Day One - Taking off early from work... not enough sleep the night before. Tired, hungry, and on the road with Kirsten, Acura Integra packed full of material objects... water... food... cool black satin sheets for hot desert nights. a huge bottle of rum... Pina Colada mix, a corset, extra condoms, a small yet surprisingly effective cache of sex toys. This is Burning Man after all... land of the naked people and plenty of sexual activity, or so we hear. Kirsten and I are hardly sex tourists or swingers... we can be a bit on the shy side; still it doesn't hurt to dream a bit, I guess. Although we have each other, we're both kinda hoping to meeting a special woman, ideally for a longterm relationship. We had a taste of this previously... we want more, and we want it to last.
The car is packed from back to front, top to bottom. No space, no visibility... a few loose objects stored at my feet. Really packed, and on the road to Reno. In 80 minutes, we are out of the Bay Area and into the great expanse of conservatism that extends through the middle of America. People out here tend to be violently content with the status quo. The next true bastion of radical values (tolerance, open mindedness, acceptance, etc.) is 400 miles away, in the middle of the Black Rock Desert.
We make it to Reno around 7pm... This town used to be a tiny little dump, but the last decade has changed Reno (and Vegas) immensely. They are now very large, sprawling dumps... with lots of pretty lights. Reno has a blue collar grime to it that all the casinos in the world couldn't shake off... unlike Vegas, where the cost of real estate on the strip is so high as to make other businesses untenable, it is common for the casinos of Reno to be directly adjacent to their ugly stepchildren... pawn shops, liquor stores, check cashing places... you can spend today what you cannot afford to pay, and drown your sorrows in cheap alcohol when you have hit bottom... unable to be tolerated in the casinos, or even comp'ed a watered down drink while you play the nickel slots.
... which is where we are going. We pull into the gigantic Atlantis... a sprawling casino that dwarfs the older casinos on Reno's strip. Despite its size, the Atlantis isn't known for anything... except for inexpensive rooms. We settle in for a bit, then head off for food. I asked for directions to a sushi place, and was told to check out a nearby mini-mall. Unfortunately, mini-malls are all they seem to have around the Atlantis. We never find the sushi place, but we find a place called Rickshaw Paddy's... arguably the worst name I have ever heard for an Asian restaurant. Hell, it is Reno. What do they know about Asian food here anyway? I checked the menu; surprisingly, there are a few items on it that indicate some degree of knowledge, so we step inside.
The first thing I notice is that the music is seriously wrong... the workers were Chinese, the music was Irish folk music. We ordered a mix of Thai and Chinese food. Things start off with Thai iced tea, which tastes like it was made with Nestea. Very odd... rather disgustingly sweet and unbalanced. This was a bad sign...
Fortunately, it was the worst part of the meal. The rest of the Thai food was odd, hardly Thai, but not distinctively bad. All the traditional Thai tastes... tiny, hot Thai chilies, galangal root, lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves... were gone, replaced with standard curry powder. Fortunately, I had ordered a curry, so this was manageable. We had a toasted rice soup, though, that was distinctly Chinese and very good indeed.
Shortly before we finished our meal, a gentleman entered the restaurant and came up to our table.
"Hi! Is everything to your liking?"
This rather Caucasian gentleman with the slight Irish accent was obviously the Paddy in Rickshaw Paddy... he apparently plays Irish folk music at his restaurant because he likes to listen to it. Go figure...
We headed back to the casinos and the nickel slots... Within a few minutes, I am up around $10. WeI quickly flag down a waitress, get comp'ed a Melonball and a White Russian... and I watch as Kirsten, frustrated, loses money for practically the entire evening. Obviously, her expectations are set a little too high, since she won about $150 the first and last time she went to a casino in Vegas. Payback time. I put in more money... and more money comes out. I am up about $25, Kirsten is down about $15. We go upstairs to check out the arcade. Skee-ball, South Park pinball, various ticket games... we win tix for various toys and nick-knacks, which we cashed in later for yellow, smiley faced necklaces that opened up to reveal bubble blowers. There was also a cool, sparky UFO top... though where that disappeared to, I don't know.
Up to the room, to bed... nice enough looking place, but the mattress is from hell. I slept more comfortably on the Playa on a leaky air mattress than in their bed.
Well... there is still much to tell, but there is a nice continuity telling you this story exactly one week after the fact. I could be more abbreviated, but this journal is for me, not you. It is getting late, and I never get enough sleep. Talk to you tomorrow. Go to sleep, little earth...