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The Right Approach...Views on the world of bowling.

Volume 2, Issue 23, The 75th Edition

By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

      If someone was going to nominate a city for being THE bowling city in terms of participation, it would probably go to Detroit. Most of ABC/WIBC's stats about averages come from Detroit and they have so many bowlers, it boggles the mind. On the other hand, if someone were going to name a bowling mecca, it would be a much tougher call. Las Vegas is the home of so many casinos with bowling centers--namely Showboat, Sam's Town, and the Orleans, so many pro and amateur tournaments--the PBA and the PWBA pass through there several times each year, and add in the excitement of the megabuck amateur events, and well, it's just Las Vegas. Forgive me though, when I think of bowling, I prefer Reno.

      The National Bowling Stadium gives Reno the obvious advantage, with that huge geodesic dome ball sticking out of the front. Walking in the revolving front doors, you realize how big the place is. Those escalators reaching skyward are just incredible. Then you see the stadium seating, the giant scoring units, and bowling lanes that have never seen actual league play. I tend to forget to add that the stadium is nonsmoking as well and breathing is a pleasure, because all of California prohibits it, but after a trip out of state, I'm keenly reminded that Reno thought ahead on that aspect.

      But Reno has more than just the stadium. Reno is a more traveler-friendly town. Las Vegas has spread itself out farther and farther. Where there once was only a Downtown, now there is a Strip, and further east the "Boulder Strip." If I'm in Vegas, I'll hide out at Sam's Town, to stay away from the clutter, but at some point I need to brave the traffic snarls that rival NY or L.A. In Reno, I think, what clutter? I don't even need to rent a car. Airport shuttles pick me up for free, take me to the hotel, and I could be there a week and never need a car. Even when I drive up, the car sits in the garage for most of the time. Reno is much more compact. There are the big three hotel/casinos: El Dorado, Silver Legacy, and Circus Circus. But everything is within walking distance. Many of the casinos don't even require visitors to go outside, they can use elevated walkways that connect the casinos.

      But when I do venture out, there is the celebrity automobile museum. And an incredible old hometown feel that just defies logic. When my son got the sniffles in Reno last year, we found a pharmacy a block from some of the casinos. I felt like I had stepped into a time machine seeing the pharmacist complete with the white jacket that buttons up the side. He kept all the medications behind the counter, so we had to describe the symptoms to him. It gave a whole new meaning to "over the counter." They don't have anything like that where I live, and the 24-hour Walgreen's with slot machines in Vegas don't have quite the same touch.

      The flight to Reno is a bit of a pain, since there's a guaranteed stop or change of planes if I use my local airport. If I drive to LAX, it's a nonstop, but that's an hour out of my way. The strange thing is flightwise, the trip to Reno and Las Vegas aren't noticeably different in length, yet the drive for me is about double. Las Vegas is four hours and change, Reno is a solid 8 hours. That's ok. The drive to Vegas is really a game of connect the dots on a map, with the dots being towns large enough to have gas stations. Reno is a scenic drive up through the mountains and along the Truckee River. Reno gets cold at night, but their version of winter is still tolerable to someone from a temperate climate, and there is nothing unbearable about a Reno summer. Las Vegas, on the other hand, can still be over 100 at midnight. Blech.

      Don't get me wrong, I love Vegas for what it does have, but when we decide on an image for bowling, I'd prefer to associate it with Reno. So wish me luck while I am "associating" later this week with my friends at the Festival of Bowling tournament at the NBS.

Gotta Split,


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