HORSE’S MOUTH: Vegas Weather and Luck Are Fickle

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EDITOR’S NOTE/RETRACTION: The Rafu Shimpo retracts the comments published in this column regarding Floyd Mori of the JACL. After contacting Mori and a number of participants in JACL — including Jeanette Misaka, whose letter was published in The Rafu (April 3, “Set the Record Straight”) — who have knowledge of the meeting in question and Mori’s time with the organization, we have ascertained that the comments from an anonymous source published in this column were not true. We offer a sincere apology to Misaka, Mori and the JACL for any injury this may have caused. While we do run a disclaimer with all of our columnists, we understand the importance of accuracy in all the material that we publish. The comments in question have been deleted from our website and a statement of retraction has also been published in the April 7 issue of the print edition.

By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Well, I’m back from you-know-where. The one thing that I learned from this trip is that Lady Luck is very fickle.

On the first day and a half of our stay, I told my wife, “Let’s go home.”

Her reply? “What are you talking about? We just got here yesterday.”

So I pulled my empty pocket out of my pants to show her what I was talking about.

She laughed and said, “Go to the room and watch TV. That’s all you do when you do when we are at home.”

Here is where Lady Luck decided to smile on me.

Yeah, I had a few bucks in my pocket. I was walking around the casino and passed by a progressive poker machine and one open seat.

So I sat down and put my last 20-dollar bill into the slot and punched the “deal” button.

Most of you probably guessed what happened.

I was dealt a royal flush. That’s right. I didn’t even have to draw a card.

I was so stunned, I almost fell out of my seat. Needless to say, everyone began laughing.

It was then that I looked up on the payoff screen and saw what I won.

Yeah, almost fell out of my seat again.

I got on my cell phone and called my wife. She was kind of worried because I rarely call her from the casino.

“Are you feeling ill?” she asked me.

“Naw, I’m OK, but stop what you’re doing and come down to the poker machine area,” I told her.

When she arrived and saw what happened, I think she almost fainted.

Well, at any rate, we didn’t have to cut our trip short.

This kind of thing rarely happens on our Vegas trips, so as I said in opening this piece, Lady Luck can be very fickle.

Needless to say, on our drive back to Gardena, my wife asked me, “When are we going back to The Cal?”

I let out a laugh and said, “Maybe next week.”

Oh well, let me get on with my column.

No, I didn’t get to try any of the new Japanese restaurants that one of the readers suggested to me in an email.

The above segment of my column might be the explanation.

I did go to one of my favorite places, however. That would be the Rio Hotel, which is about three miles from The Cal. In my opinion, the Rio’s buffet is the best I’ve ever dined on.

They have so many choices of food, including sushi and a few other “Japanese” dishes, that I tend to overeat when I get there, which means that I try not to go there every time I visit Vegas.

I always see a lot of Japanese American patrons at the buffet.

I don’t know if they stay at the Rio or like us, drive in from some other hotel just to dine at the buffet.

It’s a little bit pricey, but after scoring in the casino, that didn’t bother me too much.

The last visit to Vegas was about a month ago.

The thing I remember most was how cold it was. The temperature was below freezing most of the day and night, so I packed a lot of warm clothing on this trip. Would you believe that at midnight the temperature was still in the 70s?

Heck, we had to turn on the air conditioner in our hotel room because it was so warm.

Hey, maybe that’s why I was also “hot” in the casino.

At any rate, that’s Vegas for you.

Not only does one’s luck run hot and cold — so does the weather.

Hey, was it crowded!

It might have been the NASCAR races over the weekend.

I ran into my mechanic, Isao Kawahara, and he said he came to Vegas to attend the NASCAR race.

I know the parking structure at the Cal was completely full and we couldn’t find a space to park our car.

Never experienced anything like that before.

Also, for the first time, I saw more Caucasians at the hotel than JAs, which is unusual because so many Cal patrons are from Hawaii along with JAs from Southern California.

Before I leave my thoughts on Vegas, I am finding out that having Rafu on the Internet means that more people now read our publication even though they may not be subscribers to the “print edition.”

I learned this when I was clearing my email after getting back home and found a message from Amy E.S. Maier, who is the senior PR account executive at the Plaza Hotel in downtown Vegas.

I had mentioned the Plaza and the new sushi and Hawaiian-style grill that I would like to try and give my opinion on the eatery. Here is her message:

“I just read your piece on rafu.com about your stay in downtown Las Vegas and your upcoming plan to dine at Poke Express at the Plaza Hotel and Casino. (Please note that while the restaurant does have a poke bar, the correct name of the restaurant is Island Sushi and Hawaiian Grill.)

