December 12th, 2015

Watch for Train Traffic

The Road from SMOFCon, Day 6: Trains Sold Out

Not being able to use hotel carts meant that it took three loads to get our stuff down out of the Palazzo hotel room to the van; however, Lisa's parking-fu last night scored us a spot very close to the elevators, so we minimized delays there, and we were able to use video check-out to save another trip to the front desk. We were on the move about half an hour later than planned; however, traffic was light and we made good time going the "wrong way" back down to Boulder City to the Nevada Southern Railway Museum.

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Although we weren't able to ride the trains today, we did stop at the Railroad Pass Casino and have brunch. We concluded that this turned out to be the best price-value buffet of the trip. They had a better omelet bar (including crab and shrimp) and better hash browns (almost as good as Waffle House), for a better price than the fancier places at which we dined earlier in our stay. Oh, and as we were leaving, we saw the NSRM train pulling in as the first half of the next hour's excursion. It's a shame that they can't figure out a way to make it possible to start your trip from either end of the line, possibly riding down to the Casino, spending an hour or two there, then riding back to Boulder City.

Although our original schedule was toast, that was not a problem, inasmuch as today's trip was the relatively short Las Vegas (revised to Boulder City) to Tonopah, only 235 miles according to Google Maps.

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Lisa drove all day today, as she has all the way from Albuquerque, and I'm grateful for it, as I haven't really felt very alert most of the day. But even Lisa was showing the wear of fifteen days on the road, and we were really happy to pull in to the Tonopah Station Hotel about 4 1/2 hours after we left Boulder City.

Although our room here at the Tonopah Station is an ordinary room, we did get a sort-of upgrade: they gave us one of the three standard (non-handicapped-configured) rooms in the hotel for which you do not need to negotiate stairs. This allowed us to use their luggage cart without having to haul bags up a flight or two of steps.

Tomorrow is the final day of the trip. We like to travel, but we're going to be glad to be home.
Kevin and Lisa

Two Fire Tales

Just before I was ready to post the previous entry, the fire alarm sounded at the Tonopah Station Hotel. I grabbed my computer, Lisa grabbed travelswithkuma, and we headed for the exit stairs. Because of the cold outside, we went out to the minivan and Lisa started it in order to get some heat going. After a few minutes, the front desk clerk came outside and gave us the all-clear. (The cause appears to have been traced to a party being held downstairs, but it was not a fire.) The clerk told us that we were one of only two couples to actually obey the alarm and evacuate the hotel. We told her that we've been to many hotels and that this was not our first evacuation. It only takes one time that the alarm is real to make you regret for the rest of your life (which might be a very short time) not obeying it.

After the all-clear, we went back to the room and I put my computer back, and then we walked next door to Scolari's grocery store intending to get some light snacks for dinner, inasmuch as we were still pretty well fed from brunch. This was about 8 PM, and Scolari's closes at 9 here in Tonopah. The north door would not open. It is not unusual for some stores to disable one of their automatic doors in the evening. Lisa, however, noticed that they hadn't just turned off the electric door; they had bolted it shut, which is a blatant fire code violation.

We went inside the other door and asked for a manager. Lisa politely but firmly told her what she'd observed and told her that because of that disregard for customer safety, we were not going to be shopping here. The manager looked fairly blankly at us. I don't think she understood why what she was doing was wrong. I doubt she'd ever read that sign over the door ("This door to remain unlocked during business hours") or if she had, she just didn't care. Instead of buying groceries from them, we went to the hotel restaurant and had dinner there, then went and played slots. (Lisa won slightly more than $2, which helps offset some of our Vegas losses.)

I have submitted a complaint to Scolari's corporate web site and a comment to the Tonopah Valley Fire Department. I'm concerned that we're going to have to see someone get killed because they couldn't get out a lighted fire exit locked by a lazy manager before people remember that fire codes are there for a reason. We're much happier with the hotel staff, who were as horrified with our story of the paint cans in the fire escapes in Albuquerque as we were. Obviously, the Tonopah Station gets it, while their next door neighbor does not.