Saturday, May 10, 2014

Trip Report: Big Bend and Thereabouts - Day 3, 4...

If you missed Day 2, take a look right here.
After enjoying the the part of the trip that was really for my benefit, we headed back east from Alpine, through Del Rio and down south to Eagle Pass where we spent the night at the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino.
By the time we got to Marathon, it was apparent that we could have figured out a way to go back down to Big Bend from Alpine, go through the national park and circle back to Marathon.  Maybe on our next trip we'll go that route.
We did stop in Langtry again (hey - when you find nice restrooms, you take a mental note), and we took about twenty minutes to pull over at the viewing areas for the Pecos River.
On our way to Alpine, we drove across the Pecos River bridge and I slammed on the brakes so we could stop and grab a few pictures.  Heading back east, we knew there were viewing areas both on the westbound and eastbound sides of the bridge, so we stopped and got a few good pictures.
I think this picture gives you an idea of just how out in the middle of nowhere this bridge is.  If I have not said it before, Texas is huge and there is a whole lot of nothing stretching for miles and miles.
Have you ever wondered what is in Comstock?  Now you know.  Enjoy.

Eagle Pass is on the US side of the river with Piedras Negras on the Mexico side.  It seems like a fairly modern, nice looking place, though by the time we got there, we were less interested in sightseeing and more interested in getting to the casino, the part of the trip Eva was eagerly waiting for!

Unfortunately, by this time, we were also about pictured out.  I wish I had taken some pictures of the Lucky Eagle, or as our neighbor, a frequent visitor of the casino calls it, The Unlucky Buzzard,  just to show how nice the place is.  As you approach down a long, probably 2 mile drive which is no doubt destined for lots of construction in years to come, there is a sense that Eagle Pass is long gone and you are once again out in the middle of nowhere.  Then, in the middle of the desert is the 5 or 6 story casino with nice landscaping and all the amenities of a high end hotel in San Antonio.  I hesitate to compare it to Vegas since there were no visible hookers or people passing out fliers for strip clubs.

Inside, we found our room to be very nice, comfortable and a complete escape from the desert that surrounds the place.   Eva has been wanting to go to the Luck Eagle for years and my hesitation has always been the idea of a smoke filled  place full of senior citizens with oxygen tanks lighting up new cigarettes with the butt of the previous, gambling away their social security checks.  In fact, the casino clearly is utilizing high tech air circulation systems and, though you can't completely avoid smoke from a person sitting nearby with a huge stogie, it really wasn't as bad as I expected.

And yes, during the day, they do bring in bus loads of people wanting to gamble, but by early evening, the crowd changed from busloads of tourists to people staying in the hotel like us, and probably a lot of locals.

After dropping our stuff off at the room, we were extremely hungry and went down to one of the several restaurants in the casino.  For a total of $29.00 (for both of us), we hit the buffet which was very good.  Again, sorry, no pictures.  There was a huge salad bar, a huge meat bar - prime rib, brisket, chicken, all the essentials, a huge dessert bar (none for me, thanks) and people coming by to refill the iced tea which was really good.  I stuffed myself then went back to the room and promptly passed out for at least an hour or so.

I did get a picture of something that made me giggle at the time.  

So Eva and I have two different ideas on gambling.  We both think it is cool to set a specific amount, then blow it with no expectation of even breaking even.  In my mind, you can have even more fun if you put $20 in the machine and walk away with $40.  In fact, I think at one point, Eva cashed out with an $80 ticket and in my mind, it was time for us to quit.

But on the other hand...  with $3.00 Dos X's (okay, $4.00 since I always give a tip), I was fine with sitting back and watching Eva win just enough to play a little longer before losing it all.  And this is how our evening went.
We do enjoy those Wheel of Fortune style slots and the "lucky" one Eva found was located by one of the large bar areas.  It just so happened that they were doing Karaoke and very horribly.  There was an attractive lady singing Selena songs and her screechy, off key voice was horrific, yet the polite crowd cheered her on.  Nice people.
In the end, this pretty much says everything you need to know about our gambling experience.    

The one negative that I have regarding the Kickapoo was that, against Eva's advice, I ordered room service breakfast for the morning.  Our breakfast consisted of some eggs and bacon, some potatoes, some toast, the worst tasting coffee ever, and some juice.  After gratuity etc, it came out to close to $35.00.  Keep in mind, we had stuffed our faces for $29.00 at the buffet, but I get it, it's room service.  Anyway, it was absolutely horrible. I did eat the bacon and the cold eggs, oh, and the juice.  If you go, skip the breakfast and head right back to the buffet.
Our drive back home on Friday morning was actually a very beautiful trip through lots of farm land along Highway 57 from Eagle Pass to Moore, a small town just south west of Natalia.  There are quite a few small towns and big farms growing all sorts of stuff.  Our only delay was about a 10 minute wait through one of the Border Patrol inspection stations which frankly, if I had to deal with on a daily basis would begin to piss me off.

All good things come to an end and this trip was both relaxing and interesting.  I do suspect now that we have been to the casino in Eagle Pass, we'll make a return trip.  Big Bend is a bit further and with so many other places we want to go (St. Augustine immediately comes to mind), it may be a while before we get back there.

For those that need more pictures, I do have a Tumblr that I will be posting the Big Bend pictures on, so feel free to check it out, here.


MsBelinda said...

I enjoyed tagging along with you guys on this trip.

It was very well narrated and documented.

AlanDP said...

Next time swing through Sonora and check out the caverns. They're pretty cool.

Jeff Bauer said...

Thanks for the wonderful travelog, Dave. As I'll probably never get to Texas, it was fun to visit the Lone Star State vicariously through your site and this series!

To give a New Englander from the comparatively tiny State of Connecticut an idea of scale, how many miles did you rack up round trip?

Kind regards,


Dave said...

@MsBelinda: Thanks for the comments - I appreciate it.

@Alan: Several folks suggested Sonora but it just wasn't in the cards this time.

@Jeff: I appreciate the comments. Day 1 was the big day, 435 Miles. Day 2, 235, Day 3 270 and Day 4 was 120 miles. To put that into perspective, it was like taking a round trip between New Cannan, CT and Cleveland, OH.