Sunday, December 13, 2015

Elko Nevada Trip Recap


Faithful readers may recall that I visited Elko, Nevada last winter and stumbled across the downtown Elko Snowflake festival.  I had a fabulous time and this year I did my research and figured out what was going on and where to be and when -- so a trip was planned and executed.

We are big fans of the Red Lion Hotel and Casino and they've treated us fairly low-rollers well. Given that we play a fair amount at their casino, they are willing to give us discounted rooms.  So every now and then we gather our coupons up and make the 250 mile journey out in the desert to visit the city.

It also didn't hurt that I found a local 5K running on Saturday and figured why not.

Now most people from Salt Lake look at Elko as a place to get some gas before finishing their trip to Reno.  Me?  I discovered that there is a lot to do here and I have never had a bad time there.  It is definitely slower speed than most towns but if you know where to look, there are some great places to eat,  hike and play.


After work I packed some things and headed west along I-80.  In most cities, traveling on a Friday night would be bad news.  However, traveling along the west corridor is smooth sailing.  Once we got out of the Salt Lake area I was cruising at a good speed.  

With it getting dark so much sooner it was hard to enjoy the barren scenery but we made excellent time.  We also knew we'd gain an hour once we arrived in Elko, since they are on Pacific time.

Along the way Shari and I debated about where to eat.  We thought about hitting up Wendover but Shari isn't a seafood fan and I really didn't want to gorge at the buffet.

So we decided to try Luciano's of Elko.  We had tried to eat there last year, but they were closed on account of the Snowflake festival parade.  It looked like a really nice Italian place and it had been a while since I've had really really good Italian food.

Me post meal at Luciano's Elko

Despite getting there fairly late, we did have to endure a 20 minute wait.  Luciano's was quaint but loud.  It was a full house.  I found up getting some stuff shells with shrimp.  I would eat here again but it was a bit on the pricey side.  I loved their tomato sauce and would love to see a red sauce with clams / linguine on their menu:

After eating we drove over to the Red Lion, got our room coupons and settled into our room.  We wound up going down to the casino.  I wound up pretty much breaking even while Shari scored big on a Lucky Leprechaun game:

I was pretty wiped out from the drive and we called it a night around 10:30.


We got up fairly late -- at least later than I had hoped.  I needed to get a meal in before my 1pm race.  Unfortunately I didn't get started eating until almost 9:30.  For convenience, we stopped in at JR's Restaurant, across the street from the Red Lion.  We've eaten there before and the food is good and so is the service.  It also didn't deter us that we had a $4 coupon...

I wound up getting an omelette with hash browns and toast.

After eating we ambled over to Jc Penny's and loafed around in there.  I normally hate shopping but Elko is so low key and no crowds that I actually don't mind it.  

Afterwards we drove under the freeway and checked out the new Roadhouse Casino.  I had read in their newspaper that they had opened a new one.  It was pretty small.  I wasn't terribly interested in anything they had but Shari played a bit and donated money to their cause.

I then navigated our way over to the Gold Dust West.  I had wandered in there before and it was a nice, although characterless casino.  Just seemed to be a giant box with slot machines in it.  They do, however, have a huge selection of newer machines.  We had about an hour to kill before I had to head back to the hotel to get ready for the race, so we signed up for their loyalty card and I wound up winning about $40 and Shari took home nearly a hundred.  She was doing quite well on her Lucky Leprechaun game.

At 1 PM I ran the Ugly Sweater 5K.  I returned back to the hotel and cleaned up some.  We grabbed a quick bite to eat the Red Lion Starbucks -- enough to hold us over until our dinner.  We gambled a bit more but nothing terribly noteworthy happened.

Around 4:00 we went downtown.  Last year, we totally missed the Snowflake Festival parade.  I am not a huge fan of parades on account that parking and finding a seat is just more trouble than it is worth.  Elko -- that's a different story.  We wound up killing some time in the old casinos down there, where despite their promise of being "liberal slots" they wound up taking most of money with very little in return.

Around 5pm the Snowflake Festival parade started and despite just sort of "showing up" we got decent ringside standing area.  The parade was pretty generous in giving out candy, soda and even stuffed animals to the kids.  I wound up snagging some candy for the kids around us too.  The parade was about 30 minutes long and worth showing up for:

We had talked about eating at Dos Amigos Mexican restaurant but with the crowds dispersing and a growling in our stomachs, we opted to hit up the Coffee Mug.  Despite a ton of people in the downtown area, it was busy but not lined up the door.  I was expecting a long wait for food and service but I was completely surprised with how quick everything was.  I ordered a spaghetti linguine with shrimp.  It was good but a little greasy.  It filled me up though.  For the price, I'd definitely go back but I think primarily it is a breakfast place.

Shari and I wound up going back to the Gold Dust.  My luck pretty much was souring at this point, but Shari was cleaning up on her Lucky Leprechaun.  She wasn't afraid to go big in terms of bets and was winning enough to keep ahead of the game.  After a bit, we felt somewhat obligated to give the Red Lion more of our attention since they continually give us some perks.  I wound up winning and losing about equally there and Shari wound up making some small profits on various machines.  We also loitered around the casino in hopes our names would be drawn for their hourly drawings, but we were out of luck there.  We also had a chance to listen to a live country band that was actually pretty good.  They also have a dance floor as well....

View from the room


On Sunday morning I was greeted with a somewhat snowy and icy morning.  About an inch of snow had fallen overnight and a thin layer of crackily ice was over the sidewalks.  It was in the upper 30's though and I wound up going for a run.  I got some nice photos of Brothel Row and some aerial shots of the downtown Elko area from a residential area:

Ice Sculpture

I figure I got in around 4 easy miles.  All in all, it was a beautiful morning for a run and also surprisingly I ran into a few other runners out for an early run.

After cleaning up, we gathered our stuff and drove 100 miles to West Wendover. The drive was pretty uneventful and other than a bit of slickness outside of Elko, we flew along at a good rate.  I can't say this enough, but the drive between Elko and Wendover is just relaxing and also beautiful:

We had a 2 for 1 buffet pass and some free play to use in Wendover.  We wound up eating pretty well and doing some gambling.  My luck was again hit and miss, but mostly miss.  Shari was itching to play her Rebel Wild game which she is having a good streak of luck on.  She went big and wound up winning a lot while playing.  They weren't running any comp specials except 4x tier points.  We aren't anywhere near the next tier so it was pretty meaningless to us.

Gambling-wise on this trip I didn't do well.  While I didn't learn my shirt I didn't come out ahead.  Shari wound up winning about $250.  High-risk, high reward.  

None the less I really loved making this trip and will likely do it again.  It was fun to experience some new restaurants and get away for the weekend.  I was also lucky to pair it with racing a 5K.  

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