Making plans to visit my family for Thanksgiving in Denver, I had to decide the best day to travel.
It’s a long drive from Reno to Denver. Knocking off a big chunk in one day while staying awake is the challenge. I can’t rely on my wife to keep me alert, she falls asleep in the car if we go any further than the grocery store.
A Sunday drive with satellite radio would be perfect. I could listen to a whole day of football action and drive about 650 miles.
I took off at 9:30 a.m., in time to catch the pre-game shows and set all my radio stations.
During the first halves I bounced around the dial a little, but mostly listened to the Steelers/Browns game.
You get the local announcers on these broadcasts, but sometimes not both. I was disappointed not getting the Pittsburgh announcers. Bill Hillgrove’s voice would have been a pleasant nostalgic trip to my Steel City youth. It wasn’t to be. The Browns’ announcers would have to do.
My wife was deep in REM by the time I got to Fallon. Not that I didn’t expect it. At least the Steelers had taken a 10-3 lead. I had the Steelers in a teaser, so I was feeling pretty good about my bet.
I was one of the geniuses who bet the Texans, laying 9.5 with a team on an eight game losing streak. The Jaguars led 10-0 as I caught the first minutes of listening to that debacle. Click.
Over to the Chargers/Chiefs game. I bet the Chiefs early in the week, but made a late switch to the Chargers. The Chiefs led 14-3 at my first listen, and it didn’t look like it was going to get any better. Damn, I thought. Should have stuck with my first instincts. Click.
I needed some good news. The Bucs were one of my best plays of the week. I took points and had a small play on the money line as well. They led 14-10. The point spread bet looked good early, but I would never breathe easy on that kind of money line bet until the final gun. Still a long way to go.
Time to check other games. I had the Ravens over the Jets. That looked good from the get-go. I caught the score, 9-3 Ravens, and moved on.
The Dolphins were my best play. I took +4½, pressed it at +4 and played them on the money line. The Dolphins led 10-3 and looked like the right side. I felt good about that one.
I realize most Las Vegans think the state, or even the whole world, ends at the Mount Charleston turnoff. I’m here to tell you, there is a great big state out there.
Fallon is on U.S. Highway 50, nicknamed the Loneliest Road in America. It is pretty darn lonely, but the few towns have some cool highlights.
Businesses all through Fallon had signs proclaiming their pride in the local high school. The Green Wave ended their season in the state Class A final with a 17-0 loss. I’m enough of a sap to appreciate the quaintness of a whole town supporting their team.
Heading west on the highway, the next highlight is Middlegate, which is a hotel, bar, restaurant and town all in one building. Middlegate is well known among veterans of Northern Nevada’s finest dives for grilling up fantastic hamburgers. I’ve made the hour and a half drive from Reno a couple times. It was worth it.
Another hour to the east is Austin. The Toyabe Café isn’t nearly as famous as Middlegate, but their bacon double cheeseburger might be the best burger of my life. If GamingToday food critic Marco D’Angelo or Las Vegas burgermeister Marc Meltzer can stand being in a car with me that long, I’ll take them to either spot to get their opinion on some culinary delights where The Strip will seem as far away as Mars.
Around the time I hit Eureka, an old mining town that still has a look of class, the early finals started coming in. The Steeler game was never in doubt. The Ravens won easy. I’m embarrassed to even admit I bet the Texans. The Chargers pulled out a miracle win. The Bucs held on to win outright.
I turned the radio to the Dolphins game just after the Panthers converted a fourth and ten. They looked like a loser for 59 minutes, but somehow pulled out the victory. I lost my money line bet, pushed a big part of the rest of my play and pretty much blew the chance at a great morning.
Leaving Ely with the sun setting behind us we stopped the car to admire Wheeler Peak with a crown of clouds gleaming in a vivid pink. We took some pictures, but they will never do it justice. It really did make me forget about the Dolphin game.
The Cowboys were my only afternoon play, but I still tuned in to all three games for at least a little while. They looked like easy winners until I had to hang on by a thread late in the game. That kept me awake.
Capping off the day, the drive from the Nevada border to Green River, Utah, was filled with the Broncos/Patriots broadcast. I expected a close game, so I had the Pats to complete my Steelers teaser.
During the first half I was thinking teasing this game was as smart as betting the Texans. The second half kept me awake through the last 100 miles of my trip through mountains and dense fog. I checked into my hotel, then listened to the final minute in my car as the Pats kicked the game winning field goal.
My timing for the day was perfect, even though the handicapping wasn’t. I got to relive the old days before satellite television when all we had was the radio to catch the games. I saw some neglected parts of our state that remind you there is a Nevada that has nothing to do with casinos.
All in all, though, not a bad day. Not bad at all.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com and www.sharpssports.com. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].