Traveling Around - Museums, Casinos, and A Wildlife Sanctuary
This will be a long trip report. However, I've tried to limit it to things that we did and have provided links to the articles about the places we visited. For instance, I'll discuss our gambling activities in the trip report proper, but if you want to know more about the casinos, there'll be a link to other articles I've published.
Our winter apartment is in Destin, Florida, and we drove west on my birthday, March 1. We had visited Biloxi a couple times during the winter months and I was impressed with the new casino being built there so stopped to get a picture of the contruction.
It will be named The Scarlet Pearl and will have 60,000 square feet of gaming space and a 14 story hotel. Plans are for it to open in the fall of this year but the structure doesn't look like it. It's a little bit isolated across the bay from the IP and in D' Iberville so they will have to generate most of their business independently of Biloxi.
After visiting that area only for a short time we drove further west and stayed in Hammond, Louisiana overnight. Had previously used the internet to find a place for my birthday dinner and had decided upon Don's Seafood. Had way too much food to eat and took the complimentary dessert of bread pudding back to the hotel for later.
Monday we were up and went to the Wings Of Hope Wildlife Sanctuary. We enjoyed visiting with Leslie Lattimore and she gave us a tour of the facility. It's not a big facility (I think she said they had 10 acres) but it a fun jumble and a real hodgepodge of animals in various stages of repair. Interested people nearby should know they need volunteers and people further away should know they need money.
We had intended to stop in Baton Rouge and try to sightsee some of the Huey Long history sites after visiting Leslie but it was raining so we continued on our trip and went to Kinder, Louisiana, where we were staying two nights at the Coushatta Resort. Check in was swift and we were in our room shortly. Room was very luxurious with an overhead rain shower as well as the normal shower head. Had a refrigerator that had a glass front much like we might think of as wine storage/cooler. It had a Keurig coffeemaker that was a mystery to us but after a call reporting that it was a mystery, a housekeeping employee showed up quickly and stepped us through making a cup of coffee.
We deposited our luggage and went to see what the casino was about. Looked through the table games but they were all very busy. Only ones with open spaces were games that I wasn't familiar with and so I stayed away from the tables. We had waited until getting there to eat so went to the cafe. Sharon had soup and I had the salad bar. It was not real big but had the necessary stuff and I was happy. Surprised that they didn't charge sales tax.
Back out on the floor and after exploring, hit the video poker machines. Played Ultimate X for a couple hours. Got outside a couple glasses of complimentary wine. And while I didn't hit anything startlingly good, I did manage to come out a few dollars ahead before road weariness set in and I called it a night. Warren Davidson stopped by to say "hello" and we chatted for a bit. Really glad to see him and give me an opportunity to thank him for his hospitality. Sharon had disappeared upstairs before I did and as I approached our room I could smell the leftover soup being warmed up. Made me regret that I hadn't ordered some of that. As it was I snacked on cookies.
Rain had still settled in on Tuesday. We had planned an outing for the morning hours but decided against it as we expected it to entail some walking and looking about. Instead we had to stay in the casino and gamble (isn't that terrible?). Sidysue and her husband were meeting us for lunch and I settled in at the Ultimate X machine from the night before.
Sharon wandered around on her own and found some more video poker in the non-smoking area and played there. Sue came by and let me know they were in the casino. We decided to eat in a bit and I continued to play. Not sure why, but I was playing one hand with a five coin bet when the obvious happened.
The four of us ate in the buffet. It was senior day and prices were low. Buffet was busy but not terribly crowded. Ate and talked, and then we talked and ate. Enjoyed the visit and will make a point of seeing them again next year. They were headed home shortly after lunch so said our farewells and went back to gambling.
I continued to play on the Ultimate X game as I couldn't find any that interested me more. Played most of the afternoon and evening without any spurts of winning or losing. Premium for play was a duffel bag and I got one after a couple hours. Went up to the room and deposited it and couldn't resist a nap. Sharon came in after a while with this picture.
She has a tendency to squirrel away her winnings so this $100 disappeared into a "shopping pocket" in her billfold. We made some Keurig coffee and ate some cookies and called it a night.
Wednesday was moving day and we were up and at 'em. Driving to College Station, Texas, to the George H.W. Bush Museum. We decided to take the surface roads rather than the expressway and buzzed right along. One of the most startling things on our trip was on Wednesday when we were on two lane roads in Texas and saw that the speed limit was 75 mph. I couldn't quite bring myself to drive that fast in the country and no one acted like they wanted to pass me so I cruised at a comfortable speed across the state.
Got to the George H. W. Bush Museum around noon or so and spent the rest of the day browsing in the museum. Had a good time and learned quite a bit about our 42nd president. It appears from the exhibits that he had a tremendous sense of humor and didn't mind displaying it. He was also very civic minded and stayed active in charitable works even after the presidency.
