There were four "Best of Bingo" Tournaments at Harrah's Reno in 2012. I only went to the final one on December 1. It was free if you belonged to the Total Rewards loyalty program and received an invitation. I won $1000!
I also won playing slots, so it was a fantastic weekend! Harrah's Reno is my favorite casino in Northern Nevada. I really like the Joy Luck Noodle Bar (on the casino floor, now open 24 hours). All of the employees at Harrah's Reno are very friendly, nice, and helpful.
Overview Map - The Dark Blue States Were Visited
My 2009 Cross-Country Road Trip included 25 states and took 28 days. Here are some of the notable places and statistics.
See all of the Road Trip postings (with a minimum of page breaks). Or, for postings by state, click on an underlined state in the table below:
|Colorado||Connecticut||Delaware||Dist. Of Columbia||Florida|
|New Hampshire||New Jersey||New Mexico||New York||North Carolina|
|Puerto Rico||Rhode Island||South Carolina||South Dakota||Tennessee|
It was a good trip, but it would have been better if:
- I had more time,
- I did not get food poisoning,
- I had better luck with the weather (particularly in Florida).
Labels: Road Trip
I woke up about 8am feeling like maybe I had one Strawberry Daiquiri too many, but hey, they were free! I slowly got ready to leave. I checked out, took my things to the car.
Then at the 11am opening time, I made one last trip to the Lucky Noodle Bar. This time, I got an order of Beef Stew Noodle (五香牛腩湯河粉) to eat there, and an order of Beef Chow Fun (干炒牛河) as take-away. They charge $1 per dish for take-away orders, but they package them very well and they don't leak.
I leave Harrah's Reno about noon. I had a great time, ate well, and won money! It only takes about 20 minutes to hit the Nevada-California border.
I decided to stop and visit some friends at a small town in Nevada County , California, before heading home.
This concludes my Road Trip. I stuck fairly close to my initial planned route and schedule. I had some good times, and some not so good times. I will need to give it some thought, and write up what I might have learned from the experience.
Warning: I got carried away in this posting talking about the food at Harrah's, Reno. If you don't care about food, you might want to skip over this post.
Last night, I ate my Chinese Beef Stew Rice Noodle Soup (五香牛腩湯河粉) at the Joy Luck Noodle Bar at Harrah's Reno. It is a simple dish, but I really like it. The Noodle Bar has other interesting things like Pad Thai (泰式雞蝦炒粉), Beef Chow Fun with Black Bean Sauce (豉椒炒牛河), Lemon Grass Marinated Pork Chops (香茅豬扒燴米粉), Stir Fried Curry Rice Vermicelli with Shrimp & BBQ Pork (星洲炒米粉), and Wor Won Ton Egg Noodle Soup (鍋雲吞湯麵). Then I played the slot machines until a little past midnight and did quite well (I have put some money 'in my pocket' and am certain to go home a net winner).
This morning, after a relaxing shower in my large clean bathroom, I went downstairs to brunch. On Saturday and Sunday, Harrahs Reno's Carvings Buffet has a Champagne Brunch from 8am to 2pm. While it might not be quite as fancy as some of the much more expensive Champagne Brunches in Las Vegas, it is very good and is only $12.99. I paid with Total Rewards points so it was free. The buffet has a:
- Italian Station - Brick oven pizza, grilled vegetables, pastas
- Salad Bar - Build your own (or they will build special ones for you), peel and eat shrimp, mussels, Jack Daniel's Chili, and soup
- Carving Station - Prime Rib, Turkey, Ham, Keilbasa
- Mexican Station - Fish, thin New York Steaks with Chipotle Butter, Enchiladas, Rice, Beans, warm Tortillas, Guacamole, and Salsas
- Asian Station - Pan Fried Noodles, Pot Stickers, BBQ Pork, and Noodles-To-Order (Beef Stew Rice Noodle Soup again, for me!)
- The American Station - Eggs Benedict, Mashed Potatoes, Bacon, Sausage, Scrambled Eggs, Hash Browns, Chicken Fried Steak, Baked Beans, Chicken, Gravy, Corn
- Dessert Corner - Pie, Cake, soft Ice Cream, Fresh Fruit Crêpes, Cookies, Cheesecake (they virtually always have it in some form, ask if you don't see it)
I am not a big champagne drinker, but I had a couple of weak Mimosas (to which I added Grenadine Syrup that I carry in a small bottle for just such occasions).
