We are at the Cher-Ae Heights Casino, near Trinidad, California (map). We've stayed here before, and our notes from that time said that it was a hidden gem, so we were looking forward to it. It was just as beautiful as we remembered when we arrived, and once again we had the RV lot to ourselves. A short while later, one other rig, a small class-C, parked a few spaces away.
Even though they have a decent restaurant here, we'd been cooking pasta e fagioli in the crock pot, and you can't really smell something like that cooking all day and then not eat it. We decided instead to wander to the bar inside that same restaurant (as opposed to the much nosier and smoky bar next door) and have our first pre-dinner glass of wine overlooking Trinidad Bay and the fishing fleet. Since we don't gamble, this would be our tribute to the tribe for their parking generosity.
On the short walk from the RV lot to the casino, we were asked by no fewer than five different shuttle bus drivers if we wanted a ride. Now, one or two I expected, but this was beyond the pale, especially since the parking lot was empty. I knew it was Saturday night, and things tend to get busy, but this many shuttles was beyond even that. As we approached the front door, we saw a short line of people in front of a table marked "Event Tickets." We asked a nearby employee who said the event was "fights."
I assumed this was a telecast of a major boxing match or some such, not thinking much more about it, and we went in for our cocktails. When we came back out the lot was filling fast, and a small army of security and parking personnel in reflective vests and waving lighted batons was directing cars. We asked one of the security officers, who was clearly bracing himself for a long night, and he explained that people were arriving to see live fights in some sort of "tough guy" competition. He told us they had sold 1,000 tickets, and that did not include contestants, promoters, and what-not. I later found out this is a regular event promoted by a California fight club called "So You Wanna Fight."
Before we made it back to the bus, a couple more security folks suggested we should move. Not because we were taking up three spaces (and I was glad, in hindsight, that I chose to park this way, which occupied the minimum number of usable spaces), but because we would be parked-in for the night. I explained that we weren't going anywhere till morning anyway, and they agreed when I expressed reservations about moving a 24-ton bus after a couple glasses of wine. We put our cones out, though, with their agreement, to define a buffer zone.
Our position here on the hill gave us front-row seats for the parking-lot mayhem that was to come, and after dinner we settled in with some more wine to enjoy the show. Not only did they fill every striped space in every lot, by show time (7pm, we guessed), they were putting cars on the grass, in the traffic lanes, and wherever they could squeeze one in. Considering that these folks were here basically to watch people beat the snot out of one another, I was surprised by the number of young women in club-wear -- really, date-night at the fights?
The event must have let out at midnight, and the next two hours was a spectacle of rowdy drunkenness. I saw one fistfight in the parking lot resulting in an arrest, with the three accompanying scantily-attired women forced to wait in the chilly parking lot while the sheriff's department finished their investigation. In unrelated incidents, two ambulances came to cart attendees (not contestants) away. And a pair of drunk young women circled the bus and even knocked on the door at 1:30am (I did not answer).
In the end, no harm was done, at least from our perspective, and we got free entertainment out of the deal. I suspect the elderly couple in the class-C was less amused. I have to confess, though, that it is disturbing to see how obsessed some folks are with violence. This event is billed as boxing and "MMA" (mixed martial arts), but that's really a euphemism for few-holds-barred all-out fisticuffs. That this can be a thousand people's idea of a hot date on a Saturday night says something about the human condition. I guess Elton John and Bernie Taupin were right.
We had a lovely drive yesterday up US-101, arriving at the Pacific coast just south of here, in Eureka. It's always a workout, both mentally and physically, driving the twisty stretch through the redwoods from Leggett to Garberville, but the scenery is well worth it. High season has not yet started here, and even some of the cheesy tourist attractions in the redwoods were still closed on a Saturday, so the traffic was fairy light. And one particularly slide-prone section just north of Confusion Hill has now been bypassed by a long bridge across that bend of the river since the last time we came this way, three years ago.
Today we will continue along the coast through California and Oregon. We need to be in Eugene tomorrow afternoon, so tonight we will stay somewhere along the Oregon coast, south of Reedsport. Tomorrow we will turn inland at either Reedsport or Florence and cross over to the Willamette Valley.