When Love is Your Royal Straight

I am sitting at a poker table in Reno. An empty one. Ironically, I don’t gamble, but for 2 out of the 3 nights each year when we drive from Austin to Lake Tahoe for my annual bike ride with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, we stay in both Las Vegas and Reno on the way up. This is our third trip in 5 years. 2 years ago, we could still call Maureen back in Austin and keep her up to date on our journey. 5 years ago, we were in Reno together. The kids and I had made the drive, and Maureen had flown into Reno for the weekend of the ride. We were here as a family, along with Kethan and his mom and dad, Sumithra and Lokesh. 5 years ago was a true celebration. As day dawned in Vegas today, I decided to stroll around the Mandalay Bay casino before leaving on our drive. A casino is a very different place in the morning. Quieter. The lights are still bright; the machines still ring out; and there is still a poker table open for a game. The kids and I had dinner here five years ago on our first trip up. We ate at RM Seafood. RM. Rick Moonen. A Top Chef Master. Top Chef is a big part of our lives as a family. We have watched over ten seasons together. On Friday nights. Pizza night and Top Chef. We’ve learned the chefs’ names. Their quirks. Their idiosyncrasies. Rick came out that night to say hi to the kids. It was a special night. This...