After a long and arduous day of travel on Friday, I finally made it to Reno for the 11th annual Herf At Reno Dammit!, otherwise known as H.A.R.D. Bob Greene has been organizing this event for the last decade and does a nice job. The schedule is fairly open. The days spent sitting around the CalNeva sports book smoking cigars and telling stories and dinners every evening followed by more cigars in the sport book. People attended from Nevada, California, Washington, Oregon, Florida and of course, Pennsylvania. One of the best things about this event is that it’s pay-as-you-go and Reno can be a pretty reasonable place for a cheap bastard like myself. My flight into Reno was due in at 12:30 PM, but high winds made us abort our landing attempt and make a stop in Sacramento to refuel and wait out the winds. While I was waiting in the Sacramento airport I was in contact with my friend Steve who was driving from San Francisco to Reno and happened to be passing Sacramento at the time. I decided to decline his offer to pick me up, I had check a bag and figured it would be easier to wait out the flight rather than having to get back to the airport to retrieve my luggage. This turned out to be a wise move on my part, as much as I would have enjoyed spending the time with Steve, there was a snowstorm in the Donner Pass and Steve didn’t make it into Reno until 9:30 PM. He had to get chains put on his rental car and had a pretty miserable trip. I finally made it into Reno after the winds died down and contacted friends Mark and Anita who had very generously offered me lodging for the weekend. I hadn’t seen Mark in 10 years and it was my first time meeting his wife. It was great to see them.
After such a long day, it was nice to be able to relax. Mark, Anita and I went out for a $7.77 prime rib dinner at the Gold Dust West which was surprisingly delicious. After dinner we met up with some folks at the Brews Brothers brew pub in the Eldorado which was the first “official” event of the weekend. More old friends were there and I met some new folks who I “knew” from the cigar newsgroup but had never met face to face. The interesting thing I’ve found when meeting people from this group is that even though you’ve never actually met, having corresponded digitally it’s as if you know them and just haven’t seen them in a while. In the 13 years I’ve been involved online in the cigar world, I’ve met hundreds of cigar smokers and this is usually the case, almost an instant rapport. After the live music started in the brew pub, we took over some tables and chairs in the Eldorado Sports book and continued catching up and smoking cigars. Steve finally found us and regaled us with the story of his journey through the pass. By about 1 AM (4 to my body clock) we called it a night. I had two or three cigars over the course of the evening, Camacho Candela and National Brand robustos amung them.
Saturday morning came and we made our way to the CalNeva sports book, which was the base camp for the weekend. We had a roped off area with chairs and little tables. We were given coupons for a free breakfast which several of us partook of – eggs, hash browns, and toast – not bad and the price was right! It can be quite interesting dining with a retired pathologist, it really can test ones constitution. We settled in at the sports book and said ‘Hellos’ and made introductions. Many old friends, and many friends I hadn’t yet met. I started with a Trinidad Coloniales which was a great way to start the day. I’m not a big football fan, so the dozens of screens showing various college games were of little interest to me. There was an ever changing cast of cigar friends coming and going throughout the afternoon: Ben formerly of Japan, Ted and Vicky (aka the Miscs) and others. I spent the day conversing with everyone. Many cigars were consumed and many great stories were shared among the crowd. I am quite content to park in one spot for the afternoon and, to tell the truth, I didn’t come to gamble or sight see. I came to reconnect with old friends. I’m very happy when the only decision I have to make is what cigar to smoke next, so this was an ideal situation for me and I really appreciate the opportunity to talk face to face with all these folks. At 7 PM everyone met at the Prime Rib Grill in the Eldorado for dinner. Prime rib again, which was just as good as the previous night’s, with shrimp cocktail, broccoli, and cheesecake for desert. After dinner Bob (Greene) passed out a ton of goodies from Drew Estate, including Liga Privada No. 9 and T52s, Chateau Reals, Joya de Nicaraguas, and Drew Estate box openers and cutters (really nice cutters too, not your normal cheesy plastic cutters). There were also some cigars from Rocky Patel and Hatuay cigars circulated. Many thanks to the sponsors. I didn’t expect to come home with so many more cigars than I came with, but it’s much appreciated and they will be enjoyed! After dinnner we returned to our area at the sports book and had more cigars and conversation. Sometime after midnight we called it a day after much hilarity courtesy of Keith F. I think I had 5 cigars over the course of the day including a Liga Privada T52 and a No.9.
Some more pictures from the event can be found in the Flickr widget on the right, the Flickr widget on the left side of www.cigarcraig.com or at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cigarcraig/. Watch for the second installment in a couple of days.
until the next time,