Caffeine & Kitty Treats


The Last Firepit of the Season


Last Wednesday night, Steve and Amy were bound and determined to have one last night out at the firepit.  When I lived over in Grand Rapids, we would have these nights on Fridays after the bars closed.  Somewhere along the line, somebody decided that it would be better to hold these on Wednesdays and it stuck.  It was fun all the same.
Everybody who comes contributes a little something to the bar which is a big tree stump about 3 feet high with a hollowed out top.  Steve got bored one day and did the hollowing.
Steve and Amy contributed 2 bottles of Robert Mondavi Reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 1983.  Mine was a little more modest 2 bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch that were both just over 15 years old.
There were 4 bottles of Jack Daniels, 2 bottles of Gentleman Jack, 3 gallons of pre-mixed Long Island Iced Tea. And a pint bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 that I’m pretty sure somebody contributed as a joke.  We didn’t drink all of it, but we enjoyed a few bottles.
Amy called to notify the security company that they would be having a lakeside gathering of about 16 people.  Steve would open and close the front gates as the invited guests arrived by remote control.

This is the main firepit just down the hill from the house.  Can you tell which ones of the stones in the outside circle are actually wireless stereo speakers?  There are 4 of them.  Off to the left in this picture is a curved cut stone wall that hides the firewood bin behind.  On the front is a mounting bracket for an 80” flat screen TV, and it hides 2 more stereo speakers among the stones.

About 30 feet or so away through the trees is a second firepit where we really have the fun.  Wednesday night we had 3 people that brought guitars, 2 people that brought banjos, and 2 people brought fiddles.
The gathering started at 7 pm, and it lasted until nearly 3 in the morning.  The original guest list was for 16 people, however before the night was out, 39 people showed up.  Everything was nice and peaceful and everybody had fun.
By 9:30 the temperature was down to 31 degrees, and by midnight it hit 28.  No doubt this was going to be the last firepit of the season.
We all agreed that next years we’ll have to do this more often…
I’m looking forward to it.

Fortune Bay Bound


Sometimes things just work out my way, however it doesn’t happen too often.
Friday night my friends Mike and Amanda called and told me that they were taking me to the casino up north, and since I decided not to go to the Trump rally in Minneapolis with them, they weren’t going to take no for an answer.

We got to the casino around 4 pm.  The plan was to gamble until 7, have dinner from 7 until 9, and then go back and gamble until midnight when they had the big drawing for the 2020 Cadillac XT6.  We would be spending the night and leave the first thing in the morning after breakfast.  Mike went to get the rooms and then we headed straight to the bar.
They still make the best Long Island Iced Teas anywhere on the Iron Range.  This casino over 25 years and I was one of the guests on the very first day that it was open.  My friend bill and I went into the bar, and of course we ordered Long Islands.  I ended up asking the bartender to bump my drink with a little more Coke.  He looked at me and said “If you can’t drink it, you shouldn’t have ordered it.”  I looked right back at him and replied “If you can’t make it, you shouldn’t be advertising it as a house specialty.”  He suggested that I come behind the bar and show him how to make one.  I did just that.  He tasted it and said that it was the best Long Island he had ever tasted.  It was actually the only drink I knew how to make without the Mr. Bostons guide in front of me.

I couldn’t believe it.  The guy who trains their bartenders is still using my recipe.  I told them that if they wanted the best Long Islands they should mix the alcohol in bottles and leave them in a dark storage room to age for 2 or 3 weeks.  They still do it the way I showed them.
After several cocktails, we went to check out our rooms.  This one was mine.

We made our way to the casino.

I only got two pictures inside the casino.  I had no idea that they took a rather dim view of people taking pictures in the casino.  They let me keep the pictures I had as long as there were no other people in them.

Between 4 and 7 pm Mike and I lost about $200 collectively.  Amanda was a whole lot luckier.  She put $20 in a dollar slot and on the last pull hit a thousand dollar payout.

Dinner was fantastic!  This is called the Bamboozeler.  It’s a large medium thick crust pizza with two different kinds of sausage (one of them is venison), green peppers, black olives, and fresh wild mushrooms that are grown locally and brought to the restaurant fresh every day.
After we finished dinner, we followed Stacy back to the casino.  Mike and Stacy spent the rest of the night playing the slots while I went off to check out the blackjack tables.
I have a system for when I go gambling.  I always play blackjack since I usually lose my butt on playing slots.  I play small bets up until the last 5 or 6 hands when I will usually get brave enough to bet the max at the table.  If I hit anything over a thousand dollars I’m done for the night.  Why press my luck?
I was done gambling at around 10:30.  I didn’t even wait until the midnight drawing.  I went back to the room, turned on the TV, linked up to the internet, and spent until about 2:45 in the morning surfing.  I also had room service bring me a bottle of Cristal Champagne and two tins of caviar which was something I haven’t had in a very long time.  After that I just waited for a knock at the door for Mike and Amanda to stop and let me know how much they won or lost.
Now I had a plan.  Usually when they lose, they just stop in to say goodnight then they are off to bed.  However, when they win, boy do I ever hear about it.  At 2:45 I heard the knock at the door.  Mike came in with a look on his face that told me right off that he lost quite a bit.  Right behind him, Amanda came in with a big smile on her face and fanning a stack of hundred dollar bills totaling $1,300.  Not too bad considering she started out with just $60.
Then I got to have some fun.  I poured three glasses of champagne.

And then I pointed them to the coffee table where I had my winnings laid out just to show off.

In less than 2 hours I won $13,900 playing blackjack.  I’ve never done that well anytime in my life and probably never will again.  I lost almost $3,892 to the tax man, and ended up walking away with $10,008 which I took in nice crisp bills just so I could show off to them for once.  After we finished our champagne which was $498 for the bottle (2009 vintage), I went, or rather staggered down to the front desk and had the rest put on a debit card.  I’ve never had the chance to show off to them so I figured I was going to take advantage of the opportunity.
The next morning I bought breakfast and paid for Mike and Amanda’s room.  I got mine on the hotel which is something I’ve never had before.  We didn’t win the Cadillac, so on the way home, Mike and Amanda road up front in their blazer and I pretty much passed out in the back seat.  All three of us were feeling no worse for the wear considering everything that we had to drink.
Mike dropped me off at home at around 10 am.  I went straight upstairs, relearned how to use my door key, fed Johnny, curled up on the couch, and I was out like a light.  I slept until around 1 pm when the phone woke me up.  It was Amanda calling to say that they were going to go back up to the casino and they wanted to take me with them again, this time for good luck.  I told her that I was just going to kick back for the rest of the weekend and enjoy myself at home.  Who knows?  I could have hit a few more winning hands at the black just table.  But I figured, why press my luck?
Later Amanda called me from the casino to let me know what I was missing out on.  I missed out on the Indian taco eating championship, and having dinner with a guy that she said looked and sounded exactly like Elvis Presley.  Then she put me on the phone with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a few years.

I’ve known Eddy Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry for almost 18 years, and Amanda is never going to let me live it down that I never told her that I knew him.  The subject just never came up.  The next time we go to Fortune Bay, in about a month and a half, we will be going to see Eddy perform with free front row tickets and backstage passes.
I guess maybe I should have pressed my luck.  😁

Caffeine & Kitty Treats

Chris Blackwood

The sporadic musings, ramblings, and rants of a middle aged man who isn't exactly thrilled with the direction America is taking today. I'm extremely opinionated where news and politics are concerned. I call it like I see it and I don't mince any words. Life is too short to stay quiet.

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