I ran into my 'Casino Friend', Sally, who likes playing the same bank of slot machines that I do. It was really a coincidence that she was here at the same time, because we both only go to Reno, NV about 3 or 4 times a year. Sorry, I can't tell what our favorite games are!
I ate at the Joy Luck Noodle Bar again about 7:30pm, this time having Seafood Fried Fun Hor (干炒河) just to be flexible. The Noodle Bar is fast, cheap, and they are very accommodating about adjusting ingredients to your personal taste.
I gambled until about 2am, and had a good time.
I had breakfast in Ely's Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall 24 hour restaurant. The food (at breakfast and dinner last night) was good , reasonably priced, and service was very friendly and attentive.
Two unique things worth mentioning about Ely, Nevada:
- There is an operating steam train and railway museum - The Nevada Northern Railway Museum (these are a real hit with train buffs and kids),
- There are numerous interesting murals around town.
I had seen posters for "Highway 50 Survival Guides" in some of the local businesses. I picked up one of the passport sized Survival Guides near the hotel registration desk.
The Survival Guides are part of a "Loneliest Road in America" promotion. The Loneliest Road moniker was coined by Life Magazine in a (not completely complimentary) article written about Highway 50 and rural Nevada in July 1986. The State of Nevada subsequently adopted "The Loneliest Road in America" as an official designation for part of US-50.
The Highway 50 Survival Kit promotion involves taking your passport for validation at any of various locations in five different towns along "The Loneliest Road":
You can pick up your Survival Guide at certain locations on the Loneliest Road:
- At the east end at the Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall, Convention Center, Chamber of Commerce, and other places.
- At the west end at the Fernley Chamber of Commerce (if it is open), and sometimes at the Wigwam Restaurant and Museum where the original Moe is Back.
- If you are planning a trip in advance, it would probably be safest to request a Survival Guide online.
- If you going spur of the moment, you can download a PDF of the Survival Guide (without Validation page, but you could probably have any piece of paper stamped and send it in for your certificate).
Depending on their interests people will have different favorite sights along the Loneliest Road. I think that almost everybody will find Sand Mountain impressive and the old Shoe Tree very interesting (you might regret if you don't bring a pair of shoes to contribute). I like this Shoe Tree, 48 miles east of Fallon even more than the Shoe Tree near Milltown, Indiana.
Trip Advice for Northern Californians: It is about 280 miles from Fernley, NV to Ely, NV. A good 3 night trip from the San Francisco Bay Area is to spend a night in Lake Tahoe or Reno, then go to Ely (and spend the night at The Hotel Nevada), then return spending the night in either Reno or Tahoe.By the time that I reach Reno, I am within 4 hours of home, but I am going to spend two nights at Harrah's because I am craving my favorite noodles at the relatively new Joy Luck Noodle Bar (which replaced the Lucky Noodle Bar and is even better). I am also looking forward to sleeping in a spotless room with comfortable bed and lots of pillows (and I will gamble a bit, too).
It is Saturday night and they only had standard rooms available when I called my Casino Host two days ago. However, this room is definitely the Ritz compared to some places I have stayed in the past month!
The breakfast at the Ramada Limited in Green River, Utah was lousy. I arrived for breakfast at 8:25am and there were 3 waffles, some bread, no fruit, no yogurt, 3 cold eggs without shells sitting uncovered, some rock hard bulk donuts, and cheap flimsy paper plates. Wow, my most expensive room in 3 weeks and such a lousy breakfast! I do have to admit, the hotel did have good pillows.
I left Green River about 10am heading west on I-70. Stopped several places to enjoy the beautiful view and geological features of San Rafael Swell.
After a couple of hours, I reached Salina, Utah, and found its best known attraction, an old statue of Ute Chief Blackhawk which is sometimes misidentified as Milkshake Man. Other than the statue, Salina is known for a 1945 massacre of German POWs.
I am heading to Ely, Nevada, and my GPS unit seems like it wants to route me west on Utah SR-161 (to Utah SR-257 to US-50). Fortunately, an employee at a Chevron Station in Cove Fort, Utah convinces me not to go that way since "It is a dirt road, and not good at all". I subsequently confirmed this with satellite images. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the fort in Cove Fort, which offers daily free tours.
I headed north on I-15. It is interesting to see speed limit 80 MPH signs. It was raining and there was road work going on, so the actual 80 mile an hour drive was rather short lived.
I left I-15 heading west on a boring Utah portion of US-50 for about 2 hours until I hit the Nevada border.
