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Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Does anybody want to hear about my vacation? As regular readers will recall, I took last week off, heading with my son, Hunter, to Nebraska to visit my dad. I promised (threatened?) to tell how it went, and since I’m the kind of guy who likes knots at the ends of his strings, here goes.

I won’t bore you with the details of my pre- and post-trip vacation. I dug a trench for a sprinkler system, cleaned the home office, didn’t get hammered but did read the new Harry Potter, which, after the story begins on about page 300, isn’t a bad summer-vacation read.

The flight to Nebraska was just a little nerve-wracking. As the pilot flew into Phoenix, our first stop, we got down to about 400 yards above the strip, when the pilot suddenly aborted the landing. He later apologized for the “traffic avoidance maneuver” or some such euphemism. The lady across the aisle looked like she was going to apoplexy. Hunter, who’s 5, and I made jokes about doing loopty-loops, while I internally wondered if it might have been better for us to take separate planes.

The killer tornados hit Nebraska the day before my arrival. The lady at the car rental place said a town about 60 miles west had had bowling ball-size hail, and she congratulated me on my foresight for buying the comprehensive insurance.

The highlight of the trip was the 17-mile drive to Hiawatha, Kans., to pick out Hunter’s birthday present at Wal-Mart. I’m having trouble pulling out an evocative image of Hiawatha’s Wal-Mart, suffice it to say, it neither looked nor smelled new. Hunter, after his initial reaction to the creepy store, was quite happy with his Bionicle and Scooby-Doo coloring book.

It was nice to see my dad and to drive past the old high school and all, but, my-oh-my, wasn’t it good to see the magenta lights of Reno from 15,000 feet?