This year, it's gotta be further than just beyond the border
So, I promised to share about my great weekend. Every year I lament and pout about my lack of New Year's plans. This year, Rakia and I had said we were going to try to do something, and on my birthday while I was together with her, Jenny and Courtney, we decided what it would be.
Courtney or Jenny, one saw a friend say something about Blake Shelton at the WinStar (a little over 2 hours from here) on December 30. Rakia and I said, you know, that works. When we found out Maroon 5 was going to be there New Year's Eve, we were definitely in for it, and trying to decide if we were doing Blake. So, we decided to do both (except Rakia said she'd occupy herself on Friday night since she's not into country).
I guess any location is big to travel to on NYE because the closest hotel we could get to Thackerville, OK, right across the Red River from Gainesville, TX, was 30 miles north in Ardmore. The WinStar casino is right across the border because A) it's legal to gamble in Oklahoma, and B) a Texan doesn't want to get very far into Oklahoma. I can't remember how long it's been there, but I've heard about it over the years. I admit that I'll play video poker in a casino, but I'm pretty tight with my money and tend to quit when I'm ahead (except that one quarter ahead just wasn't enough for me). I lost $9 this trip. A casino trip was not the purpose of this trip, I can assure you.
All along, we were wondering out the WinStar got a big act like Maroon 5 on NYE. Having been there, we are even more puzzled than we were to start with. For all the hype, the place is ridiculous. This is our hypothesis. They got Blake Shelton because he is from Oklahoma, has been there a number of times before, and easy to get him to come just down the road. I'm thinking he might have even agreed to NYE. However, he got invited for a show in Vegas on TV on NYE. Somewhere along the way, Adam Levine from Maroon 5 lost a bet to Blake during the time of working on The Voice, and they had to agree to come on NYE, and Blake took the night before.
The "Global Events Center" is in the middle of the "casina" as Courtney kept referring to it. (That came from her dad.) The global events center is the equivalent of a big ball room in a hotel. It can even be divided down the middle. It does have a big stage, but all the seating is not stadium. It's a bunch of banquet chairs that hook together in rows, flat on the floor. The cheap seats are said chairs on risers (two rows the same height at a time). The good part is that it's a small, somewhat "intimate" venue. The bad news is that there is not a way to see over the people in front of you because there is no rise.
The "World Casino" was a joke. They had sections that were supposed to be different cities like, Madrid, Rome, Paris and Bangkok. All this meant is that you walked through one area and it had a different chandelier or centerpiece over a self-service beverage area. I've also never seen so many penny slots in my entire life. It is a big casino (didn't go through all of it), but not anything to behold. Maybe I just say that because when Jenny was station in Vegas, I saw the big fancy ones. Obviously, it wasn't the Bellagio. I play video poker because you fiddle around on the same dollar for a while if you play nickels. I think they only had 8 video poker machines in the whole place, and they were quarters, thus my $9 loss. Anyway.
I'll back up the story, now that I've given my scathing review of the WinStar. On Friday, once I left work, Jenny met me here while I hastily threw stuff in a suitcase. I think we did the least amount of packing planning given how Courtney was debating what she was going to wear to meet Adam on Facebook. I think Rakia even packed the night before.
We stopped for me to get happy juice aka a peppermint mocha frappachino at Starbuck's in Ennis, picked up Courtney in the Big E, swung through Garland to get Rakia, and headed towards Oklahoma, toasting as we exited 635 in Dallas with Snapple's "Tea Will Be Loved", a flavor created by Maroon 5. I saw it at Walmart, and got it especially for the trip.
We breezed by the WinStar in route to check in our hotel 30 miles north in Ardmore. Let me just say the reason I hate driving through Oklahoma (and I've done it more times than I can count in route to Branson, South Dakota, Chicago, and Iowa) is that there is NOTHING on the roads. The only good thing about driving through Oklahoma is that there are very few highway patrol (and seemingly no local police since there are so few towns), so you can drive 85 in a 70 and not really worry about getting pulled over. And I'm usually a "set the cruise at 5 over" kind of girl. (I know, I know...)
