Archive for ProducerCorner

Road Trip Log – Seattle To Reno – June 2013 by Rick Taylor

On Saturday June 8th Chris and I set out from our home in Seattle on a road trip to The Biggest Little City In The World…Reno, Nevada. Here are some of the trip details and some editorializing, of course. Enjoy!!

 

Here are the numbers:

Vehicle: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ

Miles to Reno:            796 (I-5 to CA89 to CA44 to US395)

Miles Back To Seattle:  901 (I-80 to I-5)

Total Trip Miles:         1697

Total Driving Time:       28 Hours 18 Minutes

Total Fuel Used:          48.2 US Gallons

Miles Per Gallon          35.2

Average Speed            59.8 MPH

 

DAY 1 – Saturday June 8, 2013

Following our Friday night comedy show we made sure to try and get home and in bed as early as possible to be ready for the trip. When you’re a comedy show producer that means we got to bed by a very early 2:00AM. 🙂

We got up early. Packed our stuff up and hit I-5 South in Seattle at 11:30AM. It was a beautiful day which is rare in Washington State in June. Usually Summer here doesn’t begin until July 5th and generally has a prompt ending somewhere within a week of Labor Day. As Portland is our hometown that is a drive we have made at least 1000 times. If you’re ever lost on I-5 between Seattle and Portland, just give me a call and I will help you out. I know every exit. The one thing that is constant in the Portland area today is stop and go traffic to and from Vancouver….

I5-Vancouver“It’s always relaxing to sit in traffic in a different town when you’re on a trip.”
(I-5 South Vancouver, Washington)

 

We made a stop in Portland at a place we like to call McMuffin Suites. We hung out in the lounge and relaxed for an hour or so and then it was back on the road. We were sad to see that there were no Navy ships at the waterfront in Portland for the annual Rose Festival. Mmmmm….sailors.

We hit the road around 2:45 headed for that Southern Oregon Hot Spot known as Medford. I know you’re wishing you had been along if you knew were going to Medford, right?

Along the way we stopped in South Eugene for some full serve fuel which is always strange even though I lived in Oregon for a long time. Getting out of your car when you pull up at a gas pump in Oregon gets you the same look from the attendant that you get from a traffic cop if you get out of the car the minute he stops you.

We also stopped at the Rest Area/RV Resort/Casino/Bakery/Yoga Studio/Hardware Store in beautiful Canyonville, Oregon…
I5Canyonville
(7 Feathers Casino/RV Resort/Rest Stop – Canyonville, OR)

We arrived in Medford around 8:00PM and checked in at the lovely Comfort Inn South. I had screwed up the dates of our reservation, but thanks to AMEX Travel things were quickly taken care of and we were assigned a room. Chris wanted to answer their questions…

I5-COMFORTINN_NOTEPAD
(Comfort Inn South – Medford, OR)

 

DAY 2 – Sunday June 9, 2013

We were up early and Southbound by 6:30AM. Immediately when you leave Medford you are on the way up into the mountains to cross the Siskiyou Summit which is the highest mountain pass on I-5 (4310 feet). It is considered one of the most dangerous mountain passes on the Interstate system. The Oregon side changes elevation by 2300 feet in just 7 miles so it’s a little scary fun in the Summer and downright deadly in the Winter. However, absolutely one of the most beautiful places on Earth all year round.

All cars have to stop for the California Department of Agriculture Inspection at the border. I think my friend Billy Wayne Davis sums it up best…

Billy Wayne Davis - No Fruit

The first stop in California was to enjoy the view of Mt. Shasta from the Vista Point

I5-VistaPointShasta
(Vista Point Northern California – View of Mt. Shasta and Black Butte)

I5-CHrisShasta
(Chris + Mt. Shasta)

 

Next stop Yreka! Yreka is my second favorite name for a California city. My favorite, of course, Yuba City. We stopped for breakfast at a place called Grandma’s House. The food was good, but the inside of the place was like a museum of how not to decorate. Imagine if your Grandma had and endless supply of gift shop items crammed into her house with booths and a lot of elderly people hanging around drinking coffee.

I5-GrandmasHouse
(Grandma’s House in Yreka, California – “We enjoyed breakfast, but then Grandma wanted us to clean her gutters and mow her lawn, so we had to split”)

 

No trip to California would be complete without going to Weed and having a good giggle…

I5-WeedChrisStatus
(Facebook Status Updates Are Everywhere)

 

Shortly after Weed you take a jaunt onto California Highway 89. It was a beautiful day for a drive in the mountains and there are a lot of really nice sights to see along the way. We stopped at the first Vista Point to take in the Southern view of Mt. Shasta and ran into a rodent creature working for tips at the wayside. Luckily, Chris had a can of Pringles in the car to negotiate for some entertainment.

