After exiting the first-class Southwest accommodations, I got on the commuter bus that takes you to the Las Vegas rental car center. I’ve been there a few times now and, after analyzing my experiences, I have a theory. I believe only one rental car agency gets to take reservations on-line or over the phone per day. I believe this because every time I get a rental car in Vegas only one agency seems to be renting cars.
I walked into the center and all the agency desks had no line or just one or two people, except Avis. They were packed. Guess which agency I had booked through on line? So I waited behind 30 other people in the Avis line while watching time go by and countless other walk-ups go to another agency. An hour later, I drove away in my sporting not-quite-street-race ready Hyundai Elantra. I can’t complain. All four cylinders were in fine working order and when my company picks up the tab, it doesn’t spring for new Mustangs or Hummers.
Luckily, I gave myself plenty of cushion time between landing in the City of Sin at noon last Friday and the start of Reed’s first game at 4 p.m. However, the family in front of me in the Avis line might not have been so lucky. They were supposed to be at the MGM by 2 p.m. to catch the weigh-in for Saturday’s UFC event. They were on a special vacation from Michigan thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation as one of the family’s boys had been granted a wish during his battle with cancer. The mother of the family and I chatted about how it really shouldn’t be too much to ask to wait in line for less than a half hour to pick up your rental car.
I cruised ... well more like managed to get to my hotel as there wasn’t much cruising in the Elantra. There I was informed that I’d be charged with an early check in fee of $12.50 if I chose to check in before 2 p.m. It was 1:48 p.m. at that point. So I sat in the lobby for 12 fun minutes of people watching.
At 2 p.m. sharp I checked in, dropped off my stuff and began my ride out to Majestic Park for Reed’s first game. I say ride, but it was actually more like a small pilgrimage. Why do so many people want to live in Las Vegas? That town is so large and spread out now. I got on U.S. 95 heading north to Majestic Park , but I didn’t realize it would seem like I’d trek halfway back to Reno before I got there.
Reed wound up getting upset in its first game Friday afternoon. And then, the Raiders had an extended break between games as the field they were set to play on at 6 p.m. saw its first game go to extra innings. So with a little down time, I found a bench in the shade near the children’s playground equipment. I watched the kids a little bit, thinking about my four-year-old and his affection for the modern marvel we call the slide.
Then I got self-conscious, thinking a few moms were staring at me, probably wondering if I was some shady character hanging out at the playground. I was just trying to get out of the sun. Luckily last weekend the mercury in Las Vegas hovered around 90 degrees and not the surface temperature of the sun.
At that point I guess my trials and tribulations were pretty much done for the day. However, they were far from finished for the trip. Alone for the weekend, I kept myself out of trouble Friday night in Las Vegas. I have no secret stories that need to “stay in Vegas.” Then again if I did, I guess they’d stay there. Anyway, I’m getting ready Saturday morning when I get a call. I answer it and touch base with my wife about the upcoming day and what time she needs to pick me up later that evening.
I headed back out to the park for Reed’s Saturday morning state tourney affair. I think I passed three wise men and a guy named Forest, who looked like he’d been jogging forever, on my morning pilgrimage back to the park. Once I got there, I realized that little bit of tooth paste I thought I’d rubbed off my shirt when I got my morning call from my wife, didn’t quite get rubbed off. Instead it set in and left a nice, dark blue mark. Since it was the only shirt I’d allocated from my travel bag for the day, I was stuck looking like a guy who needed to be in a Tide commercial.
I’m pretty sure all the kind mothers of Reed High softball players, who I enjoyed Saturday’s Raiders games with, were just being nice. They probably all wanted to say, “Hey, you got a big blue toothpaste mark on your shirt. Who taught you how to brush your teeth, the blind guy with no hands?”
That was quite the topper for a trip that seemed to have just as much go wrong as went right.
•On a little more serious note, I wanted to congratulate the Reed softball team on a wonderful season. I don’t know if I’ve seen a team battle through more tournament adversity.
Reed came back to win the Northern 4A Tournament by winning three-loser out games on the Saturday of the event, including two championship wins over state power Spanish Springs. Then, Reed went to state, lost its first game and battled back through the loser’s bracket to force an if-game in the championship series before falling in 11 innings to Centennial. The Raiders showed more heart, hustle and guts than I’ve seen in a long time.
Raiders coach Ray Charles is among the best in the business and his teams are always among the best in the state. It was a pleasure to watch this local team compete in its playoff run over the last two weeks and all spring.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s
sports editor. He can be reached via e-mail at