Blake Roach Heads West

Last week my dad and I took a trip to Nevada and Utah. We had been planning a trip together for some time, but with busy schedules and work, we had been putting the trip off.  But last week we loaded up and headed west—to West Wendover, Nevada that is. We had a four-day trip filled with casinos, lots of site-seeing and too little sleep sleep.

The Roaches Head West

After a smooth, two-hour flight, we landed in the desert lands of Nevada. The airport we landed in was the site of Con Air, the 1997 Nicholas Cage movie. The town was quiet, and we soon loaded a charter bus which took us to our resort: Montego Bay, where we were soon trying our hand at various games.

My dad and I started out with the slot machines and I experienced ups and downs until I hit a roll that tripled the total money I took on the trip, and made my heart skip a beat. After my beginner’s luck at the slot machines, we decided to eat. We ate at a wonderful buffet that included prime rib, seafood, and an enormous selection of dessert. My favorite dish was the halibut, a highly regarded fish of the flounder family.

That night I caught up on a few books I’ve been reading: The Great Physician by G. Campbell Morgan, and A Fine Dark Line by Texas native, Joe R. Lansdale. After putting in an hour of reading time, I hit the sack, eager for the road trip to Salt Lake City, Utah.

The next day, we headed to Salt Lake City—SLC, as the locals say—which was just 100 miles from Wendover.  It was a great ride, a mountain road odyssey full of beautiful vistas around the Great Salt Lake.  My dad and I caught up on each other’s lives, politics, work, and plans for the future.

Utah From The Road

Before long, we were approaching SLC proper, and I was amazed at the size and beauty of the city. We drove up Interstate 80 into the mountains and saw huge mansions.  I wondered whether one belonged to Utah Jazz legend Karl Maone.

After our excursion in the mountains we drove back into the city and passed the stadium that hosted the 2002 Olympics, an event organized by Mitt Romney. We took lots of great photos. After that we walked through the downtown area and saw a great-sized building in the distance. I knew this had to be the Utah State Capital Building. The capitol was filled with artwork in each corridor and statues honoring the important figures in Utah’s history. The biggest was a 20 foot statue of Brigham Young, Utah’s first governor.

Artwork in the Capitol

Just a few blocks away was another impressive site: the Salt Lake Temple, topped with a golden ornament of the angel Moroni, who is believed by Mormons to have first appeared to Joseph Smith in 1823.

We had a wonderful time in Salt Lake City, and even stopped by the Lake to catch some impressive sites and talk to locals. One local tried to get us to jump in the water with the assurance that we would instantly float, but neither dad nor I thought that would be a good idea with a 2 hour car ride ahead of us.

When we arrived back at the hotel that evening, we were again tempted by the casinos, and I tried my hand at a game that has always intrigued me: Craps.  After watching gamblers play a while, I gave it a roll. I put $20 on the table and received two $5 chips and ten $1 chips. With much anticipation, I let the dice go…with disastrous results.  I flung the dice and both bounced off the table and landed on the floor. Somehow, the same thing happened on my second roll.

By the next few rolls, however, I got the hang of it, and people began rooting me on. Before I knew it, I had won $40—and then lost it just as quickly.

After deciding that wasn’t my game, I joined my dad at a table of 3-card poker.  I had never played this game either, but at least you don’t have to roll dice.

My dad gave me a few chips, and I got the hang of it quickly, hitting a straight flush, then a flush.  The payout on both hands gave me a smile bigger than Texas, and I thought of “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers: “You got to know when to hold em,’ know when to fold em,’ know when to walk away, and know when to run!” I knew it was time to walk away, and I headed to the hotel room, a happy man leaving before I ran out of luck.

On our last day at Wendover, we packed up, ate another grand breakfast, and prepared for a lay-over in Las Vegas—Sin City!  Although it was only a short layover, the acaptain let us enter the Las Vegas Airport for souvenirs.  We were greeted with slot machines immediately after leaving the plane, and I decided to try my luck again.  I won $30, cashed out, and used the money to buy souvenirs. A couple of hours later, I was back in Tyler, happy to be back in the Lone Star state, but grateful for my travels.

After a few days of reflecting on my trip to Nevada and Utah, I am able to revisit a couple of things that are important to me; my family, hard work and a sense of adventure. I usually list family as being one of the most important things to me, but I realize how it’s easy to get swamped with work or school or various things and neglect the people that matter most to me, like my dad. I also reflected on the value of work. I realize how it’s important to work hard to have a sense of accomplishment and help the people around me. I also realize the importance of adventure. I had so much learning about a new culture in Nevada. The “guy trip” my dad and I took gave me insight on a few things in life that money cannot buy. The trip paid for itself, put a little extra money in my pocket, and allowed me to spend some time with my dad—and that’s “an ace that I can keep.”

Salt Lake City

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