Dodge City’s Boot Hill Casino

Dodge City, Kansas portrays itself as one of the historical sites of the old Wild West. In keeping with that tradition, the local casino is called the Boot Hill Casino and Resort. The site layout has the casino flanked by a large event center (for concerts, conventions, etc.) and a Hampton Inn hotel and suites.

We liked the casino. It is small compared to most, however it was clean and the staff was very friendly and helpful. What really stood out was the first time player Free Play program. When we signed up we both got player cards with $10 free play. We also learned that for our next four visits we’d get another $10 for each visit! That’s right, we went back the next day after we checked out of our campground. Yep, we put our cards into slot machines and Bingo! another $10 free play.

Casino entrance

That night we parked in the casino lot. The next morning before we headed out we went back into the casino and, you guessed it, we both got another $10 free play! We both got $30 in free play, and we each have another $20 if we ever go back. Best new player Free Play program we have ever come across.

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Off to Seattle via Las Vegas

We are off again on what will be a rather long trip. We are planning to go to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandson in Seattle. Not ones to take a direct route, we are going from Indiana to Seattle by way of Las Vegas. A quick check of the Rand McNally will quickly show that this is NOT a direct route.

Anyway, we’re off now. Our first day took us through Illinois. We had to stop at Casey, home to all of these “World’s largest” things. Wind chimes, pitch forks, golf tees and of course the largest rocking chair. (See below) Kitty cornered from the chair they were working on completing the World’s Largest Teeter-Totter. I swear they were….

This chair is HUGE

 

 

The Oasis Restaurant on Austin’s Lake Travis

The Oasis has a wide spread reputation in the Austin area. We wanted to check this restaurant out as the sunset views were reported to be spectacular over Lake Travis.

We really enjoyed the view of Lake Travis from one of the Oasis Terraces

The pretty drive to the Oasis winds through the hill country west of Austin. When you arrive at the facility there is parking and a short walk to the entrance to the restaurant. The exterior is interesting and covered with neat metal sculptures.  We arrived around 2 1/2 hours before sunset and were immediately taken to a semi-private room that would seat our party of ten. Our room had a good view out over the lake.

The plentiful veggie fajitas

Two Oasis signature drinks in souvenir glasses

 

 

 

 

 

We started our evening with a couple of signature cocktails in take home Hurricane glasses. Our meals were, in my opinion, very good. Sher and I both ordered fajitas, me the beef and Sher the vegetarian. The portions were large and the food very tasty. The kid’s menu was well received by our youngsters who also appreciated the portion sizes.

Outdoor seating on the many terraces

The Oasis restaurant has seating both inside and outside on a series of terraces built into the side of the hill. All of the terrace tables have a great view of the lake and the horizon where the sun sets. A running photo contest is one part of the Oasis tradition. The evening we went was, to say the least, not very good for an artistic sunset photo.

The Oasis Restaurant has a 35 year history in the same location. Over the years there have been several changes in services offered. Some reviewers have panned the food, however our party was pleased with the quality of our meals. A series of steps was required to get to our tables, but ground level tables are available.

Scenes of San Antonio

San Antonio offers visitors a wonderful list of things to see and do. Our family recently spent a day in this historic city. Sher and I really enjoyed taking our time strolling along the River Walk.

View of the River Walk from a pedestrian bridge

Restaurant on the second floor of this place. River tour boat is docked.

Beautiful and unique tiles on a step riser

The street signs provide great information

Where else would you find a longhorn head mounted on the third floor?

 

 

Corner restaurant offers “Flavors of Texas” in Austin

Our group found the Corner restaurant pretty much by accident. We had just parked our car after our trip from San Antonio, I needed a restroom and I saw the Corner sign a block north of Caesar Chavez Street. The rest of our family in the second car had parked south of the Congress Avenue Bridge and walked across to join us for supper.

