Reno September 2003

by Dave Schultheis

I have attended Street Vibrations in Reno NV for the past four years, and I made plans to attend again in 2003. Street Vibrations is sponsored by the Harley-Davidson Dealers Association of Northern California and is produced by Road Shows, Inc.

As usual, I sent my check early and got my pre-registration card early. Then I made a reservation at the Silver Club in Sparks NV for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

In previous trips I have taken CA Highway 4 over Ebbetts Pass, CA Highway 88 over Carson Pass, U.S. Highway 50 and NV Highway 207 over Kingsbury Grade. This year I chose a slightly different route.

Thursday, September 25, 2003 - San Jose, California

I woke up and got up at 6:28 a.m., dressed and combed, changed VCR tapes, fed Barney the dog, packed a final few items, loaded the Road King, and put on Lucky Green Shirt II and my face protector, along with my leather jacket, vest, gloves and helmet.

It was 70 degrees F. in the garage as I started the Road King, checked the lights and brakes, and got rolling at 7:30 a.m.

After short stops for gas and money, I headed out of the Santa Clara Valley. Skip ahead to the next paragraph if you're not interested in the route. Northbound Meridian, southbound I-280, northbound I-680, eastbound I-580 at Pleasanton, eastbound I-205 through Tracy, northbound I-5 at Lathrop, eastbound CA 4 in Stockton, northbound CA 99, and eastbound CA 88 east of Stockton.

I stopped at a friend's home in Jackson, 133 miles, where it was 80 degrees, and I was greeted by the neighbor (Kelly), the dog (Whiskey), and the friend (R.E.), who showed me a great newspaper article about his recent 8500 mile trip cross-country trip with the neighbors.

I continued eastbound on Hy 88, stopped for fuel in Pine Grove, and continued up Hy 88, past Silver Lake, Caples Lake and over Carson Pass, then turned north on CA Hy 89 for about 11 miles to U.S. Highway 50 near Meyers, and rode into South Lake Tahoe, 80 degrees F., where I stopped for a short visit with friends. I called ahead to the Silver Club to make sure that they were holding a non-smoking room, and they said they were. I assured them that I would be there.

I left South Lake Tahoe around 2:30 p.m. and continued eastbound on U.S. 50, across the Nevada state line, through Zephyr Cove, and turned north on NV Highway 28, around the east side of Lake Tahoe. I crossed back into California near King's Beach, took a CA Hy 28 photograph, then returned to Nevada, stopped at Incline Village for fuel, and then rode east on NV Highway 431 (Mount Rose Highway), approximately 25 miles to U.S. 395, just south of Reno.

This particular route cuts off the traffic jam through Carson City, but I also missed stopping at Carson City Harley-Davidson. [And Wendy's, of course.]

From U.S. 395, I continued north, then took surface streets (to avoid the Interstate 80 mega-mess) to Sparks, where I arrived at the Silver Club at 5:10 p.m. It was 100 degrees F. in the parking lot.

Check-in was easy, and I made a quick trip up to Room 437 (non-smoking, west side) to stow a couple items, then returned to the Road King and rode down to Atlantis Hotel Casino for Street Vibrations check-in.

I parked in Atlantis' motorcycle-only parking area at 5:45 p.m., 94 degrees F., walked over the bridge, through the casino, and up to the ballroom area, and stood in the "S" line. Service was a little slow, but I got my tee-shirt, coupons, HOG tags, and assorted other junk. As I walked away, I checked the bag and discovered that I was not given a schedule, nor was I given a certain coupon needed for a free prize, so I went back, got my copy of the schedule and the coupon, then picked up my free deck of playing cards, and walked back to the casino.

The ballroom doors opened at 6:30 p.m. for the free music show, so I went in and got some chicken wings and juice, but when they announced that the show started at 8 p.m., I decided not to stay that long, walked back to the parking lot, and rode north on U.S. 395.

I expected that rush hour would be mostly over, but the construction work on Interstate 80 was still in progress; there were narrowed lanes, closed off-ramps and detours. What a mess!

I arrived at the Silver Club hotel at 7:15 p.m., parked in their motorcycle parking area, took my T-bag up the room, then walked across the parking lot to the Silver Club casino. After "playing" for "a while," I returned to the hotel in a slightly improved financial position.

I talked to some other riders on the way up in the elevator. They were staying in a suite at the hotel. I didn't even know that the Silver Club had suites. They invited me down to take a look around, and I did. It was nice enough, but since all I really need is a bed and a bathroom (and a desk for writing notes!), I thought I would "pass" on the suite.

