It’s no secret that Marie and I love Biloxi, Mississippi. It is one of the most beautiful and historical cities in the south. The white sandy beaches are clean and not overcrowded. There are jet ski rentals, parasailing, wind surfing, sailing and lots of activities happening around town such as conventions and headliners performing at the casinos. It is the “Las Vegas” of the south only with a beach. On July 4 there is a massive fireworks display over the ocean; in October there is “Cruising the Coast” when thousands of vintage cars and hot rods converge on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a week of rock ‘n roll, entertainment, dances, cruising down Beach Blvd and swap meets. In the spring Low Rider owners exhibit their cars down Beach Blvd for “Scraping the Coast”. Mardi Gras is a huge deal, as well as the blessing of the shrimp boats, and all national holidays. And if that isn’t enough, Biloxi has it’s own baseball team called the Shuckers and a beautiful stadium to play in. And did I mention casinos? There is a Trolley Hopper that takes you from one casino to the next without ever getting into your car.
A few months ago I received an e-mail from a realtor in Biloxi, Mississippi regarding a condo for sale. Something made me take notice and I called my partner in crime and Marie was interested. The more we thought about it, the more we talked about it. And the more we talked about it, we soon were planning a trip to Biloxi to look at the property. In March of this year we made an appointment with our realtor Kristin Allen to look at the condo. It wasn’t love at first sight. The condo definitely needed a facelift. The furniture was worn and sagging, the walls needed paint, the rugs would have to be replaced or cleaned, in other words, an overhaul. But we could see potential. Here are “before” photos of the unit.
Before-The living room rug. It has to go.
The owners were from New York and I guess they very seldom came down to update or just check on their investment. The condo, unit 502, is located in Ocean Club and is a beautiful 17 story building located on Beach Boulevard. In fact, one only has to walk out of the parking lot, cross the street at the light and be on the beach. The picture introducing this post is taken from our 5th floor balcony and you can see the street light at the crosswalk. That is our building, The Ocean Club. So as you probably have guessed, we made an offer on the condo which was accepted and we closed the deal the middle of April. Kessler Air Force Base is located in Biloxi and holds many training sessions for members of the military. I guess rather than stay at one of the hotels, many rent a condo which feels a little more homey to them. Some stay for a month or more and a hotel would be more expensive. Plus some have their families visit. Our condo was being rented by the military and he would not be checking out until May 31. So we put the condo on maintenance hold from June 1 through June 16 to make it pretty. We had a group coming in on June 18 for five nights and we wanted to impress. And of course get the new pictures on the website for future business. You can access on www.biloxibeachresortrentals.com Not being able to get into the condo until June 1 gave us time to shop for furniture and to have the condo painted. In our previous trip report we drove to Miami to get on the Carnival Vista to cruise. On our way there we stopped in Houston at Rooms to Go to look at furniture and Home Goods for décor. We didn’t buy any furniture at this time because we were staying in Biloxi both going and coming from Miami and our plan was to order the furniture we had picked at the Gulfport store, but to set up the delivery for June 8. We made an appointment with Goodwill to pick up our old furniture on the morning of the 8th and the new furniture delivered in the afternoon. With fingers crossed it worked perfectly. We also did a lot of internet shopping with Joss and Main, a sister company of Wayfair. They have a lot of gorgeous furniture, but because we felt we needed to sit on a couch and chair before we bought them, we bought mostly living room furniture at Rooms to Go. What I don’t get about Rooms to Go is that if you go into their showroom and place an order, they charge you a delivery charge. If you go online and place an order, shipping is free. At Joss and Main, shipping is free and lots of discounts are offered. The drawback is that when your order is delivered, it is unassembled. It’s just not a perfect world. We had light fixtures to buy, pictures to buy and knickknacks to buy. We made lots of trips to Lowe’s, Home Depot, Home Goods, At Home, Pier One, Kirkland’s, and Hobby Lobby. Finally we had what we hoped was everything and we were ready to load up and go to Biloxi. Marie and her husband Chuck drove to my house in his truck. I had a garage full of boxes of furniture from Joss and Main to be assembled, but we thought it would be safer to leave them boxed up. We had a dolly, tools, cleaning supplies, suitcases, snacks and breakfast and lunch food so we would only have to eat out once a day.
We were so lucky that Chuck is very handy and installed new light fixtures, assembled furniture, hung pictures, and made some minor repairs. I don’t think he knew what he was in for when we said we wanted to take him to Biloxi, but I think all in all he had a good time.
Below are “after” pictures of our condo. We are very proud of our hard work. Our plans are to rent it as much as possible and have it for our own use when we can. Even when it is occupied, which we hope is often, we can always stay at one of the casinos.
One of the biggest obstacles we faced was that we had numerous offers for free play and gifts at Harrah’s, Beau Rivage, and Hard Rock. Harrah’s gave us free play almost every day we were in Biloxi, the Beau Rivage gave us free play twice, and the Hard Rock gave us free play and gifts we had to pick up on three different days. So while Chuck was working in the condo, we shopped for whatever we needed and went to the casino to pick up our free play or gift. Then we would take Chuck out to dinner. Once we took him to Magnolia House at Harrah’s for steak. It was delicious and service was great.
Another evening we took him to Stalla at the Beau for Italian food. Again great food and service.
Chuck doesn’t gamble but he is a good sport while we play. In addition to restaurants at the casinos, we also took him to Shaggy’s for seafood, The Reef for seafood, twice. It was all really good. The best was McElroy’s which Marie and I went to after Chuck went home. The shrimp and fishing boats are docked outside the restaurant so I am assuming that is why it tasted so fresh. Marie and I and our sister Cheryl grew up in Pasadena, Texas, a suburb of Houston. We were also about an hour away from Galveston so I think that is why the beach brings back such pleasant memories. We would go to Kemah or Texas City to meet the shrimp boats and buy shrimp just out of the water. We would bring them home, pop the heads off and our mother would freeze them for later. Once in a while our dad would take us all out to eat seafood in Kemah. It just seems natural that we were drawn to Biloxi. And honestly, Biloxi has beautiful white sand instead of brown sand at Galveston, and Biloxi does not stink. Down Beach Blvd, there are old southern mansions lining the street overlooking the gulf of Mexico. Katrina hit here, but the people were dedicated to rebuilding the city and it definitely shows.
The beautiful White House Hotel. The Visitor Center for Biloxi One of many Lighthouses Dead trees turned into art Just one of many Million $ Mansions.
Chuck had to leave after the first week so he could get ready for work on Monday. So Marie and I had some alone time at the casinos. We had new money to collect at the Beau and at Harrah’s. I didn’t hit anything at the Beau and neither did Marie. They had a computer crash issue earlier in the week and probably lost enough money that they tightened up the machines. At Harrah’s I hit my fourth hand pay of the year for $1984.00 on the Wonder 4 Tall Fortunes machine. Marie was playing Wonder 4 Tower and hit over $800. So we had really good luck on this trip.
Here’s some fun I had at Harrahs.
As we were driving around one day we saw a restaurant we had heard about called Salute. It offered delicious Italian food. I had fried pork loin and pasta and Marie had braised chicken medallions with a balsamic reduction and pasta. It was all too good. We did manage to remember to take pictures of the food.
As I mentioned earlier, we did McElroy’s one night. It was the best seafood of the trip. The rest of the trip we ate less expensive. We went to Whataburger (yes they have Whataburger), Steak and Shake, Chick Fil a, The Terrace Café at the Beau and snacks at the condo. We both were getting tired of seafood and needed Mexican Food. There are two Mexican restaurants recommended to us, but we ran out of time. We hope you enjoy seeing pictures of our condo. Our next trip is in July. Marie received two complimentary airline tickets to Laughlin and complimentary hotel so this trip will be her treat. At the end of July my husband and I are taking our son, daughter-in-law, and two grandkids on a cruise out of Galveston for a summer vacation to Mexico. I probably won’t write a trip report on the cruise since Marie won’t be there, but we will publish one on the trip to Laughlin. Until then, watch for the Slotsisters. We could be coming to a casino near you.
Dianne thought it best if I (Marie) would update everyone on the Monopoly game. After opening over 17,000 tickets, we did not find any matches above fifty dollars. However, we did find several matches that eventually added up to $180.00 in Albertson’s Gift Cards, $40.00 in cash, a $25.00 JC Penney gift card and a $25.00 Visa Gift Card.
Marie and I have so much to talk about that we have decided to split this last trip into several reports. We were gone 18 days, not our longest trip in Slotsisters’ history, and our husbands were still home when we got back. You will be amazed at how much we accomplished. So this is why we have decided to split it up. Although we probably should make three reports and may still, I won’t know until I get a little further along.
We were headed to Florida to take a cruise on the Carnival Vista, the newest ship in the Carnival fleet. We also were finishing up our Albertson’s Monopoly endeavor, playing at Biloxi casinos, seeing our sister in Destin, and another venture I will get to soon.
