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Some Wish He Had Gone on the Road of No Return

I took a vacation last week by myself because I’m going on a two-week vacation with the family at the end of the month in an RV. I think you understand.

I also thought it would be a good idea to give our local athletes and readers a break -- a number of thoughtful readers already e-mailing to say maybe I should’ve stayed away longer.

But I had no idea how grueling a vacation could be, finding myself at one point sitting in the Bucket of Blood Saloon in Virginia City talking to “The Toothless Poet Cowboy,” a relative of Mark Twain, who wanted to chat about the Angels and the summer dresses they were wearing when he saw them playing.

Initially, I thought I was getting a look at Bill Stoneman in a few years, especially given the “talent is here” nonsense that he continues to sputter -- many of the Angels he acquired playing now as if they’re wearing dresses.

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But the Toothless Cowboy went on to explain he’s not only seen the Angels, but has talked to them, while proclaiming them beautiful and indicating he would marry either one -- if given the chance. And I was the one drinking the Cemetery Gin.

In some respects, of course, it was no different than talking to Jeff Weaver, but I was here to get a break from the flakes of the world.

Fat chance. I was greeted by Susan Sutton, the “official director of fun” for Virginia City, who was wearing a witch’s black dress, army boots and purple bonnet. I know what you’re thinking, but Frank’s Old Lady never crossed my mind.

The witch took me to the Silver Queen Hotel, I presume because she’s the town’s official director of fun, and showed me the preserved room where the Captain and Tennille were married in 1975. You spend all your life going to Dodgers games and these are the kinds of things you miss.

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This was supposed to be a golf vacation, though, arranged by something called “golfthehighsierra.com,” but the folks at golfthehighsierra.com thought it would be good to get off the beaten path, as if I wasn’t already doing that on the courses in Reno, Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Graegle and Truckee.

They put me up in the 147-year-old Gold Hill Hotel, known best for being constructed the same year Dwyre was born and for two occupants who have never left, Rosie and William, a pair of ghosts. I know all about ghosts because F.P. Santangelo called a few weeks ago to say “boo.” I wasn’t afraid, of course, because I’d already seen the former Dodger with a bat in hand and that didn’t scare anyone.

I was told Rosie usually stayed on the other side of the hotel, but I might get a visit from William. It could have been worse -- someone could have said I might get a visit from Devean George, who also disappeared years ago.

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YOU PLAY golf here, and because of the high elevation, the ball goes deeper into the woods. I found myself going back and forth, kicking the ground for the ball with nothing to show for it -- almost playing soccer, if you will.

There’s no cellphone service in Clio, only three stop lights in Plumas County, Calif. -- and you can drive for miles without hearing Vic the Brick. This makes it heaven, the Whitehawk Ranch Golf Club a bonus.

Just beyond the Gray Eagle Lodge in the same area, a golden bear could be seen roaming the woods -- making a night-time stroll just the kind of challenge Ben Roethlisberger would’ve probably embraced.

No one’s really safe, though, as I learned, sitting in the middle of nowhere without even a TV to watch, and running into the proud son of a 100-year-old Notre Dame fan. Holy Dan Devine, a survivor.

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Patrick Tansey is 100, all right, a hero to his family while also saving the lives of others during a 1930s Long Beach earthquake, a resident of L.A. for 77 years and now loving life because his Irish will play both UCLA and USC this year.

Some say Tansey owes his healthy life to eating carrots and cabbage every day, while others says it’s his affection for ND. All I know is that he’s the only guy still living who thinks there’s nothing wrong with a carrot and cabbage tailgate party, which should tell you something.

From what I could tell, allowing the kin of Notre Dame fans in the area was the only drawback to this place. It’s so peaceful. No one seems all that worried whether Kwame Brown will continue to develop, and there’s also a rule prohibiting fast-food restaurants, which means there’s no concern about being joined by the wife.

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A DAY earlier, I checked into the Golf Digest School at Old Greenwood, just outside of Truckee, where instructor Brian Floriani informed me I’ve been holding the club incorrectly for 46 years and swinging it just as poorly. Finally, an explanation of what has prevented me from turning pro.

The school offers one-hour to three-day lessons, the three-day sessions costing more than $1,000, which explains why I spent 45 minutes with Floriani, and why I’m probably better now than Brad Faxon -- like everyone else.

I was really beginning to feel refreshed, taking a scenic drive around Lake Tahoe, and checking into Hania’s Bed & Breakfast Inn, a snazzy hideaway in Truckee. Life was good.

Then I sat down to breakfast with a couple from Nebraska, who wanted to talk about RVs.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Adam Libby:

“I heard the whole [radio] interview with Cobi Jones on Sunday and I do believe you said you would go to a soccer game if he scored a goal for you. [But] I don’t think Cobi scored the goal for you. I think he would’ve only agreed to score had you agreed to transfer out of L.A. to another city. We can only dream of that day.”

I’m not surprised that, in addition to not understanding soccer, I don’t understand soccer e-mail either.

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.


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