We checked in to our Best Western where the room Jenny and I stayed in had an open door when we arrived and a used wash cloth hanging over the shower curtain. Yeah. Gross.
We went to eat at El Chico, and because there wasn't a table available, decided we would just eat up at the bar. There was a total jerk and his stupid wife (for putting up with him) that at least gave us something to talk about. Then a cute guy came in, but he was just really into the bartender who was not into him. What was funny, is that I noticed his cap said "Stallion" which is one of Courtney's blast from the past words. I noticed it, and pointed it out to her. All four of us knew the story, so had a great laugh out of that one. After dropping Rakia back off, we took the longest 30 mile drive of my life back down to Thackerville. You practically have to go back into Texas to exit and get back across the road to it.
When we got in for the concert, they didn't even scan tickets. Who does that anymore? The reason might have been is that they sold the tickets based on an old floor plan set up, and the seats printed on our tickets (as well as those of a number of other people) did not exist. We were wondering around like chickens with our head's cut off trying to figure it out. They took us into a room, said they would give us other seats and our money back.
Blake was hilarious, but on a great show, and we'll get money back! Woohooo! And he brought his wife Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson out for an encore!
On Saturday, we knew we A) did not want to hang out at the casino all day and B) didn't have anything to do in the township of Ardmore, so I suggested going up the hour and a half to Oklahoma City. (There is nothing between the two places, I might add.) We went down to Bricktown where they have a river walk type set up, and ate at what I call a black napkin establishment for lunch. Thank goodness because we never could have afforded it at night. Rakia and I had really good fried chicken breast topped with shrimp and crab. Never had anything like it, but it was marvelous. As was the 7 layer cake I thought I could not dare eat any of until they brought the biggest slab of cake ever out that Rakia ordered, and I helped her out. Also wonderful and better than anything Praipie's in Ardmore could have offered. They really should fix the R in that Prairie's sign.
I took them over to the Oklahoma City Memorial to see the outside. I didn't care about going back in for the tour, and everyone else thought seeing the outside was enough as well - that the tour would be too intense for NYE. We were going to go to the art museum, but we are pretty sure it was closed. That or the road construction around it kept everyone away.
The Maroon 5 concert was much better than the one we sat on the lawn getting our butts bitten by ants at. Much more high energy and great flow. Awesome!
It didn't start until about 9:20, but was over by 10:45. So, we wondered around the casino, barely able to walk through the clouds of cigarette smoke, killing time until midnight. There were so many people there, you could hardly find a chair in front of a machine that worked even just to park it temporarily. We wondered back and forth, and I finally found a video poker machine while Rakia tried to figure out the animated penny slot machines that neither of us could figure out. She, however, won $20+. We blew our party whistles at the stroke of midnight and headed back to the metropolis of Ardmore. (I would have rather driven back to Denton aka Little D that night.)
After sleeping in on Sunday morning, we decided we were ready to exit Oklahoma and had our choice of breakfast or lunch at Cracker Barrel in Gainesville. Rakia only goes to CB when she is with us white folk, but it can be an official road trip for me if we don't have it which is also kind of true for Jenny too.
As fun as it was, and as glad as I was to get away for the whole weekend, I wouldn't go back to Thackerville unless it was someone I really, really, really wanted to see. There has to be something better to do next NYE than go to Oklahoma. It's a leap year, so we'll have a whole extra day to plan this year.
I think I'm having a Valentine's get together for all my dateless friends though first. Since Valentine's is on a Tuesday, I guess they can have dates at some point. OR here's an idea. Leap day is Sadie Hawkins' Day kind of thing right? (Or am I completely dreaming that up?) Oh, wait, none of us know any guys we would ask out. Never mind.