Tuesday, April 14, 2015

St George / Hurricane / Mesquite Vacation Recap


Whew, what a trip!  Below, I'll detail what I did on a day by day basis.  I won't recap the gory details of other places posts I've done but mostly this is a highlight reel of what we did from Friday until Monday:


I managed to get off fairly early from work and booked it home.  I had packed 90% of my things the previous night and it was just a matter of doing a quick double check and throwing my toiletries and a few other knick knacks into a suitcase.  

By 3:45 we were on the road and heading south on the I-15.  Normally Friday traffic can be a little crazy and we wound up getting caught in some construction traffic south of Draper that took an extra 15 minutes to get through.  Luckily it was short lived and largely that was the only head-achy part of the 4 hour trip south.

We thought about eating in a variety of places but eating greasy fast food before a marathon is rarely a good idea.  I've had good luck with IHOPs in general so we stopped at the Cedar City one (about 3 hours south of us).  Service was quick and I got plenty of food and we were off in short order to St George.

We stayed at the Chalet Motel, which had gotten good reviews on TripAdvisor.com.  We weren't disappointed and while some of the fixtures were mismatched it was a huge place and close to the freeway.

I slept really poorly that night on account that I had pre-race anxiety about the marathon.  Also, the motel didn't have an alarm clock and I had fears my phone's alarm clock wasn't going to work (I usually double up on alarms before a race).  I was also extremely warm -- and since there has been a cold / flu circulating around the office, I was terrified I was coming down with it.


I got up at 4:30am and hustled over to Hurricane Utah where I ran my 16th marathon.  Afterwards I came back, cleaned up and decided to grab some lunch.  

I had rummaged through my goody bag from the race and discovered that I basically had a $4 coupon for Cafe Allure and it turns out that the cafe was right across the street from our motel.  Usually after a marathon I don't have a huge appetite so this was a perfect.  Cafe Allure reminded me of a Panera bread.  I managed to get a grilled veggie sandwich while Shari opted for a cheese pizza.  I was expecting a long wait for our food but it came within minutes.  It was really good but unfortunately I couldn't eat my chips that came with my sandwich because my teeth hurt from the acidic Gatorade I had used during the race.

After eating we got our hiking gear together and headed to Snow Canyon.  We wound up spending a few hours there.

On the way back I hunted down the St George Mormon Temple and quickly snapped a picture:

We cleaned up and on the agenda was a Saturday night trip to Mesquite.  We had done our research and discovered that the Casablanca Hotel and Resort had a Saturday buffet that included pre-cracked crab legs.  Score for me -- also for only $17.99 too .. .even better.

We made the roughly 35 minute drive to Casablanca and checked out the line to the buffet.  It wasn't crowded and I wasn't necessarily starving so we decided to play some slot machines.  We circled the casino and we were both disappointed to find that they were sorely lacking in some of our favorites.  No Rise of Ra, no Fu Dao Le and only one Super Red Phoenix, which didn't have a red envelope bonus on it.  The casino was pretty up to date but it had a lot of filler machines that we would never touch.

Most of the machines I would play were also occupied.  I jumped on one machine that I had never tried before and played it for a while by investing $20 into it.  I didn't make a profit, but played for a time, nearly lost the twenty and then got a bonus round bringing me up with a small profit.

I noticed that a Lucky Tree by Bally's was unoccupied.  I genuinely like the new Bally machines -- they can be stingy but at the same time they can pay some serious cash.  I put my twenty in there and wasn't getting much action when I suddenly got a bonus round.  

Basically if 3 cats come up on the screen you go to a pick'em screen.  I managed to get 11 picks (which is pretty good) and proceeded to pick random boxes.  The more cats of the same color you pick, the more you win.  I wound up picking like 5 white cats -- which are the hardest and most profitable to get.  I looked at the chart as to how much I was to win and saw 1290.  Great $12.90 -- not too shabby for a 50 cent bet.

But I was totally mistaken:

Instead of $12.90 I had won $129.00.  Big difference.  I was ecstatic to say the least and it looked like my hot streak was continuing.

Glowing my latest big win, we decided to go have some dinner.  For the price, the food wasn't bad -- and of course I loaded up on plate after plate of crab legs.  So awesome:

The rest of the buffet was pretty ho-hum.  While they had some premium offerings, I felt the food was lukewarm and didn't seem well attended to.  I enjoyed the price, but I'll take a Montego Bay Oceano Buffet over this one anytime.

After eating Shari tried her luck on an Ainsworth Buffalo game and she wound up winning $80 or so on a nice bonus round.  I sat around and played some IGT game that pays with just about every spin, but gives you pennies on the dollar in terms of return.  It is still fun but after getting 3 bonus rounds that totaled about $7, I had had enough.  I put a $100 into a Can Can game that I had never played before (that I had seen people win at) and I managed to hit a couple of really hot bonus rounds which gave me another $40 profit after dipping precipitously low on my initial investment.

