Friday, March 11, 2016

Circus Circus, Tahoe and High Sierra Snow (part 2)

Continuing the look back on a trip to the Nevada, California and Colorado with my 17year old, T. Last post covered flights and hotels (Part 1 here, Part 3 here). This one covers our time in Nevada.

UNR "Nevada"
Knowledge Center with robotic library
I mentioned that the reasons for our trip was to visit schools. UNR wasn't really on T's radar before I mentioned it. He had been looking for a fairly large school, for breadth of programs, but one that was near snow. There are a bunch of schools that meet that general description, but not too many which are easy to get to from the PacNW. UNR is located north of the casino district, isolated from the rest of the city of Reno by a 6-lane Interstate.

UNR Quad
We had arrived in Reno the night before and had only time for some breakfast before our campus tour. We got a little turned around on the way, but a friendly custodian walked us part of the way to the start of the tour. Like a typical tour, it started with forms and such, but soon we were being led about by a business major. Since we hadn't really seen the area at all, T and I were quite taken with the high desert and the dusting of snow on the surrounding hills, visible as we passed from building to building. There was a lot of construction going on. New dorms, a new physical fitness center and some thing else I can't remember were all in some mid-construction state. We saw the arts building, with the designated graffiti stairs and the knowledge center with the robotic book lending library contained within. We learned about the midnight pancakes, football tailgates and touring artists who visit. We left the tour impressed.

Port of Subs
UNR graffiti staircase
After walking around the UNR campus for a few hours, we got a little hungry. Upstairs from the new student office, we found a food court which had a Port of Subs in it. When I went to UNLV, I worked at a Port of Subs, and hadn't seen nor heard of one otherwise. I assumed it was a 2 or 3 store chain based in Las Vegas. Turns out, there are a lot more of them. The main sandwich menu is exactly the same, 25 years later. They still slice the meat on the big Hobart slicer as you order, and everything. Such a flashback. We ordered, watched and grubbed. Still as good as I remembered too.

UNR dorm
After eating, we figured we should "do the strip" or whatever it's called in Reno. So, we drove through town and hit Circus Circus. It was a Friday afternoon, so we thought the arcade would be bumping. We weren't quite right on that score. In fact, Circus Circus was kind of a bust. We headed towards mid-town, and found Recycled Records. Awesome record store. We pawed through old vinyl, cassettes and videotapes for a long time, but didn't buy anything. If T goes to UNR, we'll be back. We planned to hit snow the following day, so we hit Bobos (Bobos) for rental boards. The store was pretty chaotic, but the staff were very chill and they got us set up and out the door quickly.

Stocked with gear, we hit a Japanese restaurant (Sushi Lover) for dinner, breaking up a series of big meals with something lighter. We planned to taste some Tahoe snow the next day, so we wrapped our first full day in Reno with some Mighty Car Mods (these guys are awesome: MCM) back at the hotel.

Unreal Boreal
riding into the trees
During the UNR tour, we learned there is a ski club who arrange bus charters up to the various resorts. Very cool. We also learned that Boreal Ridge (winter site) offers $15 Fridays for college students. Since we hadn't decided where we were going to see snow, and it was Friday... so, Boeral Ridge seemed obvious. After watching a few episodes of MCM, we looked at the snow report. 16" of fresh powder. We were flippin' out, and got up way early to maximize our snow. The drive was straight out a well-plowed and prepared I-80. 40 minutes after pulling onto the freeway, we were pulling into the parking lot. The lot was pretty full, but parking, dressing and ticketing was fast and easy. We were on the lift before 10.
Most of the skiers and riders were sticking to Accelerator or the Beginner lifts, making those lines longer. T and I immediately rode over to 49er and spent most of the day there.

The runs were really fantastic. The 49er zone offers lots of off-piste tree runs, and with all the new powder, we were in it over our knees. The trails were groomed, but enough fresh snow had fallen that the trails weren't corduroy. T and I were bonkers for that deep fresh powder, but most of everyone else was just taking it in stride. Apparently getting 16" overnight isn't as big a deal in the Sierra Nevada mountains. So, while everyone else took turns in the Neff Land terrain park or rode the trails, T and I had the tree runs and deep powder to ourselves. Epic. Unreal Boreal.

view from UNR
We rode until our legs wobbled and then watched day turn to evening as they shut our 49er lift down. We grabbed a bite and then walked over to the Woodward indoor center. I'd never heard of Woodward, but the boys have. It is an indoor skate / trampoline spot that's probably over 100' x 100' square and 3 stories tall. There is a large wood ramp on the far side from the entry that provides a safe place to try 10' (probably more) jumps on a bike or skate with a cushioned landing knuckle or a foam pit to land on/in. Next to that is an indoor concrete skate park. Closer to the entrance are a series of trampolines where action sports enthusiasts can practice aerials with or without planks attached to their feet. As evening fell, the indoor arena got very busy. Meanwhile, a rail jam signup was queuing for Neff Land. We watched some of the start of the rail jam, but felt the pull to get back to the hotel. As we were rolling out, the night crowd was rolling in. It looked like a great night to play in the snow.

South Lake Tahoe
Adam plays
When we got back to the hotel, we were totally spent. Showers, more MCM and then bed. We had arranged to connect with T's cousin who lives in South Lake Tahoe (SLT) the following day, so an early to bed was all the more a good idea. T's cousin, Adam, has been living in SLT for a few years, and now runs a rental office there. He's a talented guitar player too, so part of our time with him was spent hearing what he's been working on. He's totally humble; he's really good.

The drive from Reno to SLT is one of the prettiest drives I can remember. Untouched high desert with view points and vistas around nearly every bend. We had to climb up and over a few passes through the Sierra Nevada mountains, and that created all the more beauty. There were few creatures out, though. The night before I had talked with a few travelers at the hotel bar, and they had commented on how they hadn't seen a deer in years. On the drive to SLT, we saw one. And a few birds. So, maybe its all about looking in the right direction. Finally, we tuned around a corner and got our first view of Lake Tahoe. In retrospect, we shouldn't have been as surprised at its size, but we were not at all expecting such a large expanse. So pretty, with snow right down to the water's edge. T took pictures as we drove, but none of them really captured the scope of the view. I'll add one here later.

We made our way through the business section of SLT, Nevada, and passed into SLT, California, noting the casinos built right on the state line. Adam lived a few minutes from there, on the CA side. Our visit wasn't long, but it was great to connect with him again. Neither T nor I had seen Adam in years, and hearing him play, and having him show us his SLT was really special.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were up at 4:AM the next morning to check out of the hotel, return the rental car and get through security in time to make a 6:AM flight. T and I were both a little sad to leave that old hotel, and Reno. Neither one of us had expected the area to grab us the way it did. High desert is beautiful, and when the alpine feel of overnight snow dusting the hillsides is added in, it makes for a pretty special place. Next time, I'll post on our stop in Colorado.
Leaving Reno

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