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Sunday, November 13, 2011


What a wonderful vacation I had in Reno.  Here above, sunrise.

Well, actually the past nearly dozen years, save for that agonizing month, has been a vacation.  Anyway, I had a meal at, as self-advertised, one of the 10 best Italian restaurants in the nation, La Strada, located in the Eldorado, and I show three photos, the first, the standard Caesar and minestrone soup to the left.

When I have spaghetti with meatballs, I always ask them to place on the top some basil leaves and a slice of raw onion.  The second photo shows the plate of of this enhancement, which was slightly treated with olive oil, which I placed on the entree.  I tend to order the above combination so that I can compare the various Italian restaurants.  One obvious exception was my "best" lunch in Rome, but the cost there was about the same as my stay in Reno. Oh, I should mention that, relative to the world, prices are really, really cheap in this city.  Mind you, compared to the California Hotel in Las Vegas, where it would cost about a hundred dollars a day for air tickets, transport and four days of room and all food you can possibly eat, Hawaii loyalists will think this is extravagant.  But back to my feast, the third (below) is dish #2 on top of my spaghetti, plus a garlic spinach with glasses of Prosecco (Italian champagne) and Cabernet Sauvignon:

As earlier mentioned, I had a choice of walking a mile (although there was free bus service) to the chill of Mackay Stadium for University of Nevada Reno (UNR) versus Hawaii football, or remain at the casino to comfortably watch the Oregon-Stanford and Hawaii games, plus the Pacquiao-Maquez boxing match, FREE.  I should add that the Eldorado is linked with the Silver Legacy and Circus Circus, so you have a mega casino, in some ways, unmatched in Las Vegas.

Circus Circus is, well, a circus, and located just across the freeway from the start of the UNR campus.  Silver Legacy is the spiffiest of the three and where I decided to sit (yes, I chose to take it easy), for I found a choice seat with a free drink.  There was also one more compelling reason why I remained in my  entertainment cocoon:  there are more unsavory-looking people walking the streets of Reno, including catching that free bus, than any city on my world journey.  And more panhandlers, although they are nice about it.  Here in the Silver Legacy there are at least twenty TV screens and the crowd reaction was electric:

Unfortunately, Stanford got crushed, Hawaii lost quarterback Moniz for the season and the game, and I had $5 (7:1, odds) on Marquez, who was edged for the third time in a row by Pacquiao.  A total loss night, but an incredible experience.

I should mention two additional attractions, if you can call them that, of Reno.  Close by are:

1.  Only 15 miles away is Mustang Ranch, the first legal brothel in Nevada, now thirty years old, although the illegal version started in 1955.  Ten of seventeen counties, NOT including the cities of Las Vegas and Reno,  have legalized prostitution.  Why not?  Because the law says that counties with more than 400,000 people cannot.  Actually, the original Mustang Ranch was forfeited to the Federal Government in 1999 and reopened five miles away six years ago.  The original site is now owned by the Nature Conservancy as a gift from McCarron Ranch, which was once owned by former U.S. Senator Patrick McCarran, after whom McCarran Airport in Las Vegas is named.  Entwined in all this is Joe Conforte (above right, played by Joe Pesci in Love Ranch) taxi driver and convict, who started this all and escaped to Brazil to avoid prosecution by the Internal Revenue Service.

Conforte paid the staff at the Mapes Hotel, famous for putting up Marilyn Monroe when the cast of The Misfits stayed there (photo taken there with Clark Gable).  For perhaps these above reasons, this was the first building on the National Register of Historic Places to be demolished, on Super Bowl Sunday morning, 30January2000.  Conforte was singularly responsible for the legislation that made Mustang Ranch possible, and continues to be effective, for Brazil refused to extradite him.

2.  Burning Man is a complicated 2-3 hour drive from Reno, but you can catch  a bus...if you gain an entrance ticket.  The distance is 127 miles from the Reno International Airport.  This is a continuing experiment on forming a sustainable community in a Woodstock atmosphere with a spirit of radical self-reliance.  Of course you need to bring your own water, food, etc., and are encouraged build your own artform.  But everything needs to be dismantled at the end, and taken back with you.

Click on Burning Man 2011 to gain a sense of what this is all about.  Yes, they actually burn an effigy, which next occurs on 1September2012.

Started in San Francisco in 1986, this eight day long event was moved to Black Rock, Nevada in 1990 and has become so popular that henceforth one can now only get in by lottery because the U.S. Bureau of Land Management allows a max of 50,000 people.  The BM planners would like to gain approval for 70,000 by 2016, but they need someone of Joe Conforte's effectiveness to accomplish that task.  The 2012 version begins of August 27 and ends on September 3.  Go to:

to provide your input on how they should conduct the lottery.  You have about a week to comment, for details will be provided by the end of this month.  Ticket prices are reduced for those with lower incomes.

Goodbye Reno:


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