Friday, 25 June 2010


By Cecilia Seilern travelling with Lily Barton

We awoke after the worst night’s sleep of our lives having frozen to death in our far-too-large tent leaving worries of horny convicts a distant memory. As we packed up the tent, the surroundings that last night felt so intimidating to us looked much friendlier in the morning light. Our little campsite now conjured up images of happy families frolicking in the nearby stream rather than twitchy junkies hiding behind gargantuan tree trunks in search of their next fix. Tired but relieved to have gotten through our first night camping, we left the magnificent sequoia trees behind and headed for the shimmering lights of Reno. In one day’s drive, we saw the scenery change from the thick red trunks of the Redwood trees, to the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains and down into the hot and dry Nevada desert. It felt as though were my attention to wane, even just for a moment, I would miss an array of sights.

We arrived in Reno in time to see it in all its glory. The sun had set and the round casino light bulbs were shining brightly above us. Having set up camp about 20 miles outside of ‘The Biggest Little City in the World’, we were excited to sample some true American tack. Lured in by what looked like a town full of fun and our excitement probably amplified by a day in the car, we were ready to play on the penny slots and drink for free. It only took about five minutes in a casino for our excitement to falter. Surrounded by enormously fat, monosyllabic drowsy men and equally fat either half naked or half dead women chain smoking and losing all their money, we nostalgically remembered the meth addicts of Crescent City. Walking up and down the main casino street of Reno, we saw through the colourful façade and were faced with the depressing reality. Enormous casinos had turned their lights out and gone out of business, pawn and loan shops lined the streets like candy floss at a fun fair and drunken bums begged for a dollar to find a place to sleep no doubt having lost their beds at the betting tables. Although I only spent one evening in Reno it made me think of what a dying town might be like. After the Gold Rush, Nevada was left littered with ghost towns. Once prosperous mining towns were now simply abandoned after all its resources had been exhausted. This made think what an impressive ghost town Reno would make and I was left wishing its inhabitants would abandon it making my Reno dreams come true!

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