Checking Out A Silver Lining

Before my father passed away, he and my mother wanted to get rid of their vacation club membership, but they couldn’t figure out how to do it and started to get all stressed out about it. They asked if we would take it, so the gardener said, “Sure.” Later, I told him I wasn’t very happy about that :). I didn’t like the idea of planning a vacation based on where I could stay for free that I had been paying for monthly all along, if that makes any sense.

It didn’t to me.

But it made them happy and, as it turned out, sometimes it’s very useful because the units always come with a kitchen, which is important for dealing with the celiac disease issue. That is what we did in New Orleans last year, and it worked out perfectly. You should see us moving into a regular hotel room with two coolers and four bags of gluten free foods. Not to mention, the air purifier and humidifier the gardener uses to deal with symptoms of his auto-immune troubles. No fear that I might be able to travel light, which is my dream.

We wanted to go on a vacation this year because we visited mom for her surgery this summer instead of taking a vacation, so we decided to use our “points” and visit somewhere on the vacation club map. We settled on Reno and Lake Tahoe in The Silver State (Nevada). The Reno portion was mainly to acclimate to altitude before reaching Tahoe because before the gardener was diagnosed and still eating gluten, he would get very sick at altitudes like Salt Lake City, which is only 4,226 ft!

We spent a few days in Reno, traveling to see Carson City (the capitol of Nevada) and Virginia City. We also had dinner with my cousin (who lives in Carson City and works for the State of Nevada) and his wife at a Persian restaurant. I’ve mentioned before that Persian is usually safe for celiacs, if they avoid the bread and the desserts. This restaurant turned out to be a bit “nouveau” in its cuisine, and while I thought the food was particularly delicious, the gardener was sick overnight. There was probably cross-contamination.

Carson City has a darling Capitol Building. They allow visitors to walk through, looking into the offices of the Governor and other dignitaries. I won’t share the photos I took past the entryway because it seems unsafe to me. But, gosh, it was so nice to be able to take a look at all that beautiful history on our own.

Sorry if one or two of those are a little crooked (@#%^&). The statue when you enter the building is of Sarah Winnemucca who wrote the first autobiography by a Native American woman (Northern Paiute), so I found that pretty meaningful.

I was shocked that Reno is such a casino-driven city. Maybe you knew that, but I didn’t. I don’t like casinos or cities with lots of casinos, but it was interesting to watch the motel outside our window. It was directly across the street and had a reputation for stabbings, shootings, drugs, and prostitution. The new managers were supposedly trying to clean up the property, but it was still a sad and fascinating site for me to observe.

The gardener dragged me to the casino three times, but MEH. I don’t like the cigarette (and cigar!) smoke, the glazed looks on the faces of people who might be ruining their own lives and the lives of their families, or the unnatural outfits those poor servers have to squeeze into.

Judgmental, moi? OK, I am judgmental about gambling, but not about the gamblers. I’ve seen the harm it causes, and I don’t like it. At least the gardener didn’t lose much because he didn’t fall into the trap.

What I did enjoy was the Zombie Crawl one night we were in Reno. The parade of costumes in the streets and inside the casinos was a lot of fun. And Reno has the best gluten free bakery I’ve ever experienced. Wherever we go, we look for gluten free bakeries; many cities have them now. But this one had baked goods and other foods that were the most like what I grew up with. Their frosted sugar cookies were like those of the bakeries of my childhood. All gluten free though! If you’re in Reno, stop by Haven on Earth at 10855 Double R Blvd., Suite A. Here’s their website: They even have lasagna and chicken pot pies in a freezer case.

To make up for the casinos, I dragged the gardener to a lovely performance of the national tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. We saw it at this cool-looking theater.

Nearby is the Riverwalk.

And a gorgeous old building. I looked it up and now I can’t remember the name of it.

We were happy to move on to Tahoe when we did. What we found there was gorgeous. And October was a wonderful time for visiting because there weren’t the crowds they see in the summer months and during ski season.

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Lake Tahoe is the purest body of water in the world, and it looks it. Just stunning. I could have walked on the beach in my sweatshirt every morning for the rest of my life. The gardener, on the other hand, thought it a bit chilly. He’s more the Caribbean type. While I prefer more deciduous trees in my dreamscape, I couldn’t get over the beauty of this national treasure.

And they had a great burger place that doesn’t get a celiac sick! They have a “dedicated fryer,” which means only gluten free foods go into that fryer. That is important if you want fries with your gluten free burger. I loved their veggie burger, too. CALIFORNIA BURGER COMPANY. Remember that if you go to Tahoe.  They feature live music and art on the walls. And gourmet casual food. Yum!


