The 2017 Great American Escape
Many a long year has gone by since I’ve been sent to bed without my supper. But here, in the northernmost reaches of the Silver State, hard by the Idaho border, I somehow managed to pull it off.
It is an axiom of business (and of life) that everything takes longer than you think it will. Driving 537 miles on our first day out proved to be no exception to this rule. We couldn’t leave from home by dawn’s early light, as first I had to work half a day. Then a projected 8-hour drive to our first stop took closer to 9½ hours, despite the 75 and 80 mile per hour speed limits on Interstate 80 through the vast, barren Nevada desert. By the time we arrived at our hotel, its restaurant had closed up shop for the evening. I suppose we were lucky that they didn’t give our reservation away.
At check-in, the desk clerk assured us that all the other casinos along U.S. 93 had 24-hour restaurants. Exhausted, we trudged to our room with our clothes and laptops. Then came the conundrum: Sleep or eat? Eat, we decided. I was concerned that my wife’s blood sugar would drop too low overnight if she didn’t get some food in her.
Heading back out down the strip, we first came to the Horseshu Casino, which appeared to be out of business. After waiting at one of the longest red lights I have ever experienced, we crossed the road to Cactus Pete’s. Inside the lobby, we passed the closed seafood and steak house. We asked directions and were told that the 24-hour restaurant, named “Nosh,” was located down by the second bar. What we found was a tiny snack bar counter with tables off to the side. We inquired as to where the restaurant was and were assured that this was it. “We’re considered a restaurant,” the woman behind the counter informed us. Talk about using a word loosely.
Good luck finding anything meatless at Nosh. The sandwiches, we were informed, were pre-made and already had meat on them. We walked out.
Driving back to our hotel, we figured that if we couldn’t eat, at least we could gamble. The hotel had given us each coupons for $4 in free play. Upon finding little of interest in the tiny casino, we sat at the bar and played nickel video poker for about half an hour. We quickly used up the comps and put in some our own money. My wife hit a string of full houses before coming up with four aces. My machine, by contrast, seemed to specialize in even money “jacks or better.” All told, we came away down about $2.50.
On the way back to our room, my wife decided to buy a soda from a vending machine. She was surprised that the price was only 75 cents. We soon discovered why. Apparently, you can charge low prices and still make a profit if you don’t actually deliver the goods to the customer. After losing a quarter in the Pepsi machine, she tried the Coke machine, where she lost the full 75 cents. Luckily, we had brought some bottles of water with us.
Well, if you can’t eat around here after 10 pm and you don’t want to spend a lot of money gambling, surely there are other activities and attractions in the area. We saw one such place just as we were heading out of Elko. And it was open all night, too! “Donna’s Ranch,” the sign announced, “open 24 hours.”
Only in Nevada.