowing i had an emergency credit card for gas to get home with i wasn’t totally panicking, but i was glum about my entertainment options. not a gambler anyway, i had thought to eat something yummy or have a few adult beverages, but short of batting my eyes at some generous fella wandering the streets, i didn’t think that a likely option at this point. having completely failed to bring any grooming products whatsoever i didn’t really want to expose my fragile ego to the possibility that i’m not cute enough to get offered a drink without product in my hair and concealer on my face.

so, instead i decided to just wander around Reno and see what i could see. turns out, not a whole ton. Reno’s pretty small, and so is its city center. there was a bizarre concentration of domes; 3 within a 2 block radius for no apparent reason. and many hideous signs and marquees. my favorite ugly building, hands down, was the Cal-Neva.

Having booked my hotel room sight unseen, i rea
aaaally wish i had stayed here instead. it was so awesomely hideous i could barely contain my enthusiasm for it. and more than that, they had what i consider to be the quintessential casino food deal: $8.95 prime rib dinner in the Top Deck Lounge. awww yeah. even with only $30 to my name, this seemed like a reasonable expense.

now, i feel i need to preface what i am about to say with the following; my FAVORITE restaurant in Portland is frequented by people that usually arrive on short buses from the retirement village. there is almost never a person under the age of 65 IN this place who isn’t employed as a hostess. it has the ambiance of an elks lodge with scary murals of the elderly painted on the walls. they have a policy that if you can eat their 6 pound steak and all the trimmings, you get it free. my point here is that sophistication, nice in its place, is by no means a crucial element of my enjoyment of a particular eatery. but this, oh this.

in the grand casino style, there were no windows, anywhere. i failed to realize just how oppressive this would be until i had been sitting inside for about 20 minutes and could no longer even guess at what time it was. i had left my phone to charge in the car and wasn’t wearing a watch. usually i have a pretty decent internal clock, but going inside this place totally fucked mine up, like instantly.
and then when my “dinner” arrived, it was almost comically disgusting to look at. i am deeply sorry i did not photograph the plate while i sat there, for its pallid appearance was almost archetypal. the meat was grey; even the gristle seemed pale. the vegetables, if they could indeed be classified as such, were gloriously colorless and smooshy. buh-leah.

on the way back from this, i managed to have my picture taken by an ACTUAL human, instead of the timer-race-try-to-look- casual method i had heretofore employed. it was very exciting. except i look like a total tard. ah well.

at this point i was wandering back to my hotel with plans to kill the last of the bottle of tequila i brought with me on the trip. thrilling. nothing quite like watching Law & Order all night on a tequilla buzz.

NEXT: At Long Last, Neko.