“I work with the Plaza Hotel and Casino and hope you enjoy your visit. Please let me know if you need anything during your visit and I have attached a media kit about the property for your reference. Thank you.”

Well, I guess it will have to be on my next visit. Had I received her message sooner, I most certainly would have tried the restaurant.

Oh, before I forget. With the price of gas hitting such a high mark in the Los Angeles area, I checked the prices at Vegas stations as I drove around the city.

At the Shell station where I always fill up for my drive back to Gardena, I found that it cost me $7 less than what I paid to fill up before going on the trip.

You read that right. Seven bucks less!

So, if I lived in Vegas and filled up once a week, I could almost save $28 compared to Gardena.

That would come to about 300 bucks a year.

Yes, one of the fun things we do when we are in Vegas is to have breakfast with Rosie Kakuuchi and her sister, Grace.

We usually spend a couple of hours at the Market Street Grill chatting about everything under the sun.

No, the restaurant doesn’t ask us to leave even if we do spend so much time occupying a table, even it’s really crowded during breakfast hour.

Heck, if we talked for another hour, we could almost order lunch.

At any rate, since Rosie has been living in Vegas for about 20 years, she keeps me updated on all the Japanese community’s activities in the city.

Yes, living in Vegas is not only about gambling.

A few columns back I wrote about a 76-year-old hiker getting lost in a California national park and about my own experience at the same age climbing Mt. Fuji.

Well, a fellow who attempted the climb with me, who was 72 at the time, wrote me about our experience. Here is his opinion:

“The reason for this letter is because of the subject you wrote in the Saturday, March 10 issue. You mentioned about the 76-year-old hiker. You seemed to agree with some peoples’ comment about the hiker being too old to be hiking by himself. I agree that he shouldn’t have been hiking by himself, but not about hiking at his age.

“You touched on the Mt. Fuji trip of about ten years ago when you were of similar age, and said that after reaching Station Five, you felt that it was too much to go on, so you stopped.

“You also mentioned that another 76-year-old also decided to give it up. Well, all that wasn’t quite true. That other person was me and I believe I have a much clearer recollection of that trip.

“First of all, I was 72 years old and we got to Station Five by bus. After climbing to Station Six, we rested and we all had our walking sticks engraved by the person in charge of that station. You and I were the last two of the group to leave Station Six.

“As we began, we looked up to the top of Mt. Fuji, we couldn’t see it because the clouds had already covered it and we could tell that the cloud was coming down lower and lower. The group ahead of us were already under the cloud and they weren’t even at Station Seven yet. That’s when you and I decided to turn back to Station Five and not because we thought the trip would be too strenuous for us.

“That was a wise decision because by the time we reached Station Five, the cloud had gotten lower and it started to rain on us. George, we didn’t realize how wise our decision to turn back was until we talked to the group after they got back to the hotel. They told us that when the weather came down on them, it was so furious that in spite of the rainwear they had on, they were drenched and wet to the skin.

“Of course, they stayed overnight at Station Seven. The next morning, the station attendants advised them to turn back, which they did.

“Maybe some of this may have jogged your memory.”

Thanks to George Uchida for trying to straighten my memory of that historic day in my life.

I guess even at 76, my mind was starting to fade because some of the things he wrote I really can’t recall at all.

Since I opened about Vegas and gambling, I might as well close out today’s chatter about gambling.

This one is about Indian casinos.

There are plenty of them around with four of the most popular ones within reasonable driving distance from my house.

We used to go frequently but somehow Indian casinos don’t have the “feel” that I get when in Vegas.

Perhaps a lot of folks in Southern California are feeling the same as I do.

It was reported that the Indian casinos came off their first decline in revenue.

In 2010, when the Indian casinos were really hot, they netted about $26.7 billion in revenue.

It fell the next year but has made a small recovery so far this year.

I used to go to Pala, but switched to Pechanga, both in the same area.

I takes me about an hour and 10 minutes to drive to Pechanga but somehow the four and a half hour drive to Vegas is something I prefer doing.

Judging from the traffic from the Los Angeles area to Vegas, I would guess most others feel the same way.

Oh well, enuff about my travels.

Okay, let’s laugh.

• Waiter, this soup tastes funny.
Then why aren’t you laughing?

• What do you get if you cross a U.S. president with a shark?
Jaws Washington.

• Why is it not safe to sleep on trains?
Because they run over sleepers.

• Why do you keep doing the backstroke?
I’ve just had lunch and don’t want to swim on a full stomach.

• How did you know that Joan of Arc was French?
She was maid in France.

• Who invented the underground tunnels?
A mole.

• Why did the clock get sick?
It was run down.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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