Monday, July 6, 2015

July Fourth Elko Nevada Trip Recap


I had a three day weekend for the Fourth of July and on my list of things to do this year was definitely to revisit Lamoille Canyon.  I fell in love with the place the first time I visited it in September of 2013 and I hadn't been back.

I also suspected that my timing would be better this year because I'd be able to see some of the wildflowers that are in bloom. 

Finally I was hoping to run in the Basque Festival 5K.  

So without further ado, on Friday the day before the Fourth of July I dropped Shari off at the airport (she is back in Illinois and proceeded to go 200+ miles to the west.


It was an insanely hot day.  My car's temperature was pushing 94 and whenever it gets that hot, I get a little nervous traveling through the Utah / Nevada desert.  I had left just after 11AM and my goal was to hit Wells, stop for fuel and head to Angel Lake for a hike.

I had smooth sailing all the way there and my heart had a pang of regret when I passed by West Wendover.  I thought about stopping in for a buffet but I wasn't all that hungry and I was saving room for that evening's feast.

Either way, I hit Wells around 12:30 (Pacific Time) and filled up with gas at the most expensive station.  I am not sure why they were fifty cents higher than normal, but the other one at that exit was closed and I suppose I could've driven around and found a better one but I also wanted to hit up the local Subway.

After eating I headed up to Angel Lake and made the hike to Smith Lake.  I got some incredible photos and if you want to see them, check it out here.  

After hiking, I reluctantly finished the trip to Elko, which is about another 50 miles from Wells.  Upon arriving, I grabbed a coupon flyer that they had sent me that entitled me to a free room and redeemed that at the player's club counter at the Red Lion Elko.

After checking in, I normally get some coupons since I am a Red Lion Rewards Member and I didn't.  I inquired about it and that guy was like "Oh Yeah"  He handed me two breakfast vouchers and another coupon sheet for free play, beers and discounts at the restaurants.  Score!

I lugged all my stuff to my room and threw things wherever and cleaned up in the shower.  Believe me, after the hike I had, I really needed one.

I then went down to the casino.  I wasn't terribly hungry just yet so I jumped on a Fu Dao Le and put in a couple of twenties.  Let's just say that while in Elko I had plenty of luck -- just all of it was bad.  I got a few "Good Fortune Has Arrives" interstitial screens but I certainly wasn't winning much and within a short period of time I had lost my $40 or so and the $12 in free play they had given me.

I headed over to the buffet and jumped into the Friday night seafood buffet.  Their seafood buffet is pretty good, but it isn't a match for Wendover's.  They have the crab legs but they are crack your own and it tends to be a mess.  I did my due diligence at the buffet and wound up paying $20 plus tip for it.

The Creole shrimp on the left was good. The coconut shrimp is also awesome

After eating I loitered around the casino and played and mostly lost.  I also strolled over to the Gold Country Casino across the street and checked out their new machines.  But at this point I was just throwing away money.  Dejected, I wound up going back to my room around 10pm and watched TV. 

I slept really crappy. I think all the gambling had me frustrated or on adrenaline or something, but it felt like I didn't sleep at all.


I really wanted to run the Basque Festival 5K.  I had plotted it all out and knew exactly where the race was at.  I even set my alarm to go off at 5:50.  However, once I woke up, I felt like I hadn't slept at all and I was just tired.  I also wondered how I would do on tired legs from yesterday's hike.  I also felt like I had a ball of food in my gut from last night's food fest.  So I just rolled over and tried to sleep some more.

Undaunted though, I did get up and go for a 7 mile run.  While I've explored most of Elko I hadn't really run to the far west edges of town so that's the way I went.  I was running by the airport and good deal and there was a wide shoulder there for me to run on.  I did seven miles and surprisingly I felt like I was running at a good clip (until the warm air caught up with me) Not exactly the sexiest run I've ever been on but certainly different:

After returning to the hotel and cleaning up I went down the buffet and sucked down a ton of Arnold Palmer's.  I was just darn thirsty. With my $11 breakfast voucher, I wound up eating for $7 including tip.  Not a bad deal at all.  While the buffet pales in comparison to Wendover's it isn't bad if you can use a coupon on it:

After eating I went down to do the Fourth of July Parade.  Sort of funny that only a few hours before the streets had been barren as I had run down there.  You can see pictures of the parade here.