The Old Fashioned Burger served with fries

The Corner is one of the newest restaurants in Austin.  It is in the J.W. Marriott hotel and offers both a sit down dining area and quite a lively bar as well. We all enjoyed a delicious and reasonably priced meal. The kid’s menu satisfied both youngsters in our family, no easy feat these days!

Roasted watermelon and tomato vegetarian plate

The staff was most helpful in assisting us with our plans to see the famous bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Timing is important when seeing the 1.5 million bats leaving their roost for the night’s bug catching. Location of viewing is of course vital, and the Corner staff helped us with that  too. Here is our bat watching adventure.

The Congress Avenue Bridge and the 1.5 million bats of Austin

Who would think that a winged visitor from Mexico would make such a splash in downtown Austin, Texas. Such is the story of the free-tailed bat. These critters migrate to Austin in March and stay through November. The colony spends each day under the Congress Avenue Bridge and emerges en-mass at sunset. This daily event has become a famous local attraction in Austin.

View of the watercraft waiting for the bats

We planned to see the bats after a day in San Antonio. Because it was a Sunday, free street parking was available if you could find it. A ten dollar garage was well worth the cost. When we got there I needed a restroom and found one at a great restaurant a  block away. The staff at the Corner restaurant where we had supper knew exactly what time the bats would emerge. (Here is my restaurant review.) After supper we walked the two blocks to the bridge. Because it was Sunday the crowds were not large and we walked right up to the bridge rail for a great view.

The bat colony takes flight

A viewing deck was on the river bank for a look up at the bridge. A wide variety of tour boats, canoes and kayaks were in place on the water of Lady Bird Lake waiting to see the show. And what a show it was! The first bats started to fly about 10 minutes before sunset. It didn’t take long for hundreds of thousands of bats to fly out from under the bridge. The sky was filled with masses of bats! This is a fun free attraction that with a little planning requires walking only a few blocks.

Caesars Entertainment buys Indiana Grand Casino

We saw that Caesars Entertainment out of Las Vegas had just bought the Indiana Grand Racing Casino as well as the Hoosier Park casino and racetrack from Centaur Gaming. We went out to the Indiana Grand to see what differences Caesars had brought to the place.

Other than some banners and signs calling out the Caesars name, we did not see any changes at all. The slots were the same. Our old players reward cards were still working, adding points as they always did. The half price buffet is still offered on Mondays for us “Golden Gamers” (folks 50 and over).

On Saturday, July 28th Caesars has a pretty wild promotion give-away day planned. They are calling it “An evening of winning” with $60,000 in cash prizes awarded over the evening.  Enter and get a chance to spin the wheel for an instant prize of $1,000! Time will tell what changes Caesars has in store for their new Indiana properties.  Be sure to check out the Indiana Grand website and the Caesars website for more info.

Million Dollar Quartet rocks the Beef & Boards stage

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre is presenting the Tony Award winning musical Million Dollar Quartet . We were able to catch this show recently, and boy were we glad we did! The story tells how Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash ended up together in the studios of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee in December, 1956.

Jamming in Sun Records Studio Photo courtesy B&B Media

We were absolutely amazed at the amount of talent on stage. Each cast member gives an amazing and energetic performance. I wanted to dance in the aisles! Get ready to enjoy  “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Walk the Line,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Hound Dog,” and other classic hits.

We thought that Edward La Cardo nailed Elvis both in voice and in the gyrations of his presentation. Justin Figueroa is near perfect Johnny Cash when he “Walks the Line”. Brian Michael Henry, as Jerry Lee Lewis, redefines the phrase “tickle the ivories”.  His fingers just fly across the keys.  And I am sure that Carl Perkins is looking down on Christopher Wren and taps his feet in approval of Wren’s handling of the guitar. Yep, he’s that good. Dave Perry (Brother Jay) is a superb bass player, and Nathan Shew (Fluke) is outstanding on the drums. Rounding out the cast are Beef & Boards regulars Eddie Curry as Sam Phillips and Jill Kelly Howe as Dyanne.