It takes about an hour to reach Ely, Nevada from the Utah-Nevada border on US-50 (which becomes less flat and more interesting). I drove by the Bristlecone Motel (which was the #1 rated motel in Ely according to Tripadvisor.com) but there was No Vacancy. Actually, I should mention that I found Tripadvisor.com very useful during my road trip for its ordinal ranking of hotels (and motels) within a city. The number two rated hotel in Ely, The Hotel Nevada (and Gambling Hall), did have rooms available (and was less than $45 including tax, breakfast not included).
The Nevada Hotel and Gambling Hall is a very unique place. The 6 story building was built in 1929 and is full of memorabilia, curios, and old photos. My room on the fourth floor was large and the WiFi reception was great. The bed was a little soft for my taste. The bathroom was very small and had several signs warning about water pressure (but it worked great for me). The employees in the hotel, from desk clerk to waitress to bartender, were all very friendly and customer focused. The casino is comprised of slot machines on the ground floor, and a fairly small card room in the basement. At registration, I was given a coupon for a free Margarita at the casino bar, and a beer across the street at The Liberty Club. There was a 24 hour Happy Hour with 99 cent Margaritas and $1 beers.
The Hotel Nevada would be a great place for motorcycle riders or car clubs to visit. Actually, there were some guys there from some type of Corvette Club. The hotel and casino are fun and Highway 50 west of Ely is a great uncrowded road.
Checked out of the Rodeway Inn in Colorado Springs about 8am. While I was originally planning to take US-50 through Canon City, Gunnison, and Montrose to Grand Junction, I changed my mind and am going to Glenwood Springs via Aspen. Again, I am glad to have my GPS unit as it helps me navigate out of Colorado Springs on US-24. I stop for gas in Woodland Park, Colorado, which has sort of a Lake Tahoe feel to it (sans lake).
The scenery is nice. After about three hours on the road (US-24) I branch onto CO-82, it is quite narrow and steep in places and really not the type of road that I enjoy (your mileage may vary). Eventually I reached the summit at Independence Pass on the Continental Divide. I was happy to have a parking lot to stop at and a trail to stretch my legs. There was really a fairly big crowd of people (about 20 or so) stopped there. Somebody helped me take the obligatory Continental Divide photo so I could have symmetry with my one taken three weeks ago in New Mexico.
It took about 45 minutes to drive the 20 miles from Independence Pass to Aspen and I arrived about 12:30. Aspen is a pretty and clean town, but there did not seem to be much happening. I walked around - there are nice houses and bike trail / walking areas. I did not go into any of the fancy boutiques or galleries. Hardly anybody seemed to be around except for gardeners, painters, and maintenance people - I guess all the action is in the winter. I had a difficult time finding a restaurant which was open for lunch and ended up at Tasters, a sandwich and pizza place (my Italian Sandwich was quite good).
I headed out of town on CO-82 northwest towards Glenwood Springs at about 2:30pm. I missed the turn-off to Woody Creek. I subsequently felt guilty about not paying homage to Hunter S. Thompson at the Woody Creek Tavern. After a bit more than an hour, I reached Glenwood Springs, and got on I-70 going west. I stopped at a rest area in Rifle, Colorado for a soft drink and a quick nap.
At about 6:30pm, I arrived in Fruita, Colorado (just west of Grand Junction), in search of "Mike the Headless Chicken". Actually, I had put "Mike the Headless Chicken" in my GPS about a month earlier, and had forgotten exactly what he was. After my GPS indicated that I had passed him, I parked the car and walked around until I found him.
Actually, the "Mike" here, is a metal sculpture dedicated to the memory of a rooster who lived in Fruita (in the 1940's) without his head for 18 months. It is an inspiring story of a simple Western Colorado chicken, who through a twist of fate survives his beheading and becomes famous and traveled throughout the United States as an entertainer. Unfortunately, Mike met his demise in March of 1947 in a motel room in Phoenix, Arizona. The city of Fruita, Colorado has an annual festival to celebrate the life and spirit of Mike the Headless Chicken.
I would encourage you to Google "Mike the Headless Chicken", or click here.
Just across the overpass over I-70 is the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial. This interesting tribute is open 24 hours, 365 days, has a 'Huey' helicopter, and Rolling Stone Music.
Crossed the border into Utah about 7pm. A Filipina and her American boyfriend from Los Angeles also were there taking a photo.
Arrived in Green River, Utah about 8pm. Went to several hotels, they were either full or price gouging. Finally, I checked into a room at Ramada Inn Limited ($84 including tax) - the most expensive room on my road trip (and certainly not the nicest). I could not maintain a Wi-Fi connection from my room, so I sat in the lobby doing email for about an hour.
