Sunday, March 30, 2014

Quick West Wendover Jaunt 3/30/2014

This trip almost didn't happen.  We had talked about it on Saturday night on whether or not to go and I think we were sort of "we'll see how we feel in the morning".  Earlier in the day I had received news that I was getting a decent tax return that would give me a little bit of breathing room.  Also, we are going to Vegas in about 2 weeks, so how much gambling do we really want to do?

On Sunday the weather looked iffy and while I probably could've squeezed in a hike somewhere, chances are I would've had to deal with inclement weather.  It was threatening rain and the clouds were heavy over the mountains.  I suspect, also, that the mountains are still muddy, snowy and icy.

There wasn't anything going on in Wendover today -- no special comps, we just had $10 free play coming our way and a buy one / get one buffet.

I went for an early morning run, had a super light breakfast (for me) and by 10AM or so we had decided that we were going.

Heading out wasn't bad other than some spitting rain once we got past Grantsville.  It turned downright nasty entering the salt flats, however, and our 83mph suddenly turned into 55 with my warning lights going on because of the poor traction on the road.  Also the temperature dropped from 57 to 33 degrees in less than an hour.  Luckily the road was only slippery for a 15 mile stretch before it was simply just wet and I could accelerate back up to 83mph.

We arrived in Wendover and ate a buffet.

I was very disappointed to see that all the Peppermill casinos had totally redone their slots -- for the worse.  Gone were the Atari Centipede games as well as the cool Incredible Technology Games.  Instead many of them were has beens as far as slot machines go.

We gambled for  an hour or so at the Montego Bay and I was done about $40 before we left.  I did have a nice mini-run on a Spartacus machine, but other than that my luck was crappy.  Shari hit a 40-free spin on an Black Orchid game.  She has incredible luck on this machine and it seems to pay her well.  She wound up cashing out with over $170.  I was filming her bonus round and got half of it on my phone before security came and told me to put it away... sigh.

We drove to the Peppermill were I was disappointed to see King Leonidas gone.  In its place was a crappy Gems slot machine that looked like it was from the late 90's.  What a disappointment.  We gambled here a bit and neither one of us won much.

My last hope at finding a decent machine was at the Rainbow and they too had taken out the cool games and pretty much they didn't have anything super exciting to play.  However, I did manage to win a few bucks here and stop my losing streak.  Shari also had good luck, earning another $30 or so in another Black Orchid game.  There wasn't any poker going on at the Rainbow.  I might've been tempted to play in a cash game but Wendover seemed sort of dead for a Sunday.  Maybe people aren't going when the 3 main casinos get stingy with the comps.

On a whim and since the Wendover folks weren't having any special comps, we went to the Red Garter.  We don't have a club card here and I'll be honest, this reminds me of an old-style, low-rent Vegas casino.  They have a nice selection of games though and I quickly made $15 in a Planet Moolah game, that was paying out nicely almost immediately.  However, I gave it all back in another slot machine.

Before we left I put a pair of $5 bills into a series of old-school IGT 3-reel games (.25 / .50 cent machines)  and wound up cashing out with $50.  Shari also had another lucky run there and cashed out with $50.

Overall, we came home with about $150 more than what we left with.  Shari was the big winner and I managed to lose about $60 or so.  We had a good time and we took off just after 5pm.

The ride home was much easier than going, although Salt Lake City's warm air had turned cold and there was a dusting of snow on the ground.

It'll probably be a while before I go to Wendover again.  We did get Beach Boys tickets for June though.  That show regularly sells out and I am sure I'll make a May trip at some point too.

Enjoy the photos:

Me, contemplating what to eat next

Waiting in line at the buffet.

I love those cheese blintzes

Shari's big win

Shari's counting the cash.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Antelope Island - Frary Peak - Close Encounter with Buffalos!

Today being an incredibly awesome day from a weather standpoint, I decided to go out and go for a hike.  Initially my plan was to hit the Wasatch peak, but I figured there was still some snow on the ground and it'd probably be muddy.

Instead, I headed out to Antelope Island.  Antelope Island is about a 45 minute easy drive from Murray.  You basically drive north on the I-15 until you get to Antelope Drive.  You go west after exiting the freeway and about 15 minutes later you are at the park entrance.  You pay your entry fee ($10) and drive on a causeway to the island itself.

The island is named after the fact that there are plenty of Antelope on the island.  There is also a large selection of buffalo, coyotes and other wildlife there.

One of the draws for the serious hiker is the Frary Peak Trail.  After arriving on the island, you go about 5 miles south and turn right upon seeing the Frary Peak Trail sign.  You drive up a service road and park and you have a very well defined trail that takes you to the top of the island.  You start at about 4300 feet and finish just shy of 7000 after a 3 mile hike.

It is labeled as an intermediate to advanced hike.  I found it to be fairly easy (as a runner).  I also saw plenty of kids and adults of various fitness levels.  The first half mile to mile is mostly uphill but after that it levels out and you get to enjoy just slowly going up hill.  Then after another mile comes some more climbing.

There are mile markers at each .5M so you know exactly how far you have to go.  Be sure to bring sunscreen and appropriate hydration.  There is NO shade up there and it is recommended you do this hike in spring to early summer.  Also, this trail is HIGHLY runnable; with the trail consisting primarily of dirt with some rocks.

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife!  On the way back, I came upon 4 buffaloes -- 2 on each side of the trail.  I expected to have to either circle around them or wait (they are slow moving and seem to like to hang out).  Also keep your eyes out for "cow pies" as the ground is littered with them.

After 3 miles of hiking you do come to the 3 mile marker.  While that may appear to be the end, there are two paths to take you to the true Frary Peak.  The left one requires some technical skill and is shorter.  I talked to a couple and they said it wasn't that bad.  While the safer looking one leads down the mountain a bit and then makes a tough ascent to the back side of Frary Peak.  I believe that is the official route but does require significant work.  The views at the 3 mile point though are still worthy of the effort.  Up until that point, however, the trail was tough at times but required absolutely no technical skill to reach.

I snapped a bunch of pictures and captured the beauty of the day.  I also managed to get a nice sunburn as well.  Enjoy the photos:

Frary Peak Trail Sign

Dooly Knob Trail Sign

After about .25M of climbing

I'll be climbing to the top.

Continuing the climb

Looking north

Dooly's Knob in the distance - tiny from here

Looking down at where I came from

Keep on climbing!

Notice the buffalo up there?

Looking east towards Syracuse and Layton

Nearly at the top of Frary Peak

Looking at Stansbury Island from 6800 feet

Up there is Frary Peak

Yup here is closer.

Plenty of Hikers along the Frary Peak Trail

You have to climb through a small cave

Uh oh Buffalo Ahead - not good

Luckily they moved off the trail

Evil stare down

See ya buffalo