Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cruisin' in Reno

Like so much that I did in my late teens and early twenties the first motorcycle road trip was a masterpiece of reckless planning, bad decisions, and dumb luck. It was spring of '73, sometime in April or May. I was between jobs, and had a little money saved up. I had taken bike trips up to San Francisco; I had a friend from high school who lived up near Half Moon Bay, but LA to 'Frisco is really just a day trip. This time I was going to keep going. So after spending a couple of days getting famously stoned, and drunk with Gerald up in El Grenada I cruised the Beemer out of The Bay area, and headed toward Reno on I80.

That was the dumb luck part of the trip. Interstate 80 does run from San Francisco, California to Reno, Nevada. But you have to cross the Sierra Nevada to get there. The Donner Party had some trouble up that way, you might recall. Driving over Donner Pass is an iffy proposition in spring, and the Sierras are no place for a bike if it gets iffy. I cruised over the snow covered summit under a blazing white sun in an electric blue sky, the Truckee River charging down its course in ice white foam to the right of the interstate. I rode along, comfortable in a light jacket. That used up almost all the dumb luck I had in store. I had just exactly enough left to get me home in one piece. I got a cheap motel just outside of down town Reno. I couldn't have too much fun in Reno because I wasn't twenty one. So I went down town, got dinner in one of the casino buffets, and then went to see this hot new sci-fi movie, Soylent Green. (*spoiler alert* It's made out of people!) After the movie I cruised the main drag through town a few times. Damn, I was cruisin' in Reno Nevada! This was it. I was really travelling.

When I got up the next morning it was overcast, and cold. I got breakfast in a coffee shop, and sat at the counter where I could see the TV. They had the morning news on. Storm coming.



mushroom said...

I remember Soylent Green well. A buddy of mine and I went to see it -- but we rode in his Mustang.

A couple of years later I passed through Reno with another friend and we were pretty out of it. It was June. We didn't have A/C in the car, so I suggested we drive across Nevada that night, heading for Provo or Salt Lake. I don't remember which one we hit but it was the wrong one. We were so stoned we could only stay awake to drive for about thirty minutes at a time. It was pathetic. That we survived was definitely dumb luck.

julie said...

Storm coming? Sounds like a Ben hanger™. Or John hanger, I suppose :)

robinstarfish said...

Ho! I hope Pt. 2 arrives manana.

Reno's a shitty town even when stoned. Or maybe because of. I could never tell the difference.

Sal said...

"I couldn't have too much fun in Reno because I wasn't twenty one."

Neither was I, but I thought I was old enough to get married, which is what I was doing in May of '73.
In Austin, not Reno.

Part II, please. and nice hanger.

Sal said...

And I really like the solid silver robots.

jwm said...

What is it with Reno, crummy luck center of the universe? Thanks, Sal. That little robot is a keychain figure just over an inch tall.

John M