Monday, January 20, 2014

West Wendover Run on Monday Morning 1/20

Initially upon waking up at about 7:30, I thought about sleeping in.  I had run hard yesterday and I just felt plain lazy.  I looked at my cell phone and the outside temperature was 16F.

Then my running spirit got the best of me and I decided to get up and suit up.  I headed down to the casino dressed in sweats and more heavy-duty winter running clothes.  I wanted to explore the ATV / trails north on the Utah side of Wendover.  I had been there a few weeks but there are so many other trails out there to explore.

While the temperature was only 16F, the entire area was covered in fog.  I didn't think it was that cold and I was completely comfortable for the entire running trip.

I headed up Aria Blvd, starting in Nevada and quickly making my way to Utah.  I ran through the suburbs and quickly jumped into the desert and ran along.  The houses gave way to swirling mists.  Visibility was limited to maybe 50 yards and it was like running on a different planet.  Not another soul was out there and from the looks of it, none had been for a while.

I started to look for Danger Cave, but  I couldn't really make out where the main trails went.  I thought I was on it, but it quickly dead ended and I was looking over a cliff down at Highway 80.  Even at 8:15 I could hear the whine of the trucks below.  I snapped a few pictures and took off in search of another trail.

I told Shari that I was only going to be gone for a bit.  I came to the main junction and decided to head north into a canyon.  I could see the mountains in the distance and figured the trail would go for a mile or so and I could snap a picture or two and turn around.  I had particularly studied the topography maps.

Running into this grotto took a lot of energy.  Again it was a steady but subtle climb.  I was sucking wind like crazy and I felt so out of shape.

Luckily the mist gave way and suddenly I found myself in a very sunny canyon.  I could follow the trail and saw that it disappeared into another canyon.  Very curious to see where it went, I followed (which has gotten me into trouble in the past).

It went into a slot canyon that resembled something out of Arizona.  The trail was well marked and I could see evidence of ATVs there (as well as old beer bottles and other desert "junk").  The trail snaked its way into a canyon where it lead to a cave.  The cave was only about 10 - 15 feet long and looked like a party hangout.  I was getting a bit nervous as there was no cell phone service there and one false step while climbing around back there and I'd be crawling the 4 miles back to town.  My Achilles was barking at me too but it luckily worked its way out.

I snapped some incredible pictures and made my way back.  I almost got lost as the mist had gotten a LOT worse but I knew that I had to head south and west and before I knew it, I could see the dark shadows of the house of Wendover.

On the way back, I did visit what looks to be the Stations of the Cross at San Felipe Catholic Church.  With the dark mists, this was perhaps the most scary and most surreal pictures I've ever taken.

Enjoy the photos:

San Felipe Catholic Church Crosses

Not a black and white photo

Not a black and white photo - Highway 80 below

Running north into the canyon

Tempted to climb this....

Looking behind me as I run north

Zig-zagging through the canyon

Cool cave...

Climbed on a rise near the cave

The Cave from a distance

What it was like running in the mist - almost blinding

Weird how the frost / salt sits on the plants

San Felipe Catholic Church

San Felipe Catholic Church

San Felipe Catholic Church

Sunday West Wendover Nevada Run 1/20/2014 + Cool Photos

I needed to get in a run -- badly on Sunday.  I wasn't winning anything and felt like I was flushing my money down the toilet (going to casino can be like that, but that's besides the point).

It was in the upper 20's with no wind.  So I threw on a pair of light gloves, heavy-duty sweatshirt and shorts. and took off west on Wendover Blvd.  I hung a right where the Peppermill Casino is and went under the freeway and started heading towards Leppy Hills Park.

I thought about running the trail park system again, but I remembered studying some of the maps and founda cool dirt road I wanted to explore that led out of town.  While I didn't have time to run around the Leppy Hills Mountain (about 13 miles) I did have time to go exploring on the trail.

Running north, it was steady and exhausting climb.  After my massive brunch I wasn't moving too well and the altitude (about 4500 base) and the climb to the base of the mountain had me sucking wind like a newbie.  I tried to move as quickly as I could but my legs weren't having it.  Luckily I was able to haul back to town as it was a steady decline so it was good to suddenly make low 80 minute miles.

I slowly ascended a dirt road towards the base of the Leppy Hills and I turned around briefly to gaze upon the mist shrouded casinos.  While it was getting late (about 4:30 - 4:45) they weren't lit up yet.

As I went further and further north, the more desolate it became.  I did have constant cell phone access and I felt it getting colder.  My shorts would suffice, but my sweat shirt was a cotton deal and I was getting chilled as it became sweat soaked.  Also my gloves weren't thick enough for the job and my fingers were getting painfully cold.  Luckily the dirt road leveled off and I could plod along at a decent clip, snapping pictures as I went.

I am not quite sure how far I ran yet, I suspect 6 - 10 miles round trip.  It was really a good experience and I did stumble across a trailer out in the middle of the desert that someone was living in (along with their ATVs and other minimalist stuff).  Other than that, I didn't see another soul for the 90 minutes I was gone.

I did capture some absolutely breathtaking scenery though and I hope to one day do the full trip from the Utah side of the mountain to the Nevada side before the rattlesnakes come back...

Sun setting on the northern hills of West Wendover, NV

Taking the dirt road looking north at Leppy Hills

Looking behind me at the fog covered casinos

Looking north

This mound was so strange and cool

Just keep following the power lines....

Someone's house?  Maybe...

Heading back to Wendover

Heading back to Wendover

West Wendover Trip 1/20/2014 + Bonneville Salt Flats

Well what does one do when they have relatives over from out of state?  You take them to Wendover for some good eats (read: buffets) and some gamblin'.

