Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We Went to a Casino Today

We Went to a Casino Today

Sometimes you have to take a break from the routine of the ranch. On a ranch there’s constant maintenance to be done. It’s not very glamorous work but it needs to be done and it does give a person a very nice feeling of satisfaction to make things work again. Sometimes, however, it’s just fun to do something completely different. Today it’s not exactly the best weather for doing chores and fix-up on the ranch. It’s been raining since early morning. We use this as an excuse to go into town for much needed supplies. The chickens are almost out of feed and so are the cats. We’re almost out of “feed” for ourselves, too. We’re such consumers! How do we eat so much? Seems like we just bought a bunch of food.

Anyway, somehow we did and now we need to go get more. So after all the supplies are loaded up we’re off to lunch at Nancy’s Airport Café on Interstate 5 out of Willows and we’re looking at each other. He’s eating his normal cheeseburger “dry plain with nothing on it”, oh yeah, and fries. I’m eating albondigas soup which is this delicious Mexican concoction of meatballs and vegetables. I look at him and say well what are we doing this afternoon and he says well I’m not that motivated for much so I say ya wanna do something different and he says what. I’m temporarily stumped. Then I say do you want to go to the Rolling Hills Casino up by Corning? We’re hatching a plan.

Before I go on let me tell you something about me and casinos. I hate them. I hate them almost as bad as anything you can think of. They are the opposite of me. They’re closed in. You can’t tell what time of day it is. There’s nothing natural about a casino. Everything is permeated with cigarette smoke and there’s honest-to-god zombies sitting staring blankly at one arm bandits everywhere you look. I am totally out of my element in a casino. All the lights going off and on make me feel like I’m going to have an epileptic seizure. I’m not a prude. The atmosphere is just simply foreign to me.

Yet today I can tolerate it for the sake of doing something Completely Different. Fortunately, Marty is well-versed in casinos. He’s been to that town I call Las Vegas. He’s so familiar he calls it “Vay-gus”. He’s gone to the National Finals Rodeo in Vay-gus ever since it left Oklahoma City. He says ranch people and cowboys go to Vay-gus because it’s so different from their lives when they want a change. You can say that again!

So Marty can protect me from whatever things I can imagine might be in the nasty casino and it will be Completely Different! I’m also kind of intrigued what freebies the casino may bestow upon us because we’ve never been there and they want to sucker us in. Maybe the food buffet will be sumptuous. I can’t be suckered so I feel safe. I have willpower.

I was right. The first thing that hits me when the automatic doors open is the overpowering stench of cigarette smoke. At least it’s not raucously loud. There’s no carnival barker kind of person shrieking out contestants names and winnings or some such thing. Just the ding, ding, ding of the slot machines and the vacant stares of the zombies operating them. Marty says the only game in the casino that has decent odds is craps. He says the odds are even if you know how to play. Here in California craps are not played. Marty says the casinos don’t like even odds. Only big casinos in Vay-gus have craps because they have the deep pockets to absorb the less than stellar returns. So the next best thing he says is poker or blackjack.

We navigate around the slots looking for what other games they have and discover that there is a non-smoking section. Wow, will wonders ever cease? Yet there’s nothing special about it. Just more of the same except with less smoke smell so we wend our way over to the buffet. Might it be sumptuous? No, not really. It reminds us of Hometown Buffet. The hostess tells us that on Tuesdays and Thursdays seniors can get in for half price. OK, that’s OK. Not bad for average food. She says we have to be a member but she also says membership is free so we wend our way back out to the front desk to sign up.

Then I get my wish for something free. The person behind the counter says for joining the club we get $10 free play. Cool. If I don’t win anything at least I’ve not lost anything. If I stay in my $10 budget. Which I can. The miser in me is pleased. But not brave enough to play so I follow Marty over to a poker machine. It takes a little bit to figure out how the machine will work for us but we do and then he’s playing and I’m watching and trying to comprehend what he’s doing. It looks pretty much like poker you play with cards but it’s played a lot faster (if you want) and there’s no opponent. He quickly wins $5 so we cash out and beat a hasty retreat to the exit. Mission accomplished! Something totally different!

Now I’m back home and sitting at the computer while typing this story. I’m watching the young ewes from the window. We bought them at auction last week to train the dog on. They gambol and play with each other butting heads. There’s been a break in the rain and they’re taking advantage of it. It’s nice to do something different but it’s also nice to be back home. Actually nicer if you ask me.

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