Tom Ross: Vegas forecast: 80 degrees, pop art |

Tom Ross: Vegas forecast: 80 degrees, pop art

I hit the couch within two minutes of returning home Saturday afternoon, my muscles protesting after the exertion of breaking trail into the secret telemark stash on Rabbit Ears Pass. Getting to the top of the slope was one thing. Putting in the switchbacks was an absolute grunt.

It wasn’t that the overnight snowfall was so great – 6 to 8 inches of semi-light powder, at most. It was the dense layer below the fresh that made it work. The old snow wasn’t thick enough to support the weight of a skier, but it was plenty thick to make it tough on a middle-aged skier trying to climb a hill.

The skiing was good, but it sure felt like January at 9,600 feet with an intermittent wind blowing snow showers around.

Within seconds of my touch down on the couch, the TV was on and suddenly, there were the boys of summer – the Colorado Rockies were playing their final exhibition game of the spring in Las Vegas. The grass was green, the bleacher bums were wearing shorts, and the temperatures were in the low 70s.

Suddenly it came to me – if I took a two-hour nap, then jumped in the car and drove straight through, I could be on The Strip before the sun came up. It’s going to be a nice day in Steamboat Springs today, but the forecast high in Vegas is 82 degrees.

I’m not really a Sin City kinda guy, and springtime in Vegas isn’t exactly the best time to laze around by the pool (the April breezes nix that possibility). But it was difficult to watch that baseball game and not long for some flip-flop weather and the buzz of a city.

I found myself wondering if it would be possible to drive from Steamboat to Vegas and back in a normal two-day weekend while still making it worthwhile.

The answer is a resounding “Maybe!”

If I told you the driving time from Steamboat to Vegas is a mere 10 hours and 34 minutes, would you be tempted?

OK, your response is, “Wouldn’t it makes more sense to fly? There are some cheap airfares available out there.”

My answer: Ski season is over, and it just became more expensive to fly out of Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The direct flight to Salt Lake City is done for the spring. Frontier and United each want something in the neighborhood of $450 roundtrip to get you to Vegas and back via Denver.

The car trip to Caesars Palace and back is 1,414 miles, according to MapQuest. Throw in another hour for pit stops and it’s a 12-hour trip. If you want to go, you’re going to have to sign up for a crazy road trip.

If your vehicle gets a modest 22 miles per gallon, you’ll pump 64 gallons of gas for the roundtrip, and it will cost you a mere $128. Take the money you save by buying gas and splurge a little in Vegas.

How about brunch in Paris? The buffet at Paris Las Vegas is quite good, and the same is true across the street at the Bellagio. Expect to pay $15. If you’re crafty, you can sneak some of those French snails into your pocket before you leave.

Speaking of Bellagio, the current exhibit in the hotel art gallery can stand up to the museums of modern art in Manhattan and San Francisco.

“Lichtenstein, Warhol and Friends” includes significant pop art paintings and contemporary sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt and Ed Ruscha, as well as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Admission is $15. If you want to do your homework before you embark on your cultural experience in Vegas, go to Bud Werner Memorial Library and check out the book “Picasso and American Art.”

Where are we going to stay? Hey, there’s a recession going on and people don’t make the trek to the Nevada desert to hang out in a fancy room. You can stay in the Venetian for $350 a night, or, since you have a car anyway, you can book the Holiday Inn Express out by the convention center.

If you’re trying to cram a lot into a weekend and it isn’t going to feel like Vegas without a hotel on the Strip, consider checking in Saturday night and staying over Sunday night instead of a Friday/Saturday stay.

At the Luxor, a two-night stay April 17 and 18 will cost you $460 compared to $270 for the same room April 18 and 19. You can use the savings to treat yourself to a big name show: Elton John the Red Piano, playing in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, still has $150 tickets for April 19. You’re right, the Rocket Man doesn’t come cheap. But you only go around once.

Now, I just have to find some people who are as impulsive as I am.

– To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail

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