And that's the truth! Casinos give you free drinks, sometimes free food like hot dogs, donuts, and cookies, and when you play for a couple of hours, they'll give you a free trip to their buffet. So you get fatter and your wallet gets thinner, but it's a great way to spend a few dollars.
In December 2003, Joyce and I decided we might like to travel from our home in Florida to Arizona, where we'd join the 300,000 RVers who gather in Quartzsite every year to boondock, flea-market, and wander about the desert. Well, we didn't quite make it to Arizona -- in fact, our trip ended up looking very much like the one in Chapter 52. We had two stops with family, three with casinos, two at the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, and one in the middle of nowhere. We got as far West as Texas, then decided to turn around and head back to our warm spot in Florida. We found it to be very cold in most places at this time of year, Joyce wasn't real sure about spending Christmas in the desert, and I decided that the only thing we'd miss by waiting until spring was the cold, the crowds, and the flea markets. Since I dislike all three of these, turning around seemed like the better idea. Maybe we'll try the Arizona trip again in April or so.
On this trip, I decided to get a photo of each of our campsites. I've grouped them below, first Tallahassee (FL), then Huntsville (AL), Biloxi (MS), Lake Charles (LA), Moss Hill (TX), and Kinder (LA). After Kinder (Grand Casino Coushatta), we bounced back through the same campgrounds at Biloxi, Tallahassee, then home.
Here's a closeup of our friends at Ronnie's place, who I refer to as Dumb and Dumber. They were two hound dogs that belonged to a neighbor and they hung around most of the time that we were there and drove our dogs crazy. We found their muddy footprints on the side and front of the RV, where they were trying to see in -- probably because our dogs were going bananas inside! They were friendly, though, so were only a minor inconvenience.
We spent several days at Ronnie's, had a "Christmas Dinner" around December 14th, at a Chinese Buffet in Liberty, Texas. Exchanged gift and everything, just like a real family Christmas! Ronnie had just bought his first computer, so I spent several hours showing him how to get online, read/send email, and the other essentials. This may be the first time he's able to read a chapter about himself, so I guess I've got to be a little careful what I say ... haha.
When we left Ronnie's, we decided to take a side-trip across on U.S. 190 to avoid the construction and bumps on I-10. A great decision! That took us through Kinder, LA, where we stayed at the Grand Casino Coushatta. Great campground, the best buffet we've found yet, and plenty of interesting games. Their buffet not only has the usual chicken, shrimp, crablegs, etc., but also has a Chinese section and a Cajun section -- really great food!
Joyce and I played alot of PaiGow Poker, did fairly well, and I even got into a Texas Hold'Em Poker Tournament on Tuesday night! Fantastic! Just like on the Travel Channel. I played a live game for a couple of hours prior to the tournament, so got into the tournament free. Then, I later spent $15 for a chip re-buy and $30 for a chip add-on. A total of $45 for several hours of great fun. You start with $300 in fake chips, I got $300 more for my two hours of live play, got $600 on the re-buy, then later bought $2000 in the add-on. I got up to about $9000, but then made two mistakes. I had a pair of Aces on the Turn and was at the No-Limit stage -- should have gone All-In but waited. Bet a little now and then, then another guy went All-In on the River -- after a Queen of Clubs came up, giving me Aces and Queens. I called and he had a Flush. I first didn't bet when I should, then I didn't notice that the final Queen made it three clubs showing! Two mistakes and I was out of the tournament. Great fun, though, and I feel like I did okay for my first time. Looking forward to another in the near future!
On the way out of Texas, I had Joyce take a picture of the Exit 880 sign. I think Texas is the only state in the lower 48 where you'll see a mile marker this high. I was going to pose the question "What State Are We In?", but decided to just show it. I've always been impressed with the size of Texas, and huge-numbered mile-markers like this really demonstrate how large it really is.
At my sister's house in Tallahassee -- there's frost on the yard!
After the sun came up and the frost melted
Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, Alabama
Jean Lafitte Campground in the middle of nowhere near Lake Charles, LA
their shuttle runs 24 hours a day!
At Grand Casino Coushatta Campground, we didn't even unhook the car because ...
Camped at son Ron's, with our friendly neighbors, Dumb and Dumber
I was pleased to see how bedraggled he looked.
Our first stop was Tallahassee, where we were surprised to see frost on the grass in the mornings. This was our first hint that maybe we didn't really want to venture out into the cruel, cold world. Then, in Huntsville, we saw lows of 27 or 28 at night, resulting in having to worry about whether our water hose was going to freeze -- not my idea of fun camping! Biloxi and Texas were a bit warmer, but still left us running the heater (and burning Propane) about 15 hours a day. All in all, things turned out to be a bit colder than we like.
