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There and back again Trip Report

Discussion in 'Hit and Run - Quick Trip Reports!' started by tomb, May 29, 2018.

  1. tomb

    tomb Bronze
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    Hi all,

    I have been around the board quite a while, but not actively posting (most of the people here know this stuff better then my anyways). But I have very much enjoyed and lived through all the trip reports from other people to get my vegas fix, so it seems fair to at least make a half-assed attempt for a recap of my last trip to Vegas. I don't really know if this should go on the full TR section, seems out of place with all the great and detailed reports there.I am not a great writer by any means, and most of my time in vegas is spent on the slot machines after (too) many drinks, so a recap is about all i can manage :)

    I have been coming to Vegas from Europe at least once a year since my first trip about 8 years ago, either solo or with a couple of friends. This trip was going to be slightly different though, since I convinced my girlfriend to come with me to the us and leave the kids in the hands of grandma and grandpa for some well-deserved "us" time. We were flying in and out of Vegas and doing a road trip (national parks Utah, Yellowstone and the rockies) in between.

    I am a 37-yr old IT consultant (nerd) so anything that makes a lot of noise and has lots of blinking lights by nature attracts me :). I am therefore and mainly a low level slot player (budget of a couple of hundred a day) and occasionally some blackjack/craps depending on how the slots are treating me. My girlfriend does not gamble at all but let's me do my thing while she is relaxing in the room.

    I surprisingly received an what I believe to be a teaser offer from Encore for 3 nights comped and 300 dollar freeplay. Given my level of play (i have given them a couple hours of 2$/spin last time after just signing up for a red card) i was quite surprised, but who am I to ignore a free room in a great hotel.

    The final leg i spent in my normal vegas home, the cosmopolitan. I try to centralize all my "bigger" play there, and they are rewarding me with a solid offer year-round for a couple of nights comped. So the plan was set:
    * 3 nights encore where the days are reserved for shopping and hiking. The evenings after dinner were for me to at least give them some decent play to warrant the room
    * 2 nights comped at the cosmopolitan on memorial day weekend where nothing was set so I would have all day to gamble.

    Although the hotel itself at Encore is brilliant (rooms/general decor) i don't thing i will be staying again
    * Compared to the Cosmo there is no atmosphere at all with a very limited amount of slots, although the wynn has a decent slot floor but missing some of my favorite machines though (Walking Dead 1 & Sons of Anarchy) but the atmosphere is too mellow for my liking.
    * We are no foodies at all (a good burger or pasta for me can taste better than a five star restaurant), and wynncore have very limited options for a decent price. We ended up going to Grand Lux at Venetian a couple of timing which as far as I am concerned is very good quality for a "normal" price both for both breakfast and dinner.

    Anyway, the slots I like to play are unfortunately as far as I understand the worst (penny and themed slots), and they were very rough in both Wynn and Encore for me, with almost no wins to report in the 3 nights we spent there so I ended up paying for my room anyways :)

    The best hit was a bonus on can can de Paris:

    Since it was all lose-lose-lose in wynncore on the last night i did give Venetian/Pallazo some play with the same result but who knows. Perhaps they can give me a teaser offer as well for my next trip...

    Since this is a Vegas-related forum i will skip all the national park stuff, but I have to mention in my opinion your country has the greatest variety and beauty that nature has to offer...

    The final days of my trip I spent in the cosmopolitan. Being European, I totally neglected that it was the memorial day weekend so the casino was very busy and hopping all weekend long. Since my betting tends to go up at the cosmo and my luck continued the first couple of days the gambling was horrible. Benjamins were fleeing from my wallet at an alarming pace....

    After a final trip to the ATM on the last night (go out swinging right...) however it all turned in a couple of hours with a couple of hits:




    Anyway, I have nothing but good stuff to say about the cosmopolitan. The rooms are brilliant (always a terrace room of course), they have one of the best slot floors in Vegas and, the place always seems to have a good vibe and there are decent affordable restaurants either within the property or in walking distance.

    I think I recognized a number of VF members on there while slotting (vegaschic among others) but chickened out of saying hello (pussy, i know...).

    All in all a great time as always, and I am currently in my normal struggle to get adjusted to normal life again (wait - i have to make my own food here ????). After a couple of days in Vegas I want to go home, but then again I don't want to leave all the instant excitement.

