In the very early days of the Casino Guy’s gambling career, the thought of gambling at every casino in the world was a distant thought. Sure I had been to a few places and sure I had been gambling my face off for over a decade, but I had yet to rack up the numbers you see today. Wing Woman and I had taken our first trip together out to San Diego. A football game, Seaworld, the beach, you name it we did it.
Remember the days before you had a GPS on your phone or as one of those clunky Tom Tom things you suction cup to your windshield? How the hell did we all get around? By following the sun and the migrating birds like fucking Magellan or with a good ole fashioned directions printed off Mapquest or provided by AAA, old school TripTiq/map style. I had stacks of paper with me on this trip. Unfortunately Casino Guy didn’t think to look for nearby casinos in SoCal as the Wing Woman had yet to fully embrace her soon to be husbands unique hobby. Alas, I was not armed with directions to the two places in the area at the time, Barona Resort & Casino in Lakeside and Sycuan Casino is El Cajon.
Wing Woman actually made the suggestion, “why don’t we check out those casinos from the billboards?” Ya see, billboards were everywhere. Billboards with Kenny Rogers’ giant perfect head of hair were begging you to follow him to the Barona Casino (yes, that Kenny Rogers).
We started off with some vague directions from the dude at the front desk of our hotel. Of course he told us it wouldn’t be long until we saw Kenny’s big fucking head telling us where to go. “Only 10 miles to CA-67” one sign said as we left our hotel. There is another one on the other side with Kenny in a sweet hat telling us to keep going. You got it Kenny! Drive a little further, there is Kenny’s big fucking head saying “Only 5 miles”. This couldn’t be easier.
Then things went wrong. We get to Kenny’s exit and follow his latest order. But as we drive off the exit, Kenny is nowhere to be found. How is that possible? Where is that glorious grey and white mane? Where is that cool hat? I have been trusting that perfectly groomed beard and mustache for 15 miles through traffic and now he leaves me like Joe Dirt’s parents on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Side note: underrated smokeshow of the century performance by Brittany Daniel in that Oscar deserving flick:
I stop at a gas station after a few miles of what I thought was the right direction. There is no way Kenny would steer me wrong, right? To the dude behind the counter’s credit, he did give me directions to a casino. Unfortunately, through me not catching all the broken English/Spanish details coupled with the fact that we were fucking lost, we were not on our way to Barona but we soon found ourselves in the mountains heading toward Sycuan. What a shit show. Thanks a lot Kenny, you yam bag.
After losing a few bucks and not being able to get a beer (the winding ride up that mountain gave me so much stress, I needed two fingers of Makers straight but that is a story for another day), we took off basically giving up on seeing the place that Kenny’s big fat fucking head was telling us about all day.
As we got to a part of the mountainside that wasn’t so damn curvy, we saw a majestic site off in the distance. It was our white knight, our beacon. Kenny Rogers’ gigantic fucking head was back telling us where to go. Wing Woman calls out “Talk to me Kenny!” in a moment of pure joy the Casino Guy had not seen prior and hasn’t seen since (yes, I admit, nothing has brought my wife the kind of pleasure a billboard of Kenny Rodgers did).
Every time we saw another billboard, one of us would giddily yell “Talk to me Kenny!”. Shit anytime we see a billboard today with someone with grey hair or perfectly groomed beard on it, you can count on a “Talk to me Kenny!”.
We finally made it to Barona. And wouldn’t you know it, I lost my whole bankroll in a matter of minutes on a smoke-filled crowded gaming floor surrounded by the weirdest collection of diverse cats I have ever seen – again, another story for another day.
On one hand, you can say that entire saga cost me a bunch of money, time and stress during what was a lovely vacation. One the other hand, it gave me two check marks off the list plus an all-time quotable line from Wing Woman and a tremendous soft spot for Kenny Rogers’ gigantic fucking head.
UPDATE: After I wrote this, I had to see if there were any pictures of those billboards online. Mind you, this was not recent so the odds were slim to get a picture. Wouldn’t you know it, there is an article on how the Kenny Rogers billboards for Barona were directing drivers in the wrong direction printed right around the time we were out there. oly shit!!!! I have been the shame of getting incredibly lost for over 15 years. I am vindicated! Casino Guy remains undefeated (okay, that was an exaggeration but screw you this is my blog). Oh yeah, here is a pic of one of the billboards. Classic Kenny.