We stayed overnight in College Station at a Super 8 and Thursday morning drove up to Corsicana, Texas, to go the Lefty Frizzell Museum. Weather had turned chilly overnight and the rain came down some. Some of it was freezing and it was a little icy. By the time we got north and into the Corsicana area, there was some snow on the ground (maybe an inch or so). When we pulled in at the museum, we saw the gate was locked. I looked through my literature and there was no phone number to call. But across the street was a senior center. I went there and asked about the museum. The response:
"Oh, she's an older lady and called us this morning, telling us that she was afraid to get out on the snow and wouldn't be in. You know, us Texans.... we don't know how to handle these snowstorms."
Huh, I thought, you ought to really see a snowstorm.
Had reservations that night in Corsicana but found a wi-fi at a McDonalds cancelled the Corsicana reservations and added a night to our next stop in Carthage, Texas. Fortified with a McDonald's coffee, we drove on towards Louisiana to Carthage and found our Super 8 Hotel there. It was in a new area and had some problems finding a place for dinner but worked it out.
Thursday morning we went to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and Tex Ritter Museum. Met a really nice hostess at the museum and she showed us around, explaining about the expansion and the use of the various rooms in the museum. She even showed us how to use the juke box without putting any money into it. We met Bob Harness (the sculptor responsible for the art work at the museum) and chatted with him for a few minutes about Texas and Michigan. Thoroughly enjoyed 3 to 4 hours spent wandering around and reading and looking at memorabilia.
Stayed overnight again at the Super 8 and headed for Tunica on Friday. Our Garmin warned us about traffic just across the line in Arkansas and so we followed its advice and got off the expressway and wandered across the state on surface roads. The speed limit was not 75 in Arkansas. We crossed the river into Mississippi down around the Isle of Capri Casino at Lula and turned north to Tunica and Sam's Town.
Got to Sam's Town and checked in without incident. Nice room as usual with big flat screen and comfortable bed. Stretched out for an afternoon nap before heading down to the casino. Went down to explore the casino since they'd remodelled and cleaned out the second floor. Found the video poker machines in a corner and looked them over. Not really to my liking but found some Ultimate X and some Spin Poker that I wound up trying without any real profit/loss decision being made.
Meandered through the table games and settled in at a $5 blackjack table that was a little rowdy. I figured no one would pay any attention to what I was doing. A girl at the table was having a bachelorette party. She was the only one of her group playing. The other four were clustered around her kibitzing and encouraging her to do either extremely dumb things or things that showed a knowledge of the game. It'd be nice to say that she wound up winning a bunch but she was down to a very short stack when I was able to color up $250 with a buy-in of only $100.
That was good enough for me and I called it a night.
Saturday and Sunday and Monday mornings we each had one of those gigantic Sam's Town muffins with coffee in the morning. On Saturday I had a coupon from Restaurant.com that I used at the Horseshoe Buffet and paid about $25 for two at the buffet. (I say paid - really I used points to do the paying). On Sunday I had free buffets at Sam's Town so used them. We enjoy the Sam's Town buffet as there's always things to eat that look good even when some of it doesn't look that good. AND - they serve beer and wine.
After that first night most of my casino activity was in the video poker area. I played a lot of nickel Spin Poker and a lot of Ultimate X Video Poker. I decided after Saturday night that I like Spin Poker better and devoted most of my time to it. Over Saturday and Sunday, I lost about $150 and put about 20,000 points on my card. Left about 14,000 or so still there to use next time.
It is a lot of fun on Spin Poker particularly when you get hot and you're dealt really weird hands. Once I was dealt a wild royal. When held though, it doesn't result in wild royals on every hand but it is still a whopping payoff. Only problem I had is when it turns cold, it drains $2.25 every time you spin when you're playing 9 hands.
Finished our stay at Sam's Town on Monday morning about even for the three nights we'd been there.
Had discussed driving up through Memphis to Southland Track between checkout at Sam's Town and check in at Fitzgerald's (actually The Fitz) but decided instead to do the laundry. Drove over to Horn Lake and got some cheap gas and got our clothes all clean. By the time we got back, it was time to check in. I'd found last trip that $10 would get me a "free" upgrade and asked. Was rewarded as usual and found ourselves in a mini suite.
Went to the casino to see what had changed and sure 'nuff, they'd changed the layout around. The snack bar on the second floor had been enlarged and took the space occupied by video poker. Video Poker has been moved more into the far corner past the cashier and the games have been modified and replaced. I did find a penny 100 play machine that I had a good time on, playing 10 or 20 hands for five pennies apiece. Was having so much fun with them I didn't realize I was losing my buyins until I looked in my billfold and decided to stop having so much fun.
Went down to the main floor and found a $5 blackjack table where I became a reasonably permanent fixture for Monday and Tuesday nights. Our reservations were for three nights but we got up on Wednesday morning feeling homesick and tired of the road. When Sharon let me know with some remark that she was ready to head for Michigan I began packing the suitcase and got on the television and checked us out of the hotel.
We were on the road by about 8 AM and 14 hours later we were ensconced in our home in central Michigan.
I would imagine that if you're still reading at this point, you are ready to stop - much like we were when on the trip. Thanks for coming along this far. Overall, the good hands exceeded the bad ones and I wound up in Michigan with more money than I'd had when we left Florida. The new video poker games are fun but I still prefer the straight forward games of jacks or better or deuces wild. Hope the format I used this time isn't too wrong. Let me know if you think otherwise.