Coors Tour - Nevada
Last week’s blog described the first leg of a so-called "Coors Tour" to California during the summer of 1970 between my junior and senior years in college traveling with several fraternity brothers in a caravan. Our love of Coors beer, only sold out west, inspired our trip. Click on this link for a short Coors video that helps to better appreciate our inspiration. Does this catch qualifies for the Fish Report Hall of Fame, Craig?
The saga continues as we depart Salt Lake City heading west on Interstate 80. We had two vehicles in our caravan, the Chevy Greenbrier van nicknamed the Coorsmobile that I wrote about last week and a wild ’68 Mercury Cyclone GT that we called the Circus Wagon. You’ll see why in this photo.
The Circus Wagon’s owner was Harry from Virginia and as a big stock car racing fan, Cale Yarborough was his favorite, driving car #21.
Heading west out of Utah into Nevada, the caravan had to fill up with gas in Winnemucca and as we pulled out of the gas station, little did we realize that both vehicles were now in a funeral cortege, literally right behind the hearse! Those two vehicles sure did stick out in that procession.
Although we didn’t cause an accident with the hearse like shown in this photo, we no doubt did create some chaos among the mourners until we quickly turned out of the line-up once our screw-up was realized. To this day, we still laugh about that incident (and many others) at our regular luncheon get-togethers with my fraternity brothers.
The gambling mecca of Reno provided the next stop for our caravan. None of us had ever been to a casino, so it was indeed an adventure. One of the guys had learned about a “fool-proof” system for playing the craps table. So of course, we had to try the gambit. It involved betting on the field.
First time at a craps table can be mighty intimidating for midwestern neophytes like us; however, his system proved to work great (at first). The Field bettor wins if a 2, 3, 4, 9,10,11 or 12 is rolled, with 2 and 12 paying double. Back then, there were quarter tables, with 25 cents chips. We’d bet one chip on the field and if we lost, the bet would be increased according to the following sequence 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160. If we won, the sequence would start over again at one chip. In other words, the bettor is hoping to never lose 8 straight times. If the occasional 2 or 12 is rolled late in the sequence, it would pay double with a sizable win. During that gambling venture, we never did lose 8 straight times and won about $200 between us, just betting quarter chips, while drinking free Coors beer the whole time. We were hooked!
Since that first venture in a casino, I’ve tried numerous times to replicate that success, always eventually throwing 8 straight losers and walking away with empty pockets. Now it’s almost impossible to find a craps table with less than a $5 minimum, so the losses mount up pretty quickly with each loss. So much for that system; or maybe I should try it next time drinking Coors!
While in Reno, we toured nearby Virgina City, the home of the popular western TV show at the time Bonanza. The show was about a family named the Cartwright’s who had a large ranch called the Ponderosa.
From there we headed to Lake Tahoe, finally arriving in California for the first time in our lives. Not so much today, but back then, visiting California was the wish of most college kids, and we exemplified those desires. I seem to recall getting out of the car at the state line and kissing the ground.
The music, movies and TV shows all made California out to be this idyllic place with perfect weather, white sand beaches and beautiful girls. We had all grown up watching the Mickey Mouse Club, filmed at Disneyland in Anaheim.
Annette (lower right) was my favorite, which was the case for every other boy back then. By the time we were in high school, she was grown up and starring in a whole series of California beach party movies. Made for great drive-in movie fun; but I digress!
Lake Tahoe was absolutely stunning, with its crystal blue water, stately pines and majestic mountains. That first exposure to California reinforced every perception we had of the Golden State.
On that note, our California adventures will be further chronicled in next week’s blog.