Spud looks for a place in Reno to deposit his cashRiches to rags

Spud was reading thru the newspaper one fine morning when he came across an article totuing the US Government's "Cash for Clunkers" program, an effort to stimulate the economy by enticing folks to sell their old, gas guzzling cars and put that newly found money into the economy. The tato had such a clunker in his garage, so he had it towed down to a local dealership and a few minutes later walked out with a bankroll of cash.

Money had been hard to come by with the downturn in the economy, so the potato was eager to replenish his budget. Spud's traveling was pretty expensive though, so he tried to think of ways that he could increase the size of his cash pile. It wasn't long before a lightbulb appeared above his head with an idea...gambling. The tater was pretty good with the cards and figured his chances were pretty good to at least double his cash.

Now, the next things was to choose where he'd get the biggest bang for his buck.

Spud's prior experiences in Las Vegas had made the tuber a little gun-shy of the Bright Lights of the Neon city, so he scoured his maps looking for an alternative. Looking a little further North up the map, the tato spotted Reno, Nevada...touted as the "Biggest Little City in the World".

The decision was made and Spud jumped into his truck and headed to the dry north of Nevada.

Upon arriving in little Reno, the side dish found casino after casino all willing to alleviate the burden of Spud having to carry his bankroll. After observing a few tables at FitzGeralds, the tato focussed in on one table where the other players were dressed in loud shirts and wore socks in their sandals. The sly tater quickly surmised these were not serious players and there was easy money to be had.

Spud hopped up onto a vacant spot on the table and ante'd up. Testing the waters first, he started out with a few small bets. The cards coooperated and soon the pots were sliding over in front of the potato as he began to win hand after hand.

The other players at the table were somewhat oblivious to the fact that Spud was shrinking their piles of chips. Sensing a kill, the tato began to salivate at the prospects of cleaning up.

The American Shoe tree - a monument to discarded footwearThe next hand was dealt. The tater pulled out his eyes, nose and mouth so he would not give any 'tells' to his opponents. Spud was served up a pair of Kings. Fortunately, his smile was tucked away inside his body otherwise he certainly would have given himself away to the others.

He bet a few hundred. Each of the others continued their discussion about the merits of Oxy-Clean, and almost blindly tossed their matching chips into the pot.

Another King appeared in Spud's hand. The tater's pulse quickened...no wait, he's an inanimate opject and therefore has no internal organs...it must have been the vibration from the slot machines...but I digress. The tuber tossed another few hundred into the Pot. One of the players looked over at Spud and sat up, revealing his "I brake for Bingo" t-shirt. A long smirk emerged along his lips, growing longer and longer before finally curling up on the edges. The man pushed what was left of his chip pile into the centre of the table. "I'm in" he said, as his smirk continued to grow even wider

No point in pussy footing around..With 3 Kings.it was time to go all in. The tater sensed victory and pushed his entire pile of chips into the center of the table, and reached into his wallet to cap it off with $1000 more and the registration to his Truck..

The cards were flipped. Spud had 3 kings. His opponent had 2 aces and a deuce.

The dealer tossed a Queen to Spud, but another Ace to his rival. The tuber started to break a bit of a sweat.

Fortunately another King flew from the dealer to Spud. 4 kings...unbeatable. That is until another Ace landed at the other end of the table. 4 Aces appeared to take away the tater's hopes at a huge payday, and with it, all of his chips. Spud was broker than broke. In fact, he didn't even have enough money to pay for the shrimp cocktail he had, so he gave the waitress his running shoes. It was a sad day.

Demoralized, Spud set off to the highway to begin the long hitchike back to Arizona. The hot summer sun scorched the pavement and was slowly frying the Tato's tootsies. Fortunately for the side dish, he didn't have to wait too long before being given a ride. The man who stopped learned of Spud's plight and then mentioned to the potato that he knew of a place where he could get some shoes for free.

Spud arrives at the Burning Man festivalA few hours later, the tato was deposited at the foot of a large tree in Middlegate, Nevada. Upon closer inspection, the potato realized that the tree was covered in hundreds upon hundreds of pairs of discarded footwear. For some strange reason, this poor tree was turned into a living landfill for dirty, smelly shoes. Disgusted by this lack of respect for the environment, but also in need of some footwear, the tuber climbed up the trunk and pulled a pair off one of the branches.There were so many pairs that he was even able to find one that was similar to the pair he had to give up in Reno

Needing a place to stay, the tater spotted an old VW bus brightly painted in psychedelic designs and filled with some old hippies, not unlike the ones he met in San Francisco on another trip. They were very helpful to Spud then, so he wandered over to see if they could lend assistance again.

The familiar aroma of wacky tabacky seeped through the rusty pores of the vanagon. The driver's bearded face emerged from a smoke cloud and greeted the side dish.

After telling of his plight, the hipster told the tato that they were on a pilgrimmage to the infamous Burning Man festival; a temporary community of 45000+ that comes together for 1 week a year on a remote playa in the Black Rock desert of Northern Nevada. Spud would be able to crash with them if he wanted to tag along, so the potato hopped aboard the tie-dyed transport for the long and dusty ride into the desert.

The Burning Man festival is unlike anything the tater had ever seen before. The event draws the eclectic from all corners of the globe to congregate and form a makeshift city where the inhabitants practice expressionism to the extreme.

Entrance to the community is heavily protected and no cameras or video are allowed, but once inside you are encouraged to express yourself freely through personal display, the most outlandish interactive artwork and sculpture and just about anything goes.

  • The bizarrest of the bizarre
  • The wackiest of the wacky
  • The oddest of the odd

If you can dream it, chances are its still not half of what folks are like in this secretive community.

Eager to participate, Spud dipped himself in purple dye and let his sprouts grow out of every orifice. What would normally attract strange looks, just blends in at the Burning Man festival.

It was a week of pure bliss, but alas, all good things must come to an end, and after the 7th day, the thousands of free spirits dissipated, leaving nary a trace of their existence on the playa. It was time for Spud to rejoin normailty and hitchhike back to Arizona.


Back to Spud's Story

Show me more travels!