Tuesday, December 24, 2013

back from Reno: a trip of many firsts

"Looks like shit is about to get serious!" -- me, on the $1 slots

I just got back from Reno with my parents. The reason for the trip was to explore the Pyramid Lake area. This was one of our best vacations ever!

Day 1

There were some delays because the preparations took longer than expected. On the other hand, traffic was fairly light. The first stop was an antique store in Vacaville, although my mother didn't find anything interesting. Vacaville is also home to a WinCo Foods store, but we decided to save that for the end of the trip.

The shops in Sacramento and Auburn had better items. Mom found some things she liked before we continued on to Boomtown Reno in Verdi. Speaking of which, Dad put the wrong address into the GPS and missed our exit. Oops. I'm glad I noticed it right away because going back would have taken a while.

Though it was late when we checked in, there was plenty of time for slots after dinner. Our earnings reached $10 at one point but soon went back to the house. Of course, that wasn't exactly surprising. I then tried video poker for the first time. Unlike most casino games, video poker has an element of skill. It was pretty enjoyable even though my luck wasn't great.

The day ended on a scary note: a guy was passed out on the casino floor as we made our way back to our room. That really freaked us out. I hope he'll be all right.

Day 2

All of us woke up early and couldn't fall back asleep. Therefore, the three of us got up around 7 a.m. to explore the area. I wanted to check out the nearby Cabela's store after seeing their ads in Field & Stream countless times. However, my family went to other places first as the store wasn't open yet.

We saw steam rising out of the ground at one point along the route. The steam turned out to be from a geothermal area called Nightingale Hot Springs. I wanted a closer look at the source, but it was fenced off and closed to the public. Oh well.

The gas station we stopped at had slot machines as well. Mom suggested giving them a try - and this wasn't a bad idea because I was up $1 a short time later. I figured it was best to cash out before losing it again. ^_^

The next point of interest was the Pyramid Lake Paiute Museum & Visitor Center in Nixon. The museum was small but had lots of Native American artifacts. I've always been fascinated by Native American culture and decided to donate the $1 we just won.

Pyramid Lake wasn't too far from here. The local geology was unlike anything I've seen. However, the pyramid-shaped formation that gave the lake its name was no longer open to the public. One of the locals told us this was due to vandalism. Fuck the idiots who ruin things for everyone. >:(

Another cool thing is that fireworks are legal here. I'd have bought some if they weren't sold out. Pyramid Lake is definitely a place I'd like to revisit.

Back in Reno, my father found more stores for our shopping pleasure. He also took us to Gold Dust West and Sands Regency at my mother's suggestion, although our luck wasn't extraordinary at either casino. This was followed by a stop at a family diner in Reno as we were all starving. The food was somewhat salty but otherwise delicious.

Cabela's was still open when we got back to Verdi. The store was huge and had tons of stuff. I had enjoyed looking around even though there was nothing we needed. All of us were exhausted after being on the road for 12 hours. But the fun wasn't over yet.

Upon returning to the hotel, my parents noticed our room hadn't been cleaned. Dad and I reported this to management and were told they would send someone up. However, they only put a "do not disturb" sign on our door. Lazy jerks. Only after I complained to the front desk again did housekeeping clean our room. On the bright side, the guy gave us lots of coffee packets. :-)

We went back to the casino after some rest. The cool thing is that Dad won $50 after a few minutes at the quarter slots. That was quite unexpected. He then suggested playing the $1 slots for shits and giggles. I don't think we've ever lost $10 so quickly before.

Day 3

It was time to begin our drive home. Our journey took us through Auburn again. Because I had always wanted to try the food here, my family had lunch at a restaurant called Auburn Alehouse. The food was all right but nothing to write home about.

Dad found several thrift stores along the route. The three of us also went back to the others to check for new items. The final stop was WinCo Foods in Vacaville for groceries.

We came home to find presents on our doorstep: a box of See's candies and a bottle of wine from our neighbor Bob. There was also a holiday gift basket from our financial advisor Kris. The holiday season is definitely off to a good start. :-)


This was one of our most enjoyable vacations. The best part was winning $50 at Boomtown Reno, although I really liked Pyramid Lake as well. I had no idea Nevada could be so much fun. It looks like we'll have to plan another trip soon. In the meantime, you can go here for the pictures.

Currently listening to: "Payphone" by Maroon 5

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

a longer Christmas vacation...

I'm taking the rest of December off. The good news is that I received the full three floating holidays for 2013 due to having worked the entire year. Because some vacation days don't carry over, I figured it would be best to use them up. That means I get a longer Christmas break this time. Woohoo!

I've delegated my duties to a colleague and will probably check in at the end of the month to make sure everything is running smoothly. Other than that, I'm free for the next two weeks. It's so nice to get some well-deserved rest. :-)

Currently playing: Angry Birds Seasons HD

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving long weekend report

Things were a bit different this year as we didn't have a Thanksgiving gathering. Although Mom extended a dinner invitation to Min, my former supervisor at Cisco, she had to tend to her mother's heart surgery in Taiwan and couldn't come. Having said that, the long weekend was amazing.


Happy Thanksgiving!

The plan was to go hiking in Rancho San Antonio County Park as we hadn't been there in a while. But after seeing the parking lots were all full, my family went to Stevens Creek County Park instead. This is another place we hadn't been to in ages. The most shocking thing is that Stevens Creek Reservoir was almost completely dry due to the drought. I could hardly believe my eyes.

We went to Target after dinner as my father wanted to get an iPad Air at the early Black Friday sale. However, the lines were extremely long. It also looked like the store was going to run out of stock soon. Dad figured it wasn't worth the wait.


The first stop of the day was an antique store as Mom wanted to shop for fine china. The three of us then went to Costco and another store before going to Santa Cruz to explore a new part of town. Because it was almost 2 p.m. when we arrived, the first thing we did was have lunch at the Crow's Nest Restaurant. Everything was delicious!

It was then time to find out what this part of Santa Cruz had to offer. The stroll was the perfect opportunity to work off the calories. Dad also found three thrift shops in the area. However, one was only a Goodwill donation center while another only sold books. Our last stop before heading home was the local Costco.


Having done so much in the past two days, I spent the morning helping out in the yard and listening to online lectures. The rest of the day was uneventful, although I watched The Bourne Supremacy on DVD and the Red Dawn remake on Amazon Instant Video. I actually liked Red Dawn despite the critical reviews.


The nice weather allowed us to go hiking again, this time on the Stevens Creek trail. I also watched The Bourne Ultimatum on DVD in the evening. On the whole, the break wasn't too bad. :-)

Currently watching: The Bourne Ultimatum