Back in the last millenium, rubyloot was the Stephen Minister for a very neat lady whose first name starts with V. (Confidentiality and privacy - we don't disclose names of our care receivers without their permission.)
V is a retired lawyer, and she and RubyLoot had lived in some of the same areas, so they had a good initial rapport, and became good friends. As the 'special caring relationship' - the formal Stephen Ministry part of things - came to a close, RubyLoot and V agreed that they must go to Spirit Mountain Casino and V could play Blackjack while RubyLoot played some slots and such.
Then, there was my layoff from NEC, RubyLoot contracting and being treated for endometrial cancer and then taking a year to recover from the radiation treatment. During that time, the cartilage in her knees became so thin and damaged that simply walking across a room can be extremely painful for her. We got a wheelchair for her and it works to get her out and around. Still... our house is a two story house with half of the first story sunk into the ground on the side of a hill leading down to a creek. The entrance to the house is on the SECOND floor, with no way in or out that does not involve at least 10 steep, shallow stairs. The outside entry stairs are under a poorly angled gutter, and as a result, water pours out onto them, during every heavy rainstorm, and an Oregon winter is a series of light rainstorms interspersed with heavy rainstorms. The stairs are shot - we're planning to replace them but haven't had the money to do so. There's also only one railing, on the wrong side for RL to be able to go down without hurting the worst of the two knees. It helps her, a little, to lean on me as she goes down, but it doesn't always work. One problem is that I brace myself, but in moving, she pushes at right angles to the direction for which I've braced, and there's generally much less strength in that direction. But back to the trip.
So at the end of June we decided that it was time for them to have their trip, as V had decided againha trip to Reno as her friend who she wanted to go with had lost the ability to travel.
V arranged with us to go to Spirit Mountain, and the original date (July 7th) turned out not to be a good one. We scheduled the 14th, V was going to pay for a rental car and gas, and buy our dinners at the seafood buffet. I ordered the car online, as I had to pick it up, so it had to be reserved on my credit card. I shipped out my eBay packages, got the car (smaller than I thought it was going to be) and got home in time for us to do our trip on schedule.
So going down the stairs hurts her, and yesterday RL managed to mildly twist BOTH knees navigating the bathtub before we got going, and going down the stairs became a horrible ordeal of pain. The car (a Kia sedan) was too short and too small for her to get her legs in and out without twisting them around and sitting was very uncomfortable, so we decided to go back to Enterprise (no URL because their site does stupid things to the browser) and ended up looking at a mini-van (a high step UP, impossible for both her and V who uses a walker), and we ended up renting a Chrysler Sebring, which was at least comfortable, especially after we stopped back at home to get the seat belt anti-strangulation clip and the elastic knee brace to stabilize her weak knee.
A quick stop at the bank to deposit eBay payments and we arrived at V's partially-assisted-living apartments, and prepared for the trip out. The walker, a big blue arrangement with a seat that V can rest on, and a curved padded section that serves as a backrest when she does so, refused to fit into the car. I ran back to the office, asked if their resident maintenance guy had a set of allen hex drivers, and fortunately he had a set in his file cabinet. I found the one I needed and borrowed it for the trip, took the backrest off, and everything finally fit into the car. We were so hot and sweaty (it was 80 degrees and muggy at 1:30) that we had to stop for iced coffees. This was also because RL had slept poorly from the heat overnight - I was taking my ritalin because I always do now when driving on a long trip, thanks to an unpleasant drowsy-fit I experienced last summer. Anyway, we ran the air conditioning the whole way there. The drive wasn't bad except for the heavy traffic between Tigard and Newburg, a few too many people who had to be moving at 75 on a 55 highway, and the car being gutless on hills. The VW Beetle turbo has spoiled me; put the foot down, and it MOVES.
Once we were there, V disappeared into the inside as soon as I reassembled her walker, and I had to search to find her with Penny in her chair. Found she'd run in to Information, and was waiting there for us, so I parked the car (no handicap parking available, natch) and we went over to the Coyote Club desk, got our cards, and V disappeared into the smoke-filled main area while RL and I went to the small Non-Smoking section. The 'Monopoly' games we'd remembered from our last visit were no longer there, alas, instead replaced by some similar games which lacked the fun animations and complex and intriguing 'features' that made them fun to play before.
Note, we were playing with the money from our penny-dragon, which had about $45 in quarters, pennies, dimes and nickels, and V had given RL $20 to gamble with.
