Beautiful Lunch At Red Rock Canyon (And Lots Of Pictures)

Recently I’ve decided to embrace my proximity to Red Rock Canyon. This is no small feat for this city guy. A couple weeks ago I grabbed a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee and a donut (yes, that’s lunch sometimes) and drove into the desert to clear my head and get away from things. I’ve only driven into Red Rock Canyon a couple times even though I’ve lived nearby for almost 2 years (2 years!).

About 5-10 minutes driving into the canyon area I found a scenic overlook. I don’t remember this being here before but it was a nice area. There are picnic tables (some covered) if you decide to actually bring your food out for a meal. There’s a helipad if you don’t have the patience to drive 30 minutes from the Vegas strip. Bike riders were the only people making use of the rest rooms. Last but not least there is no Verizon data access so there are no emails, texts, tweets or Facebook to disturb you from the tranquility of the desert and the rocks.

Nearby there’s a 13 mile scenic drive that will allow you to drive closer to the mountains where you’ll probably see some rams and burros. The drive costs $5 and has areas to pull off so you can take pictures. That seems like a good deal for $5 but I’m not sure I need that. Driving in the middle of nothing for 13 miles isn’t quite up my alley. While it’s still nice out (and not 115 degrees) I’ll continue my lunches at the scenic overlook. It’s calm, pretty and very different then what I’m used to. I dig it.

I took a bunch of pictures of the scenic overlook picnic area and the scenery. You’ll get to meet Big Red somewhere in this slideshow. Enjoy.

Favorite Downtown Vegas Casinos (2012)

I’ve been asked why I talking about downtown so much. There are a lot of reasons, but a few are good gambling, cheap food and drink and it’s relaxed atmosphere.

I like going downtown for a day/night to do some low brow eating, drinking and gambling. Nothing fancy is happening and I probably didn’t shower. You know, so I fit in. I don’t always want to gamble this way, but when I do these are the casinos I frequent downtown.

GOLDEN GATE
First and foremost the Golden Gate Casino has 10x craps. Craps is my favorite game to play and 10x odds lower the house edge to almost .001 according to Wizard of Odds.

The Golden Gate casino is the oldest casino in Vegas and was recently renovated and while the casino floor is more cramped then most in Vegas, it’s decor is warm and it feels clean and is comfortable. It doesn’t hurt that the dealers are also go-go dancers, many of which aren’t ugly. The dealers are also the dancers and many of them are featured on the chips. On my last visit I was playing blackjack and noticed I kept losing when a specific dealer was on top of my chip stack. After telling the dealer to get rid of all chips with that girl she revealed that the girl on the chip was her best friend in the casino. We laughed, we both made money because doubled my buy in and I tip when I win. A good time was had by all.

DuPars Pancakes

Golden Gate is also home to DuPar’s Bakery and home of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. The drawn butter helps. A lot. A short stack is $6 and these make for a perfect late night snack. Just stay away from the coffee. It’s awful.

All of these reasons, make the Golden Gate one of my favorite casinos downtown.

A Little East Coast Love Comes West

If you’re an east coaster like I am you are very familiar with Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin Donuts may have the word donut in the name, but they’re known for their coffee more, if not the same as the donuts.

The donuts may not be the best you’ll find in any city, but they’re usually passable. However, their coffee is smooth and not harsh like Starbucks. I like strong coffee, but I don’t necessarily like bitter coffee.

I love my coffee and when I want a simple, not complex cup I’ll head to one of three Dunkin Donuts in Las Vegas. I have about 15 closer coffee shops closer than The D (one of many nicknames), but none offer similar cups of coffee.

If you follow me on twitter you know may know that I live near the best coffee in Vegas, Sambalatte. Sambalatte is fantastic for a high quality brew, but it doesn’t offer the same experience that DD does.

Every cup of coffee tells its own story in its own way. Dunkin Donuts is like a big hug from my friends back east with a New York or New Jersey accent.

Dunkin Donuts has been growing a lot over the past few years. This week @DunkinDonutsLV launched and I immediately followed to keep up with my local Dunkin. While I was working Monday they hada twitter contest and I was lucky enough to be chosen as a winner!

Sprinkles, Dunkin Donuts Las Vegas’ mascot (above) paid me a visit and brought along with a box of donuts (below)….

Box of Dunkin Donuts
Box of Dunkin Donuts

and thermos of their new Black Cocoa Creme Iced Coffee (below).

Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee
Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee

I drank the entire thermos of coffee and almost ran through a wall. The Black Cocoa Creme Iced Coffee isn’t something I’d ever think to order, but it was awesome. It was like an iced mocha without the gnarly aftertaste you often get.

Dunkin Donuts has no idea that I have a blog or that I write as they found me on my personal twitter account where I rarely talk about my writing. I don’t care if they find out, but I’m not going to showboat that I spent 20 minutes writing about this experience.

Whatever the case may be, this gave me an excuse to talk a) about coffee and b) Dunkin Donuts. Two things I like…a bit too much.

PS: You can always feel free to donate $3 to my coffee fund so I can get all caffeinated.

Driving Through Red Rock Canyon

I live about 10 minutes from Red Rock Canyon and have been kind of curious to look at it closer. See, I’m a city guy. I don’t like nature. I don’t like bugs. I don’t like snakes (literally or figuratively). You get the picture. Going hiking on a bunch of big pretty rocks is not my thing. Red Rock Canyon may be pretty, but I can drive to one of the three Dunkin Donuts in Vegas and look at the pretty Red Rock from afar.

Because I live so close to Red Rock Canyon, I’ve been curious to see what goes on there. I knew it was there before moving, but truthfully I didn’t care. I was a strip guy on vacations. On my first trip into Red Rock Canyon, I got two miles into the nothingness and turned around. It was almost dusk and I didn’t know what was ahead of me. This time I prepared. Some, including me, would say I over-prepared. I’m neurotic, that’s how it goes down.

I filled my gas tank yesterday. Ya know, don’t want to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. I decided that I should go in the morning since temps were expected to hit 100 today. I selected my only white shirt in case I got stuck. I didn’t want to have a dark colored shirt on if I ended up sitting in the sun. I packed a banana and 2 liters of water for the same reason.

I was just going on a drive, it should not have been this big of a deal. Seriously, nature is not my thing. I could have been taken by aliens and nobody would know any better. I had no idea what the drive held for me.

I drove about 20 minutes into Red Rock Canyon until I reached Bonnie Springs Ranch. That’s where I turned around and headed back to civilization. The views were, indeed, beautiful as you can see above and in the flickr gallery. There are a couple of national park areas and scenic overlooks if you’re into staring at rocks.

All in all, it was a nice calm drive and one I will take again. I was able to listen to a podcast during my time in the car, which was nice. Next time I head back it will be to check out Bonnie Springs Ranch and see some of the scenic stuff. To be honest, the scenic overlooks would be a heck of a lot more fun with a 6 pack of beer. Maybe I’ll grab a friend and take that route next time.