Traveling Around - Casinos & Museums - A Long and Winding Road Home
The start of the trip.
Our annual spring pilgrimage from Florida to Michigan took place. We took a different route this time, though, and saw some different places. Patronized our favorite casinos however. I've reported pretty thoroughly on the trip but have left descriptions of the specific stops themselves available through links throughout the report. Would suggest reading through looking for interesting spots without getting bogged down with every link.
We started preparing for our departure a couple days in advance and were not rushed when we left the apartment. Stopped in Defuniak Spring for a breakfast and in Dothan, AL, to rent an audio book. Our first real stop was in Plains, Ga, to visit the home town of Jimmy Carter. We were really surprised at the size of the town. We'd visited about 10 years ago and remembered it as being larger. Had a very enjoyable time looking through the town and exploring the museum.
One of the things that popped up that was news to me was now much of a regular politician Jimmy Carter was in his early days of political activity. He became partners with characters that he would quickly disavow once he won and election and was in office. One quote from a Negro friend in Plains said in effect: "To get elected in Georgia, you have to be a racist. But I'm voting for Jimmy because I know he'll treat everybody okay".
We spent a couple hours and had a tasty lunch and then drove on to Phenix City, Alabama, where we visited the family of a grandson whose duties in the army had called him to Washington, D.C., for the week.
The next day we headed for Cartersville, Georgia.
Days Two & Three
We got into Cartersville about noon on Day 2 of our trip. Cartersville isn't a large town. It has just over 20,000 residents. We were pleasantly surprised at the museums we had scheduled ourselves to visit. All three of the were bright and airy and clean. In the past some of the museums were not like this and it was really nice.
Drove directly to the Tellus Science Museum which I've described at length in a post. The museum had several fascinating collections that we enjoyed thoroughly.
From there we found the Quality Inn where we stayed. It was only about 1/2 mile from the museum. Up early on day 3 and dawdled until the 10 A.M. opening of the Bartow History Museum, the second of our stops. It's described in another Hub posting.
When we finished there, the lady at the front desk let us out the back door and we were able to cross a courtyard to the Booth Museum of Western Art. The sky was overcast and threatening when we walked over but the rain was holding off. There were several pieces of sculpture in the courtyard and the museum itself had a large glass wall to the back side where we entered. The Booth Museum was of national caliber and we regretted not having more time to spend there. We not only ran into a closing time for the museum but we ran into the limits of my older age stamina. When we left, the skies had opened up and it was pouring rain.
In order to avoid going to a fast food restaurant or hunting out a hopefully acceptable local diner, we stopped at Kroger's and got some fried chicken which we took back to the motel and had with a bottle of champagne that I'd brought along for that purpose.
Days Four through Eight
Got away from Cartersville about 8 in the A.M. and started west. The GPS took us up into the mountains for some reason and found us the smallest roads it could find. They were so narrow that I was glad that we saw no oncoming traffic until after about an hour of the mountainous activity it got us onto some more well traveled roads and we began to make pretty good time.
We arrived in the Tunica area about 4 P.M. and got checked into Sam's Town. Couldn't get a room in the tower that we want because of "a slot tournament" (which I saw no publicity for or evidence of) but weren't terribly unhappy with the location or the accomodation.
I had a coupon for some off the seafood buffet at the Horseshoe, so we motored over there and ate. In addition to the coupon, I was able to use points and paid no cash for the buffet. We weren't terrible disappointed but I'm sure we wouldn't have paid the $50 cash for the buffet. To us it has deteriorated over the past few years.
Back to Sam's Town and the activity for which we had really stopped in Tunica. I had some free play so we sat down at a 9/6 job video poker. I played the job for a while and got one 4oak. A little discouraged I switched to deuces wild and sat there for a while, seeing a couple wild royals (but not the real thing) and wound upin the black for $74.50. After the drive I figured that was enough time in the casino and called it a night. Besides, "Blue Bloods" was on television.