BETA READER SHARING? On another note, I have been tinkering with the ole memoir a bit. It’s gone through a lot of versions already and may still have a lot of versions to go through. But it would be helpful to have 2 beta readers look at the dang thing as it stands now as I have too many versions in my head and can’t really “see” what is here any longer.

Do you feel that you have the time, inclination, and a bit or a lot of experience with a full-length manuscript (I think a novel would be fine, as well as memoir)? I’ll warn you that it’s approximately 280 pages.  I am happy to trade manuscripts with you and give yours the same careful reading with comments.  I am only interested in reading complete manuscripts in draft, though. No manuscript where you are sure you are done and just want confirmation. No manuscript that doesn’t have an ending yet. If you are interested, please email me at luanne.castle[at] If I get more than two offers, I’ll choose the two that seem the best fit, but will save names for the next version haha. If I get no takers, I’ll try to find readers through some other channels. Thanks for listening!


Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Food & Drink, gluten free, gluten free travel, History, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

43 responses to “Checking Out A Silver Lining

  1. Not a gambler either. I went to Vegas on a business trip. I had to get to a 7 a.m. conference and they always make you walk through the casino to get to the business rooms. OMG! Ching, ching, ching at 6:45 in the morning! I needed two coffees to get over it. I’ve never been in Nevada. It sounds lovely.

    • That Tahoe area is just gorgeous. In fact, half the lake is Nevada and the other side is California. The area around Reno is quite different from that :). Your description of your Vegas trip well describes what it’s like at the casinos and why they are so truly hideous IMO.

  2. What a fabulous and interesting vacation Luanne, it looks as though it was worth the points!

    • It was definitely worth the points, Andrea. Tahoe is so stunning, and what a wonderful happenstance to be there when it wasn’t crowded. I could take pix without people in them. That is something that would not happen during busy seasons!

  3. Thanks for sharing your vacation, Luanne. Beautiful photos! BTW: I discovered that my injury from the fall of Sept. 22 is worse than I’d thought. An MRI revealed a compression fracture (lower spine) so my long-awaited Grand Canyon trip over Thanksgiving had to be scratched. I see a neurosurgeon tomorrow. Instead of joining my son and his family for the Grand Canyon adventure, I’ll be home working on a sequel to ALL THE WRONG PLACES. If it were further along, I’d love to trade manuscripts. However it’s just 1/3rd done.

    • Oh no, Elaine! That sounds just horrible. What can they do for the compression fracture?? That sounds like just the worst. Essentially a “broken back,” yes? You poor thing! I can’t imagine. Sending you more lightning bolts of healing energy right now! xoxoxo
      Re the book swap, darn and drafts! I wish you had it completed!

  4. Luanne — I like your breezy informative, writing style and how it’s paced. A lot of writers, when they write about things like vacations and/or, say, their opinions about vices such as gambling, end up sounding stilted. You wrote at least one one sentence paragraph that works.

    It’s a question of VOICE — in writing, that is.

    I don’t like gambling either. Which is to say, I don’t prejudge gamblers, or like to find fault. It’s just that it seems like a big waste to me — it’s not my thing.

    The photos are excellent accompaniments to your post.

    • Aw shucks. Thanks, Roger! Gambling is such a huge “time suck.” Nevertheless, for legal purposes: I want it known that if the gardener wins the lottery that half that ticket is mine. Seriously, what is the point of just sitting there with that glazed look, pushing buttons? Games that are more like poker I can understand a bit more because there is some skill involved in those–and the mind has to operate. But the electronic slots and other electronic games are ridiculous and dangerously addictive. Thanks for mentioning the gambling. I’m glad to know that there are others like me who think it’s a big waste.

  5. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, Luanne. It looks and sounds like you had a good time. I’m not much of a gambler, but once I did win $600 on a slot machine. It was the first coin I’d put in…it was exciting. 🙂

  6. Interesting post, Luanne. I have never wanted to go to either Las Vegas or Reno. I hate seeing what gambling can do to people. Maybe I’m just sour because all I ever won is an ashtray at the Fall Fair Bingo. I was eleven. But I see that I’ve missed out on a lot of beautiful sites in the areas you’ve just described.
    As for trading manuscripts, if the timing had been a little better I could have done it, but my ms is almost ready to publish, so too late. I’m booked up with other copy-editing jobs or I would have gladly read your ms just the same. I’m sure there is someone out there who will be happy to trade reading time with you.Wishing you all the best with your book.

  7. Lake Tahoe looks just stunning Luanne – contrasted with casinos I know where I would rather be! I was taken to a casino once and the feeling in the place was one of desperation and despair – I had to leave. Never again! Good luck with finding your beta readers!

