Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

A Run to the Border

I have not been able to get to the Bay Area to see my doctor for over a year now. Normally it has not been an issue, because I was obliged to visit the warehouse to which I nominally am attached to more or less prove to people that I'm still alive. When COVID-19 hit, the message changed to, "Unless you are vitally important to the operation of this specific warehouse, stay away." Besides, my manager is in Council Bluffs, Iowa anyway, and he sees me a minimum of 3x/week in our staff meetings online. However, Sutter Health, to which my doctor belongs, has become increasingly insistent that if I want my medications renewed, I need to have at least a video consultation with my doctor.

A video visit leads to a complication: my doctor (like all of the others in the group) is only licensed in California. Apparently it's the location of the patient, not the doctor, that determines the location of service. Consequently, I can't just do the consultation from my living room. I have to be in California. However, I really don't want to be in California that much, and I really don't think that going to the Bay Area is a good idea right now.

It is, however, possible to get to California — barely — and there was even a legitimate reason to go there today. It's fifty miles from Fernley, but that's a lot closer than Palo Alto! I already had today scheduled as part of my "use my PTO or lose it" program, so we hit the road for California, at least technically.

A Bit of California in Nevada

The Gold Ranch Casino in Verdi, Nevada is located at Interstate 80 Exit 1, hard by the California border, offering a first/last chance casino opportunity. However, there is one sort of gambling that is not available in Nevada, and that is the lottery, and in particular the big multi-state lotteries. The Gold Ranch extended their parking lot over the California border and built a lottery sales building that is nominally in Floriston, California. By driving out to the Gold Ranch and parking at the extreme western edge of their parking lot, I could be in California (just barely) and meet Sutter Health's legal requirement. With the MegaMillions jackpot surpassing an eye-watering $1 Billion, I could justify the use of their parking lot as well.

This morning, Lisa and I drove out to Verdi. I was quite early, but that was important because while I'd tested the video-visit software on my mobile phone at home, I had no way of being certain that it would work at the exact spot where I would be joining the visit. Had there not been enough cell coverage at Verdi, I needed to allow enough time to drive farther west — probably as far as Truckee, as the canyon between Verdi and Truckee has poor signal coverage. Fortunately, my phone had enough signal that it looked like the plan would work.

We walked over to the Nevada side of the parking lot and used the restroom at the Gold Ranch Casino and checked the status on my slot-club card there. (Zero, as I expected; it's been over a year since I last used it there.) I bought a coffee from their shop and we went back to the car and waited for my appointment. (Lisa intelligently had brought a book to read.)

At 10:30, my doctor logged in and we had a good visit, discussing my diabetes situation. Unfortunately, Sutter Health's nearest labs are in Sacramento, so there was no opportunity to do a full range of lab tests. All we have to go on is my finger-sticks. But based on that information, we discussed what I should be doing, and agreed that if things don't improve (I'm not doing that great, what with my "pandemic pounds" and lack of exercise), we'll meet again in a few months to consider additional treatment options.

After my video visit with my doctor, it was time to justify this use of the just-barely-Californian parking lot.

Lottery Queue

There was a long queue for the lottery building, but it was (mostly) moving at a good pace and maintaining some semblance of social distancing. What is not visible in the photo above is that it started snowing lightly while we were there. From my phone, I could see that there were chain controls over Donner Summit.

As we jointed the queue, a camera operator/reporter for KTVN out of Reno showed up to take some footage and interview people. Lisa was interested in his equipment and after the reporter did his work talked shop with him (at a 2-meter separation) for a while.

The fellow in the yellow jacket and Australian-style cowboy hat near the start of this news story about the long lottery lines is me.

As my spot in the queue neared the front door, I finally spotted a sign that said there were self-service lottery terminals through the side door. They were quick-pick only (no chance to pick my own numbers), but that was okay with me. I left the queue and went to the side entrance. Sure enough, there was no wait for the self-service machines. I bought some tickets and headed back outside.

Despite the cold, the Lottery building had both doors wide open, which is good for reducing virus spread. Everyone was wearing face coverings. Nobody was trying to be cute about it. That was a relief.

Having spent enough money to deflect any accusations of freeloading, we headed for home. Even this was a challenge. Due to the impending snow, traffic westbound on adjacent I-80 was at standstill, and there was a backlog of cars just trying to get out of the Gold Ranch parking lot. Eventually we worked our way back to old US-40 and turned toward Reno, driving the old road through Verdi before getting back on the freeway eastbound.

We considered doing some grocery shopping in Reno, but concluded that the only things we needed were some perishable items we could get in Fernley, so we headed straight home. The storm passing through the Sierra chased us, and it was pretty windy by the time we got back to the house.

Storm Clouds over Fernley

We decided to take down our flag to prevent damage.

This was a decently productive day. We both got out of the house. I got my necessary medical visit done. We put in some additional groceries if the promised snow arrives overnight. And we've taken a flyer on the billion-dollar jackpot. Had the reporter asked me what I planned to do if I won the billion dollars, I think I might have said, "I've always wanted to own a private railroad car, and with that much money, I might be able to buy a railroad to go with it!"
Tags: california, lisa, lottery, medical, nevada, reno, snow

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