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aug 25-29 mountain-top sleepover, buffet-eating and Liberace movie-making

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by chef, Aug 30, 2012.

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  1. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

    Apr 20, 2002

    My Trip Report

    Flew into McCarran around noon on Saturday. Immediately picked up rental car and headed north to Mt. Charleston, with quick pit stop at Sante Fe Station buffet.
    The plan was for my son and I to hike six miles up the South Loop of Mt. Charleston and set up camp before it got dark.
    Buffet at Sante Fe not quite what it used to be, but did the trick of filling us up for the rest of the day. As we drove towards the mountains, the outside temp dropped five degrees every 1,000 feet in elevation gain. It got even colder as we began hike and the sun started to go down. Bottom line - it was 100 degrees when we left buffet and 40 degrees that night while we slept.
    We knew we would be exposed to high winds that night, as the meadows we were sleeping in were on the ridgeline and we did not bring a tent. Fortunately, there was plenty of broken limbs and brush to build a lean-to shelter.
    Though, it was chilly, the views at 10,000 feet were worth it. Could see the lights of Vegas come on and also have a clear shot into the southern reaches of Death Valley. Easily a 100-mile vantage point.
    And, the clouds eventually cleared out, giving us the proverbial sleeping under the stars experience. On the entire mountain, saw only one other campsite. Beautiful isolation, it was and a superb contrast to hubbub of Vegas.
    Got up about 5:30 am, threw the sleeping bags in our backpacks and hiked back down instead of going onto the 11,900-foot peak. We would come back Monday for that and more.
    Since we were northwest of Vegas, a stop at the Texas Station Sunday brunch was in order. Of all the buffets in town, this is the best for Tex-Mex fare and that's what a couple of hungry hikers wanted.
    After eating loads of chili, rice, fajitas, beans, menudo, etc., checked into the Orleans for a comped 2-nighter. Like many people on the T2V board, I like staying at the Orleans. The fact, they are extremely generous with the comps makes up for the off-Strip locale.
    For the first time ever, entered a BJ tournament. Each Sunday in August, the Orleans offered a $25 buy-in contest. About eight tables were used and the top money-earner (you are given $600 play money to start with) after an hour moves on to the semis and eventually the final table. Probably about 140 entrants and no, I didn't make it to final table, but easily had $25 worth of competing.
    That evening, it was off to Sunset Station (had a few LVA 2-1 coupons to use at Stations' properties) for a mediocre buffet. Should of went to GVR instead.
    Speaking of buffets, we got a pleasant surprise the next day from an unlikely source - Arizona Charlie's on Decatur. Since AC is considered kinda of lower-echelon joint, we've always stayed cleared of its buffet. Since we were in an adventuresome mood, we decided to use one of the LVA towfers for lunch.
    We did not expect to see prime rib for lunch, but that's what was being carved. All told, there was substantial offerings throughout, including a tasty clams casino in a half shell and chili rellenos. Actually, for a somewhat small casino, AC's had a large buffet, with the basic (mexican, italian, oriental, american) stations scattered about. It definitely surpassed our expecations and made up for disappointment of Sunset Station the night before.
    Later that afternoon, we drove back out to Mt. Charleston and ran the 17-mile North Loop to South Loop route, which including a stop at the top of Mt. Charleson. Finished in 4.5 hours and just before darkness set in. However, with zero clouds and nearly a full moon, we could have finished in dark if need be.
    After being refreshed by the hike, we spent rest of evening casino-hopping the south-central Strip. The longer I've been to Vegas, the less tolerance I have for over-crowded sidewalks. In the heat of the summer, people come out at night in droves compared to the daytime.
    On Tuesday, used some gambling comps up at Orleans, had an adequate breakfast buffet there and left for a 1-night stay at the LVH ($25).
    It was no problem getting an early check-in, as that place was dead as I've ever seen it. Kinda depressing really, but I was soon to be vicariously sent back in time 40 years.
    As I left the hotel lobby that afternoon, I saw about 20 different vehicles from the 1970s assembled near the cab lanes. I soon discovered that the LVH was being used for a movie on Liberace and that day a scene was to be shot with him (Michael Douglas, who plays Liberace) arriving at the lobby circa 1970.
    Additionally, there were about 400 extras assembled about getting ready to do a scene in one of the LVH's ballrooms. As someone like myself who came of age in the 70s, it was so cool to see everyone dressed up in leisure suits and cocktail dresses of that era.
    Seeing parts of the movie being made at the LVH certainly enhanced my stay. Besides Michael Douglas, Matt Damon is the other star.
    It is rather telling, though, that the LVH has become so dead it is an ideal sight for making movies, kinda like when "Casino" was shot at the Riv. But, I also discovered another reason for using it was that Liberace actually headlined there.
    Indeed, there was more action on the movie scene than gambling going on in the casino. You can tell things are getting bad when the dealers look disinterested and lackluster at their tables. It reminded me of the final months at the Sahara.
    Did stop over to the Wynn outdoor table games that afternoon and was disappointed to see that craps table is gone and only one side (instead or two) of gaming is up and running. The vibe of previous years was not present and maybe it was just a slow day.
    Took my bankroll into the high limits room instead and played at a $100 tables. ITts something I normally don't do; but periodically I like playing the role of a high-stakes (in a relative sense for me) player. My first hand was a blackjack and the second was also a winner. Up $250, I began to get cold feet and cashed out. Oh well, this big-time wannebe gambler got his fill.
    Back to the buffets. Did Boulder Station Tuesday night and nothing special to report.
    Our final day was Wednesday. Got up and ran five loops around the Hilton and Convention Center properties (2.4 miles a lap) in that gorgeous Vegas August weather. Love that hot, dry heat.
    After a quick jump in the pool, it was off to the Palm's buffet before plane ride home. For $7.99 lunch, the Palm's buffet is best value in town. It's not Wynn or Bellagio quality, but it can compete with many of the other higher-end joints.
    Three different curries, an outstanding trout, perfectly-cooked med-rare flank steak, huge clams, a lebanese section, just to name a few items. Desserts, soups and salads also top notch.
    All in all, another good time in Vegas.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
  2. btodd

