This was supposed to be a post about how we saved money, even made money, with a new plan of attack after getting behind financially in May. It was supposed to be a happy explanation of how we decided to dry camp in free spots and won a bit of money from some casinos as we worked our way up to Washington state. Instead, this is a post about becoming complacent, not maintaining a bit of security awareness, and paying the price for it. I won’t stretch it out too long, but it’s a story.
Our dental work in Mexico had put us, budget wise, deep in the hole in May, and we needed to change things up to get back on track. We couldn’t afford to travel at the rate we had been going (gas), stay in expensive RV parks (California), live high on the hog (wine country), and not make any money at markets (strongly enforced California rules locked us out.) We had three general options: hunker down somewhere affordable, work camp, or get to a place where we could make money at markets. After a bit of exploration we decided on option three with a bit of one: boondock at free places while we sprinted up to Washington State, and once there settle in for a month and do a bunch of markets.
Our friends Jen and Dees told us about a nice, safe casino up the road, so we made that our first stop: An overnighter at Bear River Casino a couple hours north of Fort Bragg. It was just as promised, and while checking in we learned that new attendees would receive $10 each in credit to gamble with if they up for their players club. Great, something basically fun and free to occupy our evening! We signed on and ended up winning $44 in real money using their credit.
Buoyed by the overall solid experience, we chose another casino for the next night stop: Lucky 7 just south of the Oregon border. There we won about the same amount with the free credit they gave us for signing up to their players club. And so began a pattern: moving northward we would stop at a casino for a night or two of free drycamping, sign up for their club and have some fun, hopefully even winning a bit, while never using our own money. We even starting exploring the nearby casinos that we weren’t even staying at for the same purpose. We didn’t always win anything significant, but we never lost because we were using house money.
It was going along swimmingly; we were staying at our fourth casino, having visited an additional two in Loki, when we hit it (relatively) big: Rosemarie won about $260 with the $5 in free credit at Spirit Mountain Casino in Oregon. All in all we were up nearly $400 while having saved roughly $150 in RV Park costs, and had even gotten several free or steeply discounted meals from the casinos as well. Giddy, we planned our last casino stop, Muckeshoot, just outside of Tacoma. One last night, then we would pass through Seattle and take the ferry onto Whidbey Island where we had a market already lined up.
We should have pushed on. Heck, we should have done lots of things differently. We should have noted that this casino’s RV lot had the least security presence, no barriers preventing access on any side, and no check in process at all. We settled in for the evening, set up Honda generator, and decided that we would not merely put the genny up for the night when we were done, but we would actually put it inside the RV for safe keeping. We had the blinds open, door open, lights on, and were within about five minutes of calling it a night when the lights dimmed and the low hum from the generator went silent.
Thinking I had run it out of gas I stepped outside only to find our shore power line connected to… nothing. We had been robbed. One of the nearby neighbors (who was outside in his chair during the whole thing!) reported that he saw an SUV or camper topped pickup creeping along through the lot just before it happened. We surmised he had scoped out the lot, locked in on our generator, waited for darkness than crept up next to it and snatched it straight into his truck.
Deflated, we called casino security, who leisurely made their way out to us, and proceeded to go on the attack, accusingly questioning us about why we had the generator out, why it wasnt’ locked up, why had he seen tables and stuff scattered around our RV earlier that day when he had taken a drive through, and other unimportant lines of inquiry that would not help at all in finding the generator or those who had taken it. Infuriating. As things got heated, his supervisor sent that giant incompetent tool of a guard away and took over himself. A lady from the Tribal Gaming Commission also came out, and local police as well.
Reports were taken, paperwork exchanged, and the cops, professional and business like, told me there was a chance of recovery since they would have the word out at pawnshops and the like, but it was not a big chance as the cameras in the lot were of limited effectiveness, especially at night. It had probably been tweakers who would dump it fast and cheap.
So there you have it: our beloved $1100 Honda generator is gone. We learned a lesson about complacency, and will be a bit more on guard in the future. So to all you out there: always lock up your portable generators (like we usually do!) and be aware of the security situation when parking lot camping. And avoid the crime ridden ghetto that is the Muckleshoot Casino RV lot!