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