Vegas on the Cheap: Desert, Cyndi Lauper and a Medium rare steak (Part One)

*Note: This is part one in a series detailing the adventures of two young college students driving to Vegas in their quest for drunken debauchery, gambling wins, and In-N-Out Burger.*

Like many an eager college student, I went on vacation for Spring break. Like many an eager college student, I went somewhere out of Texas. Like many an eager college student, I went to Las Vegas.

Unlike the other 99% of eager college students from Texas, the roommate and I decided to drive. Nineteen hours. Yes, I crossed three states off my “Drive Through 50 State Tour” list, but that may have been the most boring drive the roommate and I have ever experienced, save for certain podunk areas of North Texas.

Basically, there were four major cities along the route: Albuquerque (New Mexico), Amarillo, (Texas), Flagstaff (Arizona) and the final destination, Las Vegas (Nevada). A recap of those mentioned above:

Amarillo- It should be noted before anything else that I have a strong dislike for West Texas. Not because of the people, but it might be the most uninteresting place in Texas. The landscape is mundane, complete with a steady stream of plain grass, cattle, and churches. Ah yes, if you ever wanted to stereotype Texas, this city might be it. However, the city does have one redeeming factor… the Big Texan Steak Ranch.

Being a food fanatic myself, with a strong desire to eat amounts unimaginable to the human man, and having worshipped at the Church of Adam Richman (Man Vs. Food fame, and yes, he is Jewish- Church sounded better) the Big Texan was the first stop on the Adam/roommate tour of a small part of the western portion of the United States.

I ate the Man Vs Food special, which was not the 72 ounce steak the Ranch is famous for, but an 18 oz. steak, with a loaded baked potato, shrimp cocktail, three rolls, and a nice portion of Caesar salad. I did this because the 72 oz. steak happened to be $72 if not finished, and I had to save some money for the actual Vegas part of the trip. This whole meal was $20- a bargain. The steak was refreshingly juicy and well cooked, and the side items were a nice compliment. I also enjoyed the show down below of six eager men trying to finish the 72 oz. behemoth. Only one finished.

No caption is needed for this epic meal

Albuquerque: With that part complete, we headed to Albuquerque, the capitol of New Mexico. The city is like a New Mexican version of Austin. The most important part of Albuquerque is the Embassy Suites located near downtown. The staff gave us $75 off the hotel, free wi-fi, and oh yes, free drinks from 5:30-7:30 pm, saving us a trip downtown. Apparently in New Mexico, if your driver’s license is vertical, you are denied admission to many of the bars- thanks New Mexico. With that in mind, we spend hours in our hotel room watching Desperate Housewives and a couple of tournament championship games. More on the tournament later. Anyway, the hotel was nice on the interior, with your typical Navajo style architecture. The topping on the cherry had to be the continental breakfast. With that, on to Flagstaff.

Flagstaff- According to every running magazine I’ve read in the past 5-6-7 years, a ton of elite runners train in Flagstaff. Not surprising, the city has a relatively decent climate to train in, with mountainous areas in the city. The service at Wendy’s sucked though. And that was Flagstaff.

Before I get to Vegas, I just wanted to say the traffic at the Hoover Dam was terrible going up there. The roommate and I were stuck in ten miles of traffic for 2.5-3 hours. On a positive note, we did cycle through about 100 songs on the XM radio. More on that, and why I despise Cyndi Lauper later.

So we get to Vegas around seven, tired as all getup, and with some nice face tans. We stayed at the Golden Nugget due to a recommendation by a friend, but also because it was reasonably cheap. The hotel underwent a giant renovation to make itself halfway marketable in the Vegas tourism industry. I would not stay at it again though- way too far from where we spent most of our time.

Coming up: Part 2- Why my weekly paycheck was spent on cover charges, My first foodgasm, and my love of Iowa Hawkeye fans explained


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