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More to Vegas than winning big bucks

December 20, 2013 - Burt Angeli
ScuttleBu(r)t ...

I’ve been going to Las Vegas for more than 35 years.

I rarely win. Other than a respectable Keno slip many trips ago, it’s always been a “poorer but wiser” experience.

So why go to the gambling mecca with such little results? There’s sun, soup, people and burros that attract me.

My latest excursion offered four sun-splashed days with freezing temperatures in the morning. I could handle that.

I laughed at the morning weather folks fearing for frost-bitten Nevada youngsters at bus stops. Twenty-nine degrees? Please, that’s a heat wave in the U.P.

Our first Vegas dinner stop is Michael Gaughan’s beautiful South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa (Note to South Point, feel free to provide comps). That’s where I find war won ton soup — a delicacy filled with shrimp, chicken, beef and pork.

I can still remember a bitter cold day in East Kingsford when a lady in church looked over her shoulder to say: “I could use some of that war won ton soup today.”

Mrs. Scuttle accompanied me to a couple Las Vegas trips. She didn’t find the place quite as appealing and sent me off with D. Roy for about 20 years worth of journeys.

D. Roy and his cousins, Gene and Randy, reluctantly agreed to allow me to join the group this month at The Orleans in Las Vegas. That’s where I ran into some fascinating people.

After my early-morning breakfast, complete with three newspapers and a pot of coffee, I head to the hotel lobby to finish my reading and people-watch.

A young — looked like high school-age — basketball team of some sort patrolled the registration area for two mornings. I finally asked one of the coaches about “Churchie.” and “Southern” on their gear.

“We’re from Australia and playing games in Las Vegas, Texas and Florida,” he said.

Don’t believe they did well, judging from results posted on their Web site.

With the National Finals Rodeo going on, you can’t go anywhere without seeing a cowboy or cowgirl. A “free” bus left for the rodeo nightly.

Rodeo tickets are hard to come by, but the bus manager indicated there’s a way to get in. One can pay a fee to enter and look for an open seat. With no luck, just return for a refund.

There’s no shortage of unique people in the Orleans sports book. Lounging in a chair after a gut-burning buffet, I heard a couple young guys looking at college football games.

“Who you got in the Go Bowl?” he asked, ready to put down big bucks on the Arkansas State-Ball State outcome.

I nearly broke out laughing. But then considered wagering on Ball State, a nine-point favorite.

Of course, Las Vegas “sports authority” Mel McKinney tops our list of local personalities. Mentioned frequently in my past columns, the Strip motel manager offers insight into sports, politics and many other topics.

Incidentally, Mel likes Florida State to cover against Auburn in the college football national championship.

For one day, we left Las Vegas for another Nevada gambling site, Laughlin. To get there, we stopped at Oatman, Ariz., an old gold mining town turned tourist trap.

I’ve been there a couple times before, always amused by feeding alfalfa cubes to the burros that come out the hills to roam the street. I sacrifice my column-typing finger in the process but the burros can be persistent.

So on our last night, I put down a couple pro football parlay bets. My system indicates Denver would be a great pick to cover against San Diego. In fact, I anchored my bets on the Broncos-Chargers game,

Didn’t happen. Lost my football bets along with keno and slots.

But I did get my sun, soup, people and burros ...



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