Our day started out with an hour and a half airport shuttle ride from Whidbey Island, across Puget Sound from Clinton to Mukilteo on the Washington State Ferry, then South to Seattle Tacoma International Airport.
Security was only annoying to the usual levels, although my belt buckle, which didn't used to set off their machines, now does. I DID remember to put my belt back on BEFORE bending over to put my shoes on, though. Mooning the TSA might just be taken in several possible wrong ways, none of which do I want to discuss in polite company.
When we got to the departure gate for our flight we waited and waited for the boarding call, but finally they announced that the flight was late and the new departure gate was at the other end of the airport. In fact a very long walk plus a subway ride to get there. Fortunately the Horizon Air ticket Counter lady summoned one of those electric golf cart like vehicles to get us to the other gate in time. The flight was now even more delayed than it was. Alaska Airlines discontinued flying 737's to Reno from Seattle, and now their partner, Horizon, is flying turboprops on the same route instead. Interestingly enough the flight time is about the same.
Our Horizon Air Q400 on the ramp in Seattle.
Once we finally got to Reno we caught the free Circus Circus shuttle to the hotel, checked in, and headed to the hospitality room to meet up with whoever else was here. About half the gang was here, so without dallying around much we car-pooled up to head over to the NRA Press Conference at the Grand Sierra hotel a few miles away. When we entered the lobby of the Grand Sierra there was Ashley Varner from the NRA to greet us and show us the way to the press conference. It had been promoted as a "Big Election Announcement" in the NRA press releases, so we were hoping for something big. It didn't happen. The message was basically that Obama is very "anti-gun" (no surprise) and that the NRA was endorsing McCain. Again, no surprise. Wayne LaPierre was a good speaker, though, and I enjoyed hearing him in person.
After the press conference I asked Wayne about my wheelbarrow full of cash, as it still had not arrived and I was getting concerned. On second thought I guess I should not have asked about that in public as it's supposed to be a big secret, only recently discovered by the liberal bloggers. He just said that he didn't know, but I'm sure he'll take care of it......
The Usual Suspects. That's Ashley on the far right.
After the press conference we headed back to the Circus Circus for dinner. We decided to try out the Gecko's BBQ downstairs. I was pleasantly surprised with how tasty the food was. Possibly the best meal of the entire weekend, and reasonably priced, to boot!
A table surrounded by hungry bloggers and shooters!
After dinner we headed up to the hospitality room for an evening of refreshments, munchies, and conversation. As the evening wore on more bloggers started to show up. The bull sessions ran well into the night, but eventually the travel (and maybe some of the beer, wine, and excellent Scotch) started to take its toll, and everyone wandered off to their rooms to get some sleep, as Friday was scheduled to be a big day.
At 8:15am we gathered, somewhat groggily, to go downstairs for breakfast. After a filling, but over-priced breakfast, we car-pooled it to head 12 miles West to Verdi, Nevada, the location of the recently opened Cabela's store. When we got there the weather wasn't too bad at all, with even a little blue sky poking through.
The main Entrance to Cabela's.
We had coordinated with Cabela's in advance and they were expecting us. We were met at the front door by Gary Shank, head of the gun Department. Gary showed us around the store, and then took us back to the Gun library. The gun library was impressive, with row after row and shelf after shelf of rare, valuable, and collectible rifles, handguns, and shotguns. Several were in the $30,000 dollar range.
Looking down the center of Cabela's. Display over the front entrance. A part of the gun library. Regular price $39,000, marked down to only $30,000. I suppose I should have picked it up. You can always use another truck gun...... Gary Shank shows us what a $35,000 rifle looks like. The Taxidermy Mountain display. One of the fish tanks. The fishing tackle department. The shooting gallery.
Gary gave us all a handful of tokens for the shooting gallery. The rifles fire a beam of light (infrared?) and if you hit the round target whatever is next to the target moves, wiggles, tips over, or growls at you. Actually, it was kinda fun!
After wandering all over the store it was approaching lunch time, so we grabbed lunch at the Cabela's restaurant in the store. After lunch we headed back to the hotel, as there was still a lot of activities scheduled for the rest of the day. When we stepped out of Cabela's we were greeted by nearly an inch of sloppy snow, and big wet snowflakes falling from the sky.
Driving back to the hotel. Not exactly the kind of day you'd want to be outside!
Fortunately the drive back was sloppy but uneventful. We still had a lot on the schedule for the day, including meeting with Ashley Varner from the NRA, Show & Tell, a Basque Banquet, and bull sessions and refreshments well into the night.
-- end of Part One --