Marie drove to my house on Sunday April 23 to pick me up. When we go to Lake Charles, Louisiana, we usually travel to Beaumont and then hit I-10 but Marie and I wanted to go through Houston this trip to shop a little bit, for what will be revealed later. So off we went to Navasota to MacDonald’s for breakfast, 290 to Houston to shop, collect Monopoly tickets at some local Randall’s, then to Lake Charles to Casa Ole’ and collect more Monopoly tickets at Albertson’s which was tripling tickets, and lastly checking into the Lauberge Hotel and Casino. Marie went into Albertson’s and stood in a long line to redeem her instant win tickets for more tickets. After watching so many people get triple tickets, she finally reached the cashier’s desk. When she handed the cashier her tickets, the cashier’s eyes got real big because Marie handed her 250 tickets. (Each ticket stood for 2 game pieces). She took out a piece of paper and did old school math. Uh…. 250 X 2 X 3 = 1500 tickets. After about 5 minutes of math, she said she would have to get approval from the manager to give out so many tickets. She came back within minutes with the manager and said she couldn’t give them to me. She could give me 500 tickets. The manager confirmed her story. So Marie promptly informed him letting him know that everyone in front of her had received triple tickets and insisted he give her his name and that she would be writing a letter to corporate headquarters for discrimination. Without batting an eye, the manager told the cashier to give her three sleeves of tickets. Needless to say Marie felt terrible again, but it’s only a game. Sometimes at the end of the game, the stores give 10 times the tickets. By that time, we would be out of the country and so she wanted her fair share.
Finally we made it to Lauberge. So many stops in one day and it was time to relax, get a drink and try to win some money. We love Lauberge because it has a lodge feel with a beautiful fireplace. Only the elevators are so far from check in.
After checking in, it was down to the casino. I played video poker and slots and Marie played slots. Neither one of us did very well, but we didn’t lose much. Marie played Coyote Moon and won $190.00. We needed our cash for the next part of our trip coming up. We got up and drove towards Biloxi, stopping along the way to shop for our big reveal. We were staying at Harrah’s on the way to Florida and at Beau Rivage on the way back to Texas. We like to stay at Harrah’s because it’s more casual and they have a good selection of slots, plus $5 tables. However we love to stay at the Beau because it has the southern charm, beautiful floral displays, great restaurants, nice shops, lots of new slots, walk-in showers, and unbelievably comfortable beds. I hate to sound like a hotel snob like my friend Jill M. says she is, but the Beau is a lovely place to stay and play. Plus we have always had complimentary rooms and you earn comps for food while you play.
Oh yeah, back to Harrah’s. We had separate rooms this time. Most of the time that we share a room, it’s because Marie wants to make sure I get up early, (or even get up) so we can get an early start. After we checked in, we went to Harrah’s Diamond Lounge for drinks and a snack. The snack turned out to be a meal of pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. After your gambling qualifies you as a Diamond member, you can go into the Diamond Lounge for complimentary food and drinks. There are no slots in the Diamond Lounge, but personally I think it would be a good idea.
Next it was on to play. I went to see if there was an unoccupied Buffalo Grand, but they were full. So I went to my second choice which was Lightning Link. I stayed even and had an enjoyable conversation with a nice lady from Illinois. I enjoy meeting and visiting with people from everywhere. Finally I was able to play on the Buffalo Grand. I love this slot. When it hits, it’s amazing. Unfortunately… well, you know. Bedtime and we were ready.
The next day we ate breakfast at Harrah’s Mix and Mingle café for which we had comps for. It was very good. We got the car from valet and took off for Destin, Florida. We were spending two nights with our sister Cheryl and her husband Kerry at their lovely condo.
While we were traveling through Alabama, Marie got pulled over. She wasn’t speeding so we thought maybe she might have a tail light out. When the highway patrolman came to my window, he said he stopped her for Improper Lane Usage. We had never heard of that, but it seems her right wheels touched the white stripes on the far right lane for a second. We explained that we did not realize it and that we didn’t even know there was such a thing. Then Marie pointed to a vehicle ahead of us who was straddling the white line and she asked “you mean like that guy?” He gave her a warning and a smile and down the road we all went. He was a nice guy and was curious too about our magnetic car door sign with our logo on it. That was the second time she had ever been pulled over. Alabama was looking for some money that day. Marie still has never gotten a ticket. In Destin that night, we had dinner at a restaurant called LuLu’s which is owned by Jimmy Buffet’s sister. It wasn’t all that good. I had gumbo which was very thin and fish tacos which were just okay. After dinner, we went back to the condo. Marie had lots of Monopoly tickets to enter into the computer. So much to do. My phone had been acting up for several days and this was when it cratered all together. I couldn’t call home, take pictures, check my e-mail, nothing. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, like I lost an appendage or forgot to put on a critical piece of clothing. I went a good two weeks without a phone.
The next day was a take it easy day. We slept in and had breakfast, watched television the rest of the day, and looked out of the huge floor to ceiling glass windows and doors facing the ocean that surround the lovely condo that Cheryl and Kerry have. It was wonderful to not have to get in the car. We ordered in pizza, had a wonderful visit and went to bed early. The next day we were driving as far southeast as we could go because on Sunday we were getting on the Carnival Vista in Miami to cruise to Jamaica, Caymans, and Cozumel. Again, I know, but it was another free cruise so we won’t complain.
On Friday we drove to Melbourne, Florida to spend the night. We found a very nice Hilton for $109 per night which we split by sharing a room. It was totally worth it. We were on the Concierge floor and had complimentary drinks, dinner and breakfast the next morning. Staying in Melbourne left us with a short trip to Miami where we were staying the night so we could get right on the ship.
We had reservations at Miami’s Intercontinental Hotel. It was beautiful and huge and swarming with people. I loved it. It reminded me of a New York City high rise hotel. So many people from so many different places speaking different languages. We loved it. We went downstairs to see what was happening. The restaurant was empty and we didn’t want to be the only ones in there, so we went to the bar in the lobby and ordered some small plates of food to share. First was guacamole with roasted corn and bacon with chips. We have never had guacamole like that before, but it was delish. Next we had shrimp fried rice and shrimp enbrochette. It was all really good and just enough to fill us up until we got on the ship the next day.
The next morning we got downstairs, checked out, retrieved our car and luggage. The porters and valet were very kind and attentive. So nice to be catered to. I tried to tip one guy and he wouldn’t accept it. We then drove to the cruise terminal which was really close, only about 5 minutes away. We unloaded our luggage in front of the terminal (some people refuse to turn their luggage loose and instead wag and pull their bags onboard, either afraid they’ll lose them or too cheap to tip the baggage guys) and drove into the parking garage. We then took the elevator down to ground level and got in line to get checked in. Here is a picture of the building next to the cruise terminal and a picture of Miami’s skyline. Downtown Miami is a very clean and beautiful.
Check-in was a breeze. Quickest and easiest ever – about thirty minutes from parking to boarding the ship. I can’t believe I didn’t get any flack from Marie about this, but when I printed up my boarding pass, I somehow printed up hers and mine. When I was making sure I had all of my documents, I saw a boarding pass, plus another boarding pass. So without looking at it closely, I threw away what I thought was a second copy. Of course when I got to the check in, I discovered I had kept Marie’s boarding pass and not mine. No problem, though. They checked me right in anyway.
We got in the special assistance line which is very fast and I needed wheelchair assistance. I have Multiple Sclerosis and this blog is not about that, only happy thoughts, so other than making a reference about needing special assistance or a difficulty now and then, I will not be making too many comments about that. I did rent an electric scooter though because the ship was larger than some we had been on. Except for my lack of driving skills, it was much easier than walking for miles.
In no time we were on the ship and in the bar on deck 3. It looked pretty much like all the other bars on deck 3 of the other Carnival ships. Deck 3 is where you board and where the first bar is. The Vista has been hyped as having a Cuban theme, but unfortunately there was no sign of it in the bar, nor on any of the other public areas of the ship. I saw somewhere that some cabins have patios but we didn’t have one of those.
We weren’t cruising to Cuba unfortunately, just back to the same old places – Jamaica, Cayman, and Cozumel. No special drinks with a Cuban theme, no spiffy old cars, no nothing. Just like all the other ships, pretty but not Cuban. There was a Guy Fieri Barbeque restaurant which was much like authentic Texas style barbeque and pretty good. There was the usual Guy’s Burger Joint, a steakhouse, an Asian restaurant, a new Seafood Shack which smelled awful so we didn’t try it, the buffet and the dining rooms, the Pizzaria and of course room service. There is plenty to eat and drink so if you go hungry, it’s your own fault.
Here are some pictures Marie took right before we sailed from the top deck.
