After a stupid-panicked first leg of the flight, I had a nice second leg. The aircrew bumped me up to the better seats and I wound up sitting behind MMA legend Ken Shamrock for three hours. He was my hero back in the 90s when he was just starting out beating up on the Gracies. I saw him once back then and he was awesome. And I got to see a lot of him on this flight too as he stood up in the aisle every half hour or so and did some stretching. Ain't never seen that on a flight before, but I wasn't about to tell him he couldn't.
We landed, and I walked off the plane right to the Enterprise counter and they confirmed my reservation and put me being the wheel of a brand new 2018 Jeep Compass with just 51 miles on it, and they had me driving away within twenty minutes of my getting off the plane, a far cry from Vegas where I had to wait in line for over an hour and a half just to get to the reservation desk. "We're not Vegas, Sir. We're Reno. We treat people right," the rental guy told me. And they didn't press me even once to buy their overpriced insurance, unlike the Vegas guy who practically threatened me with every sort of calamity if I dared drive using just my existing policy, which, like most, covers rental cars same as your primary car. As a result of the niceness here, I will not be beating this Jeep to death on trails and two tracks like I did the Jeep SUV I got in Vegas. It pays to be nice to people that you give nice things too.
Because I was still under the weather, I grabbed a room, showered and napped for a bit then as dusk headed downtown to see the aren version of the Vegas strip. I found it much easier to navigate and take in, and the casinos weren't quite as flashy but they were also nowhere near as obnoxious and the people we much friendlier, especially some Reno street cops I spoke to. They're still trying to get a handle on Nevadas's new legal marijuana dumb decision, and everyone is shocked at how fast several large new pot dispensaries popped up within days of the vote. Lot of money was obviously sitting back waiting for that. And since it seems so out of character with rural Nevada, I asked them what happened in NV to bring this about. Every one of them shook their head: "Californians." They move out of California to escape the taxes and laws that they voted in there and then they turn around and start voting for the same stuff wherever they land. (Gee, just like Massholes and New Yorkers on the east coast...) east or west though, migrating liberals are like locusts, only less endearing.
The next morning, after a prime rib and potatoes breakfast that was big enough to have choked a bear, I hit the road and headed west to invade California. I first went to Truckee for a bit more coffee and then headed over to Donner Lake to see the place where the Donner Party got snowed in while trying to cross the Seirra Nevadas back in 1846 and threw that infamous dinner party to die for. (Yep--failure to bring enough groceries meant cannibalism or starvation back then. Über Eats wasn't coming by with a sack of burgers.) Then I took old Hwy 40 up to the crest and saw the rail bed where the first transcontinental railroad was cut through the maintains by hordes of Chinese laborers. The rail bed, mostly tunnels and massive concrete snow sheds, is a hiking trail now, though it took me some climbing to get to where it was from where I parked. I hiked a bit of it, enjoying the views of Donner Lake and Truckee far below, then descended back to my sinfully new car.
Next stop was Lake Tahoe. I drove down to the north edge then drove around it, admiring the clear blue water. And because it was there, I hiked a steep trail to the top of Eagle Rock just to enjoy the view and show all the Californians what I could do with my newest walking leg. Yeah, it never got old watching groups of folks climb to the top all out of breath, congratulating each other on the tough climb, only to see me there casually greeting them with a smile and nonchalant "hi" as I sat there in my shorts letting the sun gleam off my nice new prosthetic leg.
Now that they're all gone though, it was a workout. Oy.
Then it was down and around the south end, and every time I thought that it could not get more scenic, it did. Wow. And tons of nice houses all around it, and not a beater car in sight. Who are all these obviously rich folks and how do I get in on whatever money game they're all playing?
Finally, with dusk coming on, it was back over to Minden, where I had to stop by the airport to see Minden Air's famous firefighting fleet. This company was built on surplus military aircraft used for firefighting and I just had to see what they might still have. I found them, but the only thing I could see in their yard of interest to me was a stripped and gutted P2 Neptune and what looked like a clapped out Cessna 0-2A but turned out to be a Model 337 instead based on what I could see through the fence. If I get back down that way during business hours I'm going to stop back in and see if I can't get shown around a bit. Then it was back into town for dinner and a few drinks before turning in early. After all, I am still sick.