Although we had originally planned to spend a week in Brooklyn, I had concerns leaving the puppy alone with my son for that length of time. It would be the first time I would be away from her, and seeing how "attached" she had become to me I feared the worst. So, instead I thought we could do a "test run" mini vacation to see how she and the kids would make out without the parental units.
My husband and I decided we would fly by the seat of our pants and take a cruise down into the Smoky Mountains. That proved to be a wise decision as New York City was having a heat wave. There's nothing worse than being in the Brooklyn home and trying to sleep in an un-airconditioned bedroom. Shudder. Instead, we spent the night in a wonderfully chilly room at Harrah's in Cherokee.
The best part about travelling without children is we could now get a King bed! Most King-sized rooms have couches and tables which is a nice change from having to sit on Queen beds. The hotel is gorgeous and I loved, loved, loved the room. Naturally, there was construction going on right outside our window on the ninth floor. Wave to the camera...
We didn't hear them at all so it was cool. After we settled in, we went downstairs to check out the casino. One word...sucks! Their slots are tighter than my son's wallet, and that's really cheap. Not only that, but their "progressive" jackpots are a joke. $320? Pffft, not worth it. I quickly realized I would not even lose what I had allowed myself to lose as I hated all the machines except for the Wheel of Fortune ones. There were only five of them in the whole casino! As luck, bad luck it turns out, would have it, I happened to pass by as someone got up so I quickly sat down and proceeded to lose. I lost so quick I didn't even have a chance to get a drink from the waitress.
I looked to play blackjack or roulette instead. Nope, no roulette tables at all, and no live blackjack games. Instead, the blackjack tables are electronically dealt with the "dealer" just watching. The minimum to buy in was $15 a hand. Yeah, right. Pass. I knew at that point that we would be staying just the one night. But before we left I had to scratch my husband's itch...a steak dinner at Ruth Chris' Steakhouse.
The restaurant is newly opened and since we had a wonderful experience years ago in Orlando's Ruth Chris, I agreed to go there instead of Paula Deen's joint. This meal didn't meet our expectations, and like the slot machines, was a total rip-off. I've cooked better steaks on the grill, and at $50 a person (without wine) one would expect not to find a piece of wood in a fillet. When we informed the server of our "find" the manager came over and apologized and explained they use wooden skewers because, "you know when you're cooking a steak, the shape changes, so they help keep the shape." Ummm, no. No steak I ever cooked had the shape changed. To make up for the faux pas she offered him another steak (he was almost finished) or free desserts. Ummm, since we went with the "special", dessert already came with the meal. "Ah," she exclaimed, "but you only get the chocolate cake one with the special, now you both can pick anyone you want." Big woo. The desserts are all priced the same. We picked the creme brulee and cheesecake. Both sucked. At least now I'll never have to hear again how Ruth Chris' steak melted in his mouth and kept the warm temperature throughout his meal. Neither happened.
On our way back to the room we stumbled upon a bar that had a comedy act going on. The first comedian was boring so we were about to leave. Another guy bounded up the stage so we figured we'd give him a chance. We were sitting up close which is a big mistake when you see a comedian because chances are they are going to single you out. Yup. He did.
His name was Chris Barnes and he had us cracking up from the very beginning. He picked on a couple of people in the audience, and he had a field day with me. It went something like this...First he said, "Where's this good-looking couple come from?" Both my husband and I turned around to see who he was speaking to. It was us. "Yeah, I'm talking to you! Hasn't anyone ever told you you were good-looking?" Audience cracks up. Me: "Roanoke." Him: "Roanoke, Roanoke, Roanoke? And how long are you guys married?" I turn to my husband with a quizzical look and reply, "18, 20 years?" Him: "You don't know how long you're married? You must be the first woman in the world that doesn't know how long she's married! You got kids?" Audience cracks up. Me: "Yeah, two." Him: "How old are they?" Me: "18 and 20." Him: "Your married 20 years!" Me: "Okay, then it's 20 years." Audience cracks up.
Him: "What do you do?" Me: "I'm a writer." Him: "You're a writer? What do you write?" Me: "Books." Him: "Really, what type of books?" Me: "Novels, short stories." Him: "Really? You sure?" Audience cracks up. I whip out my eBook business card for Fractured Facade and go up to the stage and hand it to him.
He looks at the folded card and asks, "How long did it take you write this?" Me: "Three years." He holds up folded card and says, "This is the shortest book in the world and it took her three years to write it!" Audience is in stitches by this point. I'm a good sport so I let him go on and on about it. I assume he realized it was just a promotion for the actual book, but I had my doubts that the audience did! For the entire set he had my card propped up next to his bottle of Bud, and whenever there was a lull in the laughter he'd pick it up and rank on me again. The audience loved it and I got free publicity. The best part was at the end of the set he put the card in his pocket, and I have a feeling I've just become part of his act.
The last time we were in Cherokee was over a decade ago with the kids. At that time we saw all the sights, rode the Rudy Coaster, and panned for gold. It was sort of sad remembering the fun times we had, and I missed not having little ones with us. Maybe one day I'll have grandchildren and can take them places that kids, and me, enjoy. The one thing that was evident is that Harrah's money has really helped build up the community. Last time it was run-down and shabby looking. I don't know what it looks like beyond the strip, but it's a definite improvement of what we encountered before.