We loved our cabin. We had stayed in one before like it on another ship. We had one and a half bathrooms, two single beds that were quite comfortable, plenty of closet space and an ocean view. It was perfect, close to the casino, bars and restaurants. I always think of the lower decks as steerage, but not so. I have always heard that on the lower decks you could feel the movement of the ocean more, but not so. Just take your Dramamine and you’ll be fine. After unpacking we sucked it up and went to Muster. There simply isn’t any way out of it. You have to be present and accounted for or the ship will not sail. It doesn’t last long, the restaurants are closed during, and the casino doesn’t open until about thirty minutes after sailing, so don’t hold up the ship because nobody is going anywhere until everyone has been to muster, even if only one person is a no show.
After muster we made our way to the casino to wait. We ordered a drink and soon the casino was up and running. We hadn’t played long before Valentina, one of the casino hostesses brought us our free drink cards. We are so close to the next level of casino play which is platinum that I guess she knew we would qualify for free drinks in the casino anyway. It usually takes 1500 points to get free drinks, but we haven’t had to wait in a long time. Finally it was time to play. I spotted a Tower Stack Lion slot like I had played in Las Vegas at the MGM. I hit several bonuses and I cashed out $380 and went on to Quick Hits and had no luck. There were jackpots hitting everywhere, but not for me. I went to find Marie and see if she was having better luck. She had found a home on the Wonder Tower of Four machines and having a blast. All week she and the same people played the group of six machines. They were all doing well, especially one gentleman who kept getting hand pays. Marie had one which wasn’t exactly a hand pay, but they did give her a voucher for $854 because her machine had $600 credits on it when she hit the $854 which pushed her up over $1400. I don’t know why they didn’t just let her play on it, but since it was over $1200, which anything over that in one hit requires a hand pay, they vouchered $854 and left her with $600 to play on. She just went to the cashier and cashed in the voucher instead of bringing the money to her. I don’t pretend to understand it, but whatever.
We got hungry and went to the Pizza Pirate on the Lido deck and ate and went to the room. The ocean was smooth and we wanted a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow was another day.
The next day was a sea day and I was sleeping in but Marie was up and at it earlier than I was. We were both exhausted from all the driving. It is a long way from Destin to Miami, from the Florida panhandle to the Atlantic Ocean and almost from the very top to the very bottom of Florida. About like driving across Texas. I know she was tired from driving. I was just sitting and opening tickets. Still we were both tired. Never mind that. We ordered room service for coffee and a BLT and soon I was ready to explore the pseudo Cuban vibe via the casino. I didn’t have much luck this full first day on the ship. Marie was still on Tower of Wonder and having a blast. I decided to go to the poker tables. I played Let It Ride and Three Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Holdem. It was terrible. Were there no pairs in the deck? Where were the face cards? I hadn’t seen such bad hands in forever. I should have tried roulette or blackjack.
We were hungry but didn’t want to go to the dining room. This was a dress up night and neither one of us wanted to go through the hassle. We went up to the buffet instead and I had the best prime rib ever. Salads and vegetables were good and they had a really good key lime cake. We had decided before we got on board that we were going to avoid the dining room as much as we could. The menu is always the same, Carnival food never changes and it always tastes exactly like it did on the previous cruise and it’s not as good as it was years ago when we first started cruising.
On our way back down in the elevator to the casino, I drove my scooter in head first. I didn’t like that because I wanted to be heading out when we got to the Deck 5 where the casino was. So since Marie and I were the only ones on the elevator, I proceeded to turn around. Big mistake. When I got to number 5 of my 5-point turn, the door opened and two ladies from New York, Sherri and Leslie, tried to get on. These ladies turned out to be correctional officers. Marie and I were laughing so hard we thought we might pass out because it was a ridiculous mess with backing up and turning and going forward. I ended getting my scooter wedged between the elevator doors right on the track. Well, by then Sherri and Leslie who bravely hung in with us, were laughing as hard as we were. I couldn’t move so I got off and Marie and Sherri and Leslie picked up the front end of the scooter and headed it out the door. In all the mayhem, no one remembered to take a picture, but here is a picture of Sherri and Leslie.
Marie did video me trying to park the scooter in our room.
I sat down at a Lock n Link machine which was really fun. It was a lot like Lightning Link. When I sat down there was $1.10 showing on the credit meter. There was no one around and I waited for several minutes before I put any money in and no one showed up. After I had started to play, a woman and a casino attendant came over to me and the woman was explaining that she had left money in the machine and that I was playing on it. I couldn’t hear how much she said she had in it, but the attendant must have told her she should have been playing with her card so that there would be a record of it. I never saw her again.
The next day was an in-port day and I don’t know if we were in Jamaica or Cayman. We did not get off the boat. It was a 3-R day – Relaxing, Reading, and Room Service. We went to the casino that evening and Marie at least video’d a win she had on the Wonder 4 Tower.
Our Casino Hostess Katherine offered us a complimentary dinner at JiJi’s Asian restaurant for the next evening. Yes!
The next day was an in-port day again and we actually made use of our time on the ship. We went up to the Serenity Deck and spent the day reading and relaxing and no makeup. Yay!
We met another nice couple in the casino that night. It’s mostly familiar faces in the casino every day and we kept running into Vinny and Kathy from Queens, New York. I asked them if Vinny was a popular name in New York. They laughed and said it was.
We were excited to eat dinner at JiJi’s. We had a complimentary bottle of wine and we ordered Chicken Pot Stickers, Spring Rolls, Sweet and Sour Shrimp, and Kung Pao Chicken. It was all excellent. We then ordered Crème Brulee and crepes for dessert. The portions weren’t huge and we managed to eat it all. We didn’t have one single complaint. Why no pictures? Too busy eating. A few weeks ago on Shark Tank, a couple featured on the show had a business of making chopstick rests for Asian restaurants. It was amazing that JiJi’s had them on the tables.
We always stick our www.Slotsisters.com sign on our cabin door. One lady named Maria said she and her husband were staying down the hall from us and that they had discussed changing the “o” in Slotsisters to a “u”. But they didn’t. Crazy Maria.
The next day was Cozumel and you know what that means. Pancho’s Back Yard and Margaritas. So good. A little shopping and back to the ship. This is a view of the ship through the outdoor garden and eating area of Pancho’s.
This was a Carnival Live Cruise and Jay Leno was performing on the ship tonight and we had tickets. Jay was a riot and put on a really good show. His monologue lasted about an hour and a half and we had really good seats.
The next day was an at sea day and we spent the day playing with our new friends. Marie was on her Tower of 4 Wonder with the same people and I was flitting around. I played Lightning Link, Tower Stack Lion, Quick Hit, Quick Hit Rising Riches, Triple Double Diamond, Buffalo Gold, Lock and Link (which was like Lightning Link), Video Poker, etc. I never hit much, but when I hit something, it wasn’t enough to bring me back up to even. Marie found some Chinese themed machines and did well on them. She was playing $1.76 which is unusual. She cashed out at $699.64.
The next day we were leaving and heading back to Destin and we wanted to make it in one day. Yes, we won two more free cruises, but that is another story for another day. We did make it to Destin and spent the night with Cheryl and Kerry. We left the next morning for Biloxi for three nights at the Beau.
We had a lovely room with a fabulous view of the pool and Gulf of Mexico.
We found out when we checked in at the Beau Rivage that Biloxi was hosting the 2017 National Veterans Golden Age Games and many of the veterans were staying at the Beau. Also, the day we checked in was the 43rd anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. There were so many veterans there and we took this picture of two really great guys.
My first day at the Beau I hit a hand pay on a Quick Hit, my first ever at the Beau, for $1600. It was really fun. On our second day at the Beau we drove to Hammond Louisiana to redeem our Monopoly tickets for more free tickets. Since it was the day before the end of the game, the store couldn’t multiply our tickets because they were down to a small box. By then we really didn’t care enough to complain. Plus it was worth going into the store to see the cashier’s long fingernails. They were at least five inches long from cuticle to end and they were starting a spiral curl. Howard Hughes had nothing on her. On the third day I hit a second hand pay for $1800 on Buffalo Grand. Twice the fun. I can’t wait to go back. Maybe my phone will work for when I hit a hand pay again. We had dinner that night at Prime Steakhouse. I know I’ve talked about it before, but it is amazing. I want to go back soon.
We left on day four and drove back to Texas. It was a great trip and we were ready to go home to our husbands and cats. The next trip report will be called “The Big Reveal”. Check it out. I will try to get it out as quick as I can. Lots to report.
This is Marie writing and I wanted to let our readers know how we are doing playing Albertsons’ Monopoly. To date, through many loads of Ramen and canned vegetables donated to our local shelters and food banks, we have collected over 12,000 Monopoly tickets.