After running around for a while, checking on the penny games, etc. I had won back half of what I'd spent, while RL had broken even, so we went off to see how V was doing - not wonderfully, alas, she had not been winning, she said later, because she was on the walker instead of her electric skoot, she wasn't able to hop easily between tables, and therefore her strategy of moving to different games wasn't working. I did not attempt to explain the laws of probability to her.
She sent us off with _her_ stash of coins to play with, so we turned them in - $11.00 even - and we played them in several places, going up and down ... on the last $3.00 RL played one of the more interesting penny games, and it paid back $12.00, so she had 13.20, which we eventually returned to V at the end of the night.
RL and I went down to take a look at the expansion to Spirit Mountain Lodge, which is going to add an entire wing to the hotel, larger and more ornate rooms, some sport-recreation facilities, a pool, and a gift shop on the current ground floor. Bleah, I _like_ the comfortable, pleasant fireplace and the bronze fountain with Coyote watching people coming into the place. They already have a gift shop at the casino entrance, oh well.
After enjoying the fireplace lounge a while, we chatted with the concierge about the expansion, went back out, and split a hot-dog, as it was only 5pm and we weren't ready for dinner quite yet. Played a few more penny games, went back to find V, and made our way at 6pm to the Coyote's Buffet. Now, when we got there, I asked the nice lady at the start of the roped-off line about reservations, and she gave us a ticket with the number 49 on it; they'd call/show the numbers, and we'd be allowed to go in once our number was called, which by our intended dinner-time of 7pm would have been simplicity. Was still easy at 6pm, but as we were going up an entire swarming herd of rednecks (every one of them dressed in ill-fitting dirty shorts and tee-shirts, most with lewd sayings or beer slogans, even the women, all unwashed to a degree paralleled only by gaming conventions on day 3) came up and asked for a table for 10. The lady politely informed them that they would have to take a ticket, it was #240, and they were on #200, so it would be about a half hour wait. The table of 10 was unwilling to wait and charged off to find someplace else to eat. A good thing that.
We got in for $12 per person (Coyote club comes through!) instead of $15 per person. Got everyone settled at table, and I went on a fetch-food run ... lots and lots of breaded fried things: Oysters, shrimp, scallops, some not-breaded prime rib, some crab claws, all for V, then for RL, something similar but with some calamari and a crab puff thing (wasn't nearly as nice as it looked) and some salmon.
The highlight of the evening were the pan-fried oysters cooked in clarified butter. Mmmmmmm. I also had steamed mussels and clams in garlic butter, but the oysters really outshone anything else there. I did a lot of fetching and carrying, the desserts were OK but not overwhelming.
V blew $2 on Keno, I blew $10 that I'd won back earlier, leaving me $3 up, and when we finally returned, way too full, to the gaming floor. V tried out the action at the blackjack table in the non-smoking room. RL played a bunch of penny machines, found one that was paying off well, but didn't do her usual 'collect winnings once it doubles what you put in' and so ended up blowing $5 on it, and becoming totally bored.
We'd been watching the 'How to Gamble' shows on the Travel Channel, and (other than playing at games where skill can outweigh luck, like Poker) we had determined that video poker was the game with the most reliable payoff probability. However, all the video poker at Spirit Mountain Casino started at a quarter a credit, and none of them appeared to have all that great of payoffs.
Anyway. Around 9pm we were all tired, and wanted to go home. I took RL to the entrance that was NOT filled with smoking people, wrapped her in a blanket so she could enjoy the cold breeze coming from the ocean 20 miles west, and found V, got the car, disassembled V's walker, went around, got RL, reapplied the knee brace, put the chair in the trunk, and headed back to Beaverton.
We got there at 10, I wheeled V in her walker, back to her room, we stopped to refill the gas in the rental ($15) and made our way back home, put everything in the house THEN helped RL back up the stairs (more pain for the knees) and down the stairs to the bedroom.
She went to sleep fairly soon, I was awake until 12:30 and then crashed, woke at 4:30 and couldn't sleep, so I went through the email from Wednesday, applied for three more jobs, and used the euphemism, after which I felt better and was able to go back to sleep for a couple hours before it was time to take the car back.
At Enterprise, I fascinated a 6 year old boy who was amazed that a grown-up would play with videogames. He wasn't impressed with FFTA though, for some reason.
The car is now safely returned, and it promises to be a coolish morning but another muggy afternoon.
And, we're wondering if RL will be able to go with me on Friday night ... we're wanting to go to Todai for my birthday.
Once that's over ... it's back to Atkins again. Must reverse the recent trend to re-gain the lost fat from last year.