Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

A Pretty Nice Day in Reno

It's never really a good time to have to do semi-emergency auto repairs while traveling, but if you must do so, today was pretty good. It didn't rain or snow, the sun shined all day long, and at least when you were out in the sun, it wasn't that cold as long as you wore a jacket. Lisa was confident that replacing the starter motor would be pretty easy, so we did not rush. We walked the 2 km or so from our hotel down to the Silver Legacy hotel and had their weekend brunch. Of course that's too much food, so I didn't mind walking back. Indeed, I would have liked to have walked even more, especially as the cold-but-dry-and-clear weather was nice for it, aside from the ice patches.

We first went down to where the train tracks used to cross through downtown Reno, so we could have a look at the Reno Trench that was built to depress the tracks through downtown. As luck would have it, the westbound California Zephyr was making its Reno stop, only about 30 minutes late, which is pretty remarkable for this perennially delayed train. We walked to the station and through it downstairs to the platform to watch the train leave and inspected the station. Lisa isn't very impressed -- she says they should have put in a passenger siding rather than just a single platform on the two-track main line.

Then we walked back to the hotel and, after collecting several auto parts store addresses, drove off to look for a new starter motor. The first place (Kragen) gave Lisa double-talk about the starter for her make and model of Datsun pickup, so she just said, "Never mind" and walked out. We then headed over to Sparks, where there is a large NAPA store and distribution facility. The person there looked it up on the computer and brought a part that Lisa said did not look right at all. The guy at the counter apparently knew something about 1970s Datsuns and agreed that this was wrong. He got the paper catalog and found an alternative part number. He got that and Lisa said, "Bingo!" We bought the part and headed back to the hotel.

Lisa changed into rough clothes and we set to removing the old starter. This should have been easy, but it appears that the last time someone worked on it, they used an air wrench and over-torqued the bolts. A half-hour of contortions to loosen the bolts ensued. Fortunately, we didn't end up breaking the bolts. Lisa examined the new starter, which did indeed fit. She put her 12mm wrench on the nuts on the electrical contacts. This did not fit; it was one of her banes: metric-thread nuts with old-fashioned American nut sizes. Fortunately, the screws on the old starter were proper 12mm ones, so she just swapped the old ones onto the new part. Installing the new starter took only a few minutes, and everything worked just dandy. Lisa was very pleased.

After putting tools away, we went back up to the room, where Lisa changed back into regular clothes. We then went back to the NAPA store to turn in the old starter to reclaim the $16 core deposit. We were able to tell the same person who had sold us the part "it works great."

With the work done, Lisa decided to go visit the Summit Auto Parts warehouse store located nearby. She's been to their big store in Ohio, but not this slightly smaller one. She spent a happy 45 minutes or so browsing high-performance parts and accessories, and identified some nice replacement seats for the Big Orange Van that she will probably buy if we can confirm that they aren't made in China. (The display model is bolted down and you can't find made-in information, and the Summit people don't have made-in information on file, so she'll have to contact the manufacturer.)

The day was getting late, but we still had a couple hours of daylight left, so Lisa decided to head east on I-80 and scout out potential land locations, or at least get a feel for the local climate and land. We ended up making our way from Sparks to Fernley one exit at at time, getting off the road and exploring. Unfortunately, most of the stuff in this area is either high-density manufactured-housing communities locate way too deep in a river bottom or large heavy industrial land. Now, Lisa being the way she is, she'd not mind the latter if she was allowed to put up a building and live in it as "live-in caretaker," but we are never going to have the kind of money it would take to buy land in those industrial parks anyway.

We did go exploring USA Parkway, a four-lane heavy-duty new-built expressway into a new industrial park that appears to include about half the land area of Storey County, Nevada. Aside from a huge Wal-Mart distribution center and some smaller warehouses, the place is only in the first stages of development. We were astonished to come upon a new rail line, high quality and heavy rail, being laid. It's new right of way, new grading, and the rails and ties are set off to the side waiting installation. (This new industrial spur connects to the Union Pacific mainline.) Following USA Parkway south away from I-80, we were further astonished to see how it ended. A four-lane, well-built road simply stops at a pile of dirt and some construction equipment.

Anyway, we swung back around the other side of the proto-industrial park to have another look at the railroad building, and then picked up a cross-road that would lead back to USA Parkway. Turning a corner, we came upon a herd of wild horses placidly grazing on the stubby growth along the street. That was interesting. If we'd had the camera, we would have taken a picture. We had a bit of a start when one of the horses reacted to us starting to drive through by running out in front of us, but we were going slow enough that there was no danger to us or the horse.

Returning to the freeway, we tried more exits, all with lots of land for sale. One of them was labeled Patrick. There seemed to be a largish property that looked sort of like a hotel off to the south. We drove down there and got to a gate-house where you had to call for entry. That was when we were finally close enough to read the signs and realize that this was the famous Mustang Ranch. Er, ah, we had no business here, so we turned around and returned to the freeway, which was already in progress.

Finally we made it to Fernley, where we stopped to use the restroom and head back. We'd deliberately waited until sundown so that the sun would not be in our eyes as we returned west. It was only twenty minutes or so before the lights of Reno-Sparks shown before us. We went back to the Nugget and had our favorite meal of shrimp pan roast again.

Lisa really is unhappy that most coin-operated slot machines are gone. We had a look in one of the smaller casinos near the Nugget, and Lisa was delighted to find a 5-cent Deuces Wild video poker machine that still took coins. I staked her $5, and she happily played video poker for quite a while before finally running through the nickles.

Finally, we stopped by Raley's grocery story and picked up things we'd forgotten last night and returned to our our hotel for the evening. I wish I could watch the cricket some more, but the bandwidth is insufficient. I'm really spoiled at home.

It is very dry here. This makes Lisa, who is waterlogged from too much time in Oregon, very happy, but in my case my eyes hurt a lot. The smoky casinos don't help. Must drink more water.
Tags: casino, lisa, real estate, reno, travel

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