We had a  very special evening at Million Dollar Quartet at Beef  & Boards Dinner Theatre. The music was iconic and professionally performed. We even got a history lesson as well. The sometimes dirty dealings of the record industry back then are shown. And in addition to the show, Chef Odell Ward’s buffet even adds  Southern inspiration to his scrumptious food. If you are in the Indy area we highly recommend MDQ. This is one not to miss.  For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information or complete show schedule through August 26th, visit Beef & Boards website.

 

“Singin in the Rain” gave us an enjoyable evening at Beef & Boards in Indianapolis

A live version of the MGM movie Singin in the Rain is on stage now at the Indianapolis Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Sher and I enjoyed the first Saturday evening performance of this classic romantic comedy.

Don Lockwood (Timothy Ford), doesn’t mind the downpour as he’s “Singin’ in the Rain” (photo courtesy B&B media)

Singin in the Rain is based on the 1952 MGM feature starring Gene Kelly. The B&B version has a dynamic and talented cast that recreates the famous numbers from the movie. An outstanding performance is given by Hoosier native Buddy Reeder  as Cosmo Brown. Timothy Ford has the lead as Don Lockwood, Kimberly Dorren Burns is cast oppposite him in the role of Kathy Selden. We laughed out loud at B&B favorite Sarah Hund as she nailed the character of Lina Lamont, a ditsy blonde with an amazingly obnoxious voice. Eddie Curry has great comedic timing as the movie director, and Beef & Boards Executive Director Doug Stark once again enjoys being on stage, this time as the movie studio producer.

Cosmo Brown (Buddy Reeder), left, and Don Lockwood (Timothy Ford), right, tap dance while singing “Moses Supposes” to the diction teacher (Michael Shelton) Photo courtesy B&B media

The orchestra is excellent as usual, conducted by Terry Woods who also plays keyboard. Additional musicians included Rick Hajduk on trumpet, Dorthy McDonald on woodwinds, Kristy Templet on keyboard and Cameron Bailey on percussion. You can’t believe how much sound this orchestra can deliver!

Kathy Selden (Kimberly Doreen Burns), center front, pops out of a cake and sings “All I Do is Dream of You” with more dancers during a celebration for Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont at Monumental Picture

We are always impressed with the quality of the lighting and sets at this intimate theater. A couple of technical problems at the beginning of Act 1 were handled with true professionalism. It is fun to see the wide variety of stage effects they can get out of this rather small but very versatile stage.

Ron Morgan’s choreography is true to the flavor of the original. Reeder and Ford display tap dancing perfection in the hilarious number “Moses Supposes”. Those two guys really know how to make those tap shoes talk. And yes, Ford’s rendition of the title song takes place during a real rain shower on stage! Front row tables may even get a few drops of rain during the number.

Kathy Selden (Kimberly Doreen Burns), onstage center in white, performs during the lavish “Beautiful Girl” number on the Monumental Pictures soundstage

Speaking of songs, get ready to hear the songs that made the original movie such a hit. Listen for “Good Morning”, “All I Do is Dream of You”, “You are My Lucky Star” and of course “Singin in the Rain”. I got nostalgic when Reeder sang “Make ‘Em Laugh”. I’ve always liked that song from the first time I heard it at the movie.

Our evening at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre gave us an opportunity to have a relaxing evening of great food and professional entertainment. Our evening began when we were escorted to our table. Drinks are ordered, and then you are invited to the all you care to eat buffet. I always go back for a second slice of the signature roast beef.  Our waiter made sure our drink glasses were always filled. Get a cup of coffee after supper. The coffee is terrific. Deserts are available and Sher and I always  choose to enjoy ours at intermission. (Even though we are supposed to watch our sugar intake, we both went for the Chicago cheesecake with blueberry and strawberry toppings.)

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Singin’ in the Rain is on stage through May 26th.  For tickets, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For complete show schedule, visit the Beef & Boards website.