I got back to my room, took a shower (terrible shower head), sat down to watch television, made a few notes, then went to bed after 10:00 p.m. I had a hard time getting to sleep.

Miles for the day = 314.

Friday, September 26, 2003 - Sparks, Nevada

I woke several times in the night, having trouble sleeping. It didn't help that someone in the next room got up and took a shower at 4:15 a.m. I did sleep a little, and awoke to the alarm at 7:00 a.m., turned on CNN, went over the schedule of events for the day, dressed, and called Housekeeping to ask for an additional blanket and for someone to come fix the shower head.

They said it would be "right away," and of course it was not "right away," but at 8:38 a.m. the maintenance man did agree that the shower head was not right and that he would replace it.

I exchanged towels with the maid and then called my family on the telephone while the guy was working. He replaced the head with a new style (much better), then an extra blanket and more towels arrived, so I was done with "housekeeping" duties for the morning.

I went downstairs shortly before 9:00 a.m., where it was a cool 54 degrees F., started the Road King, warmed it up, and rode into downtown Reno.

The "closed streets" area had been moved two blocks further south this year, making it a little more difficult to get to the entry gate, and they've made Virginia Street one way northbound. I did not see any railroad construction in the downtown area, but there were so many vendor trucks that I was not able to park in front of the Silver Legacy, as I have in the past.

In spite of the hordes of clueless pedestrians, I found a place to park at about 9:30 a.m., 70 degrees F., then checked a few of the vendor booths. I saw a few friends from San Jose, and realized that I should not have worn a yellow shirt, as that's the color that the Road Shows people were wearing, so I had to answer a few questions. Good thing I knew the answers.

I walked into the Silver Legacy casino, where I improved my financial position slightly. On the wall of the Cashier cage was a sign displaying their foreign currency exchange rates. Under "Euro" it said "par," which I found interesting.

Back on the bike about 10:30 a.m., 100 degrees F., I rode out of the downtown mess and down South Virginia Street to the Peppermill Hotel Casino to start the Poker Run. I drew a four of diamonds, then rode to Stinger's, where, after a long wait, I drew a four of hearts. Pretty good, so far. I skipped The Tamarack Grill and Casino on South Virginia Street but rode about 30 miles south to Carson City Harley-Davidson (long wait) where I drew a 3 of clubs.

The volunteer gals were taking donations to the Boy Scouts, so I gave them $5 for two bottles of water and a bag of cookies. They suggested I ride over to Tahoe City for another tee-shirt, but I declined. I'd already been that way the day before, and didn't need a tee-shirt that badly.

After standing in line for 30 minutes for a free lunch, I got to the front of the line and was told that the sign was wrong, they did not have hamburgers, so I had a shredded beef sandwich (not very good) and a couple cups of lemonade, $1.50 each. All in all, that leg of the poker run was a disappointment.

I rode back toward Reno but this time opted to take exit 42 and rode through "New Washoe City," just to see what it looked like, which wasn't much.

This time I stopped at The Tamarack, but the poker draw folks were gone by the time I got there, so I got back onto U.S. 395 and took it north to Mill Street, crossed under the highway, turned at Thrifty Rent-a-Car (Louise Street) and rode down Market Street to Harley-Davidson of Reno.

It was hot, crowded, and busy, with loud music, and a long line at the Service Department. I was offered a free strawberry popsicle, which was very good. I may have drawn a poker card (not sure), but did not note it.

While there I noted that Harvard Way now goes through from Market Street to Yale Way (noted on AAA map as "Vale"), making it a little easier to get to the dealership.

I rode north on U.S. 395, then west on Interstate 80 to exit 4 and Boomtown Hotel and Casino, where I drew a seven of clubs, then slightly improved my financial position in the casino.

From Boomtown, I rode east on Interstate 80 to Pyramid Highway, to Nugget Avenue in Sparks, then to John Ascuaga's Nugget, where I drew a four of diamonds and had to throw it back, since I already had one. I then drew a 3 of something, and turned my non-winning (two pair) sheet to the ladies at the booth.

I walked down to "John's Club" and got a player card, then settled in and "played" for a while. I had a good time and ended up no better/no worse, after a hopper fill and machine repair.

