Saturday, January 30, 2010

Runaway Weekend Reno

We try to make it to Reno as much as we can because we have family members we love to see. Normally we go in the warmer months because we don't like to drive in the snow, but this time we decided to do a winter trip and take the Amtrak California Zephyr. The train originates in Emeryville Ca. and rolls all the way to Chicago IL.

Emeryville Amtrak Station

We arrived in Emeryville a half hour before our 9:50 a.m. departure so we could check the big bag we shared. I highly recommend that you check the heavy stuff unless you, unlike us, pack light. I saw a number of people struggling on and off the train with huge trunk like suitcases. We carried backpacks with items we thought needed during the ride. In retrospect I would have left behind the big camera I call "bazooka" and all it's accessories. I ended up using my trusty pocket camera nicknamed "Stealth". It's not easy shooting photos from the train while dragging large camera equipment past riders who are roaming up the aisles. Not wanting to clobber anyone I chose to use Stealth. The train has clean restrooms, a dining car, helpful conductors and a snack bar with adult beverages. People near us had packed lunches which seems like a great idea for next trip. One man headed to Omaha, NE was provisioned for the entire trip using a foldaway Trader Joes's soft cooler.

The weather on the way up was foggy, gray, rainy and snowy. It made the scene outside seem monochromatic. The large pine trees drooped over from the weight of the snow and appeared as ghostly apparitions beside the tracks.
We arrived about twenty minutes earlier than the 4:46 p.m. planned time and were met by my brother who shuttled us to the airport to pick up our rental car. We booked our trip via (I would link to them but it remembers me and goes directly to my account) and got a package: The Atlantis Casino Hotel and Spa luxury tower with free wireless and an excellent daily breakfast buffet included plus a Budget rental car all for about $70 a day. Full disclosure demands that I say this was a runaway weekday. Prices are much cheaper during the week. OK, I also admit to upgrading the car for $10 a day to a manly Dodge Charger that looked like an undercover police vehicle.

Our stay at the Atlantis was wonderful. It is clear that they want you to have a great time and have made the effort to provide amenities that I would not expect from a casino hotel. The rooms were large and comfortable with a big flat screen T.V. Our favorite thing was the huge indoor pool where we enjoyed some off season swimming.
The pool

On our first night we splurged and dined in the newly opened Atlantis Steakhouse. We enjoyed some old school style tableside service when April ordered shrimp scampi and I the prime rib.
Flame on and smell the garlic

We visited with family who fed and entertained us graciously. Mom mentioned wanting to check out a new mall and see Scheels, a sporting goods store on steroids. The place is so big they can house a Ferris wheel and a mountain of stuffed wild animals inside!

Time flew as it does on vacation. On our last afternoon April had to touch base with work and I wanted to check out the local job market. After that we threw some money into slots and got enough ahead to partially subsidize a farewell dinner at the Bistro Napa ,also at the Atlantis. It was so good!

We returned our car and headed for the Amtrak station. The train arrived right on time and we headed home. This time the weather was better and I grabbed a shot of Donner Lake below us.
Donner Lake


Zoomie said...

Now, that looks just plain fun! We've taken the train to Davis but no further than that - need to do it again.

cookiecrumb said...

What a great story, including the guy with the TJ's cooler. Well done, and need I say, your photos are fab? Didn't think so. Beauty.

Greg said...

Zoomie- Bring a book or like April, watch a DVD on puter.It is relaxing enough I slept on the way back.
Cookiecrumb- er..ah...blush Thank you! The check is in the mail;)