Out of those Monopoly tickets, we have won several grocery gift cards, some cash and few Mall gift cards. However, we have collected over 1,000 free items from Albertsons and have yet to shop for them. When we do shop, we usually spend the day filling up baskets full of groceries. You would ask, “Do you really need all that?” The answer is NO. We are not hoarders of food products like you see on TV shows. You know the people that have to keep their cars outside on the driveway while their garage is set up like a grocery store. We will probably donate most of these items to our local food banks. This is a picture of our free product tickets. Future blog reports will show more of the actual items.
We also have over 1,000 free Monopoly tickets to cash in for even more tickets. The end of the contest for collecting tickets is May 9, and a few weeks after that to shop. Dianne and I will be on a trip soon and cash the free tickets in on our way stopping at the grocery chains. While I drive, Dianne will open the tickets. We still do not have even the semi-rare tickets for the 3 big prizes. By this time over the past years, we have collected everything but the rare tickets. Hopefully by the time we travel, the Albertsons’ stores will be doubling or even tripling tickets and show pity on us by unloading tickets. Maybe the best is yet to come. Until the next blog post………………….
One of the crazy things about the Slotsisters’ travels is that we keep gravitating toward Mississippi. Louisiana is so much closer to where we live in Texas and Oklahoma is close to Marie, but Mississippi keeps pulling us in. And of course we love Las Vegas but we usually only make two or three trips there a year. Right now we have a trip to Vegas scheduled in September. We also have a cruise booked for the end of April and we are sailing out of Miami. We have decided to drive so we could sightsee along the way and stop in Biloxi on the way to Florida as well as on the way back. Actually if you include Tunica, Mississippi has held a special place in our lives for years. Marie had magnetic signs made for our cars so watch for us because you never can tell where we will show up.
So we loaded up and made our way to Biloxi. We stopped in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for Albertson’s Monopoly tickets. Then on to Hammond, Louisiana to Albertson’s and since our back seat was full of Ramen noodles, we needed to find a place to donate. This is where the story gets really crazy. We walked in to the Baton Rouge Albertsons and found the soup aisle. Much to our surprise the Ramen noodle packages were on sale 5/$1.00. The Albertsons’ ad had the Ramen with the bonus ticket on the ad. There wasn’t a disclaimer in the store so we loaded up. We bought 116 Ramen noodles but when we checked out, the ticket stated we would only receive 1 ticket. We went to customer service and asked for the manager. He came over and insisted the one ticket was all we were entitled to. Nope, he wasn’t getting away with that. He offered us a deal, he would give us 40 tickets. Marie wouldn’t stand for that. After much convincing, he told the checker to give Marie 116 tickets. When the checker counted 83 tickets, the checker said that was enough. People were watching this and it was very embarrassing. I felt like I had shoplifted or something. Then other customers started giving Marie their Monopoly tickets, either because they felt sorry for us or they didn’t play the game. UHG.
Then we went on to Hammond, Louisiana. We gave all our loot to the local food bank, Tangi Food Pantry.
Some food banks are really surprised that we as “out of towners” are eager to donate. And back to Albertsons, it’s really hard not to imagine that we were being discriminated against, that Albertson’s corporate office knows what we are doing and for some unknown reason doesn’t like it. Hard to believe when we are donating to the food banks and it’s not like we are winning much money. I guess their computers are programmed to single out Ramen noodles, but “why” is the question I have. So far we have opened 10,000 Monopoly tickets. We are way behind this year from previous years.
We left Hammond and drove to Biloxi to Harrahs where we were staying three nights. Even though the rooms at Harrahs are not our favorite, we wanted to have time to get a little cushion on our Diamond points. The rooms are nice enough and the beds are fabulous. We always sleep so good whether it’s Horseshoe, Harrahs, or any other Total Rewards property. It’s just that the bathrooms are dark and it’s hard to see to put on makeup. Plus here is a picture of the toilet in our bathroom. It is huge. I told Marie that you could almost stand outside in the hallway and use the bathroom. Imagine what a man could do!!
After we checked in we went to the Diamond Lounge and had a drink and some hors d’oeuvres of chicken wings and antipasto. That would fix us up for food for the rest of the day. Drinks and food are complimentary with a Diamond membership, so we try to keep our points up. Would hate to lose it. We played for awhile but quit early. So tired from our long day.
The next day we had coffee and a sweet roll and decided to ride around town and get a good look at everything. The beaches are so clean and the sand is so white. There were sail boats in the water and jet skis to rent and lounge chairs and umbrellas. We ate at a seafood restaurant called Pelican’s Wharf. Marie had a shrimp po-boy and I had fish tacos. It was all absolutely delicious. Of course there is no picture of our food because we were so hungry and too stupid to take a picture of the lovely shrimp and fish. UHG
You have to look pretty hard to find a Mexican food restaurant, but there are a few. I don’t have much hope for them being very good, but we will probably try them out one day. There are 16 Waffle Houses in the Gulfport/Biloxi area (not counting the ones in Diberville, Long Beach, Ocean Springs and a few other towns). We have heard there are a few Italian restaurants, steak houses like Ruth Chris and Morton’s, but like Galveston, there are mostly seafood restaurants which is not a bad thing.
We both had free play at the Beau Rivage so we made our way there. It expired on this day, but I would receive more the next day. I just didn’t want any of it to slip away. I had $125 each day to play on and didn’t want to leave any money on the table. We ate at The Terrace Café in the Beau. The food was delicious and dessert was amazing. Marie had a deconstructed key lime pie and I had chocolate cake with the bottom layer cheesecake.
We played until about 6pm and drove back to Harrahs. I love the Buffalo Grand at Harrahs, but they are so hard to get on. I did get to play them, but didn’t win enough to talk about. The same on Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. I won $200 on Buffalo Gold and $250 on Top Dollar so it wasn’t a bad night.
The next day was of course Beau Rivage and next door to it is the Hard Rock. We had never been there before but had heard good things about it. It was very nice, lots of musical instruments and costumes to look at, nice restaurants, and new machines that we hadn’t seen anywhere else but Las Vegas. We will definitely go back again.
Then it was back to Harrahs to get our stuff together so we could stay up until after midnight. We had more free play coming then and we wanted to play it that night rather than the next morning so we could get an early start on the road. I didn’t win anything much, just enough to stay alive. Marie did well on her favorite machine, you guessed it, Davinci Diamonds. At least one of us made some money.
The next morning we took off for home. It is about an eight or nine hour drive and we had a few stops to make on the way. Lake Charles has a Casa Ole’ that is the best one I have ever been to. The lettuce and chips and tacos are very fresh and tasty. (Still no pictures.) Women do not live on seafood alone.
Connecting with old friends is one of life’s most important experiences. You never forget how much you enjoy their company and all of the fun and crazy moments you had together. It all just gets shoved to the back burner sometimes, especially when you and your friends don’t live close to each other. Phil and Marcia Alexander are old friends from another era when Phil and I worked in sales for the same company. My husband and I first met them in 1973 in Palm Springs, California where we were attending a sales trip. One evening there was a themed party for the salesperson and guest and that evening had a Sadie Hawkins theme. I don’t know where Phil got the idea for his outfit, but it fit him and his personality perfectly. Phil is a 6’5″ tall hulk of a man, probably 350 pounds at that time, more commonly thought of as an Arkansas Mountain Man. And there he was in a pair of overalls, no shoes, a red bandana in his back pocket, and a dip of snuff in his bottom lip. He quickly informed us that he had on no underwear. Rather than check for ourselves, Marcia confirmed his lack of undergarments. Only Phil would do this, but from that moment on, he kept us in stitches.
We have kept in touch with Phil and Marcia over the years and gotten together every chance we could. Mostly our relationship is gambling. When we first met them, they lived in Memphis, which anyone who has been there knows Memphis is just a few miles North of Tunica, Mississippi and knows Tunica is the gambling capital of Mississippi. Well, Tunica and Biloxi. So it only stands to reason that the first opportunity we got we made our way to Tunica. It is a nine hour drive and we could probably make the drive in our sleep for the number of times we have been down that road. So when the Gold Strike Casino and Resort in Tunica sent me an offer for three complimentary nights and $540 in free play, plus I would get to see the Alexanders, how could I not?
My husband Jim wanted to go on the trip, but he was not comfortable with leaving our elderly cat Missy. Plus at this point in our lives, I think he loves Monkey, our black cat whom he bottle fed for the first 6 weeks of his life, probably more than he loves me. Marie was not able to go either, so being the big girl, I bought myself a plane ticket and left the driving, ‘er flying to the pilot. One hour and twenty minutes after take-off, I spotted Marcia in the passenger pick-up lane. Yeah! On our way to seek our fame and fortune.
We got checked in to the Gold Strike. Marcia had her own room and Phil was staying home except for coming over to the casino for dinner three times. It wasn’t often Marcia and I got to have our adventure without the guys. Plus having our own rooms was a luxury. And since it was already 2:00 and the buffet would open at 5:00 we decided to play first and eat later.
