Mile High and Raise You A Grand 

While the Giants were doing exactly what they needed to do this weekend -- win two of three in the Mile High Shop of Horrors -- I was at 6,200 feet, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, on the 18th floor of Harvey's (or, as they spell it, Harveys), just one level below the top-floor restaurant known as Llewellyn's.

Please: don't rush to the phone to make reservations at this fine dining establishment. Yesterday was its last day. It's undergoing a full renovation and re-opening next year as some sort of Tex-Mex grill, a hotel employee told us. No doubt because 98% of Harveys guests do nothing but drool Krispy Kreme syrup down their double chins when asked to pronounce anything with one double-L, let alone two.

As I introduce my theme of contempt for everything casino-related, you might ask, "OK, what the hell were you doing there?" I wasn't gambling. Just because three quarters of the baseball bloggers out there are poker addicts -- as if being a baseball geek wasn't bad enough -- doesn't mean I suffer from the same affliction.

I'm more from the school of Heineken-and-a-menthol at 9 a.m. while prodding the buttons of a video slot machine with a finger that's gray and swollen from poor circulation. That, folks, is livin' large. Literally.

No, I was there because my girlfriend's mom, who lives in New York, won the weekend in a raffle and generously donated it to us. Two free nights, a $50 food voucher, and free passes to the Improv, the in-house comedy club featuring performers who make jokes about gays in the military by running limp-wristed with a squeal across the stage. Always a hit, especially among the just-turned-21-and-about-to-vomit crowd.

In other words, the perfect base (i.e., free) for a weekend of early-spring hiking and snowshoeing. The 'shoeing wasn't so great because the snow was quickly melting in Saturday's 65-degree heat, but the trail around the shore of Emerald Bay was as close to heaven as you can get at Tahoe: cloudless skies, a water color you swear has been enhanced either digitally or psychedelically, the smell of pine in the air, a warm breeze....and some shithead in a two-person boat who pulls into the bay with his middle-aged girlfiend in the passenger seat, cuts the motor, and cranks up something that sounds like it's been on heavy rotation at KFOG for 20 years. Robert Cray? The Blues Traveler? Santana? Boz Scaggs? Huey Lewis? Sound may travel with almost no distortion under water, but just above the surface, it turns out that "blues" preferred by white men in tasseled loafers travels in waves the shape of extruded toothpaste.

I began gathering a handful of pinecones to launch a land-to-sea assault, keeping in mind that he would have to swim to shore then run sopping wet through the woods to catch me. If the pinecones failed to convince him of his aural evildoing, stage two of the attack would include small stones. Fortunately for all parties concerned, he must have decided Emerald Bay didn't have enough neon, Amstel Light and tits along its shoreline, and he soon chugged away.

But these little things, so often maddening, need to be put in the frame of the bigger picture -- a lovely weekend with my lovely girlfriend in one of the world's most beautiful places -- much in the way we must consider Armando Benitez's shaky start and Ray Durham's old-man-at-33 April in the larger scheme of the 2005 season so far.

The Giants have won more games than lost with their top two home run hitters out and their bullpen behaving monstrously. They won two of three at Coors Field, always a cause for celebration even if the Rockies are destined to lose 140 games. It's a long season, and you have to look for small pleasures. The sports book at Harveys Friday night was showing the Giants game on at least two of its hundreds of TVs, but not the Dodgers. It had The Simpsons on in one corner, but not the Dodgers.

Maybe Harveys isn't so bad after all.


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