Category Archives: Vegas, Baby!

Texas Truce

I’m not a big shopper, since I habitually squander my paycheck on rent and groceries, so I contented myself with people watching at the trade show.  It seemed like cowboys, who are traditionally divided by region and differing methods, called a truce at the NFR and everyone got along.  There wasn’t so much “You rope tied on?  Loser!” and “Who can wear a flat hat and take themselves seriously?”  Guys with cutter creases in their lids said “ya’ll” and partied with buckaroos who looked uncomfortable in crowds. 

The girls in my usual crowd wear Cruel Girl jeans, t-shirts and moccasins to go out on the town.  At first, I was a little taken aback by the Texas girls who wore dangly silver earrings, necklaces that weighed more than a monel stirrup and heels to take out the trash.  But you know what?  They smiled and held the door open for me when I had hands full with merchandise from the booth.  They asked me, “How is y’all’s booth doin’ this year?”  and loaned us Windex and paper towels to clean the jewlery case. 

Most of the people I met were from Texas, which I suppose is statistically inevitable, since it is a huge state and all.  I met a guy named Casey who knew my boss and roommate from when I rode cutters near Abilene.  The horse world isn’t so big. 

I really enjoyed Teskey’s enormous booth.  They’re like the cowboy superstore of Texas, and we somehow always found a reason to stop in whenever we were anywhere in the vicinity of Weatherford.  Whether we took a horse to the vet, picked him up four hours later, drove to Fort Worth to show a horse to a buyer, went to McDonald’s for lunch or Allsup’s for fuel, we always stopped in to see what Michael Teskey had for sale.  I was pretty homesick one day and spotted the only slick fork saddle in the state among the hundreds of kacks at Teskey’s, so I traded for it and still ride it today. 

I crack a lot of jokes about Texas, but I really do miss the state.  I enjoyed riding around with Ben in his flatbed, checking hog traps on the border of the mesquite trees by the oat field.  I’d cross my legs underneath myself in the passenger seat, roll down the window to let in the late afternoon sunshine and we’d listen to Reckless Kelly (“My first love was a wicked twisted road/I hit the million mile mark at seventeen years old….”).

Texas music is pretty much amazing.  You can’t buy albums by Stoney LaRue (“Tell me that you love me/If it’s true/I don’t want no one babe/If I can’t have you”) Cross Canadian Ragweed, the Bart Crow Band (“Yeah I waste my time/And I waste my money/On a broken dream/’Cause you wouldn’t wear my ring/Baby give me back my ring”) and Jason Boland and the Stragglers (“Cheap bourbon whiskey and pearl snap shirts/Are two things that stay the same/So when the world is spinnin’ and your head hurts……”) outside of the Lone Star state.  Their radio stations beat the Levi’s off ours, I’ll tell ya that much.

Here I am, gettin’ all misty-eyed about a state I left and said I’ll never return, but there were plenty of positive aspects about Texas.  I learned to be more open-minded (I just hide it well) and that good people live all over this huge country.  I made a good friend who hugged me when a boy bruised my heart and went hog ropin’.  I like the Texas philosphy for bronk ridin’ and life: Git behind your swells and hope for the best.  Yeahhhh……

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The Finals Fashionista

 My idea of style is clean jeans and a paisley wild rag, so I really got a kick out of observing how western folk across America dress these days. Sweater dresses, burn-out t-shirts, and rhinestone everything were in for women. Men’s fashion hasn’t changed much since the first cowboy stepped on a bronk: straight-leg jeans, pearl snap shirts and boots.

I noticed several women wearing hairy vests. I’m guessing they’re faux fur, but they looked more like a mountain goat carcass after a rough winter. Their addition to an outfit made otherwise pretty girls resemble blond imitations of Big Foot wearing eyeliner and lip gloss.

A popular and more eye appealing fashion statement is the burn-out t-shirt. Half the material is dang near worn through in a sort of see-through-yet-still-fit-to-wear-to-Sunday-supper kind of way. Girls wear tank tops underneath, and of course they are laden with rhinestone designs. You pay for the whole shirt, but it’s halfway worn out the first time you wear it. Since this style is low on functionality and high on price, I expect it will enjoy continued success in the fashion world.