Avoid Green River, Colorado if you are looking for a bargain motel room.
I left the Genoa Wonder View Tower at about 5:30pm. I am afraid that I made Jerry Chubbuck late for dinner, but he insisted that I could take my time.
Finding Interesting Attractions on a Road Trip:The Airplane Restaurant is near the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport and one of its unique features is that you can 'Eat in a Plane' (a real plane!). If you have a larger group, prefer more openness, or suffer from aerophobia, you can 'Dine in the Airport Terminal'.
I have used Roadsideamerica.com's map tool (see Colorado State example) a lot to help find interesting places near my Road Trip route. Not only did I learn about the Wonder View Tower here, but also my next stop: The Airplane Restaurant. In addition to finding the attractions on the Roadsideamerica maps, you can also organize and save them to 'My Sights', then subsequently load them as Points of Interest (POI's) to your GPS unit. I found it very easy to load these custom POI's to my Garmin Nuvi 260W using Garmin's free POI Loader software.
The restaurant is full of interesting aviation memorabilia. The restaurant staff wear flight crew uniforms, and there are aircraft related sounds in some unexpected places in the restaurant (don't miss the restrooms). You can even take turns flying the plane (Note: Don't worry, I Photoshopped in the sky and clouds in the picture below).
The aviation themed menu offers a variety of soups, sandwiches, and entrees. I opted for the French Onion Soup and Blackened Ahi Tuna over Cajun Rice with Chipotle Citrus Butter (served with sauteed vegetables). The Ahi was very good. The Airplane Restaurant serves beer, wine, and has a full bar (including some aviation theme specialty drinks, of course).
The Airplane Restaurant was previously known as Solo's Restaurant (their URL is still http://www.solosrestaurant.com/ and the name in the website has not been updated as of May 2009). I was there about 7:30pm on a Wednesday evening and the larger tables in the plane were full, but there were seats available at the small tables and in the terminal.
The Airplane Restaurant (719-570-7656) is at 1665 N. Newport Road (one block east of Powers on Fountain Blvd) and next to the Radisson Inn and Suites Colorado Springs. Open for Lunch and Dinner (Monday to Saturday 11am-9pm and Sunday Noon-8pm). Just watch for the plane, you can't miss it.
If you are in the Colorado Springs area and want an interesting experience (especially if you have any young aviators in your family), you should visit the Airplane Restaurant.
After dinner, I found an inexpensive ($43.75 using a hotel coupon) room at the Rodeway Inn in Colorado Springs. The room was in a strange location on the back of the building.
I used the decent strength Wi-Fi, did some hand wash in the sink, and went to bed by midnight.
It was raining when I checked out of my hotel in Salina, Kansas, at about 10am. Headed west on I-70. Unless you like silos and flat land there does not seem to be much to see in Western Kansas or Eastern Colorado.
Took a brief nap in a rest area near Colby, Kansas, and passed into Colorado about 3:15pm.
About 78 miles west of the Colorado-Kansas border is an amazing attraction which I was unaware of until researching for my trip. The Wonder View Tower, in Genoa, Colorado, was built as a roadhouse and tourist attraction in 1926 and was the tallest building between California and the Mississippi River at that time.
According to the Denver Post, the current owners, Jerry and Esther Chubbuck have owned the tower for more than 40 years. Jerry Chubbuck seems to be part Archaeologist, historian, satirist, and entertainer.
The one dollar admission to the tower and museum was my best entertainment value during my trip. The museum contains more than 20,000 Indian artifacts, many of them arrowheads found by Chubbuck himself. Jerry will be more than happy to tell you about his famous discovery of a 8,000 year old 'Bison Kill Site'. Jerry offers to refund the admission fee if you can correctly guess the identity of ten of his special museum pieces while playing a game called 'Guess What' (which he seems to enjoy as much as you do).
The Tower itself has 87 steps, in some places is quite narrow, and is probably not appropriate for people with claustrophobia or acrophobia. The postcards claim that the ability to see six states was "proved by Ripley". The states are Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Amazing treasures are in each of the 20 rooms! Many of the items are for sale (especially antique bottles, rocks, dinosaur bones, and meat grinders). If you can't find it here, you don't need it (maybe I got that backwards). The oddities, such as two headed calf, and eight legged pig embryo must be popular with children.
Also known as the Genoa Tower to people in the area, the Genoa Wonder View Tower and Museum are located on the north side of I-70 on the frontage road at the west end of Genoa. March to September: 8am - 8 pm (Call to confirm). Other months by appointment. Call 719-763-2309
The Wonder View Tower in Genoa, Colorado is definitely worth a visit!