A real discovery in Biloxi! For those who've been following our adventures, you probably recall that we like to spend most of our time in the Boomtown Casino there -- great comps and great buffets! HOWEVER, this trip we ventured over to the Imperial Palace, also on the backwater, almost next door to Boomtown. We made this side-trip because I had a coupon for a free $5 that they'd mailed to me. Much to our surprise, we learned that their casino wasn't as crowded, consequently not as smokey, and free buffets are much easier to come by. Their buffets are given as comps by the pit bosses, rather than depending on points, as Boomtown does. Bottom line: Free buffets were much easier to earn and nearly as tasty as Boomtown's. Looks like IP will be our place to go until something else changes. We won some, lost some, and generally came out about even, plus having a great time and good eats.
So how did we end up at Jean Lafitte Campground in the middle of nowhere? As it turns out, I-10 going through Louisiana has always been verrrry bumpy. You know those old concrete roads where you go clunk-clunk, clunk-clunk, ... forever. Very aggravating in an RV! Well, now they've added a 30-minute delay around Lake Charles. Somewhere East of there, we started seeing signs that said "27-minute delay, suggest using alternative routes." So we checked and found that U.S. 90 was only a couple of miles away. Wow! We thought I-10 was bad? U.S. 90 East of Lake Charles must be about the worst road I've been on in a long time! We were only on it for about 10 miles, but I was afraid it was going to shake my wheels off. As it turned out, the only result appeared to be that the shower door was bounced off of its hinge, so I guess that's not too bad. Anyway, by the time we did the detour, had our teeth shaken loose on U.S. 90, and bounced our way down I-10, we decided to camp East of Lake Charles instead of trying to make it to Moss Hill. The only Passport America park in the area was Jean Lafitte, a nice little no-nonsense campground behind a gas station about 2 miles North of I-10. It was only $11.15 and had hookups, so was a fine place to stay over. They also sell Pizza in the gas station, in case you're hungry. Al and I stayed there in Chapter 52 also, and found it to be only a short trip by car to the casinos in Lake Charles (which aren't worth the trip). For those who care, we paid $12.60 (Good Sam rate) at the Space and Rocket Center, and $24.61 (non-Passport) at the Southern Comfort in Biloxi. There's a cheaper, Passport park in Biloxi, but we stay at Southern Comfort for its convenience to casinos. The Grand Casino Coushatta is no longer in Passport America, so they cost $17. Son Ronnie and sister Marylin let us stay free in their yards, but I guess they might charge anybody else ... LOL.
Exit 880! Only in Texas! (and maybe Alaska)
A comfortable campsite at Southern Comfort in Biloxi (same one as in Chapter 52)
The Best News I've Seen in Awhile!
As we headed eastward, I think I heard Joyce say "Go East, young man, Go East ... and then South" -- if she didn't say it, I'm sure she was thinking it. We stopped back at my sister's house in Tallahassee, celebrated her birthday, had several great meals, some games (Chicken-Foot, Risk, and Mexican Train), and felt like we'd celebrated another family Christmas. Then we headed home, arriving back in Central Florida just in time to celebrate our Christmas Eve at home. I guess that's one good thing about travelling around the holidays -- you get to celebrate several times, once with each family group that you stop to see. When we were in the Huntsville area, we visited Joyce's family, so had a sort of Christmas celebration with them also. So, we ended up celebrating Christmas four times altogether!
One biggie this month that I must mention was the capture of Saddam Hussein. I got up one morning and turned the TV on, then was over-joyed when I saw the news. Took the pictures below. Now, if they can just find Osama! If you didn't see these, click on them to enlarge.
As we headed home, I was thinking what a short trip it was. Only 20 days! Then, I thought about how many people out there are grateful for a long weekend. Just one more reminder of how lucky we are to be retired and able to do this traveling every now and then. Seems like it would be awfully boring, though, if we weren't also fortunate enough to have the RV. I can't imagine spending my retirement sitting around the same place all the time. Joyce, on the other hand, would probably be very happy doing just that ... LOL. Short trips like this help us reach sort of a balance between what we each enjoy. I get to travel and she gets to return home in a relatively short time.
Hey! I almost forgot. While we were in Tallahassee, Joyce did a little Faux Painting job, which also helped to make the trip more palatable to her. You can see it by going to FauxByJoyce.com and clicking on Tallahassee Project.
Our two friends, Dumb and Dumber
How degrading must this have been?
53. Warning: Casinos Can Be Fattening
My Travel Log
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