Friday, April 11, 2014

The Work Travel Diaries: Reno

It's a mixed bag, traveling for work. Sometimes I get super lucky, like the time last July when I stayed in a cute little cabin on White Pass, only steps away from the Pacific Crest Trail. Then there are the other times. Like this week.

Reno. I dislike negativity but I have to work hard to sum up much enthusiasm for the place. We stayed in a casino, full of blinking slot machines and the haze of cigarette smoke. Women who had inexplicably forgotten their pants strolled around. People who looked hours away from bypass surgery lined up for the buffet. When my co-worker tried to go for an outside run, she had to quickly sprint from a crime scene. The office we held our meetings in was located in an industrial zone where the only place to walk for lunch was a batting cage place. (People pay to hit balls in a cage. Who knew?)

Work travel for me is challenging. I don't eat the same and I can't exercise the same. Fortunately, the casino redeemed itself by having a lap pool, and I soon fell into the routine of swimming, which I hadn't been able to do since September. (No pool in town) Swimming without a wetsuit and actually being warm was a novel experience. The woman who opened up the pool in the morning greeted me with, "Hi, Cuteness!" A man with flippers asked me if I was training for the Olympics. What's not to like about that?

I have to take a step back and think about what city folk would think if transplanted suddenly to my town. I can hear it now:

"Seriously. I hear cows."
"Yikes! Those are wolves howling outside the door!"
"Was there a Carhartt sale or something that these people couldn't pass up?"
"The headline in the local paper is 'Good Hay Crop'?"

We all have our place, and mine seems to have narrowed with age.  I've never really been a city person, but I couldn't really tolerate it now. I like unlocked doors and neighbors who come over when you're setting up a tent in the rain to see just what the heck you're doing. I like walking down the street after dark without worrying about sketchy people. I like being able to go to the grocery store after a workout and not getting weird looks.

The way I survive work travel is making sure I know where my next yogurt is coming from. Where I can get some exercise. Trying to appreciate the city I am  in--sometimes failing miserably. And being glad I can drive for the required two hours from the airport, over Rattlesnake Grade, and pull into a small town where I don't know everyone, but I'm getting pretty close.

Do you travel for work? Is it fun or an exercise in survival? 


  1. Reno actually wouldn't be a most terrible city to reside. It's close to a lot of great places in the Eastern Sierras. I could see myself living in Carson City (Reno proper, yes, pretty sad. But could be worse.) I secretly love Nevada. If it wasn't for legalized gambling it would be even sparser than Wyoming, just a wide expanse of ranges and desert basins with no one around.

  2. I lived in Baker, Nevada, population 50, for about a year..Loved exploring the mountains and canyons there.

  3. In my town the city people would say:
    "Why is everyone wearing camo?"
    "I've never seen so many flatbed trucks in one place."
    "So hippies still do exist."
    "What's bear spray?"

  4. Just spent time in the Sky Islands and canyons and rims of southern and mid northern Arizona....the sun, warm and hiking (20 different trails) were a great break from the looong winter of northern Michigan. BUT, to get there you have to travel by and.or through Phoenix and couldn't pay us enough to live in those miles and miles and of shopping, traffic and aggressive drivers.Such a different way of living.

  5. Yep, Reno's not one of my favorite places either. Fortunately, I work for a local city government so it's rare I ever travel for my job. But I do live in the "big city" now (after growing up in the sticks of South Dakota) and there's many a time I miss the small town life.

  6. Most people see my town and don't get it either. We don't have casinos, but crime is surprisingly high here for the size of the town here. It looks like a hole, but its proximity to the mountains and beautiful forests keeps normal outdoorsy people around. I think that Reno is probably like that too, it just takes more work to find something sometimes.

    1. Agree with Karen, thinking about our town (except for the crime, though meth labs are a worrisome trend). Just driving through our town on the bypass, you would see all the fast food, shopping overbuilt mess, and never know about the parks, lakeshore, bike path, mountain biking and hiking trails, ski hill and lovely neighborhoods. A good reminder to me that I don't really know towns that I just drive through, or past.

  7. I've never been to Reno (or Nevada at all for that matter), but most cities have an art museum worth visiting. (And Googling "Reno Nevada art museum" yields the Nevada Museum of Art.) That's where I'll head if I have to spend time in a new city, although if it's a business trip finding free time when the museum's open could be a problem

  8. Glad you made it home safe through Rattlesnake Grade. My kids still say its the worst part of the trip, but that what's on your side of it is worth every bit of the twisting, winding, nausea inducing part of the drive. I would much rather visit your amazingly awesome place then go to Reno any day.
    Glad you found a nice warm pool to swim in and avoided misplacing your pants.


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