Casino night

Yesterday I walked to a casino. In a different state. Who says I’m not fun and spontaneous?

My friend Jessa and I intended to have a nice, quiet evening at Lauritzen Gardens. After finding it impossibly crowded, we decided to cross Omaha’s pedestrian bridge and get great views of the city skyline from Council Bluffs’ River’s Edge Park.

Finding the unseasonably cool weather invigorating, we decided to meander along the Iowa side of the Missouri River. All of a sudden, after walking less than a mile, we came upon Harrah’s casino.

I had walked through casinos, but never gambled. We had cash and nowhere to go. And, with a simple and quick decision, a regular Tuesday night became Casino night.

Let me tell you about the crowd at a Council Bluffs casino on a Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It’s not young, it’s not hip, and it is most certainly not smoke-free. It was perfect.

We walked on the gambling floor, easily dropping the median age by 20 years. We grabbed some complimentary fountain beverages and searched for the penny slots. Jessa, my corrupting influence, showed me how to get my $10 in the machine, and off we went. IMG_5910

The next hour was a blur of flashing lights and more cups of free diet Pepsi. We tried old-school machines, video slot machines and themed slots with names like “Sumatran Storm” and “Extra Lucky.” (For the record, “Extra Lucky” was not, in fact, extra lucky.)

We were up; we were down. The biggest win came when Jessa won around two dollars on a Buffalo-themed slot machine. We cashed out soon after. I walked away with $10.90. That’s right, I won nearly 10 percent of my original sum. Pretty cool, eh?

The walk back to Omaha was beautiful. The sun was just beginning to lower into the trees, and warm-looking rays of light bounced off of the downtown Omaha buildings. The clouds turned pink and puffy, and by the time we were on the pedestrian bridge, the light was magical. It looked like a storybook illustration, with the river reflecting the soft and buttery sky. There was not a mosquito in sight. It was glorious. (Well, except for the creepy van that was parked by the river. You can see it in the bottom right corner of the picture below.)


A post shared by Amanda Brandt (@abug63) on

I thought to myself how much more I enjoyed my walk and conversation with my friend than pushing buttons and inhaling decades of stale cigarette smoke in a dark and hazy room.

So yes, I had fun at the casino, but don’t fret that I shall become a gambler. I’m lucky enough in my life, and betting on nothing but a happy and fulfilling future.


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