Purses, wallets and boots in turquoise Holstein prints. This pattern does not naturally occur in the bovine world. What about purses larger than a TSA-regulation carry-on? Ladies, scoliosis is a valid concern here! A crooked spine is not worth the convenience of carrying your makeup bag, wallet, a packet of tissues, curling iron, hair dryer, extra pair of shoes, chicken sandwich and every parking ticket you’ve ever acquired. Be practical and businesslike: shove the parking tickets in the glove box of your pickup like everyone else.

I enjoy the dress-and-boots look. For once I blended in wearing my brown polka dot dress and turquoise Boulets. Usually, I just get funny looks from my small-town California friends, but thanks to the Texas attendees I fit in with the NFR crowd. I support this trend because it’s fun to wear dresses and be girly, but I can’t handle high heels because I trip a lot.

My favorite all-time look of the week: a black felt hat with a string of blue lights around the edge of the brim, Christmas tree style. If that ain’t punchy, I’ll eat my hat. After I unplug it, that is 🙂

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Dancing At The Finals

Good bands were absolutely everywhere during the Finals! With no cover charges, some high-quality boot stompin’ could be enjoyed for free. After the third go-round buckle presentation on Saturday night at South Point, we danced until 3 AM.

As Christa and I made our way to the packed dance floor I said, “Let’s dance one song together, and I bet we’ll have partners by the next one.”

I was wrong. We didn’t last half a song before we were snatched up by a dark-haired guy with a mustache and a guy in a straw hat named Clarence. I adhere to a personal rule of never turning down an invitation to dance, unless he is 1) old and sleazy, or 2) way past drunk and possibly a danger to my health if he misjudges a dip. Whenever a guy approached our table of girls and asked a general, “Would any of you ladies like to dance?” I gave my friends approximately three seconds to respond before I jumped up and said “Yes!”

Dancing with new partners improves my horsemanship. Both require timing, feel and balance. Learning to adjust to the cues of a brand-new leader sensitizes my ability to feel and respond to my horse. It’s communicating without speaking. The occasional “Ouch, you ninny, that was my foot,” is a sentiment applicable to both activities.

I took a break and observed the other dancers at South Point. Texas two-steppers took the outside circle of the dance floor, his hand on her shoulder and her arm around his waist. West coast-style swing dancers occupied the middle, doing the pretzel and lots of spins. Big, strong guys flipped girls in boots over their arms, pretty much carving out a spot wherever they were. There’s something about a pair of nipped toe Luccheses coming at a person that makes ’em show some respect and yield.

The dancing reminded me of the good ole days in Chico, when we’d hear a lively song on the radio at house parties and suddenly the couch and kitchen chairs were empty. Good to know there are enthusiastic, skilled dancers all across the country.

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Made It Home

I gave up counting on my fingers to see which day of my trip it is.  I have no idea.  As much fun as Las Vegas was, I’m sure glad to be home!  The lights of Stockmen’s never looked so good.

I’m very grateful to my job at Capriola’s, because going to the Finals was a fantastic opportunity and I soaked up every minute of it.  I caught up with old friends, made new friends, came up with some leads on new stories, I’m completely exhausted and have developed a cough.  But no complaints here….because I got paid to go to Vegas!  And it was legal! 

So much to do tomorrow – go to work, grocery shop, conduct a phone interview, write a couple articles, get pictures, wash the casino smoke out of my clothes, and get healthy.  Definitely excited to be back to a wood stove, no traffic and real life.  I have compiled some random notes into coherent essays on Vegas, and will post them when I muster the energy to locate my flash drive.  More adventure reports to come….but now I need eight consecutive hours of shut-eye 🙂

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Day Seven

Every day I’ve been here, I count on my fingers which day it is of my Vegas trip.  That’s what this city does to a person.

