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Changing Reno
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Changing Reno
  Reno Travel Tale

by Lorry Patton

renosign.jpg When we want a few days of excitement, we choose Reno as a destination. Reno is small enough to be friendly and big enough to attract big name performers. One year, we sat next to Bill Cosby at a 7-card stud game in Harrah's. My husband Bob was already seated when Mr. Cosby arrived. I came later. We had attended Mr. Cosby's show earlier and Bob, who should have been a comedian, said "Well, had we known we'd have the pleasure of your company, we could have saved the price of a ticket." The ensuing exchange between the two of them had the table in stitches the entire night. At one point Mr. Cosby turned to me, put his hand on my arm and said (like a million others before him and since) " How do you put up with him?"

It was a fun evening and I can say without hesitation that Bill Cosby is great company and a good loser. In fact, he folded often even when he showed a winning hand.

renoriver.jpg Until the last few years we've seen little changes in Reno, particularly on Virginia Street downtown. Even today, most of the low rise businesses (gift shops, liqueur stores, tee-shirts shops) still look in need of a good facelift, a few pawnshops look tacky and several of the smaller casinos need refurbishing. However, a change is taking place. On the south side of downtown, where the Truckee River cuts across the street, work has begun along the bank and a river walk is under development.

renobowl.jpg Center Street, just east of Virginia Street is where the new National Bowling Center is located. It's a huge building with a domed rooftop and rows of lanes in the most technological setting. To make the game even more exciting, while players play an attendant walks around with a video camera taking shots which immediately appear bigger than life on screens above the pins. I'm not a bowler (is that what they call someone who bowls?), and I've never ever picked up a 10 pin ball. These balls are very heavy. But what fun. Much to my surprise, and everyone else on the team, I got a strike ( after throwing ball after ball in the gutter). Another surprise was the disco-style bar below the bowling alley where we later boogied to the rock and roll sounds of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Other changes on the south side of Truckee River, involve the Atlantis Casino Resort. This giant complex has been transformed into a one-stop destination with something for everyone -- entertainment for the kids, convention facilities for the business community, and gambling for the adults. all wrapped in a tropical package tied with pink flamingo ribbon. The food and service in their steak house, by the way, is superb, and there's plenty of parking in the huge parking lot for RV's.

More evidence of new development is seen on the north side of the famous neon banner that boldly displays the words "The Biggest Little City in the World". Three elegant casinos: the Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus are now connected to one another with elaborate overhead arcades. These arcades are furnished with pinball machines and computer generated games for children, gift shops and a variety of restaurants from ice-cream parlours to sit-down fine dining for the adults. Circus acts and laser shows dangle from the ceiling offering free entertainment to all who pause.

renoskyline.jpg We stayed at the Eldorado Casino, on the 25th floor. The view was fabulous and dizzying. Our room was comfortable and spacious and I especially appreciated the ironing board and iron. I also liked the fact that the bathroom was in a separate room. That way, those showering didn't tie up the sink or steam up the mirror. The security box came in handy, too. I only had one complaint. I don't like hangers that are attached to the rod. They are awkward to remove and furthermore, I like to hang clothes on the shower curtain bar when I shower. That way, any minor wrinkles disappear.

Buffets are not my favorite dining experiences, however, the buffet was exceptionally good at the Eldorado. The choices were extensive and included freshly-baked pizza and Mongolian dishes cooked on the spot.

My visit coincided with the annual Governor's Conference on Travel & Tourism put on by Nevada State Commission December 4-6. One of the speakers, Mr David S. Cordish, chairman of the Cordish Company from Baltimore, spoke at great length about a beautification program his company proposed to Reno's city planners. He gave us examples of other cities where such programs made a big difference, like in Houston and Charleston. I've been to Houston so I know the affect of attractive plants, brick-paved sidewalks, good restaurants, fancy shopping malls, and attractions such as interactive museums, live theater and family entertainment within walking distance of one another. In my humble opinion, if Reno accepts Mr. Cordish's ideas on how to make the rest of Virginia Street vibrant and bustling, Las Vegas and Laughlin will have some real competition.

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