I went in search of the Hot Shot Slot Machines, but I couldn’t find any. I asked a floor attendant and she confirmed they had been removed. Next I hit the Buffalo Grand Slots which I also love, well that and the Buffalo Gold and Buffalo Stampede, not to mention all the other slots in the casino. I had a few small hits, but nothing big the first day. When dinnertime rolled around, I thought it was a good idea to go ahead and eat and get a new start after dinner.
The Gold Strike Buffet is pretty good. I don’t think there is enough variety and the quality is not bad, just not great. But it was one way not to overeat. Plus we were able to get back out there in the trenches quicker. Not that it did much good. It was Monday and typically weekdays especially in the beginning of the week are pretty slow. We stayed up until 12:00 p.m. just because we thought we were supposed to. Marcia actually did fairly well on the Lightning Link Slot which is also one of my favorites. But I didn’t have much luck on anything.
On Tuesday I slept until about 11:00 and Marcia worked on her computer until I was ready to go down . Our rooms had a coffee pot and Marie had sent me with blueberry breakfast pastries so I had one before I went downstairs at about 1:00. When I went down I had several Bloody Mary’s with extra olives and I was good until dinner. We decided to play next door at the Horseshoe. I needed to work on my Total Reward points so we played at the Horseshoe until dinner where Marcia had two free buffets. Phil wasn’t coming to the casino until Wednesday so we had dinner without him. The food was good as it always was with a good variety of Asian, Italian, country cooking, and barbeque.
After dinner we went back next door to play until bedtime. Marcia played Lightning Link and recouped some of her losses. The problem with the Lightning machines at Gold Strike and Horseshoe is that each casino has only four machines. So they are really hard to get on, but to be honest at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi there are eight or ten, and they are hard to get on. Plus I really miss the Hot Shots. The Horseshoe did not have them either but they used to have them. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come at other casinos. Marie has noticed that there are less Davinci Diamonds machines in the casinos. So when Marie gave me $100 to play for her I was torn where to go with it, especially when my luck wasn’t looking too good. No Hot Shots and no Davinci Diamonds so I decided to play something new to me. I saw a Snow Leopard and gave it a try. I turned out to be a good choice since I turned her $100 into $191.
On day 3 we thought it might be a good idea to get away for awhile. We decided to try Fitzgeralds because it was 50+ day and when you earn 10 points you get to spin the wheel for cash and prizes. But we had trouble getting too excited about it since the highest prize was $25 or you could win a free buffet so it was no surprise that the buffet was just what we won. Phil wasn’t coming over that night to eat so we cashed in our big wheel win and ate the buffet.
Back to the Gold Strike to try again. I always say you can’t catch a fish if you’re hungry because the fish can hear your stomach growling. I was hoping it was the same idea at the casino. I decided to try my luck at the Mississippi Stud Poker table. I love that game along with Ultimate Texas Hold’em. I should have tried it instead since I had no luck on Mississippi Stud.
I quit while I still had some money to play the slots on. I played Lightning Link and hit a little bit and lost a little bit. I went to Luck of The Irish and hit $250 and moved to Buffalo Stampede. I hit the bonus and retriggered several times. I didn’t hit much, in fact I didn’t hit more than I put in. I played a Quick Hit Rising Riches and got some bonuses, but I didn’t win as much as the guy next to me who had over $900 when I got up to move. I found Marcia and we decided to go to bed at 9:00 and thank goodness it was 8:55.
I hate to sound negative, but I really was not having enough good luck to talk about. The best part of the trip so far was spending time with my friends. I didn’t expect that to change, but I was hoping to add some other elements to the trip.
On Day 4, we checked out of the Gold Strike in order to take advantage of my free room at the Horseshoe. Plus I had only made a quick pass in the casino and hadn’t earned many points. I had a talk with myself that morning and decided to play smarter and I was hoping I could stick to it. I went in search of machines I had played over the years at the Horseshoe Tunica. It has always been one of my favorite casinos. I saw a round bank of $.50 Triple Cash machines. I have always loved these particular machines at the Shoe. I usually hit something decent on them and usually they are very popular and are hitting good. I was playing the max bet of $1.50 and hit three blue 7’s for $150.00. Now comes the part where I stick to my guns and I did.
I found Marcia on Lightning Link so I sat down next to her. Since it was early in the day we were able to get two of the four machines. We both hit bonuses numerous times but they were so far between that we couldn’t ever get ahead. At least there were more people on day 4 in the casino than on the other days. It makes you hopeful because you think surely there is a win somewhere in the casino if it’s crowded. It wasn’t really crowded, but it was better. We played until about 5 when we walked back to the Gold Strike for dinner at the Chicago Steakhouse. I took a couple of pictures – one of the three of us at the table and one of the bread the waiter brought to the table. We were so hungry that we dove into the bread and butter and I forgot to take pictures after that. Phil had bone-in ribeye, Marcia had the sea bass and I had halibut. We all had crème brulee for dessert. You’ll just have to use your imagination.
It was all really good, but I was really looking forward to the next night when we would have the seafood buffet at the Shoe. I love me some crab legs. I had been looking forward to it since I made my flight reservation. On Friday afternoon Phil met us at the seafood buffet at the Horseshoe. There were raw oysters, boiled shrimp, spicy broiled shrimp, fried catfish, crab legs, crab claws, mussels, plus the usual of prime rib, barbeque, fried chicken, pizza, pasta, Asian food, salads, sides, and desserts including the best bread pudding in the world. And you guessed it – no pictures. When I am at the casino I don’t usually eat breakfast or lunch, so by the time I get to eat I am too hungry to even think about pictures. I just want to get after it.
I could only get one night at the Horseshoe because they were having a concert and a slot tournament and were booked. I moved over to the Tunica Roadhouse which was just next door on the opposite side of the Horseshoe from the Gold Strike. I had never stayed there before, but it was pretty nice. With upscale furnishings, a great mattress, and in-room Jacuzzi tub, I would definitely recommend it, even though the Jacuzzi tub is not my thing.
The next morning Phil and Marcia picked me up and dropped me at the airport. All good things must end and even though we had a great time together, I was ready to get home and see my husband and Monkey and Missy. I did get that in the right order, didn’t I?
I must apologize for the lack of pictures. I had computer problems last month and now I am having cell phone problems. I hope to get this resolved before the next trip report. Hope you are entertained in spite of my technology problems.
Until next time, the Slotsisters are coming to a casino near you soon.
This is Marie writing today. Dianne’s computer is acting crazy so I will try to make this entry interesting even though I do not hold the gift of sarcasm as well as Dianne does.
So most of you know by reading this blog, we are dedicated to winning something, whether at the casino or our yearly pilgrimage to as many Albertson stores as possible to play Albertson’s Monopoly game. Dianne and I decided to head down to the Houston area where there are Randall grocery stores, a subsidiary of Albertson’s. We happened to visit two stores, where we found the Ramen noodles to be 4/$1.00 and an Albertson Bonus ticket for each noodle package. We put as many as they had on their shelves into our grocery cart. Randall stores do not have the shelf space for flats of noodles as Albertson’s does, so we took them all. The shelters would not get as many noodles this time! As we checked out, the clerk handed us (one) ticket total for our effort. We knew something was amiss. So off to the Customer service area where we would plead our case. The first store we visited had no problem with giving us the extra tickets at Customer service. However, the second store was quite different. After buying a large quantity of noodles and getting a few tickets we headed once again to Customer service. The woman behind the counter was sure that the sign on the shelf meant only one ticket for as many noodles as one can buy. I asked her if I could buy some Quaker Oats oatmeal in a quantity to test out her reasoning. I bought 4 oatmeal boxes and received 5 tickets. The extra ticket is complimentary for anyone buying anything at the store. She then called the manager. He was foreign born and had a difficult time with understanding us. Finally a light must have gone off in his head and he gave us the requested tickets. It was somewhat embarrassing to be arguing about silly tickets and having people walk by giving us “judgy” looks but hey, we don’t live here. We did receive a semi-rare or rare game piece from them and hopefully we will benefit from it during this contest. But again, how many people were shorted game tickets during this month? I can’t be everyone’s advocate, so you people out there playing the game, beware.
We could not see going to Houston without stopping in some of our favorite consignment shops. The Guild Shop on Dunlavy Street is amazing. The quality of merchandise reflects where the shop is located. Near the River Oaks neighborhood, the shop is nestled among old streets lined with huge oak trees. There is an outside shop as well with antique doors, garden furniture, and tables. You must check it out. Proceeds go to benefit Episcopalian charities.
We then headed back to Dianne’s house for the night. We had planned to go to Naskila Casino in Livingston the next day, because I had never been there and then go back to Dianne’s house that evening. Dianne’s husband, Jim thought that backtracking the roads would be silly and that we needed to go on to the Horseshoe in Bossier City, Louisiana after that. We had planned to go the day after Naskila anyway. I called my slot host and he arranged an extra night for us so we got up early and drove an hour and a half to Livingston. The parking lot was so crowded that I dropped Dianne at the door and proceeded to find someplace to park. Having never been to Naskila I wondered if I would find Dianne in the casino. Well there was no problem since it was about at big as my garage. After an hour we were on the road again to Horseshoe.