    Fortunately there is already a guys trip planned for october, so the wait will not be that long this time !!
    Tessa QC, momnkid, Hoofy7 and 12 others like this.
  2. tringlomane

    tringlomane Theoretical Video Poker Addict
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    I guess we'll let you join...
    Thanks for sharing with us and welcome to the forum! Next time don't be afraid to say hi! ;)
    Texas Steph likes this.
  3. DRPinVa

    DRPinVa As always, inspired by MrsDRPinVa
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    Thanks for writing up your report, and your kind compliments on the US... Would love to hear about your hiking/driving adventures though... That too is part of Vegas for many of us :)... Glad to see you had a few wins toward the end of your trip... Next trip not too far away - always keeps a smile on your face.....
    jonnyvegas and Slotness like this.
  4. kleland69

    kleland69 Silver
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    Great report. I would love to hear about the parks and see the pictures also. It is great seeing places that aren't necessarily Vegas, but still Vegas related. Also when the pics appear and my grand-kid sees them, I get to show him places he hasn't been to yet. It gives him ideas for summer vacations. As a side, it also gives you a chance to relive the trip!
    Texas Steph likes this.
  5. NickPappageorgio

    NickPappageorgio ¿Quién vigila a los vigilantes?
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    Nice little TR and welcome aboard! Agree with the others though, park pics would be awesome.
  6. tomb

    tomb Bronze
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    Alright, but this could get long real fast though so could very well be that this takes a couple of posts to complete…

    Like I mentioned in the previous post, I have been to Vegas a number of times before without my girlfriend, and since it is a 12 hour flight I tend to always combine it with some sort of road trip. Therefore I have seen a lot of stuff around Vegas before (red rock canyon, valley of fire, Lake Mead, Zion, Bryce, Death Valley, ….) and did a number of tours before (Baja mini chase, Quad tour through the desert ,….).

    This time my gf insisted that Yellowstone had to be included in the trip (which I have see, before but is a first for her). I added in the rocky mountains as well to add something new for me which means that for a 2 week road trip a lot of driving was in order, and that the visits to the parks would be mainly the highlights and unfortunately no big hikes in the backcountry due to time restrictions.

    We chose may for a specific reason: although it is still very early in the season for Yellowstone and RMNP and a lot of things will not be open yet, that also means that the crowds are way less than during the summer and autumn. At times we felt all alone on the hikes, for me that is the only way to do a national park and i would do it again in a heartbeat.

    In & Around Vegas
    While in Vegas, we booked a Zipline tour of Bootleg canyon, which was awesome. A little scary at first but after the first zipline nothing but fun. Very entertaining guides, beautiful weather and a good time. I would thoroughly recommend this tour for anyone who wants to get away from Vegas for a couple of hours. No pictures unfortunately, I did not take my cell phone with me ☹ Of course since we were in Boulder we passed by Hoover Dam as well and some viewpoints of Lake Mead.



    Since I already visited Red Rock Canyon before, I chose the “Vegas Overlook Trail” as a hike to do as well during the day. The trailhead starts near Red Rock Canyon and takes you up a mountain in a beautiful, easy hike (about 2 hours round trip for us) to get a spectacular view over the Vegas area with the strip in the background:

    See the little "mitten" on top of the mountain? that is where the overlook is.

    solitude during the hike

    viewpoint at the end of the hike

    After leaving Vegas first up in the road trip were a couple of the Utah parks that I have seen before but my gf had not.

    Bryce Canyon

    Only about 4 hours of driving from Vegas, I have yet to see a place so unique as Bryce. The viewpoints over the hoodoo’s are nice, but the real beauty of the park for me lies when you get to walk in between them. We did a hike around the peek-a-boo loop and we had the advantage of arriving late, which means that we crossed a total of about 5 people during our 3-hour hike

    Panorama overlook of the hoodoo's

    Going down towards the canyon floor where the hike is. The lower you go, the less people of course.



    Couple of pictures from during the hike.

    UT12 and Capitol Reef national park

    We would be driving to Capitol Reef National Park the next day using the Scenic Byway 12 through the red rocks of Utah. After a mandatory stop at Kiva Coffee House (best view you will ever have while sipping on a café mocha), we arrived at Capitol Reef. Driving the UT12 is pretty awesome, especially the part that is called the hog's back where you have amazing views on the valley on both sides of the road.