We arranged for a free Sunday night room, free play, a free buffet and a discounted room for the relatives and we took off Sunday morning.  Sort of funny: every time we went somewhere people were generally late by 15 - 20 minutes.  I said the Wendover express (read: my car) was leaving at 8AM and if you missed the shuttle, you were hoofing it (115 miles).  Wouldn't you know everyone was on time!

When we got there Shari replaced my player's club card so she could activate the free play.  Lo and behold we made gold level.  Last year we were at Bronze level.  So what does this mean?  Well, we may get some nicer offers, can use our comps for booze (not likely) and we'll get some extra points during kiosk games.  I was no expecting this and we were pretending to be high rollers.  Can I say that I LOVE Wendover.  I prefer it so much more over Vegas these days.

Driving conditions were good except for some heavy fog.  Sort of scary hurtling down the 80 freeway at 83mph with visibility limited to about 100 yards, if that.  If you slowed down too much someone could plow into you and at the same time you didn't want to run into anyone driving too slowly.  Luckily people were going at a good clip and traffic was extremely light.

At some points during the trip the visiblity lifted, but for the most part it was like driving through clouds.  I felt bad for my guests as the trip out there is actually quite pleasant -- looking at the mountains and vast vistas.  They also didn't get to experience the Bonneville Salt Flats.

We arrived just before 10AM and I quickly milked the Centipede machines.  To recap, these are skill-based slot machines.  So you put your money in, go to the bonus round and play Centipede.  If you suck at Centipede you won't get a good bonus, but if you are good, you can clean up.  Usually old people or people that don't know what they are doing walk up, hit the bonus round and wonder WTF is going on.  They quickly get eaten up by the Centipede and net a twenty cent bonus.  They pick up, and walk away.  Each time they fail, the bonus payouts increase a buck or two.  Multiply this by a dozen people and you have some significant payouts.

Within minutes of arriving, I sauntered up to a ripe machine, and hit the bonus round and walked away about $50 richer.  Off to a fantastic start!

Sadly playing these games, for me, gets me jacked up and I have a hard time getting over the rush of playing for money.  Also there are some other sharks that circle these machines who are pros.  They'll put a $20 in, get all 4 bonus rounds, collect their $40 - $80 and walk away for an hour.  I am told that there are several of these guys... and before they came around, bonus rounds would hover in the low $100s.

Usually I can clear a level or two consistently, but I have problems with level 3.  At that point, I try to shoot the Scorpion and take what I can get.  I've only done all 4 bonus levels once.

I placed one football bet, taking the Patriots at +4.5 against Denver.  I figured Denver would win, but that the Patriots would make a game of it.  No such luck.  So I was down $25.

I enjoy a super delicious buffet (courtesy of my mother in law) and played some more, nickle and diming the machines.  By the time we left in search of other casinos I was up about $30 - $40 and everyone else was in the hole.

The girls headed to the Rainbow, where I have absolutely horrible luck, while I went to Peppermill, where they have my Leonidas machine.  At first I was on fire.  The thing was hemorrhaging money and I was more than happy to take it.  I'd stick in $20, get a bonus round or two and play it down to $50.  I'd walk away, let it cool off and come back 20 - 30 minutes later, rinse and repeat.

Sadly I got caught up in it and I was feeding twenties into it.  By the time I went "off-tilt" I was in the hole $40 - $60.

I gambled a bit that night and managed to milk a machine or two for a few dollars bringing me a bit closer to making up for my losses.  Meanwhile everyone else was down $50 - $200 each.  So I was the least loser of the bunch.

I had a super yummy dinner buffet -- which I used a free coupon.  The ladies didn't want another buffet so I was more than happy to sit there and enjoy plate after plate of shrimp and cake.  Between the two buffets I probably inhaled 1500 - 2000 calories in each sitting.  I may not be able to win in the casino, but I can clean up in the buffet.

On Monday morning I ate another buffet, pretty much mirroring my other food fests.

Before eating though I spotted a Centipede game that was ripe for the picking.  I got a bonus round almost immediately and cleared the first two levels for $30 a piece.  When I finished I had a crowd of 10 people watching yours truly.  Before we left Montego Bay that morning I was more than ahead again.

My in-laws hadn't seen the Peppermill yet, so we drove there where suddenly everyone got REAL lucky.  Leonidas was kind to me.  I'd stick in $20 and leave with $25 - $40 - $50.  I did this about 3 - 4 times.

Meanwhile Shari jumped onto a Bonus Time machine.  It was very close to bonus time and she stuck in her last $20 hoping it would hit.  It didn't so I fed it another $5.  Usually this machine is a total gimmick.  You put your money in and you get $5 - $10 bonus -- if you are lucky.  So I felt like I was getting suckered but I know Shari wanted to at least try to get some of her money back.

She finally hit her bonus round and got some hit record bonus after winning about 80 cents on the initial bonus round.  I hadn't seen this bonus before.  Basically 3 records come up on the screen, you pick one and some spinner goes around and you win one of 4 prizes.  They ranged from $1000 (or so) to $5.00.  Shari hit the second to best jackpot and got $107.  She practically started crying because her luck has been so sour for so long....

So all in all, Shari came back about $40 a head.  I had about $20-$40 more than what I left with (and I was tipping heavily in cash), and my sister in law was +/-$5.  I think my mother in law was in the hole but she was climbing out of it by the time we left.

We did stop by the Salt Flats on the way home so they could experience one of the flattest places on earth as well as one of the most beautiful.

Enjoy the photos:

All smiles at the Peppermill

Welcome to Montego Bay

Plate #1

Plate #2

Plate #3


Dessert 2



Kicking butt on Centipede

Why I run!

Shari's bonus time win

Bonneville Salt Flats - Volcano Peak