We checked in to Horseshoe and the hotel had a promotion for the month of March. It was a pair of pillows. They are very soft pillows and remind me of the pillows in the room. The next day the casino was giving away the first piece of luggage in a set. It was comical to see the two packs of pillows, and two pieces of luggage fill up the back seat of my small car. But we never pass up a freebie.
I guess I can say that no large jackpots were hit in this adventure but we were able to advance our tier credits to try to keep our Diamond club status for the next year. Dianne did win a good hit on Buffalo.
We were able to eat for free, thanks to Dianne. She was sent a $100 and a $50 food credit for the week. Our first meal was at Binion’s Steakhouse where we had a wedge salad with blue cheese crumbles and a bowl of Crab bisque. It was paired with a delicious bread basket and that was all we needed.
The next night we ate at Four Winds, an Asian Restaurant. Dianne and I love Asian food so we had a little of everything. First course was a combination platter with fried shrimp, crab Rangoon, eggroll, and Barbeque pork. Dianne also had a cup of Wonton soup and I had Egg flower soup. Then Dianne ordered Kung Pao Shrimp and I ordered Cashew Chicken. Both were delicious and we had so much to bring home. Thank goodness Horseshoe rooms have refrigerators. Dianne used her $100 food credit there and we had extra money so we decided to do something we had never done before. It was legal so don’t jump to conclusions. We ordered Sake. They served it warm and it was horrible. One sip and that was all it took. Being frugal by nature, I tried to give it away to another table, but the waiter kept shaking his head. Glad we didn’t pay for it.
Sorry, I guess we dove into our Kung Pao and Cashew chicken without taking pictures.
The last night we decided to go to the Diamond club and eat for free. I had free buffets, but we would use that for Saturday morning breakfast. The club was serving crab cakes, fajitas, fruit and cheese, chips and dips. It was plenty and we were sitting at the bar hoping to get in on some good conversation. Soon a woman and her daughter took a seat. They were dressed immaculately and had beautiful smiles. They were on a trip with some other 30 women from the Palestine, Tx area. Some had traveled on a bus, while Jeanette and Margo had traveled together. These ladies, and I mean elegant sweet ladies, were a joy to meet.
Jeanette, Rosemary, Margo, Lou
I hope to write again, keeping you informed on all our adventures.
Well, I guess it’s time for me to eat my words. Texas finally has a casino. It’s called the Naskila Casino owned and operated by the Alabama Coushatta tribe and it’s located in between Livingston and Woodville, north of Houston. Actually there are two other casinos in Texas situated on Indian reservations – one in El Paso and one at Eagle Pass. The one in El Paso is a Harrah’s Cherokee Casino on the western border of Texas and the Kickapoo Casino in Eagle Pass is in South Texas. Texas is so big that the two casinos that existed were so far away from Dallas or Houston, that it wasn’t really a viable option. It is a lot closer to drive to Louisiana or Oklahoma to play.
Texas has long since had horse racing and dog racing, as well as the lottery which included scratch-off’s, Mega Millions and Powerball games. It would only seem natural that casino gambling would follow, which it did. After Eagle Pass and El Paso opened casinos on Indian land, one would expect that the Indian Reservation at Livingston would follow suit. In 2001 the Alabama Coushatta tribe opened a casino on the very site where the lawmakers in Texas would close it in 2002 and then reopen the casino in 2016. John Cornyn was serving as Texas Attorney General at the time of the first opening and was still in office when the casino was closed nine months later. It was decided that Texas law would override Federal law and that casinos were illegal in Texas. Not only did the tribal members lose their jobs but were plunged into poverty for a second time. The area surrounding and including the reservation is very poor and there is a scarcity of jobs. The casino is now employing around 200 people from the tribe as well as the surrounding area to work in the casino and restaurant. Hopefully with success comes expansion and will lead to a larger facility and a hotel.
From my house the drive takes me about an hour and forty-five minutes. And to Lake Charles and Shreveport, Louisiana takes me a little over four hours. Not that Marie and I will trade in our preferences for Naskila, we will still make the trek to Louisiana and Oklahoma. Naskila does not at this time have table games, only slots. Which is fine with us since Marie doesn’t play the tables and I don’t always.
When you walk in the door you walk into the non-smoking section. Toward the back to the left is the smoking section in a closed-in area. Non-smokers will love it. I actually kind of enjoy the smell of fresh cigarette smoke, just not stale smoke. I quit smoking eleven years ago and still miss it.
I arrived at Naskila at 10 am and told my husband I would leave by 3 pm so I could get home before dark. Plus the road between my house and Naskila is like so many roads in Texas – under construction. As it turns out I was ready to leave by 3:00 because I had a very profitable day and wanted to leave while I was ahead. I had several good hits on Dragon’s Heat and several other machines I had never seen before. I had a ticket in my purse for over $300 so I decided to go back to the first machine I played when I first got there called High Voltage Blackout. I was hitting bonuses and multipliers and all of a sudden I hit wilds all across the screen except for one square. That spin paid $849 so with the credits I had in the machine I ended up cashing out $1400. I took the ticket to the cashout machine and got in my car and left.
It was a very good day and I am anxious to go back and take Marie to see what she thinks about it. I really had a good time and felt good about my wins. I hope the Indians do well with Naskila and pave the road for more in Texas. I have heard for years that Tilman Fertitta would like to develop casinos in Galveston, that since it is an island, it could legally happen. I am surprised it hasn’t yet, but I continue to hope.
Next week Marie and I will fly to Biloxi courtesy of the Beau Rivage. When we get back to Texas we will rest for one day before heading to the Artesian in Sulphur, Oklahoma. They sent us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Until our next trip report, the Slotsisters will be coming to a casino near you.
In 2014 Marie, Chuck, their son Charlie, Jim and I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for Christmas. Marie and Chuck rented a Home Away house and we stayed at La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza. We had such a great time we vowed to make it a tradition. We broke our promise and didn’t make it in 2015, but we did go in 2016. Marie and her family rented a house again because they prefer their own space and homey atmosphere. Jim and I stayed at La Fonda again. It is one of our very favorite places to stay, as we have stayed there numerous times over the years. The La Fonda is a very busy place in Santa Fe. Not only is it right on the plaza in the center of downtown, but visitors gather there for it’s excellent restaurants and bars and also to warm up from the cold or to use their very accessible restroom.
Marie and Chuck live about four hours closer to Santa Fe than we do, so they drove and we flew and met them there. Plus Jim and I left home two days earlier in order to go to the Artesian Hotel and Casino in Sulphur, Oklahoma. I thought it might get us into the Christmas spirit and it did. Gorgeous boutique hotel with gorgeous Christmas decorations. And I won a little money and came out $600 ahead.
Jim and I spent the night at the Artesian and had a wonderful dinner, played at the casino, slept like rocks, and drove back to Texas the next morning. We spent the night at the Hyatt DFW so we could be close to the airport and not take a chance on missing our 11:00 flight. You know that saying about the best laid plans. Well, we made it to the airport just fine, got to our gate early, ate breakfast, and sat down to wait and people watch.
So we watched and sat and watched and sat and watched and sat. There were several announcements about a flight being late arriving and calling passengers to check in. But nothing about our flight and nothing calling us to check in. About fifteen minutes before our flight was to depart, American Airlines flashed a notice on the screen of our gate that our flight had been moved from gate 4 to gate 40. In panic mode, we caught a transport to gate 40 and just as we arrived, the agent closed the flight. Needless to say Jim was fit to be tied. They were able to put us on another flight, but not until 5:00. We were late getting to Santa Fe, but we made it and the rest of the week went smoothly.
We all got to do what each of us wanted. Jim shopped and shopped and shopped. He loves to shop. Marie and Chuck walked and shopped. Charlie and I sat a lot in the lobby of La Fonda, watched people and had drinks. Charlie lives in New York City and I don’t get to see him very often so we had time to get caught up.
We had some lovely dinners during our stay. We ate one night at Terracotta Wine Bistro. We had a delicious meal with lots of attention from the owners and wait staff. Don’t know why we deserved it, but it was lots of fun visiting with them all. Another night we had dinner at Casa Chimayo. This is one of the restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It is supposed to be known for its mole’ sauce. I was not impressed with the mole’, but my enchiladas with red hatch chile pepper sauce was excellent as well as the posole I had. Delish! Jim had a goat soup which he liked, Charlie had goat stew, and Marie and Chuck had enchiladas with mole’ sauce.
