Faithful readers may recall that last year I went to Elko, NV for the entire Fourth of July weekend. To say I had a fabulous time would be an understatement. I had an entire weekend to see fireworks, parades, and go hiking and I couldn't have had a better weekend.
So when 2016 rolled around, I knew I wanted to recapture the magic that I experienced and so I opted to go pay a visit again.
Sunday July 3
We headed out to West Wendover Nevada for breakfast at the Montego Bay. Due to the holiday weekend they weren't honoring the 2-for-1 buffet pass but luckily we had comps from a previous visit. So we ate for free.
We did a bit of gambling at Montego Bay and the Rainbow and I was pretty much breaking even and getting some play. I had a nice run on a Wonder Woman Gold slot machine, which kept me occupied for an hour. That game doesn't pay very well, in my opinion, but I find it entertaining and the bonus round seems to come up fairly often.
We left about midafternoon and I managed to convince Shari to go on a short hike with me in Wells, NV. We made the somewhat scary drive from Wells to the top where Angel Lake is located.
Last year, I had hiked from Angel Lake to Smith Lake and it is was reasonably short without a lot of elevation change. It also was loaded with wildflowers last year and sports some stunning views of the Wells valley.
Nevada had a long winter and the wildflowers weren't quite out in full force. Shari and I managed to get about a mile of hiking in and I shot some incredible photos of the area:
After visiting Angel Lake, Shari and I made our way to Elko, where we checked into the Red Lion. This is our go-to hotel and being player's club card members, they give us a pretty sweet deal. We don't gamble a lot but in short, we had a bunch of coupons, free play, and basically it cost me $50 for two nights. They keep throwing freebies and goodies at me, I'll be a loyal customer.
After settling in, we decided to get something to eat. I've been itching to try the various restaurants in Elko and we opted for La Fiesta. It is a downtown Mexican joint that doesn't look like much from the outside but they have super quick service, epic portion sizes and the food was reasonably priced. I'd go back. The chips & salsa weren't our favorite however.
After eating, we gambled some at the Gold Dust West. I was hoping that I'd have some free play on my card, but alas, not this month. The last couple of months they've been giving us a little bit of something, but this time nothing. I dropped a few bucks there with nothing to show for it, while Shari made a bit of a profit.
After returning to the Red Lion, I gambled a bit more and earned 50 points for their annual 4th of July t-shirt. So I have one from last year and now this year's. It is a nice little cotton shirt (suitable for framing).
Monday July 4th
I got up early. I toyed around with the idea of doing a 5K race in Spring Creek but my last race experience wasn't that great and I really and truly wanted to hike Lamoille canyon. I gobbled down a quick breakfast at Jrs -- a casino diner located across the street. I've never been disappointed there and it was good.
The 4th of July parade had been held on the 2nd because of the Basque festival, so I was off the hook as far as parades were concerned. This bummed me out, because they have a low-stress, very cool parade and if they had it that day, I would've made it a point to go again. I am not a super big parade person, but I liked theirs.
Either way, I headed out to Lamoille Canyon where I hiked to Liberty Pass. There was even some snow on the trail. There were a ton of people there and I even managed to run into someone I recognized from the Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon I ran about 2 weeks ago. As always, Lamoille is a secret gem in the Elko area and I love going there:
I rushed back and Shari and I wound up having a fairly late breakfast / lunch at the Garden Cafe's buffet. For about $11, the Monday morning buffet was actually pretty good.
We wound up gambling a bit and my luck continued to go south. To break up things, we went over to Jc Penny's, which is across the street from the hotel. I bought some new shorts and a new a wallet -- my old one was falling apart. Elko is about the only place I'll shop for that. The reason is that it is easy parking, no crowds and I don't have to deal with anything. Half my non-running wardrobe comes from the Elko Pennies.
I was surprised at how quickly I got hungry and before the 4th of July fireworks were to start, we ate at Jr's again.
After eating, we ambled over to the city park where we watched the fireworks. We got there pretty early. I had heard that the fireworks were to start at 9 PM but in actuality they didn't start until close to 9:45. It felt like the longest wait ever. We did make friends with a loquacious woman from West Virginia who was passing through Elko who was at least interesting to listen to.
The fireworks seemed better last year, but none the less it was an easy walk from the hotel and I was so glad I hadn't driven. Traffic was backed up quite a bit...
Tuesday July 5th
In the morning, I got up and shambled through 5 miles of running. I snapped a bunch of pictures of Elko and I sort of felt like I was playing hooky. It was a work day and everyone was trying to get to work, while I was running along the streets. I tried some new streets I hadn't run down before and had fun seeing all the old houses and buildings:
After arriving back at the hotel, we gathered our stuff and took off to Wendover. The ride there was pretty uneventful and we got there kind of late.
Most of the weekend crowd had already left, so it was nice. It felt like we had the casino to ourselves. Wendover was honoring the 2-for-1 buffet pass, so we ate for 50% off.
My luck continued to go south and what little I had left of my gambling money, I managed to piss away and not get a whole lot of satisfaction out of. Like most of the trip, gambling was pretty much a bust.
As I sort of expected, this year wasn't as cool as last year. I think the gambling wound up working out to be about the same experience (yuck), but I did have a good time. I got in two hikes and a decent run. I also ate for fairly cheap (I think we used a coupon or comps with just about every meal) and the hotel was next to nothing. So I really don't have any major complaints.
I wish there had been more wild flowers out. I suspect in another week or two they'll be out in full force but I was glad to get to see some snow and have fantastic weather for hiking.
Perhaps next year I'll repeat this trip again!