    • You are right about Tahoe versus casinos hahahahaha. No comparison. But of course Tahoe HAS casinos. The lake is between California and Nevada, so the Nevada side has some casinos and the California side has access to Emerald Bay. But if you stay in South Lake Tahoe area, you can go to either side as it’s really all one “city” down there.
      About the beta readers, oh I hope so. It’s hard to ask someone to read a full book, but without beta readers it is hard to continue because big errors need to be adjusted.

  8. It sounds like the vacation points thing really worked out for you, Luanne. I have zero interest in casinos. We’re less than an hour away from Atlantic City–I think I was in one of the casinos once. Lake Tahoe looks beautiful.
    Good luck with finding a reader for your manuscript.
    I’m supposed to get the copy-edited manuscript for my encyclopedia this week. I’m going to be busy reading that!

    • Tahoe is amazing and, in some ways, almost prehistoric looking. It’s cold enough there that it’s not as built up as it would be if it were further south or on the east coast. And the lake water is beyond anything you’ve ever seen because it is THAT pure. And the air is only spoiled by the wood fires because otherwise the air is so darn fresh.
      Good luck with the encyclopedia fun, Merril!!!

  9. My grandparents used to like going to Reno to gamble a bit rather than Vegas

    • Now that I’ve been to both I will say that for gambling I would rather go to Reno. Not that I want to gamble haha. But IF I did, they have ways to gamble, but it’s a smaller town and with less commotion going on. Same free drinks when you’re sitting there gambling. BUT the entertainment isn’t nearly what it is in Vegas, so for anybody who likes to go to shows, Reno is definitely not the place.

  10. “It was directly across the street and had a reputation for stabbings, shootings, drugs, and prostitution.”–Sounds like the perfect setting for a crime story. 😄

  11. When I hear the name Carson City I think of the old t.v. show Bonanza and the map burning and the Cartwright men galloping into view.

  12. Great pix! We will probably follow in your footsteps…..

  13. Nevada, Vegas, bleh. My father lived in Vegas almost 30 years and my cousin lived there three or four. Not a fan. I just generally, overall, don’t care for the landscape and atmosphere of the west. There are places I liked, even loved aspects of, but I feel satisfied that I have been to those places and don’t plan to return.That being said, whenever I see certain photos of Tahoe, I feel that it may be one of the better parts. Your pictures are beautiful. I am glad you had a good time.
    (Celiac and smoke issues aside.)

  14. Gorgeous photos of Tahoe, Luanne. Love the slide show. And thanks for the link to Haven on Earth. Will be sharing it with a few friends who need gluten-free food ❤

  15. We were toying with moving to Carson City because it’s only a couple of hours’ drive from Bridgeport, CA, where we married, and Mono Lake. We love that part of Nevada and California. But then we went to Santa Fe … heh heh … Carson City is probably more affordable, but I don’t like the emphasis on casinos either. My mom — 94 years old — goes to casinos in New York. She’s not a big spender; just enjoys the slot machines. She also likes scratch-offs and the family gives her a mountain of those for her birthday and Christmas.

  16. Luanne, this is a lovely post. You have a wonderful way to taking us into your life, or your small adventures, so that I feel like I’m there! The casinos (ick), the pure beauty of Tahoe, the discovery of a wonderful bakery, that you saw Beautiful there and the riverwalk and the capitol buildings. Thank you!

  17. My parents loved belonging to the Good Sam or something like this camping club. They went from Maine to Florida, to Arizona to California. Not in the club, but still in their Transvan, they went to Canada and Mexico. They were like giggly teenagers, along with sweet grandparents to my three children, taking them “camping.”
    I would love to see “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” the play production!

    • I have been terrible about responding to comments, apparently. Gosh, I’m so sorry, Robin. Not just yours, but those of many. I feel like a weirdo.
      Hehehe, I love hearing that your parents were like giggly teenagers! How wonderful to think of them that way!
      That was a beautiful musical 🙂 for sure! I wish they would put some of these musicals on film so many can share in them.

  18. I love it that there are more and more restaurants to serve those with celiac or gluten sensitivities (we have several people in our family who are overjoyed when they find such a place while on vacation). It is so difficult to have to be so cautious all the time. What a great trip! I have driven through the area once in my early twenties, but not since then.

    • Yes, it gets very “old” having to pay such attention all the time. I know others have much worse problems, but for us it’s taken the enjoyment out of something we used to love, namely eating and travel. Especially since the gardener can’t eat a lot of other foods because he has a fairly severe form of celiac that leads to more and more food intolerances.

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