We watched the rodeo downstairs at the hotel last night, then ventured to South Point for the buckle presentation and fantastic band, the High Desert Drifters.  I met five girlfriends from college there, and we danced with everyone who was willing to shake it.  I danced with an MMA fighter from Vegas and a bull rider from Spring Creek (we’re neighbors!).  I met a pickup man/Hollywood stunt man from Dallas and two stock contractors from Deer Lodge, one of whom said he was an ex-inmate.  Is it time to put on my waders?  I think so….:)

I felt obligated to dance until the band quit, then chat with my friends and call a cab, so I didn’t hit the hay until 4 AM.  7:30 came pretty early, but I put on some fresh makeup and headed to cowboy church at Mandalay Bay.  The sermon was great, sang and preached by Corey Ross. 

I ran into another girlfriend from college, which was a pleasant surprise!  Now I’m going to freshen up and head back downstairs for the wrap-up show (more Gay Beaver…love it, love it!) and to meet up with some Montana college friends I haven’t seen in 4 years.  I’m completely exhausted and crave sleep almost more than oxygen, but it’s my last night in Vegas and I have my heart set on seeing Justin McBride and Scotty Alexander play some good tunes.

Thanks for your time!  Viva Las Vegas 🙂

PS Vegas quote of the week: Christa and I were in a cab at 3:30 AM heading back to our hotel, and the cab driver asked us where we were from. 

 “Northern Nevada,” replied Christa. 

“Oh, what town?” asked the cabbie. 


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Day Six

My blog is going a bit retroactive, because I never have time to blog at night, so I’m reporting on last night’s events this morning.  A bit confusing, but I have faith all my readers can keep up 🙂

Round Two last night was a great experience!  The barrel racing was really tough, the calf roping was smokin’ hot, and a bunch of roughstock riders got down in the chute smashed between their horses and the fence but none were hurt.  The other day I commented favorably on the Cooper brothers’ looks, but my apologies to Montana: the Tryan men are equally attractive.  They may have frost in July, but they still manage to grow ’em tall, dark and handsome up north.

After the perf, we took in the buckle presentation ceremony at South Point, the out-of-town hot spot of rodeo in this town.  The round winners brought their family, friends, drivers – whomever they chose to come onstage with them and receive their awards – and introduced and thanked each person.  Each one received $17,500, a Montana Silversmiths buckle and a bottle of Pendleton whiskey. 

It was neat to see the rookies, nervously handling the microphone and exclaiming, “I just can’t believe I’m here!” and the pros like Martin Lucero, who said “Oh, I’ll be back two or three more times this year.” 

The band was rockin’, the cover charge was free and the ceremony real and unrehearsed.  We’ll be headed back tonight for some more dancing and good times in Vegas 🙂

Thanks for reading!  I just figured out how to work the flash on my camera, so pics to follow….I know, that’s sounding like an empty promise, but I am rather photographically challenged.  I’ll get it figured out eventually.

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Day Five

More people watching at the trade show today.  You can always spot the Mormon cowboys.  They wear Amish facial hair and suit jackets, without even a single look up from the mohair McCarties when I smile and say, “How are you boys enjoying the Finals?”

We scored tickets to the performance tonight (!!!) so that will be fun.  We plan to check out the buckle presentation at South Point, plus I have some college girlfriends staying out there that I need to hang out with.  It will be a fun night 🙂

It’s strange to think how far rodeo has evolved.  What began as a ring of pickups and wagons parked in a flat spot with a bronk raisin’ dust in the middle is now a bunch of dirt transported onto a basketball court floor in Las Vegas.  One thing hasn’t changed, though: rhinestones.  They are everywhere in the western world of fashion, as they have been since the 1950s.  Glenn Campbell would be proud.

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Day Four

Thursday was our first day at the trade show.  From watching the crowd, I realized all a girl has to do to stand out is wear jeans and a t-shirt.  Apparently, they don’t let you in the building without 8 pounds of jewelry and 3 layers of makeup.  All the Texas girls wear pendants that can be removed from the necklace and used as weapons of self-defense. 

The shopping is better than Costco.  Where else can you buy Garcia spurs, ML Leddy boots, candied almonds and a mattress?  Lots of free samples, too.  I tried bloody mary mix, chocolate martinis, and something called acai juice because I thought it was red wine.  Tasty, plus it’s healthy 🙂

For dinner, we went to Ellis Island, a total dive casino with truly amazing steak.  Steak dinner for 5 people cost $47!!  The delicious food was worth being half scared walking through the slot machines.

