Monday, February 13, 2012

Florida in January

I took a quick little hop into Tampa, Florida to go to my cousin Melissa's wedding. It was January 12-14, and it was cold as sin and a lot of fun. I still have this idea of Florida as another California, where it's always warm and sunny. Well, it isn't. Maybe California isn't really like that either.

Flying can be exasperating but every once in a while you get a view that makes you forget.

I was hanging out at the hotel a few hours before the wedding thinking about what sort of mini-adventure I could squeeze in. So far I had only used my rental car to drive to the hotel, so that was really a crime. Cousin Ryan suggested I try Taco Bus. He said it would be the best Mexican I ever had, which was a bold claim. Plus he's a chef so I figured I needed to verify.

The food was pretty good. Not mind blowing, but it was being served out of a bus, which was pretty cool.

Bonus points for the handwashing station sticking out the front.

Both of the Milito weddings I've attended have been outside. The first was on the beach and this one was in a more woodsy area. I think I like it.

The moss hanging from all the trees made the place seem magical.

One of the many legs of the wedding after party took us to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino Tampa. Casinos are interesting to me in lots of ways, but one is the disconnect between what they are and what they want to be. On TV a casino looks like a non-stop party, but stepping into a casino anywhere along the Missouri/Illinois border is not like that at all. It's often smoky and filled with people who look run down. The dealers are bored near death, and people sitting at slot machines poke their pointer fingers once per second in a daze. I'm taking a lot of statistics in school which makes it even less exciting. Just putting money into one of those machines feels like picking a tragic fight against math.

The Hard Rock, though, is one of the few casinos outside of Vegas or Macau that I genuinely had fun at. It seemed like the place had put a lot more effort into making the party image a reality. The fact that it was located on Seminole land might have had something to do with its awesomeness. I'm hazy on the rules and I'm too lazy to check right now, but I think that reservations may only be subject to federal law and not Florida law or something like that. Laws have a way of killing a party. For example, there was no ID check at the door. Walking in I barely noticed security. Getting into a casino around these parts is quite the butt pain. It usually involves standing in a long line, handing over my ID for it to be forensically analyzed: examined, exposed to black-light, scanned, flipped and scanned again. I am then examined, and told to look up at some camera so I can no doubt be scanned. Bleh.

Furthermore, I do know that Seminole casinos are the only ones in the state that allow table games like blackjack. The governor made some sort of deal with them, the state supreme court said no way Jose, but the U.S. Department of the Interior had already given the thumbs up, making for some serious rock-paper-scissors legal hijinx. Article here.

This was a Hard Rock, so the music was loud. There was one of those giant TV trees over the bar with music videos a-many. The clubby area was barely separate from the the gambling area. One of the coolest things was the professional dancer girls rocking out in the windows of one bar area. Very cool.

The Seminoles must have been feeling the same vibe I was, as they bought all of Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. in 2006.

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