DAY 13 – MAY 26
My mom, Aunt Pauline, Elvis, Cilla and I piled in the car once again and left Salt Lake City for Reno, Nevada. Eight hours later, we arrived at the Ramada Reno Hotel and Casino, where we would stay for the next five nights. We were so happy to stay in the same place for more than a couple nights. I really liked our hotel, which had a restaurant and small casino, as well as a really nice big room. I wanted to stay on the strip, but no hotels allowed 2 dogs. Of course I would have rather been in Las Vegas than Reno, but Reno was on the way from Salt Lake City to Seattle.
DAY 14 – MAY 27
We had a yummy breakfast in the hotel restaurant before taking the free hotel shuttle a mile down the road to the Reno strip for a day of gambling. We played at Eldorado, Silver Legacy, Circus Circus and Harrah’s. I won a little bit, but ended up about even for the day. We had lunch at Café Sedona at Silver Legacy. After about 6 hours on the Reno strip, we took the hotel shuttle back and had dinner in the hotel restaurant and gambled a little more in the hotel casino. I did not love Reno. It was a bit ghetto – nothing like Vegas.
DAY 15 – MAY 28
We started out our day just like yesterday, with a yummy filling breakfast in our hotel. But that’s where the similarity ended. This 15th day of my U2 360 tour across America brought me, my mom and my aunt through Carson City and into the snow of Lake Tahoe. Our first stop was just about 10-15 minutes from our hotel, south of Reno on the way to Carson City and Lake Tahoe. We stopped at the Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory. I think I bought enough candy to last me for the rest of my U2 360 road trip – peanut butter fudge, chocolate covered graham crackers, chocolate caramels and a big hunk of white chocolate. We made it to Carson City and just drove through and see what it was like. There was a casino and a couple of cool looking bars and a park, but not a big vacation destination. We reached Lake Tahoe and the temperature drastically dropped. It was about 50 degrees when we left Reno and it dropped into the 30s by the time we stopped at Lake Tahoe to take pictures. We drove around the Lake and went into the Horizon Casino. I wanted to stop here because it used to be the Sahara Casino where Elvis performed in the 1970s. There was no longer any evidence of the King though. We decided rather than drive back the way we came, to drive all the way around Lake Tahoe. So we made our way into California along route 89. This road was quite narrow and at many points had no guard rail and just dropped off with no shoulder. My mom was terrified and at one pointed shouted, “Stop the car and let me out!” After, she didn’t even remember saying it she was so scared. To make matters worse, it was snowing – hard. 32 degrees and snowing on Memorial Day Weekend – the official start of summer. I never thought it would be this cold on my summer road trip, or that I would encounter snow – twice!
DAY 16 – MAY 29
My mom, my aunt and I started off our Sunday at Peg’s Glorified Ham and Eggs for breakfast. Apparently it is the must-eat breakfast spot – definitely a local spot, not a lot of tourists there. It lived up to its name for me. Breakfast was fantastic and they had fresh squeezed orange juice. After breakfast, the sleet/snow/rain had stopped and we headed out to the Grand Sierra Resort. We noticed this casino on our way to Lake Tahoe. The Grand Sierra Hotel and Casino is only about a mile from our hotel and about a mile from downtown Reno. I would definitely stay there if I ever get back to Reno. They allow dogs and is reasonably priced! It’s the best casino I’ve seen in Reno – reminds me of Dover Downs. Grand Sierra has a great variety of slots and several bars and restaurants, so there is no real need to ever leave the resort. And besides free drinks, they were also giving out free cookies!
DAY 17 – MAY 30
Before taking Mom and Aunt Pauline to the airport for their noon flight home, we had breakfast in our hotel and then went back to the fabulous Grand Sierra Resort to gamble for a couple hours. After I dropped them off at the airport, I went to Petco to get dog food for Elvis and Cilla, got gas for our trip tomorrow, and went to Subway for lunch. I was back at the hotel by 1, and Elvis, Cilla and I just relaxed for the rest of the day before our long drive to Portland the next day. Part one of my U2 360 tour had ended.