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Was woken up by housekeeper at 8:50 (I was not happy)! The hotel breakfast was quite good. Checked out at 10:30 and started driving west on I-70 from Columbia, Missouri. Stopped at a Stuckey's / BP Station for gas and bought some state refrigerator magnets that I needed (Note: It is against the rules to buy the magnet before you get to the state; if you could, then why even go on the trip?).
Crossed the border from Kansas City, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas.
Debated having some Kansas City Barbecue. The following were recommendations from some friends at Chow.com:
- Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue
- Oklahoma Joe's BBQ
- LC's Bar-B-Q (Burnt Ends)
- Arthur Bryant's
- Gates Bar-B-Q
Lawrence is only about 50 minutes from the Missouri - Kansas border. I stopped at the Lawrence Visitor's Center (in the restored Union Pacific Depot). There were two very helpful people at the visitor's center, but surprisingly, they were unaware of the famous penny collection about exactly one mile away. They seemed somewhat amused, but a little confused, when I explained my long pilgrimage to visit the pennies.
Lawrence, Kansas is an interesting city. It is very much of a college town being home to the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University. Downtown Lawrence feels somewhat like how I imagine that Berkeley or San Francisco would have felt in the late 1960's. The good weather had apparently lured many people into the streets. There were many students, people playing guitars on the sidewalk, and colorful people walking around.
I easily found street parking near 'Beyond the Door' at 918 Massachusetts Street. Beyond the Door is a Hippie Shop (not a Head shop). The shop has a lot of interesting vintage clothing, tie-dye and Grateful Dead T-Shirts, inexpensive jewelry, posters, etc. I bought some unique earrings.
Beyond the Door also hosts the public display of the world's largest collection of 1968 pennies. I met Gregor Brune, a lifelong Lawrence resident and curator of the collection. Gregor is friendly, articulate, and apparently 'consumed by all things 1968'. A recent 'American Profile' article gives some history about Gregor Brune and the 1968 penny collection. I had brought some 1968 pennies for the collection, and am now one of the largest contributors.
Gregor and I had a very good lunch (I had Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo) at the Free State Brewing Company. When it opened in 1989, Free State was the first legal brewery in Kansas in over 100 years.
After lunch, I got back on the I-70 Kansas Turnpike and headed west. I was like a moth towards a candle when I was lured by the signs of the 'OZ Museum' 9 miles off I-70 to Wamego, Kansas. Unfortunately, I arrived there a few minutes after the 5 pm closing time (I should have called on my cell phone to save time and gas). I was, however, able to see some Ruby Slippers in the window.
It took about 1.5 hours to drive from Wamego to Salina, Kansas where I spent the night at an inexpensive motel.
The Chrysanthemum Tea, young coconut water, sleep, and Advil seemed to improve my muscle aches and body temperature. The hotel breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express (Evansville Indiana) was much better than most of the breakfasts so far on my trip - there were scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, some type of meat patties, warm whole eggs, waffles, good coffee, apple juice, orange juice and some take-away fruit. I had thought about spending two days here to try and restore my health, but was feeling so much better that I decided to move on. Checked out about 11am, went to a nearby Buehler's Buy Low grocery store to buy some canned drinks and Advil.
Drove west on I-64, crossing into Illinois about 1pm.
Made it to Missouri about 3:30pm. It was raining very hard in St Louis as I neared the Gateway Arch. The parking lot for the arch was $6, and since I was not going to be getting out and walking in the rain, I just drove by, and then continued west on I-70.
After about 25 minutes, the rain had stopped and I saw a sign for Harrah's Casino. Harrahs St Louis is near the Missouri River, about 3 miles off of I-70 in Maryland Heights, a western suburb of St Louis. The Harrah's complex is clean, new, and attractive. To enter the casino, you evidently need a Total Rewards card, or a readily available free guest pass. I had a free carbonated drink in the casino, and had plans to eat some noodles (and was hoping they had a restaurant similar to the Joy Luck Noodle Bar in Harrah's Reno). Unfortunately they don't serve noodles in St Louis on Monday. Anyway, it was nice to see the casino and stretch my legs.
I drove west on I-70 for another hour and a half, and stopped at the Comfort Inn in Columbia, Missouri. When asked about noodles, the young desk clerk recommended his 'favorite restaurant', the 'Great Wall Chinese Buffet'. My $12 dinner really filled my noodle void - they had a good selection and the staff was friendly.