Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The rest of the southwest trip

Notice the family resemblance?


I did a lot more than run my marathon on my trip to Arizona and vacation in Las Vegas.  I was able to stay at my brother's apartment in Tempe for the weekend and while I didn't get to visit the hotspots or do the Super Bowl in Glendale, I did get to do a few cool things:

Saturday Night

After my marathon I pretty much huddled in bed and whimpered.  Well, not really whimper, but if you've run a marathon, you know what I mean.  I pretty much spent the afternoon wanting to do something (over caffeinated) and wanted to sleep (but I couldn't because I was over caffeinated).

Shari and I did have to go to her best friend's house in Goodyear Arizona.  All of her high school girlfriends were going to be there for a reunion of sorts.  I've always gotten along with everyone there (as their husbands would also be there) so it was an evening of conversation and food.  Shari was worried I'd be a sour puss (I tend to get crabby after long runs) but I will say I was chipper enough.

Sunday Morning

Cactus outside Casino Arizona

We had another busy day planned with Shari's friends.  But first off we needed food and I was ravenous.  We opted to go Casino Arizona and hit up their breakfast buffet.  My brother, Tom, lives right around the corner and I anticipated it being a zoo with a long wait.  Luckily the wait wasn't bad at all. 

For $16.95 a piece, the buffet was a bit spendy.  However, you did get champagne (which we didn't touch) and they had crack-your-own crab legs.  I was expecting tiny shoe-string size crab legs, but these were huge and they really didn't require much effort to snag the prize.  The food was pretty decent and I easily cleaned up there.  

I wasn't that impressed with the casino.  I didn't find very many machines I was itching to play and I wound up circling the joint watching others play.  My mother in law dropped a good hundred there in short time and Shari played a little of her winnings from the Mirage but wasn't getting anything.  I wound up getting a nice bonus round (including a re-trigger) on Bally's Lucky Money Tree that netted me a profit of $40.  I stuffed that in my pocket and quickly took off.

Sunday Afternoon + Evening

We came back to Tom's apartment before cleaning up and heading to another one of Shari's girlfriend's condos for a pre Super Bowl party.  I hung around there for about an hour and a half.  Shari and her friends were going to a sports bar, while I would drive back and spend some quality time with my brother.

We wound up watching the Super Bowl together and I worked on my blog a bit, putting up my marathon recap.  The game was fun to watch, but to be honest, I couldn't make up my mind which team I disliked more so I had no emotional investment in it.

Monday Morning + Afternoon

We wound up taking off just shy of noon to Vegas.  The weather was sunny and warm, which netted an opportunity to take some great desert photos.  

I will say that Utah still the best in terms of speed limits.  We don't mess around.  Arizona must be limp wristed.  I am driving in the middle of the desert and the speed limit was 65mph.  Come on! And there were tons of cops sitting in ditches with radar guns waiting to tag people.  I was a good driver and kept it reasonable, even though I was dying to be back in Utah.

A few miles south is the area of my marathon


Desolated areas

Rodeo outside Wickenburg, AZ

Joshua Tree Forest

Joshua Tree Forest

Joshua Tree Forest

Joshua Tree Forest

Joshua Tree Forest

Joshua Tree Forest

Joshua Tree Forest

Joshua Tree Forest

Crazy Rock Formations

Crazy Rock Formations

Crazy Rock Formations

Cactus while getting gas in Wikieup

Approaching Lake Mead Area

Approaching Lake Mead Area

Approaching Lake Mead Area

All in all, the trip took about 4 hours or so.

Monday Night

To break up the trip, we opted to spend the night at Sunset Station in Henderson, about 15 minutes drive away from the strip.  The room was pretty cheap $34, but they nailed us with the stupid resort fee bringing the total over $50.

I was starving as I hadn't had much to eat the whole trip, so we jumped into the buffet.  We managed to get the lunch prices just as it was turning into dinner... score!  Shari and I were already club card members, so we ate for about $8.99 each.  

This buffet didn't have much premium stuff like shrimp or crab legs but it certainly had enough to keep me filled.  I wound up inhaling a TON of food.  The buffet decor reminded me of the Red Rock Resort.  For the price, I felt like it was worth it, but I didn't feel it was a steal.  Food was good, but not the best buffet I've ever had.  I loved the over sized plates and utensils though.  They mean business there!

Never can have enough dessert

After eating we gambled a bit.  Shari's mom continued losing.  I played for several hours but really didn't get anything.  I was really getting frustrated and maybe I'd win a bit, but more often than not, I was getting very little back for my money and my wallet was getting considerably thinner.

The casino was filled with a TON of older machines.  I've never seen more video poker and old school WMS machines.  I am not a big fan of those types, but I do enjoy dabbling with video poker.  Also I discovered the video black jack didn't allow splits or double downs -- total rip off.  For a huge place I was kind of disappointed with the offerings and again spent more time circling the casino than actually playing something I really like (hint: get some Fu Dao Le machines).  They had a bowling alley and a cinema, but no poker room.  I wasn't really impressed with the comps I received either.  I've gotten a lot more in Wendover or the Boyd Casinos. 

Shari was the only one who had a little bit of luck and we wound up calling it a night close to 10pm.

I slept pretty well and for the price, the room was very nice.  Not as big as Wendover's Montego Bay, but spacious enough.  I'd stay here again for sure:


I was up and rearing to go back to Utah.  I was really tired of gambling and running around.  I simply wanted to kick back in my own house / bed.  

I got Shari and her mom coffee and jumped into the buffet line.  I wound up using my comps so I had breakfast for a whopping $4.37.  Like the lunch, there wasn't much premium stuff on the menu.  I did have a nice omelette and polished off at least half a dozen oranges.  Once again, I was like a bottomless pit.

While Shari and her mom ate after they had gotten dressed (it takes them a minimum of 60 minutes), I wound up dabbing with the machines.  I am happy to report I probably made a very small profit.  I'd put in $5, win a few bucks and move on.  I was just happy to come up on a positive note for once.

Shari and her mom did some gambling. Shari won a $100 on a Rumble Rumble machine but dumped another $50 trying to do a repeat.  Shari's mom continued to hemorrhage money and by noon we hit the road.  It was largely smooth sailing but we stopped in Scipio and Cedar City (we had a very brief lunch at the Dairy Queen there) for gas and bathroom breaks.  It wasn't until close to 8pm that I finally arrived home.


Gambling-wise this trip was a bummer.  I hate gambling on the Strip because I know it is a sucker's bet. However, they were the only ones with Fu Dao Le machines.  I am sort of disappointed how the premium stuff on the Strip has disappeared.  I don't think I had a piece of shrimp the entire trip and the buffets and offerings seem parred down.  I hate to say it, but I kept saying, "I remember the good old days".  I must be getting old.

Shari and I had hoped to see a bit more of Arizona.  It is on our radar of "some day" moving there.  Part of the trip down there was to ascertain whether we would like it.  For me, I wasn't sold on it.  I can't imagine running in 115 degree weather and getting up at 5AM to get my miles in doesn't appeal to me at all.  Having the casinos close by is both good and bad.  I like to gamble but I hate when it becomes the "only" or even a "primary" outlet for entertainment.  I'd rather hike or experience something new than sit in front of a slot machine.  Shari was already picking out lots near her friend's house.  I sense a conflict coming up....

I was able to knock off Arizona off my state's list for marathoning.  I think I've done 7 or so.  I've got a long way to go in doing all 50 and whether I complete it or not remains to be seen.  I don't really have the vacation time or the funds to visit, say New Hampshire or Vermont.  Oh well, it is a goal and we'll see what happens.

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