Since I was on a hot streak I decided to try out the Dungeons and Dragons game.  I had no idea what I was doing and at first was disappointed that the game didn't have more "sizzle"  It almost felt boring.  Suddenly, though, I hit a bonus round.  I spun the wheel on it and wound up getting 25 free spins.  It has a pretty cool bonus round and wound up with another $40 profit.  I was hoping for a bigger payoff, especially with 25 spins, but it just wasn't in the cards.

After circling the casino a few more times, we decided we were pretty tired at this point.  I also had a treacherous drive up the winding I-15 Arizona pass back to St George that I would need to be alert for.

On Saturday night, despite being pretty excited about my wins, I managed to get a full night's sleep.


Once we woke up and took care of repacking everything up we decided to hit the St George Golden Corral.  I can finally claim this GC off my Utah State's list.  It was good and the layout / food selection reminded us a lot of the Midvale on.  It is one of the few things open in St George on a Sunday and while I didn't inhale a ton of food, I got enough to fill me for most of the day.

After finished at the Corral, we headed to Zion National Park where we spent the next few hours hanging around.  

Once we wrapped up at Zion's we proceeded to make our way back to Mesquite where we were going to stay at the Casablanca Resort.  Our first stop, however, was to the Eureka Mesquite Casino:

We had never been to the Eureka before and I was really impressed with it.  It was clean and they had a lot more modern machines.  I spotted my favorite machine Leonidas and I knew I had to sign up for the player's club.  We got two free stainless steel coffee mugs for doing so.  Unfortunately this was about the highlight of our visit to the Eureka.

We briefly scoped out buffet and were sufficiently unimpressed with the offerings.  I wound up plunking $60 in Leonidas.  I got a few bonus rounds but they were very unimpressive, including one bonus round that was less than a dollar.

I tried my like on one of the Australian Cash-man type of machines and didn't get any luck there either.  Before I knew it I had spent $80.  I was still up about $50 for the trip, but in a very short period of time I was hemorrhaging money.  

Disgusted we drove across the street and went to the Virgin River.  I don't remember what we played but both of our fortunes continued to dwindle.  

Being hungry we opted for the Virgin River Buffet.  Their buffet is priced aggressively and I made out like a bandit there and ate like crazy.  I wound up going to the make your pasta station and had two heaping portions of freshly made shrimp spaghetti:

Double fisted dessert eater!

After eating we went over to the Casablanca and checked in.  The hotel sort of bills itself as an upscale golf hotel with a flair for old Vegas.  The hotel is clean and the casino is huge.  The furnishings in the room were dated (especially the tube TV and old shower head) but overall we were happy with the room.  

We both initially toyed with going to the pool and laying around, but I think we were both so tired we just sat around and stared at the TV.  It wasn't until after 8 that we went back to the casino.  We swiped our loyalty cards and like every other time we won a free hot dog or a discounted coffee.  We did managed to redeem one of them in the morning though.

I was still up a small amount and after losing nearly $60 in the Can Can game again I tried my old faithful Dungeons and Dragons and wound up nailing a bonus round on an 80 cent bet.  I spun the wheel and was awarded 6 free spins.  Big deal I thought... but there is a way the game retriggers and gets more spins and I managed to get a bunch more spins, including a $60 screen full of swords:

Screen full of swords
On that note, we wound up crashing for the night.  Once again, I slept great.


In the morning I went for my run.  You can read about it here.

After getting back and fetching Shari her discounted coffee I cleaned up and ran to the pool.  Unfortunately the spa was being refilled (I would've really liked to have sat in a hot tub) but the pool was open and with the low 70's air temperature, the pool felt great.  I wound up swimming for a bit before heading back to the room.  With 10AM fast approaching, we wanted to catch the morning buffet at the Virgin River Casino.

I was ready lightning fast and by 10:05 we had arrived at the buffet -- only to realize it had closed for the breakfast to lunch transition five minutes before we got there.  I always mess that up, assuming it will be closed at 10 instead of 11.  I almost collapsed to my knees and yelled "Noooooooo!!!" like a Simpsons character.

We thought about sitting around for an hour waiting for it to reopen but we sort of wanted to hit the road.  We jumped into the cafe and had breakfast there.  For about $25 we ate pretty well.  Service was fast and the food was good and plentiful. Granted, I would rather have had a buffet, but it was certainly passable:

Veggie skillet -- plus toast
After breakfast we gambled a bit and I found myself only throwing good money after bad.  I simply wasn't having any luck.  Normally I win in Mesquite, but the last 36 hours was a complete downer.

The drive home was pretty uneventful other than a massive backup between the Utah / Salt Lake County line thanks to a tiny accident.  It wound up taking an extra 20 minutes to get home.  Certainly not the worst thing that could happen, but it was a pain, as we were anxious to get home.


You know you've done your weekend right when you go to work on Tuesday and it feels like a Monday.  I had so much fun.  While the long weekend was hardly relaxing it was definitely "filled to the max" which is sort of the way I like it.

From a gambling standpoint, I was largely up for the entire trip.  However, the last day brought me about -$50.  Certainly not the worst thing that could happen but for a while I was doing pretty well.  The comp system at the Mesquite hotels isn't the greatest and I am glad I have Wendover as a choice to game at.

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