    Great place for a relaxes lunch

    View from terrace of Kiva Coffee House.

    Hiking on the Hickman Bridge trail in Capitol Reef NP

    Views along the hike - gorgeous

    And the bridge itself of course. It is about 1h hike total. Really easy hike so doable for about anyone in my opinion.

    To be continued...

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    Anna T., Tessa QC, momnkid and 10 others like this.
  7. kleland69

    kleland69 Silver
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    Love these pictures! The overlook and the Hoodoo"s are wonderful. Thanks for sharing these. I look forward to the rest.
  8. Texas Steph

    Texas Steph I think I'm addicted to Vegas...
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    Thanks for the report!
    Glad the Cosmo treated you well, and congrats on those hits! It is our favorite place as well.
  9. greenie540

    greenie540 Member

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    Great photos! Looks like an amazing adventure.
  10. tomb

    tomb Bronze
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    Thanks for all the nice comments :) Although i was not planning on writing a report on this, i must admit that I am really enjoying reliving the trip while writing this and looking through the hundreds of photo's...

    Next up were 3 days we reserved for Yellowstone, which is just enough to have an impression on the park. That also meant a serious drop in temperature which I was not looking forward to. I booked all lodging in Yellowstone itself (cabins) which are perfectly adequate and more importantly have a great location which allows you to start off site seeing right away instead of having to drive a couple of hours each day in & out of the park.

    Mammoth Hot Springs



    Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We were planning on doing a couple of hikes around the south rim, but due to construction almost all of the south Rim is closed. We settled for a couple of short hikes instead on the north rim: up to inspiration point which was awesome:
    And towards the brink of both upper and lower falls, which I was unable to capture decently into a photo but is truly impressive to feel the power of that waterfall up and close.

    There are a number of Geyser Basin's in Yellowstone (I believe i counted 5) but for me once you see 1 specific thermal feature everything else is kinda similar so we did not see them all. We were staying at the old faithful cabins and arrived at about 5pm while an alarm was blaring all across the buildings and we were not allowed access to check in.

    Apparently they had a big power failure, and only the snow lodges were on emergency power. Needless to say this caused a lot of wait and frustrated guests. To add insult to injury, all shops closed at 6pm and we were counting on doing a restaurant but no power meant no food. Fortunately the savvy travelers that we are we had some sandwiches in the car for emergencies (I do read Royal Flusher Reports and pick up a term here or there) or if would have been a miserable night…

    We did get lucky though because since the power was out we thought we'd might as well take a walk around the geysers for as long as we had light:
    · We were nearly all alone, even old faithful had only a few people waiting for an eruption.
    · Castle Geyser was erupting while we passed. Apparently that happens only twice a day and most people have to sit there and wait for a long time to see this, we would not have either the time or the patience to do this....

    Beautiful colors in some of these thermal features

    Grand Prismatic Spring

    No idea how this was called, but apparently one of the biggest but dormant geysers, last eruption was 1944 or something and i would not want to be there when it erupts again

    Castle Geyser Eruption

    No crowds. literally.

    As far as hiking is concerned: there are a number of short walks in the different Geyser Basins but all of them are on boardwalks. The only real hike that we did in this area was the overlook trail (about 1,5 hours hike round trip) to get a nice view of old faithful:

    View of lake yellowstone from west thumb geyser basin:

    Next and last up for yellowstone was the lake area. I had planned to do a decent size hike around the lake area, and chose the elephant back trail, which was just opened for public a couple of days before we got there (apparently it is a frequent bear area in the spring). However, once packed and ready to go there was about 2 foot of deep snow so you could not even see the trail leading away from the trailhead…. There was only 1 car parked at the start of the trail, so apparently we were not the only ones that had that idea.

    After some discussion we decided to do the the storm point trail instead, which was noted as an alternative in my preparation. We were about half a mile down the trail when we encountered a big ass bison directly on our path which was following the trail as well but walking in the same direction (in front of us). No problem, it was an open area so we took a big loop around it and on we went. The trail then led us into dense forest (bison carcass on the trail) and suddenly we turned a corner and saw another big bison on our trail just a couple of meters before us but heading towards us. So now we are between 2 bison’s heading towards each other on our trail with us in between and really no good way to avoid them, f***. We hurried back and were fortunate that the first bison found some nice grass just outside the forest so we could sneak past him (but closed to him then what I would have liked). We were able to trek back to the car without doing the hike but a close encounter with wildlife richer.

