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.

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.

The Linq Adds Reason To Avoid The East Side of the Las Vegas Strip

Linq Las Vegas Rendering
Linq Rendering

While The Linq may be a good thing for Ceasars and a good thing for Vegas with added jobs it’s not something that remotely interests me. In fact, The Linq will probably push me away from Caesars properties.

I’m not alone in my distaste of tourists and families clogging the strip – especially around Harrah’s Carnival Court area. This project seems as if it will only clog traffic on the east side of the strip even more. The west side of the strip is already more walkable, even with the Bellagio fountains and Cosmopolitan opening. That will probably continue as Linq opens and the draw of something new on the east side of the middle of the strip will bring even more people and do enough to have me avoid the properties.

Heck, it was annoying walking from Planet Hollywood to Bellagio just a few weeks ago with all the tourists stopping for no reason or to take photos. After stopping 5 times or so for people taking pictures my friend decided to try to photo bomb all the tourist to make things interesting. Also of note is that tourists in Vegas don’t stay to the right so you can pass on the left.

I’m a New Yorker – I’m always in a rush to get from point A to point B, even if I don’t have a reason to rush. The people impeding my progress will only grow if Project Linq gets built and I will not deal with them.

So, while Caesars master plan for Linq may appeal to the masses of middle America that like to shop at malls and be seen in crowds I won’t be a part of it. I’m not sure that free rooms and free drinks at the Diamond Lounges will be enough for me to want to deal with people. Odds are my strip fun will go elsewhere when Project Linq is completed.

UPDATE: There’s a Linq press thing happening right now. We’ll see what comes from it.

Quick Hits From Las Vegas

I know I’ll miss some things from my trip to Las Vegas last week so I’m compiling a list of quick hits so I don’t forget some of the minor details that may interest.

BNBLV – Awesome.  Beer and Blogs Las Vegas is a gathering over beer with bloggers, tech heads and nerds.  I met a bunch of people I follow on twitter and met some new faces.  I expected to be at the happy hour for 30-60 minutes and I was there for 4 hours.  Good times.  Nice to meet y’all!

Orleans – File under a place I no longer need to visit.  Very similar to Gold Coast, but slightly more depressing.  Low ceilings and smoke don’t help.  Unless I’m in the area (which I doubt) I don’t see myself visiting again.

Free Shuttles – Orleans has a shuttle to Bills on the strip.  This was a bus of drunks, but it saved another $20 (or so) cab ride.

Tourists – I don’t like them.  They move slowly and/or stop abruptly constantly being in the way.  The Las Vegas strip is full of these people and they ruin the experience.  I recommend walking on the CityCenter (west?) side of the strip if you need to get from one place to the other.  You can throw old people in here too.  Ludacris mirrors my thoughts here.

Strip walking – I haven’t walked the strip in a while, but I did twice last weekend.  The walks were great, but made worse by tourists and old people.  I did find one way to make the strip walk enjoyable.  Stop at each casino and either tweet or drink.  It breaks up the monotony.  Sure it took me about 30 minutes to get from Palazzo to Planet Hollywood, but at least I had fun.  That was better than my drunk strip walk the previous night from Bills to Palazzo.

Go-Go dancing in casinos – No longer cool or interesting.  This doesn’t work for all casinos.  Check Mandalay Bay and Excalibur for reference.

Lucky @ O’Sheas – Little man has great pipes.  He was outside of O’Sheas shouting out facebook and twitter offers with a deep booming voice.  He fit O’Sheas marketing image perfectly.

Flamingo – Low ceilings still give it an old feel, but it seemed as if there were a bunch of updates in the casino that gave the look a bit of a modern feel.  In my quick walk through it seemed as if the casino was caught between their history and being current.

Aria Tram – I don’t like heights.  The tram platform is bordered with glass which gives it an edgeless look.  It probably looks cool to many, but I don’t like this at all.  I don’t like heights and between the station shaking and the feeling like can fall off at any moment I won’t go up there again.  I’ll just walk.

Celebrity Sightings – One morning I saw Joan Rivers leaving the Palazzo.  That was awesome.  Later that night I was playing blackjack at Palazzo and saw Brad Garrett across the way.  He’s the brother in “Everybody Loves Raymond”

Palms, Hard Rock, Bellagio – All places I normally make it a priority to visit.  Since I was alone I decided to visit places that I don’t normally visit – for better and worse.

The rest of my trip will be delivered in separate posts with pictures.  These are items that are small and I didn’t want to leave out.