Road Journals Blog—On the 15th floor of my room at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa  in Reno, Nevada, I woke to an underwhelming panoramic view. Reno spreads from its high-rise commercial core across a flatland called the Truckee Meadows. Once ranchlands and marshes, the meadows are now a grid of pavement, mini-malls, and blocks of 1920s bungalows and 1970s tract homes.
In the wintertime, which is when I visited, this high perspective, looking down on the colorless blocks and city sidewalks lined with scrawny bare tree trunks and limbs clawing upward toward the gray clouds wadded in the sky, is not Reno’s best.
Summer is different. That’s when deciduous trees still wear their leaves, and the spare hillsides display the sweet-smelling new growth of sage.
As I stood at the Atlantis window in my slippers, something glorious happened. A bolt of light angled through the clouds. It blasted such a white brightness onto the downtown casino towers that, blurred for a moment, they looked just like old bones upturned and planted in the middle of the city. The spooky scene put a buzz into me. From my high perch I suddenly wanted to hang-glide into the city center, or take a zip-line ride to the sunny Italian-themed Peppermill Casino down the street.
Meanwhile, 15 floors below, the casino clanged and beeped away, suffused in the fantastic aquatic glow created by blue and green lights. I passed rows of slot-machine hopefuls and walked outside at 9:15 a.m. to find the casino parking lot full.
I knew the dull sky would not affect my experience in Reno, as my day was planned around art and culture. I’d spend a few hours at the Nevada Museum of Ar t looking at favorite pieces by the likes of Danae Anderson  and Phyllis Shafer  in the museum’s permanent collection, then browsing a provocative exhibit of images made by the Australian photographer John Reid , who spent 16 years documenting a mysterious hominoid creature he called “Fishman” in a cave high in the mountains of New South Wales.
Later at Stremmel Gallery  I’d see an exhibit of abstract landscapes, then stroll the sprawling antique shops on South Virginia Street. Food adventures would fuel all of this. I’d have a ranch-style breakfast at Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs , and a sophisticated lamb-shoulder lunch at the new Krumblz  European pastry shop and deli.
Anticipating this sensual immersion, my pulse raced.
This blog post was first published in November 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.