    I do realise that locals will probably say “so what” and pass by the bisons without any issue. However, being from Europe the most dangerous animal around here is a cow so this felt like an adventure. And those bisons are gigantic animals, and there is absolutely nothing "nice” about the way they look.

    No Yellowstone report without a picture of a Bison, not the one we encountered during the trail of course (hotel on background)

    Bison carcass on the trail:

    On our way back to the hotel we passed by the elephant trail trailhead again, to see the single car that we saw before still standing there, and a number of Ranger Patrol Cars and an ambulance with sirens on as well. No idea what was going on, but neither of us wanted to try a second alternative hike and we called it a night.

    The day after we left Yellowstone we had a driving day ahead of us through Wyoming to Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. We experienced our first extreme weather alert in the US in the town we were just passing It took us a while to realise what was going on when our music on the radio was interrupted suddenly, although we did make the comment "hey, that looks like a cloud from stormchasers" a couple of minutes before. Another something we are not used to in Europe which got us a little anxious and hiding in a gas station.

    During the drive however, my girlfriend starting developing muscle pain and a fever on top of the cough she already had, which would unfortunately impact the rest of the trip.

    Rocky Mountain National Park

    After discussion we decided that the gf would stay in bed today (beautiful B&B in estes park so why not) to rest and hopefully be good to go for the remainder of the trip and I ventured on my own into the park for a couple of hikes:

    Sprague Lake

    Bear lake to Dream and Emerald Lake Hike (2 to 3 hrs round trip): Pretty crowded although the same principle as always applied in a NP when you are in decent shape: going further = less people. The lakes do look nice though with mountains in the background (although no emerald color since still frozen)

    Hike to cub lake (2,5 hours round trip). The lake itself is meh, but not a lot of crowds and a very fun hike to do with some wildlife (elk) visible at a number of places.

    I also drove the Trail Ridge Road as far as I could since that would only be open starting from Memorial Day. Stunning overview points, I really wished I could have drove on a little further…


    Although I really enjoyed both parks they do not have the same wow effect on me as the desert landscapes that you see in Utah/Arizona/Nevada. They are off my bucket list but i do not think I will be visiting again. In the last part we are going back to the red rocks that i so much love and back in the direction of Vegas.

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    Anna T., Tessa QC, joshj and 8 others like this.
  11. JAXXLV

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    Very nice writeup. I'd go so far to say there are many Americans that have never seen the places you visited, myself counted among them...so thank you for the pictures and descriptions.
  12. divasoul

    divasoul Silver

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    Gorgeous pictures. Love the Bryce Canyon ones especially.
  13. VegasChic

    VegasChic Buffalo Huntress
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    Fantastic TR, LOVE all the pics! Glad to see you were able to turn the gambling around late in the trip! Too bad your GF ended up getting sick into the trip- otherwise how did she like it since she's not a gambler? I know it seems super awkward approaching members in Vegas, but it's only that way I think the first time- kinda like your awesome TR, once you do it you find it's actually easy and fun!

    Good luck on the October trip with the boys!
    momnkid and Texas Steph like this.
  14. tomb

    tomb Bronze
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    Thanks for all the replies, i was kinda hesitant whether i should do a report yes or no, but needless apparently.

    She liked the trip itself a lot, although not the Vegas part. It is just too busy and bling for her liking. However, since the hotels were Encore and the cosmo, she did not mind at all relaxing in a beautiful room with a big TV in front of her and an awesome bed :) She even declined the spa day that I proposed, go figure...

    I have heard that before from a lot of other Americans that we talk to during our trips, and it amazes me to be honest. On the other hand, we Europeans to have a LOT more days off from work, so maybe that makes sense.
    Tessa QC likes this.
  15. tomb

    tomb Bronze
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    Sorry for the delay, picking work back up after a full 3 weeks of holiday while recovering from jetlag is a pain in the ass. Time to finish this TR:

    Unfortunately, the day rest did not help my gf and after a quick stop in the urgent care clinic (again a first for me in the US) we were set to go to Utah and Las Vegas again. However, my gf’s energy stayed very low for the remainder of the trip, so we only did viewpoints from here on out and took the shortest routes instead of the scenic ones. A shame because the beauty of the parks for me is in going off the beaten path but then at least she got an impression of all the remaining parks. We drove as fast as possible to our next destination: moab.