I rode back to the downtown Reno area, where it was hot and crowded, fought the crowds and parked on Virginia Street at 4:44 p.m., next to a beautiful Valkyrie, which was getting a lot of attention from passersby.

The Reno Police Department mounted unit was on duty, and I noted that the horses were wearing reflective yellow-green bands on their fetlocks, for higher visibility.

I noted the City Center Pavilion, which is the warehouse/exposition building used for a large number of vendors, but decided to visit that building later.

The Harley-Davidson factory truck was parked on 4th Street at Virginia Street, between the Silver Legacy and Eldorado Hotel Casino, and they were showing the 2004 models. I looked at the new bikes, picked up some literature and a complimentary P&A ("parts and accessories") catalog, stowed them in my saddlebags, then went into the Silver Legacy around 5:30 p.m.

I changed my financial position slightly, then wandered down to the El Dorado Buffet and had dinner with a bunch of San Jose friends. After dinner, I "played" a little, then went out to Virginia Street (very crowded) and found that some goofball had parked his bike so close to mine that I had trouble getting out of there without scraping his bike.

But I managed to do so, then rode back to the Silver Club, where it was 78 degrees F. at 8:00 p.m. I took some stuff up to my room, then went back to the casino, where I "played" for a while, improving my financial position slightly, then returned to the room at 9:00 p.m., watched a little television, took a shower, watched some more television, and went to bed around 10:30 p.m.

Miles for the day = 100. Miles for the trip = 414.

Saturday, September 27, 2003 - Sparks, Nevada

I slept pretty well, although I was awake a few times.

I got up a few moments before the 7:00 a.m. alarm, turned on the heat, turned on CNN, had some juice, made some notes, and left a note for the maid that I did not need service. I turned off the heat and went downstairs at 8:26 a.m.

I rode over to the Reno Hilton, and was surprised to see that they were charging for (preferred) motorcycle parking. They had abolished motorcycle parking across the front of the hotel and down the red curbs, but I managed to find a free parking place and went inside for a while, where I improved my financial position, then rode back to the downtown area and parked across from the Silver Legacy.

I went into the City Center Pavilion and looked around at all the after-market stuff. There were handlebar clamp tachometers, magazines, clocks, leather goods, motorcycle attornies, LED systems, jewelry, extended brake pedals, chairs, sunglasses, cleaning products, clothing, pin-striping ("no business cards, no brochures"), metal signs (I saw one that said "Sturgis exit 32"), and Morgan Stanley (!) next to the Hell's Angels.

There were West Coast Choppers tee-shirts (printed on the back: "Specializing in no service work, no repair work, no accessories, no financing, cash only and f*ck you!"), and several other clothing lines for bikers. One shirt was printed with "Deny everything."

I saw a man carrying a skipperke (one of the smallest breeds of dog known to man, looks like a parakeet with fur pasted on) named "Skipper."

The crowd was shoulder to shoulder, and I went back outside at 11:00 a.m. I had a slice of pizza ($3) and a smothie ($3.75), happened to see the owner of my local H-D shop and his wife (their first trip to Street Vibrations), saw a sign at the Metzeler booth, offering a free front tire with the purchase of a rear tire from Reno Motor Sports.

It was hot and crowded outdoors, so I ducked into the Silver Legacy again, and in air conditioned comfort, sat down to "play," and in spite of a bill reader problem, I doubled my money ($10 -> $20). Meanwhile, someone else sat down next to me, put in a quarter, and was rewarded with 400 coins.

I spotted some members of a marching "band" called California Repercussions, and followed them to a couple of places on Virginia Street where they stood and performed, then marched down Virginia Street for more performances.

Back into the Silver Legacy, I halved my money ($50 -> $25), then got out on the bike again about 2:15 p.m., got fuel and rode over to H-D of Reno, where (surprise) it was crowded and hot. I had a bottle of water, wandered around a little, then went across the side street to Indian of Reno, then rode back to Sparks.

I stopped at a 7-11 Store (Pyramid @ "C") in Sparks for ice and drinks, then got back to the Silver Club at 3:25 p.m.

I walked to the casino, cashed a check, then went to one of their restaurants for an early-bird prime rib dinner and some Keno (21 games for $20).

A computer was "down," so it was a major problem to charge dinner to my room. (Don't you love it when they repeat your room number in a loud voice, totally ignoring proper hotel security guidelines?) The restaurant's Shift Supervisor assured me that it would be done properly, and I was outta there at 5:15 p.m.

