Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a casino gambler, other than the occasional trip to Las Vegas in college or with bachelor parties.
Which is not to say I don’t enjoy gambling. I dabble my fair share in the stock market and real estate. And of course, there’s always the occasional fun of sports betting and fantasy sports. I also own more than just a few Bitcoin and like to sweeten the pot of the company Roshambo tournament at our annual sales meeting (I’ve still yet to win).
Now I preface this letter with all the above in order to explain that I’ve never really felt the need to seek out a Casino within driving distance of San Francisco. My gambling itch has its ways of getting scratched. However, that all changed Memorial Day weekend, when my better judgement escaped me and I decided to pack the wife in the car for a getaway to Yosemite National Park.
Now I’ve spent years as an analyst and selling analysis software, but somehow all those years of education and experience completely missed the fact that I was driving into one of the largest collection of humans and trees this side of the Canadian border.
Alas, there we were, crawling in our Tesla (on autopilot) with our eyes scanning the valley floor for any signs of promise for a parking space. Five laps and two hours later, we’d seen enough of Valley Village, the Merced river and both North and Southside drives. So we called off the trip. It was just after eleven, roughly three hours after entering the Big Oak Flat Entrance on the 120 at 8:00 a.m.
As we made our way back to the 108 knowing we knew we were going to have to charge the car at some point during the trip, so we decided to head North to Sonora. The sleepy town isn’t entirely unfamiliar to us and we’ve visited more than a couple of times driving to and from Dodge Ridge for skiing.
But then as we were mapping charging stations in Sonora, we saw that there were three just up the road at Chicken Ranch Casino. My wife and I looked at each other strangely, then saw two giant billboards. “Wanna check it out?” I asked. “Let’s go!” she responded. Next thing we knew we were making the left onto Chicken Ranch Road, which, the state of disrepair made us feel a little uneasy. But once we got to the property, it had the look of a charming Nevada casino on the fringe. We pulled to the front and the Valet directed us to the charging staging. There are three and we had our pick. We parked in the nearest stall and headed in.
The second we made it inside it felt just like a Las Vegas Casino. The lights, the sounds. The smoke. We felt like we stepped into a gateway to Vegas. Heading farther inside we found Blackjack and an assortment of other card games but were most relieved when we discovered the smoke-free gaming. We both immediately hit the ATM to grab some money to gamble with and found some slots that were side by side.
We weren’t in our seats even a minute when an extremely friendly older server stopped by and asked if we wanted anything to drink. I asked what beers were on tap only to find that Chicken Ranch Casino doesn’t serve alcohol. Fair enough. Probably a good thing since we weren’t planning on staying long. Then sure enough, before the drinks even arrived, my wife hit a jackpot. $17,000!!! No that is not a typo. It was crazy. Our drinks arrived while they were paying out the amount. My wife tipped nicely and we hit the restaurant to celebrate with some lunch.
The big winner ordered a salad and I got a burger. Now honestly, the restaurant isn’t much to look at and our expectations were set no higher than greasy roadside dinner. But yet again, our assumptions were overturned by how great the food was, which, I should note, was also served by another warm and friendly server with a sincere smile.
All-in we were at the casino about 45 minutes. Enough time to charge the Tesla for the drive (enough time to hit it big too and get fed!)
Again, it wasn’t an experience we were expecting, but isn’t that how life goes? The biggest wins are unexpected. And sometimes they come after big losses. The Yosemite trip wasn’t certainly a loss by my own making (and lack of planning). But Chicken Ranch Casino delivered one HUGE win with a number of other smaller ones (Charging Station, customer service and food).
I will be telling ALL of our friends and family about Chicken Ranch Casino and what a great place it is to visit.
Thank you and we’ll see you again soon!