As mentioned in this space last week, many locals will opt for the comfort and safety of bus travel to the game. Now comes word that one Reno-based bus service, Amador Stage Lines, has to date committed a total of 30 of its largest vehicles to be available for the “Bowl Express” service. The biggest allotment of buses, up to 20 in all, will be located at the Grand Sierra Resort. Tickets for the round trip, which is scheduled to depart at 11 a.m. on Sunday game day are $40. Those tickets currently can be punched at the box office lobby of the GSR. Also at press time, it was reported that the Grand Sierra was working on an optional room package that some riders may wish to take advantage of, particularly out-of-town northern Nevadans, since the buses will return to Reno well past midnight after the game.
Other locations that are booking Amador buses for the trip to the game include: four at the Tamarack Junction Casino on South Virginia Street; two at University of Nevada, Reno through the athletic department; one at Bill Pearce Courtesy Honda on Kietzke Lane and one at Lotus radio station, just off North McCarran Boulevard in the Hug High School area. Total seat count for all buses will approach some 1,500, close to 10 percent availability for all tickets sold here.
As also mentioned in this space last week, bus travel over the Sierra is probably the most comfortable and stress-free way to make the trip. With portal to portal transportation, a patron is able to depart from his nearby car, get off the bus literally at the front gate of AT&T Park, reenter the same way after the game and snooze peacefully on the return trip.
Another advantage of bus travel is the fact that winter weather over the summit is, at best, chancy during the month of January so there is a safety factor to be considered.
Nothing would be worse than to have a choice ticket for the game and then arrive late, or not at all, because of a capricious Old Man Winter.
Not too long ago, at one of the monthly Good Old Days club meetings, several longtime PR types were telling tales of the Reno of yesteryear. One of the most interesting, which was brought back to mind this week while I was watching an old “Have Gun, Will Travel” episode on the Encore Western Channel, was the time that the principles in the “Bonanza” series had worked out a business plan to purchase the Kings Castle hotel/casino at Incline Village, along with the nearby Ponderosa Ranch amusement park and the Ski Incline complex. The concept, as hatched by Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker and Michael Landon of the TV show, along with Bill Anderson, owner of the Ponderosa and the Crystal Bay Development Company, operators of the ski hill, was to link the three entities together, either by shuttle, gondolas or both and thus create a sort of Western Disneyland, or perhaps more likely — a Western Knotts Berry Farm.
At one of the final meetings of all the parties it was Blocker, who played “Hoss” on the series, who was the chief planner. He noted that shortly he was scheduled for some minor surgery and that once that was behind him everything was set to go forward. Unfortunately, he did not survive the operation and the plan died aborning.
The reason the story came back to mind while watching “Have Gun” was that in this particular episode Blocker was playing a minor role as the heavy to Richard Boone’s Paladin hero. Unbelievable, in the climactic fight scene the much smaller Boone easily disposed of the behemoth Blocker. While Blocker had the part of the oafish brother in “Bonanza,” he was actually a highly educated individual who, prior to his acting career, had been a college professor. Since “Have Gun” was an early black and white series and “Bonanza” was the first full color series, it could have been that Blocker was early in his career when he appeared on “Have Gun,” or it could have been that he was doing a “bit” as many of Hollywood’s recognizable names did on those early TV oaters like “Gunsmoke,” “The Rifleman” and others.
Another tribute to Blocker as a serious actor occurred years ago when I caught him as a bodyguard pal to Frank Sinatra in one of the “Tony Rome” films.
Since most of us had first met the burly actor when the world premiere of “Bonanza” was held at the Granada theater here in 1959 we naturally followed the fortunes of the entire Cartwright clan, both collectively and individually throughout their careers. On many occasions both Blocker and Lorne Green were constant visitors to the very active nighttime bar sessions at the Tahoe Racquet Club at Incline. During those occasions I recall that Blocker was the center of attention, both for his enormous stature and his boisterous personality, while Greene was an introspective individual. Lorne liked Incline so much that he purchased a second home there and was an active member of the Tahoe Racquet Club. Whenever he appeared on court we usually played “customer tennis” and sent him off a happy winner.
As a bookend to the “Bonanza” experiences at one point in time the then head man at the Reno Chamber of Commerce, Jud Allen, lined up a trip for those of us who had been active in the “Bonanza” premiere to travel to Hollywood and visit the studio set while a segment of the show was being shot. Following the filming we all adjourned to the studio commissary for a meal. Once again, Blocker dominated the conversation with his rambling accounts and numerous off-color jokes.
Too bad he passed away so soon, as he most certainly would have been the signature face of the proposed “Bonanzaland” at Tahoe.
Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in Harry Spencer’s column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.