After a weekend of gambling, drifting cigarette smoke and the racket of slot machines, there's really nothing better than coming home.

I spent the weekend in Reno with my husband and our good friends, Jasmine and Devon Priddy. Three days with no kids, no responsibilities, no worries and lots of laughter. Let's just say I enjoyed it immensely, spent way too much and drank roughly a gallon of Bloody Marys.

But after a weekend of gambling, drifting cigarette smoke and the racket of slot machines, there's really nothing better than coming home.

As we made our way south on Highway 299, there was Mt. Lassen poking up to say hi. Lassen's a pretty mountain, but it's nothing like Mt. Shasta, whose blindingly white slopes greeted us from a distance and beckoned us closer as we drove.

Though I enjoy the flashing lights, the room service and the 24/7 bustle of casinos, there's nothing like the towering trees and bright blue skies of Mount Shasta.

As we pulled off I-5 at the Abrams Lake exit, the banks of crunchy snow lining the roads were comforting; the drift of white hanging off the eves of my garage made me smile.

After hugs were dispensed to all four kids (who apparently didn't miss us at all) and I gave away all the fifty cent pieces I collected at the blackjack tables, I poured myself a delicious glass of water straight from the tap. It was refreshing, cold, and without a hint of the chlorine that's contained in water served in casino cafes. Plus, it's a heck of a lot healthier than a Bloody Mary, even if they are deliciously laced with celery and green beans.

As we lugged in our suitcases and empty wallets, we took great big lungfuls of fresh mountain air, and took the time to appreciate it.

Though I miss Reno and all the fun I have there, there's no place like home. Plus, Jazz and Devon are our neighbors, so we'll see them plenty.

Happy New Year! Here's to a wonderful 2013. :)