Despite my pre-trip worries, I had a really good time. Surprisingly, I didn't miss the kids AT ALL. This was in stark contrast to last year's trip to Vegas during which I pouted and whined and felt incredibly heart sick after just 24 hours away from home. Not this time.
I had completely forgotten what it is like to be child-free. It is completely amazing. I went to bed when I wanted. I woke up when I wanted. I went to the gym when I wanted. I went for a walk just for the sake of going for a walk in a second's notice without having to pack a diaper bag, make sure everyone was fed, or put on three sets of shoes and jackets. I ate dinner when I wanted, WHERE I wanted. Want to go to a bar? No problemo! Want to eat dinner at 9:30? Ok! I got to pee ALONE! I got to do things on a whim. Whatever my little heart desired, I could make it happen in minutes.
Reno itself was a lot of fun as well. So much preferred over the intense, hectic crowds of Vegas, where you are constantly running into throngs of scantily-clad 21 year olds, where sin is forever parading in front of your face, and the pressure to join in the debauchery is non-stop. The creepy men who spend way too much time grooming their facial hair were still present. But there were less of them. And it was easier to escape their drunk, desperate, and gyrating groins. Even more importantly, it wasn't too overwhelming or intense that I actually felt safe wandering around the city on my own. My one attempt to leave the casinos on my own in Vegas ended with me running back through the casino doors after a scary stalking incident.
So when my friends decided to spend all of Friday and all of Saturday sitting around a smoky black jack table, I grabbed my purse and went looking for adventure. (I don't gamble...actually, I hate gambling) My friends literally stayed inside the three connected casinos for four whole days without stepping out for fresh air once! Gross!
On Friday I walked a couple miles to the University of Nevada campus. I explored a planetarium there and then wandered around the town until I found myself in a giant arboretum/museum with dead, stuffed polar bears and shrunken human heads. I spend a solid four hours alone, in quiet, walking in a strange, new place. It was so calming and peaceful. It reminded me of my college days in Chicago where I would randomly hop the L and take a day trip in a new neighborhood of the city.
University of Nevada-Reno
College sidewalk chalk
Saturday, while the girls gambled some more, I hopped a shuttle to the airport and rented a car and drove out to Virginia City on the promise of seeing a Mark Twain Museum and an old-timey, one-road country town. I picked up my rental car and head to the open roads, navigating and commanding my compact-class vehicle all alone. I cranked up the radio and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of SR 341 as it led me up and then down a windy, two lane mountain road. It was so gorgeous. I felt like an adventurer. I felt so free.
Just me and the mountains
The little town was quaint, touristy, and cute. Just my kind of destination. I walked around old-time saloons built in the 1800's and, for some reason, passed up the chance to drink a sarsaparilla at the bar. Still kicking myself. The Mark Twain Museum lived up to my hopes. It occupied the bottom level of an old wooden building that used to house the local newspaper where Mark Twain worked and refined his writing. The top part of the building (main levels) had burned down sometime in the 1800's but the bottom level had made it through the fire. I walked on the original wood floor where Mark Twain had walked.
Small city in the mountains
Me and the Twain.
I sat on his chair.
I stood near his personal desk.
It was amazing. Well, for a history junkie like me anyway. When I recounted my trip to my friends, they seemed less than impressed. Apparently, I'm the only one who comes to Reno to see Mark Twain.
In the evenings, we gussied up, hit the lounges/bars, and danced our hearts out. Aside from an occasional beer, I'm not a huge drinker. I usually only drink on special occasions. Even then I'll only have one or two glasses of wine and call it quits. This weekend, I drank more alcohol than I have in the past three years put together! Ugh. My body is still in full detox mode. I did learn one valuable piece of information: eight shots of fireball is my absolute limit. I had only planned on one or two but, for some reason, I felt so cool sitting at the bar, throwing back a shot, and slamming the empty glass on the counter. Apparently, I convinced the guy sitting next to us to take off his shirt so that my friend could tweak his nipple. I only vaguely remember this. But...there are pictures.... Damn pictures.
There were glamour shots.
And then not-so-glamour shots.
Amazingly, I was able to run out my hangover the next morning and felt just fine after that.
My favorite part of the trip, however, was Sunday morning. A couple of us got up early, landed a table at the sports bar, and watched our beloved Seahawks play on the giant big screen TVs. Knowing that we would be in Reno for the game, I packed my jersey. Ok, to be honest, I've worn this jersey every night for the past 10 days. No way was I going to leave it behind. I placed my first bet of the trip, a $5 wager that the Seahawks would win. We did. And I earned $4.33 from that very risky bet. It was so fun to be so far from Seattle and yet cheer side by side with Seattle fans.
We sat next to some 49 fans and exchanged taunts the entire game. One of them bought me a surprise shot of fireball which was delivered to me with a taunting note on the napkin. We ended up striking up a conversation. He turned out to be a lawyer (same kind of law I used to do) and we chatted about lawyer things and Seahawks. It's almost pathetic how talking about nerdy lawyer things turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. I should probably fess up and admit right here and now that the only man I danced with in Reno was a 60 year old man who introduced himself to me as a "polka champion." As we were shaking our hips to Robin Thicke (in a very tame way), we chatted away about healthcare reform....and that, my friends, is how I do clubbing. (Last year in Vegas, a guy dressed in a yellow M&M suit hit on me at a restaurant....we ended up having a heated debate about politics- I just can't turn it off the nerdy.)
As much as I enjoyed my four days of freedom, I was very excited to get home at 1:00 am on Monday morning. I woke up a few hours later to the sound of my boys giggling loudly as their feet pattered across the floor. The hugs that followed were worth the price of gold.
Sometimes, coming home is my favorite part about vacations.