Sunday, March 14, 2010

Changing times

We are at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel Casino, off I-10 south of Chandler, Arizona (map). Long-time readers may remember that we've been "here" before, but really, we haven't. I say that because the entire casino has moved, just a little over a mile from its former location. With the move came some significant changes.

Some of our more die-hard readers might have read through my rant when we stayed at Wild Horse Pass two years ago. We observed the same behavior on our last visit, a year ago, and chose to stay in the truck parking rather than the "RV ghetto" as a result. For the newcomers who don't care to follow the links, suffice it to say the northeast parking lot of the casino had become a de-facto campground, where some people had, apparently, "moved in" for the season, staying months at a time, and setting out all manner of furniture, mats, BBQs, chimineas, generators, bicycles -- you name it. Some rigs had boxes and other items stored underneath. Either the casino and tribe permitted it, or perhaps just tolerated it.

As they say, you reap what you sow, and in this new location, things are different. As at the last location, there is a specific section of the parking lot angle-striped for RVs. On the way into this lot now is a sign outlining the rules.

For one thing, RVs are now limited to a stay of 48 hours. The sign clearly states "no camping." For another, they want all the RVs in this one area. While we've been here, several rigs have tried to park in a gravel lot just a couple dozen feet away, and security has been chasing them out. Friday night they came through and booted everyone out at 10pm. Last night, a few rigs managed to squeak in after the last patrol; I am guessing security has better things to do on the busy Saturday night.

The reason those rigs went to the gravel lot is simple: they wanted to extend their slides, and/or not have to unhook their toads. Neither is possible here in the RV lot, unless you snag one of the four (out of 32) spaces that has a little buffer zone next to it. That did not stop at least three rigs from just taking up two spaces each.

Mats, furniture, grills, etc. are also now banned. Again it did not stop a few souls; patrols are few and far between. But judging from comments to my report over on the Casino Camper group, the sign is brand new (the casino has only been open here for four months), and from the little I overheard of security chatting with each other, they are just now starting enforcement.

I can't say that I blame them, or even that I am unhappy with the result. While we've been known to spend more than just a couple of nights at a casino, where permitted, the conditions that had developed at the old Wild Horse Pass were really beyond the pale.

The new facility has a ten-story hotel tower and several food venues. Friday night we ate at the upscale Shula's steakhouse, which normally is out-of-sight expensive, but we knew there was a prix-fixe promotion on dinner for two through the end of the month. The last time we ate at a Shula's was Christmas, 2008, at Disney World. Even the promo was pricey, but worth every penny. I have a special fondness for classic America steak houses; I grew up in the meat industry in New York, and I remember dining many times in my formative years at Sparks, one of our customers. Yes, this is the same place in front of which Gambino family capo Paul Castellano was gunned down, and no, I am not a made man; in spite of the enormous New Jersey nose and being half Italian, it is on my mother's side.

Last night we had a nice casual dinner at the Asian-themed sit-down restaurant. The casino also has a food court with four fast-food options, including Italian, Mexican, a Boar's Head deli, and a Fatburger. A hip bar across from the second-floor Shula's serves Shula's appetizer menu as yet another dining option. Interestingly, there is no buffet, as there had been in the older casino.

My curiosity got the better of me yesterday, and I pulled a scooter out to ride over to the old casino, and also the nearby Sheraton resort, also owned by the tribe. The casino is vacant, and I understand the tribe is trying to decide what to do with it. They have posted no parking signs throughout the lot, and I would guess security patrols there often enough to keep anyone from squatting. Interestingly, the Google satellite imagery (at this writing) was taken the very month the casino moved, and you can still see a handful of rigs in the old parking lot then. The resort, on the other hand, was quite busy. I wonder what, if anything, will become of the little artificial river that had been built to carry resort guests to and from the casino on little boats, a la Disney or the Hilton Waikoloa. It has never operated in the time we've been visiting here.

In a couple hours we will be up against our 48-hour limit, and we will move along. Tomorrow we plan to be at the Elks lodge in Chandler; tonight we will stay at the Lone Butte Casino about half way there, also operated by the Gila River Indian Community.


  1. Going back and re reading last year, brought to mind, what ever became of the old scooter that was left at the Phoenix dealership to be brokered. Was the lack of reporting indicative of bad results, or did I just miss the post?

  2. No Rod, sadly, you did not miss a post. The Honda Metropolitan is still sitting at that motorcycle shop in north Phoenix, on consignment.

    Wanna buy it? :)

  3. hi.... i was surfing around online today looking for blogs about people living and traveling around in RV's. I came across yours.

    I am working at putting a resource site up for RVing and would love to repost some of your blog there.

    The site is I'm trying to build up stories, resources all with the aim to provide people inspiration so they take the plunge and live the dream!

    If you feel you'd like to participate, you can email me at, or just reply to the comment and i should get that.


  4. Oh my, Sean I was afraid of that after I posted the question. And no I don't need a 50 cc scoot. Good luck making it move. Heck its a Honda it should sell. Does it need a new broker that is motivated to sell it?

  5. @Kim: You are welcome to link any of our material on your site; direct links to individual posts can be found by right-clicking the post title (for older posts without titles, right-click the time stamp at the end of the post). However, please do not copy any material; our work is copyrighted and we prefer to retain control by keeping it right here on the site.

    @Rod: One of the things we are contemplating doing on this visit to Phoenix is to yank the scoot out of that shop (which is tiny, and really a motorcycle rather than scooter shop) and consign it someplace else. Suggestions welcome.

    @Gypsy Journal Readers: Welcome to Our Odyssey!

  6. I doubt I would ever stop there, but the fact you can not extend a slide would totally preclude it. Many 5th wheels require that at least one slide be extended to use it. I always look for a safe area to extend that slide....but if the spots are right on top of each other that would not work...

  7. Sean & Louise,
    I've been an Odyssey reader Much longer than I've known about the Gypsy Journal, but I did see Nick's Link to your post about the casino changes. Wondered if you'd caught it, and evidently you did.

  8. "Many 5th wheels require that at least one slide be extended to use it." You are not supposed to "use" it, you can sleep in it though. Our fiver gives access to the bed, bath, and refrig with no slides out. What else do you need for a free overnight stop when the theory is that you are using the casino's entertainment and restaurants.


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