Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rehab at the Hard Rock

We are at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino just east of Tulsa, Oklahoma (map).

They have a nice parking lot here for buses and RVs with several long angled spaces for pull-throughs, and a couple of parallel spaces along the grass, where we are. There is also a dump station and a fresh water spigot, along with a trash receptacle.

The casino has been here quite a while, expanding after a 2004 referendum that relaxed rules on native American gaming in the state. Had we stayed here just a month ago, it would still have been the Cherokee Resort and Casino, which is what was described in our guide, and I suspect the place would have been much less crowded.

Since August 1st, however, the casino has been branded as a Hard Rock property (it is still owned and operated by the Cherokee), which, of course, made it an absolute zoo on a Friday night. Since it's only carried the Hard Rock brand for a month, it seems like all of Tulsa is still working its way here on the weekends just to see the place; I'm quite certain that many folks who would never have visited the "Cherokee Casino" (including many non-gamblers) are coming now just because it is the Hard Rock. No word yet on whether they will be hosting overpriced pool parties for hipsters that need to be relieved of their cash.

We wanted to have dinner here last night, but there was a 45-60 minute wait to get into Toby Keith's, the buffet (seafood night) was a madhouse, and even the upscale 19th-floor steak house, McGill's, could not seat us for an hour or so. We ended up sitting in the bar at McGills, which was at least non-smoking and where they serve a light appetizer menu. We opted to just make a meal out of the apps, and we were in and out before either our table reservation came up at either place. Louise remarked that we could probably sell our pager and place in line to someone just walking up to Toby Keith's on our way out.

Tulsa is not all that far from where we started yesterday, but we got a very late start, not actually rolling out of Firelake until after 4pm. Louise had a working phone meeting at 11 that ran over an hour, then had some additional work to wrap up on the 'net, and by the time we had lunch, re-checked the National Hurricane Center forecast, and ruminated about where we should head, we did not pull out of our free-hookup parking space until after 2.

We then rolled over to the poorly designed dump station, where the sewer inlet is a pipe that protrudes a good 6" above the sidewalk, which in turn is 6" above the street. I had to high-boy Odyssey just to be able to dump, and even then getting the hose to completely empty was impossible, and a couple gallons of gray water spilled onto the street as we struggled to disconnect. Suffice it to say, dumping took longer than normal.

We then started rolling to the diesel pumps, only to stall, out of fuel, fifteen feet from the dump. (I knew we had rolled in to the place on the last of the tank, but I did not realize how close we were.) That necessitated Louise walking over to the fuel station with our 2-gallon can, and what should have been a five minute project to get the engine re-primed. (The casino shuttle driver took pity on her and gave her a lift across the large parking lot.) Unfortunately, whoever last put the bowl back on our fuel separator must have tightened the top cap with a wrench (it is supposed to be only hand-tight -- the wrench is only for loosening the cap), and several of the plastic wrench lands literally broke off as I tried in vain to loosen it. I finally had to remove the entire bowl, then it took two of us working together to get the cap off.

When I was finally able to get the bowl back in place and a quart of fuel into the separator, that was plenty to get us over to the diesel islands, where it then took another half an hour to put 265 gallons in at $2.429 (with $.03 players club discount). In that time, the clerk had somehow charged someone else's fuel to my card, and sorting out the error required another ten minutes in the c-store. So after dumping, priming, and fueling it was 4:00, and we still had to roll over to the gift shop to return our parking pass. While Louise was in the casino dropping off the pass, at least she was able to grab a dish of soft-serve ice cream from the complimentary dispensers (coffee, tea, and soft drinks also provided). (Ice cream makes any bus problem easier to bear. -Louise)

It was a great stop, all things considered, and we will certainly keep it in mind the next time we come across I-40. If that's in the next 90 days, we will definitely stop, because we each still have $10 in match play on our cards that we did not use on this visit.

From Firelake we proceeded due north until we hit old US-66 (now Oklahoma 66), wich roughly parallels the I-44 toll road. That brought us all the way to Tulsa, and between the fuel fiasco and only a couple hours of driving, we were pretty much ready to be done. Our options were an Elks lodge, a Wal-Mart, and this casino, and we opted for this place as it would mean we would already be out of Tulsa when we get rolling today.

Speaking of which, Tropical Depression Danny has fizzled to the point where it no longer presents a threat that would require our services, and so we are slowing our pace back down. We've bailed off the Interstate system, which long-time readers know is our least favorte mode of travel, and are angling to the north, where temperatures are a bit cooler.

Today we will continue east on US-412 into Arkansas, and I expect a pretty drive through the Ozarks.


  1. Sean & Louise, sorry you had so much trouble getting out of here. We were in OKC and didn't get back here until after 6pm and the dust had settled by then!! Great seeing you guys. Steve

  2. Next time go east on I-40 to the first rest area. Their free dump is much better.

    Linda Sand

  3. We stopped by the FireLake casino to have lunch. We where hoping that we would see you but we didn't. I guess you must have been at the gas pumps!!! Sorry to hear about you running out just before pumps.

    I think we arrived to the casino about 1 o'clock for lunch at the Sports Grill, then we played a little bit at the machines. We donated $60 after lunch then left.

    If I had just looked over at the gas pumps, you probably were there. We parked next to the parking garage taking up about 10 parking places.

    Nice casino, but too smokey for me.

    Take care and travel safe,
    Mark G.


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