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Top Ten Reasons the Roaming Gnome should have come to Tahoe

travelocity-gnome-tahoeTop Ten Reasons the Roaming Gnome should should have broken his Cabin Fever in Tahoe rather than Utah in Travelocity’s Top Ski Destination contest.

1.     Ski in two states at the same time at Heavenly while looking at the deep blue of Lake Tahoe, even with your narrow gnome stance

2.     Go on a blind date with Tahoe Tessie (Lake Tahoe’s mythical resident “sea creature”).

3.     Depending on how the date goes, perhaps a quick wedding and an even quicker divorce in Reno.

4.     50 Tram laps at Squaw Valley USA to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first televised Winter Olympic Games.

5.     Tempt fate with a visit to the Donner Party museum,  just hope they don’t think you’re a chocolate filled gnome.

6.     Our drinks have personality with drinks like the ‘Wet Woody’, the ‘Scorpion’ and the ‘Flaming Kava Kava’. Gnomes keep your beards away from the flames!

7.     Forgot your skis?  No problem, where else but in Sparks can you get your skis, ride a Ferris Wheel and drive a NASCAR simulator in one mega sports store?

8.     Follow in the footsteps of Ol’ Blue Eyes and Marilyn Monroe in the tunnels at the historic Cal Neva Lodge

9.     Spend a little downtime at the spa before heading out for a long night in Reno

10.    Satisfy a late night hunger at what has been heralded as one of the best burgers in the country, the Awful Awful, awfully big, awfully good, don’t be scared my friend, you can do it.

There are no shortage of Big Game parties in Reno this year.

Almost every casino resort in Reno is sportin’ party bling this year for the Big Game between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. The fun is not just limited to game-time, but non-stop fun and entertainment will be happening all weekend long.

Come spend the weekend in Reno and enjoy yourself during the Big Game, and if the ladies don’t want to watch, remind them we have great spas here as well to fulfill all their needs. Also, don’t forget to wager a few bucks on your team, just to show how much of a Superfan you are.

Parties throughout Reno include:

Circus Circus Reno: Big Game Bash – Big Screens, big food and big fun… Make sure to sign-up for our great raffle prizes!

John Ascuaga’s Nugget: Big Screen, Big Game Giveaway – Watch the Big Game at the Nugget on February 7th and get a chance to win one of four (4) Panasonic 42″ HDTVs!

Eldorado Reno: Big Game Weekend – The Big Game…Two Parties to Choose From Eldorado Convention Center with Viewing on 5 Giant 30′ HD Screens and 50-Yard Line Buffet or Eldorado Showroom with Viewing on a 20′ Giant HD Screen, Stadium Style Food & Souvenir Hat

Silver Legacy: Big Game Party and Buffet – Be sure to catch all the game action and fun at the Reno Ballroom, as Silver Legacy throws one of Northern Nevada’s best game day parties. Party-goers can watch the game on multiple giant screens throughout the ballroom while indulging in an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Peppermill Reno: Super Stadium Bash – Complimentary Bud & Bud Light Draft Beer at every table, meet the Budweiser Girls, door prizes every quarter, large HD format screens, all-you-can-eat buffet and a complimentary gift.

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa: Big Bowl Bash 2010 – You won’t want to miss a minute of the hard-hitting action at the Atlantis Big Bowl Bash XLIV! You will enjoy fabulous food and fun Casino wide as you watch pro football’s premiere game on our massive high definition screens in the sports bar! The beautiful Raiderettes will be on property to help you cheer your team to victory!

Grand Sierra Resort: Lombardi Party – Get up close and personal when you watch the Big Game at Xtreme Sports Bar & Lounge. With over 40 high-def screens and one giant mega-view projection screen showing all of the game and all the action. Its just like being at the game. Their sexy Xtreme girls will be serving kegs of beer and a menu that can’t be beat. Find out what attitude is all about!

Online giveaway: Break the ‘Reno Rules’

Downtown Reno

Flickr photo from RenoTahoe

Reno-Tahoe is inviting visitors to break the ‘Reno Rules’ with a new television and ad campaign featuring attractions from skiing to dining and casino action in the Reno, Sparks and Lake Tahoe markets.

