Sandy and I aren't big music fans but there are a couple of artists that we really like. For example, I'm an avid Rush fan (although Sandy would probably use words like "totally fanatical Rush fan").
One artist that we both like is Craig Chaquico. For many years he played guitar for Jefferson Starship. After that band broke up he went solo, switching from hard rock to new age/smooth jazz. But whatever he plays, he is an outstanding guitarist. Sandy and I have all of his solo albums. He doesn't do shows very often anymore, maybe a half dozen a year. To find them, we watch his website to see when they are scheduled. Then if we can make it, we usually try to arrange a trip around the concert. Over the years we've seen him quite a few times - in Park City, Sedona, Reno, Snoqualmie and Ashland.
We were excited a few months ago when his website showed a concert scheduled for Reno (ok, Sparks actually) in early June. It was on a Saturday, the last weekend before I retired from U of I. Reno is definitely in our range for a weekend trip. We talked to Sarah, our dogsitter. Even though she had just started a full time job, she was ok to watch Abby for the weekend. We booked our concert tickets and hotels and we were all set.
When we made the reservations I wasn't sure when I could get away on Friday. Usually I have Friday afternoons off since I cover some evening and weekend classes. But I had used my evening comp time to cover some of my trips, like GMT weekend, or used it for half days when Sandy was out of town this spring (several trips). That way I didn't have to leave Abby at home alone all day. So I was covering most Fridays this semester. To be safe, we broke up the trip down to Reno. We arranged to stay in Winnemucca, a little more than half way. We could still get there even if we didn't leave till the end of the day. Turns out I got half the day off so we got there by dinner time. There isn't much in Winnemucca, it's a small town in Nevada that is just a truck stop on Interstate 80. But we did find some interesting restaurants.
After checking in to our motel we walked to The Pig BBQ and Grill. It's a small place - it doesn't even have a website. But we had seen it advertised on billboards as we drove down US95 from Boise. We checked on TripAdvisor and it was rated quite highly. In fact, it was the fourth and the sixth best restaurant in Winnemucca. We figured that it had to be really good if it could hold down two different spots in the TripAdvisor ratings. Actually it was listed under two different names, The Pig and The Flying Pig, so they had probably changed their name not too long ago and they still had reviews under both names.
When we got there, the waitress asked us if we wanted a drink before dinner. I ordered a beer but Sandy asked her what kind of white wine they had. That question stumped her so she had to go ask the bartender. We couldn't hear the exchange, but from the look on the bartender's face Sandy decided that maybe she would get a beer as well. It was clear that we were not exactly in a white wine place or a white wine town. We had much better luck with the food. We both ordered pulled pork sandwiches and they were exceptional. They had lots of meat but it was very lean, which is a big deal since neither of us likes fatty meat. It was very flavorful, especially with a wide assortment of BBQ sauces at the table. And our total bill, with tip, was only thirty dollars. A good deal.
After dinner we spent the evening at the motel. Sandy watched the NBA finals (Cleveland lost a close game) while I cut and trimmed counters for Algeria, a new wargame I had just got in the mail a few days before that I was planning to take to Consimworld Expo which was a week after I would retire.
Next morning we went to breakfast before hitting the road. Sandy really likes breakfast so I wanted to take her to a famous place in Winnemucca, The Griddle. It only serves breakfast. It has been there for many years and has quite a reputation. And yes, it is the number one restaurant on TripAdvisor. It isn't even close. I had eaten there years ago when passing through Winnemucca. I also remembered reading about it recently on a science blog that I read every day, since the guy who writes it is a foodie and had gone there when he passed through Winnemucca.
It turns out that because of its success, The Griddle has expanded - to Boise. There are now three locations in the Boise area, in Meridian, Eagle, and of course, Boise. Sandy and I had gone to the one in Eagle a few weeks before to get ourselves psyched for the trip. It was very good, but we wanted to eat at the original The Griddle.We weren't disappointed either. I had fruit crepes, one raspberry and one peach, with cream cheese filling. I'm not much of a breakfast person but I had to admit that it was excellent. Well fed, we were ready to start driving again. Who would have thought that Winnemucca was such a culinary destination?
Instead of going directly to Reno, we first went to Carson City. Sandy's Aunt Marilyn, who had lived in Carson City for many years, had just died about a week before. Some of her relatives had flown out the night before to sort through her things and clean up her apartment. When we got there, they looked a bit daunted by the task. We spent a few hours helping them go through her stuff. We filled up our car with some of her things. Some Sandy wanted to keep. Some we would ship back to Sandy's mom. Some we would give to Lynn or Shannon when they came to visit us later this summer. Some things went to neighbors. Some things, like foodstuffs, had to go in the trash. By the time we left it looked like some progress had been made. It's kind of a weird experience going through stuff that belonged to someone who just died. I can imagine some day when people are going through my books and wargames, wondering what to do with them. We all have our own treasures.
When we planned our trip Sandy had hoped to check out the quilt shops in the Reno area. It was late afternoon by the time we got to The Nugget, the hotel where we were staying and where the show was. Fortunately it turned out that we were just six blocks away from Windy Moon Quilts, a quilt shop and the local Bernina dealer. We had enough time for a short trip to check it out. It was an interesting shop, in a building that used to be an old schoolhouse. Sandy didn't get much, but she did find a jelly roll that she liked.
We got checked in to our room and still had plenty of time to have dinner in the hotel. Then it was time for the show. We got seated about a half hour ahead of time. The venue was small - there were only about two or three hundred people at most. It was about the size of a movie theatre. Our table, which we shared with two other couples, was right up against the stage. In fact, I had an arm resting on the stage for most of the show. You can't get any closer than that!
There was a full band with him: bass guitar, drums and keyboard, and on a few songs a saxaphone. But Craig Chaquico and his guitar were the main attraction. He is a fantastic guitarist and it was amazing to hear him play, and that close up, to see him play. He started with a bunch of familiar favorites from his solo albums, like Cafe Carnival, Acoustic Highway, and my absolute favorite, Return of the Eagle. Then he switched to rock songs and for the second half of the concert, the band was joined by a singer named Joan Burton. They played quite a few covers of classic rock songs like Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix), Crossroads (Eric Clapton), White Rabbit and Somebody to Love (Jefferson Starship). The place was rockin'. They played for about two hours and we both enjoyed every minute of it.
It was a great evening. The only drawback was that it was at a casino, probably one of the few places left where people smoke all the time. Even with good ventilation, the smell of smoke was strong anytime that we walked through the casino. By Sunday morning when we left, we were both pretty tired of it. It's hard for me to believe that when I was growing up both of my parents and lots of my relatives smoked at home. Now I can't tolerate the smell of cigarette smoke for even a few minutes.
The trip back was straightforward. This time we didn't eat before we left. We waited till we reached Winnemucca to eat breakfast at The Griddle again. We were home by dinner time. Sarah said that her and Abby had enjoyed a nice "girl's weekend" while we were gone, although the Wiggle Pup certainly seemed happy that we were back.
Short, but a good trip. Now I only had one more week at work before I retired (again).