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Weekly Update: My Bowling Vacation

Hi, my name is Linda and among a list of hobbies, I am a bowler.  The best part of being a bowler is you don’t have to be good at it to lay claim to it.

I got back into bowling in 2010 through a company event. I remembered how fun it was so I decided to join a league, prompted by a coworker who overheard me talking about it one day.  The same coworker and I have been bowling together – with my mom in tow – for eight years now. And since this same coworker has been participating in both State and National Women’s tournaments, well, I just let her drag me along with her. Turns out, it’s quite an enjoyable ride.

Riding in style in my friend’s Suburban. We even had a padded bed in the third bucket seat.

Last week, we left on a road trip in a suburban, headed for Nevada to bowl in a tournament. Our first stop was Las Vegas.  For me personally, this was my fourth time returning to Reno – in those trips, we made all the obligatory tourist stops to the Painted Dessert and Grand Canyon; so this time we decided on none but the usual fuel-up and pit stops along the way.

Both my friend and I received a complimentary room at the Wynn in Las Vegas from our visit there two years prior due to a similar bowling adventure. We decided to take them up on their offer to enjoy two nights’ stay and comp points for their slots.

The room was immaculate and completely modern. It was equipped with remote curtains, lights, and mood lighting on a handy-dandy panel both near the front door and king-sized bed.

By our second day in Vegas, I was growing tired of the atmosphere. It was a mix of arrogance and desperation, and the city is a marketer’s wet dream with advertisements everywhere. Inside, the servers at the Cafe were slow, aloof, and uncaring. Only one of the casino dealers were fun and engaging; the others seemed to just go through rote, judging the players as we lost hand after hand.  I stuck to the slots, preferring to lose my money without the attitude.

While we were out on the town I began craving Mexican food. A quick google search had us going to a place that turned out to be the best idea. Bonito Michoacan spoke to my inner San Antonian heart. First of all, they not only served the customary chips and salsa before taking our orders, they included a small bowl of delicious frijoles. I took a risk and ordered the Lengua Estilo “Michoacan” based on the suggestion from Violetta, our waitress. I was not disappointed. By the time the three of us were finished eating, you almost had to roll us out of there.

The second-half of the trip took us eight hours up to Reno. When we finally got there – Google led me off the beaten path and took us through Carson City – we checked in at our new favorite Reno spot, the Peppermill Resort and Casino.

We met my mom who flew up and the four of us shared a luxurious room. I joked with the front desk that it was our team captain’s idea to have us all share a room so that she could keep better tabs on us.  I don’t think I was very far from the truth.

The Peppermill was a place I’ve stayed four years prior the last time Reno hosted the National Women’s Championships. We had such a great time that we decided to stay there again.  We were not disappointed.  By the last night of our stay, the card dealers knew both Donna and I by name. I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of or not, but they were all great fun with good attitudes and engaging conversation. Blackjack is my jam, even though I need to work on my math game – the dealers were also kind in that respect despite how embarrassing it was at times when I couldn’t add.

Me getting ready to bowl my first set for the Team event.

Eventually we did what we came to Reno to do. We bowled. In a usual bowling tournament, there are three events: Team, Doubles, and Singles. Our squad bowled our first three games for the Team event on Wednesday. In that set, I bowled a frustrating 137, 168, and 171. As my average is a 161, the last two games were great, but didn’t make up for the shortcomings of my first. Uncharacteristically, I was having a hard time picking up the ten pin – the pin on the far right corner. I had better luck with not leaving the ten in the last two games, but I had a problem I needed to fix before Thursday’s Double and Singles events – a six game marathon.

Thursday came and I found out I won some money in the brackets from Wednesday’s bowling – this came as a surprise considering I didn’t bowl as well as I would have liked.  With a little more confidence to my step, I showed up for the next two events and bowled…much the same as the day before. Not horrible, but not great either.  I bowled a 131, 162, and 175 for

Before Doubles and Singles

Doubles – very similarly to what I did for Team. And for Singles, I bowled a 145, 148, and 185 – by far the most frustrating set from the other two. Frustrating because of the near-misses, the highs of sparing on a split, and the lows of opening in the key tenth frames. But it’s a frustration I can live with. And as it turns out, I also won bracket money from those games as well.  That means whomever I was competing against also had a rough time. Who knew?

What I can take away from all of this is I actually know where things went wrong and how to fix them. And despite my health interfering a little from my bowling adventures (I’ve been undergoing a major jaw reconstruction from the tumor that was removed last September), I can say I bowled exceptionally well considering the uphill climb it took for me to reach an average I established prior to the tumor fiasco.

Next year the Women’s National Championships will be hosted out of Wichita, KS. This will be a new venue for me. For the rest of the year I will be working on improving my game and look forward to the challenge of the new venue. My goal is to pick up as many spares as I can and reduce the number of open frames per game to only one.  That’s a tough goal, but any bowler can tell you your game doesn’t improve by the number of strikes but by spares.  Learning the shots and staying focused and hitting your target consistently is how to win the game.

Now I’m back home and some semblance of normalcy is returning. My boyfriend and cats all missed me as I them. I will be having a third, and hopefully final oral surgery sometime in the coming months to ready my bottom palate for its new hybrid denture/prosthetic to replace the teeth I lost to the tumor. And with all that in the horizon, I’ll still be bowling, one frame at a time.