Back from our "quickie trip," and it was quite an adventure...both good and bad.
Here's the main entrance of Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan. Four Winds was built by the Pokagon band of the the Potawatomi Indian tribe, and our insurance agent and friend Brent is a member of the tribe.
The casino was built in the style of a hunting lodge, with massive timbers, natural wood, and stone. It really is a beautiful place. They have a hotel there, too, but on a Friday night on a holiday weekend, the rate was about $400, and we said, "I don't THINK so!" We stayed at a very decent hotel not too far away, and had a suite.
This is the foyer/rotunda. You can see all the timbers and wood, and the lighting fixture is beautiful. I think there is some significance and symbolism to some of the elements in the chandelier, but I'm afraid I don't know what it is! It's just pretty. Ha!
This is the main hall. Notice the curved timbers on the ceiling.
Looks a little deserted, doesn't it? That's because everyone is on the main floor gambling!
It was actually quite busy, but I suppose that's not surprising for a Friday night on a holiday weekend. From everything we've heard, and what Brent told us, they're doing VERY well. He said that of the profits, 60% goes to the tribal members (I think he said about 3400 members) AFTER it goes towards the debt incurred in building the casino. He believes that debt will be paid in 5 years or less. For the members of the tribe that are not of age, the money goes into a trust fund. The other 40% goes into infrastructure--upkeep, new construction, etc.
He said that the board consists of tribal elders, who have been so poor up until now that they are incredibly conservative. He said that he's thought about being more involved and eventually getting on the board, because he sees so much potential there--a golf course, more hotel rooms, etc. Brent told us that some of these elders have been existing in such poverty--$10,000 or less per year in income--that they hardly know how to handle these unbelievable revenues.
The gaming floor, with a craps table on the left. Hey--is that John McCain?! <grin> Uh-oh, I think he just rolled snake-eyes on his come-out roll....
This is Brent and Liz at a slot machine. They go up every so often for dinner, but Brent has no interest whatsoever in gambling! Liz likes some of the slots, and a little blackjack, so she had fun playing a bit.
We hit it off with Brent when we first met him, but we had only briefly met Liz at the casino opening, and never got a chance to talk with her. Turns out she is just as nice as can be, and even though I don't often feel immediately comfortable with a lot of people, she was so sweet and so much fun to talk to, and we all had a really nice time talking at dinner.
The seafood buffet...good grief! We got our crab legs, but they also had steamed clams and mussels (those were delicious!) AND they had raw oysters. Yum! I got a slice of prime rib, Ken had some calamari and scallops...there was so much more, but we can only eat so much! The desserts were incredible, too, but again, I can only eat so much. I had a piece of baklava, a small key lime tart, and a half of a small brownie. Ken enjoyed a couple of macaroons, which he loves.
Needless to say, we were stuffed, and happy to walk around the casino a bit!
Liz informed us that unfortunately, they no longer have $5 blackjack tables there. Ohhhhh nooooo! In fact, last night they didn't even have $10 tables, so we ended up sitting down for a while at a $15 minimum bet table and were able to play for a little while. The guy getting cards first was hitting when he shouldn't have, getting our low cards, and while he was doing just fine, we were getting hosed. That is SO frustrating! Play smart and make the dealer bust! It's so much fun when you can get a table where everyone works together and gets the concept of when to hit and when to stay, and has the common goal of making the dealer bust. As Forrest Gump would say, life is like a blackjack game! Ha!
Brent and Liz have two young kids, so they took off before we did. It was a lot of fun spending some time with them, and I hope we'll get a chance to do it again! Ken and I stuck around and played a little video blackjack at the bar, then decided to call it a night.
Okay, here comes the bad part.
Warning: Some graphic and possibly disturbing stuff ahead.
As we were heading out, I realized that we didn't get any pictures of me or Ken, so I said, "Hey, take my picture by the Porsche! I'll tell J-Land that I won it. Ha!" (They're giving away a couple of Porsche Boxsters in September.) Right after I said that, Ken said, "Oh my God. That guy over there is having a heart attack or something." I said, "What?" and looked over at the main doors. A guy was down, and people were gathered around him. Ken and I ran over, and the guy had keeled over, flat on his back, and wasn't moving, wasn't aware. Ken ran off to one of the nearby shops to get security and a medical team over, and I asked, "Does anyone know CPR?!" (I don't, but I'd attempt it if no one did.) A woman stepped up and started doing compressions, and a couple of us knelt around the guy. His daughter was opposite me, and was trying to get his attention and snap him out of it, saying, "Dad? DAD! Look at me!"
As the one lady was doing compressions, the guy started to vomit, and I said, "We have to turn his head, maybe turn him on his side, he's going to choke." Someone asked if he had heart problems, and someone--I guess a family member--said that yeah, he has congestive heart failure, and the he was having a hard time walking earlier. Someone in the crowd--it's all kind of a blur--was saying, "Keep up the compressions...get him on his side..." and when we turned his head, I saw a small pool of blood beneath. I said, "He hit his head pretty hard--there's blood." I also saw some matter, and please God, I hope it was just vomitus that somehow got down there, and was not from a fractured skull.
Security got there and started forming a line to keep the crowd back, and Ken came back--both security and Ken said that the medical team was on the way. I stepped back, and finally the medical team got there--it seemed like ages, but I suppose it was only a matter of a couple of minutes. They bagged the guy, and they had to zap him with the portable defibrillator, and it seemed that he started breathing again, but the ambulance still wasn't there yet. I started to step in and tell the medical team about the blood under his head, but a security guard right next to me stopped me--rightly so--and said, "Please step back, ma'am." I said, "Okay--but I was up by him earlier, and he hit his head pretty hard--there was blood underneath his head." The security guard told the medical team that information, thank goodness.
When the ambulances got there, they started clearing people out. Ken said, "Do you still want a picture with the Porsche?" I said, "Uhhh...no."
We walked across the driveway and watched to see what was happening. They weren't bringing the guy out, and Ken finally went over and asked one of the cops if the guy was okay. He told Ken that the guy was breathing, and his heart was beating, but in the long term, he just didn't know. When I was by the guy, he seemed awfully pale, and he had that sort of edematous (fluid buildup in tissues) look that I've seen in patients, and a cool, waxy cast to his skin color and texture. I really don't know if he made it or not. I hope we can find out something from Brent. I would have to say that it didn't look good.
So as we finally left the "scene" and were walking to the car, we both had that sort of post-adrenaline rush reaction...obviously a horrible, serious situation, but sometimes you just have to whistle when you walk by the graveyard. Ken said, "I guess there's a good reason we don't go out like this a lot--we lose money, and then watch a guy almost die." I said, "I miss Nutwood!"
<sigh> I've been hoping and praying that the guy is okay, and I'll let you know if I find out anything. It's weighed upon my mind, and getting it out here I think will help a lot. Thank you for letting me vent about it. I keep thinking of the words in the burial service: "In the midst of life we are in death."
I also told Ken that maybe I need to stop having birthdays. August 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. August 29, 2008, guy collapses in casino while we're there. I'm thinking that maybe I should just hunker down and ride the storm out.
I'll work on getting caught up on journals soon!