Monday, January 21, 2008

Gambling bear


"We teach Paddington to gamble"

On our way back from the Grand Canyon we stopped for supper at the Cliff Castle Casino. This is an Indian casino run by the Yavapai-Apache Nation and is on the hills by Montezuma's Castle. We tried to see the castle on the way out but the signposts weren't clear, so we missed that particular tourist hot spot.

But at 9pm, when we arrived back at the Casino after our trip, we entered for some supper. The main room, an atrium almost, was full of slot machines going 'bing bing bing' and people literally plugged in to them. Not feeding coins or notes in one by one, but plugged in with credit card type inputs that were attached to the players by long coiled cords. It had a rather eerie feeling - sort of 'Matrix'. Every pull of the handle, money disappeared.

I had a go just to say I'd done it. I put in a five dollar bill, pulled the handle a few times - no jingle of winnings, no flashing lights - actually, absolutely no attraction whatsoever! We played the money out to the last 25 cents which I then received a little printed slip for. OK, I could have cashed it but the truth is we saved it as a souvenir. A 25 cent souvenir that cost me $5.... so, you telling me that this isn't a mug's game?

Rooms to the side had poker players huddled round tables, but the whole thing was rather... how can I put it? Like anything you see on TV and then visit in 'real life', it was kind of tame. I'm sure the players were having 'fun' - but it didn't appeal to me (and I have to say I am a useless poker player, just ask Alex!).

We wanted to eat, but the burger bar next to the bowling alley (all part of the casino) was closed. Well, got to keep the kids busy whilst you pour their inheritance down the drain, eh?

We went into the main restaurant and I had Indian fry bread with refried beans, chilli, cheese... oh, loads of stuff on it! Delicious. So, I sort of had an Indian meal, but I'm so confused with the cultures (Indian, Mexican, American) that I'm not sure I'd say it was 'authentic'. Whatever, it was very nice and very filling.

After we'd eaten it was time to hit the road, but we wanted a photo of Paddington Bear to send to Cathy. Paddington was our 'Cathy substitute' for the week, so we took pictures of him in all sorts of situations. Now, taking photos in a Casino is not really on, but we asked nicely and the Head of Security, a chap called Dave (and not a Native American, incidentally) cleared it with 'management' and took a photo of us with Paddington at some slot machines.

Poor little bear - we put him in the snow, dragged him round a museum, dropped him in the Botanic Garden (but speedily retrieved) and had him photographed by security... he'd have a few tales to tell if he could talk that's for sure.
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