Part of the promotion includes a vacation prize package worth a weekend stay at participating hotel-casinos, plus meals and ski tickets. Enter online

Visitors are also encouraged to break the rules and submit photographic proof – snapshots or video – to enter for a vacation prize package, plus an official Reno Rules Flip Mino video camera. Enter online

Also check out the lodging discounts for hotel-casinos in Reno and Sparks – get a free at participating hotels when you book online.

Orbitz: Lake Tahoe the most popular ski destination for 2008-2009

OrbitzLast year marked a record-setting ski season for U.S. resorts with 60.5 million skier visits, according to the National Ski Areas Association. As travelers begin thinking about where to find the best deals and the most snow for the upcoming season, Orbitz predicts Lake Tahoe will be this year’s most popular destination.

“While ski vacations are more popular than ever before, the current economy presents new challenges for travelers on tighter budgets than in past years,” said Heather Leisman, senior director of merchandizing for Orbitz. “Travelers looking for ski season savings need only a bit of expert advice on when and where to travel, and Orbitz has the insider knowledge to help them hit the slopes.”

2008-2009 Orbitz Insider Ski Index (Ranking* and average daily hotel rate**)

  1. Lake Tahoe, CA/NEV    $116
  2. Breckenridge, CO    $225
  3. Park City, UT    $239
  4. Vail, CO    $286
  5. Aspen, CO    $227
  6. Keystone, CO    $149
  7. Winter Park, CO    $193
  8. Whistler, BC    $292
  9. Banff, Canada    $189
  10. Steamboat Springs, CO    $204

*Based on hotel and vacation package bookings from 11/1/08 to 4/30/09 for bookings as of 10/14/08
** Based on average daily hotel rates from 11/1/08 to 4/30/09 for bookings as of 10/14/08

Travel deal: Save up to $60 to Reno-Tahoe plus 15 percent off ski lift tickets

Book a flight plus a hotel package for three nights or longer at any Southwest Airlines Vacations Reno-Tahoe property and SAVE $30 per reservation.

Double your savings to $60 when you stay at the following properties: Peppermill, Atlantis, Grand Sierra Resort, or Eldorado. Plus, SAVE 15% on ski lift tickets when you use Promotion Code SKI15.

Valid Booking Dates: September 26 – October 16, 2008
Valid Travel Dates: October 1, 2008 – March 6, 2009
Five-day advance purchase required.

Visit for more information

Peppermill Resort Casino

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa

Grand Sierra Resort

Eldorado Hotel Casino

Prices do not include a $3.50 federal excise tax per takeoff and landing, airport taxes of up to $18 roundtrip per person, or a federal September 11th Security Fee of up to $10 roundtrip per person. Packages must be booked at least five days prior to departure before 6 pm Central Time.

Getaway to Historic Belmont



If there was ever a place where you could believe that you’ve managed to escape from the hassles and pressures of daily life, it’s the rustic Belmont Inn in the historic Central Nevada mining town of Belmont.

Located about 40 miles northeast of Tonopah, Belmont can trace its beginnings to the discovery of silver in 1865. Within a few years, the town has grown to include about 5,000 residents.

In 1867, Belmont was designated the seat of Nye County and a few years later, in 1876, it constructed an impressive a two-story Italianate-style brick courthouse.

During Belmont’s heyday—which lasted from the late 1860s to about the late 1870s—the town was a beehive of building activity, boasting a bank, a couple of churches, a school, a post office, several stores and saloons.

It was during this period, in about 1866, that the distinctive two-story structure that houses the Belmont Inn was constructed. Built of wood and local limestone, the Inn originally served as the offices of the Combination Silver Mining Company.

The building was converted to a private residence several decades ago and, more recently, transformed into a bed and breakfast with five guestrooms.

The Inn, operated by Henry and Bertie Berg, is a wonder. It’s been lovingly restored so that guests can enjoy quiet, comfortable quarters in a quaint, historic setting.

