This is a simple column by a complex
Hey, you drive from Washington to California on one of the hottest summers of the year with a toddler and a mother.
...Only to find an exclusive resort for the rich, famous and private.
Where’s the fucking mom ‘n pop stores, the $5 sandwich shops, the burger lunch wagons, the Korean restaurants, the lights?!
Safety tip: Head south of the lake, pause north only for picture-taking, don’t let the bumper strike pavement on your way out.
First night, at the Tahoe Biltmore (“The Biltmore? Fucking Chee-rist! We’ve hit the jackpot!” “Er, babe, it’s not the one in Arizona.”), and I’m in hell...chain-smoking, murdering some high-pitched Jaws shrieking chick in the parking lot just outside at 4 in the morning hell. I probably caught 50,000 viruses from the two-inch thick mold on the radiator vents alone. And, I still see the chalk line of the dead body from the week before next to the splatter of blood. Or, would that be chunks of pepperoni?
We took a wrong turn in the dark – street lamps are unheard of for the rich, famous and paranoid – too early, and landed in a quiet residential vacuum, the lone hotel, a Hyatt, still in the midst of remodeling, and the one remnant of Oriental for my starved mom (who requires a daily dose of noodles, rice, soy sauce and/or hot crab stew in order to keep sane), an overpriced boutique restaurant hidden in the back behind the slots, the blackjack tables and the chain-smoking old white guys in cheap plaid suits. Ciao Mein, a novel idea back in the ‘80s—take Italian and Chinese and split the menu down the middle, add three zeros—sucks when you have a hungry, tired 19-month-old, a hungry, tired demanding high-maintenance mother, and a pissed-off frustrated husband jonesing for one pizza joint in the single price digits and trying (badly) to hide his incredulous fury at the Beverly Hills cost of some of these less-than-impressive attempts at Chinese or Italian. Ravioli in bear jizz sauce with a hint of cacti needles? Four potstickers loaded with armadillo shit and poison ivy, for eight bucks? Nothing for a kid, but fragile, breakable ceramic, six-figure art-deco dishes and crystal wine goblets. You’ve got to be kidding me.
One more road up and we’d have found at least Japanese sushi and Mofo, that Italian joint hubby jones’d for.
This area must cater to the silicone set. I haven’t seen so many ass cracks on jeans since a plumbers’ convention.
We headed south, in an impromptu move for better lodgings and more variety in cuisine, toward Harrah’s, Harvey’s, Caesar’s and private beach access that resembled the mass graves in Waikiki. But hey, there was Sunday Brunch, two Italian joints, and several Japanese and Chinese restaurants. And lots of gambling for my mom, while we baked and ate and slept the two days remaining.
[Not responsible for any inaccuracies in travelogue. Hey, we drove down and back, you try that with nothing to entertain but pine trees and brown fields, with the smell of cow shit in the mornings and afternoons.]
Snow-Cone Drive-In... The best soft-serve ice cream, so much for so little, and I snuck a burger combo too after watching a 200-lb. woman with a bad perm in a pink and white muumuu down some onion rings.
Public Beach... Great bike and walk trail from our TraveLodge. Too bad I’m a lazy fat ass who’d rather drive, oops, didn’t let hubby in on the inside joke, we spent a dismal 20 minutes chasing our son, who scraped his arms amidst the gravelly pit near the barbecues set up by the Mexican and Indian families taking a Labor Day break from servicing us at our hotels and casinos. Should’ve brought the stroller, he’d sit still for at least five minutes longer, as I passed an array of marinated meats on a picnic table, definitely ethnic, some green chilis, pork, in large plastic bins, ready for the grill and for a minute I wished James were 18 and we could, the three of us, mom at Harrah’s doing baccarat and black jack, check out the different ways different types of families from all over the world do barbecue but maybe in the Winter Olympics-Vancouver when he’s seven, and we have two more fighting in the back seat, whining for the next rest stop, and the eternal childhood question, “Are we there, yet?”
(God, did I ask that on the long drive down Oregon—the ugliest, brownest, hottest, nothing of a rectangle—and through the desert wasteland of olive and cow patty country, central valley California. Sacramento on up is just plain blah. A few funnel clouds in the pasture helped disrupt the monotony, a two-car pile-up, a white trash hick barefoot mom scolding her little girl for taking too long pissing in the filthy rest stop bathroom, but otherwise, too many bad hash brown breakfasts in 90 degrees.)
Last day at the TraveLodge, first sign of clouds, and thunder, loud braying claps. I stepped outside for a second, watching my husband load up the car, the mountains before me, studded with pine trees (at night, it’s like breathing in Lysol), when an elderly gentleman approached, carrying a cooler and, in deadpan, “Storm and Drang,” then passed as I laughed and farted heartily.
Too many hash brown breakfasts maybe.
one night we showered, dressed up and arrived promptly at the Harrah’s
We laughed the night before, at Villa Roma, after mom stuffed James with a meatball, lasagna, bread, and half of everybody else’s dinners. Just to keep quiet.
It’s not easy traveling with a baby much less a toddler with distinct likes, dislikes and the attention span of a typical boy. While a 15-month-old girl from Turkey sat placidly on the beach, playing with the sand, James ran as fast as his little legs could carry him to the playground, discovered the slides for the first time, as well as “No!” and insisted on moving around, wherever, whenever, until placed firmly in the playpen for bed. At least three to four times a day, he graced us with a temper tantrum, refusing to be diapered, teeth brushed, fed, held.
In a few years time, we’ll go back, try again, take a little longer, and definitely avoid the North side of Lake Tahoe. Then, maybe we can finally watch a movie in its entirety and catch more than half an interrupted hour of an “Animal House” retrospective.
I thought of soaps twice throughout our six-day vacation:
Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH) probably drove down this way to take a break from his job, did he wish he has XM radio like I did?
Jon Lindstrom (Kevin, PC) lived in Medford, OR, he must’ve been around this godforsaken – what the hell is that crystal palace doing among the tract houses up on that hill (Oregon has hills, not mountains)?
And one nightmare, where Tamara Braun (Carly, GH) stood onstage at a fan club event to chastise critics with a heartfelt speech that went something like, “The actors are doing the best they can with the material they have. It’s not like the ratings have tanked either. So the fans who are dissatisfied should take that into consideration before they slam a show that’s been for the most part very entertaining.” To which I stood up in the audience and spoke my piece, “When the material starts being written by professionals who care about good actors and great stories, then the majority of the true fans will stop bitching. And isn’t it ever-so easy to think all’s well when you’re front and center 24/7?” To which Billy Warlock (A.J., GH) and Stephen Nichols (Stefan, GH) stood clapping maniacally backstage. But Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth, GH) couldn’t make the event, citing family obligations, and I saw her sobbing violently in my mind. So I thought about adding some praise to her and the other actors who are consistently polishing turds.
Then, back to passing the occasional farm house or trailer park, peeking into the kind of lives that would stick smack dab in the middle of 90 degrees of wheat blistered hell, hash browns and burritos for dinner.
Souvenirs, a Chevron ice cream truck with a mint chocolate chip cone on top, a bear at Yreka’s Grandma’s, and these pictures.
I’d be in them, except I ate too much. Fat ass in a pink and white muumuu.
“AMC, kinda sorta maybe better”
“an audience of one”
“add a real dose of reality-TV to soaps”
“Bianca sucks, let’s rape her!”
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