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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

A sheet load of casino

May 9, 2023 (Tue)


We have a cat, and yes, we considered taking Frankie the cat with us on our travels—for about 0.05 seconds. Aside from the “Frankie runs out the door in some god-forsaken place and immediately disappears,” there’s the whole, “Where would we put his litter box?”

We’ve run across some folks who travel with their cats, but these cats are trained from a young age (and those RVs are considerably larger than Harvey—they probably have the litter box in the laundry room back by the freezer).

Usually, we have a nice neighbor lady come in and checks on Harvey every day. Actually, there are two nice neighbor ladies, one sits and watches movies with him and the other just sits and scratches his head (Frankie would probably prefer we had them both come in, rather than just one).

But this time, our living room looks like a war zone, and the Handy Guy is still ripping up floors in the rest of the house, and it just didn’t seem like a great idea to ask kindly neighbor ladies to clamber over stacks of boxes and dodge nails while juggling a litter box, so…

Frankie is having his first (probably—Frankie had four lives before this one, and we’re not entirely sure what happened during them) time at a Cat Boarding place. This place (Cozy Cat) is nearby and staffed by cat nerds (when Robert was talking to them on the phone, their resident cat kept climbing across their keyboard).

Bonus: They send pictures and updates of Frankie every day or two. Here’s yesterday’s update:

“Hello! Here are a few pictures of Frankie! He is the sweetest kitty ever! And is now enjoying some dinner.”

Translated: Frankie is already working on getting an extra helping of dinner.

Frankie lets a stranger pet his head (probably because she gave him food).

11:20 am Little Creek Casino (Shelton), WA

We make one last tour through the Little Creek casino, with a stop for breakfast. It really is a lovely place (we don’t gamble, so our tour through the 3,000 slot machines was perfunctory). There were some Squaxin artifacts, but no explanations attached to them, so we were left to come up with our own…

In the olden days, Squaxin were much taller

Gini has hit upon a great idea: “This was so much fun—let’s stay at Native American Casinos all the way down!”

That is our new quest—to try and spend every night at a Native Casino. With our usual rigorous lack of research, we have no idea how practical this will be, but that’s never stopped us before!

“You called for an Uber, ma’am?”

2:00 pm Ilani Casino, Cowlitz, WA

Today’s tribe is the Cowlitz, demonstrating new and fun ways the U.S. government screwed over people with no power.

Back in the 1800’s the Cowlitz were happily hunting and gathering nuts and berries. The U.S. government wanted to sign a treaty with them, so they’d have something to ignore. But the Governor of Washington didn’t want to listen to the Cowlitz Tribe’s negotiations, preferring the “Take it or leave it” approach. As a result, a treaty was never signed with the Cowlitz.

When the Puget Sound Indian war broke out in 1855, the Cowlitz were promised a reservation if they stayed neutral, so they did. When the war ended and they returned home, they found—“Whoops, we destroyed your land and stole all your stuff. Good luck! Oh, and no reservation, either.”

The Cowlitz were finally recognized as a tribe in 2000, and got a reservation, and started planning a casino. After lots of court battles, the Ilani casino opened in 2017.

Today, we are parked in a section of their parking lot. Casinos are typically friendly to RV-ers because we like to eat in restaurants and some folks like to gamble. Usually, that friendliness extends to “Yeah, you can park in our lot.”

The Cowlitz have a designated RV parking lot, with a guard who takes everybody’s information and there’s a security patrol and even a shuttle if you don’t want to walk the two blocks to the casino. All for no charge! We can only stay 24 hours, but that should be enough for us.

The free parking lot at Cowlitz

3:00 pm La Center, WA

Nope, we have no idea why it’s called “La Center.” The City website tells you how to complain about a street vendor, but doesn’t give a clue as to the origin of the name. Long ago (150 years) it was an important stop for moving freight, so maybe it used to be “La Center of La Shipping trade”?

Anyway, it’s the nearby big town (population slightly larger than Robert’s high school), and we need to stock up on some groceries and Siri assures us there’s a market there, and it’s a small town and we like to spend money in small communities…

Well, the market has a fine selection of candy (two aisles!) and cookies (one and a half aisles), liquor (one corner) and a big room full of beers. There are two aisles for groceries, with one selection for each type of item. One type of oatmeal, one type of raisins. The produce section is some tomatoes and about 20 overripe bananas.

Screw quaint—in the future, we’re shopping at Safeway!

4:00 pm Ilani Parking Lot

We get our practice in, and enjoy the view of Mt. Saint Helens (well, it’s just a corner of the mountain, but it’s full of snow and not erupting, so Yay!). The parking lot (about an acre) now has maybe a dozen or two RVs of various sizes (we’re the poor part of town, since Harvey is easily the oldest RV here).

7:00 pm Ilani Casino

Time for dinner! The Cowlitz Tribe wasn’t close to the Columbia River and lived well away from Puget Sound, so they have no strong tradition of seafood, but the salmon is still delicious! We also find out that this Casino is one of the best places to work (according to Newsweek, which is a magazine, which is like a blog that’s printed out).

We were hungry!

The employees seem happy.

Gini is fascinated that about every fifth person is carrying around a package of sheets. Not employees, but customers. Finally, she stops several people to find out where these mysterious white sheets are coming from (and you can imagine where Robert’s brain went!).

Turns out that this is a reward the Casino is giving to regular customers.

We guess everybody needs sheets? They all look the same size, though. Our shuttle driver says they gave out T-shirts last month, which at least makes sense from a marketing point of view. But even if the sheets say “Visit Ilani Casino,” how many people are going to see them?

We think maybe somebody has a brother-in-law who sells sheets…


Tuesday Travel

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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