Every morning Jim went to the Plaza Café in the square for breakfast. It is his favorite place to eat. He had mimosas and breakfast and sat for several hours and visited. Marie, Chuck, and Charlie met him there most mornings, but not me. I never made it to the Plaza Café this trip. With all the travelling in November and getting ready for this trip and shopping for my grandkids Christmas, I did exactly what I meant to do – take it easy. In La Fonda there is a restaurant called The French Pastry Shop and Creperie. It is fabulous and I went there for breakfast instead of the Plaza Café several times.
After dinner at Terracotta, Charlie and I went to Buffalo Thunder casino for a few hours but there is nothing exciting to report. It is about fifteen miles north of Santa Fe and there is a wonderful Hilton Hotel on the property. It has lots of machines and plenty of the newer ones, but we didn’t have much luck. I think we were too rushed. In the past we have enjoyed it, but this trip was too rushed to really appreciate it.
On Christmas Eve, Marie, Chuck, and Charlie took the Canyon Road tour. On foot is the only way one can take the tour because the roads are blocked off. The museums and stores are decorated for the season and they offer wassail and cookies to all who visit. It snowed on Christmas Eve so I am sure the tour was beautiful. The beautiful churches in Santa Fe were open for touring and on Christmas Eve for midnight mass. Marie, Chuck and Charlie went for the carols.
On Christmas Day we ate a late lunch at La Plazuela. They have a traditional Christmas dinner every year that is very good. I don’t remember how much it has been in the past, but this year it was $59.00 and worth every penny. It was the best meal of the whole trip. We had turkey with chestnut stuffing, lamb, roast beef, cheesy polenta, mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, salads, and lots of desserts. It seemed to be more of a “Yankee” Christmas dinner, but it was all delicious. This is a picture of the front of La Fonda from the movie “Any Which Way You Can”.
We were all leaving the next day, so after lunch Marie and Chuck went back to their house to get things ready to leave and Jim and Charlie and I retired to the hotel lobby to visit and sit and enjoy our last day in Santa Fe in 2016. We met some very nice people, lots from Texas and others from as far away as Florida. Lots traveled by car and one had a chauffeur.
The return trip went much smoother and we were super glad to get home. Monkey was happy to see us. We hadn’t put up a Christmas tree because we were afraid he might get hurt so on our first day home we put it up with a minimum amount of unbreakable ornaments on it. As you can tell he was a happy kitty. Marie’s cat Cinnamon worked an entire 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle while we were gone.
Also our son Greg and his family came to visit so we could have our family Christmas. Tanner is 12 and fished every day. Raegan is 10 and helped me in the kitchen. Jim has a project he needed help from Ginger on and there will be more about that another day.
Until our next adventure, Happy New Year to all from Marie and Dianne
Marie and I didn’t set out to see how much we could cram into a short period of time or a car trunk, but that was the way it turned out. We had booked a Carnival Premier Cruise which was to depart New Orleans on November 13. Our sister Cheryl and her husband Kerry purchased a condo last year in the Destin, Florida area. We had not had a chance to see it yet and since we would be better than half-way there when we got off the cruise, it seemed like a good opportunity to combine our destinations. Marie came to my house on November 10 to spend the night. She lives south of Ft. Worth and I live about midway between Houston and Dallas. Depending on where we are going determines where we start out from and how we get there and on this trip our first stop was in Houston.
On November 11, we headed to Houston to the Charity Guild of Catholic Women where the proceeds benefit Houston’s children in need.They carry jewelry, household items and furniture, clothing, art and designer bags. We always find something we have to have and this time we bought costume jewelry.
The second consignment shop we like is called The Guild and benefits Episcopal charities. Both carry pretty much the same kind of merchandise but I think The Guild has a little bigger store and more variety and more designer items. But we didn’t have time for both since Houston wasn’t our only destination. Here is a picture of the items I bought and the items Marie bought.
Our next destination was Lauberge Casino and Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana where we had a room reserved. The hotel and rooms are lovely, however our room was missing a safe which had been removed for repair. It was a pain but we put our jewelry in our purses and went downstairs to play. Marie went exploring to see what new machines had been installed since we were there last and I played close to the door where we went in. A lot of my favorite machines were in that area like Quick Hit, Ultra Stack Lion, Super Wheel Blaster, Video Poker, Crazy Money, and my new favorite Cash Explosion. I hit a hand pay of $1300.00 but my phone was not cooperating so sorry no picture. This was my second hand pay of the year. I am feeling particularly blessed.
On November 12, we drove to Biloxi to spend the night before our cruise. We tried to stay at Harrah’s in New Orleans, along with several other hotels, but because there was a Saints game over the weekend, we couldn’t find a hotel we wanted to stay in. Since Biloxi is only a couple of hours from New Orleans, we decided to stay at Harrah’s in Biloxi. We still had some work to do on Marie’s Total Rewards Diamond status. We stopped along the way to the Half Shell Oyster House in Lafayette. It was hard to find because Lafayette has gotten so big and has so many new areas that aren’t on my GPS. But we finally found it and was it ever worth it. Marie had a fried shrimp po’boy and I had oysters on the half shell and fried shrimp.
Of course I had to have a Bloody Mary but Marie had an iced tea. She was driving!!
We made it to Harrah’s in Biloxi with no problem. Neither one of us had much luck at Harrah’s in the past, but we were on a mission. We were trying to accumulate points for Marie. We didn’t eat dinner since we had a huge late lunch and we had business to take care of. I played Hot Shot, Buffalo Grand, and Walking Dead. I think some machines are geared toward making you want to keep playing in the hope you will hit a big jackpot. I really think the Walking Dead game is this way. It will let you hit a few small bonuses while making you think a big one is coming. Only it doesn’t happen that way. Usually when you leave the game your money is gone. Another one like it is Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black. I had all I could take and I actually beat Marie to bed but it’s usually the other way around.
The next morning we got up and checked out. We drove to New Orleans with a stop at MacDonald’s for a breakfast sandwich. We didn’t want to be starving when we boarded the Carnival Dream and not be able to wait for dinner. The port terminal in New Orleans was so much nicer than Galveston. We parked in the underground parking garage and took the elevator down to the terminal where we were met by a porter who collected our luggage. In Galveston you have to drop your luggage off at the terminal building, park in the north forty and take the shuttle back to the terminal. Like I said earlier, this was a Carnival Premier Cruise. We started our journey by not having to wait in line, but because I had a wheelchair escort, we wouldn’t have had to wait anyway. We went straight to the counter and showed our paperwork, got our room key/player’s card, and boarded the ship right on the third deck where the main bar is. How convenient!
Our cabin was ready before long and we put our stuff away. Then on to Muster (there’s no escaping it) and a Premier cocktail party. They served hors d’oeuvres and your cocktail of choice. This was a welcome party where we were told about upcoming events for premier cruisers like slot tournaments and drawings. Every day we received a gift in our cabin. The first day it was two insulated travel cups, the next was a tray of chocolate covered strawberries and candy. Then came a box of bakery cookies, a bottle of champagne, and two insulated backpacks. We also received free entries into the slot tournaments. We were hoping for a spa gift card, but no such luck. However we did get reimbursed with cash for our cruise. The cruise cost about $350.00 each and together we were given $1,000.00.
Even though we were full from the cocktail party, we decided to go to dinner so we could meet our tablemates. We had a great group. We had two Dianne’s, two Pam’s, Marie, Barbara, Roxanne, Jennifer, Becky, and Debbie. There were best friends, co-workers, sisters, and a married couple. We all had different interests, different relationships, but we all found something in common. It was very enjoyable.
In the casino we met some really nice and fun people. One couple from Ohio were Carla and A.B., which was short for Ambrose. I think if I were him I would go by Ambrose all the time. It is one of those cool names you never hear anymore like Asa and Maude. Carla and A.B. spent almost as much time in the casino as we did. Carla came by to check on me one day and my machine showed I had $145.50 in credit. She was impressed until I told her that it was all that stood between me and prostitution. (Sorry Marie, I had to.) She laughed so hard she had to sit down. Of course I’m kidding.
Marie decided to go to the midnight Mexican buffet because of the strawberry shortcake they serve. She had it last year and it really is good. The fruit carvings are amazing and I know I really should make an attempt to attend. I have been to Carnival’s chocolate buffet in the past and it is amazing. Our next cruise is in April on Carnival’s newest ship the Vista, so maybe I can be more interactive.
On Tuesday we docked in Honduras. I know you’ve heard this excuse before, but because we had been there before, we stayed on the ship and napped. So by the time we sailed, we were good and rested and ready to play. In the casino that night we heard several jackpot announcements, one for $33,000 (not us), $6,000 (not us) and $8,000 (not us). And we tried really hard. We both played machines we had never played before as well as our regulars. I played the maximum bet most of the time and still had very slim payouts. Marie did better than I did because she is much more patient. The casino had one triplet of Hot Shot machines and she played them most of the time and bet the minimum. She regularly hit the Diamond Line Bonus and at the end of the cruise she was ahead by $1,000.00. I can’t say the same. These are her wins on a 40 cent bet. I told her that if she was playing the max bet, the payouts would have been amazing. She said that they probably would not have hit on the max bet. We have decided her code name should be Fohty Cent instead of Fitty Cent. The pictures below are on a “fohty cent bet”.