    Arches National Park

    No idea what this overlook is called, but it is stunning. Unfortunately no panorama pickture, but you can image a 360 view here with no one in sight and this beauty all around.


    Balanced Rock

    Some arches for which i have forgotten the name


    No delicate arch, but if anyone ever visits this place: do this hike, it is brilliant...

    Canyonlands National Park
    We only had time to visit the Island in the Sky district, but I was more impressed with the views in this park than I was when visiting the Grand Canyon. Only different: no buses full of tourists trying to push you away for the perfect selfie…

    Several Park overlooks:



    And of course the Mesa Arch

    Dead Horse State Park
    Just besides canyonlands is this state park. Well, park is a big word. For me, it is just 1 overlook but well worth a half hour visit.


    For me, there is something special about moab and the surrounding area. It is the kind of place I could see myself living, it is not that small but not big enough to be a “city”. Combine that with a lot of great MTB trails, national parks, lots of other outdoor activities and beautiful weather and you can understand the attraction. This was my 3rd stay here and it will be definitely not my last.

    After moab (Friday) we decided to leave early to avoid the check-in crowds on memorial day in Vegas so drove straight there. We did almost run out of gas (turn on highway and see a sign that says no more services next 100 miles when you have enough gas for about 150 and have to drive through mountains = no fun) but managed to get into Vegas at 4PM without a lot of delays.

    Things that we passed due to the illness and will be put on the list for next time
    · Delicate Arc / Devil’s garden hike in Arches
    · Hanging Lake hike in Glenwood Canyon
    · Colorado National Monument
    · Antelope Canyon
    · Monument Valley

    The diversity of scenery and wildlife that we saw through this trip was awesome. One day you are in the middle of the forest and after 6 hours of driving in the red rocks of Utah. Add a couple hours more and you are in the desert with a big bulb of light in the center of it. That to me is what makes road trips in the USA special, although as far as nature is concerned nothing tops the red rocks of Utah for me personally.

    Our trip in October will besides Las Vegas be sports-centered. We want to see at least :
    · at least 1 NFL Game (definitely 49ers), 1 basketball game (Lakers-Clippers or Warriors) and 1 NHL Game (hopefully Golden Knights)
    · Yosemite National Park

    Now if those NBA and NHL schedules will only come out once the finals are over I can start planning again….

    Until next time !

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  16. Royal Flusher

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    Nice report! I think its very important to take in nature while traveling, which is why I have the limo take me through Red Rock now and again.
  17. Niteshade

    Niteshade Platinum
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    Wonderful pictures. So glad you shared
    them all with us. Never been to some of those
    places and it was great to see. Sorry your
    gf was feeling poorly, but it seems like you still
    managed to have a nice time for most of it.
    Thanks so much for sharing it all.
    tomb likes this.
  18. Labrador Mom

    Labrador Mom Bronze

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    I loved Yellowstone, unfortunately the first day in the park I got a horrible sunburn waiting for Old Faithful, so we were limited on anything outside. We drove thru Mammoth and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. There are some incredible things to see. We stayed in Jackson so the drive to and from the park was a little long, but going thru Teton National Park was beautiful. If you haven’t been there I would recommend it. We were lucky in the wildlife we saw from the road, deer, elk, prong horn, and buffalo. The highlights for me was the moose, grizzly bear and wolf we saw. Next time we will stay in the park, we are thinking about a 2 week road trip next year in our travel trailer to do more Yellowstone , Devils Tower, and the Bad Lands.

    Looks like you had a great trip even with the illness. Best of luck on your next trip in October.
  19. Luckylinda

    Luckylinda Platinum
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    Thanks for posting all the pictures. You had a busy trip and some nice Vegas wins. Nice trip
  20. kleland69

    kleland69 Silver
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    Love this report. So sorry to hear about GF getting ill. That is hard when that happens, just seems to take the wind right out of your sails. But as you pointed out, on the bright side some things to look forward to on your next trip. I love seeing all that America has in terms of landscape. I live at the coast of Virginia, so for us, we can travel from beach to mountains in just a few hours without leaving the state. Thanks for sharing this with us. Best of luck in October.

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