 

HWY89-CHIPMUNK
(Name Unknown – Roadside Vista Point Entertainer – CA HWY 89, California)

 

The next stop was the Old Station where we discovered we had finally distanced ourselves enough from civilization that there was no mobile service at all. They have these things there called “payphones”. I know it’s a strange concept if you’re under 25, but look it up on Wikipedia. Basically the Old Station is the last spot where you can get fuel, food, services of any kind before you set out onto California Highway 44 where the sign at the start of the stretch clearly states “No Services 51 Miles”. It was quite warm for 9:00AM when we took off from The Old Station at 89 degrees. Warm weather. What all people in Washington seek on vacation.

As we drove along CA Hwy 44 it’s very desolate, but there are a lot of signs for foresty type things like camping or whatever it is people do on resevoirs. It’s beautiful country up in the Lassen National Forest, but I’ll be damned if there sure isn’t a lot of it.

HWY44-DRIVING
(Lassen National Forest – CA HWY 44)

 

On Day 1 as we drove through Washington and Oregon the scenery is mostly trees. I know most people who think of Western Washington or Western Oregon think of rain. I always associate it with trees. As we made our way East in California on Day 2 it became apparent that whoever was doing the scenery either ran out of trees or got bored with them.

US395_NOTREES
(“Looks like the decorator ran out of trees for the mountains” – US HWY 395 Susanville, CA)

 

We made our next stop at a place called Border Town just inside the Nevada line and did a little gambling at one of the shittiest dumpy casinos ever. I was happy. I turned my $20 into $60 on a nickel slot machine with so many lines and bets it was hard to keep up with. Off to a good gambling start is always a good sign. The most interesting feature was actually outside. There is an alkali lake called White Lake with no water and just gleaming sand. It was almost blinding to look at in the bright sun. We didn’t happen to get a picture, but the fine folks over at Google Maps will show it to you at this link:

Google Maps Cold Springs, NV

 

From the Nevada border it’s a very short trip down to Reno. Clouds began to roll in as we were in the far North Reno suburbs and we found out later that there were lightning strikes that started wildfires along the route we had just taken and that there was mild flash flooding in Susanville, CA just that afternoon after we had been there. Good timing. We rolled into Reno at about 3:00PM.

RENOSIGN
(Reno’s Famous Downtown Neon Arch – Reno, NV)

While most people would check into their hotel right away we had a different mission.

CHRIS-IN-N-OUT_FBSTATUS
(FB Status Update revealing our true reason for driving to Reno)

 

After a Double Double and some delicious fries we checked on the bug coating on the front of the car from our trip. We were quite disappointed. I can remember a day when a mid-June drive through Northern California would have yielded five to ten times this coverage.

SONIC_BUGGRILL
(Very light bug fatality rate on the trip from Washington to Nevada – In Reno, NV)

 

Next we headed back to downtown to check into our lovely room at Harrah’s. I don’t really care about Harrah’s, but it is very conveniently located next to the Club Cal-Neva which is my favorite place to gamble late at night in Reno. Good thing I wasn’t staying at Harrah’s for the view from our room…

HARRAHS_ROOFVIEW
(The View From Room 831 – Harrah’s Reno West Tower)

Of course anytime we are on a trip for gambling purposes we like to nap in the late afternoon/early evening and gamble late at night when the drunk/stupid/loud/bad luck bearing people are asleep. This trip was no exception. We headed out to Club Cal-Neva at about 1:00AM and returned at 5:00AM with roughly the same money we left with. It was a good night.

I got asked by a dirty smelly tweaker if she could “use my phone”. I said no because I’m not quite as stupid as a twitchy drug addict. I wonder how many people lose their phones that way. The thought in my head was “Sure, I’ll hand you my expensive smart phone with all of my personal information on it and basically an open line of credit and trust that you’re just calling your sick mother up in Fernley and not going to run off with my phone.

We also got to enjoy the loudest woman in the smallest room of the casino lose all of her money and have to leave. Satisfying like a Snickers is what that was like.

 

DAY 3 – Monday June 10, 2013

On Monday we decided to enjoy the buffet at Harrah’s for brunch. It was the strangest combination of foods ever. It was good, but not great. What do you expect in Reno for $12?