Next morning we were up and about and I played triple play nickels on an Ultimate X machine. They had two basic machines. On one of them, for an extra nickel above your five, you activated the Ultimate X function. On the other one, if you played 10 nickels, it activated the Ultimate X function for no additional coins. Part of the time during the morning, I played the 5 nickel one without activating the Ultimate X and part of the time I played the 10 coin and had the Ultimate X going. Without the Ultimate X function, I figured the return at 97.1%. Not sure which way I liked best. I got a little confused by Ultimate X and the way it applied the multiplier to the next hand but only the hand of the three that had a previous winner.
I played for a couple hours and wound up down $50 so went and got some muffins from the snack bar and took them up to the room for breakfast. I'd decided that I'd take a break from the casino and go down later and play some blackjack. I waited until around noon and went back down. They were just opening up the second pit that is normally closed.
I sat down at a non-smoking 6 deck shoe table that had a minimum of $10. I played rather cautiously, raising my bet to $20 upon a win or two and retreating quickly when I had a loser. I played for about 3 hours and when I counted what was in front of me, I was to the positive some $257. Fortuitously my wife tapped me on the should and we went to eat the buffet.
The buffet was just okay. It was a lunch buffet and they served wine and beer with it. It was about 1/2 the price of the Horseshoe buffet. Since I was using points, price didn't enter into it and we found lots to be satisfied with.
After we ate, we went back to video poker and I began the losing streak that occurs with most visits. After a couple hours of that nonsense, I gave it up and went to the room to sleep.
On day 5 we went down to the snack bar and had our muffin there. It was fun and a break from the room. After eating we tried the video poker machines and accumulated enough points to get entry into a tournament later but my machines weren't any more cooperative in the morning than they'd been the night before. Took a little break for a nap and then tried again with mixed results. At least it began to look like I could do some things correctly. I wound up the afternoon session at +88.50.
We were scheduled for the tournament at 1 P.M. and at 3 P.M. Two sessions and they added your scores together. It paid 25 places and top prize was $2,500 free play. Played the 1 PM session. I placed fourth in my flight. The wife didn't do very well.
We ate at the buffet again. I had a free one from a mailer and used points for the second one. It was without a doubt the best meal we had on the trip home. I literally stuffed myself and was uncomfortable for a couple hours afterwards.
Played in our second session of the tournament. I found myself in second in this flight. Again, the wife didn't do well. Prizes were announced at 5 P.M. and I wound up in 17th place overall and won $50 in free play. We went to the quarter 9/6 job and played it through, winding up with $42.50 return.
Added up my cash and found Sam's Town had kept $7.00 of my money.
Day 7 we packed our suitcases and headed out. Had some freeplay at Holllywood Casino courtesy of SidySue over in Louisiana. Used it and pulled $12.75 out of the $10 free play.
Off to visit the Isle of Capri in Lula, Mississippi. We stopped for a quick breakfast at the McDonald's in Tunica. We'd been by The Isle a few times when traveling east to west or west to east from Arkansas to Mississippi but had never stopped. SidySue had sent me a coupon for some free play and the casino added a little to it for giving them my email address. There are two casinos and one of them had no video poker in it. The cashier/player's club wasn't open in that one and there wasn't many people around so we just wandered off looking for the other casino. Finally found it. The cage and player's club were open so we got credited with our free play -- total of $15 and searched out the video poker.
It was in a secluded corner and although there were over a 1,000 machines in the casinos, there were only 8 video poker machines. Bright and shiny we sat down and tried to get our free play to work. Didn't work. Called for help. Attendant came over. She couldn't make it work. She called a supervisor. He reset lots of things on the machine and still wouldn't work. Finally, something magic happened and it began working. I turned my $15 into $9.75 cash and got to see the casino. The lobby area is particularly impressive. There's a picture of it in the descriptive article.
When we left the parking lot, the road was marked so that in order to exit, it looked as if you had to cross the river into Arkansas. I ignored the signs and got directly onto the road back into Mississippi.