I totally contemplated sitting pool side and catching up on my sleep or just simply relaxing but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't get out and head to Lamoille Canyon, which is where I went.  You can read about my hike to Island Lake here.

After my hike I also visited the Church at the Crossroads in the tiny and bucolic village of Lamoille.  You can see pictures of this historic church here.

Returning back to the hotel, I took another much needed shower and tried to decide where to go and eat.  The buffet was pretty expensive that night and since the buffet isn't that big I knew my selections would be limited (I don't eat meat).  I called around to some of the local restaurants but being most were closed for the Fourth, I opted to go to JR's Restaurant which is attached to the Gold County Casino.  I've eaten there before and they serve good food, fast.  I had a $5 coupon which I certainly put to good use.  I wound up having a piece of salmon with fries and a salad.  I thought the portion was pretty slim for the money ($16) but at least the fish was fresh and nicely done:

After eating, I decided to do a little gambling to kill time before the evening fireworks.  I actually went on a bit of a winning streak, pulling down a $40 bonus round on a $1 bet on the Bally's Money Tree (I've won before on this game) and dabbling with Fu Dao Le.  I also got a screen full of aces on a Super Red Phoenix.  However, I kept chasing it and by the time it was closer to fireworks I was down about $40.  However, at least I got a free t-shirt for my efforts:

I love these kids -- too bad this wasn't a good bonus round.

I grabbed another shirt (which I needed since it had cooled down) and walked to the fireworks show.  You can read about that here.

I didn't get back to the room until about 11 and I actually slept wonderfully.  I was briefly up at 5:30AM and thought about going for a run but turned over and went back to sleep.  I was shocked when I woke up at 8AM.  Darn, no run today.


After showering and packing up most of my stuff, I headed down to the buffet and used the last of my breakfast coupons.  For some reason, despite being hungry, I couldn't put away the food.  I still got my money's worth and they do make an excellent made-to-order omelette.

I grabbed my stuff, loaded up the car and took off for Lamoille Canyon for my last hike.  I had been told Thomas Canyon was a worthy hike so I did that and wasn't disappointed.  You can see pictures here.

I also grabbed some photos from various stopping points in Lamoille Canyon:

I then made the hour plus drive to Wendover and stopped in at the Montego Bay.  I was down a lot of money at this point and Montego Bay wasn't running any sort of promotions that day.  I was mostly there to use the bathroom, maybe play a bit and get something to eat.

I put twenty bucks into my favorite Fu Dao Le machine and even used my $10 in free play on it to no avail.  Just absolutely nothing.  I was certainly lamenting my luck as I went over to the buffet and jumped on that Fu Dao Le machine there.  I put in a twenty, didn't get anything and figured what the hell, what's one more and the first spin (I bet the minimum, I was so tempted to bet more) I hit a $100 bonus round.

I then had a good buffet for 50% off (about $9).  Their Sunday night buffet is pretty good and features some spicy shrimp dish that I go insane for:

After eating I put in another $20 into a Fu Dao Le and almost immediately got the pick'em bonus.  Every time I get the pick'em bonus I nearly have a heart attack because the potential to win is there.  I still can't believe I won a $1000 on a $0.38 bet.  While I was close to getting a $100 bonus I managed to just get the $35 mini bonus.  I was pretty happy to leave Montego Bay with close to a $50 - $60 profit.  

The trip home was pretty uneventful and the cats were super excited to see me.  


Well, this trip sucked as far as gambling went.  This is the second time I've had no luck in Elko.  You would figure that with a depressed town (from a gambling standpoint) would be a bit looser but this wasn't the case.  All in all, I probably lost about $150, which I guess isn't too bad considering the entertainment and that it basically paid for one of the night's that I stayed in Elko.

Food wise, I probably ate for under $70 including tips.  Considering the amount and quality I ate, I would think I made out pretty good.  Lodging was also $110 total.

A lot of people laugh at me when I tell them I am going to Elko.  Let's face it, Elko is mostly a map dot on the way to Reno.  But as evidenced by the photos and my write-ups, I think there is a lot more going on there (and in the area) than first meets the eye.  This was another super memorable mini-vacation and the experiences I had in Lamoille and at Angel Lake will stick with me for a while.

I definitely hope to make it there again for some more hikes (I am not done with Lamoille) as there are more areas to explore in the Ruby Mountain Range.

Thanks for reading.

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