DAY 18 – MAY 31
Elvis, Cilla and I left Reno at 6:30am and finally arrived in Portland, Oregon 715 miles later at 6:30pm. I took the long way, so I could drive on bigger roads – 80 west to 5 north. It was beautiful scenery between the rain and fog up and down the mountains. I stopped just twice on our 12 hour drive listening to U2 the entire way – as I would do for the rest of my trip since my mom and aunt were no longer with me. When I got to the fabulous Vintage Plaza hotel in Portland, there was a welcome sign for Elvis and Cilla, they had upgraded us to a huge suite, and gave me free valet parking. In our beautiful suite, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was playing in the cd player and there was a framed picture of Elvis and Cilla. Also I had a bottle of wine waiting for me as well as vouchers for the restaurant and honor bar. And Elvis and Cilla had all sorts of treats waiting for them as well.
Please watch my video of Day 18 – our long drive to Portland and our lovely suite at the Hotel Vintage Plaza.
DAY 19 – JUNE 1
My stay at the Hotel Vintage Plaza in Portland got even better and better. I literally made my upgraded luxurious suite our haven for 36 hours, only going outside to take Elvis and Cilla to O’Bryant Square. It was nice just to do nothing after almost 3 weeks of going and going. I used my restaurant vouchers and ordered lunch and dinner in my room. It was fantastic! I loved Portland. Even though I only saw the couple blocks around my hotel, it seems like my kind of city – big enough where there is plenty to do and very liberal and dog friendly.
DAY 20 – JUNE 2
Upon my checkout of the Hotel Vintage Plaza, Jonathan, who had checked me in, left me All That You Can’t Leave Behind cd for my drive to Seattle. On my way to my car, I met Jeri, the General Manager, and her dog Georgie, Diva of Pet Relations. Jeri contacted all the Kimpton hotels I was going to be staying at (Seattle, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia) asking them to treat me well. Kimpton Hotels is now my favorite hotel brand. They have the best customer service I’ve ever seen and are truly dog friendly. They do no charge extra for dogs nor do they have breed or size restrictions. They also provide dog snacks, toys and bowls.
We arrived in at the Monaco Hotel in Seattle around 12:30 after passing by the Tacoma Dome, where I saw U2 10 years ago on the Elevation Tour, and passing by Qwest Field, where U2 is playing on this 360 tour. Jenny joined us for our stay in Seattle, which was to be one of the best times of my entire trip. In fact my time in Seattle began my favorite part of my U2 360 tour – from Seattle to Oakland to Anaheim to Baltimore. Not my favorite U2 shows, but my favorite part of traveling.
We attended the North American premiere of Killing Bono at the Seattle International Film Festival. It was shown at the Neptune Theatre, one of the University District’s oldest theatres. The movie Killing Bono is based on Neil McCormick’s memoir Killing Bono: I was Bono’s Doppelganger. I liked the book better. In Killing Bono, Neil McCormick tells the story of his life and how he was always competing, in his mind, with U2. He went to school with Bono, Larry, Adam and Edge and was forming a band at the same time they were. In fact, his brother Ivan was almost in U2 – he was in Larry’s kitchen at that first rehearsal. Neil always wanted to be famous and be in the biggest band in the world, but that happened to Bono not him. The movie Killing Bono was good. It was well-done, entertaining and funny. I especially liked Robert Sheehan who played Ivan McCormick, Neil’s brother. I liked that the only U2 song that was played was I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, especially since I’m wasn’t hearing it live at the time. The Larry character of course did not do Larry justice, but the Adam’s character late 1970s hair was dead on. What I did not like was that the movie took some liberties with the truth and added scenes for dramatic purposes that did not happen. One of these scenes was Neil McCormick pointing a gun at Bono deciding if he was going to kill him. It was very disturbing. All I kept thinking was ‘Mark Chapman.’ The book Killing Bono had more U2 in it, especially when they were starting out, and continued throughout Neil McCormick’s writing career – past 1987 where the movie ended. After the showing, director Nick Hamm skyped in and did a Q & A with the audience. He said that U2, with the exception of Larry, viewed Killing Bono in Australia when they were touring there. He said they found themselves amusing, especially Adam’s hair. I was surprised that the small theatre was only about half full, and that it wasn’t all U2 fans. There were some folks there with U2 shirts on, but it was mostly film festival fans. I expected it to be in a huge sold out theatre with wall to wall U2 fans. I mean I changed my plans and came into Seattle a day early just so I could see the North American premiere of Killing Bono.