From there we drove to Hernando, Mississippi. We tried during the last visit to Tunica to visit a museum there but it was closed for the afternoon due to some function. When we got there this time, there was a sign up that the museum was not open that day. We saw an individual entering the back door of the museum so tried to call with our cell phone but never did get an answer. May try again next time. Not sure.
We needed to return the audio book that we had rented in Dothan, AL, and found a Cracker Barrel a few miles up the road in South Haven, Mississippi. Got it returned and found another for our long jump to Michigan. Got some cheap gas in South Haven and headed back to the Tunica area.
As is usual, we were a little early to check in at The Fitz. They've moved their check in up an hour to three rather than four, but we got there about two and the desk was not manned. Back out to the car. Sharon took a nap while I read.
Checked in and got a room that was to our satisfaction. Close to the elevator was the main thing. This was $8 day in the buffet at The Fitz so I used another coupon from SidySue for one free buffet and paid $8 for the second. Only food that we actually spent money on (other than McDonald's) while in the Tunica casinos.
After eating I played $5 six deck blackjack for three hours, winding up in the red for $50.00. Started upstairs and found the wife at a nickel video poker machine so sat and played some nickel deuces for a while, managing to lose most of a $20 bill.
I went down the next morning - our last full day in Tunica. Played the slots for a bit and then went back to the $5 black jack game I'd played previously. I asked for a comp to the buffet and got it. The wife came down and tapped on my shoulder. We went to eat on the buffet comp. I'd invested another $4.50 in blackjack.
Parts of the buffet we closed and I don't think it was as good as in the past. Both meals that we had here, I couldn't find any meat that I wanted so contented myself with vegetables. One of the two times I skipped dessert and the second time had carrot cake which was good.
Back to the video poker area where the wife started in on a penny 100 play machine. She didn't play a hundred hands but played enough that she stayed interested for quite a while. I contented myself with nickel deuces and wound up donating $9.00.
Added up my money and found I'd left $110.00 at The Fitz.
Tried to get up early and get away. We planned to drive to Rising Sun, Indiana, where I had a free night. GPS said it would take us about 10 hours. I figured with a time change and normal stops, it probably would take more like 11.
We buzzed right through Nashville, which surprised us but when we hit Louisville, we saw major traffic jams. At about the 12 hour mark we got to Rising Sun.
Got checked into Rising Star. We have in the past enjoyed the new rooms built across the parking lot from the casino and had requested a room there. Got the room okay but when we got into the room, the bathroom was a mess. The wife commented and when I went in to look, I felt like I had to clean it up before I used it - and using it after the long drive was a necessity. I did so and we drove back into town to eat at a small local restaurant that we enjoy - Jack's Place. Back to the hotel and the wife had decided to complain about the room and ask for a change. She did and we got changed. But, there was a sort of nonchalant "who cares" attitude about the quality of the room.
We did get settled for the night and I took the shuttle across the street to the casino and found a favorite of mine - a two cent spin poker machine. I play 3 lines (total of $.30) and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Took me about 2 hours to lose $9.86 when I decided that was enough and I wanted to sleep.
Since I've been home, I wrote and complained to Rising Star about the cleanliness of the bathroom. I mean, it was DIRTY. I've head nothing from the hotel. Don't know whether they don't care what the customer thinks of them or whether they're having lots of problems so that this was only minor.
Away from the hotel by 7:30. Stopped to get some pastries and drove to Cincinnati for breakfast at my brother's apartment. Chatted for a bit and got on the road, hoping to get home in time to go to the post office and pick up mail. Due to a necessary stop to return the audio disc to Cracker Barrel, we missed the arrival by a few minutes. Picked the mail up the next A.M.
Seemed good to get home. We'd been gone 10 weeks. I think the trip home was longer than normal but in retrospect, I enjoyed it.
If you made it this far, hope you enjoyed this major trip report.