No surprise, but I was an indoor kid. I spent most of my childhood summer vacations in front of a TV or computer monitor, most likely memorizing pop culture minutiae that I was certain would come in handy one day. So my parents, convinced my self-imposed exile would result in a heretofore eradicated bone condition, decided my younger sister and I would spend a week every summer with my grandparents in Reno, Nevada, where we'd hang out at every little kids' favorite vacation destination: the Hot August Nights car show.

It was a 600-mile road trip in each direction, and it'd usually take two days because one of the classic cars we'd travel in — either my late grandma's canary yellow 1954 Chevrolet, or my grandpa's candy-apple red '56 — would invariably need to "cool down" on the shoulder of an Oregon highway for a bit. Other times we'd take my grandmother's metallic gray Buick Park Avenue (which I would inherit when I got a learner's permit, and I would argue is a classic in its own right), which only had a cassette player and exactly two tapes: The Best of Bread and Lionel Richie's self-titled debut album.

I wasn't into cars and I couldn't gamble or drink at any of the nearby casinos, so I'd merely wander through the gift shops and the arcade, and every year I'd briefly become a regular at the Round Table Pizza in the basement of the Reno Hilton. I once saw Herman's Hermits perform in a parking lot. It was the very definition of entertaining yourself.

But despite being a miserable teenager glowering in 100-degree heat, I think back on these August weeks in Reno with tremendous affection, and as an adult, I wish we were able to relive that kind of quality time with our grandparents. I haven't been back to Reno since, but maybe I'll make that inexorable road trip again one of these days, my Lionel Richie cassette in hand.

Coeur d'Alene Blues Festival 2023 @ The Coeur d'Alene Resort

March 31-April 2
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About The Author

Nathan Weinbender

Nathan Weinbender is the Inlander's Music & Film editor. He is also a film critic for Spokane Public Radio, where he has co-hosted the weekly film review show Movies 101 since 2011.