Behind the main house, the Berg’s have rebuilt an old stone miner’s cabin and offer it as a kind of “honeymoon” cottage that offers plenty of privacy, although without running water or electricity. However, candles have been strategically placed around the room to provide illumination.

Large groups more interested in “roughing it,” can rent an old bunkhouse behind the main house, which has accommodations for up to ten additional guests.

The guestrooms, however, are only part of the story. The Belmont Inn also has its own, old-time saloon—Henry Berg is a great bartender who knows not only how to pour a good stiff one but lots of great anecdotes and stories about the area.

Not to be overlooked are the breakfasts, cooked by Bertie Berg. She prepares hearty, tasty fare that can include pancakes, sausage, biscuits, fruit and other delicacies.

The charm of spending time in Belmont is having a chance to explore the old mining town. The town’s silver mines began to slump after 1876. By 1890, only about 150 people remained in the town.

Jim Butler’s discovery of huge silver deposits in Tonopah in 1900 accelerated Belmont’s demise. In 1905, the county seat was moved to Tonopah and Belmont’s fine courthouse, which is now a historic state park, was closed.

Despite the years of neglect, it’s still possible to find glimpses of the settlement that once rivaled Virginia City. With more than a dozen buildings sprouting out of the sagebrush and a number of substantial ruins, Belmont looks and feels like a genuine ghost town.

Behind this row of structures is a dirt road leading to the Belmont Courthouse, which has been stabilized by the state parks. Guided tours of the courthouse are offered during the summer.

While exploring Belmont is encouraged, visitors are cautioned not to touch or take anything so that the town can be preserved for future generations. For more information about Belmont and the Belmont Inn, call 775-482-2000 or go to



        A few Saturdays back (the first time), I got a chance to spend some time exploring what has got to be one of the best outdoor adventures available in Reno-Tahoe, America’s Adventure Place! I signed on for an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle, a.k.a. Off-Road/Off-Highway Vehicle) tour, of a part of the Plumas National Forest, off the romantically named Last Chance Creek near Frenchman’s Lake. The 30-mile drive from Reno was an easy 35 minutes – north on US 395 past Stead, up to Hallelujah Junction, and then West on Hwy 70 to the tiny hamlet of Chilcoot (just before Vinton), which boasts a miniscule but massively cute Frosty Freeze burger-shop (straight out of an Andy Griffith episode).  I called Lisa and Jay, the owners/operators of "High Sierra ATV Tours" from there, and they gave me directions to their location. I was running a little early (I guess you could say I was a little excited) – otherwise they would have come over and picked me up. The drive to their place took about 6 minutes. Another group was already there, and we did the basic paperwork and put on our gear (a helmet, long pants [not shorts], closed-toe shoes and lots of sunscreen), plus about 5 minutes of instructions on how to drive our fully-automatic Arctic Cat ATVs – and then it was off into the Sierras on our Arctic Cats.  The equipment was all new, surprisingly clean, and astonishingly comfortable.  I chose to ride with Jay, the owner, so I could take a bunch of photos, and boy – was that a great idea or what!  Within ten minutes of leaving the starting point, we were high enough into the mountains that even in mid-June, it was fairly cool, and I was glad I had brought a jacket.

        We were climbing some pretty steep grades and the Arctic Cats negotiated the climb with real ease. The ground clearance was almost as good as the Hummer I’d driven out in from Reno, and the 650 CC engines delivered enough power that even the 35-40° grades and boulder-stacked trails did not slow us down.The landscape transformed rapidly from the dry and sun-drenched nether elevations to cool greens as our adventure threw us deeper and deeper into the hands of the hills. The vegetation quickly moved to tall Ponderosa pines, Cedars, and then lots of other more Alpine trees. The forest was so beautiful. And we did not encounter a single other soul. No, I take that back, we ran into two people on the way back, but that was everyone the entire ride. It is pretty much an undiscovered country – silent in its majesty, and breath-takingly beautiful.  We stopped on numerous occasions, to take pictures, splash about a little in the different (very cold) little creeks we crossed.  There was one little picnic spot that I absolutely fell in love with – it was a tiny little spring-and snow-fed lake called Snow Lake, that does not appear in the maps.  I could have stayed there forever.