We watched the live NFR feed in our hotel bar.  I especially enjoyed the calf roping, mainly because the Cooper brothers are so good looking.  I watched Donnie Gay and Joe Beaver’s National Finals Tonight show in the Gold Coast lounge, which was hysterical.  JW Harris was their first guest, and he said, “I’m pleased to be on the Gay Beaver show tonight.”  I laughed.  They repeatedly showed Josh Peek’s steer wrestling run, in which he got mowed over by the steer.  I laughed. 

I was pleasantly surprised to note that Jesus was mentioned several times throughout the rodeo and wrap-up show.  The announcers told the crowd which cowboys were men of “devout faith,” Josh Peek said he and his wife prayed at length before making serious rodeo decisions, and Donnie Gay praised his recent emergency appendectomy as a “Jesus thing.”  The Lord is alive and well in Sin City for the ten days the PRCA is in town.  We’ll take it and build on it 🙂

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Day Three

Hello!  Sorry no pictures yet, but one week after its purchase, I just figured out how to insert the memory card correctly into my camera and make the dang thing take pictures.  Tomorrow, we will be in business and snappin’ pics left and right.

Today we finished putting up the Capriola’s booths and decorating for Christmas.  We enjoyed a delicious exhibitors’ barbeque and I lost $2.00 at the blackjack computers.  I’m starting small and learning the game, then we’ll see if I win enough to buy sweet Christmas presents at the trade show.

I’m relieved all the work is done and now we can relax and enjoy the rodeo!  My overall impression of Vegas is still completely sin-full and moral-less, but I will report back later with any fun and legal experiences 🙂

I’m looking forward to seeing some rodeo celebrities.  Hopefully we’ll spot Trevor Brazille, Donnie Gay, or at least a timer.  I’ll let ya know…or take a picture with a cardboard cut-out of George Strait and call it cool.

I better run, Cindy is awaiting the use of her computer.  Have a lovely night and I will try to post tomorrow!  Sorry the NFR blogs are not very daily….the wireless Internet card decided to get in the spirit of Vegas and it only works at night.  We try, but cannot access the world wide web during the morning or afternoon.  It’s an after-8 PM kind of card.

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Day Two

Las Vegas, in general, is a city completely devoid of morals.  I reckon I’m showing my down-home roots, but oh my goodness!  I guess people don’t come to this town to take flowers to the nursing home and rake leaves for their home-bound neighbors.

 People come here to spend money, and lots of it, which works out well for all of us employees at Cowboy Christmas.  One gigantic building houses artisans and stores from Texas, California, Nevada, Oklahoma – all over the Western United States.  Again, I am probably sounding like a wide-eyed country girl, but it just astounds me.  I was the only person in the air-conditioned Convention Center wearing a wild rag.  This ain’t Tuscarora. 

 After building two mini-Capriola’s in two different trade shows, we drove to Bass Pro Shops, which is kind of like a combined camouflage mall/nature museum/shooting range.  The merchandise didn’t interest me – pink camo thermals?  what am I going to do, sneak up on a vat of cotton candy? – but the taxidermy was very impressive.  A bull elk was immortalized down on the ground with all four legs sticking out, being hooked by another bull.  Another exhibit featured a pride of lions, with two females sunning themselves and stretching on their backs.  I saw a giraffe!  Well, actually I saw the underside of a stuffed giraffe, since I am not very tall.  But it was still cool 🙂

 We ate at a delicious Mexican restaurant, where we were seated by a Philipina hostess.  My co-workers regaled our table with stories of past NFR trips, most of which were unsuitable for print.  Since John seems unable to walk past a blackjack table, we stopped in the Silverton casino and waited while he lost twenty bucks.  Once we got him in the pickup, we made a clean break for the Gold Coast.

I am resting up for the rest of the week, since I don’t anticipate much sleep once the rodeo starts.  Justin McBride, a talented bull rider-turned-singer, and Scotty Alexander, a reportedly wicked guitar picker, are playing for free at our hotel every night after the rodeo.  I have friends flying in from two different states that I must catch up with, and I packed three pairs of boots and dresses.  Looking forward to my first NFR!

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