Please watch my video of Day 20 of our drive to Seattle.
DAY 21 – JUNE 3
Jenny and I started our day with breakfast at the Blue Water Taco Grill. I had a yummy veggie scramble. Then we walked to the Monorail, which is still operating from when it started at the 1961 World’s Fair – the same fair where Elvis filmed It Happened at the World’s Fair. The Monorail took us to the Space Needle, but we didn’t go up in it. I went up in it 10 years ago when I was here for U2’s Elevation show in Tacoma. But right next to the Space Needle is the Experience Music Project, which was showing a Nirvana exhibit – the reason why I went to the EMP.
The Experience Music Project was named and modeled after Jimmy Hendrix. The Nirvana exhibit was great. It had memorabilia, photos, performances, documentaries, and a studio where fans can record their Nirvana stories. I did not tell about the dreams/nightmares I had after Kurt’s death involving me yelling at Courtney. I bought a Kurt Cobain biography, a Nirvana tee shirt, Elvis guitar picks, a drum keychain and Seattle and EMP/Nirvana magnets.
After the EMP, Jenny and I wanted to take a bus tour and had only a short time to make it. While we were rushing to catch the light rail, we heard the drums for Desire. We paused because we weren’t sure we heard it correctly, but then we heard ‘Lover I’m on the street.’ So we ran toward Desire. It was a band and gospel choir on the back of a semi truck. The banner above the stage read ‘One Life No Regrets’ and then in smaller letters ‘noregretsu2.’ The singer, Patrick Stark, turned 40 and wanted to make sure he was living his life with no regrets – something I could identify with. He had always had a fear of singing in public, so to conquer his fear he was making a documentary called One Life No Regrets about his quest to sing on stage with U2. In preparation, he sang a set of U2 songs with a Gospel choir – Desire, In God’s Country, All I Want is You, One, Until the End of the World. Please watch the video of One Life No Regrets.
After our impromptu U2 show, Jenny and I walked to Pike Place Market for lunch. We stumbled upon the Hard Rock on our way and people were lined up just like they were at the Denver Hard Rock waiting for free tickets to the U2 concert. They brought shoes to donate to the Souls for Soul charity, and those first 100 people or so were to get free U2 tickets. We went to the Fish Market and saw them throw the fish and then had lunch at the café overlooking the water. I of course had tuna. What else do you have at a fish market?
After lunch it was finally time for our Sub Seattle bus tour, which we had tried to take earlier but got sidetracked by Patrick’s U2 show. We lucked out and it was only Jenny and I on the tour. This Sub Seattle tour told us the non-toursity, non-obvious facts about Seattle. We went to Beacon Hill, Washington Lake and my reason on going on the tour Kurt Cobain’s house. We also saw the Black Hole Sun sculpture, which supposedly inspired Soundgarden’s song. Looking through the hole, you can see the Space Needle in the distance. After our busy day walking around in the rare Seattle sun, we just relaxed in our hotel room and ordered room service. Seattle is a great city, but very hilly!
I loved Seattle. It is a great city with great people, and while I was there the weather was great. My time in Seattle was one of the best times I had on my entire trip. Please watch my video of my day in Seattle.