1: Welcome to Reno!

Welcome to Reno! The place where upon arrival they hand you a cowboy hat and a baggie full of quarters. Now this didn’t actually happen but it might as well have since the airport itself has low ceilings and slot machines down every hallway. ‘Twas tempting. We funneled around the corners with tunnel vision until we made it outside and despite it being the middle of the summer, outside was rather cool. Now for this trip, considering it was my first since relocating to Chicago, I didn’t have any trip challenges, expense reports, crazy things that happened or anything of the sort. Traveling as a whole is a work in progress and I’m hoping to learn something new each trip. First thing I learned: Always pack a bathing suit.

The shuttle to the Grand Sierra Resort was rather punctual (one point for Reno) and even though I knew we were staying at a resort I hadn’t pictured just how big it would be. The building was about 27 stories high, definitely old fashioned but 100% updated. The revolving doors opened in the middle of a grand foyer with an extremely oversized chandelier. The entire room was filled with black and neon carpet, slot machines, projectors for sports games and free beer if you gambled more than five bucks (two points for Reno). At any given time the machines were at least 45% occupied and it didn’t matter if it were 3pm or 3am because unless you walked beyond the brightly lit foyer and tinted doors, there was no way to tell what time of day it was.

The hotel, I’m sorry, resort, had several restaurants, a bar on every floor, a bowling alley, a gym, a few shopping stores, Starbucks; the works. We got lucky with our rooms considering they were on the 25th floor, which required you to swipe your key card on the elevator to press a floor. How fancy. After a seven and a half hour flight we were all pretty exhausted but the liveliness of the casino made you want to do just something. It was 11am so the first thing we did was change, get food, and go to the pool. Now the pool had mostly children and it was decently crowded but nothing beat laying in the sun by faux sand and a tiki bar. We could have found something to do in the area but we did what anyone in their mid-twenties would do after a long work day: grab a drink and take a nap outside.

At this point the three of us decided we’d lay by the pool for a while, go relax in our room, reconvene in the casino, and play a few games before bed. This was before we posted a picture of where we were on social media. This was also before our friend, who lived a couple hours away, texted us that she was heading here for a concert. This was before she invited us to go to said concert in exchange for a room to crash in. The day actually got interesting. We made the last minute plans as she headed toward Reno from Sacramento and within a few hours we managed to find ourselves downtown listening to her friends’ band cover county music at a bar within another casino. Welcome to Reno where everything and everywhere is a casino!

It turned into a really fun night and given we were going to be exhausted the next day for work, it was completely worth it. Our next day wasn’t nearly as eventful but if you’re ever in Nevada and can’t fork the money for Las Vegas, squint your eyes, take a shot and Reno just may do the trick for now.

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