For instance, this one which if all had lined up correctly on a max bet would have paid $20,000.00. And on a 40 cent bet, maybe a couple of thousand. But the difference between us is that Marie has money when she leaves the casino and I usually don’t.
When we docked in Cozumel, Carla and A.B. went with us to Pancho’s Backyard for lunch. It was good as always. The Margaritas were delicious, the service was excellent and the food is almost as good as we have in Texas. I’m not sure I mentioned it before, but the waiter even brings a purse stand to the table for your purses, etc. Their salsa is like pico de gallo and is very good. Guacamole is very good, as well as fajitas and quesadillas. Chile con queso is a white cheese with green chili salsa on top. So far that is the extent of their menu we have tried and we loved it all. Maybe next time something different.
The rest of the cruise was spent cruising back to New Orleans where we would get in our car and drive to Biloxi for 3 nights. I know, I know but there is a method to all of this madness. When we booked this cruise, we didn’t take into consideration the proximity to Thanksgiving and the distance from home and the need to be with family during the holiday. So it was only natural we would put our minds together and figure out a way to cruise, make it to Destin, Florida, Biloxi, Mississippi and any other stops along the way. Plus we talked our husbands into meeting us in Biloxi so we could all go to Destin together. Ingenious, huh?
We feel like we are living the American dream. Of the six of us (including Cheryl and Kerry), all but one of us is retired and that’s Chuck. I have always thought that when a person retires, they should be so fortunate to be able to travel and enjoy life and see things they didn’t have the time or the money for when they were working. Luckily we have been able to enjoy our retirement years. Cheryl and Kerry have a lovely home in Georgia and now a beach condo for when the weather is unbearable in Atlanta. My husband prefers to stay home a lot and Marie and I really enjoy traveling, so we do.
When we docked in New Orleans Marie and I drove to Biloxi. We stayed at the Beau Rivage, our favorite hotel in Biloxi. The hotel was decorated for Christmas and was gorgeous. It is a M-life casino and we have decided to concentrate on our Total Rewards and M-life points for comps in 2017. Of course there are always My Choice, Coushatta, Artesian and Winstar. So many casinos, so little time. I am torn.
The Beau is one of our absolute favorites. So southern, so charming, so hospitable. The casino is really nice, just not enough bathrooms or cashiers. It has lots of new machines, tables including Caribbean Stud which not many still have, fabulous restaurants, a non-smoking section, a poker room and a high-limit room. The Beau has high-end shopping as well as stores for necessities, a Haagen Daz ice cream shop and gourmet coffee shop. The Beau is located on Beach Boulevard with gorgeous views of the gulf coast and MGM Park where the Biloxi Shuckers play baseball.
Next door to the Beau is the Hard Rock casino. There are numerous other casinos up and down Beach Boulevard such as Harrah’s, Golden Nugget, and Imperial Palace. Imperial Palace is a non-smoking casino. I can’t not mention the obvious large amount of Waffle Houses, eight in Biloxi and eight in Gulfport according to the internet. To date we have yet to eat in a Biloxi or Gulfport Waffle House because the Terrace Café in the Beau has a fabulous breakfast and we don’t have to leave to eat there. I happen to like a Waffle House so maybe next trip.
Now down to business, the business of gambling. I found some really fun Hot Shot machines. One was called Hot Shot Revolution. It was really a lot like the Hot Shot Platinum I played at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In order to hit the Hot Shot bonus, you needed to hit three reels of Hot Shot symbols. When you did this, the wheel on top spun to see if you received the ice games or the fire games or the fire and ice games. The ice game features sticking wilds and the fire game features exploding wilds and the fire and ice game is a combination of the two. It was really fun. Here is a video of a fire game win and a video of an ice game win.
I played Superman and hit a good bonus, hit a bonus on Dancing in Rio, and that was about it. Then I figured it was time to try the tables so I went over to Caribbean Stud. It is usually only open in the evenings and it was so I sat down. Apparently I had the hot seat because I had pairs and trips and flushes and straights numerous times, but the dealer very seldom qualified which is not good when you are holding a progressive hand. But at least I got ahead a little at a time. I originally bought in for $200 in chips and cashed out over $400. It made me remember how much fun the game is. Marie hit a bonus on Dragon Fire. She was playing a bonus game and a voice came on the machine saying, “Major Jackpot awarded.” It was $489.00 but a woman came up and distracted her and she missed all the fun of it. She didn’t even get a picture. I think she went to bed after that.
The next day our husbands were coming to town and we were taking them out to eat at Half Shell Oyster House in Gulfport. The oysters on the half shell were excellent. Marie ordered fried shrimp, Chuck had the seafood platter, my husband Jim ordered fried crawfish, and I had an oyster poboy sandwich. Marie said her food was very good. Chuck’s crab cake was cold, my sandwich would have been good if they would have used fresh oysters instead of institutional frozen oysters. Jim said his was good. I don’t understand how you can eat at a restaurant three times like Marie and I did and then the fourth time it’s like a completely different experience. Jim and I were just glad the raw oysters were good.
None of us played long after dinner. We had another drive the next day to Destin, Florida and we all needed rest, especially the guys who had been on the road since 7:00 that morning. So off we went to our fabulous beds.
The next morning we met for breakfast at the Terrace Café. Chuck had pancakes that he said were very good. I had French toast made with brioche, Jim and Marie had eggs. After breakfast we were set until Destin. Cheryl and Kerry’s condo is beautiful and right on the beach.
Cheryl and Kerry had planned for us to go to one of their favorite restaurants called Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House. It was named after the owner’s black lab. Everyone had seafood but me and I had a filet mignon. It was fabulous. Everyone liked their food. Marie and Chuck and Jim and I treated Cheryl and Kerry to dinner because on November 19 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
On Thanksgiving Day we did what every other person in Destin, Florida did. We went to Cracker Barrel. It seems that the whole town is comprised of vacationers and I guess the whole tradition of cooking Turkey and Dressing is difficult away from home so we think the whole town and all of the surrounding towns were at the Cracker Barrel that day. Last year Jim and I went to the Cracker Barrel in Bryan, Texas about 3:00 PM and we were able to walk right in, sit down, and get served. Apparently it doesn’t work that way in Destin. Instead you walk in, put your name on a list where upon they tell you the wait will be one to two hours which turned out to be closer to two hours. But man was it worth it. Talk about good. Not quite as good as if we had cooked it, but hey, we didn’t have to cook it. Or clean up.
On Friday Marie and Chuck headed home and Jim and I headed to Biloxi.
This is how far it is from Destin Fl. to Mansfield Tx.
Neither Jim nor I wanted to make the long drive home all in one day, so we decided to stay at the Beau for one night and then drive home on Saturday. When we checked in we asked the desk clerk to make reservations for us at Prime Steakhouse and we reserved for 5:30. This was good because neither of us wanted to eat too late. It turned out to be a good decision because the food was so good that we ate way too much. It started out with an amuse bouche from the chef of a sweet onion soup that was delicious. It was so good in fact that we were left wanting more. We each had a salad, mine was Caesar and Jim had a wedge. Next came our Filet Mignons with creamed corn and duck fat fries. We ate every bite except for the fries. Delicious, but too much. Then for dessert we shared crème brulee. And then our waiter Marvin brought over two chocolate truffles. The service, the ambience, and the food was exceptional.
After dinner we gambled for a short time. I played on the machines that Marie had hit the other day. My machine was Vampire’s Embrace. I did hit a good win, and recorded another low win with quite a few free spins. Enjoy!
We slept like rocks even after eating too much. The next morning we got up and headed home thinking we could make it in about 8 hours but it ended up taking closer to 12. Traffic on I-10 was awful with a vehicle on fire ahead of us in Louisiana. We detoured and the road was a dirt road so it took us much longer to get home. Thankfully we made it safely and we were so happy to get there.
We are spending Christmas in Santa Fe this year like we did year before last. We are staying at La Fonda on the Plaza which is our favorite place to stay. Marie and Chuck and their son Charlie who is coming in from New York have rented a house just two blocks from the Plaza. We are looking so forward to the trip. Santa Fe is a favorite place for all of us – lots of great restaurants, beautiful scenery and the town goes all out decorating for Christmas. Hopefully we will get a chance to gamble in Santa Fe at Buffalo Thunder. Hopefully we will have a winning trip report. And hopefully we will have lots of stories to tell.
We want to wish all of our readers a safe and merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year.
The Slotsisters who are coming to a casino near you, Marie and Dianne