    btodd High-Roller

    Nov 11, 2003
    Winnipeg, Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great report, thanks. So neat to read about Vegas from a totally different perspective, not too many people can claim to have slept on a mountain!!
    Trying Downtown this time!
  3. Guy

    Guy Low-Roller

    Feb 4, 2003
    Hampshire, England
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    You pair of nutters! :)

    I was looking at the trail guide on the Mt Charleston website yesterday and they were suggesting the walking time for the North and South Loops (uphill one-way) was 8 and 6hrs (I forget which way round) so a 4.5 hour total is very good going especially as the air thins out above 9000ft.
  4. dean_1492

    dean_1492 High-Roller

    Apr 20, 2006
    Orange County, Ca
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I always enjoy reading your posts chef. It must have been EARLY to be running!
  5. Jerseyguy

    Jerseyguy VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2011
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    You got smart feet

    You picked up your $250 and happily skipped off. I dont belong at that table and I'm guessing you dont either so 250 for a few minutes work isnt too shabby.
  6. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

    Jun 25, 2007
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    That was a short trip!!! (or just seems like it! No hotel the first night throws it off a bit!)

    Son liked running too early in the a.m. We went for Mothers Day one year & it would be 108 by lunch. He went out around 6:30 & ran from Paris to UNLV stadium and points inbetween. I believe he had about an 8.2 mile route set on that trip.

    I slept................
  7. Jimbucc

    Jimbucc VIP Whale

    Apr 1, 2003
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the report Chef. I've tried just about every buffet in Vegas. Some turn out to be a pleasant surprise. AZ Charlies is one of them. Imperial Palace and Sahara, unfortunately, never made the grade.

    It's really cool to be at the right place at the right time. Glad the LVH provided that for you. :thumbsup:

    It takes some balls to sleep on a mountain without a tent. I would be afraid of snakes and critters and who knows what else. The only way I did Mt. Charleston was in a car. Some pics here.


    The scenery is beautiful. The stars at night must have been something to see along with the Vegas lights.
  8. KellyLovesVegas

    KellyLovesVegas certified personal trainer/retired space nerd

    Feb 19, 2012
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Another NYE in Las Vegas!
  9. gongoman

    gongoman MIA

    Apr 21, 2012
    Long Beach,In
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for your trip report..Sounded like a interesting trip:beer:
  10. Reed

    Reed High-Roller

    Apr 9, 2008
    East Central IL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for sharing, chef! I bet those views at night are quite a sight.
  11. pebbles

    pebbles VIP Whale

    Oct 15, 2004
    Cumbria, UK
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks, enjoyed your report. We've never tried AZ Charlie's but might just give it a try in a months time.
    Still second trip of 2017
  12. rdwy29

    rdwy29 Low-Roller

    Feb 7, 2010
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I love the hiking in the report. We've done Mummy Mountain and Zion but have yet to make it up Mt. Charleston. It sounds like you made great timing too :beer: Bright Angel at Zion and Charleston are definitely on my list.
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