Winning the PBA Championship
Fraser Valley, CO Colorado
You are officially between Nowhere and the Boondocks when you’re pulling into Ignacio, Colo. Ignacio is a Ute community 15 miles southeast of Durango, sporting a couple of good restaurants and more than its share of dust. It is also home to the Sky Ute Casino, which is why my wife and I were headed there.
That’s not quite right. Neither of us would walk across the street to drop a nickel in a slot machine. Pet Pals and Advocates give you a much better return on your money. No, we were heading to the Rolling Thunder Bowling Alley inside the casino, where my wife was bowling in the 2011 Western Slope women’s bowling tournament.
Well, that’s not quite right, either. I was only tagging along to see the sights. My wife, an occasional drinker with a bad bowling habit, was competing against every other female bowler who could afford the gas to get to this (I vowed to finish this column without using the word “godforsaken” but I may not be able) … to get to this faraway place, just 10 miles north of the New Mexico border. Desolated and desiccated come to mind in describing the landscape.
Casinos have no clocks or windows to distract you from the fantasy that you are having fun. Slot machines and gaming tables are siphons gurgling away mortgages and families alike while clunking back meager electronic coins. No actual money is used in the Sky Ute Casino, only tickets and tokens, to help maintain the fiction that no real harm is happening.
The combined scent of desperate air fresheners, stale cigarettes and alcohol was disturbing. I don’t know if other Colorado casinos are smoke-free, but if not, they should be. The smell of gin? Odd, the sign said no alcohol is allowed in the casino.
Well, that was technically correct. The casino is defined by gray carpet and no liquor is allowed on the gray carpet. Strictly enforced. However, by simply taking one small step onto the red carpet circling the bar, you may pour booze down your throat by the bucket. A bucket you must empty before stepping back onto the gray carpet of the casino or the bowling alley. Truth is stranger than fiction.
The fact that the Western Slope tournament was held in Ignacio is really no stranger than the fact that there was a teeming hoard of women who drove all the way down there to bowl in it. Several team members had to hurry up the bowling so they could drive seven hours back to their ranches to tend their livestock.
Automatic score-keeping came in the 1990s, but we had to wait until the new millennium to get ball speed indicators to tell us how fast, or how slow, our bowling balls were traveling. Now they throw it up on the screen so every passer-by knows what a wimp we are.
It’s a bit uncomfortable being one of the few males in the crowd at a women’s tournament. During a lull, I turned to the lady next to me and in an attempt to break an awkward silence, I said, “I couldn’t help notice that you throw an awfully fast ball.”
“Yes,” I said, “you’re throwing just about as fast as I did when I won last year’s PBA championship.”
“No. I’m a 130 bowler, tops. I was just making conversation.”
She stared at me for a few seconds before raising her eyebrows and muttering, “I gotta get back to my cows.”
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