One good thing that happened while on vacation was for the first time ever, I got “gambled out.” Since we started gambling in the early ’90′s, I’ve always loved slot machines. So has my mom and Greg. It’s always been something we could do together that had a tinge of excitement. We always limited how much we’d spend at any given session and during a vacation. We’ve often run out of money and we’ve rarely won but we all still liked it. That love affair is over. Obviously, we’ve gotten away from it the past year and have only gambled like 3 times this whole year. Hubby and I replaced that thrill with going to estate sales where we actually come away with something to show for our time and money. We always chalked it up as an “entertainment” expense and since we don’t have kids, don’t go to bars or eat out very often, we figured we could afford to do it. We weren’t addicted because we could go weeks and months without touching a slot machine. But just the electricity of walking into the casino and hearing the flashing lights and bells and whistles going off sent adrenaliine coursing through my veins. I think the secret was getting away from it for a longer period of time. Now it does little for me. Mom gets the same thrill out of playing her slot machine games online. I don’t regret any time spent gambling, nor do I say I’ll never do it again. I’m sure I will for a few hours here and there. I just have to get away from the idea of taking gambling vacations.
That was the main draw of Tunica, MS all these years. Technically, the gaming region is located 10 miles north of the town of Tunica and was known as Robinsonville. In 2005, they changed the name to Tunica Resorts but most people just call it Tunica. 15 years ago, when we found the haven of 13 casinos a half hour south of Memphis, TN, we couldn’t get enough of it. Over the years, a few casinos have closed (now there’s 9) and others have changed hands. When we first started going, the comped meals and free gifts were free flowing. We used to get our entire stay (in the RV park) comped as well as all our meals. We only had to pay for gas and gambling money. In addition to free gifts (big and small), they had gifts you could earn and free turkeys and pies they’d give away at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a special place where magical things happened. Then everybody else found out about it. For many years the RV park would fill up on Thanksgiving weekend and they’d have to turn people away. This trip everybody must’ve seen the weather report for freezing cold and endless rain and stayed home. We were one of only a few RVs in the park. The last few years, they’ve only comped us 3 nights in a week or two week stay. We didn’t expect anything else this time but shockingly, they comped us all 8 nights! It took us so off guard. Between that and the free food, it was almost like old times. They had no free gifts and now you need so many points to earn a gift at the one or two places that offer them, there’s no way we can get that many in the short time we’re there.
Our first encounter with Tunica was in Nov. ’98 and we had such fun that we came back for Christmas that year. It was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had! We’ve spent a few more Christmases over the years, including the last few. We’ve also tried going there at other times of year like April, June and August. It was blazing hot, like stepping onto the sun. So we often end up only going twice a year and less than a month apart. It’s not ideal but it has its advantages. We remember which slot machines are the lucky ones, we know what we like to eat at each buffet, we get to see all the gorgeous Christmas trees go up. This year hubby has 2 weeks of vacation he has to use before the end of the year. We were planning to go to Tunica but now we’re thinking of staying home. It’s not even how hard it is to travel with Mom now. It’s that everywhere we could drive to would still be cold or have snow. Tunica has lost its luster due to our disenchantment with the South. I’ve always loved the friendly demeanor of southerners and their style of home cooking. It was always worth the ride just for that.
I can’t believe at one time we were thinking of moving down there! It was about 10 years ago. We drove down to Water Valley, MS (a few hours south of Tunica) and looked at a nice brick house with many acres of land. The house was super dark inside (walls and decorations) and just not my style. Hubby was enamored with the idea of owning land and not having nearby neighbors. There was even a large pond that we thought would be cool until we found out it was full of snakes! EEK. None of this really turned us off as much as the bumper sticker in the garage that read, “I’d rather be dead than be a Yankee.” I don’t know what you call it when someone’s against you not for your race or nationality but where you live. OMG. I have as good a sense of humor as anyone and if there was humor to be had in that statement, I’d have found it. Instead it just seemed HATEFUL. The other thing that turned us off is that the people who lived there weren’t showing the house. It was a handyman type guy who cuts their grass. I just kept getting the vibe from him like, “We’ve got a live one here. I need to reel in these Yankee suckers.” When I heard that it takes him and his son ALL DAY every Sunday on riding mowers to cut the grass at this place, that sealed the deal. I like gardening and don’t mind working in the yard some but I don’t want to be a slave to it. One seventh of my week is NOT going to be spent cutting the grass. No way in hell.
One of hundreds of piles
Amber hates garbage
So even after that I wasn’t against all southerners. I’m still not but I am against pigs who litter and leave a mess for others. Behind the Hollywood Casino RV Park, next to the golf course, is a vacant field. We’ve been walking the dogs in it on every trip. There is literally nothing there but we’d walk around finding golf balls. This time when we got there, hubby went to check in and asked if they were expanding either the golf course or the RV park since there was a ton of stuff in the field. They said, “No, they haven’t cleaned up from the concert in October.” Well, in the 15 years we’ve been coming, they’ve never used this field for ANYTHING. Somebody had the bright idea to have a concert called Delta Country Jam there. It had big headliners like Tim McGraw and Kellie Pickler. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s WONDERFUL that they used that field. It’s a huge open space that would be ideal for an event like that. Too bad they RUINED it. It is FILLED with garbage as far as the eye can see. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I figured this concert must’ve been around Halloween and they’d had 3 weeks to clean up and hadn’t. Nope, the concert was Oct. 5-6 so it had been almost 2 months!! There had always been a dumpster in the RV park and it was now gone. There was no dumpster near the field and everything just sat in piles and randomly strewn around. It wasn’t just paper and plastic, it was metal, wood, indoor outdoor carpeting, tarps, you name it. It was cloth wristbands, banners, wood with nails sticking out, nuts, washers, bolts, screws, pipes, cardboard boxes and bags of garbage with food stuffs, rubber gloves, glass bottles, etc. It was ugly and not only did it spoil the landscape, all I could think of was the poor animals that go in that field like dozens of deer. How hard would it be to grab a dozen individuals and spend a few hours picking things up?! The fact that NO ONE cared bothered me the most. If they wait that long, I highly doubt they’ll EVER tend to it. Believe me, I understand the lazy, laid back mentality. It comes naturally to me and most folks in general. But to treat nature with that much disrespect is not what I was brought up to do. Hubby and I walked that field the whole week and did our part to make it better there. We were both so hopping mad at first about it, we wanted to get the media involved and bring light to this so they’d do something about it. Then I realized it’s not my place. I can leave and go home and not have to look at it. But I don’t have to like it and I don’t have to go back. I’m not convinced that if I singlehandedly cleaned up that entire field, they wouldn’t turn around and do it again. If I didn’t have so much else on my plate, I might’ve taken it further. But what do I know? I’m just a Damn Yankee.