Allyson Johnson

Pieces of my Mind

Goodbye Tahoe: Shuttling back to Real Life

If I can’t be Freeway Free, at least I prefer to let someone else drive. So taking the shuttle from South Lake Tahoe to the Reno Airport is a no-brainer. C is up and running by 9, and the nearest pickup point at 10AM is only 10 minutes away, at the Hard Rock Cafe/Casino/Hotel just this side of the California line.

The Hard Rock Cafe at 9:45 is a sleepy place, adorned with campy pix of Elvis, artifacts of Johnny Cash, BB King,Sly Stone, Elton John – lots of sequins and glitter, even for BB – jacquard jacket in purple and black shot with silver.  I guess that’s Vegas overflow.  Lots of donated guitars, maybe the second string?

Slowly other shuttle-goers arrive, some young folk going to whoop it up in Reno, some snow-bunnies returning from a girl’s outing, some young guys.  Bus (Amador Stage Lines) arrives only a few minutes late (10:10 vs 10:07) loads quickly, stops at Harrah’s, where we add an older crowd of evident retirees, mostly in couples, a few more of the same at Harvey’s and no one at Montaigne Bleu to the driver’s puzzlement.  And then off up the east side of the lake.

California definitely commands the most scenic lakefront.  Mountains on the CA side loom high and snow-covered, while the NV side is lower, more tree-covered and nearly glitz free.  When the bus turns away from the lake toward Reno towards Carson Valley, the landscape becomes all sandstone and sagebrush, and at the valley floor the view is still bleak, with winter-drab pine trees the only hint of color beyond dry grass, leafless deciduous trees, and building of stained wood blending neutrally into the surroundings.  A few immobile black Angus cattle add no sense of life.

Dropoff at the Reno Airport is at the furthest remove from my carrier, United, but I don’t mind a bit of leg-stretching. Checking in and checking bags are handled smoothly and smilingly, security is a breeze, and with almost two hours until my flight I wander off in search of a restroom and water station.  Oddly, all signs point toward A and B gates, none toward the newer C gates.  It’s quite a walk down to gate B3 to the restroom, and after emptying what was full and filling what was empty I find an almost-deserted room  with stools and tables for eating, big armchairs for massaging, and rows of seats where one can plug in a laptop, make a phone call on an actual public telephone, or request a page.  I decide to squat until time to leave for the gate at the other end of the terminal.

In the newer C gate wing, of course there are rest rooms right there! but I don’t regret my walk and my quiet refuge in the old wing. Flight is on time, weather fine for flying, and I am rested, refreshed, relaxed, and best of all, returning.

Thoughts about the travel:

If you are planning to go to South Shore (or, for that matter, any town which depends on tourism for its lifeblood) don’t trust the internet to tell you the status of a “recommended “restaurant – Call first!  Half a dozen times we arrived at a restaurant that said online that it was open, only to find it empty and dark.

Where casinos used to promote shows and poker tournaments and all-you-can-eat buffets on their neon/digital LED entrance signs, pride of place is being given to Help Wanted.  You should probably stay away from any restaurant advertising for a Lead Cook.

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