        I could see that snow marks were still fresh here, and commented that this would be a perfect location for snow-mobiling in winter (something that Jay and Lisa are gearing up to provide in the coming winter seasons).  I was told that the area gets over 15 feet of snow on the ground many winters.  But it is unspoilt and hard to get to – unless you have a knowledgeable local guide.

        Jay was the Tour Guide, and that was what made this so great. If I had just rented or brought an ATV over and done this by myself, it would have been (a lot of fun still, but) nowhere close to such a wonderful experience. Jay knew just about every little inch of that wilderness (1.2 Million acres), and he knew just which way to go all of the time, even when there was no trail to follow.

        We got to see some great flora all along the way. I was particularly fascinated with the almost maroon-red ‘Snow Flowers’ that Jay pointed out. These grow for just a few weeks in the year, just as the snows leave the mountains, and are quite striking.  But while it’s so pretty now in summer, Jay pointed out that best time to visit these forests is the Fall, as the leaves turn from green to crimson to gold, in all their autumnal glory.

        Our trip was a pretty long one – we climbed to the top of Crystal Peak, got a glimpse of the spectacular, volcanic Lassen Peak in the distance and rode out to the overlook where we gazed at a stunning bird’s eye view of Frenchman’s Lake. I was surprised that even with such a long trip, I was not really physically exhausted. You DON’T have to be very athletic, young, or even particularly fit – to enjoy an adventure like this. The Arctic Cat ATVs, being fully automatic, are very easy to maneuver, easier than driving any automatic-shift car.  I wonder if I can get my dad to do this with me, if we could come here together. I mean, he has lived in big cities all his life, as I have, but I know he’d love it as much as I did this time. 

        One thing I was a little disappointed about was that we did not see much fauna – Jay tells me that there’s quite a bit of deer in those woods, but they generally don’t come out until twilight or early in the mornings. There are also some bears around (and Jay had shot one a couple of years ago), but they really shun human presence, so it is very hard to get to see one up close, though we did see some quite fresh bear-tracks along the way. 

        It was almost evening before we got back to the homestead, which incidentally is also Jay and Lisa’s home.They were very generous and allowed us to use the bathrooms at their home to wash and clean up, and since the Frosty Freeze (the only game in town for food) was certain to have closed for the evening – they even invited to me to join their family (plus a few guests they had that evening) for a weekend barbeque.  (Mind you, they probably do not do this for their customers in the normal course, but I must have looked more hungry than most, LOL.) 

        Jay showed off his skills (and that old boy’s got skillz in this dept) with some very juicy thick ribeye steaks on his ‘Cowboy Grill’ – a very interesting and useful contraption that doubles as a barbeque pit and a campfire centerpiece (that you can sit around, as you would around a campfire). (I just know I want to buy one of these — I found out that he’d bought his from the Hearth Patio Show at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center earlier in the year.)  The food was great, the company very friendly and cheerful, but the overall experience – stupendous. They invited me to come back again. And I know I will, and very soon. 

        I love the forest, the wilderness of the Wild Sierra around Reno-Tahoe. I love the whole adventure feel of Reno-Tahoe, you know, that story-book feel of the Wild Wild West not being all that far away or long ago.  There are not too many chances to experience that up close and personal – particularly if you are from the city. To me, that is the charm of Reno-Tahoe – the Wild Sierra is still untamed there, and it is just around the corner from a pretty big city (which feels like a much bigger city than it really is) with all the urban comforts, great hotels, superb nightlife, world-class headliners and an overall entertainment scene that puts most US and European metros to shame.

        I am so glad I went on this tour, and I sure as heck am going back!!!!

        And I am going to try and post a few of the photos soon here – as soon as I get a chance to catalog them and pick out the best ones.

P.S.: I went back next weekend with my friends Katie and Ken and their troupe, the cast and crew of a local indy film production company (BarFly Productions), and made a little movie about this place – check it out below.

    Feel free to share the love and leave a comment.

Gairik (HighSierraDogSledder)

For more …
High Sierra ATVTours

Videography by BarFly Productions (