THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Scene of the Crime: Return to the Cal-Neva

A while ago, Monica and I were troubled to read a report in the LA Times that the site of our May 31, 2001 wedding, the Cal-Neva Resort in North Lake Tahoe, once notoriously owned by Frank Sinatra where he often hosted politicos, celebrities and Mob pallies, and a frequent "haunt" of Marilyn Monroe, was in serious financial trouble. Now we find out it's up for sale. Even if it sticks around as a glitzed-up resort, we're concerned the rich, Rat Pack history of our cherished, carefully chosen (before I even proposed!) wedding site will be disrespected. We recently went there for an overnight trip to make sure the joint was still as we remembered it, as it's been a few years since we visited. We weren't disappointed.

Since we don't ski or gamble, admittedly there's not much for us to do in Tahoe, now that we're already married, except gawk at the scenery. But what scenery.

The resort itself is still safely frozen in time. Photos of Frank and his Rat Pack, Marilyn, JFK, and other famous former guests adorn the walls leading into the Celebrity Showroom, where we held our reception with an open martini bar. They offer private tours of the underground tunnel running from state to state, where Frank would bring in guests like Sam Giancana. There's not much action in the casino, though, and the dining room wasn't very full, either. It was Wednesday, though. I paid homage to my last night as a bachelor in Cabin #5, which was Frank's personal getaway (reportedly Marilyn tysted with JFK in #3). Frankly, though we were happy to be there, we were kind of bored. As I said, we don't gamble or engage in any outdoor adventure stuff, which is what Tahoe is known for. Fortunately there was something on TV to watch: the local PBS station was showing an Elvis special, which was perfect. Frank and Elvis are our spiritual mentors. Our wedding had a Rat Pack theme with Mariachis performing Frank and Elvis tunes along with Mexican standards, and the service was performed by our friend Robert Ensler doing his Dino impersonation. It felt like old times.

The next day we went through Truckee, stopping at the diner that had once been Andy's, but is now called Jax. To be honest, we didn't like it as much, the menu isn't as good and the jukebox wasn't on par with the original, but the interior and exterior are still classic. Amazingly, a cold rainstorm blew in, making it feel extra cozy.

We decided to stop in Reno since it was so close. I like Reno, much more than Vegas since it still feels totally old school. "Hot August Nights" was starting to rev up and classic cars abounded. Since we didn't have a show to go to and again, we don't gamble, not much to do. So after absorbing the sights and sounds, we headed home. We'll be back, as long as they don't mess with our Cal-Neva. Frank is watching...