The annoying thing was the couple at the table behind us having one of those arguments where each statement begins with “Well, a loving wife would…” or “Well, a loving husband would…”. It was super difficult not to turn around and tell him “As long as you don’t know where the jar she keeps your balls in is located, there’s no point in arguing about anything any further. Just eat your egg rolls and corned beef hash and try to keep quiet.”

Following buffet & drama time we headed over to Circus Circus. I know that seems weird as I’m not a fan of kids in casinos and Chris doesn’t like clowns. However, CC is the only place in Reno that still has a bank of slot machines that take actual coins. We had cleared out our change jars at home for all of our quarters, so we wanted to run them through some slot machines. I proceeded to run my quarters through one machine and had a pretty good run. Then I hit up a dollar machine for a little bit to make sure I had a silver dollar to bring back for a sweet little girl I know in Seattle. Then after some more blackjack it was afternoon aka nap time.

After a nice nap we woke up to the view of Reno’s baseball stadium lit up for a Triple A game from the Reno Aces.

BASEBALLNIGHTINRENO
(Aces Stadium – Reno, NV)

You know what is good? Breakfast at midnight…

RICKPANCAKE
(Massive pancake and plate at Hash House-A-Go-Go at Harrah’s – Reno, NV)

Chris explaining to me why he has better luck gambling at night:
CHRISGAMBLINGATNIGHT_ATDINNER
(Chris Ferguson)

We did notice one universal thing among the locals and the tourists in Reno. Bad hair. It’s like a convention of the “what not to do with your hair” people. This isn’t even close to a representative photo. The hostess who seated us had Morticia Addams hair that looked like it had been slept on at least four times.
RENOBADHAIR
(Everyday in Reno is a “Bad Hair Day”)

Then it was off to gamble. Chris spent the early morning hours cleaning up on side bets at a single deck blackjack table, and I hit the jackpot on a quarter slot machine. It’s always nice when $20 magically becomes $400.

DOUBLEJACKPOT
(Cranky Double Jackpot Quarter Slot Machine Pays Off)

Then it was time to get rested up to check out and hit the road the later that morning.

DAY 4 – Tuesday June 11, 2013

We checked out at 11:00AM and hit the road for California to start making our way back to Seattle. Reno was fun. We both left with more money than we showed up with, so it was a good run. We made one more stop at Boomtown before leaving Nevada for some food and a little more gambling. Lunch was ok, but the service was horrendous. We just played some slot machines and lost a little bit of the money we had won. It was more like BustTown if you ask me.
BOOMTOWN
(BoomTown aka BustTown – Reno, NV)

We then took to I-80 and drove across Donner Pass into California. It’s one of the most scenic mountain drives I have ever been on. In the Summer, I mean. In the Winter it’s like driving through a deadly snow tunnel, but in the Summer it’s really gorgeous. We stopped briefly in Sacramento to do some route planning and decided we would spend the night in Redding, CA and try to make Seattle the next day.
Upon our arrival in Redding we headed out to get something to eat. The main thing I notice about Redding is that you have to wonder why people stay in a place like that when there are so many clearly marked routes out of town. Our hotel room was a pit that had sugar ants everywhere. Chris made a face. I don’t need to post a picture. If you know Chris, you know the face. We swiftly arose at 5:00AM and hit the road at about 6:00AM.

DAY 5 – Wednesday June 12, 2013

It’s always nice to see the sun come up when you know you’re leaving Redding.

I5-ReddingSunrise
(Sunrise – Redding, CA)

It was a sunny warm drive up into the mountains and we got to see some stunning sunrise views of the lake crossing it several times. The outside temperature was roughly 62 degrees when we left Redding. By the time we were at the rest area by the lake it was 45 degrees.

I5-ShastaLake
(Lake Shasta -Cal Trans I-5 Safety Rest Area)

As is the norm it became cloudy the minute we crossed in Oregon. We made few stops. If you have ever been on a long road trip you know that when you are headed home you tend to want less sight seeing and more of your own bed. We did enjoy the billboards in Oregon that say “Jubitz – World’s Classiest Truck Stop”. I don’t even need to make a joke. When you see the word classiest and truck stop in the same sentence, the joke has already been made. We did make a quick pit stop for an hour of downtime in Portland. Then it was back on the road to sit in traffic in both Portland and Tacoma.

Of course Toby was very happy that we were home. He doesn’t like it when his royal subjects don’t check in with him at least once a day. His Uncle Steve hung out with him while we were away, but apparently that’s not good enough. If you have cats, you know that nothing is ever good enough.
TobyAtHome
( His Highness King Tobias I)

All in all it was a really fun trip and really nice to get away and see some different places and faces for a few days. Chris and I are lucky in that we always have fun together no matter what we are doing.