I "played" in the casino for a while, slightly improving my financial position, then went back to the room for a while, and later walked across the street to John Ascuaga's Nugget. After a long while "playing," I improved my financial postition, then walked back across the street. They were on Keno game 371 and I was paid up through game 376. I watched for a while, then went back to my room after a quick stop at the bike to be sure things were secure. It was 75 degrees F. at 7:55 p.m.

I watched an episode of COPS, then took a shower (yeah, sometimes that program affects people that way), and watched some of America's Most Wanted.

At 9:30 p.m. I looked out the window to see the Silver Legacy's fireworks display, but there were a few buildings in the way, so I could not see very much. I went to bed about 10:00 p.m.

Miles for the day = 15. Miles for the trip = 429.

Sunday, September 28, 2003 - Sparks, Nevada

I slept okay and woke up at 6:45 a.m., dressed and went downstairs about 7:20 a.m. After a brief stop at the bike to stow things, I walked to the Keno desk to see how much I had won last night. They handed me the massive sum of two dollars.

I rode to the Silver Legacy garage, where it was 58 degrees at 7:45 a.m., and put my tickets into the prize drum on the casino floor, then walked down to the Grande Exposition Hall for their complimentary breakfast. Biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, pineapple wedges and orange juice. Of course, someone else won the prize.

I walked several blocks to the National Automobile Museum on Lake Street and waited for them to open. I was able to admire The Old Arch ("biggest little city") and watch a city worker water the plants hanging from the street lights (hey, you have fun while you can, when there's nothing else to do).

The museum opened at 10:00 a.m. and I paid my $8, enjoyed the Harley-Davidson exhibit and walked through the other four galleries of old cars. Always interesting to see the old stuff every few years.

I got out of there around 11:00 a.m., wandered through Harrah's, then walked back to the Silver Legacy, "played" some, ate some chicken, wandered through the non-smoking roulette and blackjack area, then watched as the Silver Legacy bike was given away at 3:00 p.m. It was won by a local Reno resident, so I was outta there.

I got back to the Silver Club at 3:23 p.m., where it was 100 degrees F. Whew! It had been a long, hot day and a long, hot weekend. I took a shower and sat down for a while.

A little later, I decided to go out for some more fresh air, and walked a few blocks to the Dairy Queen on Prater Way for a cheeseburger and raspberry shake. Enroute I got a page, so I called my neighbor for an update. On they way back, I got another page, so I called that friend as well.

Back at the hotel, I watched some television while packing, then got to bed around 9:00 p.m.

Miles for the day = 8. Miles for the trip = 437.

Monday, September 29, 2003 - Sparks, Nevada

I slept okay, although I woke up a few times in the night. I got up at 5:20 a.m., dressed, combed and applied some sunblock while watching CNN. I carried my stuff downstairs and checked out at 5:50 a.m. It was a bit chilly, 60 degrees F., as I left, riding south on U.S. 395 to Carson City and points beyond.

In Minden, it was 50 degrees, then 48 degrees as I turned south on NV 88 and saw a sign saying that Jackson was 84 miles. I enjoyed a 7:10 a.m. sunrise, then crossed into California at 7:12 a.m., 56 degrees, and seamlessly continued west on CA 88, passing Woodfords and Highway 89.

I stopped at a vista point to make some notes and rescued a cellular phone which someone had dropped on the ground. (I tried for a few weeks to return it to its owner, but the cellular company was not very cooperative.)

I made a note about CHP, but can't remember what it was. I'll update this portion when I recall what it was.

I stopped for gasoline at 8:50 a.m. at the Pine Grove Stage Stop Union 76, 61 degrees F., where the owner refuses to let customers use the restroom, insisting that they use the portable chemical toilet outside. So much for ever stopping there again.

The communities of Jackson and Clements passed by, and I continued home on Hy 99, Hy 4, Interstate 5, I-205 and I-580. Due to massive numbers of trucks, motor homes and heavy winds, I stopped at North Flynn Road for hydration and rest. It was windy.

At 11:25 a.m., I stopped at San Jose Harley-Davidson to pick up a Thunderpress (they didn't have the new one) and for a porcelain check, as long as I was there. A short stop at the post office and the bank and I rolled into my driveway at exactly 12 noon.

Miles for the day = 272. Miles for the trip = 709.

So ends another trek to Reno. I enjoyed the fact that the motorcycle performed very well for the entire trip.

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Created on March 2, 2003. Last updated on February 1, 2005.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA