Sometimes, you just need to stray from the usual craziness over here at the offices of Aces Casino, the top Orange county casino party company on the west coast. Please bear with this purveyor of the Aces Parakeet Paper, our Aces Casino Blog, as we take a one-day break from this bastion of casino night party excellence, to spin a little yarn about something not of the Aces Casino flavor.... (Ed. Note: OK everyone, settle in, It's gonna be a long one...)
There's an old joke that goes something like this -- "I spent three weeks in New Jersey last night..." The gag refers to the joke teller's feelings about having to go to "the Garden State" for an extended stay.... (I'm guessing that he or she didn't enjoy their visit...)
I bring up that tired old line for a reason; Just recently, yours truly was asked to attend a special event commemorating my father-in-law's 80th anniversary..... No, not a wedding anniversary, although he and his bride had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary a few years back. No, THIS anniversary centered around a favorite fishing spot that he had been casting his line in for some EIGHTY YEARS.
Wow, I thought to myself, that's pretty cool, being able to do ANYTHING for that period of time. I'm in, I told my wife.... Where are we going; Huntington Beach? Santa Monica Pier?
Well, it seems that in his younger days, my father-in-law lived in Utah, near Lewiston, and, for some time, had fallen in love with his chance to fish "The Big Lost River," in a town called Mackay, Idaho. THAT'S where we'd be going for this fishin' exhibition -- Mackay, Idaho.
OK, for those who don't know this reporter, let me fill you in on a couple of things. First, I DON'T fish. My father was one of the greatest fisherman that anyone had the pleasure of knowing. He went deep-sea fishing, for albacore, marlin, barracuda, BIG fish. He LIVED for fishing, he had the best equipment money could buy, and he knew how to use it. When I was young, he took me out on half-day fishin' boats, three or four times....
And I got seasick, every time. BIG-time seasick. Turning GREEN seasick.
Undaunted, he'd wait between barfs to stick a pole in my hand and cast it. In my entire existence on this planet, I caught a grand total of two fish. TWO. And BOTH TIMES, someone told me they'd help me as I reeled it in, only to watch the ol' salt that was assisting me CUT MY LINE, and let my prize drop back into the sea. Both times, I had caught a sculpin, a beautiful orange and white fish, but a fish that had spines, and supposedly was poisonous, or something like that, venomous. Bad news.
So, let's glance up at the tote board..... Total fish officially caught and brought into the boat / Lifetime? ZERO. ZILCH. NADA.
Needless to say, I didn't really care for fishing that much. If I wanted to turn green and hang out with venomous creatures, I'd go to "Comic-Con." It's a lot safer, and nobody would be there trying to cut my line.
Oh, one other thing -- I don't CAMP, either. My camping experiences are fairly well-documented here in this blog somewhere, but they all end the same way; mosquitos, spider bites, ten-year-old kids that know more about camping then I'll ever know, weird food, no facilities. Throw some fishing time in there, and voila! Sounds great, where do I sign?
"Hey," my wife reminds me. "It's for Dad."
Yeah, OK. I got this, he's the best, I can do this. At least I won't have to do the camping thing. Via the internet, I found this very nice 5-room motel up in Mackay called the "Wagon Wheel Inn," that'll work. Uhh, yeah, only one problem -- I got to the motel too late. All of my relatives took all the rooms. Yeah, that's just GREAT. It's tent-city for the parakeet paper-boy.
So, the day comes, and we pack up the kids, wifey and me in the truck, and off we go. 950+ miles, thru Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and finally, to Mackay, Idaho, population 500 very nice, down-to-earth townspeople, some 90 family members that are also traveling to Mackay from all parts known and unknown, and me.
Now, I love ALL of my extended family, they're all super-great, fun people to be around. They're all the best part of the trip. The only problem is, they're all hunters, fishing enthusiasts, hikers, outdoors-types, and one other thing - They're all extremely competitive. We'll get back to that in a moment.
So, now, the good news. We're not talkin' deep-sea fishing here. This is the Big Lost River we're talking about. You can go out on a raft, or just walk out into this roaring rapids of a river in waders, but there ain't no fishing boat. That, and THESE fishin' magicians in my family leave EARLY to go out and cast a line. I'm here to report that I missed EVERY call to arms to catch the raft and go fishing every day I was there. Oh, Darn. Missed another tram to the river. Of course, this surprised no one.
Now, all of those crack shots, hunters, fishin' people, hikers, lovers of the outdoors -- they'd take off early in the morning, and be gone most of the day, coming back in the late afternoon. That only means one thing -- Nuthin' to do in camp but watch the 'skeeters form a squadron to attack me. Not THIS time, all you pesky bugs. I'm goin into town, baby. Time to meet the townspeople.
Now, from memory, besides the sold-out motel, Mackay had two gas stations with snacks and drinks, a nicely-stocked grocery store (Ivie's) where a box of plastic forks was $7 (which told me that I'll never balk at prices at home again), 3 restaurants (the 'Mine Hill Grill,' where the food was VERY good, some steak house that I never visited, and 'Burger Time,' a hamburger and shakes place where the owners spoke Russian. Go figure.), a museum that was always closed (even when it was supposed to be open on Friday, from 1-to-4pm), and a Western store that had all kinds of equipment for camping that I had never before seen or knew existed.
Now, these townspeople spotted me comin' from a mile away. One look, and they knew that the greenhorn population had grown by one in the town of Mackay. Even with that advantage, each and every one of the people in Mackay were so nice to this invader from out of town. Very pleasant, another nice part of the trip for me.
Now, when everyone returns back to camp from their various fishing and hiking escapades, the announcement is made -- "Time for some TUBING!" OK, now THAT sounds like fun. Grab a bunch of truck tire inner tubes, and go out into the Big Lost River, floating around and having fun. I can do that, I'm in.
Ummm, hold on, It's not that easy. (It never is.) Yes, there's tubing to be had, but not where our camp is located, where the river looks tame downstream. Instead, everyone packs up the tubes, piles into an awaiting truck, and we drive up to where the Big Lost River STARTS - Next to this huge dam that is throwin' out water at a break-neck pace, like out of the scene of the movie, "The Fugitive." I look down about 30 yards from where everyone is setting off to do their tube ride, and I swear to Buddha, downstream of this river, it looks like the white-water rapids that you see in all of those vertical raft-films, with riders and their oars getting thrown out of the boat and into the roaring river. And I'M thinking of riding on THIS river with an INNER TUBE? I must be crazy..... Until I see a seven-year-old boy getting his tube ready to ride.
OK, I think to myself, it CAN'T be THAT bad. I get on my inner tube, push off, and off I go....
30 yards later, I hit the rapids. Actually, the rapids hit ME. The water is FLYING around me, and the river instantly tips me and my tube over. Now, when I land in the river, I can feel the sharp rocks on the bottom, which tells me I'd best get back on my tube, or the "rivers sharks" will tear me to ribbons. (Definition: "River Shark:" a sharp rock that'll bite you in the butt as you float by it on top of a tube, if you sit down in the tube with your butt too far in the opening of the tube.)
Well, I finally get back on top of the tube, suffering only a gashed knee and two bruised feet that got thrashed on the rocks. (Consensus is I'm going to lose at least one toenail from the impact. I'll take that, for sure -- I thought I was a goner in that river.)
I make it all the way back down the Big Lost River without further injury, but It's HAIR-Raising. That was one wild ride. And, when the chant goes up to "Let's do it again," I turn into the volunteer driver. I'm not doubling-down on another ride down that wild river and It's rapids.
So, let's see... No fishing, hunting, tubing, shooting for me, that's all out... That, and I think the townspeople have had enough of me, too.... I'd best find something to do.
Then, it happens. Somebody has brought a set of Bocce balls.
Now, we're TALKING, I think to myself. When everybody returns to camp tomorrow, I'll make the announcement that the Mackay Bocce Tournament is starting. Hopefully, after fighting the fish, the rapids and the townspeople, these competitive crazies in my family won't resist the temptation of waging war with these croquet-like bocce balls.
BINGGG! We have a winner.... Every day, late in the afternoon, my camping family members returned from their daily ventures into the wilds of Mackay, Idaho, where I was calmly waiting with Bocce balls and tournament brackets. They took to it like wildfire, competing against each other like the good ol' days, with the winners advancing to the ultimate finals, where three players would eventually compete for the 2013 Mackay Bocce Championship Title. I was finally in my element, doing what I do best -- Setting up matches and running this crazy Bocce tourney, while my lovely wife helps set up games for the kids.
The tournament was the next-to-last event at Mackay.... The final event before the camp broke up for the season was the awards ceremony, where everybody that participated in the many different events for both kids AND adults that were held in the last two weeks of camp received their awards. Besides the Mackay Bocce Championships, awards were given to the most unusual diet, the "please don't let me land on anything sharp" trophy, and my personal favorite, the 2013 Commemorative Blue Dart Award, won by Sarah Woolley. Take a bow, Sarah..... (But don't bend over TOO far, if you know what I mean.)
All in all, everyone survived, and the vacation is now in the rear-view mirror. The townspeople thought that the 2013 Bocce tourney was the biggest Bocce Championships the town had ever seen (and probably the ONLY Bocce game the town had ever seen). I hear that there may be another visit back to Mackay in the not-too-distant future. I'll keep the Bocce balls warm, but I'll keep the number to the Wagon Wheel Inn VERY handy.....
And that's all for my va-ca recap.... We'll be back on the Aces Casino Blog with our usual propaganda about our award-winning Orange county casino night party machine tomorrow, as the "31 posts in 31 days" marathon continues. Sunday, we take a peek at some of the best (AND worst) TV commercials of 2013. (Ed. Note: Hint -- "Hump...DAAAY!") Thanks for reading, we'll see you on Sunday!